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Past Events in Continuous Innovation at UC San Diego

Read about past events in Continuous Innovation at UC San Diego.

Continuous Innovation in Higher Education

February 8, 2018

The Continuous Innovation in Higher Education Forum was a tremendous success! Around 65 participants attended the inaugural event on February 8, 2018. The event was held in the Great Hall in the International House at UC San Diego, a beautiful venue with floor to ceiling windows to let in the southern California sunshine.

The keynote speaker, Colin Nelson, started the day off with an inspirational talk about innovation in higher education. He helped to bridge the gap in the audience’s minds on how academia and private industry can work together to further both sides interests and how this approach is currently in infancy stages.

The next speaker, Jason Kalivas, from the University of Washington gave a great talk about the issues they faced in launching a customer satisfaction survey unique in size and scope. He discussed the real challenges of keeping the results out of a drawer.

The last speakers of the morning, Katy Rees and Jennifer Williams from Cal State University San Marcos, talked through learning why culture matters in our workforce and how to intentionally design a culture to propel our audience’s organizations forward.

During lunch, we held a poster session where various process improvements projects on our UC San Diego campus were showcased. These posters were represented by the process improvement project owners and gave our attendees a great opportunity to meet some of the Lean Six Sigma talent on our campus.

After lunch, one of the most engaging talks of the afternoon was by Mojgan Amini and Lynn Underwood. Back in December of 2017, they organized a Lean Six Sigma Process Palooza event where the campus was invited to attend a competition to improve a couple of processes on campus within a certain time frame. This talk included learning how they planned and executed the competition, and some of the competition participants discussed their experiences as well.

Finally, the breakout sessions included Brad Sollenberger from UC San Diego teaching Lean Six Sigma applications and frequently overlooked tools for University effectiveness and Melani Roberson sharing the fundamentals of crowdsourcing as a tool for innovation.

The event was incredibly well received, ran smoothly and there is a significant interest in continuing the event on an annual basis!

Smart Innovation: Balancing Priorities

June 13, 2016

Together we will learn how to create space to innovate while balancing other priorities.  This interactive event features guest speakers and networking will be incorporated throughout the event.


  • Alexis Naiknimbalkar, Assistant Director, Organizational Excellence, CSU Office of the Chancellor "Simple Frameworks for Supercharging Your Productivity and Organization".  Learn how different productivity systems can provide a framework for understanding the context of your work.  Alexis will share how a Personal Kanban can help you organize and plan your work and increase productivity. Alexis supports Organizational Excellence, including the CSU-CCC-UC initiative which seeks to improve performance, service, and outcomes through collaboration between the three public higher education systems. His background is in computer and environmental science and he has 19 years of experience working in state, government, and the private industry. He has been with the University for the past 9 years and is a certified Transactional Lean Facilitator. He has applied Lean tools and methodologies to improve several processes at the University and has conducted workshops and sessions on this topic.

  • Catherine Ledford, Chief of Staff, VC-CFO UC San Diego "Wisdom Sharing"  Learn time management strategies from Cathy's experience as Chief of Staff to the Vice Chancellor/ Chief Financial Officer.  Cathy will share her secrets for balancing multiple high priorities and discuss principles for categorizing and prioritizing your work. Cathy has served as the Chief of Staff for the Vice Chancellor, External & Business Affairs/CFO for the past three years. She represents the Vice Chancellor and makes decisions on his behalf in discussions with VC&CFO senior management team, Vice Chancellor's, the Office of the President, the Academic Senate, and other campus senior leadership regarding policies, initiatives, and operational issues pertaining to the campus. Last year, Cathy also served as the Interim Assistant Vice Chancellor, Chief Human Resource Officer. Prior to serving as the Chief of Staff, Cathy was the Administrative Vice Chair for the Department of Ophthalmology where she served as the partner to the Chair in the business development and growth of the Ophthalmology Department and was responsible for the day-to-day operational business of the Shiley Eye Institute’s outpatient clinical practice as well as an ambulatory surgery center, with a focus on growth and business improvement.

Ideas Take Flight

April 4, 2016 

Together we will explore how to energize, focus, and align your ideas to get the necessary support to see your ideas become a reality. This interactive event features guest speakers and networking will be incorporated throughout the event.


  • Dr. Rossen Valkanov: "Taking Measured Risks in Innovation" Innovation is inextricably linked to taking risks. Promoting and spearheading innovation is a balancing act between encouraging risk-taking and managing risks. In practice, this is easier said than done. The finance field has dealt with similar issues over the last thirty years and has some valuable insights to offer.
  • Sue Anderson, MS, SPHR, SHRM-SCP:"Exercising Influence" In our demanding work environment with tighter deadlines and fewer resources, getting things done requires more than technical skills. If you want to be a successful leader, manager or colleague you must achieve results through the effort and support of others. This requires a full complement of influence skills. In this session, Sue will introduce you to a model for influence, and you will have an opportunity to “try on” some influence tactics.
  • Kathleen D. Johnson: "The Constructive Conversation" Innovation is great as long as the solutions created solve problems that are properly identified and understood.  Learn the importance of really understanding situations, possible remedies, and impacts to people and processes. 

Diversity and Innovation

February 17, 2016

Together we will explore the impact of diversity on innovation and increase your toolkit as an innovator. This interactive event features two guest speakers, who will share their research and lead participants through exercises and a mini-workshop.  Networking will be incorporated throughout the event.


  • Dr. Robert Epstein: Do you have what it takes to help your team innovate? Dr. Epstein will lead us in an interactive discussion to better understand the foundational connection between diversity and innovation. His many years of research and studies have identified core competencies that help both individuals and teams to be more creative and innovative. Dr. Epstein will guide us through “The Same Game” and other exercises and ultimately offer insights into stimulating creative expression in ourselves and others.
  • Dr. LaWana Richmond: Are you tired of hearing that “it’s impossible”? Dr. Richmond will broaden our perspectives about the value of diversity in the innovation process and help us to understand that asking the right questions leads teams to achieve things they thought were impossible. Dr. Richmond will offer nuggets of tangible information and facilitate a workshop on effective ways to ask questions that overcome common roadblocks which you can take-away and apply today. Her expertise and passion on the subject of diversity will create an engaging group discussion you will not want to miss.

Creativity and Innovation

October 26, 2015

You are invited to learn more about the role of creativity in innovation from our prestigious UC San Diego faculty members, who will discuss their research applying to creative problem solving in our day-to-day work. Following these presentations, a networking event will offer tools to unlock creativity in the individual and in teams. 


  • Dr. Scott Klemmer will present on what does it mean to be a creative person, and how can those in higher education think about creative work? What strategies for human-centered design can be applied to innovate higher education?
  • Dr. Craig McKenzie will discuss the theme of rational decision making cuts across group and organizational creativity. How can one increase creativity in an applied manner?
  • Dr. David Kirsh discussion about how to creatively solve design problems through experience design.
  • Dr. Bernadette Han will demonstrate that creativity can be learned. Network with fellow innovators through fun activities that accelerate and direct creativity in the workplace, based on Generativity Theory (cognition, creativity and behavior), adult learning theories and other relevant neuroscience facts. Science meets fun!

Continuous Improvement

August 31, 2015

This is our first Continuous Innovation event. We are very excited to begin this quarterly series and hope that you can join us! Please feel free to attend any of the sessions described below. Light refreshments will be provided.


  • Harvey Dershin, Principle Consulting at Rath & Strong, LLC. will provide an introduction to Lean Six Sigma. 
  • “Project-Based Work – Your Key to Innovation”, a webinar led by John Warren and produced by Stanford University’s Center for Professional Development
  • Recent staff recipients of Lean Six Sigma Green Belts will host a poster presentation showcasing their work

Event Handouts:

Continuous Innovation Series (PDF)
Scholarship Opportunity (PDF)

Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.