top of page


A Group Relations Conference
on Latine Leadership and Authority

Online June 9-11, 2023

Sponsored by The Washington- Baltimore Center for the Study of Group Relations (WBC)




Despite being currently tallied at 19 percent of the US population (Pew Research Center), Latine folx are severely underrepresented in many professions including medicine, law, politics, and corporate leadership positions.

Overall Purpose - Primary Task:

This online conference seeks to explore the leadership and authority dynamics that both support and hinder Latine individuals from taking up leadership positions and using their power. Responses to Latine leadership will also be under study, including competition, resource allocation, and allyship. We are seeking to use the method of group relations, which highlights the unconscious aspects of group and organizational life that prevent us from establishing and maintaining cohesive communities, to meaningfully pursue these questions together. 


Using this unique methodology, attendees study how they interact with organizational life by joining a temporary organization made up of the conference members and staff. Working in this way, noticing in the moment what emerges within and between participants, unconscious individual, group, and societal processes that interfere with healthy functioning are highlighted. Using these insights members gain a new lens for understanding group life and how their organizations can interact productively with the external environment.

Who is This Conference For?

The conference will focus on Latinx identity but also allyship and resource sharing across all identity groups. We expect a very diverse conference membership from multiple sectors including: education, business, non profit and government. No prior experience with groups or experiential conferences is required.

Theoretical Overview

Theoretical Overview

Based on the work of Wilfred Bion (1959) and others within the Psychoanalytic tradition. See reference article.

Bion worked as a tank commander and studied groups and authority structures in a battlefield context

Bion initially developed four “basic assumptions” that groups tend to operate from:

  • Dependency on authority

  • Fight/flight when sensing danger

  • Pairing to work through group issues

  • Oneness

Bion compares “work groups” with “basic assumption groups”  Work groups are groups that effectively achieve their stated goals. Basic assumption groups are groups that are consumed by defending against their innate anxiety which works against doing actual work. All groups oscilliate between work groups and basic assumption groups.

More broadly, analytic theory posits that both rational/conscious and irrational/unconscious processes are important to study to understand groups and organizations.


Another useful concept to understand group dynamics is Open systems theory which provides a way of thinking about how groups and organizations interact with their environments.

A group relations conference provides an opportunity to study group processes at four levels:

  • Small Group

  • Large Group

  • Intergroup

  • Societal

Boundary, Authority, Role, Task (BART) - see reference

Boundary: Container for group work; Conditions that govern how groups manage who is in and out in terms of membership (e.g., team roster); a group’s time, task, and territory boundaries are relevant

Authority: Formal and informal authorization to do work towards a particular task

Role: The way an individual takes up his/her/their authority to complete a task

  • Formal role: job description

  • Positionality within an organizational structure

  • Informal role: influenced by unconscious factors; related to the “valence” one has to receive certain types of projections in groups

Task: The particular work a group is engaged in at a particular moment; highly impacted by the other  BART conditions and impacted by team members’ perceptions

Conference Componets

Conference Components


Small Study Group (SSG)

Large Study Group (LSG)

Institutional Event (IE)

Role Analysis/Application Group (RAG)


Overall task: By holding the contextual factors of task, role, place, and time boundaries constant and observing the emergence of dynamics in the here-and-now, attendees become participant observers whose task it is to make sense of the temporary organization they are co-creating


Small Study Group: Consists of 6-9 members and 1-2 consultants. The task of the group is to study the behavior and dynamics of the group in the here and now. These dynamics often mirror family and typical team dynamics. Consulting in the small study group focuses on a group as a whole unit rather than on individuals.


Large Study Group: The large study group includes all conference members and 2-3 consultants. Like in the small study group the focus is on emergent dynamics of the whole group as a unit. A large group, especially online, can simulate the experience of being in a crowd where individual voices are hard to share and many regressive forces can emerge.


Institutional Event (IE): The entire membership and whole staff work together to study how groups form around a particular interest or task and how they then interact with one another. Consultants help members to form groups, communicate with other groups, and study their processes of assigning roles and authority structures. Event closes with an IE discussion to draw out themes.


Role Analysis/Application Group (RAG): “There and then” event that helps attendees integrate experiences, unpack difficult emotions, and reflect on application of conference learning to work life. A variety of methods are used including guided discussion and use of metaphor for symbolizing roles taken up over the course of the conference.


Conference Directors


Diana Castañeda, MA, LCPC (she/her) - Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor | Director of Youth and Family Services, Community Counseling Centers of Chicago | Member, AK Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems | Member, Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis | Member, Chicago Center for the Study of Groups and Organizations

Joshua DeSilva, Psy.D. (they/them) - Licensed Psychologist and DBEI Consultant | Certified Consultant, AK Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems | Vice Chair, Virginia Latino Advisory Board | Board of Directors, Center for the Study of Groups and Social Systems (CSGSS) | Member, Washington Baltimore Center (WBC) | Co-Creator, Group Relations International 



Jack Lampl, B.A (he/him)– Organizational Consultant | Credentialed Mediator | Visual Artist | Past President and Fellow A K. Rice Institute | Associate Director 2017-2019 A. K. Rice International Group Relations Conference | Board member San Diego Psychoanalytic Center | Past President Threshold Foundation | Founder of Subjective Technologies Inc. an early stage virtual reality startup 


Angelica Rivera, M.A. (she/her) - Certified Personal Trainer, National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) | Certified Yoga Instructor, Buti MVMNT | Breathwork Coach | Academic Tutor, Grade Potential | Member, West Coast Affiliate of the The AK Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems (GREX) 

Miguel Alcantara.png

Miguel Alcantara, M.A (he/him) - Resident Counselor | PsyD student

Conference Originator and Training Lead

mak wemuk.png

mak wemuk (he/him) – Principal, Luna Consulting & Coaching (health equity, racial equity, social justice) | Executive Committee, Washington-Baltimore Center for the Study of Group Relations | Co-Creator, Group Relations International | Reparations Committee, Certified Consultant, and Director Development Mentor, AKRI | Weekend Conference Director, 2023-2025, Center for the Study of Groups and Social Systems | Member, National Lawyers Guild | Past-President, National Association of Latino Healthcare Executives 

Staff Roles


Andres Bernal, M.A. (he/him) - Lecturer, City University New York School | Research Fellow, Global Institute for Sustainable Prosperity | Senior Policy Advisor, International Consultant, and Leadership Coach | Board of Directors, La Union Del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) Votes | Member, New York Center for the Study of Groups, Organizations, and Social Systems; International Forum for Social Innovation

Sarah Hedlund photo.png

Sarah L. Hedlund, Ph.D. (she/her)-Licensed Psychologist/Certified Consultant, AK Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems/Treasurer Washington Baltimore Center (WBC)/ Member, National Training Lab


Julia G. Katawazi, MA (she/her/ella) - Associate Professional Clinical Counselor, Counselor Education and Supervision PhD candidate, Oregon State University


Dannielle Kennedy, PhD (she/her) – Principal, WORKLAB, Organizational and Leadership Consulting | Former President and Board Member, Center for the Study of Groups and Social Systems (CSGSS) | Core Faculty, Leading from Experience | Mentor, AK Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems | Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist, Cambridge, MA

Annysa Polanco.png

Annysa Polanco (she/her) - Director, Equity & Workplace Culture, Museum of Modern Art | Vice President, AK Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems | Member, New York Center for the Study of Groups, Organizations, and Social Systems | Certified Advanced DEI Practitioner, Cornell University


Alan Ruiz (he/him) Faculty, Visual Studies, the New School, Parsons School of Constructed Environments, and Hunter College, MFA in Studio Art | Co-Creator, Group Relations International | President, New York Center for the Study of Groups, Organizations, and Social Systems | Member, and Consulting Candidate, A.K. Rice Institute |

Michael Speer.png

Michael Speer, PhD (he, his) | Member, Washington-Baltimore Center for the Study of Group Relations, and former WBC Secretary and President | former Member and Board Member, AK Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems | Co-Creator, Group Relations International | Board of Directors, DuPont Circle Village and co-chair of the DCV Diversity Task Force | Independent organizational consultant | Leadership coach, Coaches4Causes | Yogi, meditator, memoirist 


Jeanne MST Woon, Ph.D. (she/they) - Licensed Psychologist and Counseling Center Director | Certified Consultant and Mentor, AK Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems | Member, Midwest Center for Group Relations and New York Center for the study of groups, organizations, & social systems | Co-Creator, Group Relations International 

Consultine Roles

Consulting Roles

Director: Selects a conference theme (e.g., Race Relations in America, Contact, Gender and Authority, Groups in Leadership Transition) and hires a staff to support the conference membership. Usually serves on the large study group team and is ultimately responsible for the success of all conference components.

Training Lead: Staff member responsible for planning and organizing all aspects of staff development.

Large Study Group Consultant: Works with the whole membership in the LSG to trace themes, interpret resistances to being a working group, and helping the LSG to reflect on its process; One LSG consultant serves as Team Leader (usually Associate Director).

Small Study Group Consultant: Works with a small group to help trace themes, interpret resistances to being a working group, and helping the SSG to reflect on its process; One SSG consultant serves as Team Leader.

Role Analysis/Application Group Consultant: Helps a group of 4-8 members reflect on conference experiences and begin the work of applying conference learning to work life.

Admin Team Member: Responsible for all aspects of member facing communication about payment, online technology and schedules. 


Early Bird Rates (through May 8)

Student rate: $165

Discounted co-sponsorship rate (WBC & GRI): $250

Discounted AKRI/Affiliate Rate and groups of 3 or more: $275

Full fee: $325


Full Fee Rates (after May 8)

Student rate: $195

Discounted co-sponsorship rate (WBC & GRI): $300

Discounted AKRI/Affiliate Rate and groups of 3 or more: $325

Full fee: $375


Financial considerations should not be a barrier to joining this conference. If you have concerns about affording the conference at the rates listed, please reach out to the admin team at with a short description of your need. 

bottom of page