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Annual Balanced Dukes Conference
Join us for the
2024 Balanced Dukes Conference
Tuesday, April 23, 2024 | 8:30am – 3:30pm
Festival Conference & Student Center

Join us for a day filled with a variety of sessions covering several dimensions of wellness. Coffee will be offered all day and lunch will be provided for registered attendees. Register here.

8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.

Welcome & Opening Remarks (Tara Torkelson)

Start the conference off with some coffee and learning a little about the Balanced Dukes program at JMU.

9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.

Maintaining and Enhancing Sexual and Relationship Health (Dayna Henry)

In this session we will discuss how your sexual and relationship health is part of your overall health and can impact your wellness and wellbeing. We will review some common relationship and sexual health issues that happen over our lifetime and strategies for maintaining and enhancing these aspects of your life.


The 9:00 a.m. Office Yoga session is full; please sign up for one of our other yoga sessions offered throughout the day

9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

Narrative 4 Story Exchange (Matthew Hunsberger)

Narrative 4 story exchanges aim to create tangible community improvement and build radical empathy using personal stories as their foundation. In this workshop, participants will come prepared to share a story with a partner. The partners then share each other's stories using first person pronouns in a larger group, followed by a debrief. This workshop will benefit individuals and communities who: desire to build more empathy and connection between people, strive to cultivate courageous conversations, Hope to navigate challenging subjects with respect and openness, want to promote positive school, workplace, and community climates, aim to develop social emotional learning, wish for an authentic experiential learning experience. (Prompts will be provided prior to the workshop so that you can think about a story ahead of time. Participants will need to be able to arrive promptly, and to commit to the full two hours.)


10:15 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.

Making Sense of Sugar: How to Focus on What’s Actually Important in Understanding Dietary Guidance (Kristina Hall)

We’ve all heard that sugar is in everything and that it's bad for us. It seems pretty straightforward, although many of us don’t have any idea of just how much we are getting. We’ve heard conflicting accounts of which is the “good kind of sugar” and which is “the bad stuff” and some of us have tried to avoid it at all costs. Using sugar as an example of how we incorporate bits and pieces of health information into our lives and how this incomplete picture can skew our choices (and our energy) towards things that may not actually serve us well, we will sort out how to make choices that support positive health outcomes without going overboard with efforts that don’t have much influence at all.

Chair Yoga (Joyce Yagerline)

This yoga practice is an accessible gentle flow using the chair for support. This inclusive class uses the breath to connect the body to the movement. Awareness of your breath helps to calm the nervous system and cultivate mindfulness. The seated, standing, and balance poses also help to develop strength, stability, and flexibility in your body. Feel your stress melt away as you focus your movement with the breath to gently stretch your body and bring about deeper relaxation.

Intuitive Eating: An Adaptive Eating Style for Balanced Living and Well-Being (Heather Harris)

Intuitive eating is a weight-neutral approach to health that involves the balanced integration of physiological cues, emotions, and rational thoughts. Using the 10 key principles of Intuitive Eating, we will explore tangible ways to increase awareness of our nutritional needs while acknowledging common obstacles to responding to these needs. Bring a favorite food along for optimal learning!


11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Lunch & Keynote Session - Resiliency Made Simple (Jennifer Testa)

Watching a 30-second video of baby animals can increase your emotional resiliency. It’s hard to believe, isn’t it? But, it’s true.

According to Jane McGonigal, the author of SuperBetter, increasing your physical, mental, emotional, and relational resiliency is easier than you think. In her book, McGonigal offers 100 “quests” you can take to build control of your attention, turn anyone into a potential ally, and increase your natural capacity to motivate yourself and supercharge your heroic qualities. Heroic qualities? Yep, heroic qualities. During our time together, we’ll practice several of her short and playful activities. And, try not worry. There are no superhero capes involved.


1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Serving the World is Good for the Heart: Nasaruni Academy in Kenya (Michelle Cude & Tracy Hough)

Come hear more about the incredible work being done for Maasai girls to get an education. Girls are coming to school to gain a brighter future instead of being married off and pregnant at young ages. Education has the power to change lives! The presentation will involve sharing insights, images, and inspiration about the lived experience of these amazing students. We will invite you to bring your passion to serve for a noble cause. Learn how you can be a part of the action!


1:15 p.m. - 2:15 p.m.

How Big is the "S" on Your Chest: Balancing Being a Superhero, Stress, and Self-Care (Angela Russell & Meghan Schenker-Fulcher)  

An interactive presentation surrounding the emotional, physical, social, and spiritual impact of superwoman syndrome. Unpacking the beliefs and expectations women face from day to day that increases stress levels, "dis-ease", and imbalance. This presentation will help define stress triggers and provide self-care strategies.

Elevate, Empower, and Get the Edge: The Power of Professional Development (Jojo Griffith)

In the fast-paced and dynamic landscape of today’s professional world, the need for continuous growth and adaptation is more critical than ever. This workshop is designed to equip participants with the tools, insights and strategies necessary for personal and professional growth. By understanding the significance of professional development, cultivating a growth mindset and building a personalized plan, participants will be well positioned to thrive in an ever-evolving professional landscape. Let us journey together to elevate, empower and get the edge in our respective careers.

Support for the Sandwich Generation (Dara Hall)

Many faculty and staff are caring for children at home and/or college-aged students at the same time they are supporting and caring for aging parents. This session will benefit people currently in this situation by enabling them to share their experiences and create a supportive dialogue for people who identify in this space.


2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Anxiety Toolbox (Karla Kale)

Anxiety Toolbox offers one of the quickest ways to access evidence-based strategies and interventions to reduce anxiety symptoms. This workshop has been offered to dozens of students and now you can join us for this special edition designed for faculty and staff. This session will help you understand stress, anxiety, and the difference between them. It will also introduce ways to slow down and other helpful tips and tricks to help you manage through stressful times.

Yoga (Kayla Corey)

End your day with a yoga session. Mats will be provided; feel free to bring your own if you wish.



Please reach out to Tara Torkelson, Coordinator of Employee Well-Being, with any questions.

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