Engineer Inclusion

What is thriving? Strategies for helping ourselves and others flourish

What is thriving? Panel

As many of us start the new year with revitalized motivations and goals, a desire to thrive in the months ahead is at the heart of it. But what does it mean to thrive? We all face different challenges and barriers, yet some seem to rise above the fray ostensibly better than others. Learning to thrive amidst sometimes unideal environments is a skill we can learn, as is learning to see and address systemic and institutional barriers that traditionally marginalized people face. During Engineer Inclusion’s first live panel of 2023, we discussed strategies for helping ourselves and others flourish. 

We had three stellar panelists whose work focuses on thriving. See the speaker bios, panel recording, takeaways and resources below!

"What is...?" Talk Series

The live “what is…?” talk series aims to bring clarity, humanity, and strategies to a particular topic. Learn more and explore other recordings and upcoming events.

The Great Resignation

The Great Resignation, also known as the Big Quit and the Great Reshuffle, is an ongoing economic trend in which employees have voluntarily resigned from their jobs en masse, beginning in early 2021 largely in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. (From Wikipedia)

Additional Reading




Dr. Julianna Gesun

Dr. Julianna Gesun

Julianna Gesun, Ph.D., is currently a National Science Foundation/American Society for Engineering Education engineering postdoctoral fellow and postdoctoral diversity and innovations scholar in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of New Hampshire. Her research broadly focuses on understanding and supporting the process by which engineering programs facilitate the environments for students to develop optimal functioning in undergraduate engineering programs. Her research interests intersect the fields of positive psychology, engineering education, and human development to understand the intrapersonal, cognitive, social, behavioral, contextual, cultural, and outcomes factors that influence thriving in engineering. She received her Ph.D. in Engineering Education at Purdue University, where she was an NSF Graduate Research Fellow and the winner of Purdue’s 2021 Three Minute Thesis competition for her work in developing research and courses on engineering thriving. She also received dual bachelor’s degrees in Industrial Engineering and Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her prior work experiences include product management, consulting, tutoring, marketing, and information technology.


Dr. Orin Davis

Orin Davis earned the first doctorate in positive psychology, and is a self-actualization engineer who enables people to do and be their best. He consults for companies from startups to multinationals on hiring strategies, culture, innovation, diversity/equity/inclusion, and employee well-being, and coaches people at all levels on building self-knowledge and developing personal growth trajectories. As the principal investigator of the Quality of Life Laboratory, he conducts research on flow, creativity, hypnosis, and mentoring. Dr. Davis also serves as a professor of creativity/innovation, entrepreneurship, business, and psychology at SUNY Buffalo State College, and gives workshops and lectures globally about human capital, creativity and innovation, and positive psychology. He is a startup advisor who helps early-stage companies enhance their value propositions, pitches, culture, and human capital, and writes and speaks avidly about human capital, creativity and innovation, and positive psychology.

Lisa Sansom

Lisa Sansom is the owner of LVS Consulting, a boutique consulting firm that helps to build positive and effective organizations. In these roles, Lisa shares positive psychology tools and techniques with her clients through speaking, corporate training, consulting, and coaching. Her clients come from a variety of industries including finance, education, technology, government, law, not-for-profit and health care.

Lisa has been working in Organizational Development, Leadership Development and Change Management since 2000. She is a certified coach at the PCC level (with the International Coaching Federation), working with leaders and aspiring leaders as well as high-performing teams. Lisa has also written several articles for magazines and other online publications and has contributed chapters in published books and e-books.

Educationally, Lisa obtained her MBA from the Rotman School of Management, and earned her coaching accreditation from Adler International Learning / OISE-UT.  In addition, she holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts from the University of Waterloo and a Bachelor of Education from Brock University. She completed her MAPP (Master of Applied Positive Psychology) from the University of Pennsylvania in 2010, one of the first five Canadians to do so.

Additional certifications include Prosci Change Management, ShiftPositive 360, Designing Your Life (Stanford), Gallup Strengths Certified Coach, Process Management (Excellence Canada) and Change Cycle™. Lisa also has experience leading strategic design workshops, Appreciative Inquiry summits and visioning workshops for leadership teams. She recently (2022) won an award with CASE as part of her ground-breaking inclusive facilitation cocreating new remote working environments for a previously traditional work unit.

She is a founding Board member of the Canadian Positive Psychology Association, has presented at the International Positive Psychology Association’s World Congress four times and was the co-Chair of the practice review committee for the 2017, 2019 and 2021 World Congresses on Positive Psychology. Lisa is currently enrolled in the DBA (Doctor of Business Administration) program at Royal Roads University researching the workplace impacts of positive feedback.

Dr. Meagan Pollock

Host & Moderator

Dr. Meagan Pollock began her career playing with light projection on tiny microscopic mirrors as an engineer for Texas Instruments. Through her company, Engineer Inclusion, she now utilizes metaphorical projectors and mirrors to shine a light on micro and macro social systems that, when adjusted, improve student and employee success in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. 

A TEDx speaker, author, and a past recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, Meagan holds a PhD in engineering education from Purdue University, an MS in electrical engineering from Texas Tech University, and a BS in computer science from Texas Woman’s University. As an engineer turned educator, Meagan focuses on helping others intentionally engineer inclusion™ in education and the workforce.

Read her full bio here.


Know Thyself

It's impossible to know if you are thriving without knowing yourself and what thriving means to you! Here are some tools you can try:

Discomfort is Ok

Not everything is easy, but you can do hard things! On your journey to thriving, you may experience discomfort, and discomfort is okay. Part of thriving is understanding the deepest parts of yourself and your history, and unpacking those elements can be challenging. When you are experiencing discomfort, do a quick root cause analysis to better understand why.

Hold two truths

In her book, Good Inside, Dr. Becky tells us that we can hold two truths at once. Essentially, we are honoring the AND. For example, you might tell yourself: "I am capable of thriving AND I feel I am struggling right now." Both things can be true at once!

Take care of the basics

Thriving requires that we take care of the basics like sleep, nutrition, exercise, community, mental health, and even play!

Pick 1 Thing

When learning how to thrive, it can be overwhelming if you try to improve or "fix" everything at once. Focus on one thing at a time to be most successful.

Track Progress

It is important to track your progress toward growth. Celebrate milestones along the way. Reflect back to remind your self that effort drives results.

Habits help

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." Will Durant

recognize barriers

Despite our best intentions, barriers and challenges can get in the way. Not all environments, cultures, and climates are hospitable for optimal growth -- whether for you or for others. The old adage, "Bloom where you are planted," sometimes isn't the best strategy if where you are "planted" is a toxic place that causes you harm.

practice empathy & Compassion

We must practice self-compassion, as well as "fierce" compassion and empathy for others, to support thriving.

model the journey

Authenticity, transparency, and honesty about efforts to thrive help model to others the struggles, successes, and all realities of what it takes to flourish.