#YouToo? When lived experiences and our own awareness pre-date and go beyond a hashtag movement

Looking at Leadership: #YouToo? When lived experiences and our own awareness pre-date and go beyond a hashtag movement
By Dr. Jalin B. Johnson


Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: “A group of women and men came together and began sharing their truth…”

One of the challenges we face in higher education is remembering the mantra “With great power, comes great responsibility.” As educators of adult learners, we create a forum for adults, with diverse backgrounds and lived experiences, to come together and share those very truths.

When I first introduced the ECP framework (Experiences, Context & Perspective), during a series of professional leadership conferences (Johnson, 2015), focused on how lived experiences influence the context with which we view any given situation and thus, shape our perspectives, I began to see how people would reflect and re-evaluate “why” they felt the way they did. Whether in the classroom or in a public setting, as educators, we have to recognize that while our platform may be stationary, their lived experiences, context with which our stories are viewed and the shared perspectives of our students, are not invariable.

I had the opportunity to connect with a group of women who have lived experiences that existed prior to what we know as the #MeToo movement and whose perspectives are widely sought, both in the classroom and on the international stage. I asked them about their truths and what was on their minds. Here is what we learned…

These are Challenging Times; Haven’t They Always Been?
Leticia Rojas, Ed.D.

This has been a difficult month – really, a difficult couple of years. My friends and I have reflected and held each other up through what seems like a constant attack on our very beings as women, as people of color, as part of the queer community, as children of immigrants, and as human beings focused on prioritizing people over profit.

On Sept. 27, 2018, I watched Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee during the (then) Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Sexual Assault Hearing. I did not view it because it was extraordinary or unfamiliar, but rather the opposite, in its commonality among so many women. I held hope that it would make a difference for her and for all the lives of women and other communities affected in future court decisions. The day of the vote, one of my friends texted me that “if someone like Dr. Ford, with all of her privilege and legal counsel, was not to be believed, was it not clear why others with less privilege and more vulnerability to those in power, were afraid to name their oppressors?” We both understood it to be a rhetorical question.

This is a trying time for folks living at the margins who do not fit the mold of those making long-lasting decisions (although I would argue it always has been). But I try to find strength from those who came before me, including my strong Mexican mother and her mother and her mother; women whose stories might not get told and yet are so important to this world and to me. One woman who came before is Tarana Burke, the original #MeToo founder, and in a recent article, Variety (October, 2018), she advocated for a new iteration of the movement, focused on concrete actions and accountability. I am hopeful because of leaders and organizers like her and eager for the next iteration of a movement that is more inclusive and focused on justice. So, I unplug after having refueled, and with others, try to move forward, always.

UsToo, but Are You Ready for Our Stories?
Lata Murti, Ph.D.

I have a confession: I never listened to the Kavanaugh hearing nor the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. It is not that I don’t admire Dr. Blasey Ford’s courage, or that I don’t appreciate the significance of her testimony for all women. It’s that her story is still not our story – the story of most of us who do not share her level of privilege.

Our story is one of never being invited or allowed to go to the parties of our wealthy high school and college peers, if we even knew about them. Our story is not having access to alcohol even when with our parents and older relatives, who rarely drink themselves. Our story is never being left alone in a room with a man other than an older male relative and always being escorted by a male relative in public. Our story is dating infrequently and not fully participating in, or benefiting from, the sexual revolution.

Still, Us Too.

Us Too, because at the age of 6, we sat away from our parents and next to a stranger in a dark theater, in order to get a better view of the cultural performance sponsored by our ethnic immigrant community. Us Too, because we were too petite and unpopular for any of our classmates to notice our much taller high school principal touching us inappropriately as he blocked their view in the classroom.

Us Too, because while studying abroad in another country, we decided to share a cab ride home one night with the neighbor who lived down the street from our host family. Us Too, because just a few months later, in the same country, we missed our bus stop, and had to walk alone, at night, through a field, to get to where our mother was staying. Never mind that we were almost fully clothed, in a loose T-shirt and jeans.

But who will hear our stories? The men who are responsible for them will never run for political office in the U.S. Many are poor, don’t speak English, and don’t even live here. Some of us are also poor, don’t speak English, and are not permanent residents of the U.S. Will we have a chance to tell our stories, too? If so, who will listen?

Us Too, but not like you, Dr. Blasey Ford.

‘Otherness’ as Our Strength
Sheila Lakshmi Steinberg, Ph.D.

I am a product of the two largest democracies, India and the United States.

My dad is from Kerala, India, and my mom is from Louisville, Kentucky. In other words; I am “the other.” I was different from many of my classmates and neighbors, throughout my life.

When I got married to my husband, Steve, my dad made an interesting comment at the wedding as part of the formal toast, sharing that I was “both the son and the daughter!” What my dad was indicating was a very cultural approach, that because I was the first-born, their only child and a girl, he raised me with the expectations of achievement and success “as if” I were male.

Females in every society, often face different expectations than males do. This, in itself, was interesting and helped set a high cultural bar for my achievements (beyond gender).

I’ve never really thought about being second place (to my male counterparts), because I was raised to actively compete and participate with them. I have a strong memory of being 3 years old and coming home from preschool upset because they made all of the girls make nurses hats, and all of the boys made doctor’s hats to align with said profession. I had wanted to be a doctor, not a nurse! My dad strongly let the preschool know that it was sexual inequality to enable the boys to only be doctors and girls, only nurses. In the end, I made a doctor’s hat!

For me, it has always been about trying to find a way to be “inclusive” and to make students feel welcomed, embrace our differences and building upon these differences as strengths, avoiding making someone feel like “the other.”

We can be stronger as a nation by embracing our differences. It is essential for our leaders to adopt inclusiveness as part of their toolbox of leadership skills, and to embrace differences as a strength and not as a threat.

Social Constructivism and Human Solidarity
Nakisha Castillo, DMFT

In the Swahili language, the word “harambee” means pulling together. As women we have to gather and examine the reality of the world that we live in and the meaning of being a female. Where does the truth lay for us? Where does our story begin and what part do we omit in order to protect others?

As the hashtag of the #MeToo movement unfolded, the reality of that hashtag changed from #MeToo to #UsToo, as we watch our community become painfully saturated with the stories being told. The hashtag offered an opportunity for women to examine their stories and experiences while in school, within their families, in social gatherings, and in the workplace. The reality of the matter came when we as women began to take a stand and say that our stories will be heard.

A hierarchical social construct, designed to dissociate women of their desires, strong sense of self and self-esteem, gives others the power to take advantage and to narrate our stories. We will not be dismissed. We will not be disrespected. We will not be silenced while our narratives are created for us – while our bodies, minds and abilities are taken advantage of.

As the dialogue surrounding harassment and sexual assault permeates around the globe, we have to find and create a safe space to tell our stories of pain, invisibilities, and exclusion, for ourselves. Stories of being made to feel guilt, shame, fear, and anger will be told. Stories of rising beyond anxiety, depression, and oppression for what others have done. Stories of courage and victory.

As I write, I think of the shared stories of our ancestors, untold for many reasons. Stories of resiliency and strength, without a hashtag to propel their plight.

Stories from a generation where such things weren’t openly discussed. We must take a different path for the next generation, setting aside race, ethnicity, privilege, and culture; agreeing to stand in human solidarity, demanding accountability.

As women I say, “Harambee, harambee,” as we let our voices be heard and share our untold stories.

Moving Forward
Jalin B. Johnson, Ed.D.

With all due respect, our lived experiences began before Alyssa Milano helped to make Tarana Burke’s original 2006 hashtag infamous. You can hear their shared discussion in a recent podcast here – (ACLU, October 2018).

The woman or man sitting across from you as you read this, or the person you had a conversation with after work, has a story that you may never know.

The leadership at your organization may have no idea about what happened to #YouToo and how that lived experience, shapes the context with which you view the many situations you face daily, and your enduring perspective.
There is a reason for that.

As you’re Looking at Leadership, consider the importance of creating and having spaces and opportunities to share your story, and for the stories of others around you, to be heard.

Become aware of what has happened before, what is already taking place, and what exists beyond the hashtag movement.

Jalin B. Johnson, Ed.D., is an associate professor in the School of Business and Professional Studies at Brandman University, focusing on business and organizational leadership. She is a regular contributor on issues of leadership and current events.


Dr. Len Hightower


It is my honor to recommend to you Dr. Jalin Johnson as a candidate for Associate Professor.  I worked closely with her for the past five years.  I had the opportunity to have her to teach courses in the EDOL program, worked with her as part of the EDOL professional development programs, served with her on dissertation committees, worked with her as a member of the faculty leadership team (she was on FPC and I on GAC) along with many hours of conversations about our educational philosophies, and life in general.

Jalin is a wonderful combination of professional and engaging.  She brings a calm to the room when she is there.  A quiet confidence based on astute observation of what is going on.  From my perspective as the one who hired, trained and reviewed the performance of all non-full time faculty in the EDOL program, I loved working with her because I knew she was going to engage with the students at a high level, was going to push them to perform at their max, was up-to-speed with all aspects of the course and she was going to be a very effective communicator. The students and faculty alike very much like Jalin.

She is truly a life-long learner.  This is an overused phrase but it really does describe her.  She always wanted to learn more about the dissertation process, research methodologies, best practices in working with the dissertation students and more.  She also had her own perspective on the content-based courses she taught as well and was willing to share her thoughts on how to improve the program through bringing in new perspectives.  Jalin also was constantly looking to grow in her own discipline.  On a number of occasions I ran into Jalin  making presentations regarding her work at Brandman.

Jalin is a great ambassador for Brandman.  Her belief in the value of a Brandman education coupled with her professionalism, great communication skills and emotional intelligence put forward the best of Brandman faculty.  I am thankful I had the opportunity to work with her and hope to maintain our connection going forward.  Please feel free to contact me if you would like clarification or have questions regarding my support for Jalin.

Respectfully submitted,

Len Hightower, Ph.D.

Managing Director, the Values Institute

In service…

During the summer start to the academic year, Dr. Laura Galloway and I were asked to present a series of workshops (part of a larger set) for the employees of VIZIO in Irvine (a BU partner).

Focused on ‘Emotional Intelligence,’ we were pleased to bring much of our research and practicum expertise to employees from over a dozen different departments and management levels within this global company. To our delight, we were asked to return the following summer (via the team from BU Extended Ed).

This was one of many opportunities that I have had througout my tenure, where I have been asked to serve as a guest speaker, keynote, presenter, consultant, facilitator or reviewer.

These include, but are not limited to the following:

As it relates to BU based volunteer organizations, in early spring of 2018, I led a discussion during one of our standing BU branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) meetings.

During that time, as Diversity Chair, and after much feedback from our members, our newly created BU AAUW Committee on Diversity proposed the ‘Forum on Diversity and Inclusiveness.’

Our goal was to take insights from our members (derived via an in-house questionnaire and open feedback during meetings), and host a forum that addressed matters on the subject, that resonated across boundaries.

We held the forum in May of 2018, prior to the start of the spring Faculty meetings.

With the much appreciated support of Provost Bullock, Dean’s Council, Faculty leadership and Central Offices staff, the body of approximately 80 convened for an hour(+) of un-paralleled conversation and action planning.

The feedback (still ongoing) to this forum, its impact and outcomes (including a new focus on diversity, equity and inclusive minded curriculum), is still unfolding.

For my part, I am both impressed by and thankful for the outpouring of ideas and goodwill that has come from my participation in designing and facilitating these efforts.

As noted above, in June of 2018, Dr.’s Galloway, Shukla-Belmontes, Steinberg and I were offered an opportunity to present at the ‘International Conference on Diversity in Organizations, Communities & Nations,’ this year, held in Austin TX, USA.

We not only had an opportunity to share our own perspectives, we also gleaned information and best practices from the Vice Chancellors, Board Executives, Legal Counsel and senior adminstration who head their respective department or office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

I hope to continue to share insight via the ICDOC&N, along with shared resources via my membership in The Diversity Scholars Network (a scholarly community via the National Center for Institutional Diversity at the University of Michigan), committed to advancing understandings of historical and contemporary social issues related to identity, difference, culture, representation, power, oppression, and inequality — as they occur and affect individuals, groups, communities, and institutions.

One area that is year-round and holds a constant presence for me, is my work on the BU Institutional Review Board (BU IRB). With 9 standing members (including Dr. Douglas DeVore as Chair) from BU and one external ‘community’ member, we meet every two weeks (with additional meetings during the summer term).

While BU IRB is not a BU ‘standing committee,’ our bi-weekly efforts are appreciated by students and faculty, and serve as a source of pride among our dedicated team.

My efforts on BU IRB are complimented by my ongoing work with the EDOL program (6 years to date).

In January of 2019, Dr. David Gonzalez and I would return for a 5th Immersion presentation, this time as keynote speakers, to present on Diversity Cognizance entitled “Diversity Politics and Leadership: Why Cognizant Leaders know Diversity Counts.”

The focus of this impactful presentation is centered around the significance of having organization leadership who incorporate diverse voices around the decision making table.
We have been honored to be specifically requested by the student body for the third year in a running.

As an EDOL instructor, Dissertation Chair, Dissertation committee member, workshop presenter and research partner for the Prospectus course which contributes to Curriculum team work, I have availed myself as both ‘Doctoral Program knowledgeable’ and a ‘forever’ learned contributor, on loan from the School of Business.

*My Dean has always been gracious in this regards and our EDOL students and Core Curriculum team have shared their ongoing appreciation.

Regarding mentoring…


On a Saturday morning, while I sat in front of a room of close to 60 Adjunct Faculty, Campus staff, Full-Time Faculty and guest adminstrators from our Irvine Campus, preparing to present on one of the many topics on our agenda, I realized something important. Beyond what we already knew (as is the case with our students), the well-being of our Adjunct Faculty is incredibly important.

Simply stated; our Adjunct faculty want to be ‘a part of the process.’

Their presence on campus, twice a year, on a Saturday morning or a weekday evening for our Professional Development Days (PDD), reminded us all that our efforts to bring together 4(+) campuses, subject matter experts and an array of topics that exemplify currency in discipline, diverse perspectives and inclusion, are truly appreciated.

Our mentoring efforts go beyond the virtual sessions that we conduct during the course of a term, the weekly phone calls and the high volume of email correspondence.​

There is a shared understanding that taking the time to both model and offer resources is vital to the positive community centered experience that we offer our Adjuncts. 

That day (my 12th Professional Development day as our PDD ‘lead facitltator’), offered an experience and perspective that I hope to always remember.

This is how we become better.

About Teaching…


“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.” This is one of my favorite quotes from novelist C.S. Lewis (1952), that inspired me to reflect on my experience at Brandman and the positive influence change can have on both student and faculty support systems.

In 2015, when I was first asked to begin contributing to the “new Brandman Blog,” it seemed only natural that I would talk about ‘why’ we are all here – our students.

In May of 2018, during the year that I transitioned from Student Services to Academic Affairs, our colleague Matt Venegas, Assistant VC of Business Development, Strategic Business Development, (with his own original humor), shared with me that I had ‘officially become a Brandman statistic.’

I had the honor of being awarded the C.A.F.É. Award for RESPECT (CAFE Awards 2013), one of our institution’s pillars of excellence. (I also had the privilege, the year prior, of being asked to serve on Chancellor Brahms’ inaugural awards committee, where I helped to coin the title of the C.A.F.E. awards themselves).

In 2015, my colleagues in the School of Business honored me with the Faculty of the Year Award.

And in 2017, I was honored with the overall Faculty of the Year award for Brandman University.

What is evident to me is that teaching has always been something that comes from the heart. The passion and drive that our colleagues emanate is what carries us forward and helps to create an environment focused on excellence.
My hope is to continue to contribute academic rigor, quality course content and a space for our diverse student population to learn, thrive and become the transformational leaders and examples they wish to see in the world.



Jeffrey Lee, EdD

Dr. Johnson has been actively involved in the EDOL program as a dissertation chair, instructor and immersion presenter.

Her contributions have been profoundly impactful on those she has worked with. Students are excited to be chaired by her for their dissertation; anytime she teaches a class or does a presentation at immersion, students are actively engaged and learning.

Her commitment to students is second to none and Brandman doctoral students are always excited to work with her.

Jeffrey Lee, EdD
School of Education

David M. Long, J.D.

I am pleased to offer this letter in enthusiastic support of the appointment of Dr. Jalin Johnson to Associate Professor.

I have come to know Dr. Johnson as one of my faculty colleagues on the Brandman Institutional Review Board (“the Board”), where I have served for the past three years. I believe Dr. Johnson’s service on the Board predates mine.

I have come to know Dr. Johnson as a thoroughly professional and highly competent colleague.
A major part of our duties as Board members include thoroughly reviewing and presenting assigned applications to the Board for approval. Dr. Johnson has served numerous times with me on assigned applications in both primary as well as secondary reviewer roles. While some applications are relatively straightforward and present no major issues, certain applications are more involved and present more complex issues.
Dr. Johnson has proven to be a highly skilled presenter and reviewer, having the ability to quickly get to the crux of any problems an application might present. She also has demonstrated skill in quickly assessing what revisions should be made and then, if necessary, soliciting feedback from the Board.

Through our mutual service on the Board, I have had the opportunity to come to know Jalin not only as a colleague, but as a friend as well. I have observed her demonstrate both intellectual and emotional intelligence in her interactions with a diverse range of colleagues on a wide range of issues.

She is truly special and I am in enthusiastic support of her appointment to Associate Professor.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to me should you have any questions.

Kind Regards,

David M. Long, J.D.
Associate Professor of Criminal Justice & Legal Studies
T 510-759-8381

Dr. Michael Moodian

It is my distinct pleasure to recommend Dr. Jalin Johnson as she seeks a promotion to associate professor.

Dr. Johnson and I serve on Brandmanís Institutional Review Board (IRB), and we serve on two Ed.D. committees together. I also judge a Brandman Ed.D. event with her every year and have gotten to know her well during our time at Brandman.

I could not think of anyone more deserving of a promotion than Dr. Johnson. She is an exemplary colleague and someone I always reach out to for advice.

Dr. Johnson is brilliant, diplomatic, and someone who cares deeply about our students. During my service with her on the IRB and on doctoral dissertation committees, she always provides thoughtful feedback and insightful points.

Dr. Johnson is one of the most respected faculty members at Brandman University. Despite her impressive credentials, she is always accessible and more than willing to lend a helping hand to students, staff, and fellow faculty members.

In short, she is an asset to our university. I give Dr. Jalin Johnson my highest endorsement.

-Dr. Michael Moodian

Anne Spillane, Ph.D.

I have had the great fortune to work with Dr Jalin on both the Faculty Personnel Committee, where she served as vice-chair, as well as participating in the pilot offering of the BCDC program offered by the Cii.  In both situations I found Dr Jalin to have an extraordinary work ethic, while providing good insight and workable solutions to the problems at hand.  She inspired others to do their best work, leading by example, and working collegially with all members of the team or project.  Dr Jalin elevates the experience and the final product of all that she engages in at Brandman.  It is always a pleasure to work with her!

Anne Spillane, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Special Education

Dr. Julianne Zvalo-Martyn

I  have only known Dr. Johnson for a few months, but in her orbit it does not take long to enter into a collaborative and joyful collegiality full of creative potential.  (We met at the faculty retreat in the spring of 2018).

Though I did not know her, I did know of her and most definitely admired her grace and poise from afar.

This chance meeting and discussion of all things Harry Potter grew into an enjoyable collaboration on an article on leadership for Dr. Johnson’s blog.   It is a testimony to Dr. Johnson’s ingenuity, creativity and generous collaborative nature that from this brief encounter, a cross-school relationship developed (also including Dr. Ellen Belluomini from Social Work).

Because of her high level of organization and concise writing skills, the project was easy from my end.  She inspired me do my best work, and kindly promoted my professional development at the same time.

Dr. Johnson is an important member of Brandman University, and would be valuable to any organization in which she is involved. She is professional and at the same time truly fun to be with. She is knowledgeable, intellectual, forward thinking while also gracious and easy.  She truly inspires me to do better, think bigger, and participate more fully in my profession. I feel lucky to have met her!

Dr. Julianne Zvalo-Martyn

School of Education

Dr. Sara Zaker

Over the past 4 years I have had the opportunity to work closely on a number of projects with Dr. Jalin Johnson. Dr. Johnson has consistently shown an unparalleled level of passion for her students’ learning experience and ensures that she is able to apply innovative learning approaches for her students. Furthermore, in conference presentations, Dr. Johnson represents Brandman University in a dignified and professional manner. I consider myself fortunate to work with Jalin and I look forward to working with her more in the future! Best, Sara Zaker, Ed.D. Director, Digital Learning Solutions Educational Psychologist Brandman University Zaker@brandman.edu