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A Panel about play

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.

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