Wellness Symposium

Table of Contents



Keynote Address: Alexes Harris

Slide Deck: Keynote_Alexes Harris

Alexes Harris
Professor of Sociology, UW Regent

Alexes Harris, PhD, a professor of sociology and the first UW Faculty Regent, is a profound supporter of well-being at the University of Washington. Drawing on her extensive experience as a professor of sociology, she continuously supports her students, her colleagues through the Faculty Development Program and UW student-athletes through her role as Faculty Athletics Representative.

With a body of research that fundamentally centers on issues of inequality, poverty and race in the United States legal systems, Alexes has been appointed to serve on several federal advisory boards and also has been called to testify for numerous state and federal governing bodies about inequalities in the criminal legal system and sentencing (including speaking at the White House).

Alexes has received the UW Distinguished Teaching Award (2018), the UW’s highest teaching honor, among many other accolades received for her accomplishments and dedication to equity. Additionally, she is a champion for the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) and shares her personal experience with cancer throughout our UW community to inspire more diversity in the marrow registry.

Session 1: Happiness at Work and in Life

Slide deck: Happiness lecture

In this interactive session delivered by the UW’s foremost happiness experts, you will learn about and practice research-backed habits for increasing your happiness. We will share happiness-boosting strategies you can use both at work and in your daily life.

Tabitha Kirkland
Associate Teaching Professor of Psychology

Tabitha Kirkland, PhD, is an educator and social psychologist. She teaches a wide range of classes from introductory psychology to senior seminars on emotion and well-being. Her teaching philosophy encourages both contemplative practices that deepen our understanding of our own minds and active collaboration with other learners in community. She also is the founder and director of the Psychology Undergraduate Mentoring Program, which matches psychology students from underrepresented groups with mentors. Tabitha is interested in helping people become the healthiest and happiest versions of themselves.


Milla Titova
Assistant Teaching Professor of Psychology

Director, UW Happiness and Well-Being Lab

As director of UW Happiness and Well-Being Lab and an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Psychology, Milla Titova, PhD, conducts research concentrated on happiness and well-being, specifically, how cultural and personality differences affect people’s well-being levels, as well as the experience of happiness and positive emotions. She also is investigating how people’s relationships with the places and spaces that they occupy connect to happiness and well-being.



Session 2: Stress First Aid

Slide deck: Stress First Aid Essentials

Explore critical components of the Stress First Aid model—designed to support the military and later customized for healthcare—and its invaluable tools for navigating stress in the workplace. Discover practical techniques and strategies aimed at providing immediate support and intervention during times of stress. Whether you’re an employee, manager or HR professional, this session will equip you with actionable methods to promote resilience and well-being in your workplace. Together, we’ll enhance our stress management toolkit and foster a healthier work environment for all.

Marie Cockerham
CARE4U Well-being & Support Program Director, Associate Director, Patient Care Services

Marie Cockerham, MN, RN, eCPR-C, directs CARE4U, the effective peer-to-peer well-being and support program at the University of Washington Medical Center. Marie is a graduate prepared clinician and has been a nurse for over 20 years with a strong clinical background in critical care both as a bedside nurse and clinical nurse educator and specialist.

In recent years, she has focused on our healthcare teams, taking care of the people that take care of the people. After helping create and implement CARE4U in 2020, Marie served as the mental health supervisor for healthcare workers during the pandemic, directly supporting two hospital campuses. She is extremely passionate about cultivating healthy work environments, reducing stigma and barriers to access related to mental health care, and the prevention of suicide. Marie has spoken extensively locally and nationally on topics clinically in critical care and nursing education, as well as a variety of wellbeing and mental health topics and is an emotional intelligence powerhouse in leading our teams with a focus on wellbeing and support.

Session 3: Supporting Mental Health at Work

During this moderated panel, experts from diverse backgrounds within UW will explore key themes impacting employee mental health. We’ll touch on understanding mental health, reducing stigma and recognizing signs and symptoms, while also highlighting community resources and the importance of peer support. Our conversation will extend to workplace stressors, burnout prevention and strategies for promoting psychological safety, with insights into leadership and management support. We’ll also discuss the significance of workplace accommodations and the connections between mental health, belonging and accessibility in fostering a supportive environment.

Fiona Cohen
Violence Prevention & Response Specialist, UW SafeCampus

Fionna Cohen (she/her), MSW, has a master’s degree in social work with a clinical focus from the University of Washington and is currently working towards her LICSW. Fionna’s work as a violence prevention & response specialist at UW SafeCampus is grounded in a background of sociology and political advocacy. She enjoys working directly with individuals as they address and process challenging circumstances. Her work is also focused on advancing structural changes that lessen barriers to care and make people safer.  Fionna loves to hike, enjoy the Seattle outdoors, and explore the food scene.


Jenn Nguyen
Director of the Washington State Employee Assistance Program

Jenn Nguyen, MSW, LICSW, is a dedicated public servant. She is a third-generation social worker and has been in state service for over 16 years, including stints at the Department of Early Learning and the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DYYF). In the past two years working with DCYF, Jenn has created and operated a crisis response and peer support program to ensure a continuum of mental, behavioral and wellness supports for internal DCYF staff. In addition, she is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a part-time private practice. In her free time, Jenn can be found at the beach with her two little ones and a puppy adopted impulsively during the pandemic.


Brennon Ham
Director of the Q Center
Brennon Ham (Brennon/they/any), Ed.M., is a queer, bigender, mixed Latinx, formerly homeless survivor of violence. These identities and experiences shaped much of their professional and academic pursuits. Over the last 12 years, Brennon has served a long list of organizations, including A Way Home Washington, Seattle Public Schools, The Northwest Network of LGBTQ+ Survivors of Abuse, Lifelong AIDS Alliance and Queer Youth Space. They completed undergraduate studies at Case Western Reserve University, earned a master’s degree in education policy & management from Harvard University and added a Diversity & Inclusion certificate from Cornell University. Raised in a big and blended family on the East Coast, they were a competitive athlete for many years.

Brennon now coaches swimming at Garfield High School and Lakeridge Swim Club in Seattle. They currently live on First Hill with their four-legged babies, Frankie and Homer.

Marie Cockerham
CARE4U Well-being & Support Program Director, Associate Director, Patient Care Services

Marie Cockerham, MN, RN, eCPR-C, directs CARE4U, the effective peer-to-peer well-being and support program at the University of Washington Medical Center. Marie is a graduate prepared clinician and has been a nurse for over 20 years with a strong clinical background in critical care both as a bedside nurse and clinical nurse educator and specialist. In recent years, she has focused on our healthcare teams, taking care of the people that take care of the people. After helping create and implement CARE4U in 2020, Marie served as the mental health supervisor for healthcare workers during the pandemic. She is extremely passionate about cultivating healthy work environments, reducing stigma and barriers to access related to mental health care, and the prevention of suicide. Marie has spoken extensively locally and nationally on topics clinically in critical care and nursing education, as well as a variety of well-being and mental health topics.

Gretchen Bennett
Senior Disability Services Consultant, Disability Services Office






Anne Browning (Moderator)
Associate Dean for Well-Being at UW Medicine
Founding Director, UW Resilience Lab

Anne Browning, PhD, MA, is the assistant dean for well-being at the University of Washington School of Medicine. She is also the founding director of the UW Resilience Lab and affiliate assistant professor at the UW College of Education. Through her work, Ann is promoting resilience, brain health and well-being for health care teams. Anne studied social anthropology as an undergraduate at Harvard University and went on to earn a master’s degree in education at the University of California at Berkeley. At the UW, she earned a PhD in education, leadership and policy studies while working to support equity and access for students.

Session 4: Thriving Together: Empowering Well-being for Team Success 

Discover the keys to fostering well-being and work-life harmony in this insightful panel discussion featuring three distinguished experts from the University of Washington. This panel will bring together a wealth of expertise from various disciplines to explore strategies for building healthy, thriving teams in today’s dynamic work environments.

Through engaging discussions, real-life examples and an interactive Q&A session, this panel aims to equip you with actionable strategies to enhance well-being and foster collaboration on teams. Whether you’re a leader, a team member or simply interested in promoting well-being in the workplace, this panel will offer invaluable insights and practical tools for creating a fulfilling and sustainable work environment.

Ryan Fehr
Professor of Management and Michael G. Foster Fellow

Ryan Fehr, PhD, is an accomplished business leader and expert in organizational behavior at the University of Washington Foster School of Business. With over a decade of experience in the corporate world and fascinating research into the factors that make worklife engaging and fulfilling, Ryan specializes in strategies for building cohesive and high-performing teams. He has a passion for creating positive work cultures that promote employee well-being, engagement, and productivity. Ryan’s insights blend practical business acumen with a deep understanding of human behavior, making him a sought-after speaker and consultant in the field of team dynamics and organizational psychology.


Nicole Van Dyke
Head Coach, UW Women’s Soccer

Nicole Van Dyke, who been a collegiate soccer head coach for 15 years and led the University of Washington women’s soccer program for the past five, is a highly respected coach and mentor. With a background in elite sports coaching and player development, Nicole brings a unique perspective on leadership, teamwork and resilience. Her expertise extends beyond the soccer field, encompassing strategies for achieving work-life balance, fostering mental toughness, and promoting holistic well-being. Nicole’s winning coaching philosophy emphasizes the importance of personal growth, self-care and empowering individuals to excel both athletically and personally.


Cynthia Levine
Assistant Professor of Psychology
Primary Investigator, UW Culture, Diversity & Health Lab

Cynthia Levine, PhD, is a renowned researcher and psychologist at the University of Washington, whose work focuses on understanding human behavior in social contexts. With years of experience conducting groundbreaking research, Cynthia brings a wealth of knowledge on team dynamics, communication and stress management. Her expertise bridges the gap between academic research and practical applications, offering evidence-based insights that help organizations cultivate positive work environments and support employee well-being. Cynthia’s work has been widely published and recognized for its contributions to enhancing teamwork and promoting psychological health in the workplace.

Moderated by Jessica Cole
Director for WorkLife
UW Human Resources

It’s my absolute pleasure to serve the UW community as your Director for WorkLife. As a single mother of three, I deeply know the importance of WorkLife support systems at the University of Washington. I completed both my undergraduate (BS in Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences: Society, Ethics, & Human Behavior ‘16) and my Master of Arts in Policy (‘19) at UW Bothell, where my experience as a parenting student led to my advocating for improved support programs and belonging for parenting students on campus. This work nurtured my passion for developing accessible programs and earned me a spot on the 2016 Husky 100 list. Outside of work, I enjoy giving back to organizations that have helped my little family thrive, painting, indulging in my growing interest in house plants, and listening to audio books.

Session 5: Physical Well-Being at Work

In this discussion among three distinguished panelists, learn about the importance of physical activity and nutrition to our overall well-being and longevity—and our performance at work. Exercise and nutrition are not one-size-fits-all solutions, and there are many ways to incorporate sustainable practices in our daily lives.

Charles Kenyon
Doctor of Oseopathic Medicine, UW Medicine

Dr. Charles Kenyon, DO, MS, CSCS, is board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation and sports medicine and specializes in non-operative orthopedics and sports-related concussions, including the diagnosis and interventional treatment of musculoskeletal injuries with ultrasound. His clinical expertise includes the diagnosis and management of joint, tendon and ligament injuries, as well as peripheral nerve conditions and sports-related concussion. Prior to medical school, Charles served as a performance specialist and coordinator of sports science with the Seattle Mariners and actively maintains credentialing as a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association in order to best serve active patients of all ages and abilities.

Jonathan Drezner
Director of the UW Medicine Center for Sports Cardiology
Co-Chair of the UW Medicine Cardiovascular Wellness and Prevention Program

Dr. Jonathan A. Drezner, MD, is a family medicine physician who specializes in sports medicine and sports cardiology. His clinical interests include sports medicine, musculoskeletal health, sports cardiology, cardiovascular screening and prevention, concussions and platelet-rich-plasma for chronic musculoskeletal conditions. In addition to serving as director of the UW Medicine Center for Sports Cardiology and co-chair of the UW Medicine Cardiovascular Wellness and Prevention Program, Jonathan is editor-in-chief of the British Journal of Sports Medicine and serves as team physician for the Seattle Seahawks, OL Reign and UW Huskies.

Anne Lund
Director of the UW Graduate Coordinated Program in Dietetics
Director of the UW Master of Public Health Nutrition Program

Anne Lund, MPH, RDN, FAND, directs the UW Graduate Coordinated Program in Dietetics and the UW MPH Nutrition degree. She joined the core faculty of the Nutritional Sciences Program in the Department of Epidemiology in 2009. Prior to becoming the dietetic program director, Anne was a research coordinator at the UW Center for Public Health Nutrition, where her work focused on school wellness policies and screen time reduction efforts. Anne completed her dietetic training at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal. Anne was awarded an Outstanding Dietetics Educator Award (2015) by the Academy’s Nutrition and Dietetic Educators and Preceptors group and the Outstanding Dietitian of the Year (2017) by the Washington State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Peggy Hannon
Director of the UW Health Promotion Research Center

Peggy Hannon, PhD, MPH, is director of the Health Promotion Research Center, designated a CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Prevention Research Center.

Her research focuses on dissemination and implementation research, with an emphasis on cancer screening and workplace health promotion.

She develops and tests interventions in partnership with entities such as the American Cancer Society and state and local departments of health to disseminate evidence-based practices to workplaces and other settings.


Moderated by Lauren Updyke
Executive Director, Employee Experience
Chief Wellness Officer UW Human Resources

Hi everyone, I’m Lauren, the Executive Director for Employee Experience and UWHR Chief Wellness Officer. My role is to lead our Employee Experience team encompassing The Whole U, UW Combined Fund Drive and WorkLife programs. I have spent over 20 years of my career in Health and Wellness. I came to the USA from Canada on a track and field scholarship to University of Louisiana. I have my Masters in Exercise Physiology, am a Certified Personal trainer through the American College of Sports Medicine, and have coached over 10,000 individuals online from all over the world. I worked with the wellness program at Duke University and Hospital for 13 years as fitness and health education manager. This is my tenth year at UW and I love being a Husky. When I’m not at work, I am either training for a marathon, doing lots of strength training, traveling with my family, or racing from one kid activity to the next.

Poster Presentations

Presenting Well-Being Wins are teams and departments from across the University of Washington! Read more about each special project, and be sure to visit booths during the lunch hour from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. You’ll find posters and printed resources along the south wall of the North Ballroom.

The Power of Meaningful Connection in Healthcare 

Patient Care Services  

Two nurse leaders collaborated with multi-campus CNOs and the Patient Experience team to launch a system-wide Meaningful Connection workshop aimed at addressing the impact of the significant challenges faced by healthcare teams in recent years. This one-hour workshop was developed and required for all nursing and nursing support staff at a multi-campus academic medical center, offering 25 virtual attendance options over a 6-month period. The workshop shared results from literature supporting the impacts of a 30-second compassionate connection between healthcare team members and/or a patient/family, along with opportunities for practical application. Potential staff impacts included triggering positive emotion/reward centers in the brain that can counteract stress response and have potential to decrease workplace violence. Impacts for the patient included buffering stress medicated disease, modulating the experience of pain, and the potential to enhance the immune response. This workshop offers a system-level, evidence-based, practical, and actionable strategy to address the rampant burnout, disengagement and subsequent impact on patient quality and outcomes for our modern, post-pandemic healthcare teams. 

ITS Cares  

UW Medicine IT Services  

ITS Cares is an annual event where a small group of lead volunteers coordinate and advertise numerous opportunities for staff to participate with peers in giving back to our community in various ways during the month of October. Opportunities presented to participants change each year and vary in experience. Some of the more popular events include knitting scarves for homeless shelters, baking cookies for veterans, item drives, beach cleanups, and opportunities to support UW Medicine clinics and hospitals with donation drives. ITS Cares gives staff a chance to learn about other teams, build community, and contribute to a common cause based on shared values or creative skills. Staff who participate report high satisfaction in the process, a morale boost, and a greater awareness and connection to colleagues and community organizations. 

Community Compass: Building Empathy and Confidence 

Population Health Panel Navigators 

Population Health Panel Navigators assist primary care patients with a range of topics, from cancer prevention to mental health and health-related social needs. To support their team’s well-being and enhance patient care, they attend a biannual Mental Health Frist Aid (MHFA) certification course. This training deepens their understanding of patients’ emotional states, improves their ability to recognize signs of mental distress, and equips them to compassionately assist patients form diverse backgorunds in navigating the health system. This course had increased team confidence, improved job performance, and enhanced support for patient referrals to community resources, fostering a more inclusive and supportive work environment for mental health and social needs.  

The 3 Wishes Project at UW Medical Center  

Multidisciplinary collaborators within UW Medical Center – Montlake

The 3 Wishes Project (3WP) is a palliative care intervention that began in Ontario, Canada in 2013, aiming to enhance the end-of-life experience for patients, families and healthcare teams by fulfilling wishes for the dying patient and their loved ones. This unique approach humanizes the end-of-life process, celebrates the patient’s life and legacy, and supports families and healthcare team members. The 3WP promotes meaningful end-of-life care, fostering teamwork among healthcare providers and helping families create new memories and move toward acceptance. It also enhances team wellness by promoting acts of kindness and creating a culture of well-being.

One Heart Wellness Retreat 

MCS/ Heart Institute 

The MCS – Heart Institute at UW Montlake accomplished two separate projects that work towards the goal of enhancing the well-being of hospital staff. The first project is B.R.E.A.T.H.E (Building Respectful Encouraging Atmosphere Toward Healthy Environment.) B.R.E.A.T.H.E  created a positive work environment and fostered a culture of well-being through breakroom enhancements such as, installing a Pepsi vending machine and a 63 – inch TV to enhance relaxation and downtime for staff. The second project is One Heart Wellness Retreat. This retreat is an organized two-hour retreat at Foege Vista Café focused on rejuvenating the staff. This retreat had featured speakers who offer insights on wellness as well as chair and laughter yoga.

Decreasing work-related injuries in gastrointestinal endoscopy through physical therapy 

Department of Pediatrics, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition 

This project aims to enhance the well-being of gastroenterology providers and nurses by implementing an endoscopy-specific physical therapy (PT) program for stretching, strengthening, and ergonomic education. Developed in partnership with UW PT, the program includes weekly home exercises targeting injury-prone areas and ergonomic education for the endoscopy space. Funding from the UV Well-Being grant was used to purchase PT equipment for all providers and nurses, who will keep the equipment after the project ends. Anonymous surveys will track the program’s feasibility and injury occurrence, while strength testing will assess specific areas of concern. Beyond reducing injuries and promoting wellness, the program addresses gender inequities and individual variables, such as height and fitness, in endoscopy. This collaborative effort aims to improve understanding and education on PT’s role in preventing occupational injuries in the endoscopy lab, benefiting the UW community’s wellness. 

Advancing Peer coaching skills, leadership development, and Community through peer group coaching 

Center for Leadership & Strategic Thinking, Foster School of Business 

Through a Purpose Grant from the Dean of the Foster School of Business, they launched an initiative to provide seed funding for faculty and staff to undertake projects aligning with the School’s purpose and mission. One such project was the development and piloting of peer group coaching program aimed at fostering learning, development and connection across the Foster School community. Participants received training in peer coaching skills and engaged in facilitated peer group coaching session, resulting in the development of supportive relationships and transferable skills. The study included pre – and post- program data collection to measure impact and evaluate the program. Participants reported an increase in transformational leader behaviors. Surveys also revealed positive impacts on community building, empathy and feelings of connection to the foster community.  

Flower Arrangements for Emotional Well-being  

UWM Heart Institute – Heart Transplant 

This project is funding the monthly purchase of flowers for the 3rd floor entry seating area at Harris Hydraulic Lab over the course of a year. This is a common area accessed daily by sixty UWM Heart Institute staff members from multiple subspecialties including Heart Failure & Cardiac Transplant, Palliative Care, Mechanical Circulatory Assist Device, Adult Congenital Heart Program, Cardio Oncology, Electrophysiology, and the Division of Cardiology. Members of this cohort routinely work with critically ill and terminally ill patients, creating a challenging environment for maintaining caregiver emotional health. The flowers create a space for mental and emotional rejuvenation. They brighten a typically drab common seating area, and providing a moment of beauty and emotional uplift for staff members who support critically ill patients daily. 

Thank you to The Whole U Wellness Symposium sponsors AT&TBECU and TIAA!