2019 Speakers

Amy J. Armstrong is chair and associate professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Counseling at Virginia Commonwealth University. She has worked for 35 years in a variety of organizations and positions from direct service to leadership. She provides national personnel training on the employment of marginalized populations, individual and organizational wellbeing, leadership, and appreciative cultures. She received an M.A. in Rehabilitation Counseling from Michigan State University and a Ph.D. in Education from VCU. Recently she received a Certificate in Appreciative Inquiry: Positive Business and Societal Change from Case Western Reserve University.

Denise Bissonnette is an internationally renowned writer, trainer, and keynote speaker. She has inspired people and organizations throughout North America to look beyond traditional concepts of job development and to craft livelihoods rooted in the individual genius of each person. She has authored several publications on creative job development, state of the art job search techniques, the cultivation of the human spirit, and how to “shine” on the job. Her book Beyond Traditional Job Development: The Art of Creating Opportunity is considered the definitive text in employment programs and university classrooms throughout North America.

Mike Bovino serves as Senior Advisor for Special Olympics PA, focusing on organizational development, Interscholastic Unified Sports, and fundraising.  He serves on the Global Unified Sports Advisory Group and National Unified Sports Committee.  Mike has 31 years of experience working with Special Olympics. Michelle Boone is the Senior Sports Director for Special Olympics PA and has been in that role since 2014.   She oversees sports development, coach education, Interscholastic Unified Sports, and competition management and planning."

Jenni Brasington is a Senior Director of Consultative Services for Scholastic Education and a founding partner of the Center for Active Family Engagement (Café). She has more than 25 years of experience working with PK-12 schools as an administrator, early childhood coordinator and school counselor to improve student achievement and build effective family-school partnerships. She most recently served as the Director of Family and Community Engagement for Acelero Learning, a large Head Start grantee with delegate agencies in four states. Ms. Brasington holds a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and a Master of Education degree in School Counseling. She has focused her work over the last 17 years on building the capacity of educators to engage with families in ways that support learning and increase student achievement. She is the author of the Family Friendly Walk-Through and the co-author of the Family Engagement Assessment a tool that measures a school’s capacity for developing effective partnerships with families. During this last year, Ms. Brasington and her partners at Café assisted schools across the US and Australia build capacity for sustainable family engagement.

Eric Briggs is the current Superintendent of Schools of the Canton Area School District. Prior to becoming the superintendent, Eric taught in Baltimore County Public Schools as a self-contained emotional support teacher, an alternative education teacher for drug-addicted, adjudicated and delinquent youth, and supervisor of special education programs for two public school districts. He earned his Doctorate of Special Education from Slippery Rock University in the Fall of 2018.

Jeannine Brinkley is currently the Executive Director for the Parent Education & Advocacy Leadership (PEAL) Center.  PEAL is the OSEP-funded Parent Training and Information Center for Pennsylvania.  PEAL provides resources, individual assistance, training and leadership development for families of children, youth and young adults with disabilities & special health care needs. Previously, she was an Educational Consultant with PaTTAN, in a leadership role for Inclusive Practices & Access to the General Curriculum for students with complex instructional needs.

Karen Deery, M.Ed. is an educational consultant with the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN). Ms. Deery provides training and consultation services to administrators, teachers, paraprofessionals and other school staff in the areas of school improvement, inclusive practices, literacy, behavior, and in supporting students with significant cognitive disabilities. Before joining PaTTAN, Ms. Deery was a member of the technical assistance and consultation team at Lancaster-Lebanon IU13.  Prior to her work in Pennsylvania, Ms. Deery was a reading specialist and special educator in Maryland public schools.

Drew Dudley is the Founder and Chief Catalyst of Day One Leadership, Inc., which helps organizations around the world increase their leadership capacity. His clients have included some of the world’s most dynamic companies and organizations, including McDonald’s, Dreamworks Animation, JP Morgan Chase, and over 75 colleges and universities. Prior to founding Day One, Mr. Dudley spent eight years as the Director of one of Canada’s largest leadership development programs at the University of Toronto, and served as National Chair of one of Canada’s largest youth charities, which mobilized 35,000 volunteers to raise a million dollars annually to support the work of Cystic Fibrosis Canada. Mr. Dudley has spoken to over 250,000 people on five continents, been featured on The Huffington Post, Radio America, Forbes.com, and TED.com, where his TED talk has been voted “one of the 15 most inspirational TED talks of all time." TIME, Business Insider, and Inc. magazines have all named his talk as one of their “10 speeches that will make you a better leader.” Mr. Dudley's first book , This is Day One: A Practical Guide to Leadership That Matters debuted at #6 on The Wall Street Journal Bestseller List and has gone on to become an international bestseller.

Lucille Eber, Ed.D. is a Senior Advisor  with the Midwest PBIS Network and a collaborative partner with the U.S. Department of Education’s National PBIS Center, providing support to states and school districts nationwide on school-wide PBIS, including integration of mental health into school-wide systems of positive behavior support, implementation of wraparound and interagency initiatives for students with complex emotional and behavioral challenges.

Dr. Batya Elbaum is a Professor in the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Miami. As a developmental psychologist, special education researcher, and consultant on both state and national technical assistance projects, she has focused much of her work on school-family relationships and family engagement in the special education process. In conjunction with the National Center for Special Education Accountability Monitoring, Dr. Elbaum helped develop and validate the family survey that many states, including Pennsylvania, have been using to collect data on the parent involvement indicator that is part of each state’s State Performance Plan.

Dr. Pamela Emery currently works as a consultant with the Pennsylvania Department of Education Office for Safe Schools. She received her PhD from the Pennsylvania State University in 1999 in Curriculum and Supervision. She holds a Master of Science degree in Literacy Education and a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education and special education. She worked as a Supervisor of Special Education, Director of Curriculum and Instruction and Assistant Superintendent. In addition, Dr. Emery wrote and taught courses as an adjunct graduate professor with the Penn State University. In 2010, Dr. Emery worked with the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Quality Review Team as the project lead for the development of the Safe and Supportive Schools Element of the Pennsylvania Standards Aligned System. Her current projects with the Office for Safe Schools include the finalization of the Pennsylvania Career Ready Skills and creation of accompanying tools, development and enhancement of the PDE Online School Climate Surveys, Act 71 youth suicide prevention, school attendance improvement, child abuse recognition and reporting, school climate and social emotional learning. Dr. Emery resides in Williamsport, PA with her husband Bill.

Linda Farrell is a founding partner at Readsters, located in Alexandria, VA. Linda has the career of her dreams, which is helping children, adolescents, and adults learn to read. Linda works nationally in schools helping teachers implement instruction that insures all students learn to read. She often works in the classroom modeling effective instruction and coaching teachers. She presents workshops all over the country about effective instruction for beginning and struggling readers. She also helps schools design and implement effective reading instruction in all grades. In the last four years, Linda has worked in Africa helping children learn to read in languages she doesn’t even speak!

Erin D. Gilsbach, Esq., is the Executive Director of EdLaw Interactive (edlawinteractive.com) and a practicing school law attorney with the PA-based law firm of Steckel and Stopp. She is an experienced speaker at the state and national levels on matters regarding school law and a frequent author on education law topics. She currently services as the President of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) Solicitor’s Association and is a member of the Board of Directors of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) Council of School Attorneys (COSA). Atty. Gilsbach provides a wide variety of training programs, as well as legal consulting services, to school districts, charter schools, non-public schools, and education-related organizations.  She has written a number of publications on a variety of school law issues, and she has recently finished writing a book on the legal obligations of public schools when educating students with medical needs.  The book is scheduled to be released by the publisher, LRP Publications, in the spring of 2019.

Dan Habib, the director/producer of INTELLIGENT LIVES, is the creator of the award-winning documentary films Including Samuel, Who Cares About Kelsey?, Mr. Connolly Has ALS (an International Documentary Association nominee for Best Short) and many other films. Habib's films have been featured in dozens of film festivals, broadcast internationally, nominated for Emmy awards and translated into 17 languages for worldwide distribution. Habib is a filmmaker at the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability. Habib gave a widely viewed TEDx talk, Disabling Segregation, received the Champion of Human and Civil Rights Award from the NEA, and the Justice for All Grassroots Award from the American Association of People with Disabilities. In 2014, Habib was appointed by President Barack Obama to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. Habib and his wife, Betsy, live in Concord, NH, with their sons Isaiah, 22, and Samuel, 18.

Candace Hawkins began her career working for a residential facility that served young adults with serious emotional disability. She left the field of social work to become a lawyer with the hope of advocating more effectively on behalf of children and adults with disabilities. Candace Hawkins currently serves as the Dispute Resolution Supervisor for the Colorado Department of Education. Candace’s primary professional interest is in special education dispute resolution system performance and the use of innovative approaches to conflict engagement.

Paul Hernandez, Ph.D., earned his doctorate in Sociology, specializing in the sociology of education, social inequality, and diversity. Dr. Hernandez is a nationally recognized speaker and leader in college access and success, community outreach, and pedagogy for educators working with underserved/underprepared students and students at risk of dropping out of school. As a former faculty member, nonprofit administrator and educational consultant, Dr. Hernandez works with higher education institutions, K-12 schools, and non-profit organizations helping them further develop and evolve their work with students and communities. Prior to earning his degrees, he was engulfed in gang culture and deep poverty, surviving on the streets of Los Angeles. Paul openly shares with others his unique personal story of being a youth at risk and how his path has influenced his work. He has learned ways to empower young people traveling a similar path, and through his inspirational messages hopes to share his lessons and passion with those working to address the multitude of challenges faced by diverse populations of youth at risk. Dr. Hernandez has been nationally recognized for his work and was awarded the National Education Association Reg Weaver Human and Civil Rights Award, the Michigan Education Association Elizabeth Siddall Human Rights Award, the Equity in Education award by the Michigan Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, and an Honors Professor of the Year Award for teaching.

Dr. Laurie McGarry Klose is an Associate Professor and Director of the School Psychology Program at Trinity University and was previously a school psychology faculty member at Texas State University, including serving as the Director of Assessment for the Clinic for Autism Research, Evaluation and Support and University Assessment and Counseling Clinic.  Before becoming a faculty member, Laurie worked as a school psychologist for 12 years in California, Massachusetts and Texas.  Professional advocacy is Laurie’s passion and is seen by her service as a Past President of Texas Association of School Psychologists and the current Texas Delegate to the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).  In addition, Laurie serves on numerous state and national committees including the NASP Government and Professional Relations committee and is the Chair of the NASP Ethics and Professional Practices Board.

Nanda Mitra-Itle, NCSP, ABD is a school psychologist in the Ephrata Area School District and Adjunct Professor at Millersville University. Mrs. Mitra-Itle attended Elizabethtown College, earning a Bachelor’s degree. She completed her Masters degree and school psychology certification through Millersville University. Mrs. Mitra-Itle and attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania where she earned her ABD doctoral school psychology in Education. Mrs. Mitra-Itle has presented at various conferences including: Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education, Pennsylvania State Educational Association, The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), Association for School Psychologist in Pennsylvania (ASPP), National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), Intermediate Unit 13 (IU13), Pennsylvania Association of Gifted Education (PAGE), and within other school districts. Mrs. Mitra-Itle is currently President of PAGE, on the Department of Pupil Services Board for Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) as the Multicultural Affairs Committee Representative and Secretary of the South Asian Association of Lancaster County. Mrs. Mitra-Itle was nominated for the School Psychologist of the Year for the State of PA award by ASPP in 2017. Mrs. Mitra-Itle has also been referenced several times in the Best Practices: Student Level Services in Best Practices in Services for Gifted Students chapter. Areas of research interest include but are not limited to: Gifted students and undeserved students such as culturally and linguistically diverse, twice exceptional, and economically disadvantaged.

Chemay Morales-James is a social liberation eduvist (education activist) and coach.  A former public school teacher, Chemay also served a decade working as a Senior Equity Coach for NYU’s Metropolitan Center for Equity and the Transformation of Schools, lead by Dr. Pedro Noguera.   While at Metro, she lead the development and implementation of their culturally responsive education training series and has co-authored several educational articles and blogs. After NYU, Chemay founded My Reflection Matters (MRM), an online warehouse for educators and parents searching for educational products and services that affirm the identities of Black and Brown youth.  Through MRM, she facilitates workshops for educators and parents looking for ways to support children of color in developing healthy racial and ethnic identities.  She is also a product creator for organizations or individuals seeking culturally relevant or socially conscious educational materials.  Chemay is co-founder of Decolonizing Education Publishing and co-author of the children’s book, The ABCs of the Black Panther Party.  She has a B.S. in Special Education and received an Ed.M. in Supervision of Special Education Programs from Teachers College, Columbia University. Learn more about Chemay at myreflectionmatters.org.

Dr. Laura Moran is an educational consultant with PaTTAN in Harrisburg, PA. Currently, Laura is the statewide lead for the PA State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP) to increase graduation rates for students with disabilities. In addition, she is the central office lead for Path to Graduation (P2G), which is to increase school completion for middle school students with emotional behavioral disorders.  Laura’s work also encompasses literacy, Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS), Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), and special education leadership. Laura is a certified Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) trainer in Pennsylvania and nationwide and is a national Paideia faculty member. Laura holds a doctorate degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Administration and Leadership Studies for the Public Sector and her research focused on teacher efficacy.

Sharon Plante, an educator with over 22 years teaching experience in special education, currently serves as teacher and Director of Technology at The Southport School. As a Classroom Educator certified Orton-Gillingham tutor (CE/AOGPE), she uses her training and understanding of technology to empower students with learning disabilities. Sharon is the co-author of Using Technology to Engage Students with Learning Disabilities, which highlights the incorporation of technology through the Universal Design Model to reach all learners. She has presented at IDA, Everyone Reading, EdRev, ATIA, New York Chapter of ALTA, and Spotlight on Dyslexia. Sharon is a member of the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools Commission on Technology. Additionally, she was awarded the 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award from George Mason University College of Education and Human Development.

Sarah Powell is an Associate Professor in the Department of Special Education at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research interests include developing and testing mathematics interventions for students with mathematics learning difficulties. Powell currently conducts school-based mathematics research on three grant-funded projects at preschool, grade 3, and middle school.

Debbie Pushor, Ph.D., is a mother of three adult sons, Cohen, Quinn, and Teague, and a former public school teacher, consultant, principal and central services administrator. She currently works as a Professor in the Department of Curriculum Studies at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada. In her program of research, Debbie has engaged in narrative inquiries into parent engagement and leadership, a curriculum of parents, and parent knowledge. She is currently engaged in research on systematic parent engagement in an elementary and a secondary school. In her undergraduate and graduate teaching, Debbie makes central an often absent or underrepresented conversation about the positioning of parents in relation to school landscapes. Debbie, in collaboration with the Parent Engagement Collaborative, published a book entitled, Portals of Promise: Transforming Beliefs and Practices through a Curriculum of Parents (Sense Publishers, 2013). Living as Mapmakers: Charting a Course with Children Guided by Parent Knowledge (Sense Publishers, 2015), co-written with the Parent Engagement Collaborative II, builds from and extends this earlier work.

Jeff Remington has enthusiastically championed the power of science, technology, education and mentorship as a means to improving people's lives. As a lifelong learner himself, he especially enjoys being on the giving and receiving end of educational mentorship opportunities. Jeff studied the sciences and education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Adult Training and Development at Pennsylvania State University. He has had a fulfilling career teaching middle school science for over 30 years and, for 20 years, has taught in Lebanon Valley College’s Masters of Science Education program, the undergraduate education program and as a thesis advisor. In addition, Jeff has done Science and Technology trainings and consulting for business, professional organizations, non-profits, government agencies, and community organizations. Through the encouragement and kindness of many mentors, Jeff has received numerous accolades include the 2002 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching, The Paul DeHart Hurd Award For Exemplary Middle Level Science Teaching and Leadership, and The Nevelyn J. Knisley Award for Inspirational Teaching by a Lebanon Valley College Adjunct Faculty Member. Jeff is especially passionate about bringing educational opportunities to those who have limited access to them. Along with his wife, Helen, he has helped to create and sustain science and technology classrooms in St. Marc, Haiti, and has been an advocate for decreasing the digital divide that exists between developed and underdeveloped nations. Jeff has also done international STEM consulting, training and keynotes.

Mark S. Seidenberg is Vilas Research Professor in the department of psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA). His reading research addresses the nature of skilled reading, how children learn to read, developmental reading impairments, and the brain bases of reading, using the tools of modern cognitive neuroscience: behavioral experiments, computational models, and neuroimaging. His current research focuses on how differences in language experience, particularly the use of a non-mainstream dialect, contribute to achievement gaps in reading. Seidenberg is author of Language at the Speed of Sight: How We Read, Why So Many Can’t, and What Can Be Done About It (Basic Books, 2017). The book provides an overview of advances in reading science and examines the disconnection between this research and educational practice, its impact on literacy, and how it might be overcome.

Brian Stamford is a Program Director of Accountability & Innovative Practices at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit (AIU), an organization providing specialized services to 42 suburban school districts in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Stamford also serves as state co-lead for the Classroom Diagnostic Tools, leading professional development efforts statewide and working with Data Recognition Corporation (DRC) to continue to add new features to the assessment. Most recently, Stamford collaborated with Code.org to become a Computer Science Fundamentals affiliate and regional partner, offering Pennsylvania educators high-quality workshops in implementing K-12 computer science courses. Stamford is also a certified Apple Education Trainer, offering high-quality professional development on innovative teaching practices using Apple products. Prior to this, he worked in public education as a science and computer teacher, instructional coach, and administrator.

Mark Sundberg, Ph.D., BCBA-D received his doctorate degree in Applied Behavior Analysis from Western Michigan University (1980), under the direction of Dr. Jack Michael. He is the author of the VB-MAPP, and co-author of the original ABLLS and the book Teaching Language to Children with Autism or Other Developmental Disabilities. He has published over 50 professional papers and 6 book chapters. He is the founder and past editor of the journal The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, a twice past-president of The Northern California Association for Behavior Analysis, a past-chair of the Publication Board of ABAI, and has served on the Board of Directors of the B. F. Skinner Foundation. Dr. Sundberg has given hundreds of conference presentations and workshops nationally and internationally, and taught 80 college and university courses on behavior analysis, verbal behavior, sign language, and child development. He is a licensed psychologist with over 40 years of experience. His awards include the 2001 “Distinguished Psychology Department Alumnus Award” from Western Michigan University, and the 2013 “Jack Michael Outstanding Contributions in Verbal Behavior Award” from ABAI’s Verbal Behavior Special Interest Group.

Dr. Megan Tschannen-Moran is a professor of educational leadership at the College of William and Mary School of Education. She prepares prospective school leaders for building-level and central office positions in the Educational Policy, Planning, and Leadership program. Her research focuses on relationships of trust in school settings and how these are related to important outcomes such as the collective efficacy beliefs of a school faculty, teacher professionalism, and student achievement. Another line of research examines teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs and the relationship of those beliefs to teacher behavior and student outcomes. She has published over 60 scholarly articles and book chapters in highly regarded journals such as the Education Administration Quarterly, and the Journal of Educational Administration. Her book Trust Matters: Leadership for Successful Schools (2014, 2nd ed. Jossey-Bass) reports the experience of three principals and the consequences of their successes and failures to build trust.  Along with her husband Bob, she has published two books on coaching. Both books present a person-centered, no-fault, strengths-based model for individualized, job-embedded professional learning. The first, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time (2010, Jossey-Bass) is designed for those who coach teachers, while the second, Evoking Greatness: Coaching to Bring Out the Best in Educational Leaders equips leadership coaches.  Prior to earning her doctorate at The Ohio State University in 1998, she was the founder and principal of The Good News Educational Workshop, a non-public school serving primarily low-income students on the north side of Chicago from 1979 to 1993.