2023 Spring Conference Sessions

Morning Break-Out Sessions

10:15 – 11:30am

Rethinking Workplace Mental Health

This workshop explores a holistic approach to workplace mental well-being for the whole. Work is how we fund our most vital needs to survive. It’s also how we express our humanness as beings with talents, skills & abilities to solve problems…In short, work is high stakes for mind, body & spirit.  With that, what are the factors that promote well-being for all? What factors need to be prioritized? What factors can be combined for a greater positive impact? Where is there momentum? What can be learned from those areas of momentum that can be applied to the highest priorities? The first and middle portions are to present the multitude of factors that enhance workplace mental health, including those often overlooked and given short shrift.  In the last third, the audience will engage in an exercise integrating the questions above to leave with a basic plan to take back to their organizations.


Debra LeClair

Business-Community Collaboration on Education

How can businesses partner with communities to ensure NH’s education systems work for everyone? Learn the latest on challenges for public education in NH and stories of coalitions that succeed. Kile Adumene of Manchester Community Action Coalition, who is a BIPOC parent in Manchester, and Beth Tener of Kinship will lead an innovation brainstorm on how businesses can work in solidarity with communities to create better outcomes for kids. We’ll generate timely ideas for civic action.

This session will provide about 20 -30 minutes of content about the current landscape with insights from an experienced community member. The rest of the time will be interactive, offering brief training in a participatory method and getting participants talking in small groups using 1-2-4-All or World Cafe, followed by time to synthesize the ideas that emerged, with discussion. The small groups will offer opportunities to build peer connections and learn about the larger system.

Inclusion Starts with Hearts and Minds

How one company went from 0 to 60 to successfully embark on its diversity, equity, and inclusion journey. Building a workplace culture of inclusion and belonging is a daunting objective for any company. So much so that it often results in simply checking boxes or worse, inaction. This session shares how Merchants Fleet deployed a strategy, just over two years ago, to bring employees together through empathy and education. This paved the way for more robust diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, significant employee engagement, and a more holistic approach to ESG. I will be sharing examples of the various programs and exercises used at Merchants as well as a video that resulted from a capstone project from our Ambassadors & Allies program. In addition, I intend on having attendees break into small groups to discuss a specific topic, then come back together to discuss as a group.

A Plan for a Just Transition in New England

Successful businesses manage through uncertainty. Demonstrating, practicing, and supporting economic models where human interest and environmental health are in balance can ensure that benefits and resources are shared and sustained for everyone. For business to participate in a just transition that supports healthier working and living environments, the regeneration of natural systems, and more efficient energy systems, the integration of financing, business advising, and workforce development must be central. Removing financial barriers, introducing new products, and training the skilled workforce of tomorrow helps businesses reduce risk and benefit from planning that integrates the vision of a climate resilient future. We will engage with the audience through facilitated discussions and interactive polls. We’ll use this session as a platform to capture practical feedback about the needs of businesses for climate planning and adaptation.

By sharing examples of resilient New England companies, we will identify the products and services that need to scale in response to our climate crisis. We need all hands-on deck to finance and train for this transition, the strongest plans will be born collaboratively. Business owners and the larger ecosystem will benefit from the perspective of a lender engaged in the business of building resilience into the businesses that we finance. We will discuss questions such as: what elements should you consider as you plan for the future of your business?

Meaning Making at the Edge of Chaos

Meaning-making at the edge of chaos makes it possible to embrace complexity and chaos while holding the tension between chaos and order and acknowledging the uncertainty, ambiguity, and unpredictability of outcomes in organizational life. This session will explore how organizations create space for embracing uncertainty and ambiguity. The session will begin with a short activity that simulates chaos. We will define chaos, simple, complicated, and complex problems, and meaning-making at the edge of chaos. Participants will engage in a dialogue practice focused on a wicked problem. The session will answer the question: how do you use dialogue at the edge of chaos to innovate? This is an interactive session.


Marty Jacobs

Afternoon Break-Out Sessions

1:50 – 3:05pm

Taking Care of Business by Caring for Employees

This session will feature solutions to address basic employee inequities, such as financial instability, nutrition insecurity, and limited or unreliable access to transportation, healthcare, childcare, and housing. Employee well-being has a profound impact on work performance and job satisfaction. When individuals are distracted at work because of instability in their personal lives, businesses suffer. How can employers provide support for employees and bolster organizational goals? This session will feature solutions to address basic employee inequities, such as financial instability, nutrition insecurity, and limited or unreliable access to transportation, healthcare, childcare, and housing.

Creating Sustainable Certainty: Communicating ROI

The purpose of this presentation is to provide examples of how companies connect revenue to responsibility and how communications are used to create internal support and consumer preference. Description: A panel of experts will address the following questions while providing tangible ways to illustrate and communicate the business case for implementing sustainable practices:

What are the key metrics to measure the ROI of sustainability?What are some quick wins that can build momentum?How do consumer preferences make the case that sustainability can increase sales?How do you get traction internally to support changes?What companies have proven sustainability can strengthen your bottom line? Session content will focus on data and case studies to give practical grab-and-go tips.

Panelists will provide examples from their experience vs. talking in theory. Session will include a small group break-out exercise led by panelists based on attendee challenges.

Civility in the Workplace

Eliminate incivility and disrespect that are impeding organizational effectiveness and personal fulfillment. It seems our society has become more polarized than ever. Disrespectful rhetoric intentional and unintentional – now fills the media, our institutions, and our workplaces. How do we interact with civility in this emotionally fraught environment? How do we interact with one another in a way that allows us to be productive while respecting the opinions of those with whom we may not agree? Come learn

  1. what civility is
  2. why civility is so important
  3. steps to promote civility in the workplace

The session will be more of a conversation than a presentation. The session will use slides, polls, breakouts, and role play/case studies to engage the audience.


James McKim

What Diversity of Mindset Looks Like In A Company

A company with a diversity of mindset values and encourages different perspectives, approaches, and problem-solving styles, fostering an inclusive and innovative culture.A diversity of mindset in a company can manifest in several ways, but what are the best strategies and why should companies continue to prioritize Diversity, Equity & Inclusion?

Studies suggest that DEI can positively impact a company’s financial performance, innovation, employee retention, and market appeal. Why should companies continue to make DEI a priority? Overall, investing in DEI can benefit a company in many ways and is crucial for building a solid and successful organization.


Flo Nicolas

Race for a Triple-Win Housing, Climate, Forests

We are Collaborating with Regional Thought Leaders to Solve the Intersection of Human and Nature Needs: Affordable Housing, Forest Products, and Climate Health. The Emerging Climate Leaders Collaborative aims to achieve a triple-win at the intersection of climate change, affordable housing, and forest products by incentivizing infrastructure that incorporates regionally sourced, climate-smart wood products and clean energy technology. To solve this complex sustainability problem, we expanded our partner network to include experts in building, public policy, science, land trusts, forestry and more, to explore opportunities, challenges, and next steps.


Susan Kaplan


Anthea Lavallee
​Paul Leveille
Rob Werner