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YP Summit Features Creighton Honorees, Speakers

Change Maker recipientsA conference dedicated to the professional and personal development of young professionals in the Omaha area, the Greater Omaha Chamber’s YP Summit hosts community leaders and nationally recognized speakers who challenge the way attendees think and provide the tools to put this new-found perspective into action. On March 15, a sellout crowd of more than 1,500 gathered at the CHI Health Center for the 14th annual YP Summit.

Creighton’s connection to the conference is strong. The University and the Heider College of Business are lead sponsors of the event, and two Creighton alumni were recognized during the luncheon as Change Makers, individuals making positive, innovative and powerful change in the community.

Dawaune Lamont Hayes, BA’16, is director of NOISE (North Omaha Information Support Everyone), a grassroots organization Hayes says fosters creativity, community and communications in the city’s north neighborhood. Crysta Price, BA’14, MA’16, is co-director of the Human Trafficking Initiative at Creighton. She helped shape new legislation that expunges criminal activity from the records of victims of sex trafficking in exchange for information necessary to combating human trafficking. Hayes and Price were among five honored for contributing to what YP Summit officials call “a new layer of vibrancy to our community."

Candance Bloomquist, MS, PhD, and Kathy Gonzales, PhDAdditionally, Creighton faculty and staff lent their expertise to two breakout sessions. In “Exploring Conflict Resolution – Lessons from Wakanda,” Candace Bloomquist, MS, PhD, and Kathy Gonzales, PhD, assistant professors in the graduate school’s Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, equated conflict with opportunity.

After greeting their audience with a resounding “Wakanda forever!”, the two professors punctuated their talk with film clips from the recent Black Panther movie to illustrate their multiple points. These included the premises that conflict can stoke creativity, past conflicts and experiences are emotional triggers, naming these triggers will help control them, ethical leadership requires us to navigate multiple perspectives, and ethical dilemmas often present more than two binary choices.

Bloomquist and Gonzales assigned those in attendance homework: to study leaders in film to see how their behavior impacts the story, to implement what they learned in the workplace, and to be alert to multiple perspectives during the rest of the YP Summit.

The audience of roughly 400 had the chance to upload questions regarding conflict resolution. One in particular, how to diffuse conflict, resonated. The answer was simple – count to 10 or walk away if you can.

“It really does work,” says Gonzales, “and it’s kept a lot of people out of jail.”

Barbara Harris, PhD, and Colette O'Meara-McKinneyFrom the School of Dentistry, Barbara Harris, PhD, director of the new Program for Ignatian Mindfulness, and Colette O’Meara-McKinney, assistant dean for student affairs, presented “Grit and Mindfulness – The Marriage of Two Perspectives” to a standing-room-only crowd. In their work with students, the two have found that grit (defined as the combination of passion, purpose and perseverance) and mindfulness (the awareness that arises from paying attention) are complementary concepts that result in resilience.

Harris and O’Meara-McKinney asked attendees, “When did stress become a competitive sport?” and then shared a sobering fact: 65 percent of trips to physicians are due to stress-related illness.

After inviting everyone to put away their phones, they led the audience in a few centering techniques before discussing how mindfulness is gaining traction in the business world. They ended with tips to cultivate calm, such as putting cell phones face down during meetings, taking 60 seconds to collect ourselves before starting a new task, and not opening email first thing in the morning, when our brains are at their most creative.

“Support each other doing this,” Harris encouraged.

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