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Future Leaders


As a longtime Hollywood storyteller, I understand what the late Teachers College adult educator Jack Mezirow would call the transformative impact of storytelling — its power to move, inspire and educate.

Here, as we say in Hollywood, is my story.

I returned to school to expand my knowledge in emotional intelligence, ex­ecutive coaching and the latest theories of how adults learn. TC, where Mezirow revolutionized adult education with his theory that grown-ups grow by question­ing their most deeply held assumptions and expectations, has been a natural fit.

As the College’s first LGBTQ Scholar, I have worked with The Tyler Clementi Foundation, created by the parents of a young man who took his own life after being bullied and hu­miliated in college, to develop a one-hour module that empowers adults to identify and neutralize bullying behavior in the workplace. Research by bullying authority Dorothy Espelage shows that transformative change requires a holistic approach to bullying that includes all participants. Thus our module focuses not only on the bullied individual, but also on the individual doing the bullying and bystanders witnessing the event.

Storytelling is central to our approach. In an opening video, Jane Clementi shares her son’s story and how her family transformed their loss by be-coming anti-bullying advocates. Our facilitators (experts in psychology, training and development) describe bullying in their own lives and encourage learners to do the same. Discussion is grounded in a case study and consideration of real-world applications of research.

In August, Workplace Options, a leader in human capital training and development, distributed the module to 50,000-plus client companies worldwide. A portion of the licensing fees supports The Tyler Clementi Foundation.

Meanwhile, with what I’ve learned at TC, I’ve been able to democratize the organization I run — Creative Lab Hawaii, funded by the state and the U.S. Department of Commerce to design and facilitate programs that help creative entrepreneurs deepen their craft — by collapsing the presumptive hierarchal space between facilitators and learners. I have begun my second year at TC and am looking forward to fur­thering my academic and professional adventure. —MICHAEL PALMIERI

Published Wednesday, Nov 4, 2015