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Join us for the 4th Annual

Balanced Dukes Conference

April 6, 7, and 9, 2021
Sessions will be held through Zoom

Balanced Dukes is the work-life integration and wellness program for JMU with a mission of helping employees reach a blend of personal satisfaction in four core areas: Work, Family, Community, and Self, in pursuit of a meaningful quality of life.

Over the last year, we have been forced to look at our work lives and home lives through a different lens. For many of us, these worlds are overlapping in ways that we have never experienced before.

The conference will feature both morning and afternoon sessions facilitated by JMU faculty and staff. Presentations will focus on the various areas related to wellness and well-being; this year’s topics include:


Tuesday, April 6

Well-Being & Artistic Play, 10:00 - 11:00am (presented by Kathy Guisewite)

How does art contribute to our well-being? What if we don't feel we are artistic? This session casts a warm light on the merits of engaging artistic endeavors... for the sake of joy, release, and self-care. Making space for artistic play in our lives also creates space for balance and hope. A happy little art adventure is sure to be included! We will be creating a collage greeting card during our session.  Please have the following supplies available:

  • scissors
  • glue
  • blank card
  • items to cut or tear and add to the collage (photos, images from magazines, scrapbook paper, anything that that looks good to your eye)
  • black fine point marker


Proven Strategies to Increase Your Sense of Social Connection - Even During a Pandemic, 2:00 - 3:00pm (presented by Natalie Kerr)

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended our social lives, making it difficult to satisfy our fundamental social needs. Many of us feel disconnected and discontent. The good news is that there are many science-backed strategies to improve our sense of social connection and deepen our relationships even when we’re six feet apart. I’ll share those strategies and invite you to practice them during the session.


Wednesday, April 7

Zen Meditation Sampler, 10:00 – 11:00am (presented by Jody Fagan)

Curious about Zen meditation? “Beginner’s mind is the best mind,” says Roshi Shunryu Suzuki! Come learn about a few of the ideas underlying Zen, and explore how they might relate to self, community, family, and work. The majority of the session will be spent trying out a sampling of meditation techniques inspired by Zen principles and practice. These practices are relevant for people of diverse religions, or no religion. Attendees will experience:

  • Sitting meditation (zazen)
  • Standing meditation
  • Walking meditation (kinhin)

The session will conclude with ideas and discussion about integrating practice into one’s work day.


Running for Beginners, 2:00 – 3:00pm (presented by Kristin Gibson)

All you need is a pair of sneakers to get started. The benefits of recreational running go beyond just the physical - there are mental, social, and emotional benefits as well. This is a session for anyone looking to start, restart, or continue a running-for-health habit. Safety basics, tips for success, training resources, and encouragement will be provided!


Friday, April 9

Back to Work After Baby:  Navigating the Fifth Trimester, 10:00 – 11:00am (presented by Katie Sensabaugh)

Parenthood “can be joyful, exhausting, confusing, wondrous, and isolating all at the same time. Now try going back to work. ” –Brigid Schulte, bestselling author. Navigating this change yourself as a new parent returning to work from leave can be tough. Planning to go on parental leave in the near or distant future can be tough. Struggling to get through the day without missing your baby can be tough. This is a rough transition that many new parents learn the hard way. This transition can be full of emotions, so the goal of this presentation is to make this transition a bit easier. You'll get an overview of big takeaways from Lauren Smith Brody’s The Fifth Trimester, which is full of amazing lessons and tips for parents returning to work after parental leave. We’ll cover topics from pumping in the office to getting over the “I want to quit” phase to talking with your child-less boss about flextime. Join us as we support each other through this process! This is designed for new parents, soon-to-be parents, or even well-seasoned parents who have some tips on loan!


Narrative 4 Story Exchange, 1:00 – 3:00pm (presented by Matthew Hunsberger)

N4 story exchanges aim to create tangible community improvement and build radical empathy using personal stories as their foundation. In this virtual 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


Register for sessions here


Please reach out to Tara Roe, Work Life & Engagement Specialist, with any questions.
540-568-5533 |





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