Work-Life Challenges and Integration in the Context of COVID

Downtown Portland and Hood

2021 Fall Symposium

This virtual event was held  Friday, November 19, 2021. View recorded sessions and handouts below.
(Email us with questions)

Sponsored by the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences, Oregon Healthy Workforce Center and Portland State University Occupational Health Psychology Program.


Work-Life Challenges and Integration in the Context of COVID

Work-life integration has taken on new meaning during the pandemic. For some, the flexibility that comes with remote work opens up new opportunities while for others the lines between work and home life become blurred, with heightened work-life stress. For others, the stress and trauma associated with essential work during this time has clear implications for life outside of work including personal stress and family challenges. The sudden need to adapt to these changes during COVID has given rise to new challenges that range from work-life stress, disparities in employees’ ability to work from home effectively, and the increased need for employers to support worker safety, health, and well-being both at work and outside the traditional work environment. Further, the opportunity for remote and hybrid work, which are typically beyond reach for essential and front-line workers highlights the inherent lack of fairness in availability of flexible work arrangements and work-life support. Additionally, sick and family leave policies during this time have become more important now than ever, with many workers having to balance work while caring for themselves and/or those affected by COVID, which has disproportionately affected women and employees of color. Our Fall Symposium will address these topics and more.

Agenda and Speaker Biographies


9:00 - 9:15 Welcome
Leslie Hammer, Ph.D., Professor, Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences; Co-Director, Oregon Healthy Workforce Center

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Jody Thompson, Ph.D. Culture Rx
Jody Thompson

Jody Thompson
Culture Rx

The pandemic provided a global case study that proved work gets done outside of the constraints of the 9-5 office environment, and where the constraints and hazards of essential, on site work, have never been so evident.  Organizations must establish an equitable environment for everyone to thrive and feel supported, not by creating more policies and rules, but by thinking about work and performance management in an entirely different way.  Join me while I show how adopting a proven, contemporary equitable mindset will support and enable today’s workers to thrive.  

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Charlice Hurst, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Management & Organization, Mendoza College of Business
Charlice Hurst

Charlice Hurst, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Management & Organization, Mendoza College of Business

Flexible work and racial equity are rarely considered in the same conversation. Yet, Black and Latinx women may have more to gain (and lose) from flexible work than white women. Black and Latinx women tend to have more intense caregiving demands and to be less financially able to work reduced hours or leave the workforce. Furthermore, what makes a city a great place to live often looks different to them. There are far fewer places that offer Black and Latinx women the cultural resources, economic opportunities and sense of safety that all employees value. Finally, they are overrepresented in low-wage service roles, often performing the "essential" work that has kept the United States running through the COVID-19 pandemic. Even as they have been lauded as heroic--even as their communities have been battered by the pandemic--they have lacked time off and flexibility to care for ailing loved ones, children learning remotely, or themselves. These women could benefit substantially from more flexible work options. Yet, without careful attention to the needs and preferences of Black and Latinx women, flexible work could also deepen their disadvantage by, for instance, reducing access to developmental and relationship-building opportunities. This session will explore how thoughtful flexible work policies could advance racial equity at a time when the critical roles that Black and Latinx women play in the economy has become clearer than ever. 

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Kristen Shockley, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Georgia
Kristen Shockley

Kristen Shockley, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Georgia

COVID-19 brought on unprecedented work and work-family challenges, particularly for families with young children when childcare became largely nonexistent but work demands remained stable, albeit largely remote. Dr. Shockley will discuss the findings of a study conducted at the start of COVID-19 focused on strategies used by dual-earner couples to manage childcare and how these various strategies link to wellbeing outcomes. She will also discuss the results of a separate study funded by NSF focused on remote work during COVID-19, diving into predictors of successful adjustment to remote work and stress levels for newly remote workers. 
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Tori Crain, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Psychology Department, Portland State University
Tori Crain

Tori Crain, Ph.D.,
Assistant Professor, Psychology Department, Portland State University

Since the emergence of the COVID-19 Pandemic, essential workers have faced numerous stressors related to nonwork life. Although much of the focus to date has been on the experiences of healthcare workers, essential vulnerable workers in other industries have not received the same attention. This talk will highlight obstacles faced by essential, lower-wage shiftworkers, with a specific focus on the work-life challenges of fast food workers whose experiences can be generalized to other vulnerable occupational groups within the context of the Pandemic. Supportive solutions for both organizations and supervisors will be explored, which have been generated from in-depth interview studies conducted during the pandemic with these essential workers and supervisors.

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The pandemic has in many cases furthered the inequities of wages, benefits and opportunities between workers in many industries, and especially among essential workers. This panel will discuss key lessons from the past 18 months, and what steps are needed as we move ahead to best support all workers.

Facilitated by Dede Montgomery, MS, CIH
Senior Research Associate, Outreach and Education, Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences, Oregon Healthy Workforce Center

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Steven Hecker, MS
Safety and Health Researcher and Educator
Steven Hecker retired from a 35-year career as an occupational safety and health educator and researcher. He directed OSH programs at the UO Labor Education and Research Center from 1983-2006 and from 2006-2012 managed Continuing Education programs for the Northwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety, the NIOSH ERC for Region 10, at the UW School of Public Health. He has published research on construction ergonomics and safety management, flight attendant health, safety and health training effectiveness, and global standards for OSH. His current interests include the intersection of labor rights and worker health and safety.

Hecker has a masters degree in industrial hygiene from the University of Washington.

Nargess Shadbeh, JD
Director, Farmworker Program, Oregon Law Center
Nargess Shadbeh has dedicated her legal career to serving migrant and seasonal farmworkers.  She has been the Director of the Farmworker Program at the Oregon Law Center since 2002, where her areas of focus include employment law, economic development, and community education.   In addition to directing litigation and outreach efforts, Shadbeh has two projects focused on the unique vulnerabilities of farmworkers from indigenous Mexican and Central American backgrounds, serving as Principal Investigator for an NIH-funded study to develop effective training methods for reducing pesticide exposure and as Project Director for the Project Against Workplace Sexual Assault of Indigenous Farmworkers.  Both projects applied the principles of Community Based Participatory Research to gather data about indigenous farmworkers’ experiences, health concerns, and the barriers they face in accessing medical, legal, and social services, and to develop culturally appropriate strategies to address these workers’ needs. As example of the work product, with guidance from the workers themselves, the Project Against Sexual Assault has developed a promotores (peer health educator) program, a health care interpreter training program, educational indigenous-language audio recordings, and a model protocol for health clinics to use to screen and treat indigenous patients who may have experienced sexual assault.

Shadbeh helped found the Farmworker Housing Development Corporation, which has created safe and healthy affordable housing for farmworkers in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.  For her work on the Oregon Supreme Court Task Force on Racial/Ethnic Issues in the Judicial System, Shadbeh was awarded the ACLU’s Civil Liberties Award and the Mercedes Deiz award for an outstanding contribution to minorities in the profession and community.  She has also received the Harvard Law School Wasserstein Fellowship for lawyers who have distinguished themselves in public interest work and Women Leadership award from Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University. 

During the past 19 months Shadbeh has co-lead multiple regulatory efforts to improve the workplace and housing setting for migrant and seaonal agricultural workers with a focus on improved ventilation, lowered density, and improved access to information and equipment. 

Kate Suisman, JD
Coordinator of Campaigns and Alliances, Northwest Workers' Justice Project

Kate Suisman is an attorney at the Northwest Workers’ Justice Project in Portland, Oregon, where she represents low-wage workers in employment disputes including wage theft, discrimination and retaliation. She also coordinates two policy coalitions: the Oregon Coalition to Stop Wage Theft and Safe Jobs Oregon which focuses on worker safety. Before joining the Northwest Workers Justice Project, she worked to fight wage theft within the day labor community at the VOZ Workers’ Rights Education Project in Portland. Kate has also served as a law clerk in a trial court in Manhattan and Chief of Staff to a New York City Council member.

Kate has a BA in Spanish Literature from Reed College and a JD from the City University of New York’s Public Interest Law School.

Afternoon Panel: Steve Hecker, Nargess Shadbeh, Kate Suisman, Dede Montgomery
Afternoon panel.

Leslie Hammer, Ph.D., Professor, Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences; Co-Director, Oregon Healthy Workforce Center
Presenters, panelists and attendees

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Note: A certificate of completion for continuing education records will be provided upon request. If you require a certificate of completion for continuing education purposes, please email

We are offering Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for this event. Oregon Healthy Workforce Center is recognized by SHRM to offer PDCs for the SHRM-CP® or SHRM-SCP®. This program is valid for 4 PDCs for the SHRM-CP® or SHRM-SCP®. The SHRM Activity ID will be issued during the virtual event.  To learn more about SHRM recertification, visit For more information about this event’s PDCs or if you require a certificate of completion for continuing education purposes, please email A certificate of completion can be produced for other CE needs.