2017 Summit

Sir Ken Robinson


An internationally recognized authority in creativity and innovation in education and business, Sir Ken Robinson is also one of the world’s leading speakers. Videos of his famous talks to the prestigious TED Conference are the most viewed in the history of the organization and have been seen by an estimated 300 million people in over 150 countries.Sir Ken works with governments in Europe, Asia and the US, international agencies, Fortune 500 companies and leading cultural organizations. He led a national commission on creativity, education and the economy for the UK Government, was the central figure in developing a strategy for creative and economic development as part of the Peace Process in Northern Ireland, and was one of four international advisors to the Singapore Government for a strategy to become the creative hub of SE Asia.

Called “one of the world’s elite thinkers on creativity and innovation” by Fast Company magazine, Sir Ken has received numerous awards and recognitions for his groundbreaking contributions. He was included in Thinkers50 list of the world’s leading business thinkers and has been named one of TIME/Fortune/CNN’s Principal Voices. In 2003, he received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for services to the arts. His 2009 book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, is a New York Times best seller and has been translated into 21 languages. A 10th anniversary edition of his classic work on creativity and innovation, Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative, was published in 2011. Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life, was published by Viking in May 2013 and is also a New York Times best seller. His latest book, Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education (Viking, 2015), written with Robinson’s trademark wit and engaging style, includes groundbreaking research and tackles the critical issue of how to transform the nation’s troubled educational system.

Dr. G. Reyes


Dr. G Reyes is a scholar-artist-activist grounded in a commitment to the empowerment of young folks, teachers, school leaders, and cultural workers to critically problematize and radically imagine ways to transform their own realities.  He has worked as a teacher and school leader in K-12 schooling, as an educator and organizational leader in youth development, and as a scholar in higher education.  Some of his work investigates Critical, Humanizing, Culturally, and Politically Determined pedagogies and teacher development; principled, social justice-centered, values-centered, purpose-driven educational leadership and organizational development, Participatory Action Research and teacher inquiry; art, digital media, and Hip Hop as activism; critical and local frameworks of social and emotional learning that explicitly have an analysis of and design to counter oppression; and English Language Arts as liberatory education.  He currently works as an Assistant Professor in the Educational Leadership for Social Justice program at the California State University at East Bay.  He completed a Post Doctoral Fellowship from Stanford University and his Ph.D. in Education at the University of California at Berkeley.  He is currently working on his forthcoming book, Letters to a New Teacher:  Critical and Humanizing Conversations of Empowerment and Growth during the First Years.

Keynote Title: Get Woke Get Lit Get Dangerous: Towards a Critical, Humanizing, and Community-Centered Framework of School Climate and Culture

Keynote Description: Hollywood would have us think that students of color have dangerous minds that need to be saved. As a counter to these tropes, how can educators perform a kind of dangerous work that challenges mainstream ideologies, norms, behaviors, attitudes, practices, and systems that dominant groups attempt to protect at all costs?  How can schools build from a critical analysis of oppression in order to radically imagine ways to culturally, structurally, and pedagogically transform how to work towards cultivating and sustaining an empowering climate and culture?  Living these questions as process and practice is dangerous work.  It is transformative and requires the kind of courage that possesses an uncompromising commitment by change agents to reculture the awareness, attitudes, and perceptions of all within a school in such a way that is critical, humanizing, and community-centered.

Resources: Dr. G. Reyes PDF

Principal Kafele

Recipient of the National Alliance of Black School Educators Hall of Fame Award, the New Jersey Education Association Award of Excellence and the prestigious Milken National Educator Award, Principal Baruti Kafele is ON FIRE! He has distinguished himself as an award-winning educator, an internationally-renowned speaker and a best-selling author.As an elementary school teacher in East Orange, NJ, Principal Kafele was selected as the East Orange School District and Essex County Public Schools Teacher of the Year.  As a middle and high school principal, he led the transformation of four different urban New Jersey schools, including “The Mighty” Newark Tech, which went from a low-performing school in need of improvement to national acclaim, which included U.S. News and World Report Magazine recognizing it as one of America’s best high schools.

One of the most sought-after education speakers in America, Principal Kafele has delivered more than 1000 conference keynotes, professional development workshops, parental engagement seminars and student empowerment assemblies since leaving his principalship 5 years ago. An expert in the area of “attitude transformation,” Principal Kafele is the leading authority for providing effective classroom and school leadership strategies toward closing what he coined, the “attitude gap” – defined as, “the gap between those students who have the WILL to achieve excellence and those who do not.”

A prolific writer, Principal Kafele has written extensively on professional development strategies for creating a positive school climate and culture, transforming the attitudes of at-risk student populations, motivating Black males to excel in the classroom and school leadership practices for inspiring school-wide excellence. In addition to writing several professional articles on these topics for popular education journals, he is the author of seven books which include his national best-sellers, Closing the Attitude Gap, Motivating Black Males to Achieve in School and in Life and The Principal 50. His eighth book, The Teacher 50 will be released in August, 2016.

Principal Kafele is married to his wife Kimberley, and is the father of their three children, Baruti, Jabari and Kibriya. He earned his B.S. degree in Management Science/Marketing from Kean University and his M.A. degree in Educational Administration from New Jersey City University. He is the recipient of over one hundred fifty educational, professional and community awards which include the City of Dickinson, Texas proclaiming February 8, 1998 as Baruti Kafele Day.

Keynote Title: Closing the Attitude Gap

Resources:  Principal Kafele Key Note

Carrie Bauer

Carrie Bauer

Carrie Bauer, LBSW is the Director of Hamilton’s Academy of Grief & Loss where she provides grief related information, education, and support to families served by Hamilton’s Funeral Home but also the community as a whole. She has been the Academy Director since December 2012.

She received her bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Northern Iowa in 2005. Carrie had worked in hospice for six years before joining Hamilton’s. She worked at two hospices as the social worker, bereavement counselor, and volunteer coordinator. It was during this time that she developed her passion for working with the dying and those who are grieving.

In addition to directing the day-to-day operations of the Academy, Carrie facilitates the Academy’s two children’s grief groups and Pet Loss Support Group, is involved with local schools, presents on various grief topics, and speaks twice a year at Hamilton’s Coping With Grief Symposium. She is a co-founder of the Young Bereavement Professionals Group, and helps facilitate the Central Iowa Death Cafés.

Carrie resides in Des Moines, and in her free time she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling, cooking, and reading

Emily Bollinger | Laurie Ganser | Jesus Ramirez

Emily Bollinger earned a BA in English, a BSE in Secondary Education, and an MS in Effective Teaching: Urban Education from Drake University. Currently located in the Twin Cities, Emily has  been a passionate advocate for traditionally underserved students and is consistently working toward transformational system change to remove barriers to opportunity and achievement. Over the course of her 12-year career, Emily has been a teacher leader and has designed and facilitated professional development at the local, state, and national levels on a variety of topics, primarily focusing on culturally Responsive Pedagogy and engaging, enlightening, and empowering instruction.

Laurie earned her BA in English and American Studies from the University of Minnesota, her MA in American Studies and teaching certification from the University at Texas at Austin, and became licensed as a Reading Specialist in 2013 through Hamline University. Laurie is completing her eleventh year in the public schools and has taught high school and middle school English and Reading in Austin, Texas and Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. Laurie’s current role as Literacy Coach at Park Center Senior High allows her to champion student equity, engagement, and achievement by supporting reading, writing, and the use of language in classrooms. She has designed and delivered professional development at local, state, and national levels, focusing on supporting striving readers in content area classrooms and Culturally Responsive Pedagogy.

Jesus Ramirez has worked in the education field for the last 12 years as a teacher, an instructional coach, and currently as an equity specialist in the Osseo School District. In this capacity Jesus works with the intersection of race and education, specifically regarding its implications on the educational achievement of communities of color. By using the tools provided by Pacific Educational Group to have Courageous Conversations about Race, the use of Critical Race Theory as a means of analyzing racial implications, and his own experience as a brown indigenous student in the Los Angeles Unified School District, he has become passionate about addressing inequities that lie within our educational system. Jesus’s passion is a way of addressing his own trauma while attending school as well as a way to prevent others from experiencing the same. Jesus currently coaches teachers on Culturally Responsive Pedagogy and its application in the creation of content, and he develops culturally-specific student programming and racially-focused student leadership programming. Lastly, he organizes Latino parent/guardian groups who work to address inequities specific to the Latino community.

Dr. Allison Bruhn

Dr. Allison Bruhn, a former middle school teacher and graduate of Vanderbilt University, is an assistant professor of Special Education at The University of Iowa. She teaches courses on social/behavioral interventions and classroom management. Her research interests include implementing multi-tiered systems of support and using technology-based self-management to help students improve behavior. This research is supported by over $1.5 million in federal, state, and local funding, including $1.2 million from the federal Institute of Educational Sciences. In addition to creating a self-monitoring iPad app and training schools in designing, implementing, and evaluating PBIS, she has authored over 40 publications including a book Managing Challenging Behaviors in Schools: Research-Based Strategies That Work. She currently serves on the editorial boards of Teaching Exceptional Children and Behavioral Disorders. Dr. Bruhn is active on the national conference speaking circuit and in 2014, she received the Early Career Publication Award from the Council for Exceptional of Children Division of Research.

Dr. Colleen Capper | Dr. Elise Frattura

Colleen A. Capper is Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin- and co-founder of Integrated Comprehensive Systems for Equity (icsequity.org) and co-director of the National Leadership for Social Justice Institute and Academy. She has published extensively on leadership for social justice and equity. She is the editor of the book series Educational Leadership for Equity and Diversity (Routledge), and author of the forthcoming book in the series Organizational Theory for Equity and Diversity. She has also published four best-selling books:

  • Leading for Social Justice: Transforming Schools for All Learners (with Elise Frattura)
  • Meeting the Needs of Students of All Abilities: Leading Beyond Inclusion (1st and 2nd edition) (with Elise Frattura)
  • Educational Administration in a Pluralistic Society

Capper works with schools, districts, and universities nationally and internationally to transform their systems to eliminate inequities.

Elise Frattura is an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Education since 2001 and co-founder of Integrated Comprehensive Systems for Equity (icsequity.org) and co-director of the National Leadership for Social Justice Institute and Academy. From 2003-2013, Dr. Frattura served as an Associate Dean and Department Chairperson for the School of Education.

Dr. Frattura currently teaches graduate courses for principals and district office administrators in the areas of Diversity in Elementary and Secondary Education, Advanced Analysis and Design of School Systems, Politics and Educational Organizational Cultures and Nondiscrimination Law. Dr. Frattura researches and has published specifically in the areas of Integrated Comprehensive Systems™, nondiscrimination law for all learners, and the theoretical underpinnings of educational segregation. Dr. Frattura works extensively with urban, rural, and suburban school districts across the country as well as internationally to assist in the movement from reactionary systems of segregation to a proactive Integrated Comprehensive Systems™ of support through presentations, evaluations, and consultation.

Brad Chapin

Brad Chapin is a master’s level psychologist and a recognized speaker in the area of Self-Regulation. He is also the Director for Children’s Services at Horizons Mental Health Center. Brad has a passion for teaching parents and school professionals the importance of helping children develop healthy Self-Regulation skills. He continues to create innovative strategies utilizing technology to engage children in the process. Brad believes that Self-Regulation provides an easy-to-learn and easy-to-implement framework for addressing many of the problem areas children and families experience including ADHD, anger/behavior problems, academic issues, social/emotional problems, Autism Spectrum Disorders and anxiety/depression. . Brad is the author of Helping Young People Learn About Self-Regulation and Helping Teens Learn About Self-Regulation. He is also creator of the Challenge Software DVD/online program (www.cpschallenge.com) as well as the Self-Regulation Training Board.

Chella Drew

Chella Drew

Chella Drew, MA Ed. is licensed trainer in Restorative Practices, providing training and/or consulting in multiple school districts along the east coast, including the states of MD, DE, OH, GA, PA, NJ, NY and NC. She is also trained as a Trainer of Trainers and is supporting a variety of professionals in learning how to train their staff, students and community members in Restorative Practices.

Ms. Drew offers over 20 years of experience in the field of education, serving in varying roles which include preschool teacher, child development specialist, special education teacher, adjunct professor, behavior intervention specialist, director of restorative practices, and educational trainer and consultant. She has a wealth of experience in lesson planning, differentiating instruction, developing and implementing behavior plans, facilitating restorative circles and conferences, facilitating social skills groups for students, developing and facilitating parent workshops, and planning and implementing professional development for staff.

Ms. Drew has a passion for educating youth and adults about the power of relationships in developing a positive climate in the school, workplace, and community, and holds a firm belief that every person can create positive change if given the proper support and resources. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from James Madison University and a Master’s degree in Education and Human Development from George Washington University.

Judy Elliott

Judy Elliott, Ph.D. is the former Chief Academic Officer of the Los Angeles Unified School District where she was responsible for curriculum and instruction from early childhood through adult, professional development, innovation, accountability, assessment, afterschool programs, state and federal programs, health and human services, magnet programs language acquisition for both English and Standard English learners, parent outreach, and intervention programs for all students.

Before that she was the Chief of Teaching and Learning in the Portland Oregon Public Schools and prior to that an Assistant Superintendent of Student Support Services in the Long Beach Unified School District in CA. Judy also worked as a Senior Researcher at the National Center on Educational Outcomes at the University of Minnesota.

She started her career as a special education classroom teacher and then school psychologist. During this time she was an adjunct Professor at the State University College at Buffalo New York where she taught graduate courses in curriculum and instruction and applied behavior analysis in the Department of Exceptional Education.

In 2012, she was appointed by NYS Commissioner John King as “Distinguished Educator” to help support and oversee the Buffalo City School District Priority Schools.

Judy continues to assist districts, cooperatives, schools, national organizations, state and federal departments of education in their efforts to update and realign systems and infrastructure around curriculum, instruction, assessment, data use, leadership and accountability that includes all students and renders a return on investment.

Her research interests focus on systems change and leadership, effective instruction for all students, data based decision making, and accelerated student achievement.

She has trained thousands of staff, teachers, and administrators in the U.S. and abroad in areas of integrated service delivery systems, multi-tiered system of supports, effective use of data, linking assessment to District and classroom instruction, intervention, strategies and tactics for effective instruction, curriculum adaptation, collaborative teaching and behavior management.

She has published over 51 articles, book chapters, technical/research reports and books. She sits on editorial boards for professional journals and is active in many professional organizations.

Judy is nationally known for her work in Multi-Tiered System of Supports/Response to Instruction and Intervention. She has led many successful initiatives and projects in this area and actively continues to support school districts and national organizations in this work.

Marcia Gentry

Professor | Gifted, Creative, and Talented Studies | Department of Educational Studies
Director, Gifted Education Resource Institute

Research interests include student attitudes toward school on constructs including Appeal, Challenge, Choice, Interest, Enjoyment, Meaningfulness, and Self-Efficacy, and the connection of these attitudes toward learning and motivation; the use of gifted education pedagogy as a means of improving learning and teaching; the use of cluster-grouping and differentiation to meet the needs of gifted and talented students while helping all students achieve at high levels; the use of non-traditional settings for talent development such as Career and Technical Education; the development and recognition of talent among underserved populations including students with diverse cultural backgrounds and children who live in poverty; effects of test-driven school climates on student learning and teacher practices; limitations to currently practiced methods of identifying gifted children.

Jen Griest Hayes

Jen Griest Hayes, BS, MA, RYT, RCYT, spent 17 years in the classroom as an Intervention Specialist and team teacher, spanning grades K-12. As a yoga practitioner, she intuitively integrated yoga-based tools and techniques to help her students increase movement while learning self-regulation skills. Noticing the tremendous benefit her students were experiencing, Jen went on to obtain yoga teacher certifications for all ages and abilities, from birth through teens and into adulthood, including those with autism/special needs. She completed the 95 hour Registered Children’s Yoga Teacher certification through the ChildLight Yoga program (RCYS) and her RYT-200 through Nirvana Yoga. Jen is the owner of Afterlight Fitness and Educational Consulting, the Director of Pre/Postnatal, Early Development, and Specialty Programs at Grow With Me Yoga & Fitness Studio in Akron, and a Director of Programs and Teacher Development for ZENworks Yoga. As a trainer for Yoga 4 Classrooms, she inspires school professionals to integrate yoga and mindfulness throughout the school day to support self-regulation, learning and positive climate. Jen lives in the Akron/Cleveland area with her husband and son.

Dr. Tim Hodges

Tim Hodges

Tim Hodges, PhD, is Director of Research for Gallup’s Education Division. He consults with K-12 school districts and higher education institutions and leads research projects in strengths development, employee selection, employee engagement, parent engagement, and well-being. Dr. Hodges has written journal articles and research reports and is a frequent conference keynote speaker. He is focused on helping transform schools into great places to work and learn. Among his volunteer activities, Dr. Hodges is a public board member for the Center to Advance CTE, a nonprofit organization providing oversight and direction for the implementation of Career and Technical Education across the United States.

Steve Korr

Steve Korr has been working with young people and their families since 1985. He worked for over a decade in several of the International Institute for Restorative Practice’s demonstration schools as both a counselor and school administrator. While holding these roles, Mr. Korr employed restorative practices with students, families and staff. He has provided training in restorative practices to thousands of professionals in education, criminal justice and social services from all over the world. Steve’s extensive experience spans across the fields:

  • mental health
  • drug and alcohol treatment
  • outpatient counseling
  • alternative education

Mr. Korr has consulted with numerous leaders within faith-based  organizations to help facilitate restorative interventions for families dealing  with the strain of members of their own family struggling with addiction. Mr. Korr holds a Master’s of Science in Restorative Practices the International Institute for Restorative Practices.

Mr. Korr is Akoben’s resident expert in Restorative Practices. He supports Akoben through organizational leadership, curriculum development and providing trainings, keynotes, and consultation.

Mr. Korr has been with Akoben since 2015

Steve is deeply devoted to his family and enjoys staying physically active

Mitch Kuhnert | Karla Hardy

Mitch has been in the public education business for 17 years; a teacher for 7 years and then administrator for the last 10 years. Mitch is currently serving as the principal at Valley Southwoods 9th Grade High School in West Des Moines, IA. Mitch has been teaching and implementing the 3P understandings in his school and district for the last 9 years through his school’s professional development programming and Drake Courses, Introduction to the 3 Principles and Application of the 3 Principles.

Karla has been in education for 25 years and is currently serving as a counselor at Valley High School in the West Des Moines School District and is also a 3 Principles facilitator.

Emily Lang | Kristopher Rollins

Emily Lang is a teacher and Urban Arts Coordinator in Des Moines Public Schools, and co-founder of RunDSM, a for-youth, by-youth organization focused on urban arts and youth activism. She grew up performing on the stages of the Oskaloosa Community Theater, and entered the field of education with a strong desire to work with young women and help them find their worth. “I believe in leading with love and providing youth safe and brave spaces to share their truth.”

Kristopher Rollins is the Des Moines Public School’s Urban Arts Coordinator, co-founder of RunDSM, and co-facilitator of the Urban Leadership program at Central Campus. He is passionate about the power of literacy with regards to helping marginalized youth reclaim their voices and futures by providing them safe and brave spaces to be heard. Furthermore, his goal is to continue establishing a feeder pattern for hip-hop arts within the public school system in order to engage populations previously under-served.

Brian Mendler

Brian Mendler has extensive experience working with challenging students in general ed, self-contained, and inclusion settings. He provides staff development training for K-12 educators throughout the world with the focus on how to be successful with even the most difficult students. He trains tens of thousands of educators every year and is a highly regarded dynamic speaker. You will find that Mr. Mendler has a unique prospective that he teaches from, that of a former student who struggled with a learning disability and severe ADHD. Educators love his seminars, because he is able to provide strategies that work immediately for today’s youth.

Mr. Mendler has recently authored a book titled, That One Kid. The book provides educators with easy to use strategies for preventing and responding to difficult, disruptive, defiant and unmotivated behavior. He has also authored The Taming of the Crew and co-authored books, Strategies for Successful Classroom Management, Power Struggles 2nd Edition, and the best seller Discipline With Dignity 3rd Edition: New Challenges, New Solutions.

Jessica Minahan

Jessica Minahan, MEd, BCBA, is a licensed and board certified behavior analyst and special educator, as well as a consultant to school’s nationwide. Jessica has over seventeen years of experience supporting students who exhibit challenging behavior in urban public school systems. She is a blogger on The Huffington Post, as well as the author of The Behavior Code: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Teaching the Most Challenging Students, with Nancy Rappaport (Harvard Education Press, 2012) and author of The Behavior Code Companion: Strategies, Tools, and Interventions for Supporting Students with Anxiety-Related or Oppositional Behaviors (Harvard Education Press, 2014).

Dr. Barb Mitchell

Barbara Mitchell, Ph.D. has been involved with special education for the past 19 years. She began her career as a classroom teacher for students with disabilities teaching in elementary and middle school special education settings. Currently Barbara is an Assistant Research Professor for the University of Missouri. Her work focuses on Emotional and Behavioral Disorders (E/BD), School-wide Positive Behavior Support (SW-PBS), and classroom management.

Nate Monson

Nate Monson leads Iowa Safe Schools where he has been Executive Director since 2007. He is a well-known voice in Iowa on issues related to LGBTQ youth and school climate issues. He speaks annually to many colleges/universities, schools, corporations, and community organizations. In his role at Iowa Safe Schools, Nate works to lead the organization’s strategic plan, development efforts, organization of the Annual Iowa Governors Conference on LGBTQ Youth, and creation of programming efforts.

Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr.

Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr. has pursued and achieved success in academia, business, diversity, leadership and community service. In 1996, he started America & MOORE, LLC [www.eddiemoorejr.com] to provide comprehensive diversity, privilege and leadership trainings/workshops. Dr. Moore is recognized as one of the nation’s top motivational speakers/educators especially for his work with students K-16. Dr. Moore is the Founder/Program Director for the White Privilege Conference (WPC), [www.whiteprivilegeconference.com], his interview with Wisconsin Public Radio won the 2015 Wisconsin Broadcasters Association’s Best Interview in Medium Market Radio, 1st Place [http://www.wpr.org/shows/newsmakers-december-4-2014], and he is featured in the film “I’m not Racist….Am I?” Dr. Moore founded The Privilege Institute in 2014 which engages people in research, education, action and leadership through workshops, conferences, publications, relationships and strategic partnerships. Dr. Moore is co-editor of Everyday White People Confront Racial and Social Injustice: 15 Stories and the forthcoming, The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys (October 2017).

Dr. Anthony Muhammad

Dr. Anthony Muhammad

Dr. Anthony Muhammad is an author and international thought leader. He currently serves as the CEO of New Frontier 21 Consulting, a company dedicated to providing cutting-edge professional development to schools all over the world. He served as a practitioner for nearly twenty years. Dr. Muhammad served as a middle school teacher, assistant principal, middle school principal, and high school principal. His tenure as a practitioner has earned him several awards as both a teacher and a principal.

Dr. Muhammad is recognized as one of the field’s leading experts in the areas of school culture and Professional Learning Communities (PLC). His work has allowed him to work with schools in all 50 U.S. states, 10 Canadian provinces, the Caribbean, South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia.

Dr. Muhammad is a best-selling author. He is the author of the books Overcoming the Achievement Gap Trap: Liberating Mindsets to Effect Change (2015); The Will to Lead and the Skill to Teach; Transforming Schools at Every Level (2011); Transforming School Culture: How to Overcome Staff Division (2009); and a contributing author to the book The Collaborative Administrator: Working Together as a Professional Learning Community (2008). He has published 26 articles in education journals and publications in seven different countries.

Sonia Nazario

Sonia Nazario is an award-winning journalist whose stories have tackled some of this country’s most intractable problems — hunger, drug addiction, immigration — and have won some of the most prestigious journalism and book awards.

She is best known for “Enrique’s Journey,” her story of a Honduran boy’s struggle to find his mother in the U.S. Published as a series in the Los Angeles Times, “Enrique’s Journey” won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 2003.
It was turned into a book by Random House and became a national bestseller.

Her recent humanitarian efforts to get lawyers for unaccompanied migrant children led to her selection as the 2015 Don and Arvonne Fraser Human Rights Award recipient by the Advocates for Human Rights. She also was named a 2015 Champion of Children by First Focus and a 2015 Golden Door award winner by HIAS Pennsylvania. In 2016, the American Immigration Council gave her the American Heritage Award. Also in 2016, the Houston Peace & Justice Center honored her with their National Peacemaker Award.

Nazario, who grew up in Kansas and in Argentina, has written extensively from Latin America and about Latinos in the United States. She has been named among the most influential Latinos by Hispanic Business Magazine and a “trendsetter” by Hispanic Magazine. In 2012 Columbia Journalism Review named Nazario among “40 women who changed the media business in the past 40.”

She is a graduate of Williams College and has a master’s degree in Latin American studies from the University of California, Berkeley. She has honorary doctorates from Mount St. Mary’s College and Whittier College. She began her career at the Wall Street Journal, and later joined the Los Angeles Times. She is now at work on her second book.

Vinh Nguyen

Vinh Nguyen was born in Saigon, Vietnam during the height of Vietnam War in early 1960’s. Growing up in family of ten brothers and sisters, Vinh has developed a strong sense of collaboration for success and helping others since at young age. Soon after the Vietnam War came to an end in April 30, 1975, life in South Vietnam changed completely as the government tried to put the socialism and communism into practice. In summer 1981, his parent decided to have him escape from Vietnam to seek freedom and opportunities for his future. He was smuggled out of Vietnam along with other 134 Vietnamese on a tiny and not even seaworthy boat, but their boat was fortunate enough to be finally saved by an oil tanker and they were sent to the refugee camp in Thailand. He later was accepted by the United States and resettled in Des Moines, Iowa.

With no English language skill, he has found many difficulties to adjust his life in America in the beginning at the age of twenty-two; he struggled in communication in English and often relied on others to help in finding jobs, interpretation, etc. He then decided to enroll in classes learn English and worked with many different odd jobs to survive.

He currently works for Des Moines Public Schools and is very active in the language minority communities and currently serves as the president of Vietnamese American Community in Iowa. Vinh also serves as a story teller, speaker and consultant for many topics related to Vietnam, Southeast Asia, refugee and resettlement process, and second language acquisition issues throughout Des Moines area and surrounding areas. He was the recipient of the “Passport to Prosperity Award” from the Iowa Council for International Understanding in 2004, the “Dan Chavez, Beyond the Horizon Award” 2005, a prestigious award given to individual who demonstrates extraordinary effort on behalf of immigrant, refugee, and non-English speaking population of Iowa, the DMACC Alumni Award in 2009 and the Governor Volunteer Award in 2010.

Alicia K. Oglesby

After graduating from Howard University in Washington, DC, Alicia returned to her roots in Philadelphia to give back to a community struggling with poverty and abuse. She spent 8 years working with young adults and adolescents facing issues of domestic violence, sexual abuse and various types of relationship violence. Alicia worked with the University of Pennsylvania on studies related to trauma and learning. It was through this work that Alicia discovered the evolving profession of school counseling. Having been the daughter of a teacher, Alicia always knew that teaching was not her calling. While she loved the experience of education, she saw the tireless nights of grading papers and creating lessons plans her mother had endured. Through her school counseling program, she was able to enjoy the school environment in a capacity that suited her best. Since becoming a school counselor, Alicia has pursued continued knowledge in the area of race relations at both Penn and Virginia Tech. At Emerson Preparatory School, the student body is as diverse as it gets. Alicia finds new and innovative ways to help create the kind of school culture where all students’ identities are affirmed and learning can take place in the most supportive atmosphere possible.

Joel Pedersen

Mr. Joel Pedersen has been a strong leader in the areas of building positive school culture and reducing bullying behaviors from several schools in Southeastern Iowa. While at Davis County Middle School, his leadership in the areas of promoting positive school culture and bully prevention were stated as chief reasons for his selection as the 2010 Iowa Middle School Principal of the Year. Mr. Pedersen has been the Superintendent of the Cardinal Community School District in Wapello County for the past seven years, where he has lead the district to make great strides to enhance school culture. Although the Cardinal CSD was not initially selected as a recipient of the Iowa Safe and Supportive Schools Grant, Mr. Pedersen decided to have Cardinal participate as a non-funded member in the program. Mr. Pedersen understands the powerful connection between positive school culture and student achievement.

Scott J. Peters

Scott J. Peters, Ph.D., is assistant professor of educational foundations at the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater, where he teaches courses related to measurement and assessment, research methodology, and gifted education. He received his Ph.D. from Purdue University specializing in gifted and talented education with secondary areas in applied research methodology and English education. His research work focuses on educational assessment with regard to policy and practice, identification of student exceptionalities—particularly those from low-income or underrepresented groups—and gifted and talented programming outcomes. He has published in Teaching for High Potential, Gifted Child Quarterly, Journal of Advanced Academics, Gifted and Talented International, Gifted Children, Journal of Career and Technical Education Research, Ed Leadership, and Pedagogies. He is the past recipient of the Feldhusen Doctoral Fellowship in Gifted Education, the NAGC Research and Evaluation Network Dissertation Award, the NAGC Doctoral Student of the Year Award, and the UW-Whitewater College of Education Innovation Award. He has served as the assistant program chair and program chair of the AERA Research on Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent SIG, on the board of directors of the Wisconsin Association for Talented and Gifted, and as the National Association for Gifted Children Research and Evaluation network secretary.

Claudia Peyton | Kellie Markey | Shannon Schott

Claudia Peyton is a community volunteer, mother of four and former classroom teacher who is trained in the area of Human Trafficking with the mission of taking the message of education and prevention in to schools. She volunteers at Dorothy’s House as the Educational Coordinator. Claudia also serves on the non-profits boards of Shining City Foundation and the Urbandale Education Foundation.

Kellie Markey is the founder of Dorothy’s House in Des Moines, Iowa. Dorothy’s House is a safe place for the practice of life for those girls whose lives have been interrupted by sex trafficking and exploitation.

Shannon Schott is the Lead Program Specialist for Teens Against Human Trafficking, a program of YSS. Shannon obtained her Bachelor’s Degree at the College of Saint Benedict in Central Minnesota, and participated in volunteer opportunities through the college with Breaking Free, a survivor-led anti-trafficking agency in the Twin Cities. She became passionate about combatting human trafficking and participated in a variety of awareness efforts on her campus. Shannon has professional experience in a variety of topics in the prevention field, including campus sexual assault, substance abuse, and human trafficking prevention, with an emphasis on student-led work. Shannon joined the Teens Against Human Trafficking team in July, 2016 and has educated youth, adults, and professionals across the state.

Kaye Randall

Kaye Randall is a nationally known author and speaker who has led professional seminars throughout North America on student mental health, bullying, self-injury, depression, anxiety and anger — as well as youth leadership and student empowerment. Kaye has inspired seminar participants through her practical insights, humor, and proactive strategies for helping children and adolescents. She continues to provide clinical services to both children and adolescents and has been named social worker of the year by the Council on Adoptable Children. She is co-author of See My Pain, Creative Strategies & Activities for Helping Young People Who Self Injure (featured in USA Today), 102 Creative Strategies for Working with Depressed Children & Adolescents, and Mean Girls: 101½ Creative Strategies and Activities for Working with Relational Aggression.

Connie Ryan

Connie Ryan leads the statewide Interfaith Alliance of Iowa where she has been the Executive Director since 2002. Connie is a well-known voice in Iowa’s public square protecting faith and freedom and challenging Iowans to actively engage in the state’s public debate on issues of religious freedom, equality, civility, and justice. She is frequently sought by Iowa’s media and community groups to address issues at the intersection of faith and politics. She also serves as the organization’s lobbyist effectively shaping public policy during Iowa’s legislative session.

In 2010, Connie was instrumental in establishing the coalition Justice Not Politics (JNP) to protect Iowa’s courts from politicization and attacks by special interest groups. Connie remains as president of JNP, which is the state’s leading coalition on judicial independence.

Connie has served the community and built relationships through her service on several non-profit boards. She currently serves as a board member of the Friends of Iowa Legal Aid. Connie helped found and served as a board chairperson of the Iowa Immigration Education Coalition. She also previously served as board chairperson of Iowa Citizen Action Network (ICAN), board member and treasurer of the Iowa Safe Schools Task Force for GLBT Youth, and board member of One Iowa.

Connie holds a Masters in Social Work from the University of Iowa and a B.A. from Drake University.

Dr.Terrance M. Scott

Terrance Scott

Dr. Terrance M. Scott is a Professor and Distinguished University Scholar in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Louisville and is Director of the Center for Instructional and Behavioral Research in Schools (CIBRS). Having received his Ph.D. in Special Education at the University of Oregon in 1994 (with an emphasis on emotional and behaviors) he has previously been a faculty member at the Universities of Kentucky, Florida, and Oregon. He has over 120 articles, chapters, and media publications, including four books on a variety of issues in the areas of behavioral disorders and behavioral support systems and has conducted over 1000 presentations and training activities throughout the U.S., Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Norway. Dr. Scott has successfully competed for more than $13 million in external grant funding and was a 2-term editor of Beyond Behavior. In 2004 he received the Distinguished Early Career Award from the Research Division of the International Council for Exceptional Children and in 2012 he received the Outstanding National Leadership Award from the Council for Children with Behavior Disorders and was elected President of this organization in 2013. As a former counselor and teacher of students with seriously challenging behaviors, his research interests focus on school-wide prevention systems, the role of instructional variables in managing student behavior, functional behavior assessment/intervention, and scientific research in education.

Dr. Doug Stilwell

Dr. Doug Stilwell currently serves as assistant professor of educational leadership at Drake University. Prior to that his roles as a 35-year public educator included teacher, principal, director of human resources, and superintendent of the Urbandale Community School District in Urbandale, Iowa.

Upon being named superintendent of Urbandale in 2010 Doug led and facilitated district-wide efforts focused on systemic continual improvement to increase student learning, engagement, and satisfaction as well as overall organizational effectiveness. As a result of this work, the district witnessed the highest levels of student achievement in reading and math in 17 years.

Katy Swalwell

Katy Swalwell is Associate Professor and Elementary Education Program Lead in the School of Education at Iowa State University. Her most recent research focuses on how the social studies curriculum, particularly local history, can be a site for developing students’ and teachers’ critical consciousness. Born and raised in West Des Moines, she has taught K-12 social studies in Minnesota and Connecticut and has served as a teacher educator in Wisconsin and Washington, DC. She currently lives in Des Moines with her husband and three-month old daughter.

Gilmara Vila Nova-Mitchell | Ashley Earle

Gilmara Vila Nova-Mitchell has been a Professional Learning Consultant at Heartland Area Education Agency since 2006. Gilmara serves school districts in Central Iowa providing professional development to educators with a focus on equity and cultural proficiency.  She is currently assigned to serve the Des Moines Public Schools, supporting the district’s Equity effort.

Born in Brazil, Gilmara moved to the United States in 2001. She holds a Bachelor of Multicultural Education from FUMEC University (Brazil) and a MSE in School Counseling from Drake University. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior with a focus on trust in the workplace.

Prior to becoming a consultant, Gilmara led a successful teaching career for 11 years, as an elementary teacher in Brazil as well as in the United States, working in private, public, and international schools.

Gilmara lives in Iowa with her husband, Martin and two daughters, Isabella and Julia.

Ashley Earle was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania outside of Pittsburgh. She is the mother of 3 beautiful girls, Eden age 11, Isabella 8, and Charity 5. Ashley’s children attend Des Moines Public Schools. Ashley works at Nationwide in the Agribusiness department as a Workers’ Compensation Claims Adjuster. She attended ISU and just recently graduated in the Summer of 2016. Ashley has been involved with poverty simulations through Heartland AEA for over 10 years and prior with Iowa State Extension for 3 years. Ashley was born into poverty and has been an advocate in her community most of her life.  Ashley is grateful for the opportunity to share her life story with educators.

Aaron Wiemeier

Aaron Wiemeier serves as executive director of the Rocky Mountain Trauma Institute and is Dean of Students at a charter school in Colorado. He works extensively with at-risk children in the foster care and adoptive system. A specialist in the area of attachment and trauma, with a particular emphasis on the neurophysiology of trauma, he uses a practical, and often experiential community-based approach to help families and individuals overcome the effects of trauma. An adjunct professor and a regular trainer for multiple organizations in Colorado, Aaron is the author of My Feelings Workbook, which helps traumatized children understand the emotions associated with a traumatic experience. Aaron specializes in working with PTSD, anxiety, anger, children and adolescence with attachment disorder, depression and conduct/oppositional defiant disorder.

Tony Wilson

Tony Wilson

Tony has spent 30 years in a elementary school setting serving as a teacher, assistant principal, educational coordinator, and coordinator of afterschool programs. He also completed a successful military career in Iowa Air National Guard, retiring in the rank of Colonel.

Throughout these two careers, Tony understood and applied the principle of “sanctuary” to create an environment that was safe, caring, and supportive. The establishment of sanctuary enhanced his effectiveness in the classroom and as a military leader.

Tony has continued to apply the principle of “sanctuary” as a foundational tool in his work to bring about transformational changes in classrooms, corporations, correctional settings, job training programs, and in governmental agencies.

Tony is excited by emerging brain research that explains “why” sanctuary is effective, “how” the creation of sanctuary promotes success, and he is eager to share the information with others. The intentional creation of sanctuary will promote and enhance success in homes, schools, business, and in human services.
Tony is also author of a book titled, You Are Enough, aimed at helping people to effectively harness the power of Thought to create an internal sanctuary and to live a more stress-free life.