Conference Sessions

Coaching, The Secret Sauce to Building a Culture of Accountability: Franklin Covey suggests there are four key roles leaders need to be able to play in the coming years that will be significant predictors of team and organizational success. Coaching is on the list! Coaching (professional development, career, leadership, executive, performance) is becoming a regular part of the corporate lexicon as this next generation of workers takes their place in our companies and corporations. As a generation, they see coaching as a must for their development and assimilation. As companies move toward meeting the needs of this new generation of workers, they are building “cultures of coaching” and are seeing positive results. Franklin Covey calls it: Coach Potential: Unleash the ability of each person on your team to improve performance, solve problems, and grow their careers. So, what is coaching and how can a Project Manager add this to their tool kit? In this presentation you will learn: What is coaching? Why is it an important skill to have for Project Managers? Coaching demo Tips & Resources you can use to start right away.

As a sought after speaker, coach and trainer, Alicia McLain is known as the 'Organizational Whisperer’ and has for 15+ years, been about the business of building high performing teams, empowering leaders in transition and creating climates where teams can thrive using Agile practices. Her expertise is in the transformation of people and systems during Agile transformation. Alicia coaches, trains and transforms mid-size to large companies domestically and internationally. As an executive and leadership coach who has led and witnessed the transformation of people, attitudes, hearts and minds towards greater agility and high performance using Agile practices. She is passionate about being of service to help connect organizations to their mission and values. Alicia is the founder and co-organizer of the Agile Coaching Exchange for Southern California (ACE:SoCal) the first MeetUp group of its kind established in the United States in partnership with the flagship in London. She holds a PMP and Scrum Alliance certifications in Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Scrum Professional.


The Power of Cognitive Diversity in Innovation Diversity: efforts typically focus on being inclusive based on age, gender, race, and culture. However, when innovation is the aim, a wholly different type of diversity is required: cognitive diversity. Cognitive diversity is the inclusion of people who have different styles of problem-solving and can offer unique perspectives and information processing styles. It is how individuals think about and engage with new, uncertain, and complex situations. While diversity generally means a stronger ability to solve a wider range of problems, successful collaboration in these teams does not come easy.   At this session, we will discuss how to recognize, encourage, and develop the cognitive diversity that exists on your team.

With 25+ years of experience leading large, strategic teams in the complex IT world, Barbara Gunning combines her knowledge of team dynamics with a love for personality science to partner with teams to reach their full potential. Her philosophy is that understanding your teammates is essential as people drive team performance. She is a self-proclaimed “personality science junkie” as she loves to dissect new models to discover the universal principles and the wisdom that is shared within. Her company, Rocking Your Team, uses personality wisdom and team dynamics to provides an invaluable learning experience. Grounded in neuroscience principles that drive the long-term retention required for real-world application of personality science into areas such as leadership, change, conflict, and teams. She shares her passions as an instructor at UCSD-Extension in the Project Management, Business Management, and International programs


Two Key Interpersonal Skills for Leaders: Among the skills that influence your success as a leader are Your ability to clearly communicate face-to-face/electronically and Your ability to shift your approach to match the primary style of your coworker. Learn by discovery: Via a dominoes experiment, you assess and refresh your ability to have your directions and explanations received as intended. Identify the differences in coworker styles and how to be successful with each one; tune in and match your coworker’s pace and priority. Tricky, but essential.

CEO of Human TuneUp Company, author, speaker, human development leader, artist. A catalyst for bringing out the best in people. Cath DeStefano has worked internationally with non-profits to multinational corporations and with executives to front line staff. She brings real-world experience as a supervisor and executive director, a deep knowledge of people and a sense of fun to her speaking and workshops. She has been invited into companies worldwide to develop leaders, help build customer-focused workplaces and lower stress levels. Those who have benefited from Cath’s expertise and skill building include Amazon, Marriott, Safeway, Nestle’, Silicon Valley Catalysts, Sharp Healthcare, University of California San Diego, Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Sempra and the U.S. Department of State. Cath’s clients speak of her in glowing terms: highly creative thinker, master speaker, powerful workshop leader, a talent for making learning memorable, at ease working with people in all areas of life. Her commitment to “discovery learning” makes her sessions less “talk-to” and more interactive learning. Her approach is described as fun, not stuffy.


Deliver the Ultimate Value by Delivering Respect: Why Bullies Act That Way & How to Make Them Stop They overreact, they are controlling, they make threats and humiliate others... they are bullies, abrasive leaders, or workplace meanies. While they may be valuable given their ability to drive results, they also cost in lowered morale, increased absenteeism, and poor-quality work. Get into the heads of workplace bullies, meanies and abrasive people (hint, it’s not because they are evil psychopaths) to understand why they act that way, and how to make them stop with a tried and true method that really works.

Catherine Mattice Zundel, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is CEO of HR consulting firm, Civility Partners, which focuses on creating positive workplace cultures. Her clients include everything from Fortune 500’s to small nonprofits and everything in between. She has appeared on/in NPR, CNN, USA Today,, and more, as an expert. In his foreword to her first book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, Ken Blanchard said it was “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook” on workplace bullying. She’s written two additional books since then and is one of the founders of the National Workplace Bullying Coalition.


Strengthening Organizational Teams: Topic of Discussion –Project Resource Management – Develop Team and Manage Team PMBOK 6th Edition Sections 9.4 and 9.5. Leading teams and team members is a key component to the success (or failure) of any project. Building trust, connecting through communication channels, and ensuring all team members are heard, acknowledged, and contribute builds the foundation of the relationship with the team. Taking appropriate action with team members and strengthening the team concept drives a project towards success. This is especially true when the team believes the project manager is supporting them. This course will explore key aspects of team development and team management by focusing on the team members as individuals and how the project manager can better support them. What you can expect: A deeper understanding of why strengthening teams is important, A deeper understanding of why team development is important, Ideas on how to engage with team members on a project.

Prior to joining the John Maxwell Team, Christopher W. Diem, MA / PMP spent over 22 years as an active duty Marine and retired as a Chief Warrant Officer 3, Criminal Investigations Officer. He worked his way up through the ranks with ever increasing levels of leadership and responsibility and truly began his journey in leadership and mentoring during his career. He firmly believe leadership starts and ends with integrity. He has taught college classes, worked as a project manager, and helped individuals and organizations grow through leadership development. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Chapman University, a Master’s Degree in Management: Organizational Leadership from American Military University, and his Project Management Professional Certification from the Project Management Institute. He is the Founder of Carpe Diem Consulting Group, Inc., based in San Diego, CA. He coaches and mentors business partners, business owners, and people wanting to make a difference in the world.

Innovation Integration: Delivering Value through Dual Role of BA and PM. The integration of multiple skills and knowledge on a project provides additional value to the overall understanding and expectations of stakeholders. These combined skills and knowledge of both a Project Manager and a Business Analyst are often required to be done by a single individual. This presentation will cover the integration of the two disciplines to enhance the elicitation, analysis and verification of stakeholder requirements Greta Blash has extensive experience as an executive and consulting IT professional, both domestically and internationally. Her areas of experience include program management, project management, agile/adaptive development, business analysis, customer relationship management, and business intelligence. In addition to her PMP certification, she also holds program management (PgMP) and agile certification (PMI-ACP) and business analysis (PMI-PBA) certifications from Project Management Institute (PMI).

Greta Blash has taught project and program management, business analysis and agile foundation and certification courses worldwide for the last ten years. She has also published numerous articles and blogs on these topics, as well as a global team participant in the creation of “What’s New in PMBOK® 6th Edition – An In-Depth Comparison.” She is a frequent presenter at various PMI and IIBA meetings and conferences at the local, regional and global level. She has been recognized as a SME and reviewer of the new Business Analysis Standard and Benefits Realization Practice Guide from PMI, and also as a reviewer of the new 6th edition of PMBOK Guide, the new 4th edition of the Program Management Guide. She also teaches PMP certification prep courses for UCI and risk management courses for UCSD 


Project Management at a Local Health Department: Simple, Speedy, and Scalable. Some of us may think of government as sluggish and inflexible. Yet the local government environment is very dynamic and the expectations for performance are higher than ever. In this session, a project manager with more than 20 years of experience will describe how she has adapted project management theory and practice for success. Multiple projects must be executed simultaneously under tight time constraints with a limited pool of staff that includes interns and temporary staff. Project management phases and processes are abbreviated, tools are deployed that are simple and to scale, and teamwork and communication are essential. The project manager must be innovative within constraints of budget and staff, constantly re-evaluating scope, and creating ways to maximize deliverables to advance more than one project at the same time. Requirements are surprisingly high. The County of San Diego has an ambitious Live Well San Diego vision in which all residents, regardless of where they live and who they are, can be healthy, safe and thrive. Every project must demonstrate alignment to this vision, which adds requirements in terms of customer responsiveness, innovation in service delivery, and quality. All of this proves to be a test of how project management can be adapted to be “simple, speedy and scalable” for a local government that strives for excellence.

Jackie Baker Werth is the Performance Improvement Manager for the San Diego County Public Health Services, Health and Human Services Agency. On behalf of the Public Health Officer, she coordinated efforts to achieve national public health ccreditation in 2016. She manages the performance management and quality mprovement program for almost 500 public health professionals across seven branches. She also guides community planning efforts for five regional offices and has organized numerous health assessment and strategic planning events throughout her career. She has held other positions for HHSA, including manager of the Live Well San Diego support team in 2013-2014 and coordinator of the Lean Six Sigma Project in 2011-2012. Prior to joining the County of San Diego in 1999, she was a senior evaluator for the U.S. Government Accountability Office. She has a Masters in Public Administration, and is a certified Project Management Professional and Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.


Managing the Stress of Innovation: The Key to Integration Innovation is synonymous with fresh inventive ideas. Yet, innovation is not about ideas it’s about solving problems. In the modern world solutions alone don’t solve problems; people do. The one variable that effects the integration of every idea is the people. Why? People experience the stress that innovation creates as they learn to embrace constant change. This interactive workshop exposes participants to 5 Core Energy Levels that represent the catabolic and anabolic stress every individual cycle’s through as they lead and are led. Helping you evaluate the response and reactions to the stress of change and the advantages & disadvantages that enable leaders to hold up mirrors to the perceptions, attitudes, behaviors, and overall leadership capabilities of themselves and their teams. In this workshop you will learn: How to maintain energy and enthusiasm when innovation drains you, How to recognize the energy that stifles innovation, 3 actions that encourage innovation on every project.

As a Trainer, Life & Leadership Coach, Jamon Bailey helps leaders serve those they lead and become leaders worth following by developing the skills to coach themselves and others. Jamon is passionate about helping individuals and organizations reach their potential and experience change through learning, development and service. Jamon is a certified professional coach and Energy Leadership Master practitioner that believes if what he teaches works at home with his teenagers it will work anywhere.


Project Management and Systems Engineering, Teammates in Delivering Value: In 2011, the Project Management Institute (PMI) and the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) issued a joint statement highlighting a new partnership and their shared objectives, including: Delivering value and benefit to customers and end users, Integrating the required experience, knowledge, and roles to successfully achieve objectives and complete initiatives; and Functioning effectively in a more complex environment where program requirements and outcomes are not clearly defined or have numerous components to manage. This presentation will begin with a discussion on the PMI and INCOSE partnership and their joint work products. Next, it will detail the role of the systems engineer and its intersection with the role of the project manager. Then, it will provide a high-level overview of the systems engineering process. It will conclude with an introduction to systems engineering tools and techniques useful for developing products intended for a dynamic world where both the planned use of the delivered product and its operating environment are likely to change.

John Wood, PhD, PMP has spent his career pursuing perfection in areas where less-than-perfect performance can be deadly. For more than two decades, he has applied his systems engineering and project management expertise to improve performance, reduce costs, and save lives in healthcare, aviation, and defense. He is currently serving as an adjunct professor with San Diego State University where he develops graduate-level engineering curricula and performs research funded by the San Diego State University Research Foundation. Dr. Wood holds a BS in electrical engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy, a PhD in systems engineering from the George Washington University, and the following certifications: Systems Engineering Professional from the International Council on Systems Engineering, Project Management Professional from the Project Management Institute, SAFe Scrum Master from Scaled Agile, Fundamentals of Value-Based Health Care from Dartmouth College, and Lean Six Sigma Green Belt from U.C. San Diego.

Risk: Friend or Foe (Risk Management-Game of Thrones edition): Taking lessons from HBO's popular Game of Thrones series to apply to risk management. The presentation will define risk, the risk management process, discuss practical application and understand our role within the risk management process.

Karla Chinn is an executive program manager with more than 17 years of experience of IT and business management experience. She has led technical and business team to implement complex enterprise wide infrastructure, cyber-security, and business improvement solutions.


Diversity and Innovation as a Competitive Advantage: Are your greatest contributions and successes behind you or ahead? Many companies that were successful 100 years ago no longer exist. Trapped by their own success, they gradually learn to reduce risk, avoid failure at all costs, and consequently squelch or kill innovation and creativity. This makes them vulnerable to competition from new or more aggressive companies with less to lose. A similar hazard faces successful executives, professionals and leaders of every kind. One danger of a very successful strategy is the inability to recognize and adjust to shifts in the environment. It can be hard to see new possibilities that will allow future success, especially when it requires letting go of previously successful strategies that have served so well throughout a career. Diversity doesn’t just apply to ethnic groups, and innovation doesn’t just apply to products. Learn to apply both to refresh your approach to business and give you a competitive advantage in an increasingly competitive business environment. You’ll enjoy this engaging and highly interactive session, and leave with strategies to

  • Spark creativity and innovation
  • Promote sensible risk-taking and thinking differently
  • Inspire and leverage diversity of thought in yourself and others
  • Commit fully to what you can uniquely contribute to the business world  


Kimberly Wiefling is the founder of Wiefling Consulting, and co-founder of Silicon Valley Alliances. She helps individuals, teams and organizations survive in a world of disruptive change and achieve what SEEMS impossible, but is merely difficult. How? By turning managers into leaders and groups of people into real teams through her highly engaging, experiential, interactive "Learning Laboratories". Kimberly lives in Silicon Valley, and has worked with in US, Europe and Asia. Her superpower is bringing people together across borders and boundaries of every kind to achieve what none could do alone. Her first book, Scrappy Project Management, was also published in Japanese. She has edited and co-authored an additional 6 books in the “Scrappy Guides” series, and dozens of blogs. Her mentor, Dr. Edgar Schein, wrote the foreword to her new book “Inspired Organizational Cultures–Discover Your DNA, Engage Your People, and Design Your Future”. Kimberly is also a serial entrepreneur. She’s been involved in ~ a dozen startups. One was acquired by Google, Elite Horse Clothing is still in operation, and she helped EmbeddedWorks bootstrap to 7 figure annual revenues.


PMO Field of Dreams: Integrated Teams, Technology and Training: If you build it...will they actually use it? They will if it’s practical, applicable, and collaborative. AVID, a national nonprofit organization serving students and educators, successfully launched a new project management office and rolled out project management training for every member of the organization. Please join Linda as she shares AVID’s PMO launch and learn journey from start-up to implementation. See how the development of a PMO Portal, blended learning program, and collaborative project hubs (using Microsoft Teams), allowed the organization to be better aligned and connected, resulting in improved communication, teamwork, and innovation!

Linda Paulson leads the Project Management Office for AVID, Achievement Via Individual Determination, a national non-profit organization serving over 70,000 educators and two million students. She has over 25 years’ experience in EdTech starting out as a middle school teacher and then moving into private and nonprofit organizations where her impact on student success would reach beyond a single classroom. Her varied experience in this sector includes product development, product marketing, product management and finally project management. She is PMP certified and has taught project management for San Diego State University’s College of Extended Studies.


People, Power, and Culture: Leading Change in a Dynamic World: This presentation inspires managers and leaders to re-examine their leadership styles through the lens of people, power, and culture. By examining leadership frames of power, principles of leadership, and elements of organizational culture, participants will insightfully discover ways in which they are impacting and influencing workplace culture, leading or leaving people behind in the change process, and creating and expanding opportunities for change and innovation. This presentation empowers managers and leaders to bring out the best in the people, projects, and programs they lead, and prepares them to be the leaders of tomorrow. Participants will: Explore the power, risks, and benefits of leadership styles. Discover the impact and influence of leadership on organizational culture. Re-examine leadership through frames of power. Identify new and innovative change management strategies to lead change in a dynamic world. This presentation is focused on strengthening leadership skills and capabilities, and identifying innovative leadership strategies that support change management processes. Participants will be challenged by a dynamic and thought-provoking presentation that inspires and challenges their ideas on leadership, change, and sparking innovation. 

Lisa Gordon is the Founder & CEO of Lisa Inspires, and a dynamic Speaker, Trainer, Facilitator, & Consultant with more than 20 years of experience in business, community, government, international, and public relations. As an award-winning communications executive, Lisa has successfully served on behalf of a mayor, city, regional public agency, school district, non-profit organization, and thousands of small businesses by launching new initiatives and providing innovative projects and programs to reach target audiences and advance organizational missions, visions, and brand identity. Lisa engages corporate, government, and non-profit clients in thought-provoking presentations, training, and consulting experiences to facilitate new discoveries, navigate organizational change, re-think corporate messaging, and expand reach to diverse communities. Lisa’s featured topics include: leadership development, emotional intelligence, conflict management, change management, and organizational culture. Her clients include the City of San Diego, City of San Marcos, County of San Bernardino, Municipal Management Association of Southern California, Port of San Diego, and UCSD Extension. Lisa has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from the University of California, San Diego, and a Master of Science degree in Organizational Leadership from National University. She is also the Bestselling Co-Author of The Diamond from Within: Overcoming Obstacles in Life and Business.


Innovation through Collaboration: The design and the process of innovation is people driven. Building a culture of innovation requires leaders to possess the skills to effectively bring together a diverse group of people and ideas in alignment to strategically execute the vision of the project. This delicate but deliberate procedure, requires empathy, optimism and collaboration. Your ability as a leader to see things from the perspective of various types of people is paramount in building successful collaborations. Emotional Intelligence isn’t just about “mushy” stuff. It is at the heart of creating a culture and environment that fosters successful collaborations that lead to integrated innovations. The session covers the empathy and optimism, the work of a leader as it applies to vision, alignment, execution and the correlation between collaborations and innovation.

Nicole Bowe-Rahming, better known as The Fortitude Coach, is a 26-year military spouse, owner and chief facilitator at The Fortitude Institute. Nicole Bowe-Rahming possesses a B.S. in Business, with a concentration in Human Resource Management. She is a certified Life and Confidence Coach, and DiSC Behavior Instructor. As a facilitator, coach and international speaker of over 20 years she believes that when combined, two factors will provide stellar results and facilitate ultra-success in leadership. The first being, RESILIENCE-the ability to adapt, remain optimistic and maintain momentum when things become stressful or are not going as planned. The second, EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE-the capacity to understand yourself and others. When combined, these factors provide you with the secret to consistent, indescribable results and an increased capacity to outperform.


Projects that serve to protect: Safety and security in a dangerously dynamic world: San Diego Housing Commission’s Project Management Office has spent the last year and a half working on projects related to the safety and security of the staff, clients and business continuation of this agency. These projects are innovative for public agencies and require the integration from all departments and resources to put in place equipment, software, procedures and practices that provide value in a dangerously dynamic world. 

From Long Island, New York, but moved to San Diego to continue educational pursuits in Public Administration at San Diego State University (Masters in Public Administration). Paul Morris has been working in local government for over 30 years and retired from the City of San Diego after 22 years of service. Over 18 years of Project Management experience in the development and formation of the City’s IT Project Management Office (PMO), software and hardware implementations and large-scale training efforts. Public Safety, Telecommunications, Healthcare and eLearning project management experience with private organizations. PMP certified and teaching project management within San Diego State University’s College of Extended Studies since 2005. A former student of the Project Management Certificate Program at SDSU in 2001. Currently working for the San Diego Housing Commission as the PMO Director.


Engaging and motivating your team members – a key ingredient for fostering innovation and success: Project success is an uphill battle when team members are not as effective as they could be. This is particularly true when innovation and change are involved. Engaged and motivated team members are more effective team members.   This session will discuss different theories of motivation and how they can be applied in real-world situations. In addition, the session will also cover new research on employee engagement, much of which shows long-standing beliefs to be wrong. Participants will take away practical steps they can use to become more effective leaders and achieve project success.

Ward Fleri, PhD, PMP, is the Principal of Fleri Consulting. His mission is to enable basic and applied scientific research by improving project management practices. He does this by helping small and medium-sized businesses and nonprofits involved in research to produce results in a timely and cost-efficient manner using project management and coaching services. Ward’s background is multidisciplinary. In addition to his BA in Mathematics and Physics from Williams College and his PhD in Applied Mathematics from Brown University, he has worked in paleoclimatology, reservoir engineering, aerospace, and bioinformatics. He worked 17 years at Photon Research Associates, a small aerospace company specializing in physics-based modeling and remote sensing. He transitioned into project management while there and eventually managed the Software Engineering Group. He served three years as PM for the Protein Data Bank at the San Diego Supercomputer Center before spending 13 years as the senior PM at La Jolla Institute for Immunology for the NIH-funded Immune Epitope Database, a freely available online biomedical resource. Ward became a PMP in 2003 and has regularly served on the teaching staff for the San Diego Chapter’s PMP prep class. In his spare time, he teaches Scottish Country Dancing.