Meaning to Matter: Authorization in the Here and Now

  • Event

1137 S Cochran Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90019

Co-sponsored by GREX, AKRI, and the MAK Center for Art and Architecture.

Organized by Dannielle Kennedy (Director) and Andrea Fraser (Associate Director for Administration).

Pre-registration is required – Schedule below  

The MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House and GREX, West Coast Affiliate of the A.K. Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems are pleased to present a three-day intensive experiential group relations conference in the Tavistock tradition. In the spirit of architect R.M. Schindler’s experimentation with social space as well built space, the conference explores social dynamics and authority in a unique architectural structure. Unlike conferences featuring panel discussions and lectures, this conference is structured to create an environment in which we can learn directly from experience. Events involving groups of varying sizes and tasks give conference members opportunities to experience, examine, and understand powerful group dynamics as they unfold. Meetings designed for review and application provide further opportunities for understanding and integrating the learning into everyday life.

The title of this conference, Meaning to Matter, carries two connotations. First, it names a process of moving what exists in the mind in the psychological realm into the physical world of material things—to the world of matter. Second, it implies an intention to make a difference and have an impact in a social context. In both of these aspects, transforming meaning to matter involves the authorization of ourselves and others.

In the Tavistock tradition, authority is defined as the right to work on behalf of a group, in relation to a task, to support a collective purpose. While these phrases may seem clear, the actual process of moving an agenda forward is often complicated by covert, out-of-awareness and difficult-to-track dynamics. This weekend conference is designed to bring the process of authorization to light as it develops in the conference itself. Studying how members give themselves and others the right to participate and influence, to lead, to cast a vote of support, provides powerful and lasting learning. Closely observed, the temporary institution of the conference tells a story and reveals the unique underlying meanings and beliefs that drive the group’s dynamic in the here and now. As participant observers, conference members learn experientially, not through traditional didactic instruction, and deepen their awareness of how they together create the world in which they live.

Based on the work of psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion and social scientists A.K.Rice, Eric Miller and others, conferences in the Tavistock tradition combine social systems research with psychoanalytic theory and practice. This model of experiential learning examines unconscious as well as conscious aims that impact the emotional and working lives of groups. It provides opportunities to explore how we authorize ourselves and others to feel, speak, act, lead, and follow; how social identity and role intersect; and how we create and challenge the boundaries of task, time, territory and self. The primary task of the conference is to provide opportunities to experience, examine and understand the exercise of authority and leadership from the group perspective. The primary task of managing and administrative staff is to create and hold the conference structure. The primary task of the consulting staff is to provide members with opportunities to examine the nature of group dynamics and authorization experientially, as they unfold. The primary task of conference members is to learn what they choose to learn in any way they choose to learn it.

About the site

The Rudolph Schindler-designed Mackey Apartments (1939) are the home to the MAK Center’s residency program designed for visiting artists, architects, and students of architecture. Located on a flat lot in a residential neighborhood, the apartment building is one of a series of residential projects developed by Schindler in the 1930s. Unlike international-style architects, Schindler seldom designed identical apartment units; his apartments are complex, individual, and innovative. The Mackey possesses typical Schindler characteristics: compact apartment layout, exceptional incorporation of natural light, built-in furniture, variable ceiling heights, and private outdoor gardens or mini-balconies.

Due to the landmark status of the Mackey Apartments, the conference facilities are not wheel-chair accessible. Please email the conference Administrator with any accessibility concerns.

About the conference staff

Dannielle Kennedy, LICSW, PhD, Director, Principal, WORKLAB, Organizational and Leadership Consulting; Psychotherapist, Private Practice, Cambridge, MA; Past President and Board Member, Center for the Study of Groups and Social Systems, Boston; Associate, AKRI. Andrea Fraser, Associate Director for Administration, Artist; Professor, UCLA Department of Art; Board President, Working Artists and the Greater Economy; Board Member, GREX; Training and Certification Candidate, AKRI. Jasmin K. Montes, MA, Associate Administrator, MA in Clinical Psychology, California State University, Dominguez Hills; Behavior Consultant, California Pediatric and Family Services; Member, GREX. Benjamin Boatright, MFA, Associate Administrator, Artist, MFA UC Irvine; Administrator, Escher GuneWardena Architecture, Los Angeles. Raymond F. Bakaitis, PhD, Consultant, Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Psychology, UCLA; Board President, GREX; Past President, Los Angeles County Psychological Association and Initiator of LACPA Convention; Private Practice, Los Angeles; Associate, AKRI. Leslie Brissett, JP, PhD, MSc, BSc (Hons), Consultant, Company Secretary, The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, UK. Leonard Levis, Ph.D, Consultant, Senior Clinical Supervisor, Westcoast Children’s Clinic, Oakland, CA; Psychotherapy and Organizational Consultation, Private Practice, Berkeley, CA; Member, GREX; Associate, AKRI. John Lundgren, MD, FIPA, Associate Clinical Professor, UCLA Geffen School of Medicine; Training and Supervising Analyst, Psychoanalytic Center of California; Past Co-Director, Group Relations Course, UCLA Department of Psychiatry (1980-1990); Member, GREX; Associate, AKRI. Jaime Romo, EdD, Consultant, Educational Consultant; Trauma Specialist, Private Practice; Minister for Healing and Healthy Environments, United Church of Christ; Associate, AKRI. Chris St. John, MA, Consultant, Organizational Psychologist and Leadership Development Consultant; Doctoral Student, Social-Organizational Psychology, Columbia University; Member, New York Center for the Study of Groups, Organizations and Social Systems; Associate, AKRI. Tara L. Victor, Ph.D, ABPP, Consultant Candidate, Clinical Neuropsychologist; Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, California State University Dominguez Hills; Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, UCLA; Board Member, GREX; Consultant Candidate, AKRI.


Friday, September 23
Conference Registration  11:30 am – 12 noon
Conference Events 12 noon – 9:15 pm
Saturday, September 24 Conference Events 9:00 am – 9:15 pm
Sunday, September 25  Conference Events 9:00 am – 5:30 pm
Closing Reception
5:30 pm – 6:00 pm



Register by September 5
Register after September 5
3+ from the same organization (each)
GREX and AKRI Members
MAK Friends 
Full-time students

Registraton Information

Register here. Please note that registration closes September 21.

A limited number of reduced-fee registrations are available. Please contact the conference Administrator at [email protected] for details.

Fees will be refunded for registrations withdrawn prior to September 20, minus a $50 processing fee. Fees are non-refundable on or after September 21.

Space is limited so early registration is recommended.

Experiential learning is enriching but may be stressful. Individuals who are ill or experiencing a period of significant personal difficulty may consider postponing participation.

Confidentiality: staff will not report the behavior of any individual member to anyone outside the conference.

GREX is approved by the California Psychological Association (CPA) to provide continuing professional education for psychologists. The California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) now recognizes CPA continuing education credit for license renewal for LCSWs and MFTs. GREX maintains responsibility for this program and its contents. Conference participants are eligible to receive 18 CE credits. GREX charges a $25 fee for processing CE credits.

Co-sponsored by GREX, West Coast Affiliate of the AK Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems and by the AK Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems.

For further information about Meaning to Matter: Authorization in the Here and Now, email [email protected]

For further information about AKRI and GREX, visit and

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