Arizona’s Fifteenth Annual Transition Conference
Connecting for Success: Shared Expectations, Responsibilities, and Outcomes
Dr. Charlotte Alverson
Dr. Charlotte Alverson is currently a research associate for the National Post-School Outcomes (NPSO) Center, the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition (NTACT), and the Secondary Special Education and Transition (SSET) Program’s research unit. She completed her PhD at the University of Oregon in special education in 2008. She has developed products and provided technical assistance activities for the NPSO for the last seven 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.
Anne M. Beninghof
Anne M. Beninghof has more than 30 years of experience working with students and teachers in a variety of public and private settings. She has been a special education teacher and an adjunct faculty member at both the University of Hartford and the University of Colorado, has published several books and videos, and has provided staff development in 49 states. Ms. Beninghof has authored seven books and several educational videotapes and is a regular contributor to blogs and webinars. In her teaching, presenting, and writing, she focuses on creative, practical solutions for more effectively including students with diverse learning needs in general education classrooms.
Mario Arnauz Bonds – Monday Opening Keynote Speaker
Mario Bonds is a multitalented motivational speaker and singer/songwriter. Made famous by NBC Universal’s television show, The Glee Project, Season 2, in which he showed the world that a person with a disability can rise to meet any challenge, Bonds enjoys entertaining and inspiring millions. Born with morning glory syndrome, a rare degenerative condition that gradually destroyed the optic nerve in both of his eyes, he became completely blind by age nine. After losing both his vision and his parents, Mr. Bonds experienced a difficult childhood, suffering from abuse, abandonment, and eventually, homelessness. Amazingly, one thing he never suffered from was hopelessness. Instead of allowing these setbacks to define him, Mr. Bonds used them to propel himself forward—earning a spot in the prestigious Suitland’s School for the Visual and Performing Arts in his teens, followed by a degree in journalism from George Mason University. Among his various achievements, he became a gifted technology expert, providing skillful computer guidance to people needing support. Mr. Bonds is also the author of Without Sight but Full of Vision, a memoir recounting how he overcame childhood tragedies. He exemplifies the philosophy that triumph and success are still possible, no matter the obstacle, with sufficient courage, creativity, and determination to overcome the odds.
Dr. Loujeania Williams Bost
Dr. Loujeania Williams Bost is co-director of the newly funded National Technical Assistance Center on Transition (NTACT) at UNC-Charlotte and former director of the National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities (NDPC-SD) at Clemson University. She holds a PhD in special education from Pennsylvania State University and for the past two decades, Dr. Bost has dedicated her career to the development of systemic TA and professional development vehicles for translating research evidence into contextually relevant practices for educators. For the past 11 years, Dr. Bost has led a team of researchers, practitioners, and other collaborators at NDPC-SD in providing high quality, evidence-based TA to help states build and implement sustainable programs and best practices in dropout prevention for students with disabilities.
David Carson spent his first 25 years excelling in math, science, and on the football field. However, he could not achieve the same success in English, reading, and spelling. Although he received a football scholarship to North Carolina State University, he struggled with anxiety caused by the transition from high school to college and failed in postsecondary education three separate times. Eventually, Mr. Carson learned that he was both gifted and had a learning disability, and with proper support, he soon found academic success and graduated from college. He remained committed to advocacy for learning disabled students, published his first book, The Survival Guide for College Bound LD Students, and became a public speaker. He reminds students, parents, and educators that having a learning disability does not prevent a student from succeeding, and his mission is to provide direction and hope to his audiences.
Dr. William DeMeo
Dr. William DeMeo is a developmental neuropsychologist who currently serves a consultant for the Mayerson Academy in Ohio and previously served as a coordinator for mental health services for Cincinnati Public Schools’ Early Childhood Program. A former teacher who has taught at all levels, Dr. DeMeo is also a National Certified Olweus Trainer (bullying prevention), a National Association of School Psychologists–Approved provider, and a national consultant for the Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). Dr. DeMeo continues to be one of the most sought after national and international trainers for educators in the areas of mental health and brain-based learning, using his extensive experience to present practical and entertaining workshops. He has authored several books, including his latest publication, When Nothing Else Works: What Early Childhood Professionals Can Do to Reduce Challenging Behaviors.
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.
Debra Hart is the director of education and transition for the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She has over 30 years of experience working with students with disabilities, their families, and professionals supporting youth in becoming valued members of their community by participating in inclusive K–12 education, inclusive higher education, and integrated competitive employment. Ms. Hart has spent the last 25 years focused on transition-related work with state education agencies, public schools, and adult service agencies both in Massachusetts and nationwide; while pursuing this transition work, she has been especially involved with the Think College Coordinating Center, which provides training and evaluation services for 27 Transition Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID) grantees in 23 states and 44 institutes of higher education. In this role, she oversees all the coordination, evaluation, technical assistance, and dissemination activities for the center.
Shelley Haven is a certified assistive technology professional and rehabilitation engineering technologist who specializes in matching students with technology appropriate to their needs. Her consulting business, Technology to Unlock Potential, serves families, educators, and schools throughout the San Francisco Bay Area focusing on learning differences, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and executive functioning. Ms. Haven previously directed assistive technology for Stanford University’s Office of Accessible Education and helped create the Schwab Learning Center at Stanford.
Debra Herburger is a senior program associate with WestEd Center for Prevention & Early Intervention, where she focuses on providing technical assistance and support as a special education training specialist. Her goal is to furnish research and evidence-based resources to support high expectations for student learning and to provide access to the range of supports for students with disabilities to learn in the least restrictive environment; her training topics include co-teaching, universal design for learning, understanding the implications of common core state standards (CCSS) for students with disabilities, implementing a multi-tiered system of supports, and writing individualized education programs (IEPs) aligned with CCSS that are reasonably calculated to result in educational benefit for students.
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.
Mindy Larson is a senior program associate at the Institute for Educational Leadership’s Center for Workforce Development (IEL/CWD) and project manager for the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth). NCWD/Youth is a national technical assistance center, supported by U. S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, that works to ensure that transition age youth are provided full access to high quality services in integrated settings to gain education, employment, and independent living. Ms. Larson’s work prior to joining IEL included managing a variety of national, state, and local youth employment and education initiatives.
Monica McDaniel is currently a senior program manager at the Washington Initiative for Supported Employment (WISE) who has more than ten years consulting experience both nationally and internationally. Her supported employment experience has been primarily with employment vendors, educators, government agencies, and businesses; her area of expertise is marketing and job development. In addition to her tenure at WISE, she served as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) technical assistance manager for the state of Washington. Ms. McDaniel is also an instructor at Highline Community College for the employment certification program, teaching essential functions of marketing and job development. Previously, she served as a job coach, job developer, and career counselor for individuals with developmental disabilities. Ms. McDaniel brings a wide array of consulting abilities regarding supported employment, ADA, anti-discrimination law, and other civil rights laws.
Reverend Dr. Michael Oleksa – Tuesday Opening Keynote Speaker
The Reverend Dr. Michael Oleksa was born in Pennsylvania and moved to Alaska in 1970 from St. Vladimir’s Seminary in New York at the invitation of the Alutiiq village of Old Harbor on Kodiak Island. Over the next three decades, he served as a Russian Orthodox priest in over a dozen Alaska Native villages. In 1988, he completed his doctoral degree at the Orthodox Theological Faculty in Presov, Slovakia, with an emphasis in Native Alaskan history during the Alaska Russian period (1741–1867). Recognized as an “elder” by the Alaska Federation of Natives, a Distinguished Public Servant by the Board of Regents of the University of Alaska, and honored by the Alaska State Legislature and the National Governors Association, Dr. Oleksa is a storyteller who seeks to foster greater understanding across boundaries of race and culture. He is a national leader in the development of cross-cultural education, an educator of Alaskan teachers, and a student of Alaska Native languages and cultures. His four-part PBS television series, Communicating Across Cultures, has been widely acclaimed, and he recently has published a book in collaboration with the Association of Alaska School Boards, Another Culture/Another World, that explores the great diversity and common humanity of Alaska’s cultural mosaic.
Dr. Theresa (Terry) Petrenchik
Dr. Terry Petrenchik is associate professor in Northern Arizona University’s Department of Occupational Therapy located on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus. She has extensive experience working with and on behalf of vulnerable children and youth, including children and youth involved with child protective services, living in residential care and foster care, and belonging in families that are homeless. Her area of specialty is the promotion of self-regulation and self-leadership in children with regulatory difficulties, including children and youth with developmental trauma and pervasive developmental conditions. Dr. Petrenchik has been providing training in traumatic childhood stress and trauma-informed practices for nearly 14 years. She is also a certified parent educator, a licensed occupational therapist, and a childhood disability researcher. Her research interests include the translation of research and developmental science into systems of care and service delivery, with a focus on creating environments and opportunities for the promotion of developmental health in vulnerable and maltreated children.
Dr. Tiana Povenmire-Kirk
Dr. Tiana Povenmire-Kirk earned her doctorate in special education and clinical sciences from the University of Oregon in 2009. Her research expertise includes secondary special education and transition for youth from diverse backgrounds and cultural competence and reciprocity for educators. She is co-chair of the Human Rights and Diversity Committee of the Division on Career Development and Transition (DCDT) of the Council for Exceptional Children. Dr. Povenmire-Kirk currently serves as the project coordinator on the first efficacy and replication study of the Communicating Interagency Relationships and Collaborative Linkages for Exceptional Students (CIRCLES) Project, a three-tier model of interagency collaboration focused on transition outcomes funded through the Institute of Education Science.
Curtis Richards is a nationally recognized leader in the disability community and is the recipient of numerous awards for his work in the disability field. He currently serves as director of the Center for Workforce Development at the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL). He 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. 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.
Sean Roy is the co-director of the Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights (PACER) Center’s National Parent Center on Transition and Employment, housed within PACER in Minnesota. In this role, he works to improve the success of youth with disabilities who are transitioning from school into life in the community. Mr. Roy is an experienced curriculum developer, writer, trainer, and presenter, often speaking to professionals and families about issues of employment, accessing postsecondary education, and promoting family involvement in transition planning. Mr. Roy holds a master’s degree in human service planning and administration and draws from previous employment experience in education and juvenile corrections, as well as being a sibling of an adult with autism.
Kevin E. Schaefer
Kevin E. Schaefer is an assistant director of special programs with WestEd’s Center for Prevention and Early Intervention program (CPEI). He is a lead on CPEI’s work on aligning individualized education programs (IEPs) to common core state standards (CCSS) and is providing technical assistance on access to CCSS for students with disabilities, including English language learners. He is also one of the developers of Navigating Common Core State Standards to Improve Outcomes for Students with Disabilities, a webinar focused on research-based practices and the 21st century college and career and community readiness skills students from pre-K to age 22 must achieve for postsecondary success. In addition, Mr. Schaefer works with schools across the nation on all aspects of improving results for students with disabilities: this includes aligning initiatives within a multi-tiered system of supports (response to intervention (RTI) and positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS), refining least restrictive environment collaborative and inclusive practices, and increasing teacher expertise in providing access for all learners through universal design for learning principles and related instructional technology. Much of his work is focused on culturally responsive practices, most notably with the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Tuba City, Arizona.
Dr. V. Scott Solberg
Dr. V. 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 designing learning systems that optimize youth development. For the past seven 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 for 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 also author of Success Highways, a resiliency curriculum for middle and high school 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 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.
Lee Anne Sulzberger
Lee Anne Sulzberger is a specialist at the Virginia Department of Education’s Training and Technical Assistance Center at the College of William and Mary (T/TAC W&M) with 25 years of experience in public education. She provides coaching and technical assistance to schools in the areas of inclusive practices and systems change, co-teaching, co-planning, and SIM™ Content Enhancement Routines. Ms. Sulzberger is also a regional T/TAC coordinator for I’m Determined, a state directed project funded by the Virginia Department of Education. I’m Determined focuses on providing direct instruction, models, and opportunities for students to practice skills associated with self-determined behavior. Goals of the project include increasing student involvement and leadership in the process of developing their individualized education programs (IEPs), providing leadership opportunities for students with disabilities, and helping families support the development of their student’s self-determination skills.
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 to avoid juvenile justice system involvement.