Access to education is not just life-changing for the student but can change the trajectory of a family and the fabric of a community. 


AFIT 2022 Summer Institute Conference:

Talent & the Future of Work: Leading With Happiness and Humanity. 

By Amanda Marksmeier



DH guided hundreds of organizations' culture journeys worldwide in the last 10+ years. Witnessing their transformation as they apply the DH frameworks to build and activate positive change in the workplace while creating a living legacy that ripples the impact to their communities, society, and the planet.   


So when Alliance for Innovation and Transformation [AFIT] designated DH as a Learning Partner for their 2022 Summer Institute Conference in Nashville, TN, we were honored. AFIT is an association of forward-thinking higher education CEOs committed to leading higher education institutions to innovation and transformation in the face of unprecedented challenges and change.


AFIT invites community colleges from around the country to participate in their annual Summer Institute Conference. It is a unique educational experience designed for CEOs and their teams to learn from world-class learning partners. This year's AFIT Summer Institute theme was Talent & the Future of Work: Leading With Happiness and Humanity. 


The inspiration for this year's event came from the pages of Beyond Happiness: How Leaders Can Prioritize Purpose and People for Growth and Impact, incorporating the Greenhouse Model. Sessions included accessing growing conditions in the current climate and the future of work, cultivating these conditions to sow the seeds for growth in the future of work while growing talent. And finally, how to harvest the results to ripple the impact to the communities each of these colleges serves.  


2022 Event Host City: Nashville, TN

Sectors: Higher Education

Number of CEO Members: 50

Colleges in Attendance: 36




Community colleges and education systems are taking a HUGE hit right now. Many of our higher education institutions face declining enrollment, financial difficulties, and decreased state funding while still trying to recover from the impact of the pandemic, navigating online learning, and college mergers. 

In the wake of these challenges, many colleges have been forced to close their doors at an alarming rate. Institutions must prioritize purpose and people to continue growing, sustaining, and educating future leaders and innovators.   

Years Serving Higher Ed


States Reached


DH Solution


AFIT creates an environment where participants feel comfortable having authentic conversations they would not have had an opportunity to have outside the conference. The speakers embrace the discomfort and give attendees the chance to learn from other thriving industries and how to implement these strategies to move their colleges forward. 

During the conference, teams participated in interactive learning activities and used "team time" to discuss key concepts and how to translate them into actionable solutions that fit their institution's needs.

DH CEO, co-founder, and bestselling author Jenn Lim along with Culture Chief and Lead Coach|sulant Sunny Grosso joined representatives from dozens of higher learning institutions. In conjunction with learning sessions, attendees competed on things like team spirit. They took DH's Greenhouse Model to the next level by building greenhouses representing their unique colleges and communities. 

In addition to Jenn and Sunny, this year's Learning Partners included innovative leaders of industry such as Great Place to Work's Tony Bond, Carolyn Candiello and Catherine Hamel from Greater Baltimore Medical Center, AFIT President Tim Nelson, and Francisco Solis from San Antonio College.




"Jenn Lim and Sunny Grosso are true partners in learning. They collaborated with the Alliance for Innovation & Transformation (AFIT) to understand and address the needs of higher education leaders during this time of significant disruption and turnover. Their willingness to listen to our members' challenges, adapt their concepts to fit our needs and engage in difficult conversations has given us an actionable framework that is helping higher education leaders and their teams reconnect with their passion and purpose, cultivate greenhouse conditions at their organizations, and bring happiness back to the workplace."- Erika Liodice, Executive Director, AFIT.



The event rallied around the Greenhouse Model, an evolution of DH's original frameworks built on the science of happiness to create purpose and profits. The newly introduced model was developed after recognizing the frameworks need to adapt to go beyond only being happy in our work and life but also being real, resilient, and authentically whole. As leaders in organizations and our lives, we must prioritize nurturing our greenhouses as we help others grow. 


Emerging from the greenhouse theme, AFIT designed a team pride contest to challenge each team to create a miniature greenhouse that demonstrates the conditions they want to cultivate on their campuses. These were a physical representation of each school's purpose, values, and vision for the future of work within the organization.


Sunny led the group through DH's Happiness Heartbeat exercise, designed to allow participants to define core values by mining their own experiences. This exercise encourages people to revisit their professional and personal highs and lows. A pattern emerges by taking a deeper dive into WHY each moment was a high or a low and identifying which values were present or not in those moments. Once we can recognize and prioritize our values, we can begin making a habit of applying them to our everyday work and life. This exercise is compelling because as teams experience the connection that makes them feel valued, they can begin to truly understand the events in life [the good and bad] that bring them to the place they are today and the values they hold dear.


Since many participants read Beyond Happiness before the conference, they began implementing the learning in their colleges. But after attending the event, we heard from several teams, "they're about to ripple the impact!" by taking the exercises from the book plus the energy and vibe from the conference back to their teams. 


AIMS AFIT greenhouse


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