National Presenters

Tiger Border


Arizona’s Fourteenth Annual Transition Conference

Promote Strengths & Inspire Success

August 25 – 27, 2014

Talking Stick Resort

9800 East Indian Bend Road

Scottsdale, AZ 85256

(866) 877-9897

Information Schedule vendors National Presenters
Registration Monday Tuesday Wednesday

Dr. Charlotte Alverson
Dr. Charlotte Alverson is currently a research associate for the National Post-School Outcomes (NPSO) and Secondary Special Education and Transition (SSET) research unit at the University of Oregon. She completed her PhD from the University of Oregon in special education. She has provided product development and technical assistance activities to the NPSO for the last six years and brings a wealth of practical experience as a former special education teacher and administrator. Her research and technical assistance interests include post-school outcomes, secondary special education programming for students with moderate and severe disabilities, and program evaluation.

Dr. Thomas Armstrong – Monday Opening Keynote Speaker
Dr. Thomas Armstrong is the executive director of the American Institute for Learning and Human Development and also an award-winning author and speaker who has been an educator for the past forty years. Over one million copies of his books are in print on issues related to learning and human development. He is the author of fifteen books including Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Strength-Based Strategies to Help Students with Special Needs Achieve Success in School and Life; Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom, 3rd Edition; In Their Own Way, Awakening Your Child’s Natural Genius; 7 Kinds of Smart, The Myth of the A.D.D. Child; The Power of Neurodiversity: Unleashing the Advantages of Your Differently Wired Brain; and Awakening Genius in the Classroom. He has written for Ladies’ Home Journal, Family Circle, Parenting (where he was a regularly featured columnist for four years), Mothering, and over thirty other periodicals, journals, and edited books. He has appeared on several national and international television and radio programs, including NBC’s The Today Show, CBS This Morning, CNN, the BBC, and the Voice of America. Articles featuring his work have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, USA Today, Investor’s Business Daily, Good Housekeeping, and hundreds of other newspapers and magazines around the country.

Dr. Loujeania Bost Williams
Dr. Loujeania Bost Williams is the director of the National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities (NDPC-SD) at Clemson University. She is responsible for all operational aspects of the Center, including the development of strategic partnerships. NDPC-SD is a national technical assistance and dissemination center funded by the US Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (USDE/OSEP), to support states in assisting local education agencies to decrease dropout rates among students with disabilities. Dr. Bost Williams’ approach to technical assistance is to assist states in a systematic process of transferring knowledge about dropout prevention research, practices that work, and policies that assist states and their stakeholders in achieving their goals and plans to reduce dropout rates among students with disabilities. She holds a PhD in special education from Pennsylvania State University.

Dr. Douglas Cheney
Dr. Douglas Cheney is professor of special education at the University of Washington, Seattle, where he codirects the master’s program in learning and emotional/behavioral disabilities (EBD), the doctoral program in secondary special education, and the School-based Mental Health Center (SMART Center), a joint project between the School of Medicine and the College of Education. He has 40 years’ experience in special education as a teacher, administrator, researcher, and professor and is a past president of the Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders. He was director of both Washington’s Behavior Research Center and the Institute on Emotional Disturbance at Keene State College (KSC), New Hampshire, where he developed, with Dr. JoAnne Malloy, Project RENEW, a nationally recognized program on transition of students with EBD. He is editor of the text, Transition of Secondary Students with Emotional or Behavioral Disorders: Current Approaches for Positive Outcomes, and past editor of The Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. Dr. Cheney’s work can be accessed at his website:

Tana Donaghy
Tana Donaghy has worked in the field of special education for over 18 years. She was a classroom teacher for more than a decade and has worked with students ranging from preschool aged to adult-aged transition students, 18–22 years of age. Her expertise is in working with students who have moderate to severe and profound disabilities. She has been involved in California state committees that have addressed the needs of students with moderate to severe and profound disabilities in programming, curriculum, and instruction. She trains teachers, administrators, and parents on legally defensible programs for children with special needs.

Dr. Peter Gerhardt
Dr. Peter Gerhardt is the president of Peter Gerhardt Associates, LLC. He has more than 30 years’ experience using the principles of applied behavior analysis in support of adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders in educational, employment, residential, and community-based settings. Dr. Gerhardt has authored and coauthored articles and book chapters on the needs of adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorder and has presented nationally and internationally on this topic. He serves as Chairman of the Scientific Council for the Organization for Autism Research, is on the Editorial Board of Behavior Analysis in Practice, and is on numerous professional advisory boards. Dr. Gerhardt received his doctorate from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey’s Graduate School of Education.

Dr. Gary Greene
Dr. Gary Greene is professor emeritus of special education at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). He is a former resource specialist and taught students with learning disabilities in the public schools for ten years prior to joining the faculty at CSULB. Dr. Greene taught graduate-level special education CSULB for 25 years, with a specialty in transition services for youth with disabilities. Much of his scholarly work in the last decade has focused on transition issues faced by families of culturally and linguistically diverse youth with disabilities. He serves as a special needs consultant for the US Department of State, Division of Overseas Schools. Since retiring from CSULB in 2012, Dr. Greene has been working as a private consultant in special education assisting public school districts and families of youth with disabilities in the transition assessment and planning process.

Dr. Amy Gaumer Erickson
Dr. Amy Gaumer Erickson focuses on comprehensive evaluation of educational initiatives that improve in-school and post-school outcomes for students. Her work centers on the implementation of instructional strategies within a multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) that enable students with and without disabilities to become college and career ready. To support continuous educational improvement, she has developed instruments that provide a schoolwide perspective on educator implementation. She has also published books and articles that provide practical assessment and instructional strategies to support students’ cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal skill development. Dr. Gaumer Erickson and her husband apply these strategies to support the college and career readiness of their three teenage children.

Melinda Jacobs
Melinda Jacobs is an attorney in private practice who has worked in the field of special education law since 1985. Since 1996, she has exclusively represented school systems in special education matters pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and related laws. Ms. Jacobs has authored several publications and articles on special education law and has written and produced a series of audiotapes and videotapes on the implementation of the laws governing the provision of special education and related services. She is a member of the Special Education School Attorneys Advisory Council and serves as Chairperson of the LRP National Institute on Legal Issues of Educating Students with Disabilities. Her “down to earth” and practical presentation style, combining humor and song, makes legal information accessible and understandable for stakeholders in the field.

Dr. Cinda Johnson – Tuesday Opening Keynote Speaker
Dr. Cinda Johnson is a professor and the director of the graduate special education program at Seattle University. She is also the director for the Center for Change in Transition Services. Dr. Johnson is a national leader in the area of transition from high school to post–high school for young people with disabilities. She has a particular interest in and passion for supporting children, adolescents, and young people with mental health conditions in assuring that they are provided the best opportunity to be successful after leaving high school. Dr. Johnson is the coauthor of Perfect Chaos: A Daughter’s Journey with Bipolar, A Mother’s Struggle to Save Her.

Linea Johnson – Tuesday Opening Keynote Speaker
Linea Johnson is a national mental health advocate, speaker, and writer and the coauthor of Perfect Chaos: A Daughter’s Journey with Bipolar, A Mother’s Struggle to Save Her. She currently works as a research assistant at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, the very hospital where she was initially hospitalized. Her experience includes work with a mental health team in rural Kerala, India, and as an intern at the World Health Organization in the mental health policy department in Geneva, Switzerland. In addition to her writing and speaking engagements, Ms. Johnson is the associate producer of the world mental health documentary, Hidden Pictures.

Dr. Ed O’Leary
Dr. Ed O’Leary is a consultant and program specialist for Mountain Plains Regional Resource Center. He received his doctorate from the University of Illinois in vocational technical education/special needs and his master’s in special education from Drake University. He has spent more than 30 years working in and with schools as a secondary special education teacher, special education consultant, transition specialist, work experience coordinator, program specialist, and program director. He developed the Transition Outcomes Project, an approach to helping districts and states meet transition requirements in order to demonstrate improvement and results. The Transition Outcomes Project is now operating in more than 25 states/regions and more than 1,500 districts across the country.

Dr. Laura Owens
Dr. Laura Owens has been the executive director of the Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE), a national organization focusing on the advancement of integrated employment for citizens with disabilities based in Washington, DC, since October 2008 ( She is also an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in the department of exceptional education, where she teaches courses focusing on high school inclusion and transition from school to work. Dr. Owens is also the director of Creative Employment Opportunities, Inc. (CEO), an employment agency for individuals with disabilities in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (, which she founded in 1991. Dr. Owens earned her MS degree in special education from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and her PhD from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Dr. Deborah K. Reed
Dr. Deborah K. Reed is an assistant professor at Florida State University and the Florida Center for Reading Research. She has spent over 20 years addressing reading instruction for at-risk youth, 10 years as a classroom teacher, and 11 years as a researcher and technical assistance provider in 19 different states. Dr. Reed has developed numerous instructional materials and professional development programs that are available to educators internationally. She also has served as the principal investigator of studies exploring reading assessment and instruction and was awarded the Council for Learning Disabilities’ 2010 Outstanding Researcher of the Year award. Dr. Reed’s current research involves the development and delivery of reading instruction in juvenile justice settings.

Curtis Richards
Curtis Richards is a nationally recognized leader in the disability community. He currently serves as director of the Center for Workforce Development at the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL). Mr. Richards also serves as the lead technical assistance (TA) provider for the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth). With support from the US Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, NCWD/Youth is a national TA center focused on assisting the workforce development system to better serve youth, including youth with disabilities. Mr. Richards assisted in developing the framework, Guideposts for Success (including guideposts specifically addressing foster care youth, juvenile justice youth, and youth with mental health needs), the Guideposts for Employers, the Knowledge, Skills and Abilities of Youth Service Practitioners, and the National Alliance for Secondary Education and Transition (NASET) Standards & Indicators. He is the content lead at NCWD/Youth on connecting activities, universal access, self-sufficiency, performance accountability, juvenile justice, significant disabilities, postsecondary education, and disability public policy. Mr. Richards holds a bachelor of arts degree in government-journalism from California State University, Sacramento, and has been visually impaired since he was a toddler.

Sharon Slover
Sharon Slover is the executive director of Education & Careers for The Menta Group®, where she has developed Employment First—Team Transition Programs to assist districts in Illinois with improving post-school outcomes for students with disabilities. Prior to working with The Menta Group®, she was the director of Education & Careers for McHenry County and co-coordinator of the McHenry County College Transition Pathways, a postsecondary education and training program for adults with disabilities. Ms. Slover was instrumental in the design, development, and ongoing changes of the Pathways Program, which won an Exemplary Program Award in Illinois. The Council for Exceptional Children’s Division on Career Development and Transition (DCDT) awarded her the National Marc Gold Innovative Practices in Transition Award for her efforts to improve the quality and access to career and transition services for people with disabilities. Ms. Slover obtained her bachelor’s degree from Eastern Illinois University and her master’s in Rehabilitation Administration with a concentration in transition from Southern Illinois University. She acquired her Specialist in Education & Careers from The Career and Technical Leadership Institute at Purdue University.

Dr. Scott Solberg
Dr. Scott Solberg is associate dean for research at Boston University’s School of Education and professor in the Department of Counseling and Human Development. His research focuses on the design of learning systems that optimize youth development. For the past six years, he has been principal investigator on a federally sponsored national study of individualized learning plans (ILPs) through a cooperative agreement grant awarded to the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth) from the US Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy. Internationally and nationally respected for his work with supporting the career and social emotional learning development of youth, Dr. Solberg is author of Success Highways, a resiliency curriculum for middle and high school youth. Online resources include webinars that showcase the research base underlying ILPs, an ILP how-to guide for schools (, and related resources from the National Collaborative for Workforce and Disability for Youth (

Dr. Jane Soukup
Dr. Jane Soukup is a research associate at the University of Kansas, Center for Research on Learning. Her responsibilities include facilitating the Arizona Secondary Transition Mentoring Project, Career and College Readiness Team Training (STMP/CCRTT) and the Secondary Transition Vermont Multi-Tier System of Supports Academy (vtMTSS). The purpose of both projects is to support general education, special education, guidance counselors, administrators, and others as they work together to achieve college and career readiness for ALL high school students—especially those with disabilities. Dr. Soukup’s interests focus on the principal’s connection to special education services, the opportunity to access general education curriculum for students receiving special education services, and strategies to enhance the self-determination of youth. Her work is driven by her Teach for America corps experience and work as a classroom teacher/administrator in Texas and Kansas.

Ebony M. Watson
Ebony M. Watson is a program coordinator for the Center for Workforce Development (CWD) at the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL), serving as the National Program Coordinator of the Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program (RAMP), a career-focused mentoring program for court-involved and at-risk youth. Prior to joining IEL, Ms. Watson was a juvenile probation officer providing counsel, assistance, and guidance to youth and families and collaborating with schools to improve attendance and graduation rates for system-involved youth. She was a RAMP mentor in Baltimore supporting mentees in goal-setting and decision-making skills so they could avoid juvenile justice system involvement. Ms. Watson received a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from Augusta State University, now Georgia Regents University, in Augusta, Georgia, in 2005.  She is also a 2010 graduate of the Leadership Development Institute of the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services, a program designed to assist individuals in identifying and developing effective skills in influencing others in the achievement of common goals by exploring leadership principles including effective communication, organizational planning, team building, motivation, and conflict resolution.  

Dr. Richard A. Villa
Dr. Richard A. Villa has worked with thousands of teachers and administrators to develop and implement organizational and instructional support systems for educating all students within general education settings. Dr. Villa has been a middle and high school classroom teacher, special educator, special education coordinator, pupil personnel services director, and director of instructional services. He works with schools, governmental and nongovernmental agencies, and advocacy organizations and has authored over a hundred articles and book chapters regarding inclusive education, differentiated instruction, collaborative planning and teaching, and school restructuring. Dr. Villa has coedited ten books and developed two multimedia kits for teachers, administrators, and parents. He possesses the conceptual, technical, and interpersonal skills required to work effectively with others and facilitate change and progress in education. He has presented at numerous national and international conferences and is known for his enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and humorous style of presenting.

Tony Vincent
Tony Vincent is a former teacher whose work as a technology specialist reflects his passion for the use of computer applications in learning. As a fifth grade teacher in 2001, he was one of the first to have a mobile device in the hands of each of his students. Mr. Vincent witnessed how empowering it was for students to have a very portable computer filled with apps for learning and creativity. As a technology specialist, he has worked with students of diverse ages and their teachers, coaching them to use all sorts of digital tools for learning and teaching. Today, Mr. Vincent is a self-employed consultant, has won awards for his presentations, and has been recognized internationally. He has traveled to 40 states and abroad to facilitate workshops and to make presentations focused on empowering teachers and students with technology. His work can be found at

Promote Strengths

Sponsored by:

ess logo 2013 H color
Arizona Department of Education,
Exceptional Student Services
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Arizona Department of Economic Security,
Rehabilitation Services Administration,
Vocational Rehabilitation
Arizona Department of Economic Security,
Division of Developmental Disabilities
Arizona Department of Health Services,
Office for Children with Special Health Care Needs