top of page

I was delighted to be a part of a robust panel discussion this past weekend. Check it out!

Is joy a social justice issue? Can it be subversive?

This spring’s Play, Development and Social Justice webinar brings together performance activists from three seemingly unrelated sectors of society--criminal justice, dementia/eldercare and corporate America. A commonality in their work is their emphasis on play that has brought joy into spaces where it is considered unimportant or impossible.

We at the East Side Institute see development as a social justice issue and play, and its relationship to joy, as being inseparable from personal and societal development. Join us for an intimate look at the methods, challenges and successes of bringing play into unusual places.


Rivka Rocchio is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at SUNY Potsdam where she focuses as a community-based theatre artist exploring the intersections of theatre and social justice. Rocchio received her M.F.A in Theatre for Youth from Arizona State University and her B.A. in Theatre Education and Writing, Literature and Publishing from Emerson College. She is the creator of Theatre Across Prison Walls, a theatre-based project bridging university students and artists who are incarcerated. More information about her work can be found at

Chris Gage is an internationally respected social entrepreneur, with specialisms in organisational culture, creativity, innovation and dementia. He leads Ladder to the Moon, a consultancy that supports care services to be creative vibrant places to live, work and visit that deliver outstanding business results. The company has a reputation for developing creative cultures in care services. Chris has pioneered this unique approach in order to lead and support the change that he wanted to see in the services that his Grandmother used. Chris’ work and articles have featured on Channel 4, TEDx and across the sector press. He has consulted in the USA and Australia, and speaks internationally.

In her role as President and Chief Possibility Officer of Performance of a Lifetime, Maureen Kelly leads a global team in continuously breaking new ground in the use of play and performance as a catalyst for human development in the workplace. She has led the company in a decade of extraordinary growth — launching strategic change programs and securing a spot on the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies List for three consecutive years. Trained in Social Therapeutics, she thrives on innovating with clients, whom she loves for their bravery, business savvy, and humanism. She holds a masters in organizational psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University, and is a member of the East Side Institute faculty.

Christian Felix is an executive and leadership development coach who specializes in diversity, equity and inclusion. He has worked internationally, across a wide variety of industries including Media, Finance, Technology, Manufacturing, Big Pharma, Advertising, Professional sports leagues and some of the top business schools around the county. As a specialist in implicit bias, his approach utilizes interactive programs to activate awareness and produce inclusive outcomes. He has led companies through crucial conversations about race and ethnicity, gender, language and culture, LGBTQ+, socio-economic inequity, and neurodiversity. Christian received a BA in English and Theater from Dartmouth College.

49 views0 comments

The old adage, big things come in small packages, could not be more true! At least when it comes to describing a recent initiative taken up by a few of my cousins on my Irish American side. I recently published an article about how I’ve felt let down by that side of the family in respect to their collective response (or lack of one) to Black Lives Matter. This note was an awesome surprise to get in the mail at the tail end of Black History Month. My cousins mailed this Black Lives Matter pin to all of my other cousins, aunts and uncles along with a simple card expressing love, lots of it. Which is no small feat as my Irish American family is huge!

This collective action of my four cousins highlights a very effective way for allies to broadcast their support and invite others to reflect on their own feelings and do the same. Being one of two black people in this Irish American family has not always been easy, despite the fact that we are a loving and fairly well connected family. The last four years have been particularly challenging. This card and pin left me with a sense that members of my white family care about an issue that might not effect them personally, as well as an acknowledgement and affirmation of my experience despite any discomfort it might generate. In addition to the card and pin, they made a donation in the family’s name to a non-profit and they sent out a message which described these initiatives to the family and included additional resources for getting smarter about Black Lives Matter and race, in general. So, this is a big thank you to Krissie, Charlotte, John and Michael. This is allyship in action and a job well done.

Oftentimes, well intentioned people get stuck when trying to figure out how to turn their idea of allyship into an action. The actions my cousins took reflect some helpful things to keep in mind when considering being an ally:

-Don’t over think it.

-Start small.

-Keep it simple.

If this inspires you to be an ally in action, let me know!

76 views0 comments

I delivered an interactive keynote at this conference entitled: Activating Allyship in the Age of Black Lives Matter, #MeToo and Covid. It was a robust discussion with high engagement throughout. I want to thank the sponsors, Guardant Health Inc. and the hosts from Hanson Wade for making it possible. See the reviews below!

From the Sponsors *Thank you so much for running this inspiring and thought provoking session. You have brought a whole new way of looking at these issues and I really appreciate your involvement in this. The feedback is already great and look forward to catching up with you soon.

*I’d like to add my thanks to Sam’s, for the terrific session you ran this morning. It was excellent – you’ve clearly spent a lot of time thinking about how to handle some very sensitive topics, the video was hair-raising and you’ve given me a lot to think about. Excited to explore doing some other sessions together. Thank you again.

From a Participant

Thanks for opening my eyes, for being a voice that gets heard, for educating us and for stretching me beyond my comfort zone today. Inspired is a word that almost gets over-used, but I want you know I am inspired, following your talk, to learn more and I aspire to actively participate and do more. I want to be the change that I would like to see! Bless you!

Looking forward to delivering more keynotes and engaging with leaders on these very important topics.

35 views0 comments
bottom of page