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Pepperdine | Graduate School of Education and Psychology

Lifelong Learning Women's Forum

Women's Life-Long Learning Lecture Series

Women's Life-Long Learning Breakfast Forum

A private-invitation event for women, the Lifelong Learning Women's Forum exists to assist women in staying current on events and establishing sound, logical, and innovative positions related to issues that shape our world. 

This Forum is held on the second Thursday of each month. One topic is addressed from a scholarly viewpoint, with the majority of sessions being presented by Pepperdine faculty. Each one-hour lecture is followed by a thirty-minute question-and-answer portion. 


Fall Forum 2024

My Beef with Vision Boards: Why They’re Not Necessarily the Best Tool for Self-Improvement

Thursday, December 14, 2023

As the New Year approaches and resolution lists are formed, many turn to vision boards to help plan and inspire. These aesthetically pleasing boards don’t always carry the actual steps needed to achieve. 

Our Lifelong Learning Women’s Forum speaker, esteemed psychologist, author, and television personality, Dr. Judy Ho, Ph.D., offers an opportunity for participants to set their course for the coming year with tools to more effectively approach goals and navigate through life's challenges. 

Dr. Ho will guide participants through the process of understanding their motivations, identifying potential obstacles, and creating a personalized plan for change. Whether you are an individual looking for a fresh start, a creative stuck in a rut, or a team leader aiming to motivate your unit, Dr. Ho's session will provide the necessary skills and perspective. Drawing from her vast experience in behavioral and clinical psychology and using contemporary scientific insights, Dr. Ho will provide practical tools for defining objectives, overcoming resistance, and engineering productive habits. 

Join us for this enlightening session. Together, let's create a blueprint for change, focus our ideas, and gear ourselves up to reach heights we hardly imagined. Be ready for a journey of introspection, discovery, planning, and action, that will fundamentally redefine your forthcoming year. 


The Issues and Voters Who Will Define the 2024 Presidential Election

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Our next presidential election is only a year away and a handful of issues look to be guiding the 2024 election. Which voters will be targeted the most by the candidates and how will the pull of a third party shift the political landscape?

Leading our discussion, which will help us prepare to show up as an informed voter this fall and beyond, is professor Dan Schnur. With his weekly blog, DanSchnurPolitics.com, and teaching positions at leading government and policy schools and institutes in the nation, Dan Schnur is poised to help make sense of an often confusing political world.


"Leading Authentically" 

Thursday, October 12, 2023

The Lifelong Learning Women's Forum welcomes back GSEP alumna and leadership coach, Dr. Nicole Johnson.  

Dr. Johnson shared the foundations of authentic leadership, including self-awareness, transparency, genuine relationships, ethical decision-making, and a commitment to making a positive impact. She led attendees through practices to identify how to build a network of positive-minded friends, love yourself the way you love others, and the best way to serve others in your inner circle.

Spring Forum 2023

"Learning as a Way of Life: Linking Early Learning With Later Adulthood"

April 13, 2023

As a National Board-Certified Distinguished teacher in language arts, Dr. Denise Calhoun’s life changed after her mom became disabled and needed care 24/7. To motivate her mom and to provide her with a sense of purpose, she encouraged her mom to help write Dr. Calhoun’s first handbook of activities for those experiencing the onset of dementia. Since then, Dr. Calhoun has focused on applying what she knows about teaching children to help older adults. 

Together with Dr. Reyna Garcia-Ramos, Professor of Education and Chair of the Department of Education and Pedagogy at the Pepperdine Graduate School of Education and Psychology, Dr. Calhoun presented portions of their academic paper, “Rethinking Learning Potentials: The Benefits of Learning Across the Life Span,” which illustrates how learning in early stages of life is linked to learning in later adulthood.

"Collaborative Confidence: Strategies to Amplify Your Authentic Talents and Expertise"

March 9, 2023

Women have always been powerful, capable, and talented. Yet, many women still doubt and question themselves. These feelings can be magnified if you’re one of the few women in your organization.

Collaborative Confidence gives women an authentic way to embrace and amplify their talents while doing the same for other women. When women hold the thought, “I’m responsible for my own confidence and I’m responsible for helping other women with theirs,” it creates an enduring bond between females that propels them forward together in a supportive and authentic way. This nurturing connectedness is Collaborative Confidence.

In celebration of National Women’s Month, our presenter, Dr. Heather Backstrom will detail ways to powerfully, authentically, and confidentially amplify your talents while doing the same for other women. 

Dr. Backstrom is a notable author, national speaker, professor, and leadership coach to organizations such as the United Nations, Metropolitan Water District, and Women’s Impact Alliance.

"Kickstart the New Year with the Four R's: Reframing, Renewing, Resetting, and Restoring"

February 9, 2023

2023 is upon us. Take charge and start the New Year by focusing on the Four “R’s”: reframe your mindsets, renew successful practices, reset your heart, and restore personal energy. 

With content grounded in research and aided by personal-assessment tools, like the Life Cycle Wheel: Finding Your Joy, Drs. Nicole Johnson and Laura H. Manyweather will lead attendees through the Four “R’s.” An intentional break will follow each “R” to allow participants a chance to write, respond, and make connections in real time. Each attendee will be gifted with a toolkit to take home to further implement the Four “R’s” into practice.

Reduce negativity and practice powerful ways to view, use, and refresh your mind, body, and talents, to harness the best in 2023. 

If you view the recording and would like to utilize the Life Cycle Wheel and the Feel Wheel handouts they can be accessed here

Fall Forum 2022

"Strengthening Our Brain with Mindful Rest"

December 8, 2022

Dr. Melissa Huy, a neuropsychologist and licensed clinical psychologist, brought forth research and practical tools to demonstrate and support the brain health advantages of mental rest. Choosing activities that promote cognitive relaxation can promote a resilient brain and literally change the configurations of our brain to increase memory, concentration, and the ability to manage stress. Dr. Huy demonstrated how to feasibly weave mental rest into our busy days and gain optimal brain wellness. 

"Unmasking the Noise Within: An Exploration of the Integration of Music and Mental Processing and its Effect on Enhanced Learning"

November 10, 2022

Music speaks the language of the soul, penetrating into the past and resonating into the future, unearthing pain and tenderness and sorrow and joy, reminding us of our infinite fragility and extraordinary strength, reigniting our dreams and passions once again to remind us of who we are meant to be.  ― L.R. Knost

Music can carry us along the pathway from our past to our future. It can move us through stagnation and hurt and give us the energy to accomplish our purpose. The brain uses the left side to interpret lyrics and the right side to process melody. This simultaneous activation of both brain hemispheres can boost our mood, maximize mental processing, and support positive behavior.

GSEP welcomed transformational coach, creative strategist, educator, and licensed clinical social worker, Dr. De Vida Gill, accompanied by two musicians, who led attendees through an interactive session reflecting on thoughts and emotions and demonstrated music's ability to enhance outlooks, understanding, and harness potential.

"The Letters of Hannah Whitman Heyde: Intimate Partner Violence & the Life of a 19th Century American Woman"

October 13, 2022

In observance of domestic violence awareness month, our October session will peer into the life of Hannah Whitman Heyde (1823-1908), the younger sister of poet Walt Whitman. Hannah documented in letters to the Whitman family her lived experience of ongoing physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her husband, well-known Vermont landscape artist Charles Louis Heyde (1820-1892).

Hannah was educated in Brooklyn, New York, and Hempstead, Long Island. Married at 29, she was characterized by Whitman scholars as a neurotic and hypochondriac – a narrative intentionally crafted by Charles himself. Hannah’s letters reveal a very different story, one that catalogs the emotional, verbal, and physical violence she experienced. Her correspondence gives us a deeper understanding of what would happen to women in the 19th century who were experiencing intimate partner violence.

Our guide through the experiences of Hannah Whitman Heyde will be author, Fulbright scholar, and the Blanche E. Seaver Chair of English Literature at Pepperdine, Dr. Maire Mullins. Dr. Mullins edited and annotated Hannah’s complete letters providing an important groundbreaking counternarrative insight into her life as a woman who endured and eventually survived domestic violence.

"Creating Positive Interactions through Emotional Connection"

September 15, 2022

Any relationship – professional, familial, situational, or romantic is inevitably bound to come under the strain of uncertainty, anger, or stress. The goal in relationships is not to avoid these conflicts but to learn how to repair them and build trust for future interactions. Repairing through emotional connection helps relationships grow stronger. By building trust through each complete repair of a rupture, individuals form secure bonds and increase positive behaviors in their interactions, so their colleague, family, or partner feels valued, heard, and cared for.
The September Lifelong Learning Women’s Forum welcomed Dr. Lola Gershfeld, Psy.D., who developed the Emotional Connection process (EmC), a scientific, attachment-based approach to conflict resolution, leadership development, and culture transformation. Dr. Gershfeld outlined steps to take to repair fractured relationships safely and effectively.


Spring Forum 2022

"Autism Acceptance: Moving Beyond Awareness and Toward Allyship"

April 14, 2022

April is autism awareness month. There has been a shift to move from autism awareness, which requires no action, into autism acceptance, which supports inclusion and greater understanding of autistic people and their neurotype.

To aid in this shift, Dr. Lusineh Gharapetian, Ph.D., described the features of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and highlighted what everyone in our community should know about autism, including fostering an environment of belonging and acceptance,  compassionate care, neurodiversity, and the need to break down barriers rooted in ableism.


"Expecting the Unexpected: A Conversation with Russ Kino MD, Medical Director, Saint John’s Health Center Emergency Services"

March 10, 2022

Do you know the difference between a need for a visit to the emergency room vs. an urgent care or primary care physician visit? Has COVID-19 scared you off from visiting a doctor’s office or seeking medical attention? Are hospitals really as overrun as we hear on the news?

Our conversation with Russ J. Kino, MD. FACEP, FACEM, the Medical Director of Emergency Services at Providence Saint John's Health Center, and Chief Medical Information Officer for Providence Saint John's Health Center. Dr. Kino addressed many questions regarding emergency medicine: what is it, when do you use it, and who can use it, as well as emergency medicine in the era of COVID, and the future of emergency care.


"Positive Psychology – Strategies to Increase Happiness, Motivation, and Energy"

February 10, 2022

“Remember this, that very little is needed to make a happy life.”  - Marcus Aurelius. The big question, of course, is what is that “little” and how do we find it?  With so much out of our control right now it is easy to feel at the mercy of all that is happening around us. We find ourselves waiting to be happy until this and that change. With this mindset, we might be waiting a long time.  

Make a shift, take action - the time is now, the moments are in front of us and we need to find a way to embrace them and find happiness.  
Jocelyn Clegg, LMFT will share the science of happiness and Positive Psychology and lead us in exercises that will help chart a path of personal joy and contentment. 


Fall Forum 2021

"Hormone Health: What are your hormones trying to tell you?"

December 9, 2021

Learn how to maintain hormone health and feel better than your former self. No matter what stage you are at in your hormone health journey – 30's, 40's, 50's+, how you lay the foundation for your health now impacts your perimenopause and menopause stages today and tomorrow.  The presentation will be led by community health advocate and member of the board of directors for the Federation of State Medical Board, Denise Pines along with health advocate and registered dietitian, Julie E-Health.



"The Building Blocks of Wealth: It's More Than Just Money"

November 11, 2021

"The first wealth is health." This Ralph Waldo Emerson quote reminds us that good health is the foundation on which to build – a life, a community, and an economy. The November Lifelong Learning Women's Forum session will focus on the building blocks of wealth. Leading our discussion will be three female experts in the realms of health and wellness, relationships, and finance.



"Living a Transformational, not a Transactional Life"

October 14, 2021

"We are not able to fully help others until we have spent time helping ourselves." - Dr. Gimel Rogers.

Taking take time to feed your mind, body, and spirit is paramount to overall health and wellness. In order to feel engaged in your own life and available to support others, you need to guard your inner flame. This continued practice is vital to our whole being.

Dr. Gimel Rogers, a licensed and board-certified clinical psychologist with more than 10 years of clinical and training experience will engage attendees in exploring feelings, framing our struggles, and finding meaning and positivity from our experiences. Through journaling exercises and interactive discourse, Dr. Rogers will demonstrate self-care techniques to help chart a personal path to promote mental, physical, and spiritual renewal.

Spring Forum 2021

"Bitcoin and Blockchain 101: The Future of Social and Economic Inclusion"

April 8, 2021

Blockchain technology, the software behind Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, has multiple uses beyond currency. Its technology is impacting all industries, including government, real estate, media, education, energy, agriculture, and healthcare. Dr. Lene Martin, director of Blockchain at Pepperdine, and Cynthia Ware, director of The Pepperdine Fund, provide an introduction to Bitcoin and blockchain, including an overview of its history, how it's being used today, and why it's important to be informed.



"Deeds Not Words:  African American Women Leaders in California History"

March 11, 2021

From 19th century-colored women's clubs to 21st century elected officials, African American women in California have helped shape the civic landscape. To commemorate Women's History Month, Susan D. Anderson, history curator and program manager at the California African American Museum, will reveal little-known stories about groundbreaking black women who have contributed their leadership to the state's development.

"Cultural Equity and Inclusion: Obstacles and Opportunities"

February 11, 2021

During the past year, the movement towards equity and inclusion in the arts has accelerated, as it has in society as a whole. Some progress has been made, but many challenges remain. Laura Zucker, former executive director of the Los Angeles County Arts Commission from 1992-2017, and now director of the Master in Arts Management program at Claremont Graduate University and senior advisor at AEA Consulting, discusses where we've been in the cultural field, where we're heading, and how the pandemic has amplified obstacles and created opportunities.


Fall Forum 2020

"Braving the Storm of Difficult Conversations"

November 12, 2020

Approaching a difficult conversation with someone who holds differing opinions can cause fear, anger, anxiety, and division. Emotions can run high or avoidance can stifle the relationship. Dr. Carrie Castañeda-Sound, a licensed psychologist and Associate Professor of psychology at Pepperdine explores the interactions within difficult conversations through a psychological and spiritual lens. Learn to build greater self-awareness, strength, empathy, and space in order to work with the conflict and emotions that can arise in our interactions with others. Using mindfulness and activities for self-reflection, Dr. Castañeda-Sound shares strategies for navigating these difficult dialogues in our daily lives.


"Election 2020:  On the Issues / By the Numbers"

Thursday, October 8, 2020

An election year most often compared to 1968, the 2020 national elections defies finding an easy historical precedent. A global pandemic, demonstrations for racial equality, and deeper questions of American identity, all comprise an election year like no other. Following on a similar presentation he gave prior to the 2016 elections, Pete Peterson, dean of Pepperdine School of Public Policy, returns to analyze recently available national survey data on the major issues that appear to be driving voter engagement this November. To be clear, this will be a nonpartisan look at the current state of our politics and upcoming elections. Still, the polarized results from these national polls reveal a national political culture we all need to understand better - whatever our political affiliation.


Spring Forum 2020

"Being Good Enough: It's ok not to wear all the hats right now"

Thursday, September 10, 2020

In March 2020, the nation shut down to flatten the curve of COVID-19. It's nearly six months later, and the world has slowly begun to reopen, but for many, our lives are still in disarray. A vast amount of people continue to work remotely, most children are not returning to school in person, and the fear of Novel Coronavirus remains. At the same time, we are being asked to return to business as usual, calling us into frequent role shifts throughout the day, 8 am mother and teacher to our kids, 9 am work conference call, 10 am masking up to grocery shop, 11 am support friends through difficult or unexpected experiences, and the day goes on trading one hat for another, multiple times per day. This lecture will present a biopsychosocial- spiritual understanding of the families and illness model and provide guidance on grounding women in these unprecedented times.


"Uncharted Territory: Families Navigating Remote Learning and Well-Being During the COVID-19 Crisis"

Thursday, May 14, 2020

As schools rapidly transition to online platforms in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, students and their families face unprecedented challenges. Caregivers must navigate how best to facilitate remote learning while also being mindful of children's social-emotional well-being.Dr. Miyake-Trapp explores the affordances of online learning, presents the limitations inherent to virtual environments, and equips caregivers with strategies to support children in these difficult circumstances. Issues of access and equity will also be addressed to provide critical context to the conversation.

"Negotiating for Self"

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Stephanie Blondell, Associate Director at the Pepperdine Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, explores current negotiation theory through the lens of gender and within the cultural context as well as provide techniques to practice the skills employed by the most effective negotiators.


Fall Forum 2019


"Challenges Human Beings Face in a Human Doing World!"

Thursday, December 12, 2019

The December session focuses on ways to regulate our minds and reclaim our lives from the Doing, by finding meaning in the Being.

Psychotherapist, Lisa Bahar integrates Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) concepts and shares how wise mind practices from different spiritual perspectives can enhance and inspire our connection to life.



"Razia's Ray of Hope - Called to Serve"

November 14, 2019

Afghanistan is notoriously one of the hardest places in the world to be a woman. In a culture with a deeply-rooted stigma against women's education, a bold woman is turning the tide one classroom of girls at a time. Born in Afghanistan, Ms. Razia Jan is the Founder of Razia's Ray of Hope Foundation which established an all-girls school in Afghanistan.



"Reducing the Risk of Alzheimer's in Women"

October 10, 2019

David A. Merrill, MD, PhD, Director of the Pacific Brain Health Center; Sarah McEwen, PhD, NSCA-CPT, Director, Research and Programming for the Pacific Brain Health Center; and Verna Porter, MD, Director of Programs for Dementia, Alzheimer's Disease and Neurocognitive Disorders at the Brain Health Center




Spring Forum 2019


"Changing the World - Female Social Entrepreneurs"

April 11, 2019

Susan Cotton, Co-Founder and Executive Chair of the Board of The Lily Project; Michelle Ellena, Founder and Executive Director of Compassion for Animals; and Hollie Stenson, Founder and CEO of the Worldwide Offices Of Making It Right



"Women Leaders - Let's Get Real"

March 14, 2019

Dr. Betty Uribe, Executive Vice President of California Bank & Trust and an international speaker, consultant, coach, and author



"Are You In A Healthy Relationship With Your Finances?"

February 14, 2019

Kate E. Phelan, Esq., Trust Officer with US Bank



Older Forums












 Fall Series 2018

"Create Your Aging Experience Regardless of Your Actual Age Today"

December 13, 2018

Tracy Greene Mintz, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, trainer and long-term care consultant based in Southern California.


"Artificial Intelligence: What Are the Real Perils and How Can Women Help Create Stronger "Moral Code"?

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Charla Griffey-Brown is a Professor in Information Systems and Technology Management at the Pepperdine Graziadio School of Business


"From Surviving to Thriving: The Science of Stress and Resilience"

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Dr. Natasha Thapar-Olmos, Clinical Psychologist and Assistant Professor of Psychology at Pepperdine GSEP

 Spring Series 2018

"Nutritional Genetics: Is Your Health in Your Genes?"

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Dr. Susan Helm, registered dietitian nutritionist, Seaver College Associate Professor of Nutritional Science, and coordinator of the nutritional science program


"A New Normal: Raising a Child on the Autism Spectrum"

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Adel Najdowski, Ph.D., BCBA-D is an Associate Professor and Director of the M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis program at Pepperdine University


"Cancer Risk and Prevention"

Thursday, March 8, 2018

UCLA Health medical experts, Dr. Aashini Master and Erica Silver, MS discussed the genetics and the breast cancer family history connection, along with lifestyle and personal risk factors.

Life Long Learning Event - GSEP Spring 2018

 Fall Series 2017

"Women's Laughter is What Men are After"

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Yakov Smirnoff, World Famous Russian Comedian, Actor and Writer Star of the PBS Special "Happily Ever Laughter: The Neuroscience of Romantic Relationships"

Mr. Yakov Smirnoff


"Finding Truth in an Era of "Fake News", Post-Truth and Polarized Debates"

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Dr. Natasha Thapar-Olmos, Clinical Psychologist and Assistant Professor of Psychology at Pepperdine University's Graduate School of Education and Psychology

Dr. Natasha Thapar-Olmos

 Spring Series 2017

"Myths about sleep: Insights from Studies of Sleep in Human Hunter-Gatherers"

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Dr. Jerry Siegel, Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Director of the UCLA Center for Sleep Research


"Leadership Lessons from the Bench"

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Dean Deanell Tacha, Dean of the School of Law, Professor of Law, Former Circuit Judge, Former Chief Judge


"Healthy Aging, Scientific Discoveries, and Social Enterprise"

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Dr. Steve Kirnon, Director of GSEP Social Entrepreneurship and Change, Professor, CEO of PharmaPlan LLC

 Fall Series 2016

"A life designed for miracles: Leadership tools for creating spectacular results"

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Dr. Farzin Madjidi, then Interim Associate Dean, Professor of Leadership, Graduate School of Education and Psychology

"Mindset Matters: The Neuroscience of Leading Change"

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Dr. Terri Egan, Professor, Graziadio School of Business Management

"Emotional Mastery: The Gifted Wisdom of Unpleasant Feelings"

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Dr. Joan Rosenberg, Visiting Professor of Psychology, Graduate School of Education and Psychology, TEDTalk Speaker

 Spring Series 2016

"Living a Values-based Life"

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Dr. Judy Ho, Asst. Professor of Psychology, Graduate School of Education and Psychology

"A Look at the 2016 Election"

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Professor Pete Peterson, Dean of SPP

"Gender Intelligence: A Look at the Male & Female Brain"

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Stephanie Blondell, Associate Director, Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, Assistant Professor of Law and Practice, Pepperdine School of Law

 Fall Series 2015

"K-12 Education Reform: Are We Getting It Right?"

Thursday, October 15, 2015
Ms. Joan Sullivan, CEO of the Partnership for LA Schools

"Living Positive Psychology: Focus, Flow, & Well-Being"

Thursday, November 19, 2015
Dr. Shelly Harrell Licensed Psychologist, Professor of Psychology at Pepperdine University

"iGods: How Technology Shapes Our Spiritual & Social Lives"

Thursday, December 17, 2015
Dr. Craig Detweiler, Associate Professor of Communication at Pepperdine University

 Spring Series 2015

"ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria)"

Thursday April 16, 2015

Dr. Robert Lloyd, Pepperdine University

"Stem Cell Research"

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Dr. Donna Nofziger-Plank, Pepperdine University

"Positive Psychology and Living an Abundant Life"

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Dr. Thema Bryant, Pepperdine University

 Fall Series 2014

"Healthy Aging"

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Dr. Priscilla MacRae and Blue Zones by Lauren Nakano

"Affordable Care Act"

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Minda Wilson

"Ebola and other diseases"

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dr. Sadina Reynaldo