Our Team

Peter Lazes is the founder and current Director of the Healthcare Transformation Project within Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations. This program provides labor union and management leaders with customized consulting, research, and educational programs to implement strategic worker participation programs. His current work involves assisting hospitals and healthcare organizations to develop methods to improve patient care and reduce costs with a focus on frontline staff engagement. He has served as a consultant for organizations in a variety of sectors and written over 30 articles and produced several videos on topics such as organizational change, innovation and new work systems, new roles for unions, and strategies for keeping American jobs. Peter's international activities include consulting and education programs in Ireland, Poland, Norway, and UK. Peter received his Ph.D. in clinical and industrial psychology from Union Institute and University.

John August has been a union steward, local union president, and international union leader with the Teamsters, AFT, and SEIU where he helped lead organizing, large scale bargaining and strategy since 1983. He has extensive union experience in manufacturing, transportation, public services, social services, and all phases of the health care industry. From 2006-2013, he led the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions and co-chaired the Labor-Management Partnership at Kaiser Permanente. Experts in the field regard this Labor Management Partnership as the largest, most complex, and most successful in US history. While with the Coalition he led successful negotiations of 3 national contracts covering nearly 100,000 workers. Through the labor-management partnership, the workforce has been mobilized into more than 3,500 unit based teams, an important contributor for performance improvement in the nation's largest not-for-profit health plan. Since September 2013, John has been an Associate Director of the Healthcare Transformation Project within Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

Chrissi Boryk is an Associate Director of the Healthcare Transformation Project and is responsible for the business operations and development of the educational programming and support for its clients.She has experience in training, e-learning, project management and program design and development in medical education and public health sectors. While at the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, she conceptualized, designed, implemented and managed an online quality improvement product to assist physicians in meeting their board certification requirements.In 2011, Chrissi completed a leadership fellowship through the University of Illinois-Chicago's School of Public Health.She replanted her East Coast roots after 17 ½ years in the Midwest in May 2011. She is a graduate of Tulane University and holds a Graduate Certificate in Adult Learning: Program Design and Facilitation from City University of New York.

Phela Townsend is an Associate of the Healthcare Transformation Project within Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Phela draws on a rich background in labor and employee relations in the manufacturing (aerospace and consumer packaged goods), and most recently, healthcare sectors.She has led management and front line employees in workforce reorganizations; managing conflict/dispute resolutions, as well as advised and coached business leaders on team and leadership development. Phela has a BS in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University and an MBA from The MIT Sloan School of Management where she focused on Organizational Behavior, Change, and Design. While she is, of course, committed to advancing the organizations that she works with, Phela's core passion is to inspire new thinking and personal transformation within leaders in organizations so they are better equipped to collaborate more effectively in order to create breakthrough changes.