PAPBS Network Implementers Forum

Feature Presenters

  • February 6th, 2017
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Brandi Simonsen, Ph. D.

Dr. Brandi Simonsen is an associate professor of Special Education with tenure in the Department of Educational Psychology at the Neag School of Education and the Co-Director of the Center for Behavioral Education and Research ( at the University of Connecticut (UConn). She is the co-coordinator of the Northeast PBIS Network, and is a partner of the National Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports. Dr. Simonsen is currently the Vice President of the Association for Positive Behavior Support ( She serves as an associate editor for two key journals: Journal of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Remedial and Special Education.

Currently, Dr. Simonsen conducts research, publishes, teaches, and provides training/technical assistance in the areas of school and class-wide PBIS, positive and proactive professional development supports for teachers, and applications of PBIS in alternative education settings. She also coordinates UConn’s Graduate Certificate Program in School-wide Positive Behavior Support.

Before joining the faculty at UConn, Dr. Simonsen was the director of a non-public school serving students with disabilities who presented with challenging educational and behavioral needs. In addition to serving as an administrator and clinician, she has previously been certified as a teacher of elementary general education and middle-secondary special education.

Pedro Rivera

Pedro A. Rivera was appointed to serve as the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education by Governor Tom Wolf and confirmed unanimously by the state Senate in 2015. He brings extensive experience in public education to his role as a member of Governor Wolf’s cabinet and has spent his entire career helping students. Prior to serving as superintendent of The School District of Lancaster, he served as a classroom teacher, staff member with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, assistant principal, principal, and executive director for the School District of Philadelphia. In September 2014, he was honored by the White House as a Champion of Change for his efforts to transform urban education – one of ten recipients nationwide to receive the prestigious honor.

During his tenure as Secretary of Education, he has traveled the Commonwealth meeting with educators, administrators, and students on the Schools That Teach tour, discussing their priorities and needs, and taking those insights back to Harrisburg. Under his guidance, the Pennsylvania Department of Education has engaged thousands of stakeholders – including educators, parents, policymakers, business and industry leaders, higher education officials, and education advocates- to inform the work the department is doing on issues like graduation requirements, modifications to the School Performance Profile, and in developing the Every Student Succeeds Act State Plan.

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