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When the World Tilts: Compassion and Resilience in the Time of COVID-19

Thursday, June 18, 2020 -
2:00pm to 3:15pm PDT
Zoom Meeting
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Social change leaders around the globe are facing systemic, operational, and strategic challenges related to COVID-19 that are testing the limits of their own and their organizations’ capabilities. In a volatile time like this, compassion is a critical competency for leaders and organizations to build resilience, deal with stress, and prevent burnout.

Compassionate leadership means respecting the dignity of others, acknowledging the pain in the room, and recognizing that people who are valued create value. Leah Weiss, a researcher and lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, will explore the ways that compassionate leadership can be implemented at all levels of an organization. 


  • Source wisdom, strategies, and tools for dealing with complexity and multiple stressors, internal and external, to meet complex demands with presence and creativity
  • Identify why it’s important to cultivate self-awareness and self-compassion as prerequisites for effective leadership and teamwork
  • Cultivate practices for building internal and ecosystem equilibrium, compassion, and resilience
  • Learn how to incorporate consistent practices that support the translation of values to action


Leah Weiss, PhD, MSW, is a researcher, lecturer, consultant, and author. She teaches Compassionate Leadership at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where she created the perennially waitlisted course “Leading with Mindfulness and Compassion.” She is a principal teacher and a founding faculty member of Stanford’s Compassion Cultivation Program, conceived by the Dalai Lama. Leah is also a founding faculty member of Space Center Houston’s Human Potential Lab. In 2019, she co-founded Skylyte, a company that specializes in using the latest neuroscience and behavior change to empower high-performing leaders and managers to prevent burnout for themselves and their teams.

Her first book, How We Work: Live Your Purpose, Reclaim Your Sanity, and Embrace the Daily Grind (HarperWave) focuses on developing compassionate and soft- skill-based leadership while also offering research-backed actionable steps toward finding purpose at work. It was translated into seven languages. Her latest book, The Little Book of Bhavana: The Thai secrets of everyday resilience (Quercus), came out in the UK in 2019.

Leah has taught and spoken in diverse settings in addition to Stanford, including Harvard, Princeton, Smith, and 75 companies across sectors, including Genentech, Goldman Sachs, NASA, Google, Kaiser Permanente, and Intuit. Her work has been covered by news outlets including BBC, the New York Times, TED, the Financial Times, Harvard Business Review, and countless others.

Target Audience

This program is open to everyone. 

About this series

Continue your learning in this program series, which will provide invitations to meet and transform the leadership challenges of this time with new, more generative and satisfying ways of being and doing. We will explore: How might we use this colossal interruption of our old ways of doing things to shift toward emotional and physical well-being, more authentic relationships, and actions that reflect trust, generosity, inclusiveness, and mutual care?
As grant makers and people working for social justice, we are engaged in work to foster safety, ensure people’s needs are met, and heal and transform injustices so that every person might thrive. Too often, we overlook the many events that have diminished our own wellbeing. Additionally, in volatile, heavy times, we experience anxiety, fear, and grief – big, destabilizing emotions that compound prior stressors. Without proper attentiveness and care, our instability ripples into our teams, organizations, and the communities we serve with grant dollars. Unaddressed, our own diminished wellbeing reduces our ability to sustain ourselves and bring wholeheartedness to our work.
As we mount a philanthropic response to social and economic shocks, how might we lean into practices that bring forth the best of us? As the systems around which our society is built shake at their foundations, how might we harness our clarity, courage, and compassion to create solutions that reflect deep concern for our shared humanity?

These conversations will involve practices with seasoned leadership development professionals and philanthropic peers. We’ll explore why the art of tending to ourselves is a prerequisite for more effective social change. We’ll try out practices to cultivate self-awareness, self-regulation, new perspectives, and generative ways of working and working together. Inspiring leaders and activists will shine light on hard-won lessons of leadership during crisis and share practices and strategies for enhancing our own and others’ well-being; clarifying our vision; and fostering more durable and effective social change at a time when philanthropy is called to moral leadership.
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