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Leadership Academy

Baranda Fermin, PhD (they/them)

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Baranda Fermin, Phd (they/them) is a writer, speaker, yoga teacher, pastor and community curator. Their professional work builds the human capacity and organizational potential for transformative change, leading to whole, healthy, loving and creative relationships and communities. As an accomplished leader in the fields of community development, nonprofit leadership, higher education, as well as equity and access, their expertise has shifted the way that communities engage in development, change agents create strategy, and leaders measure outcomes. Dr. Fermin holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Michigan State University; a master’s in Human Development from Teachers College, Columbia University; a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from The University of Oklahoma; and is completing her Master of Divinity from Iliff School of Theology.

Dr. Fermin teaches Cultural Intelligence for the Leadership Academy

Outi Hilgert, MD (she/her)

Outi Hilgert, MD (she/her)  is a Finnish Medical Doctor with 25 years of experience in holistic (integrative) medicine and international background working in Finland, Germany, France, and the US. Dr. Hilgert is an MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) and an MBCT (Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy) trainer. Her core competence is developing trauma-informed mindfulness and compassion-based interventions in medicine and society. Her particular interest is in promoting mindfulness, meditation, stress management, emotional intelligence, and self-regulation skills in preventing and treating mental and physical diseases. Dr. Hilgert is a pioneer in developing mindfulness-based digital therapeutics for mental and physical health conditions. She believes in a world where everyone has access to unique healing modalities and can find health, balance, and happiness in their life. She is herself a "mindful leader" and has successfully set up a mindful and compassionate organization of over 50 therapists. Her course, The Mindful Leader, is based on science-backed-up theory, her own personal work, and her deep experience in leading people with mindfulness and wise compassion.


Dr. Hilgert teaches The Mindful Leader for the Leadership Academy

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Michelle Jolivet (she/her)

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Michelle Jolivet, PHR has more than 30 years of experience in the corporate world in various leadership positions for Fortune 500 companies. She has a BA in Business from the University of North Texas, an Associate’s degree in Communication from Community College of the Air Force, a Diversity and Inclusion certification from Cornell University, a Professional of Human Resources certification, and a Green Belt certification in Six Sigma. Michelle is a US Air Force veteran with multiple awards, including a top graduate of the NCO Academy, top Airman of the base, Levitow Leadership award from her peers, and two Commendation Medals of excellence.  Michelle is a proud native of the great state of Texas and resides in Dallas with her wife and grandson.

Michelle teaches Emerging Leaders for the Leadership Academy

Dara Rossi, PhD 

Dara Rossi, PhD is a leadership coach that is passionate about the personal and professional development of others.  She is certified in EQi 2.0 and EQ 360 to help her clients understand and apply Emotional Intelligence skills and behaviors that support their success and happiness. Dara’s coaching style reflects her belief that everyone can play a little bigger, and she is dedicated to fully understanding her clients, their role, career path, and workplace challenges to help them achieve their goals and realize their full potential. She is an ICF-credentialed coach with an MBA and a master’s degree in Dispute Resolution. In addition to coaching, Dara teaches graduate leadership courses and enjoys facilitating training and development programs.


Dr. Rossi teaches Social & Emotional Intelligence for the Leadership Academy. 

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Neeva Sandhu, LCPC, CRADC

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Neeva Sandhu, LCPC, CRADC is a therapist in private practice. She has 15 years of experience working with clients in different settings including counseling and addiction programs. Her areas of expertise include working with concerns related to identity, life transitions, relationships, and intergenerational issues. She approaches therapy through a culturally humble, anti-oppressive lens, supporting her clients in understanding the full context of their lives (familial, social, cultural) as well as the systems and institutions they function within.

Neeva teaches Making Implicit Biases Explicit for the Leadership Academy.

Robyn Short, DLS (she/her)

Robyn Short, DLS (she/her)  is the founder and CEO of Workplace Peace Institute, an organization development consulting, leadership training, and research firm that brings peace and dignity to the workplace. She also works as a peace-building trainer, mediator, racial equity consultant, and restorative justice facilitator. She is the founder and publisher of GoodMedia Press, an independent book publisher whose mission is to promote peace and social justice through books and other media. Dr. Short is the founder and board chair of the Peace & Conciliation Project, a 501(c)(3) antiracism organization that brings communities together to address and repair the harm of racial injustice. Dr. Short is an adjunct professor at Southern Methodist University in the Master of Conflict Management and Dispute Resolution program. She has authored four books on peace building.  


Dr. Short teaches Dignity Intelligence, Restorative Justice in the Workplace, and A Paradigm Shift in DEI for the Leadership Academy.

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Betty Iglesias Snyder, PsD (she/her)

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Betty Iglesias Snyder, PsyD is a licensed clinical psychologist. She works as a trainer, coach, mediator, DEI consultant, and facilitator. Her work focuses on healing and educating individuals, communities, and organizations globally. Betty was formerly Director and Associate Clinical Faculty for the Center for Conflict Management and Dispute Resolution program at Southern Methodist University. She also serves as a lecturer at both the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at the Pepperdine School of Law and the Institute for Conflict Management at Lipscomb University. She teaches courses in communication, mediation, psychology of conflict, culture and gender, peacebuilding, and neuroscience. Prior to her work at Southern Methodist University, she worked as a program director for the Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution at the University of Texas School of Law where she provided a wide range of alternative dispute resolution services including multi-party mediation to governmental agencies, policymakers and others involved in public  disputes. She is a published author and has been featured in two documentaries.

Dr. Snyder teaches Leading with Trust & Integrity, Trauma-Informed Leadership, Navigating Tough Conversations with Confidence & Purpose, The Brain in Conflict & Connection, Conflict Dynamics, and The Science of Inclusion & Belonging for the Leadership Academy.

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