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Inclusive Excellence Symposium

    Wednesday, April 24, 2024  |  1:00pm - 4:00pm  |  Online via Zoom

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About the Inclusive Excellence Symposium

The first ever PAU Inclusive Excellence Symposium is an inaugural event that provides a platform for students, staff, and faculty at Palo Alto University (PAU) to showcase their work and research pertaining to diversity, equity, multiculturalism, social justice, and historically under-resourced populations. This symposium offers a unique opportunity for attendees to delve into the inspiring and impactful initiatives undertaken by the PAU community across various disciplines. Participants can learn about groundbreaking research, innovative programs, and inclusive practices aimed at addressing social disparities, promoting multicultural understanding, and fostering empowerment among marginalized populations. By highlighting the work of PAU's talented individuals, the symposium serves as a catalyst for collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and the collective pursuit of inclusive excellence. 

2023-2024 Schedule of Events
To download a PDF of the schedule click here


1:00 pm - 1:15 pm

Main Zoom Room

Welcome Remarks

President Maureen O’Connor 

Provost Erika Cameron


1:15pm - 2:00pm      Concurrent Session 1


Room 1

Menstrual Dignity on Campus


Charlotte Beard, PhD and Alexandra Rousseau, MD, MS


The Innovation lab presents a topic on menstrual dignity on campus by sharing the results of a recent health initiative. The Palo Alto University Positive Period and Plumbing Project aimed to build more inclusive communities by reducing stigma related to menstruation and increasing equity for individuals who menstruate. Researchers also aimed to address an ongoing need within facilities management related to plumbing issues. The project used a behavioral design paradigm and an interrupted time-series research design to make modifications to campus restrooms. Students’ beliefs and perceptions about the project were collected and will be shared. In all, the project provided students with 1,216 menstrual products. Student impressions about the project were collected through a survey that was open after the completion of the project and analyzed using quantitative and qualitative measures. Most students who responded to the survey had a menstrual cycle during the course of the project (94.4%). Student responses to aims of the study will be shared, with recommendations for continued implementation and improvement.



Room 2

Teaching Equitable Couples Counseling Practice


Susan Branco, PhD,  Mackenzie Atchie, and Emma Sower


Counselor educators are challenged to develop and implement creative ways to teach couple counseling theory and skills (Williams et al., 2021). One strategy includes the application of reflecting teams and couple counseling skills practice. Reflecting teams in counselor education facilitate student participation and engagement by offering live observation and feedback to co-counselors conducting a couples counseling session (Landis & Young, 1994). The couples counseling teaching team, including the couples counseling course lead (CL) faculty member and two doctoral-level psychology teaching assistants (TAs), aimed to adapt Shurts et al. 's (2006) role-play and reflecting team couples counseling teaching model to an online classroom. 


The team reviewed relevant couples counseling andragogy to prepare for the adapted reflecting team experience. The TAs would portray the identified couple, with whom the students in the course would co-counsel throughout the term. They created a composite queer and women-identifying couple, “Andi” and “Jo,” who experienced mental health and financial stressors to allow for socioculturally attuned (Knudson & Kim, 2022) counseling opportunities.

At the beginning of the term, the CL described the reflecting team model and assigned students peer-reviewed literature on student emotional experiences while participating in a similar reflecting and co-counseling team activity in a couples counseling course (Harrawood et al., 2011). The article and students' hopes and concerns were shared in a large group discussion in the second week of the term. The CL divided students into four reflecting and co-counseling teams with the intention that each team would rotate roles throughout the term. 


The structure of the two-hour class included a large group check-in at the start of class, a didactic review of the couples counseling theory for the week, and co-counseling couple session preparation before the couple, “Andi” and “Jo,” entered for their session. Following Shurts et al. 's (2006) model, the co-counseling team would conduct a 20-minute session, followed by the reflecting team’s (RT) 5 to 10-minute observations and feedback about the session shared with both the co-counselors and couple. Next, the couple and co-counseling team offered their feedback, thoughts, and perceptions of the RT comments. Afterward, the couple exited the session, and the entire group debriefed for the next 15 minutes until the conclusion of the class session. Progress couple tracking notes were maintained each week on a shared document for the entire class to contribute. 


Throughout the term, the CL elicited student feedback about the reflecting team experience both in group discussions and individual reflection posts. During the term, strengths of the teaching strategy including helpfulness to learn from other peers and the ability to engage in couples counseling emerged. Similarly, limitations such as challenges to co-counsel and feelings of competition were also presented. 


The couples counseling teaching team will share their perspectives on the pilot launch of the reflecting team model in an online classroom to include modifications to the model enacted during the term. They will describe the overall strengths as well as weaknesses of the approach in an online classroom. Finally, the teaching team will offer recommendations for future iterations of the reflecting team approach. 



Room 3

Acculturative Stress and Post-migration Growth among Chinese Immigrants


Poppy (Hua) Huo and Pei-Chun Tsai


Based on Berry's acculturation framework, this initiative project aims to shed light on the positive changes and coping processes that Chinese immigrants employ during cross-cultural transitions. In particular, this project seeks to explore culturally specific coping (i.e., forbearance) and psychological flexibility as moderating factors for the association between acculturative stress, depression, and post-migration growth among Chinese immigrants. The implications of this project may contribute to provide a better understanding of how cultural factors maybe related to acculturative stress and post-migration growth of Chinese immigrants and inform culturally responsive interventions.



Room 4

Barriers to Psychedelic Therapy in Marginalized Communities


Shannah Finkel, Alejandro Ruelas-Mora, and Nancy Haug, PhD



Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy (PAP) is emerging as an effective treatment for mental health disorders and has the potential to facilitate profound healing from racial stress and cultural trauma. This symposium invites a roundtable discussion about equitable access to PAP for people of color and proactively examines potential disparities that may exclude marginalized communities. We aim to: 1) promote equity by critiquing the systemic barriers that currently uphold disparities in PAP access; 2) discuss policy changes and socially just PAP programs the mental health field can implement, and; 3) explore research designs and participatory methods to increase multicultural representation in PAP.   


2:00 pm - 2:10 pm   Break

2:15 pm - 3:00 pm    Concurrent Session 2


Room 1

Integrating AI into Supervision for Trauma-Care Trainees with an Inclusive Lens


Rachel Jacoby and Karen Roller


Non-suicidal self-injury, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts present challenges for counselors-in-training, requiring comprehensive AI interventions to enhance response capabilities. These complex scenarios often trigger concerns related to professional boundaries and emotional stability throughout training. Recognizing the profound personal impact of such histories on counselors-in-training, instructors and supervisors can employ AI-driven tools to provide tailored support. Especially in rural and global settings lacking established care systems for severe presentations, AI interventions play a pivotal role in augmenting counselors-in-training skills to address these issues with greater confidence and competence. Integrating AI strategies empowers counselors-in-training when responding to self-harm and suicidality.



Room 2

Cultural Factors in Suicide Risk Assessment and Intervention


Francesco Yepez, Sara Wadhwa, and Michel Rattner


This session will summarize the current research on best practices for suicide risk assessment and intervention with ethnic minority and LGBTQ+ clients. The presenters will first describe the Cultural Theory and Model of Suicide, a framework for understanding cultural risk and protective factors for suicide. This framework was developed by PAU faculty and distills the vast majority of available cultural suicide risk data into four factors: Cultural Idioms of Distress, Cultural Sanctions of Suicide, Social Discord, and Minority Stress. Each of these factors attenuates an individual's suicide risk according to the cultural norms regarding psychological suffering, psychological treatment, and suicide as an acceptable option that are promoted by other individuals in their community.


The presenters will then describe the creation of the Cultural Assessment for Risk of Suicide (CARS). This measure assesses the cultural risk and protective factors identified by the Cultural Theory and Model of Suicide. The measure consists of 39 self-report items on a 6 point Likert scale. It was normed on a sample of 950 adults, the vast majority of whom identified as African American, Latinx, Asian American, or LGBTQ+. The measure yields a risk profile across eight categories that map directly onto the four factors of the Model. The presenters will explain how to score the CARS and provide considerations for administration with clients.


Finally, the presenters will demonstrate how to develop a risk formulation and a safety plan using a CARS score profile. They will provide a case example of a ethnic and sexual minority client who is struggling with suicidal ideation. The presenters will illustrate that elevated scores on the risk profile indicate points of intervention, and lower scores indicate cultural protective factors that can bolster treatment outcomes. Our hope is that this presentation will enrich your understanding of how culture affects suicide risk, and that you integrate these procedures into your clinical practice.



Room 3

Investigating Mock Juror Verdicts in Stand Your Ground Cases


Emma Sower, Reilly Gallin, and Amanda Fanniff, PhD


Previous research in the area of Stand Your Ground (SYG) defenses focus on the analysis of real-life cases (Roman, 2013; Wagner et al., 2016); although the results provide an important incentive for continuing this research, there are too many variables at play in each instance to reach any conclusions about the impact of any individual variable. Vignette-based experiments provide an avenue to clarify the impact of specific variables on SYG application, including how the race and ethnicity of those involved impact decisions. Our goal is to des

ign and implement a vignette-based study to explore the impact of racism on verdicts when all other variables are the same across vignettes. A pilot study was conducted to help us refine the study design, particularly the vignettes used. In the first phase of pilot testing (n = 10), participants were given a complex (witness statement corroborating events) or simple (no witness statement) vignette. Participants were asked to answer questions about the perpetrator's guilt and identify any additional information that may have helped determine guilt. We found that when participants were given the simple vignette, half (50%, n = 5) half (50%, n = 5) of the sample correctly guessed that we were interested in investigating the influence of race in SYG cases. Additionally, participants indicated the format of some of our questions (e.g., sliding scales) did not translate well to a mobile format. All ten participants indicated that the defendant was guilty (i.e., the SYG defense failed).  participants indicated that the defendant was guilty (i.e., the SYG defense failed). Participants indicated our questions were clear. Due to the issues with question format, limited variability, and the ease of identifying the purpose of our investigation, we conducted another round of data collection for the pilot study.


The second phase of the pilot study (n = 20) focused on making our study's purpose less clear and increasing the variability of participant responses. Based on the results of our first pilot study, we used the complex vignette and added several details. Our new vignettes for the second phase of the pilot study included adding a history of aggression between the defendant and the victim. This component was chosen due to real-life SYG cases in which the defendant and victim had previous interactions. Given how few participants felt that the defendant was eligible for a SYG defense in the first phase, we added the detail that the victim had a firearm, which the defendant saw. This was an attempt to make the SYG defense more plausible, and to increase the variability of participant evaluations of the defense. In this phase, an almost even split of participants rated the defendant as guilty (n = 11, 55%).


The pilot studies will inform the final design to ensure that there is sufficient variability in subject responses for data analysis in the main study. Our next steps include applying for funding for the main study. For our full study, we will be using the Tolerance of Racism scale (TOR; Hunt et al., 2021) to measure participants’ acceptance of bias towards oppressed groups. This measure demonstrates construct and discriminatory validity related to symbolic and modern racism (Hunt et al., 2021). Our hypotheses are:


1: There will be a main effect of perpetrator race, such that Black defendants are more likely to be found guilty than White defendants.


1a: The effect of perpetrator race will be moderated by victim race, such that the relationship between a Black defendant vignette and guilty verdicts will be stronger when the victim in the vignette is White. 


2: The relationship between the race of the perpetrator and guilt will be mediated by participants’ tolerance of racism.


2a. The relationship between the interaction of victim and perpetrator race and guilt will be mediated by the participants’ tolerance of racism.


During the session, we will also include a discussion about the identity-based self-reflection our team has incorporated throughout the research process. This includes discussing how to do research focusing on racism while holding the oppressor identity, the importance of applied research being used for policy change and not staying in the ivory tower, and how to develop and create vignettes that focus on race and identity without the participants identifying what you are researching. We will then transition into the discussion portion of this presentation.



Room 4 

Cult Violence and Trauma, and How We Can Help


Jennifer Johnson


This presentation provides an overview addressing contemporary research on cult violence and the manifestations of cult/religious trauma. It overviews current barriers to care and the role counselors play in providing assistance, resources, and potential frameworks for treatment. This topic is significant as many cult survivors often lack tailored support due to the scarcity of specialized care, despite the prevalence of cults. Drawing from personal experience as a cult survivor, the presenter advocates for the need for increased awareness and understanding and uses current evidence to attempt to dismantle the societal stigma associated with cults.


3:00 pm - 3:10 pm   Break

3:15 pm - 4:00 pm    Concurrent Session 3


Room 1

Advancing Inclusive Excellence through Telemental Health: The PAU eClinic Model


Donna Sheperis and Krystle Herbert


The PAU eClinic integrates artificial intelligence (AI) supported supervision and digital therapeutics to train students in delivering culturally responsive, evidence-based care. Supervisory analysis of session data reveals insights into therapist interventions, common themes, and client outcomes. These metrics guide supervision and seminars to enhance clinical skills within a culturally responsive approach. The eClinic model demonstrates how leveraging telemental health, digital therapeutics, AI, and cultural humility can promote inclusive excellence in mental health care delivery and clinical training. This session will explore how data-driven insights can inform best practices, foster cultural responsiveness, and advance equity in mental health care.



Room 2

Exploring Mental Health Support for the Black Community: A Guide to Accessing Psychological Treatments


Andia Ruiz Payne Narcis


We will introduce an exciting initiative to educate underserved communities, specifically the black community, about their treatment options. The initiative will feature four psychoeducational videos, each lasting five minutes. The goal is to empower individuals to make more informed choices when considering therapy. The session will cover the following topics: Exploring different treatment modalities. Providing a guide to engaging in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in the Black community. Understanding the potential benefits of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) for the Black Community dealing with PTSD. Exploring how the Black community can benefit from Emotion-Focused Therapy when addressing emotions.



Room 3

Embracing Emotional Diversity: A Mindful Approach to Enhancing Vitality


Piumi Yaggahahewage and Pei-Chun Tsai


This initiative project aims to examine the mechanism of how a novel mindfulness approach (i.e., awareness meditation) may facilitate embracing emotional diversity (i.e., the constructive expression of suppressed emotions, such as anger or jealousy), in turn to increase the emotional freedom and vitality—defined as the energy and strength for continued growth and engagement (Stern, 2010) among women of color. The concept of awareness meditation practice draws on the principles of Yin and Yang to enable a comprehensive emotional experience in a secure, psychologist-guided setting. —The implications of this project are likely to contribute to enhance well-being and therapeutic innovation in clinical psychology.


Symposium Information

Themes for Consideration

Multicultural Understanding and Awareness

Refers to the recognition, appreciation, and respect for diverse cultures, backgrounds, and identities. It involves developing knowledge, empathy, and sensitivity towards different cultural perspectives, traditions, and values. This theme emphasizes the importance of fostering inclusivity, promoting cross-cultural communication, and embracing diversity to create a more harmonious and equitable society.

Social Justice and Advocacy

Focuses on addressing systemic injustices and advocating for equal rights and opportunities for all individuals, particularly those who have been marginalized or oppressed. This theme involves promoting fairness, challenging discrimination, and working towards creating a more just and equitable society. It encompasses efforts to eliminate discrimination based on factors such as race, gender, socioeconomic status, and more.

Empowerment of Historically Under-resourced Populations

Highlights initiatives and strategies aimed at empowering individuals and communities who have historically faced limited access to resources, opportunities, and social power. This theme emphasizes promoting self-determination, enhancing resilience, and providing support and resources to marginalized groups to overcome barriers and achieve their full potential.

Addressing Social Disparities and Promoting Equity 

Focuses on identifying and rectifying disparities and inequalities that exist within society. This theme recognizes the unequal distribution of resources, opportunities, and privileges and seeks to address them through systemic changes. It involves implementing policies, programs, and interventions that promote fairness, equal access, and social justice, aiming to create a more equitable and inclusive society.

Innovative Programs and Inclusive Practices 

Highlight the development and implementation of novel approaches, strategies, and initiatives that promote inclusivity, diversity, and equity. This theme encompasses innovative educational, organizational, and community-based programs and practices that address social issues, embrace diversity, and foster inclusion. It emphasizes the importance of creativity, adaptability, and evidence-based approaches to achieve positive social impact and advance inclusive excellence.


Session Formats

Sessions at the symposium will take the following formats:

In Person Research Roundtable Discussion

Engage attendees in discussion around topic areas. Presenters will provide a brief introduction to their topic areas, present a short synopsis of their scholarship (including background, relevant questions, proposed methods of study and interpretation of data and texts) for the first 20 minutes, and then engage participants in conversation with guiding questions.

Zoom Research Presentations

Remote presenters will engage remote attendees in discussion around topic areas. Presenters will provide a brief introduction to their topic areas, followed by a succinct overview of their scholarship/project, including background, relevant questions, proposed research methods, and interpretation of data and texts, for the initial 30 minutes. For the last 15 minutes participants will be actively engaged Q& A with the presenter(s), promoting meaningful discussions and collaborative exchanges among all participants.

In Person Project/Initiative Roundtable Discussion 

Engage attendees in discussion around topic areas. Presenters will provide a brief introduction to their project/initiative, present a short synopsis of their work for the first 20 minutes, and then engage participants in conversation with guiding questions.

Please note: All session formats will be 45 mins in length.

Application Information

All PAU students, faculty, and staff are welcome and encouraged to apply!

2024 Symposium Application Timeline

  • Application Period Opens: December 4, 2023
  • Application Deadline: February 16, 2024
  • Notification Date: March 29, 2024
  • Symposium: April 24, 2024

How to Apply

Submit your application here by February 16, 2024. 

Additional Application Information

  • All PAU students, faculty, and staff may apply as an individual or as a group:
    • The same form is used for group applications.
    • Limit of 4 members of a group may present per in person roundtable.
    • Each group application must include each individual’s: Name, Email, Department, and Status (Student, Faculty or Staff)
  • We highly recommend drafting, revising, and compiling the required application materials prior to using the form to submit your application. A draft of your application cannot be saved and must be completed in one session. 
  • If your research involves human subjects, please ensure that you follow all necessary steps to meet IRB regulations if and as needed.
  • Incomplete Applications will not be considered and the applicant will need to re-submit their application.
  • Please note most reviewers of your application may be outside of your field of study, so write clearly and avoid or clearly define specialized terms or concepts.
  • Research and Initiatives in progress is allowed to be submitted for the symposium.

Proposal Evaluation Criteria

Proposals will be evaluated by several reviewers using the following standards:

  • Significant and creative contributions to current research or evidence-based practices centered around equity and justice.
  • Engaging program format that involves attendees and stimulates discussion.
  • Conceptually strong foundation with clearly stated research topic and themes, and appropriately documented research.

Required Application Materials

To apply, please submit the following items via the form linked to below, by <date>

  1. Proposed Session Title* (60 character limit):
    Include a short and impactful title that accurately reflects your topic and is also reflective of the Symposium theme.
  2. Proposed Session Theme* (100 word limit):
    Identify and detail which of the Themes for Consideration align with your session.
  3. Proposed Session Abstract* (100 word limit):
    The abstract serves as a concise summary of your session description. It serves as context for attendees on your topic area and it should be consistent with your session content.
  4. Background of Presenters/Familiarity of Topic* (300 word limit):
    Describe your background including the perspective and experience (academic or non-academic) you bring to the session topic.
  5. Session Description* (1000 word limit):
    Consider your session’s relevance to the Symposium’s focus and theme of Inclusive Excellence. Include any relevant frameworks, literature, research questions or sources. Include what you hope attendees will learn or take away from your session.
  6. Session Type* (choose one):
    • In Person Research Roundtable Discussion
    • Zoom Research Presentations
    • In Person Project/Initiative Roundtable Discussion

Evaluation Criteria

Proposals will be evaluated by several program reviewers using the following standards:

  • Significant and creative contributions to current research or evidence-based practices centered around equity and justice.
  • Engaging program format that involves attendees and stimulates discussion.
  • Conceptually strong foundation with clearly stated research topic and themes, and appropriately documented research.

Symposium FAQ’s

Who can apply to present?

All PAU students and employees are welcome and encouraged to apply. All PAU students and employees may apply as an individual or as a group:

  • The same form is used for group applications.
  • Limit of 4 members of a group may present per in person roundtable.
  • Each group application must include each individual’s: Name, Email, Department, and Status (Student, Faculty or Staff)

Who can attend the 2024 Inclusive Excellence Symposium?

The 2024 Inclusive Excellence Symposium is open to PAU employees and students, as well as PAU  alumni, affiliates, and local community members. Registration is required for all attendees.

Will sessions be recorded?

Yes! All online sessions will be recorded and made available after the live Inclusive Excellence Symposium day is complete. We are aiming to have these resources up for our community within one month, but we ask for your patience as transferring, formatting, and captioning the files for so many sessions will take time. 

What format will the online Symposium follow?

Most sessions and the welcome will be offered through Zoom, using the meeting format. The Zoom meeting format enables attendees to use their video and audio features to participate in the session with their presenters. These sessions may include break-out groups, polls, robust audience discussion, and more.

What accessibility accommodations are being provided during the Symposium?

Computer-generated captioning will be enabled for all virtual sessions through the Zoom platform. For additional accessibility accommodations, please contact the PAU accessibility education office.

What else do I need to know as an attendee?

Please keep the following information and tips in mind:

  • Be respectful of the presenter(s)’ time and energies. All presentations are being hosted by our peers and colleagues within the PAU community and for many folks, this may be the first time they are presenting live or in the virtual environment.
  • If you don’t already have Zoom downloaded on your device of choice, be sure to do so. All sessions will be hosted through the Zoom platform.
  • Don’t join sessions more than 5 minutes before the scheduled start time.
  • All sessions will be equipped with computer-generated, live captioning. 
  • If you are in a session that is using the meeting format (meaning attendees can engage in the traditional Zoom setting using their video and audio as appropriate), please join the meeting with your mic muted and be sure your username reflects your name appropriately. Listen to the presenter and moderator’s prompts and only utilize your mic when asking a question or when instructed to.
  • With so many moving parts, there are bound to be some changes to the Inclusive Excellence Symposium schedule. Please be sure to rely on the emails and the Symposium website for the most up-to-date information.