2022 "Can't Miss" Keynotes



Melissa Crum, Ph.D.

Why Self-Reflection is Important

In this keynote session, you will learn: why self-reflection is an important practice within education, tools for self-reflection, and how self-reflection impacts the classroom. Be prepared to gain new tools (or dust off old ones!) so that you can be your best self for your learning community.

Dr. Melissa Crum helps you get comfortable having conversations connecting personal stories, systemic patterns, and organizational excellence. As an artist, author, and researcher, she leads Mosaic Education Network - a consulting company that infuses the arts, research, storytelling, and critical thinking into professional development, community building, and curriculum development. Dr. Crum works with her team of experts to be engaging and collaborative resources to schools, nonprofits, museums, and companies, helping them gauge the collective impact of our conscious and unconscious biases to reach diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) goals.

She has facilitated training for hundreds of participants across the United States that creates a nonjudgmental, refreshingly honest look at our privileges. She has also published various academic articles that detail strategies to help you become informed of and feel secure about using everyday practical applications of DEI strategies to positively impact your work and learning environment. To make this happen, she creates a "brave space" where you can ask the tough questions, admit faults, and celebrate successes. Her national and international experiences have allowed her to help you make social change from your desk, to your living room, and beyond.





Lydia X.Z. Brown, J.D.

Ableism is the Crisis; Disability Justice is the Future: Centering Disability in Our Schools

People with disabilities are already present in all of our schools and communities. Yet we face the constant presence of pervasive ableism (disability prejudice and oppression), reinforced and intersecting with other forms of systemic injustice. People with disabilities are working constantly to challenge the narratives that we do not belong in society, and to demand recognition and respect for disabled people's ways of knowing, being, learning, and relating. Disability Justice analysis enables us to understand the necessary role of ableism in shaping social thought and policy about race, class, gender, sexuality, and nation - and to challenge arbitrary notions of "normal" that undergird oppressive systems and influence our everyday lives. Disability Justice principles and practices offer radical and revolutionary ways of reimagining our relationships with ourselves, each other, and the communities where we live, work, and learn. Disability Justice goes beyond limiting frameworks of equity, inclusion, and diversity, and challenges us to incorporate multimodality, flexibility, and interdependence into our schools, workplaces, and communities.

Lydia X.Z. Brown is an advocate, organizer, attorney, strategist, and writer whose work focuses on interpersonal and state violence against people with disabilities at the intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, faith, language, and nation. They are Policy Counsel at the Center for Democracy & Technology, focused on algorithmic discrimination and disability, as well as Director of Policy, Advocacy, & External Affairs at the Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network. Lydia is adjunct lecturer in Georgetown University’s Disability Studies Program, and adjunct professorial lecturer in American Studies at American University’s Department of Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies. They serve as commissioner on the American Bar Association’s Commission on Disability Rights, chairperson of the ABA Civil Rights & Social Justice Section’s Disability Rights Committee, co-president of the Disability Rights Bar Association, and representative for the Disability Justice Committee to the National Lawyers Guild’s board. Lydia founded the Fund for Community Reparations for Autistic People of Color's Interdependence, Survival, and Empowerment.

Previously, Lydia was Justice Catalyst Legal Fellow for the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, representing students with disabilities in education civil rights matters. They are former Chairperson of the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council, Visiting Lecturer at Tufts University, and Morrissey Disability Policy Fellow at the Institute for Educational Leadership. In 2015, Lydia was named to Pacific Standard's 30 Top Thinkers Under 30 list. Most recently, Lydia was named to Gold House Foundation's A100 list of the most impactful Asians in America for 2020 and them.'s Now List 2021 honoring LGBTQ+ visionaries.




Jessica Cabeen

Dream Big, Live Colorfully, Lead Boldly: Developing Your Best Self at School and at Home

Today’s educators have pressures that can become barriers to maintaining wellness in all aspects of life. In this keynote session, we will explore ways in work and life to set your own goals and priorities in the different quadrants of balance (positional, personal, professional, and passion). We will learn ways to manage processes more effectively so you can be present at the moment, diffuse difficult situations with families, staff, and parents so you can leave school at school, and rekindle your own passions so your students and staff can see the real you.


Jessica Cabeen is the principal of Ellis Middle School in Austin, MN. She was the 2017 Minnesota Nationally Distinguished Principal and a Future Ready Principal Advisor. She is a Middle-Level Fellow for the National Association for Elementary School Principals and Future Ready Ambassador. Jessica is the co-author of Balance Like a Pirate (2018) and author of Hacking Early Learning (2018), Lead with Grace (2019), and Unconventional Leadership (2019). She loves to connect with other educators on Instagram, Facebook, Voxer, and Twitter (@JessicaCabeen) and her website (www.jessicacabeen.com).






Carole Clancy and Laurie VanderPloeg

Attract, Prepare, Retain: Re-envisioning Pennsylvania’s Approach to Special Education Personnel

The many unfilled positions and high attrition rates among special education personnel is having a direct impact on children with disabilities. The Pennsylvania Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education (BSE) is poised to address these issues by focusing on strategies to attract, prepare, and retain (APR) personnel. The BSE’s APR Steering Committee will utilize input and feedback from a cross-section of stakeholders to envision innovative practices, policies, and procedures to effectively address these matters and position Pennsylvania once again as a leader in special education. This session will highlight the current work both nationally and here within Pennsylvania to address these critical needs.

Carole Clancy is the Bureau of Special Education Director, with over 25 years of experience in special education, including 15 years as an administrator in urban, rural, and suburban school settings. Ms. Clancy’s role is to oversee the work of the Bureau of Special Education (BSE). The BSE works collaboratively with educators, schools, agencies, and other stakeholders across the commonwealth to ensure they are providing students with quality and meaningful educational supports, services, and opportunities, while complying with state and federal guidelines. Prior to joining the Bureau, Ms. Clancy served as Director of Pupil Services for the Solanco School District, as Director of Special Education at Oxford Area School District, and as the Supervising Coordinator of Special Education Services for the School District of Lancaster. 

Laurie VanderPloeg is the Associate Executive Director for the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). Prior to joining CEC, she was the director of the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), in the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), at the U.S. Department of Education. Laurie also served as director of special education at Kent Intermediate School District (Kent ISD) in Michigan. Also at Kent ISD, she served as assistant director for monitoring, compliance, and parent support. She also served as a local supervisor of special education, special education teacher, and adjunct professor at Grand Valley State University in the special education administration program. She is a parent of an adult son with disabilities. VanderPloeg graduated from Grand Valley State University with a master’s degree in special education administration; and, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley State College.