Christopher Emdin is the Robert A. Naslund Endowed Chair in Curriculum Theory and Professor of Education at the University of Southern California, where he also serves as Director of Youth Engagement and Community Partnerships at the USC Race and Equity Center.
He previously served as Director of the Science Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University and alumni fellow at the Hip-hop Archive and Hutchins Center at Harvard University. He has served as STEAM Ambassador for the U.S. Department of State and Minorities in Energy Ambassador for the U.S. Department of Energy.
Dr. Emdin holds a PhD in Urban Education with a concentration in Mathematics, Science, and Technology; master degrees in both Natural Sciences and Education, and bachelor degrees in Physical Anthropology, Biology, and Chemistry.
He is the author of numerous award winning works, including the award-winning book Urban Science Education for the Hip-hop Generation and the New York Times bestseller, For White Folks Who Teach In the Hood and the Rest of Ya’ll Too. His latest books, Ratchetdemic: Reimagining Academic Success and STEM, STEAM, Make Dream, are currently available wherever books are sold.
Art Cernosia is an attorney and an education consultant from Williston, Vermont. Art previously worked as a teacher, an Assistant Attorney General assigned to the Vermont Department of Education, a practicing attorney, and a consultant with a national special education technical assistance center.
He was associated with the University of Vermont’s Education Law Institute for over 30 years, where he taught and provided legal workshops. He also volunteered as a surrogate parent for students with disabilities who were placed in juvenile detention facilities.
He provides training, consultation, and other technical assistance services to state and local education agencies and advocacy organizations throughout the nation pertaining to special education legal issues.
David is the only five-language-speaking, motivational-comedian on the planet! David empathizes with diverse students who face challenges because he was once considered an “at-risk student” himself before defying the odds and graduating with a bachelor degree and then earning his master degree.
He has motivated children and mature adults in some of the greatest metropolitan cities of the world: Los Angeles, New York, Sao Paulo, Paris, and London.
His upbringing facilitated his multiculturalism/multilingualism, which make it easy to relate to diverse audiences. While his native languages are English and Spanish, David has also presented in French and Portuguese in his international tours. (He also speaks Italian, bringing his language total to five—for now.)
Carol Kosnitsky is the nationally recognized and popular author of IEP Goals That Make a Difference: An Administrator’s Guide to Improving the Process (2018, LRP Publications). This book is used widely by teachers as well as administrators. As a distinguished special education consultant with more than 35 years in the field, Carol provides consultation and professional development services across the country, traveling from her home base in New England.
Her work focuses on improving outcomes for students with disabilities through increased access to the general education curriculum.
She is particularly sought after for her expertise regarding the development of relevant and measurable IEPs, the aligning of IEPs with the Common Core, and the collaboration between general and special education to improve education for all students. Ms. Kosnitsky was a special education director for 20 years in New Hampshire, served as President of the New Hampshire Association for Special Education Administrators, and developed the New Hampshire Academy for Special Education Directors.
Erik Carter is Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Special Education at Vanderbilt University and co-Director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center UCEDD. He began his career as a high school special education teacher in San Antonio, Texas. His scholarship focuses on research-based and principle-driven strategies for supporting inclusion and valued roles for students with disabilities in school, community, and congregational settings. He has published more than 250 articles and chapters, along with six books.
Dr. Phil S. Strain is James C. Kennedy Endowed Chair in Urban Education at the Morgridge College of Education and Director of the PELE Center, University of Denver. He is the author of over 300 scientific publications, has served on the editorial boards of 22 professional journals and has been Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator of grants and contracts totaling over 80 million dollars. He is particularly interested in expanding inclusive preschool options, comprehensive services for young children with autism, and prevention and intervention for children with challenging behaviors.
Sarah Ward, M.S., CCC/SLP has over 25 years of experience in the treatment of executive dysfunction. Sarah is an internationally recognized expert on executive function and presents seminars on the programs and strategies she has developed with her Co-Director Kristen Jacobsen. Their 360 Thinking Executive Function Program received the Innovative Promising Practices Award from the National Organization CHADD. She has presented to over 1,600 public and private schools and organizations worldwide.
Additional National Speakers
Since 1964, IEL has developed leaders who disrupt generational poverty and eliminate systemic racial, class, and disability barriers in order to achieve greater equity for all. With expertise in national policy and a deep network of relationships at the community level, IEL works collaboratively to increase access to education and workforce opportunities so that all children and families can create the lives they want to live.
Ebony Watson is a Deputy Director for the Center for Workforce Development at the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL). Ebony is the National Program Director of the Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program (RAMP), a career-focused mentoring program for court-involved and at-risk youth with disabilities. For the last sixteen years, Ebony has provided counsel, assistance, and guidance to youth and families involved in the juvenile justice and foster care system, collaborated with schools to improve attendance and graduation rates for system-involved youth, and mentored youth in goal-setting and decision-making skills. For the last eight years, she has worked at IEL to streamline best practices for mentoring youth with disabilities including recruiting and training mentors, mentor-mentee match support, engaging families, case management, and records review. Additionally, Ebony has developed and facilitated trainings sharing the learned strategies and best practices of the RAMP program to assist in the development of peer mentoring programs across the country.
Francine is a consultant specializing in career development, project management, and workforce development. She has experience with implementing career-focused programs at the local and national level for special youth populations including court-involved, homelessness, opportunity youth, and youth with disabilities. She is adept at providing technical assistance to subgrantees related to program implementation, best practices, innovative strategies, facilitating discussions, sustainability, and delivery of a strong program closeout.
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is the leading source of free, expert, and confidential guidance on job accommodations and disability employment issues. Serving customers across the United States and around the world for more than 35 years, JAN provides free, one-on-one, practical guidance and technical assistance on job accommodation solutions, Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and related legislation, and self-employment and entrepreneurship options for people with disabilities. JAN provides individualized consultation to assist:
Employers and their representatives seeking guidance on practical ways to engage in the interactive process, provide job accommodation solutions, and comply with Title I of the ADA;
Individuals with medical conditions and disabilities seeking information about job accommodation solutions, employment rights under the ADA, and self-employment and entrepreneurship opportunities; and
Family members and rehabilitation, medical, educational, and other professionals in their effort to support successful employment outcomes for individuals with medical conditions and disabilities.
Alexis Popa began working for the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) as a Graduate Assistant in the summer of 2018, became an Employment Specialist in December 2019, and was promoted to Consultant on the Cognitive/Neurological Team in June 2020. As a Consultant, Alexis fields questions from employees and employers regarding their rights and responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and assists in identifying accommodation solutions for employees with cognitive and mental health conditions.
Alexis earned a Master of Science degree in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling and a Bachelor of Science degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology with a minor in Human Services from West Virginia University (WVU).
Alexis has also served as an advocate working within the community providing individual and group therapy, educating and supporting families and caregivers of individuals with disabilities, advocating for clients’ rights, and providing crisis intervention.
The National Technical Assistance Network on Transition: the Collaborative (NTACT:C) is a Technical Assistance Center co-funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA). NTACT:C offers information, tools, and supports to assist multiple stakeholders to deliver effective services and instruction for students and out-of-school youth with disabilities to ensure that all students and youth with disabilities experience increased:
Michael Stoehr, M.S., is a Knowledge Development and Technical Assistance Specialist with the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition: the Collaborative (NTACT:C), the University of North Carolina Charlotte. He has worked in the special education field for the past 37 years and has extensive experience in the areas of secondary transition, assessment, job analysis, supported and customized employment, transition communities of practice, effective transition planning, inter-agency collaboration, transition practices for students with complex support needs, family engagement, and youth leadership and self-advocacy.
The National Technical Assistance Center on Transition: the Collaborative's (NTACT:C’s) Youth Engagement Transition Initiative (YETI) is a national youth engagement and leadership advisory group. NTACT:C recruited and established the group of young adults with disabilities to ensure that youth engagement and perspective are foundational to NTACT:C's work. YETI will co-construct resources and training, as well as inform other technical assistance focused on improving secondary transition services and instruction for students and out-of-school youth with disabilities. YETI is designed to support NTACT:C and simultaneously support the leadership development of its members. YETI is comprised of a diverse group of students, youth, and young adults with disabilities from across the United States who are committed to sharing their lived experiences and providing guidance and support to NTACT:C.
Michael Scanlon is an advocate and project coordinator with a passion to make a positive difference in the lives of others at the Connecticut Parent Advocacy Center. Michael is a Mentor Facilitator with the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition: the Collaborative (NTACT:C)'s Youth Engagement Transition Initiative (YETI). Michael draws upon his lived experiences from a brain injury as a child and mental health challenges. His strong knowledge of the challenges and needs of individuals with disabilities gives him the unique insight and ability to create positive change by participating in individual, state, and national level advocacy projects. Having experience in both human services and behavioral health organizations, Michael serves as a mentor and member of the Youth Advisory Board and is enthusiastic about ensuring young adults have the opportunity and support needed to thrive.