David Rendall, DM Founder, The Freak Factory, NC
During the last fifteen years, David Rendall has spoken to audiences on every inhabited continent. His clients include the US Air Force and the Australian Government, as well as companies in the Fortune 500 including, AT&T, State Farm Insurance and Ralph Lauren. Prior to becoming a speaker, he was a management professor, stand-up comedian and endurance athlete. He also managed nonprofit enterprises that provided employment for people with disabilities. He has more than twenty years of experience leading people and organizations. David has a doctor of management degree in organizational leadership, as well as a graduate degree in psychology. He is the author of three books:
The Four Factors of Effective Leadership, The Freak Factor, & The Freak Factor for Kids.
Pam Schiller, Early Childhood Curriculum Specialist, Frog Street, TX
Pam Schiller is an early childhood curriculum specialist who shares her extensive research knowledge in workshops, radio, and television interviews, and as a popular keynote speaker and author. She served as Director of the Early Childhood Department at the University of Houston, where she also directed the Lab School. Pam held the position of childcare administrator and classroom teacher in the public schools. She is the author of nine early childhood research based curriculums, including the internationally acclaimed Frog Street Pre-K, Frog Street Threes, Frog Street Toddler and Frog Street Infant programs. In addition, she has authored thirty-six children’s books, more than thirty teacher and parent resource books and a number of other creative projects such as activity books, DVDs and CDs.
Howard Glasser, MA, Founder, Children’s Success Network, AZ
Howard Glasser was trained in Clinical Psychology, earning his Master’s Degree at New York University. Howard was in working with families, with “difficult children” for many years and noticed that traditional methods utilized with challenging children were not working. Howard realized that typical methods did not work because they accidentally rewarded negativity with high exuberant energy, thereby inadvertently energizing failure. This concept lead to the creation of “The Nurtured Heart Approach.” Howard started implementing this approach in treatment with his families and utilized this approach in the other areas including the Head Start Program of Arizona. His work with Arizona Head Start Teachers, made significant progress with the children in these programs. During the previous seven years, an entire department within the mental health network was devoted to Head Start Children alone. After implementing NHA, the number of mental health referrals decreased significantly. Howard’s first book, “Transforming the Difficult Child”, was published in 1999 and recently revised in 2008. His most recent book, “Notching Up the Nurtured Heart Approach for Educators” was published in 2011. Today Howard can be found on tour around the world, teaching NHA and spreading the methodology by certifying trainers through his foundation, “Children’s Success Network.”
Patty O’Grady, PhD, Professor, The University of Tampa, Fl
Patty O’Grady’s work in the field of education and psychology spans 30 years in both early childhood and primary education. Currently, she is on the faculty of the University of Tampa. Her seminal work, Positive Psychology in the Elementary School Classroom, is published by W. W. Norton & Company (2013) and her current book on mindfulness in the classroom is in progress. Dr. O’Grady writes an expert blog for Psychology Today that is a popular educational resources with more than 100,000 page visits. Patty’s recent interview in Education Update (ASCD) highlights the importance of emotional learning as a pre-requisite for all learning. The author of numerous academic journal article, she is a member of an international research team conducting a large-scale project investigating developmental assets as a predictor of success and well-being. Patty is also a popular trainer and speaker. Most recently, she spoke at the International Festival of Positive Education (2016) in Dallas, the World Congress on Positive Psychology (2015) in Orlando, and the Learning and Brain Conference (2014) in San Francisco. Sage Publishers Knowledge Project, Psychology Series, features Patty as a guest lecturer (2016). Her PhD from the University of Maryland, College Park is in special education and developmental psychology and she is a member of the APA, NASP, IPPA, ASCD, and NAEYC.
Lynn Abelson, MS, CCC-SLP, OTR/L, Speech Language Pathologist, The Phoenix Center, NJ
Lynn is a speech-language pathologist and DIR (Developmental, Individual Difference, Relationship-based) Program Manager at The Phoenix Center, a private, not for profit school in Nutley, New Jersey. This school serves students ages 5-21 with autism and other developmental disabilities. Lynn leads staff in integrating the DIR® approach into the classroom and community.
Ellen Acuna, In-School Services Mentor, Music Together Worldwide, LLC, NJ
Ellen has eighteen years of experience as an early childhood music and movement specialist working with children birth through age five and their parents and caregivers. In addition to her teaching work, she is a mentor for other music and movement specialists at Music Together, LLC. She also presents professional development workshops for music specialists and classroom teachers, presents live webinars on topics related to music and early learning, and has presented at national conferences, including the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). She has a BA from West Chester University, where she studied Speech Communications.
Kristie Adams, MEd, VP of Programs & Services, Family Scholar House, Inc, KY
Kristie Adams, MEd is the VP, Programs & Services at Family Scholar House, where she has been for nine years. Kristie has a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with a concentration in psychology/sociology and a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. Her passion is working with and for children to have a safe and healthy childhood, so that they can grow confidently into their dreams. Kristie has worked with families and children for over 20 years. She has received training and/or certification in Music Together, Mindfulness, Conscious Discipline, MotherRead, Trauma Informed Care, Human Trafficking, Financial Empowerment, Domestic Violence, and Sexual Assault.
Laurie Anne Armstrong, MA, Early Literacy Trainer, Arapahoe Libraries, CO
Laurie Anne Armstrong has been an Early Childhood Professional for over 30 years. In that time she has worked as lead teacher, director, adjunct professor and early literacy trainer. Her experience includes working with public and private preschools, an early childhood council and a library based staff development program. Laurie Anne’s passion is training early childhood professionals, with research based, hands-on methods so teachers can apply new strategies in their classrooms. More than ever, research points to the importance of the role of teachers, caregivers and parents during the early years, and collaborative training opportunities among community partners is essential.
Melissa Arnold, Sales Consultant, Heutink USA, CA
Melissa Arnold has been an active supporter of quality educational programs for over 20 years. She is currently a consultant with Heutink USA/Educo and meets with teachers to help spread the message about the benefits of play-based learning. Prior to working with Heutink USA/Educo Melissa was an advocate for literacy and worked for Scholastic Education for over eleven years.
Michelle Attardi, MA, CCC-SLP, SLP Team Leader, Celebrate the Children, NJ
Michelle Attardi, MA, CCC-SLP has been doing clinical work for 17 years. She has been fortunate to work with hundreds of children over that time with various challenges. Michelle worked for The First Cerebral Palsy Center in Belleville, NJ where she supervised students training to be speech-language pathologists during their clinical work and at their various public school placements while employed with Montclair State University. Michelle has given a seminar about “Learned Helplessness” and has spent the past several years working privately and through contract work to provide services for children in the New Jersey Early Intervention System. Going into people’s homes has benefited me by working closely with families, who are the most important asset a child has. Michelle is passionate about the children she works with and believes in every person’s human right to reach their maximum potential.
Sheri Atwater, PhD, PPS, Professor & Director of the School Counseling Program, Loyola Marymount University, CA
Sheri Atwater is a Professor and Director of the School Counseling Program at Loyola Marymount University. She currently teaches graduate courses in individual and group counseling, counseling theories and techniques, and serves as the University supervisor to fieldwork candidates at LMU. She served as co-PI for the Los Angeles County Office of Education’s Student Mental Health Initiative, and directed the SUCCESS counseling program, a multi-year life coaching collaboration with the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Brett Baker, MEd, E-Learning Coach, North Penn School District, PA
Brett has been in the field of education since 1998. His undergraduate work was completed at Kutztown University and after a successful career in video rental, he returned to school for his teaching certificate and a Master’s Degree in Instructional Technology. The primary focus of Brett’s job now as an E-Learning Coach is the integration of iPads in grades PreK-6, but also technology in grades 7-12. Additionally, there are now class carts of laptops in 3rd, 4th, and 1:1 Chromebooks in 6th – 9th grade which he supports. Brett is instrumental in both the evaluation and selection of apps for the classroom and the actual integration of technology at all levels.
Veronica Barnes, MS, Conservation Educator, Wildlife Conservation Society-Bronx Zoo, NY
Veronica Barnes has a Master of Science degree in Zoology from North Carolina State University and is a North Carolina Certified Environmental Educator. She is currently enrolled in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Professional Certificate for Education and Interpretation program. Before coming to New York, she worked as an Environmental Specialist for the NC Department of Transportation conducting surveys of wetlands and habitat for threatened and endangered species. Veronica currently works to inspire children and families to love animals and nature as a Conservation Educator for the Wildlife Conservation Society Education Department at the Bronx Zoo.
Kenneth Barish, PhD, Clinical Professor of Psychology, Weill Cornell Medical College, NY
Kenneth Barish, PhD, is Clinical Professor of Psychology at Weill Medical College, Cornell University. He is also on the faculty of the Westchester Center for the Study of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy and the William Alanson White Institute Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy Training Program. Kenneth Barish is the author of Pride and Joy: A Guide to Understanding Your Child’s Emotions and Solving Family Problems. Pride and Joy is winner of the 2013 International Book Award (Parenting and Family) and the 2013 Eric Hoffer Book Award (Home Category). Pride and Joy is also a Mom’s Choice Awards Gold winner.
Marcie Beigel, EdD, BCBA-D, Founder & Director, Behavior + Beyond, NY
Marcie Beigel is the founder and director of Behavior + Beyond. By redesigning behavior with realistic strategies, Marcie has been transforming classrooms, families, and students since 1998. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctorate and earned her Doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is a New York State Certification Special Education Teacher, a Certified School Administrator and a Certified District Administrator. She writes a weekly blog and has appeared in NY Parenting, NBC Parenting Toolkit, and many other outlets. Her book, Love Your Classroom Again is the quintessential guide to teach positive, realistic behaviors to our children.
Kathleen Beining, DEd, Director of PreK4-Middle Grade Education, Saint Vincent College, PA
Kathleen Beining teaches early childhood and early leadership courses in the undergraduate and graduate programs. She serves on state level ECE committees and PA Key. She is ECE Club faculty adviser, SVC PreK-12th grade summer academic residential/day program director, coordinates a community service project involving over 100 SVC education students, supporting county children in need. She is a faculty fellow of the Fred Rogers Center, Rogers Scholars Advisory Board, and Neighborhood Music Visit Project Manager. Her research interest is empathy.
Julie Blair, MED, MSD, Program Lead (Special Education), Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), AZ
Julie Blair has been in the field of education for over fifteen years. She taught at the secondary level for eleven years. She was a special education teacher working with students with learning and emotional disabilities for nine years, as well as a general education English teacher. Julie earned her BAE at Arizona State University, with a dual degree in both special education and general education, and later earned a Masters in Educational Leadership and Administration from Northern Arizona University. Currently, Julie is an Assistant Director of Academic Programs and an Assistant Professor for the College of Education and working to complete her EdD in the area of Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in K-12 Leadership.
Lauren Blaszak, Executive Director, Celebrate the Children, NJ
Lauren Blaszak is one of the Co-Founders and Executive Directors of Celebrate the Children school. Lauren has extensive experience working with students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other developmental disorders for over 19 years. Prior to starting the school in 2004 in collaboration with Monica Osgood, Lauren worked as a behavioral consultant to public school districts in New Jersey and New York. In addition, her experience includes parent support and training, social skills training, supervision of home programs, supervisor of instructional teams and supporting public schools in learning about and integrating DIR® into the mainstream. She also works collaboratively with other organizations and professionals in terms of education and research of Autism and related disorders. Her accomplishments include speaking engagements at national and local conferences, trainings monthly, as well as participation in television, radio, and newspaper interviews and publications.
Kathy Boisvert, EdD, Integrated Preschool Teacher, University of Massachusetts Boston, MA
Kathy Boisvert was awarded 2016’s CEC Clarissa Hug Teacher of the Year Award and was recognized by President Obama at The White House Event to Honor Great Educators. In addition, she was awarded the 2014’s DEC Rose C. Engel Award for Excellence in Professional Practice. Kathy Boisvert received her doctorate in Health and Behavior Studies from Teachers College, Columbia University. She has taught over 20 courses at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She is also an Integrated Preschool Teacher and during the summer months, she is an International Educational Consultant for “The Hope Foundation for Autism Awareness.”
Rene Boyer, EdD, Professor Emerita of Music Education, University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music, NY
Rene Boyer, Professor Emerita of Music Education at the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music, is known internationally for her work in multicultural and urban music education. She has numerous publications, including “Out of the Mouths of Babes: Song and Poems About Me,” published by Archway. Rene received her BM, MM from Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, Illinois, and her doctorate from Washington University. She has received many awards in music education and continues to travel throughout the United States and abroad to work with children and teachers.
Suzanne Bracaglia, MSE, JASPER Consultant/Supervisor of Groups, New York Center for Infants and Toddlers, NY
Suzanne Bracaglia is currently the JASPER Consultant and Supervisor of Groups at New York Center for Infants and Toddlers. She has received intensive JASPER training through UCLA (University of California-Los Angeles). Her interests include early childhood development and autism spectrum disorders. Suzanne holds a Masters degree in School Psychology.
Nicole Briceno, MS, Early Years Network: Special Needs Credential Coordinator, Institute for Disability Studies, MS
Nicole Briceno is a Senior Inclusion and Evaluation Specialist at the Institute for Disability Studies. She currently serves as Special Needs Credential Coordinator for Early Years Network: Children with Special Needs, a collaborative effort throughout Mississippi that provides education, outreach, and services to better children, including those with special needs and their families. Early Years Network is a grant funded through Mississippi Department of Human Services, Division of Early Childhood Care and Development. In addition to her work with the Early Years Network, Nicole is an adjunct professor with The University of Southern Mississippi, department of Child and Family Studies.
Susanna Brock, Education Manager, Spellbound Theatre, NY
Susanna is a theater artist, drama teacher and music teacher who is currently the Education Manager at Spellbound Theatre. Spellbound Theatre produces plays for audiences ages 0-5 and conduct education programs and community events for families with young children. Spellbound’s unique practices centered around storytelling, puppetry and creative play reaches children and families but also teachers and administrators through their professional development program which Susanna helps to run.
Carmen Sherry Brown, EdD, Assistant Professor, Hunter College – CUNY, NY
Carmen Sherry Brown is an Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education at Hunter College, City University of New York (CUNY). She has extensive experience in the field as a classroom teacher, literacy coach, supervisor and professional development facilitator. Carmen earned her Doctorate from the University at Buffalo, State University of New York (SUNY) in elementary education with a specialization in early childhood education. Currently, she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in early language and literacy, early childhood mathematics, and the integrated seminar in early childhood in which graduate students complete their Master’s thesis.
Lisa Bruno, OTD, OTR, Related Services Coordinator, Celebrate the Children, NJ
Lisa Bruno, OTD, OTR, is a licensed Occupational Therapist with 15 years of clinical experience. She graduated from the University of Delaware with a BA in Biology and earned a Master’s of Science degree in Occupational Therapy from Seton Hall University in 2001. In May of 2015 she graduated from Misericordia University with a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy. She is SIPT (Sensory Integration & Praxis Test) certified and has experience in performing evaluations involving visual spatial, fine motor, and gross motor skills.
Jaclyn Burton, Intake Coordinator, Rochester Center for Children, MN
Jaclyn has been in the field of education since 2006. She graduated from Bethel University with a degree in Elementary Education, and is currently pursuing my Master’s Degree in Special Education. For the past 10 years she has worked at the Rochester Center for Children. RCC is a center-based ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) program that provides one-on-one therapy for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Her primary roles consist of helping families enroll in our program, and program management for each child. Additionally, Jaclyn works with families and other providers in the Rochester area to assist in transition plans for children and provide training as needed. She is grateful to be able to work with the children and families at the center and in the community each day.
Sarah Carpenter, MDEHS, Preschool Teacher, Sunshine Cottage School for Deaf Children, TX
Sarah Carpenter received a Bachelor’s of Science in Special Education from the University of Texas San Antonio and a Master’s Degree in Deaf Education and Hearing Sciences from the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio. She has 8 years of teaching experience at Sunshine Cottage School for Deaf Children. Sarah has been a Preschool lead teacher and mentor to novice teachers and graduate students. Sarah is studying for her certification as a Listening and Spoken Language Specialist. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and experiences with teaching young children as she has co-presented for numerous workshops and webinars.
Elisa Chrem, MS, CCC-SLP, MEd, Adjunct Professor, Imagine Academy for Autism, NY
Elisa Chrem holds a Masters Degree in Speech Language Pathology and in Educational Leadership. She is a member of the Profectum Foundation and is committed to infusing the DIR model at the Imagine Academy as well as in her private practice. Elisa has extensive training and experience in Augmentative Alternative Communication. She has worked with children with autism through Early Intervention, in Preschools and K-12 School Settings. She is trained in Applied Behavioral Analysis, DIR- Developmental Individualized Relationship Based Therapy, Visual Cognitive Therapy, PROMPT and the Lindamood Bell Programs. She is an Adjunct Professor at Daemen College.
Kristin Cody, Teacher of Students with Disabilities, The Phoenix Center, NJ
Kristin is a K-3 Special Education teacher at The Phoenix Center, a private, non-profit school in Nutley, New Jersey. This school serves students ages 5-21 with autism and other developmental disabilities. She holds an Educational Certificate in DIR and assists in integrating the DIR approach into the classroom. Kristin is currently attending The Graduate School at Montclair State University for a Masters in Reading. In addition, Kristin works privately with elementary students providing enrichment activities in creative writing and reading.
Tori Conicello-Emery, MA, MT-BC, Conference Presenter, Music Together LLC
Tori is a board certified music therapist. She has worked with children and families her entire career. Her experience includes the pediatric hospital and community-based services. Tori is a Music Together teacher and Music Together Within TherapyÒ provider of services in an outpatient clinic of a children’s hospital.
Marissa Curry, MA, Director of the Early Childhood Program, The Diller-Quaile School of Music, NY
Marissa Curry is the Director of the Early Childhood Program at The Diller-Quaile School of Music. She holds a BM from NYU and M.A. in Music Education, K-12 certification from Teachers College Columbia University. At Teachers College Marissa was awarded the Arthur Zankel Fellowship. She taught at Success Charter Network, originating a general music and choral program (K-4 ), and organized professional development experiences for music teachers across seven Success schools. She does this at Diller-Quaile, and also teaches music classes for EC daycare providers. Marissa is Kodaly Level 1 Certificated from NYU and has studied Dalcroze and Orff approaches.
Aleesah Darlison, Author, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Australia
Aleesah Darlison is a multi-published, award-winning Australian author. She has published thirty-five books for children and young adults including picture books, chapter books, novels and series in the contemporary fiction and fantasy genres. Aleesah has won numerous awards for her writing including an Australian Society of Authors mentorship and the Environment Award for Children’s Literature (Non-Fiction). Her short stories, articles and book reviews have appeared in various anthologies, newspapers and magazines. Aleesah travels internationally delivering talks and workshops at schools, libraries and literary festivals and conferences, teaching both adults and children the joy of books and of writing.
Louise E. Davis, PhD, Extension Child and Family Development State Specialist, Mississippi State University Extension Service, Early Years Network, MS
As an Extension Child and Family Development State Specialist, Louise has secured over $90 million in external funding to create and direct the Mississippi Child Care Resource and Referral Network and currently serves as the Executive Director of the Early Years Network. Under her leadership, the Early Years Network provides training and technical assistance services for parents, caregivers, and both licensed and unlicensed early care and education providers. The Network also operates 18 library-style resource sites and two mobile RV units providing developmentally appropriate materials and curricula across the state at no charge.
Saundra Day, Principal, Early Intervention- Stanislaus County Office of Education, CA
Saundra Day earned her Administrative Credential in 2006. She has devoted sixteen years serving as an ambassador for Special Education families and students as a paraeducator, teacher, and administrator. For the past five years, Saundra has served as Principal of a comprehensive school site for early intervention students, and continues to pave new paths for learning opportunities while implementing educational best practices. She has been recognized by her colleagues and peers at Stanislaus County Office of Education and has received the division’s most recognized award as ‘Bridge Builder of the Year’ in two consecutive years.
Jana Diamond, MSEd, SpEd, BCBA, Sr. Director of Autism and Educational Services, TheraCare, NY
Jana Diamond, MSEd, SpEd, is a licensed and board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA), dually certified in Special Education and Early Childhood Education. Jana Diamond is the Sr. Director of Autism and Educational Services at TheraCare. Since 2001 she has worked with children diagnosed with autism and challenging behaviors. She specializes in Early Intervention and Preschool services, training staff, creating behavior intervention plans for children with high needs and curriculum planning. Jana has had many years implementing and working with staff on family centered best practices in Early Intervention. She is well-versed on behavior modification strategies and Applied Behavior Analysis methodologies.
Danielle Dieckmann, PT, DPT, PT Team Leader, Celebrate the Children, NJ
Danielle Dieckmann, PT, DPT is a licensed Physical Therapist by the New Jersey State Board of Physical Therapy. She has over 11 years of clinical experience working with children with congenital and developmental delays. Danielle graduated from Northeastern University with a Bachelors of Science in Rehabilitation Science and a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. She has received training in the DIR-FCD model by Profectum Foundation and has attended numerous courses on reflex integration. Danielle also enjoys coaching athletes for Special Olympics.
Melissa Donofrio, MA, BCBA, Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Celebrate the Children, NJ
Melissa Donofrio is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) as well as a certified Special Education Teacher and Preschool through Grade 3 Teacher. She is the owner and Clinical Director of Partners in Development, LLC. She has been working with children with developmental disabilities since 2000, and began her career at Teachers College, Columbia University. Melissa has experience as an ABA classroom teacher and as a district-based BCBA as well as focused her work in collaborative Early Intervention programs and providing home/community based ABA/VB services for learners through 21. She is formally trained in PROMPT, PECS, and American Sign Language.
Marilena Drakopoulou, MSED, Director of ABA Services, Los Niños Services, NY
Marilena has been working in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) since 1996. Since that time having held a variety of positions until moving to Los Ninos in 2010 as the ABA Clinical Supervisor and later as Director of ABA services. She has serviced children across all boroughs ranging in ages from 1-21, and a variety of cultural backgrounds. Marilena received my master’s degree in Special Education from Long Island University (C.W Post). She later went on to completing required course work for my BCBA at Hunter College and currently waiting to take the BCBA exam. Marilena has presented on the topic of ABA for several local conferences and is a member of multiple professional organizations that are devoted to the advancement of Applied Behavior Analysis.
Meghan Duffy, MA, CCC-SLP, Clinical Supervisor, Theracare, NY
Meghan Duffy, MA, CCC-SLP, received her Bachelor of Science in Communication Disorders from the SUNY Geneseo, and completed her Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology at University of Buffalo. She did her clinical fellowship with TheraCare in early intervention and has worked in a variety of clinic environments to date. Meghan is passionate about partnering with families, and working to empower them to support their child’s individual needs. Meghan has expertise in using family centered embedded coaching models, and working with children who have a range of speech-language and feeding needs, including medically complex or multiple needs children.
Kisha Edwards-Gandsy, Co-Founder, NY City Explorers, NY
Kisha Edwards-Gandsy is a presenter, author and successful entrepreneur. She is the Co-Founder of NY City Explorers Group and the soon to open Portland Explorers Academy, a collective of family-focused childcare companies. For the past ten years, she has led her companies to marked growth which include the founding of NY City Explorers Academy, a private preschool located in the historic Brooklyn Friends Meeting House; Backpacks & Binoculars, a discovery and travel-based school-aged camp and afterschool program; and Bag-of-Tricks Babysitting, an in-home and special event sitting agency. She is a member of The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, The National Association for the Education of Young Children, and The Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. Originally from rural Pelzer, SC, this presenter moved to NYC to study Dramatic Writing at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and now resides in Brooklyn, NY.
Diane Eldridge, RN, Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant, Handwriting Without Tears, VA
Diane Eldridge has provided therapy as a certified occupational therapy assistant to children in the Virginia public school system for over fifteen years. She earned a degree as a certified occupational therapist from Madison Area Technical College and a degree as a registered nurse. She is currently working as a registered nurse and tutoring children privately for handwriting remediation. Diane is a National Presenter for Handwriting Without Tears and is responsible for presentations at national and state educational conferences, local schools and districts to share her expertise in the fields of writing readiness, early literacy, penmanship and remediation.
Elizabeth M. Elliott, PhD, Professor of Early Childhood Education, Florida Gulf Coast University, FL
Elizabeth M. Elliott is a Professor of Early Childhood Education at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU). She is an expert in the field of early childhood education through her publications and presentations with particular interest in leadership training, teacher preparation, and emergent literacy. Elizabeth conducts leadership trainings and workshops on a variety of topics including, leadership development, professionalism, virtual and distance learning. During her tenure in education, she has presented at the international, national, state, and local levels on many educational issues. She has been a public school teacher and currently is the Director of the Family Resource Center at FGCU, the Educational Research Center for Child Development Lab School, an NAEYC accredited center.
Fraida Flaishman, MA, OTR, Therapy Supervisor, Smartbaby Inc., NY
Fraida Flaishman MA, OTR, graduated from NYU in 1995 with an MA in Occupational Therapy. Fraida works as the therapy supervisor at The Yaldeinu School, runs a private practice, and lectures for the Touro College OT program. Fraida provides school consultation and conferences, conducts evaluations and provides treatment planning for families. Fraida is the creator of the DVD Child Development series “Baby Instructions” illustrating appropriate stimulation for infant and toddler Development. Current research includes the effects of a reflex integration program on school age children. Fraida is a PhD candidate focusing on Health Services/ Administration, and rare genetic disorders.
Gilbert Foley, EdD, Consulting Clinical Director, NY Center for Child Development, NY
Gil Foley, EdD, a psychologist and educator, is Consulting Clinical Director, NY Center for Child Development and Consulting Psychologist and faculty of Profectum and the Institute for Parenting at Adelphi University. He is a retired tenured faculty member from the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology of Yeshiva University. Dr. Foley authored the “Cognitive Observation Guide”,”The Supportive Play Model”, the “Loss-Grief Model” and co-autjored with Dr. Jane Hochman, “Mental Health in Early Intervention: Achieving Unity in Principles and Practice”, as well as many other publications. He has worked in just about every service delivery model for young children and lectures widely nationally and internationally.
Leigh Fox, MLIS, Assistant Manager, Brooklyn Public Library, NY
Leigh Fox has worked in the Youth Services departments of public libraries for eleven years. Originally hailing from libraries on the West Coast of Florida, she has also worked at the Washington D.C Public Library before ending up in New York City. Leigh is currently the Assistant Manager at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Youth Wing, where you will often find her conducting first five years programs (with her favorite fish puppet) for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. She is interested in incorporating children’s literature, art, storytelling, music, puppetry, crafting and early childhood education into library early literacy programs.
Judy Fuhrman, MS, Speech Language Pathologist, Riverside Unified School District, CA
Judy Fuhrman is a licensed speech-language pathologist with varied therapeutic experience including rehabilitative, clinical, itinerant, and classroom settings. Her expertise is in higher order language function and its relationship to literacy. Judy has presented at state, national, and international conferences, including the U.S. Department of Education’s National Comprehensive Literacy Institute, The European Conference on Literacy, and the Reading Association of Ireland. She currently works as a Staff Development Specialist and curriculum writer for reading and writing intervention, preschool to high school, in Riverside, California, USA.
Rocio Galarza, MA, Assistant Vice President, Sesame Workshop, NY
Rocio Galarza serves as Assistant Vice President, Community Engagement for Sesame Workshop. Rocio manages the development of educational content and research for a range of multimedia projects, including initiatives addressing the needs of military families during complex transitions, those providing strategies to promote early language development, and engaging families in emergency preparedness. As an expert in early childhood development and the needs of young children, Rocio works with advisors to ensure that the content of Sesame Street’s outreach initiatives is age-appropriate, appealing and effective in motivating families to use their everyday routines as learning moments for young children. Rocio previously served as the Senior Education and Research Specialist for Sesame Workshop’s International Research Department. She holds a Masters of Arts from Teacher’s College, Columbia University.
Sima Gerber, PhD, Professor of Speech-Language Pathology in the Department of Linguistics and Communication Disorders, Queens College, NY
Sima Gerber is a Professor of Speech-Language Pathology in the Department of Linguistics and Communication Disorders of Queens College, CUNY. She has over 40 years of clinical experience, specializing in the treatment of children with autistic spectrum disorders. Sima is on the faculty of Profectum and the Advisory Board of the New York Zero-to-Three Network. She has presented on the topics of language acquisition and developmental approaches to language intervention. Sima has received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the New York State Speech-Language-Hearing Association and is a Fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Linda Gerra, EdD, Director of Children’s Vision Programs, Lighthouse Guild, NY
Linda Gerra has a Master’s in Early Childhood from Wheelock College and a Doctorate from Teachers’ College, Columbia. She is an expert in the field of blindness and visual impairment, specifically the education of children and young adults. She is certified in Special Education, Visual Impairment and Blindness, and Supervision and Administration in Special Education. She has been an early interventionist, special education teacher, evaluator, program administrator, teacher trainer, and college professor in the areas of visual impairment, teaching, and parent involvement. Her focus is to provide appropriate education to children with visual impairment and blindness.
Amy Goerl, MA, BCBA, Early Childhood Special Education Consultant, HighScope Foundation, NJ
Amy Goerl is currently consults in early childhood and special education. She provides consultant services to public preschool and kindergarten programs, as well as Head Start and community based child care programs nationally. Services include program quality consultation, staff coaching and professional development workshops tailored to the client’s goal set. Frequently requested topics include Embedded Intervention for Children with Special Needs, Including Children with Autism, Positive Behavior Support i and Active Learning. Currently Amy provides training for the GrowNJKids workforce through both Rutgers’ University and Montclair State University. Presentations are developed to meet the requirements of New Jersey’s Quality Rating Improvement System.
Cindy Goldrich, EdM, ACAC, Board Certified ADHD Coach, PTS Coaching: ADHD Education and Support, NY
Cindy Goldrich is a Board Certified ADHD Coach. She specializes in providing education, coaching and support for parents, educators and mental health professionals to help children with ADHD and Executive Function Deficits succeed at home, in school, and in life. She received her Master’s in Education in Counseling Psychology from Columbia University. She is the author of 8 Keys to Parenting Children with ADHD, based on her nationally offered workshop series, Calm and Connected: Parenting Children with ADHD©. She provides professional development workshops and presentations nationwide.
Jamie Goldring, MA, Speech and Language Pathologist, Memphis Jewish Community Center, TN
Jamie Goldring, an experienced teacher, has been working with children for more than thirty years. She earned her BA in Sociology from California State University and her MA in Speech Pathology from the University of Memphis. She is the author of Discover ME, Teaching Children Self-Control, and Tools and Techniques for Teaching Children Self-Control. These resource books, for teachers and parents, are designed to teach children the skills and strategies they need to control their impulses. Jamie is also the author of I Believe, a children’s storybook and CD and three posters: Peace, Believe, and Self-Control.
Sarah Grantano, MA, Assistant Superintendent, Stanislaus County Office of Education, CA
With over 22 years of experience in education, Sarah began her career in early childhood education and now as the assistant superintendent of special education and health services for Stanislaus county Office of Education. She is dedicated to pioneering ways to provide successful, meaningful and supportive educational practices for all children. She was awarded “Special Education Administrator of the Year” by the Association of California Administrators (ACSA), region VII, was also honored by Soroptimist International of Modesto as a “Woman of Distinction” and received a “Career Professional Service” award from Delta Kappa Gamma.
Donna Grover, El. Ed, Education Support Specialist, Goddard Systems, Inc, NJ
Donna has been in the field of Early Childhood for more that 25 years. She has taught at all levels from infants through Pre-K, but has a special place in her heart for toddlers! She focuses most of her trainings on the toddler age to encourage more professionalism in the 0-3 population. She have served as a trainer for Goddard Systems for over 12 years, now concentrating on opening new schools and training new directors and teachers.
Theresa Hamlin, EdD, Associate Executive Director, The Center for Discovery, NY
Theresa Hamlin, EdD, author of Autism and The Stress Effect, is the Associate Executive Director of The Center for Discovery, a New York State designated Center of Excellence in the care and treatment of children with autism spectrum disorders and other complex disorders. She has been designing and evaluating programs for children with complex disorders for more than 30 years. Terry lectures nationally and internationally about the physical, mental and social development of children as they relate to health and educational practices for those with complex developmental disorders. She has a keen interest on the effects of chronic stress in children with complex disorders, and how that stress affects learning and health.
Michele Havens, EdD, Imagine Academy, NJ
Michele Havens is currently the DIR Consultant to the Imagine Academy, a school for children with ASD, utilizing DIR-Floortime and ABA. She is a full time Professor at Kean University in Union, NJ, and adjunct at Montclair State University, in Montclair, NJ. Michele works privately as an advocate for families of children with disabilities, and is also a speaker at numerous conferences on special education, Autism and early childhood development. She was previously the teacher/coordinator/parent group facilitator of the Verona Preschool Intervention Program, a preschool disabilities program in Essex County, NJ.
Rebecca Hershberg, PhD, Director of Early Childhood, Ramapo for Children, NY
Rebecca Hershberg is a clinical psychologist, with degrees from the University of Virginia and Yale University, who specializes in early childhood social-emotional development and mental health. Prior to her current role as Director of Early Childhood at Ramapo for Children, she was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the Director of Training and Quality for Healthy Steps at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore. She is also the founder of Little House Calls Psychological Services and a Program Affiliate of the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at NYU.
Patience Hill, Community Engagement Specialist, Child Care Aware® of America, VA
Patience is the Community Engagement Specialist for the Vroom Partnership at Child Care Aware® of America (CCAoA). She has previously worked as a Provider Liaison Specialist and Background Check Specialist under National Programs at CCAOA. Patience earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing and is currently completing the Event Management Certificate Program at George Washington University. Patience has experience as a business social media specialist, event planner, marketing professional and entrepreneur.
Staci Hitzke, MEd, Director of Professional Development, Kaplan Early Learning Company, MN
Staci Hitzke has been actively involved in the early childhood education field for almost 25 years. She began her career working in child care centers, both teaching and managing programs. After several years in centers, Staci transitioned into learning and development – discovering a passion for educating adults that work with young children. Today, Staci is the Director of Professional Development for Kaplan Early Learning Company. In this role she works with 40+ educational consultants and trainers to support thousands of teachers and children nationwide.
Liza Marshall Kali, MSHS, OTR, Occupational Therapist, Celebrate the Children, NJ
Liza Marshall Kali, MSHS, BS, OTR is a licensed Occupational Therapist with 18 years of clinical experience. She graduated from Elizabethtown College with a degree in Occupational Therapy and received a post-professional Master’s Degree in movement science from Seton Hall University Graduate Medical School. She is an Intermediate DIR® clinician and is an active DIR® certification candidate through Profectum. She has extensive visual spatial evaluation and treatment experience.
Maria Kodjoe, MSEd, Vice President – Behavioral Services, New York Center for Infants and Toddlers, NY
Maria Kodjoe is a New York State Certified Early Childhood Special Education teacher with over 15 years of experience working with young children diagnosed with ASD. She started as a classroom based head teacher using ABA Curriculum in preschool and early intervention settings. She is now the Vice President of Behavioral Services at the New York Center for Infants and Toddlers- overseeing behaviorally based teaching for children in both early intervention and preschool settings. Maria oversees a team of up to 75 clinicians- including BCBA’s, Special Education teachers and teaching assistants providing autism intervention services in both home and center based settings.
Zsuzsanna Kiraly, PhD, RYT-500, Director, Hagin School Consultation Centers, Fordham University, NY
Zsuzsanna Kiraly, PhD, RYT-500, is a clinical professor at Fordham University Graduate School of Education and the director of the Hagin School Consultation Centers. She is a licensed psychologist with 25 years of clinical, teaching, and training experience, both in school and university settings. Her areas of expertise include: child development; childhood learning and emotional disorders; and psychoeducational assessment. Zsuzanna is also a certified yoga teacher and has been dedicated to integrate mind-body practices into her work to support children’s attention capacity, self-regulation skills, and social-emotional adjustment. She is actively involved in introducing yoga and mindfulness-based practices into the schools via the Yoga 4 Classrooms® program, of which she is a licensed trainer. Zsusanna’s work focuses on utilizing yoga and other meditative practices in building coping skills and solid foundations for self-development
Andrea Knowlton, Director of Early Childhood Education, Napa County Office of Education, CA
Andrea Knowlton has been working in the field of early childhood development for 38 years. Her expertise is in the area of program development, early childhood special education, and full inclusion preschool services. For the past 4 years she and a team at NCOE have developed a digital early learning program which includes ongoing staff development and coaching, based on an implementation rubric developed by an interdepartmental team.
Ingrid Ladendorf, MA, Early Childhood Advisor, The Diller-Quaile School of Music, NY
Ingrid Ladendorf has a Masters degree in Music Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and a dual Bachelors degree in Performance & Music Education from Ithaca College. At The Diller-Quaile School of Music in Manhattan since 1996, she teaches young children through adult students as a Teacher Training course Instructor. At FPCNS, a Reggio inspired preschool in Greenwich Village, Ingrid taught inclusion classes for children on the Autism Spectrum. She currently teaches undergraduate Music Education students and serves as a Student Teaching Supervisor at The College of NJ, and directs the Joyful Noise children’s choir at NPC, in Princeton, NJ.
Mary M. LaMantia, Senior Director, Child Care Aware® of America, VA
Mary serves Child Care Aware® of America as Senior Director leading the Vroom Partnership, a Family Engagement and Outreach project. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Tennessee in Education/early childhood and earned Associate and Master Certificates in Project Management from ESI International/George Washington University. Mary held various leadership roles: consultant, federal projects senior staff, distance education trainer, public television education trainer; host of audio and video-live broadcasts with ECPDN in the Early Head Start Distance Learning Series; trained infant toddler teachers in Kyrgyzstan; and private contractor with the Child Care and Head Start Bureaus.
Stephanie Lester, MA, Educational Consultant, Antelope Valley College, CA
Stephanie Lester’s 35 years in education include: Preschool, Project-Based Learning Multiage K-1st program, Professional Development Speaker, author, Assistant Principal, Child and Family Education college instructor, Early Childhood Education Director, Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment Director and is currently an Educational Consultant. Stephanie believes that children learn best when they are excited and engaged in the learning process while participating in developmentally appropriate Project-Based activities. Stephanie has published two books: Year Round Project-Based Activities for STEM and Science Through the Year. Stephanie is passionate about educating and motivating teachers to implement Project-Based Learning through science activities.
Emily Little, MA, Doctoral Candidate, University of California, San Diego, CA
Emily Little is a PhD candidate in developmental psychology at University of California, San Diego, whose research focuses on the role of infant-caregiver physical contact in early social and cognitive development. She has conducted fieldwork in Vanuatu, Bolivia, and Guatemala and published in academic journals on cross-cultural differences in childrearing practices. She has extensive international outreach and education experience working as a preschool teacher in Thailand, designing Kangaroo Mother Care curriculums for maternal health centers in Guatemala, volunteering as a Babywearing Educator in San Diego, and contributing as a science writer for the TulaBaby blog.
Janet London, MS, CCC-SLP, Speech Pathologist, Imagine Academy for Autism, NY
Janet London has been a practicing Speech Pathologist for over 40 years. She served as a Staff Developer for the NYC Dept. of Education where she trained speech therapists on how to better serve the speech and language needs of severely handicapped students with multiple physical and cognitive deficits including Cerebral Palsy and Autism. She currently has a private practice and is a consultant for Imagine Academ. She evaluates non-verbal or limited verbal students for Augmentative devices and supports staff on how to facilitate the maximum use of those devices.
Lauren Maples, Founder & Director, Bija Kids, NY
Lauren Maples is the Founder and Director of Bija, a progressive preschool in Brooklyn, NY. Lauren founded Bija on the belief that education should shape children into aware, kind, and creative global citizens. Food, art, sustainability, and social justice are interwoven in the daily experience for all Bija students. Lauren writes and speaks about nature education, play, mindfulness, children’s yoga, and food justice. She lives in Beacon, NY on a half acre homestead with her two dogs. She has trained over 300 NYC school teachers in techniques to bring yoga and meditation into the classroom.
Sonia Marotta, Principal, English Montreal School Board, Canada
Principal at Honoré Mercier Elementary School, Sonia Marotta holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education and two Certificates in Educational Leadership from McGill University. A passionate leader who believes students need to lead their learning in class and give purpose to their work. Flip Classroom, Podcasts, and international exchange learning projects are some of her initiatives in her various schools. She held roles as Vice Principal, McGill Figure Skating Varsity Captain, Physical Educator, Italian TV sport host, figure skating coach and personal trainer.
Julie Marzano, MS, OTR/L, Occupational Therapist, Fine Motor Boot Camp, LLC, PA
Julie is a licensed Occupational Therapist working in a public preschool program. She graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA where she received her Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy. After graduating, Julie received her Master of Science from Temple University in 2004 with a focus in sensory integration and early intervention. She is currently enrolled at the University of Medical Sciences in Avondale, Arizona in their with an expected graduation date of 2017 with an Occupational Therapy Doctorate.
Rusty May, MA, Creator of SchoolToolsTv, Bullying & School Safety Foundation, DE
Rusty May has a Master’s degree in school counselor, is the creator of SchoolToolsTv and a national teacher trainer for the Center for Teacher Effectiveness. She is a passionate educator who believes in unconditional positive regard for every student, that teaching succeeds where punishment fails and that learning behaviors must be taught in order for students to get the most of their educational experience and for teachers to experience the satisfaction they so deeply deserve in their chosen profession. Rusty has made this presentation over 500 times to educators over in the last 12 years.
Emily McCarthy, MS, CCC-SLP, Speech-Language Pathologist, Fine Motor Boot Camp, LLC, PA
Emily is a nationally certified and licensed, Speech-Language Pathologist in Pennsylvania. She graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences. After graduating, Emily received her Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology from LaSalle University in Philadelphia, PA. She was previously employed by the public school system for 12 years and is now an independent contractor.
Karen McDowell, Program Coordinator, Celebrate the Children, NJ
Karen McDowell is a special needs educator with over 25 years experience working with the adolescent and young adult population. She is a faculty member of Profectum and educator at Celebrate the Children. She strives to implement a comprehensive and innovative developmental curriculum into her work that keeps the unique profiles of individuals in mind. Areas of interest and study include executive functioning, visual spatial processing, emotional regulation, and problem solving that support independence, success, and happiness within the demands of the 21st century.
Jane Montgomery, MEd, Director of Peachtree Presbyterian Preschool, Peachtree Presbyterian Preschool, GA
Jane Montgomery is the Director of Peachtree Presbyterian Preschool in Atlanta. The inclusion school has 400 children with 25 children with special needs. She is a member of the Pedagogical Steering Committee of Inspired Practices in Early Education, Inc. and Project Infinity, a research collaborative. Jane was the 2007 recipient of the Dare to Dream award by Adaptive Learning Center for work with inclusion. She has served on The Atlanta Day Shelter for Women and Children Board and developed a program for homeless children. She is currently enrolled in Harvard Graduate School in the Certificate in Advanced Leadership program.
Caroline Moore, MA, Summer Music Study Program Director, The Diller-Quaile School of Music, NY
Caroline Moore is the Summer Music Study Program Director, an Early Childhood Advisor, and the EC Preschool Music and Art June Program Director at The Diller-Quaile School of Music. Caroline is also the Executive Director and Chief Facilitator of Moore Arts Collaborative, LLC, which provides music lessons, classes, teacher training, and support for schools, preschools, day care centers, and arts organizations. Caroline holds a BA from New York University’s Gallatin School, an MA in Music and Music Education from Teachers College at Columbia University, and is currently a PhD Candidate in Music and Human Learning at UT Austin.
Heather Monroe-Ossi, EdD, Florida Institute of Education at the University of North Florida, FL
Heather Monroe-Ossi has a passion for innovative technology integration and a practical classroom mindset that drives her research interests in early childhood teaching and learning. Her professional focus includes collaborating with community partners focused on improving academic outcomes for at-risk students and their families. She enjoys partnering with fellow researchers and educators to develop, field-test, and implement innovative professional learning initiatives for early childhood educators to improve instructional practice using a variety of technological tools and research-based instructional strategies.
Heni Mozes, MS, Supervisor of the Lakewood Public Preschool Programs, Lakewood Public School District, NJ
Heni Mozes is the Supervisor of the Lakewood Public Preschool Programs, which services approximately 400 preschool students including 125 with IEPs. Working within the framework of a public school system, she has designed and supported programs to meet a range of students with a variety of intervention styles, including DIR and ABA. She is passionate about early childhood education and advocates for all children to have the opportunity to enjoy a high quality preschool experience. Prior to being an administrator, Heni was a preschool teacher in both special education and general education settings and remains a preschool teacher at heart.
Michael Napolitano, MA, Founder, Preschool of Rock, NJ
Michael Napolitano, founder of the popular Preschool of Rock music program, is well aware that rhythm, an intrinsic aspect of childhood, provides the skills necessary for individual development and a framework for social connections with other children. Michael’s has been trained in the Reggio Emilia approach of education during his three year tenure as Music Specialist at the Blue School in NYC. He continues to develop and evolve his style of teaching with new and progressive methods. Preschool of Rock is redefining music education for the young child by inspiring creativity confidence, and freedom through caring roll models, innovative curriculum and culturally diverse instruments.
Marisa Neeson, MEd, North Penn School District Preschool Outreach Coordinator, North Penn School District, PA
Marisa has been in the field of education since her 1993 graduation with a degree in elementary and early childhood education. Beginning her career teaching in an urban district, Marisa taught science and ELA. After earning a MED in elementary education with a focus on family engagement, Marisa expanded her career to include adult education teaching CPE courses for educators and workshops for families. This is her fourth year as the Preschool Outreach Coordinator for the NPSD. The primary focus of Marisa’s job is to build the bridge between the school district and the preschools in order to best prepare our earliest learners for success.
Barbara Nemko, PhD, Napa County Superintendent of Schools, Napa County Office of Education, CA
Barbara Nemko has been Napa County Superintendent of Schools since 1997. She served on the Transition and Technology Task Forces for California’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and previous State committees including the Master Plan. She was named Legislative Advocate for CUE in 2012 and Public Policy Advocate for ISTE in 2014. Barbara’s career began at P.S. 13 in Elmhurst, Queens. After moving to California and earning her PhD from Berkeley in 1981, she worked at UC Davis evaluating pilot programs for the California Department of Education. She is passionate about implementing the digital transition and closing the achievement gap.
Tiffany Ohlson, PhD, Reserch Fellow for Early Learning and Literacy, Florida Institute of Education at the University of North Florida, FL
Tiffany Ohlson, Research Fellow for Early Learning and Literacy, PhD, Florida Institute of Education at the University of North Florida, has extensive experience in K-12 public education, professional learning, school improvement, and educational reform. Tiffany has a strong background in curriculum and instruction related to literacy with a concentration in students’ comprehension of informational text. Her current research focuses on the integration of iPads, Web 2.0 tools, and informational texts into early childhood literacy instruction.
Barb O’Neill, EdD, Consultant, Barb O’Neill Consulting, CA
Barb O’Neill, EdD, helps teachers transform children’s use of challenging behavior using a unique theater-arts based methodology. She has previously worked as a preschool teacher, a special education teacher, and an early childhood professor. She has studied and written about the use of improv-based play support and the theater arts as tools to promote the inclusion of children with disabilities and prevent children’s use of challenging behavior. You can find her at www.barboneill.net.
Monica G. Osgood, Executive Director, Profectum, NJ
Monica has worked in homes, therapy centers, and private and public school settings for over 20 years.Her experience has included assessment and the development of intervention programs, curriculum and IEP development, and parent and professional training. In 1998 Monica created the first public school program with the DIR approach as the core philosophy and in 2004 co-founded the Celebrate the Children School (CTC) in Denville, NJ. Additional accomplishments include many speaking engagements at conferences and participation in television, radio and newspaper interviews across the USA, Wales, Ireland and Amsterdam. Monica and CTC were featured in a TIME Magazine cover story in May of 2006.
Michele Parkins, MS, OT, Occupational Therapist, STAR Institute, NJ
Michele Parkins is an occupational therapist and Director of Great Kids Place in Rockaway,NJ, specializing in working with children with sensory processing disorder and autism. Michele has been using and teaching the DIR model for over ten years. She is a fellow of Dr. Lucy Jane Miller and faculty of both Profectum Academy and the Sensory Treatment and Research Institute. She co-developed Connect Experience Write®, using music and movement to teach letter formation and pre-writing skills. Michele is passionate about working with families and other therapists and she continues to do so as a clinician and educator.
Keith L. Pentz, MA, National Early Childhood Specialist, Kaplan Early Learning Company, FL
Keith L. Pentz, National Early Childhood Specialist for Kaplan Early Learning Company, has been in the field of education for more than 35 years. Keith began his career by working in childcare with infants and toddlers, taught elementary students as well as Kindergarten, and then taught PreKindergarten. Following his experiences in the classroom, Keith moved on to teach at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida, and he also was an Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, before beginning his career as a consultant.
Lisa Poelle, MA, Child Care Consultant, Pacific Kid, NY
Lisa Poelle has more than thirty years of experience in early childhood education and child care consultation, having provided training and technical assistance to far more than a hundred ECE programs. Nationally, she is a frequent featured speaker and a professional development trainer on multiple topics. She has worked as a college professor, parent educator, preschool teacher, student teacher supervisor, and classroom/playground designer. She offers customized consultation on managing challenging behaviors, making environmental improvements, curriculum, etc. Lisa Poelle has degrees in Early Childhood Education and Human Development. She is the author of The Biting Solution. Her website is www.stopthefightingandbiting.com.
Daniel Posner, MD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mt Sinai Hospital, NY
Daniel Posner, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry in the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt Sinai Hospital where he divides his time between research, private practice and teaching in the department of psychiatry at Mt-Sinai-St-Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center. His areas of expertise include psychodynamic psychiatry, the integration of neuro-science and psychotherapy in psychiatric residency training and, more recently, the importance of embodied cognition and movement approaches in the treatment of childhood psychiatric conditions including the Waldon Approach for children with neuro-developmental disorders.
Robin Prothro, MS, OTR/L, Pediatric Occupational Therapist, Clarendon School District 2, SC
Robin Prothro, MS, OTR/L is a Pediatric Occupational Therapist with ten years experience. She graduated from the Medical University of South Carolina with a Master of Science in Rehabilitation Science in Occupational Therapy. She has been a school-based occupational therapist for the past eight years, specializing in developmental delays, sensory integration, ADHD, learning disabilities, and handwriting. She has been presenting locally and nationally, for the past eight years, on various topics such as fine motor skills, handwriting, sensory integration, and motor skills and academics.
Cynthia Rainbow, MS, ED, Elementary Educator, The Rainbow Affect, NY
Cynthia Rainbow is an elementary educator who began teaching 15 years ago in East Orange, New Jersey and transitioned to NYC where she currently teaches. Cynthia’s area of expertise is in classroom management and creating a culture in her classroom that boosts her students’ self-worth barometers and eliminates challenging behavior. Her teaching degrees are from SUNY Cortland and Adelphi University. Cynthia also has a certification in TCI-Therapeutic Crisis Intervention. She was a semi-finalist for the Big Apple Award in New York City. Cynthia’s website, The Rainbow Affect, is filled with behavioral resources and techniques for teachers.
Patty Randall, Director of Educational Practices, Peachtree Presbyterian Preschool, GA
Patty Randall has taught elementary school and preschool and is currently serving as the Co-Director Of Educational Practices in a large Atlanta preschool. The presenter has been instrumental in the formation of a pedagogical leadership team at her current school. She has completed over 300 hours of professional development in the past two years and most recently has participated in four Reggio Children Study Tours to Reggio Emilia. She serves on the Pedagogical Steering Committee of Inspired Practices in Early Education, Inc. The presenter has developed a program utilizing video as a tool for teachers to assess their language in the classroom and developmentally appropriate practices. Patty has used collaborative professional development to analyze the values of family engagement which resulted in a comprehensive plan for her school.
Claudia Rebolledo, Nationally Endorsed Cultural Competence Trainer, Guilford Child Development Regional Child Care Resource and Referral, NC
Claudia has over 16 years’ experience in the field of ECE. She has been recognized twice as the Notable Latina of the Triad; RttT ELC in Cultural Competence, is certified trainer FCCH Pre-Licensing, Improving the Quality of Child Care Programs through Coaching, certified Interpreter. She also serves as the co-chair of Professional Development workgroup for the NC Diversity in Leadership Alliance. Her memberships include: NAEYC, AmeriCorps, NC Association of Hispanic Professionals, North Carolina Society of Hispanic Professionals. She holds an AAS in ECE /Teaching from Stanly Community College and a BA in Psychology from Kaplan University.
Michelle Rehse, MA, Early Elementary Teacher, Celebrate the Children, NJ
Michelle Rehse is presently an early elementary teacher at the Celebrate the Children: A School for Children with Alternative Learning Styles in Denville, New Jersey. She has taught the past seventeen years in both public and private schools, where she has implemented the Developmental Individual Relationship-based model that was developed by Drs. Stanley Greenspan and Serena Weider.
Kimberly Resua, MT, Developmental Research Interventionist, Marcus Autism Center, GA
Kimberly Resua, MT is a developmental research interventionist at the Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Kimberly received her Bachelor’s in Psychology and Master’s in Early Childhood Special Education at the University of Virginia, and completed a post-graduate fellowship in Child Development and Early Childhood Education at Yale University. Kimberly has worked as an educator with the birth to five population in early childhood special education, daycare, and early intervention settings. At the Marcus Autism Center, Kimberly works within the Research Department providing treatment to toddlers at risk for autism spectrum disorder.
Shulamit Ritblatt, PhD, Professor in Child & Family Development Department, San Diego State University, CA
Shulamit Ritblatt is Professor in Child & Family Development Department, at San Diego State University. She received her PhD in Child and Family Development from Florida State University in 1993. Prior to coming to the USA, she worked as a clinical child psychologist in Israel after completion of her master’s in Clinical Child Psychology in Tel Aviv University. She is an expert in early childhood social emotional development with the focus on early childhood mental health and learning readiness.
Christopher Rosado, MS, BCBA, Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Quality Behavioral Solutions (QBS), RI
Christopher Rosado, MS, BCBA, is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst from Providence, Rhode Island. He is a Master Trainer at QBS where he trains behavior safety programs (Safety-Care) to various organization serving individuals that engage in challenging behavior across the United States and Canada. He’s had the opportunity to work with school, residential, homebased, and summer camp programs for individuals with challenging behavior. His current areas of interest include behavior skills training, functional assessment methodologies, and the use of technology to enhance behavior interventions.
Jenna Rist, Teacher, Bing Nursery School at Stanford University, CA
Jenna Rist is a teacher at Bing Nursery School, the laboratory school for the Stanford University School of Humanities and Sciences, working with two- to five-year-olds. In addition, she is currently completing her MA in Interdisciplinary Education with a focus on Curriculum and Instruction at Santa Clara University. Jenna’s passions lie in learning through play, inclusive teaching of children with special needs and behavioral challenges, as well as in parent and educator outreach in her community.
Froma P. Roth, PhD, CCC-SLP, Professor Emeritus, University of Maryland, Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences, MD
Professor Froma P. Roth, Professor Emeritus, University of Maryland, College Park, is a Board Certified Specialist in Child Language and member of the National Joint Council on Learning Disabilities. Her many publications emphasize issues related to treatment of language and emergent literacy in early childhood She co-authors: Treatment Resource Manual for Speech-Language Pathology (5th edition, 2016), a basic textbook on speech and language intervention and lead author of PASS (Promoting Awareness of Speech Sounds), a research-supported phonological awareness curriculum for young learners. Professor Roth also is lead author of two instructional volumes of RTI in Action published by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Stacy Rucker, MED, MS, Program Lead (Early Childhood), Grand Canyon University in Early Childhood Programs, AZ
Stacy received her Bachelor’s degree from Southwest Missouri State University in Early Childhood education and her Master’s degree from Northern Arizona University. She’s certified in Early Childhood Education and is also a K-12 Reading Specialist. She spent 10 years teaching in pre-k through third grade classrooms in the public school setting. For the last two years, she has been a Subject Matter Expert and an adjunct for Grand Canyon University in Early Childhood programs, and has worked on the Curriculum Design and Development team writing programs and courses for multiple colleges within the University.
Zina Rutkin, PhD, Director of Competent Kids, Caring Communities (CKCC), Ackerman Institute for the Family, NY
Zina Rutkin is the Director of Competent Kids, Caring Communities (CKCC), Ackerman Institute for the Family’s social-emotional learning program, having worked closely with the late Dr. Marcia Stern, CKCC’s founder. She holds a master’s degree in special education from Lesley College, a doctoral degree in psychology from Case Western Reserve University, and a certificate in Family Studies from Minuchin Center for the Family. Zina has consulted with early childhood centers, mental health organizations, and social service agencies for over 25 years.
Brady Rymer, Children’s Recording Artist, Bumblin’ Bee Records, NY
For nearly 20 years, two-time GRAMMY nominee Brady Rymer has brought his unique brand of joyful, rootsy rock ‘n’ roll to children and families across the country, visiting schools, libraries, village greens and concert halls with his band, the Little Band That Could. His trademark smile lights up his live performances and shines brightly in his eight award-winning albums, expressing the joy he finds in bringing families and communities together with his music. Brady’s inspiration is the spirit of youth – children growing, discovering and expressing themselves.
Jonathan Sailer, MA, Ed, Owner & Director, Rochester Center for Autism, MN
Jonathan has worked in the field of education for over 20 years. He has a tremendous amount of experience working with children with special needs, specifically autism. He is currently the Owner and Director of the Rochester Center for Autism in Rochester Minnesota (www.rcautism.com) where we work closely with the Mayo Clinic and other local providers. In addition to providing therapy for over 60 students Jonathan routinely speaks in the community and internationally. Over the last few years he has presented on various topics in the United States, Japan, Mexico, Scotland, India and Kuwait.
Ruby Salazar, ACSW, BCD, Founder & Director, Pennsylvania Lifespan Services at Salazar Associates, PA
Ruby Salazar is a child and family psychotherapist who has worked with children and families for over forty years and, in 1982 founded Pennsylvania Lifespan Services, a family-focused transdisplinary developmental practice. She co-founded the first national medical Touchpoints , worked in the office of three PA governors as a child-care consultant, was appointed to the Pennsylvania Governor’s Council for Children and the PA Department of Welfare Workgroup to establish Autism Assessment Policy and clinically directed both the ASD Comprehensive Assessment Project and the PA Department of Early Intervention Reflective Supervision Project. Proudly, she chaired candidate Obama’s first Autism Workgroup who drafted the bill which became ASD Federal Law.
Angela Sansone, EdD, Adjunct Professor, Mercer County Community College, NJ
Angela Sansone is an adjunct professor at Mercer County Community College and Grand Canyon University. She has over fifteen years of experience in the field of education as a teacher, tutor, and caregiver. Her goal is to make sure that every child is receiving the best education possible. She earned a doctorate in Elementary and Early Childhood Education from Rutgers University, a masters in Educational Leadership with a principal certification as well as a preschool through grade three teaching certification from The College of New Jersey, and a bachelors in English and American Studies from Rider University. She is a certified principal, preschool through grade three teacher, kindergarten through grade eight teacher, and preschool/daycare director in New Jersey.
Rebecca Schmitt, MA, ED, Early Childhood Teacher, Sunshine Cottage School for Deaf Children, TX
Rebecca Schmitt received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Speech Communications from the University of Wisconsin and a Masters in Deaf Education from Eastern Michigan University. She received her certification as a Listening and Spoken Language Specialist in July 2009. Rebecca has over 25 years of teaching experience in public and private school settings in Arizona, Minnesota, and Texas. She’s been an early childhood teacher at Sunshine Cottage since 1996. Her expertise in the field of deaf education has been shared with professionals at numerous state workshops, university graduate programs, and as a mentor to graduate students and novice teachers.
Kenneth Sherman, Early Childhood Early Specialist/Teacher, HighScope Educational Research Foundation, MI
Kenneth is an early childhood specialist/teacher. He has a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Sociology and Associates of Arts degree in Child Development. Kenneth has several years of experience facilitating workshops at local, state, national, and international conferences in addition to developing customized trainings for teachers. In addition he has over 24 years of teaching young children in a preschool setting, has been a center director, mentor teacher, coach, and trainer. He has also facilitated online courses covering a variety of topics. He has 24 years of experience working with children ranging in ages two years through school-aged in a variety of roles including teacher, master teacher, program director, and center director.
Dorothy Siegel, MPA, Co-Director of the NYU ASD Nest Support Project, New York University, NY
For the past fifteen years, Dorothy’s work at NYU has focused on a collaboration with the NYC Department of Education and with Professor Shirley Cohen of Hunter College to develop, implement and replicate the ASD Nest Program, an inclusion program for higher functioning children with autism spectrum disorders. This year the ASD Nest Program is serving 1,100 children on the autism spectrum in 39 New York City public elementary, middle and high schools across all five boroughs.
Susan Smith-Foley, MPA, OTR, Occupational Therapist, Lakewood Public School District, NJ
Susan is an Occupational Therapist who holds extensive clinical expertise in school-based practice. She is currently providing DIR Consultation Services to the Lakewood Public School District. Susan holds a B.S. degree in Occupational Therapy from Kean University and a MPA degree from Seton Hall University. She is presently pursuing a post-professional doctoral degree (OTD) in Occupational Therapy at The University of Kansas Medical Center. Susan is Certified to Administer and Interpret the Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests and is DIR® / Floortime Certified. She is an Associate Faculty member of Profectum Academy and a member of its OT working group.
Walter Solomon, MA, Cantab, Jerusalem Waldon Center, Israel
Walter Solomon is father of Robert who at age two was diagnosed remote, backward and with challenging behavior. Thanks to weekly lessons with neurologist Geoffrey Waldon backed by daily lessons with his mother, he is now a web developer and married with two typically developing daughters. Solomon is author; practitioner and trainer at the Feuerstein Institute and Princess Basma School in Jerusalem, and international lecturer having lead workshops in Italy, Germany and the USA. He has opened the Waldon Center in Jerusalem and is Chief Investigator for a study on the Waldon Approach at the Princess Basma School.
Devorie Stareshefsky, MS, Supervisor of Special Education, Lakewood Public School District, NJ
Devorie Stareshefsky, is the Supervisor of Special Education in the Lakewood Public School District. She holds a M.S. degree in Education from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Devorie’s credentials include NJ Supervisor Certification, NJ Teacher of the Handicapped Certification, NJ K-8 Teacher Certification, and Certified Wilson Reading Instructor. She strives to target and support the diverse needs of teachers and students. Devorie collaborates with principals and coaches to provide interventions, trainings, and coaching models that promote growth and achievement. She believes that all students can learn and be successful with persistence and perseverance. “We will Aim For Success, Every Child will Progress.”
Jamila Taylor, MBA, Outreach Services Coordinator, Mississippi State University, School of Human – Sciences Extension Service, TX
Jamila Taylor served as the Associate Director of Mississippi State University School of Human Sciences Extension Service Early Years Network Program. Through her leadership she managed the training, technical assistance and family support programs. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing and a Master of Business Administration. Taylor has received numerous early childhood credentials and certifications. With more than 17 years of experience in early childhood she has used her early childhood, healthcare knowledge and business expertise to assist early care licensed and unlicensed programs across the state in growing quality childcare programs.
Suzi Tortora, EdD, Board Certified Dance/Movement Therapist, Dancing Dialogue, NY
Suzi Tortora received her doctorate at Teachers College, Columbia University, NY specializing in infancy and early childhood development, education and psychology. She is a New York State Licensed Creative Arts Therapist (LCAT) and Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) as well as a Board Certified Dance/movement Therapist (BC- DMT). Suzi has offices in Cold Spring –on-the Hudson, New York and in New York City. She lectures and provides training programs nationally and internationally and has published many papers and a book, Dancing Dialogue:Using the Communicative Power of Movement with Young Children, about her therapeutic and nonverbal communication analysis work.
Anna Vagin, PhD, Speech & Language Pathologist, Private Practice, CA
Anna Vagin, PhD, is a licensed speech/language pathologist working in the area of social cognition with children 6 months through young adulthood who have diagnoses such as ASD, ADHD, NVLD, Language Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Social Communication Disorder or Twice Exceptional. She received her doctorate from UC Berkeley and SFSU, studying attachment theory with Mary Main (UCB) and mother-child interaction with Anne Fernald (Stanford). Anna is a frequent speaker in the US and Canada, and recipient of CSHA District 1 Outstanding Achievement Award. Author of Movie Time Social Learning (2013) and YouCue Feelings: Using Online Videos for Social Learning (2015).
Christie Virtue, PhD, Senior Faculty, Profectum, NY
Christie Virtue, PhD is a clinical psychologist and a Senior Faculty member for Profectum. She received her PhD from Teachers College, Columbia University. For over 20 years she was the Director of Early Intervention and Preschool Services for Hudson River HealthCare in Peekskill, NY, which provided multidisciplinary assessments and treatment of children birth through five. Prior to her work with young children she was the Co-Director of the Adolescent Depression and Suicide Program at Montefiore Hospital/Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She currently has a private practice in Northern Westchester specializing in the assessment of children with neurodevelopmental challenges.
Tenise Wall, PhD, Mental Health Clinician, The Institute for Family Health, NY
Tenise Wall, PhD, works as a Mental Health Clinician in a community-based clinic where she assesses, provides clinical diagnoses, and treats a variety of mental health disorders and specializes in the treatment of ADHD and conduct disorders. She worked 11 years as a school social worker. She shares her knowledge and expertise on the topic of ADHD as a professional speaker for school personnel, parents, and community stake holders. Her research on ADHD has greatly contributed to the psychological community and experience with school children is making an impact on how school personnel are intervening with children with ADHD.
Arlean Wells, PhD, CKCC Program Coordinator, Ackerman Institute for the Family, NY
Arlean Wells is a former NYC school teacher and former adjunct professor at Brooklyn College. She worked as a consultant for the NYC Early Childhood Professional Development Institute and as a Site Manager for the Jumpstart Program for young children. She has also served as a Project Associate for the NYU Metropolitan Center for Urban Education.
Alicia Westbrook, PhD, Director of Early Years Network: Children with Special Needs, Institute for Disability Studies, MS
Alicia Westbrook, PhD, Director, Early Years Network: Children with Special Needs (EYN: SN). EYN: SN is a collaborative effort throughout Mississippi that provides education, outreach, and services to better children, including those with special needs and their families. Alicia serves on the Pediatric Evaluation and Developmental Services team which provides diagnostic and developmental evaluations and is a LEND Faculty Member. LEND, Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities, is a joint project with the University of Arkansas that provides graduate level interdisciplinary training to promote education, leadership, and research in neurodevelopmental and related disabilities.
Jeff Whittaker, MLS, President, Panelcraft, Inc., MI
Jeff Whittaker is President of Panelcraft, Inc. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Science, from Michigan State University, and a Masters of Liberal Studies in Interdisciplinary Technology, from Eastern Michigan University. Jeff had a 23 year career teaching and developing STEM curriculum. Jeff is a former executive board member for the Metro Detroit Science Teachers Association (MDSTA), contributor and reviewer for the Journals Physics Teacher Education Online (JPTEO) and The Physics Teacher (TPT). His current work involves developing award-winning products and curriculum for the early learning market, in addition to managing the operations of Panelcraft.
Serena Wieder, PhD, Clinical Director, Profectum, NJ
Serena Wieder, a clinical psychologist, is the co-creator of the DIR (developmental, individual difference, relationship based) Model, that defined the functional emotional developmental capacities that form the foundation for life long relating, communicating and learning. She co-authored “Engaging Autism”, “The Child with Special Needs” and numerous other articles and books. Serena also developed DIR interdisciplinary training approaches and is the Clinical Director of the Profectum Foundation. She lectures all over the world and is on various Boards including Zero to Three.
Donna Williams, CEO, Founder of DonnaJanel Inc, DE
Donna Williams CEO and Founder of Donna Janel, Inc & Parenting with a Purpose is a Franklin Covey (The 7 Habits of Happy Children) Nationally Designated Parent Leader for her work with children who are suffering from the affects of grief. As a Parent of 4 dynamic children, speaker, coach, and Pediatric Nurse for over 10 years working with Medically Complex children, Donna has proven that she is fit for the challenges in parenting. Donna’s passion is to share her knowledge and experience from bringing children and their family from grief to greatness.
Lauren Hough Williams, MSEd, Co-Director of the NYU ASD Nest Support Project, NYU Steinhardt, NY
Lauren Hough Williams is the co-director of the NYU ASD Nest Support Project. Lauren works with schools and and districts to implement that ASD Nest program, a public school inclusion program for students on the autism spectrum. She is the co-editor of The ASD Nest Support Model: A Framework for Inclusive Education for Higher Functioning Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders and co-author of Everyday Classroom Strategies and Practices for Supporting Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and has also published several articles on autism-related subjects in special education and disabilities journals.
Jamie Winter, PhD, BCBA-D, Assistant Professor of Psychology in Clinical Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medical College, NY
Jamie M. Winter, PhD, BCBA-D is Assistant Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medicine and Assistant Attending Psychologist at New York Presbyterian Westchester Division specializing in Child Psychology. She is a licensed Psychologist and a board certified and licensed Behavior Analyst. She treats toddlers and preschoolers with autism spectrum disorders at the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain in White Plains. Jamie provides individual therapy for children, as well as parent coaching.
Miriam Zmiewski-Angelova, MPH, Early Learning Coach, Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL) – Quality Practice Professional Development (QPPD) Unit, WA
Miriam Zmiewski-Angelova is Sac/Fox, Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, African American and Ashkenazi. She served as an educator, trainer, consultant, and researcher for nearly 15 years in communities in Arizona, Illinois, Colorado, Washington, and various tribal nations. She is honored for the knowledge and experiences gained in working with families and communities that continually strengthens her commitment to culturally and linguistically responsive anti-bias practices. Miriam carries this into her coach role in elevating the quality of instructional coaching and teacher professional development opportunities. Miriam enjoys spending time with family and especially her toddler son in nature and attending various cultural events.