Human.School is about people. It’s about the intersection of figuring out what’s going on in your company and planning for what’s ahead. Human.School is both philosophy and tactics - you’ll learn the thinking behind this work, and then you’ll learn how to actually do it.

So what is Human.School, exactly? Designed for people operations people (official or unofficial!) - the administrative assistants, the operations coordinators, the office manages - in small, but growing startups, Human.School is a two day developmental conference taking place at the Mark Spencer Hotel in Portland, OR from February 27-28, 2018.

Human.School isn’t a concurrent session conference - it’s a one-track, developmental learning experience. That means you don’t have to choose from a list of dozens of sessions going on at the same time. Instead, we have painstakingly chosen the speakers, workshops, and order of the sessions to produce the best result and impact for our attendees.

Human.School is limited to 100 participants. Everyone is coming for three very specific reasons: to gain the knowledge, community, and confidence they need to develop and drive world-class people operations strategy at their businesses.

  • day 1 - Feb. 27
  • Day 2 - feb. 28

Day 2 - Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018

Our day will begin at 8:00, when breakfast will be available in the hall. Opening words will begin at 8:10am!

Breakfast Talk


Babies at Work: It's Weird that it's Weird

Leah Silber

Workshop 7


Creating a Better Workplace for Trans & NB Folks

Brook Shelley



Workshop 8


The Language We Use

Ali Colleen Neff

Lightening Talk


How Branding Could/Should/& Will Shape Human Resources

Jordan Hayles

Sponsor Spotlight


See solutions from handpicked sponsors



Lunch Session: HR Rebel Voice

Vanessa Shaw

Workshop 9


Humanizing Your Performance Management

Emily Logan



Workshop 10


The (Very Vocal) Human Side of the Bottom Line

Kate Ertmann



Light Movement & Yoga Break

Leah Wilmoth

Workshop 11


Negotiating & Advocating for Your Own (and Your Team) Success

Elizabeth Robillard



Thank You and Send-Off

Kristen Gallagher

Human.School Speakers

Stephanie Ghoston Paul

Stephanie Ghoston Paul

Stephanie Ghoston is a recovering lawyer turned life coach and business consultant. She founded Cultivated Sense, her coaching and consulting company, in 2013 and has served hundreds of executive, organizational, and freelance clients to turn their professional/personal strategic visions into reality. She's currently consulting with leaders in Portland who desire to have more impact and more income. Stephanie is also an Equity Coach and Facilitator with the Center for Equity and Inclusion, helping to train and coach CEI's learning partners and develop internal organizational systems.

Megan Leatherman HS

Megan Leatherman
Sponsored by 15Five

I'm a formerly burnt-out Human Resources professional who had to redefine what was important to me in a career. After a lot of soul-searching and hard work, these days I'm fortunate to partner with individuals and groups who are interested in creating worklives full of meaning, authenticity, and joy. As a coach, consultant, and blogger, I aspire to be a thought leader dedicated to helping people live out their unique strengths at work.

Cheryl Wunder


Cheryl Wunder has over 25 years of HR and business leader experience which spans a variety of industries, workplace cultures, and environments. Her most recent roles include Director of People & Culture with the Oregon’s Health CO-OP and Director of Employee Experience with The Clymb and in a volunteer capacity, providing pro-bono consulting services to local non-profit organizations through the Portland’s Community Consulting Project (CCP). She approaches each situation with an open mind and a creative spirit and uses her strong business acumen to partner with leadership to develop and deliver talent solutions that support the organization’s strategic objectives.

Katie Augsburger

Katie Augsburger

Katie Augsburger , CCP, SPHR is currently the Senior Manager of Employee Experience at XPLANE a design consultancy in Portland. Previously she was HR Director for a large orthopedic implant company. She has approx. 15 years working in compensation and employee development. Though she totally knows that compensation can be dull on the surface, it has transformative effects when it is communicated honestly and with compassion. She has created compensation programs at both large and small organizations. No matter the size of the organization, thoughtful planning is key.

Ali Colleen Neff

Ali Colleen

Ali is a researcher, theorist and media maker whose work arcs through an early involvement with the Bay Area creative community through my current, engaged ethnographic projects with media practitioners the Global South, particularly with young people and women. These span both academic and public projects including award-winning digital documentary work, a book on hip-hop in Mississippi, and contributions to discourses on cultural pedagogy and research methods.

Brook Shelley


Brook Shelley is a noted sapphist. Brook travels often, writes, and speaks about queer issues, tech, and witchcraft. Brook writes for The Toast, Oregon Humanities, and many other outlets and speaks at conference across the country. Brook contributed to Lean Out, The Struggle for Gender Equality in Tech and Start-up Culture

Erin Mahoney


Erin Mahoney is the Director of Training & Organization Development at Cascade Employers Association and loves helping members create innovative work environments that activate their employees’ intrinsic motivation through training, coaching and team building. Prior to joining the Cascade team, she was the VP of Research & Development at Personal Resource Management Associates, Inc., where she specialized in leadership development and management consulting. She has provided consulting to the leadership of many Portland-based nonprofits through the organization’s Community Consulting Project. Erin received her B.A. from UCLA and her J.D. from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles.

Kate Ertmann


A former child actor, Kate renounced her Hollywood hopes in favor of a telecommunications degree from Ohio University. She is one of the founders of the Portland chapter of Women in Animation and is an active member of many industry organizations. For 6 years she sat on the board of Bradley Angle, the oldest domestic violence services organization on the west coast. She is currently on the board of Bitch Media. Kate became a partner at Animation Dynamics Inc in 2000 and the sole owner in 2008. In 2014, Kate sold ADi to Funnelbox, a strategic video agency. In 2015/16, Kate was COO at Qcut, making women’s jeans in 400 sizes to fit 8 different body types and all heights. She continues to focus her work on the impact of the metrics of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the operations side of an organization, working with a variety of companies in many industries.

Caro Griffin


Caro Griffin is a recovering web developer who wears the Director of Operations hat at Skillcrush, a community for women changing their career with tech skills. She’s passionate about remote work, supporting new managers, and investing in company culture. She will happily talk your ear off about all three.

Elizabeth Robillard

Elizabeth Robillard

Elizabeth has spent her career in technology startups in Boston and Portland, Oregon. She is currently VP of Business Development & Operations at Lytics and Principal at Negotiating at Work, a consultancy devoted to helping people learn to negotiate for their own career success. She is a frequent speaker at conferences on negotiation, technology, entrepreneurship, and women in business. She is a mentor to entrepreneurs and tech startups through several technology accelerators and incubators (PIE, Portland Seed Fund) and a guest lecturer at Portland State's MBA program.

Allison Krug


Allison heads up external community building efforts for distributed software engineering and developer advocacy teams, recently at AppNexus and currently at Microsoft. “What… does that even mean?” -Allison’s parents 

It means she believes in open sourcing *literally everything* in order to build communities people want to be a part of. Through events, publications, conversations both deep and in passing, she helps technologists tell their wide range of stories (output) while simultaneously synthesizing and distributing what comes back across audiences (input). Fundamental to the success of this approach is the removal of expectations and agenda, and insistence on thoughtful strategy and accessibility. 

Al goes back and forth between PDX and Golden, Colorado and loves pugs, cheese, overpriced candles, and hosting guests.


Emily has developed her career around making sure individuals have voices in their organizations and that companies put appropriate value on their human capital. She is currently a Project Manager for Edify and an Independent Consultant focused mostly on Organization Development and Change Management projects. 

In her previous work, she managed a team of marketers, organizers, and PR folks for Care2, where she refined her idea of values-based work and strived to create a supportive and trusting environment for her team and others. She's a happy inhabitant of Portland and an annoyingly proud cat mom.


Breakfast Speaker - Day Two

Leah is CEO and co-founder at Tilde Inc., a member of the Ember.js Core Team and an organizer of numerous annual tech conferences. Over the last ten years she’s worked with open source projects (like jQuery, Bundler and Handlebars) to help build communities, identities, events and infrastructure. She has a background in marketing and product development at open source-centric engineering companies. She is the author of Event Driven, the guide to running successful tech events.

Farrah Campbell

Lunch Discussion Leader - Day One

After 10 years of working in HealthCare Management, a 20-minute car ride with Kara Swisher inspired Farrah to make the jump to Technology. She has worked at multiple startups functioning in many roles working her way up and currently runs Customer and People Operations at Reflect Technologies in Portland. She is very active in the Portland Startup Scene along with PDX Women in Technology. She thrives on being the glue that holds teams together, wearing many different hats in order to make the operations run more efficiently, and bringing humanity back to tech. She is driven by being authentic, bold, and energetic, and has a passion for creating a warm space where everyone feels welcome.


Lunch Discussion Leader - Day Two

I'm Vanessa Shaw, founder of Human Side of Tech, and I believe that everyone, everywhere deserves to have a great place to work. To create that, I work closely with executives to operate their companies with a culture-first approach. I also run events, workshops and a meetup on Leading HR with Design Thinking. My goal is to elevate the role of people operations and HR professionals to have more influence and impact. 

Among other things, I hope I never retire and that I love to be 100. I love people; I still believe I can change the world; I'm an outspoken feminist [Read: Nasty Woman] and your average crazy cat lady.


Movement & Yoga Breaks

Leah Wilmoth, MA Ed. is a student services professional and dance artist who grew up in rural Michigan. In her work as the Student Services Coordinator at the Oregon College of Art and Craft, she empowers, engages, and motivates diverse groups of creative thinkers. Prior to her work in higher education, she became a certified yoga instructor and worked for 5 years at a local design firm focused on Community Centered Design. She is always interested in cultivating organizational culture, nurturing creativity, and promoting wellness in the workplace. 


Lightening Talk Day 2

Jordan Hayles is founder of The Radical Brand Lab: a creative incubator specializing in brand strategy & Unusual Trainings (that should be usual.) It's designed for troublemaking and truth-telling brands that want to do business with humor, provocativeness, radical authenticity and activism. Jordan helps personal brands get personal and corporate brands get human. She's 5'3", a former dancer, and an exceptionally horrible singer.


6pm Happy Hour Session Day 1

Erica Thomas is the co-founder of Works Progress Agency, a human-centered creative consultancy. She holds an MFA in Contemporary Art and Social Practice from Portland State University, and has over a decade of experience as an artist, producer, project manager, and art director. She mixes her experience in contemporary art and design with business and organizational savvy to produce innovative solutions for her clients and collaborators.

Emily Fitzgerald

6pm Happy Hour Session Day 1

Emily Fitzgerald is a socially engaged artist, educator and storyteller. Her practice focuses on the intersection of the social, political and visual in order to inspire dialogue around complex issues and reframe our ways of relating to one another. Emily facilitates conversation and creates site-specific art installations in non traditional, public and unexpected places. She is the co-founder of Works Progress Agency, a creative consultancy based in Portland, OR.

Ready to Register?

Over the course of two days, you’ll hear from experts throughout the industry in workshop-style experiences that teach you the core fundamentals of a human-forward people ops strategy. At the end, you’ll have a paper and digital manifestation of your company’s people operations strategy, and you'll be ready to dive in as soon as your get back to the office.

Early bird tickets are on sale now! We have extended the Early Bird pricing until September 22! Early Bird tickets are $650 (you can also buy a bundle of 2 tickets for $1,100 - $300 off! Regular price tickets are $795. ​

Need to convince your manager?

We've written a handy guide just for you! You can access the full text and download a PDF with a sample email letter here.

Thanks to our amazing sponsors: