top of page
Building Right.png


Saturday, October 28 to
October 30, 2023

Sponsored by:

An In-Person Experiential Group Relations Conference
Sponsored by the Center for the Study of Groups and Social Systems (Boston)

AKRI Endorsed Conference Logo.png

Images by

Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis
1581 Beacon St, Brookline, MA (Boston metro area)

Director's Invitation


The radical right vies with older forms of conservatism.  The radical left vies with traditional liberalism.  All shades of right vie with all shades of left, and with centrists, for power and control of national and local agendas.  In our workplaces, newer leaders, worldviews, and approaches jostle with longer-established ones.  In our educational institutions, newer administrators, faculty, philosophies, and methods wrestle with longer-tenured ones.  In our volunteer boards and committees, newer faces, values, and ideas grapple with longer-seated ones.  In our families, newer generations and older generations butt heads. 
In every area of our lives, we face transitions between new and old concepts and holders of leadership, authority, and power. Sometimes we align with the new, sometimes with the old, and sometimes with the in between. Whatever our alignment, these transitions often enough are tumultuous struggles that spark powerful feelings. Moving effectively amid these struggles requires speaking with authenticity and courage to what we see, hear, think, and feel.


This ‘conference’ will be an experiential learning event conducted in the Group Relations tradition.  As such, it will not feature experts delivering slide presentations to relatively passive learners.  Instead, it will be an opportunity to grapple with its title theme in the context of a temporary organization that participants and staff will co-create.  Within that organization, we will explore together our here-and-now experience of engaging with each other across various roles within a living system.  Focused primarily at the level of the group, we will pay attention to what is happening at both the conscious and unconscious levels, and to how the title theme manifests among us.  We will explore our very human needs, wishes and fears, both rational and irrational, in ways that connect these to the new, the old, and the in-between.  We will not work with the theme “out there,” but rather “in here” within the groups we form during the event.  This intense experiential learning will help us grow our understanding and expand our options for action, enabling us to work more effectively amid the transitions that surround us.  We invite you to join us on this journey.

mak wemuk, JD

Conference Director



This is a different kind of conference, one in which learning will be primarily through experience. Within a structure provided, participants will co-create a temporary organization and culture, engage with each other in that living system, and continuously reflect on the collective and individual experiences they are having.

Using their here-and-now experiences, participants will seek to better understand both conscious and unconscious systemic processes encountered in the exercise of leadership, authority, and power, with particular attention to the ways in which these processes connect to the conference theme.  By focusing on both conscious and unconscious processes, participants will learn to better see and hear both what is above the surface and what is beneath it.  Participants may find themselves developing new narratives and testing new ways of increasing group and individual effectiveness.


  • Observe, take part in, and analyze both covert and overt group processes through participating in groups that vary in size, structure, and task.

  • Observe, take part in, and articulate underlying patterns of group interaction by forming groups, establishing leadership structures, and relating with other groups and the institution as a whole.

  • Observe, experience, and articulate how we collectively and individually take up roles, negotiate authority, accomplish tasks, cross borders, and manage anxiety in a changing context.

  • Observe, experience, and discuss the fluidity of power and authority; the way power, roles, identities, tasks, and boundaries might shift or become more rigid in response to an emergent context.

  • Observe, experience, and discuss the difference between the stated task of a group and the task it appears to be pursuing.

  • Observe, engage in, and articulate collective and personal reactions to well-defined authority and clearly delineated boundaries.

  • Observe, experience, and articulate how varied aspects and perceptions of individual identity such as race, class, gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and education level are used by groups with and without the conscious awareness of the individuals involved.

Primary Task


The primary task of this conference is to study conscious and unconscious dynamics arising in the exercise of leadership, authority, and power—and the relatedness of these dynamics to the conference theme—as they unfold in the here-and-now through the taking up of roles in a temporary system.

Image by


In general, a Group Relations conference offers participants a combination of “here-and-now” events and reflective events. In the “here-and-now” events, participants study what is going on in the moment, paying particular attention to unconscious dynamics and looking at the group-as-a-whole, rather than simply intrapersonal or interpersonal dynamics. In the reflective events, participants are invited to reflect on, make meaning of, and apply their experiences.  The descriptions below provide more detail about various events.  

Artboard 21.png

Small Groups
Each participant is assigned to a Small work Group consisting of  8-12 participants and a consultant. The task of the Small Group is to study the exercise of leadership, authority, and power as it unfolds in the here-and-now, and the relatedness of what unfolds to the conference theme. The Small Group is a setting that allows face-to-face interchange.

Large Group
The Large Group consists of all conference participants and 3 consultants. The task of the Large Group is the same as that of the Small Groups, but in a setting that makes face-to-face interaction difficult or impossible. As such, it highlights dynamics that may occur in communities and large organizations or gatherings, where personal interactions are limited.

Artboard 22.png
Artboard 23.png

System in Action Event
In this event, participants form their own groups. The groups are asked to interact with other groups including the staff group. Participants and staff examine the system of this event as it evolves and unfolds, including its relatedness to the larger conference system. Staff provides consultation to the groups upon request. 

Review Groups
Participants are assigned to a group of 5-6 people and a consultant. The Review Group provides members with the opportunity to review their experiences in the conference to that point and consider what and how they are learning. Participants will have an opportunity to explore connections between their experiences in the conference and their experiences in communities, organizations and groups in the outside world.

Conference Discussion
In this event, participants and staff have an opportunity to collaborate in reviewing and analyzing their experiences in the conference as a whole. Throughout the conference, participants and staff may have taken up several roles and experienced many kinds of relationships with each other.  The Conference Discussion is an opportunity to recognize and discuss feelings, attitudes, and behaviors, and to perhaps discover patterns of action or deeper levels of significance with implications and applications to our outside communities and organizations.

Artboard 24.png

Post-Conference Reviews
These sessions provide additional opportunities for participants and staff to reflect on conference learning about unconscious processes in groups, the roles that are taken up in groups, how splitting and projection affect groups, and the relatedness of these and other dynamics to the conference theme. Participants and staff may attend one or both sessions or none at all. Following the conference, an invitation to participate in the post-conference review sessions will be sent out.  The dates and times are:

  • November 29, 2023, 7:00 p.m. - 830 p.m. ET

  • December 2, 2023, 10:00 a.m. - 11.30 a.m. ET




Members of the staff design and manage the conference as a whole. As collective management, they manage the boundaries of conference events, particularly in relation to time, task and territory.  Staff do not manage the participants or their behavior, but instead collectively manage the boundary conditions that allow the participants freedom to engage the primary task as they choose and as they authorize themselves and each other to do.

The consulting staff serve the purpose of the conference by linking their own experiences to the conference activity and offering observations, reflections and working hypotheses that explore both the conscious and unconscious aspects of the process that is emerging. Their observations and interpretations focus at the level of the group and not on the individual. Throughout the conference the roles staff members take are open for examination and reflection by participants and the staff themselves. It is the purpose of all staff roles, whether administrative or consulting roles, to encourage and support participant awareness, analysis, reflection, and understanding of the emerging conference dynamics. 



mak wemuk, JD
Conference Director and Consultant

(he, him) mak wemuk is indigenous (of the Coahuiltecan peoples) and Latine (Chicanx). He is a consultant specializing in issues of health equity, racial equity, and social justice (Luna Consulting & Coaching). He is Vice President of the Washington-Baltimore Center for the Study of Group Relations; a Co-Creator of Group Relations International; a practitioner in the Insight for Community Impact network; a Certified Consultant, Director Development Mentor, and Reparations Committee member for AKRI; a Past-President of the National Association of Latino Healthcare Executives (NALHE); and a member of the National Lawyers Guild. He is the father of four powerful young women and is based in the Chicago area.

Tanya Prasad.JPG

Anita Prasad
Associate Conference Director and Consultant
(she/her) Anita is a grassroots community development and social justice worker. A first-generation Indian immigrant to Canada, Anita’s work and life experiences on the front lines of anti-poverty, social, and ecological justice work span a global context.  In Toronto, she is actively engaged on issues of mental health & addiction, housing and homelessness, food insecurity, and equity. She is the Executive Director of Working for Change, a grassroots survivor-based organization working to build power in communities that live in poverty, and also serves on the board of a housing justice Community Land Trust. Group relations work has been a critical tool in her kit as she works towards healing in community.


Tanya Lewis, Ph.D.
Director of Administration

Tanya is the Director of the Bureau Kensington Leadership Development program. Her experience includes equity work within post-secondary education and non-profit community-based settings. She is the coordinator of Insight for Community Impact ( and the secretary of the CSGSS Board of Directors.


Vera Greenspan
Associate Administrator

(she/her) Vera is a first-generation Ukrainian American and a college student studying law and politics. She is an actor and a theatre director. She attended her first group relations conference as a sophomore in high school.


Stewart Morton
Associate Administrator

Stewart has been involved with group relations work for eight years. He finds this work interesting and continues in the exploration of his learning. He lives in Toronto and works in the electricity industry.



Journée Austin, MA, Ph.D. Candidate 

Journée is a doctoral candidate at Saybrook University, where their research focus is spiritually transformative experience. Additionally, they serve as a global executive leadership coach to multinational companies and not-for-profit organizations. Journée is administrator and Co-Creator of Group Relations International; member of AKRI; owner of Wisdom Wear; and member of ABPSI. Journée is a proud mother of one daughter and a grandmother of one.


Rosette Cirillo, Ed.M., Ph.D. Candidate

(she/her) Rosette is a full-time lecturer on education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she is core faculty for their Teaching and Teacher Leadership program. Her research for her dissertation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison presences the inner lives of teachers and their relationship to death in their pedagogies. She is a consultant and coach for educational and workplace ethics, inclusion, and power dynamics in groups at Leadership Lab International. She has served as a board member for the Boston Center for the Study of Groups and Social Systems and is a current member of both CSGSS and A.K. Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems. She is a proud former Chelsea Public Schools teacher and first-generation scholar. 

IMG-7623 (2).jpg

Nadia Greenspan

(she/her) Nadia is a performing improviser, an acting instructor and a psychological dramaturg. As a group therapist in private practice in Chicago, she specializes in working with people in creative and expressive arts. Born in the Soviet Union, she is a proud Ukrainian, a very goyishe anti-Zionist Jew, a practicing witch and an outspoken disruptor of white patriarchal supremacy. She’s participated in over 30 group relations conferences since 2010 and became a certified AKRI consultant in 2023.


Annysa Polanco

(she/her) Annysa is a first-generation Dominican American and a mom of two. She is the Director of Equity and Workplace Culture at the Museum of Modern Art. A DEI Practitioner and Social Worker by training, Annysa's work focuses on building resiliency in people and systems through organizational change. She serves on the Board of AKRI as the current Vice-President and is a member of the New York Center. 


Alan Ruiz, MFA 

Alan is an artist and educator whose work examines the way space is produced as both material and ideology. His work explores the way institutions, and the architecture that contains them, may reflect social hierarchies and unconscious processes. His investigation of what the built environment contains and excludes extends into the discursive form of writing, public lectures, and workshops. He has taught classes at the Rhode Island School of Design, Wesleyan University, the School of Constructed Environments at Parsons, and currently teaches at Eugene Lang, The New School, and the Hunter College M.F.A Program in Studio Art. Alan is a GRI Co-Creator, a member and certified consultant of the A.K. Rice Institute, and President of its regional affiliate, the New York Center for the Study of Groups, Organizations, and Social Systems. He also is a member of CSGSS and is Faculty-in-Training for the CSGSS "Leading from Experience" workshop.


Amber Williams, MA

(they/she) Amber is a Black American, born and raised in Philadelphia, whose adoptive family has roots in South Carolina via the trans-Atlantic slave trade. They work at the University of Pennsylvania in academic affairs and have a variety of experiences as a Higher Education professional over the past seven years. Amber is a Difficult Dialogues National Resource Center (DDNRC) Board of Directors member; GRI co-creator; AKRI member, Finance Committee member, and former Internal Director Board member; WBC member.



This conference is open to anyone wanting an opportunity to learn through immediate and direct experience about group dynamics, influence, and about overt and covert actions involved in the exercise of leadership, authority, and power. No particular background or experience is necessary to participate. People from a wide variety of fields and organizations and industries have participated in CSGSS conferences including but not limited to individuals from educational institutions, foundations, healthcare systems, mental health and addiction centers, first responder units, nonprofits of all sorts, community organizing, technology companies, organizational and management consulting, national volunteer programs, arts organizations, and various business enterprises.


All Conference Events will begin and end precisely at the times scheduled.  The conference will begin promptly at 9:00 AM Eastern on Saturday, October 28, 2023, and end promptly at 5:20 PM Eastern on Monday, October 30, 2023

Saturday, October 28                  The Conference Opening is at 9:00 AM Eastern. 

Sunday, October 29                     Conference events run from 9:00 AM to 7:30 PM Eastern

Monday, October 30                   Conference events run from 9:00 AM to 5:20 PM Eastern


Saturday events end at 7:00 PM Eastern



All conference events will take place at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis, 1581 Beacon St, Brookline, MA (Boston metro area).

This conference is designed as an integrated experience with each event building on the one previous. Participants should plan to attend all events.

Continuing Education
Offering 20 Continuing Education credits/clock hours for: Psychologists (all levels) and Mental Health Counselors. Application for continuing education credits for social workers is being submitted. Please contact BGSP at for the status of social work CE accreditation.

Fee Reduction
Reduced-fee registrations will be available for those needing assistance. Please contact the Director of Administration, Tanya Lewis, at for details before you register.

Withdrawal Policy
Fees can only be refunded (less the $50 administration charge) if a written notice of cancellation is received by 11:59 PM Eastern on October 16, 2023.

Staff will not report the behavior of any individual member to anyone outside the conference.

The conference is an educational endeavor and does not provide psychotherapy or counseling. Although the experiential learning available can be stimulating and enriching, it can also be emotionally stressful. Thus, applicants who are ill or experiencing significant personal difficulties should forgo participating at this time.


(due in full upon registration)

Early Registration by
October 2

Non-Discounted Rate

Current Members of CSGSS, GRI, ICI,
AKRI, and BGSP Faculty and Staff Rate

Group Rate*

Full-Time Student Rate**





Regular Registration by
October 23





* Group rates are for 3 or more participants coming from the same organization.
** Full-time students must submit copy of current student ID

One discount per application. Partial fee reductions are available to help those for whom the conference may be financially out of reach. These grants will be based on the overall enrollment of the conference relative to the number of applicants seeking assistance. To inquire, please contact the conference Director of Administration, Tanya Lewis, at before registering.  



Click to view/download

01_Tavistock Primer.png
02_Key Concepts.png


AKRI Endorsed Conference Logo.png

The Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis (BGSP) is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. BGSP maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

The Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis has been approved by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 5676. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified.


The Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs. Application for social work continuing education credits is being submitted.


Please contact BGSP at for the status of social work CE accreditation.


For information on continuing education credits, call BGSP at 617-277-3915.

bottom of page