Presenters, Moderators and Discussants
Leadership Summit presenters include a cross section of education leaders from across the country. Each year SETDA strives to include a variety of speakers including representatives from the White House, U.S. Department of Education, a variety of State Departments of Education, national education organizations, school administrators, teachers and students.
Hadi Partovi, Founder and CEO, Code.org
Hadi Partovi is a tech entrepreneur and investor, and CEO of the education non-profit Code.org.
Born in Tehran, Iran, Hadi grew up during the Iran-Iraq war. His school did not offer computer science classes, so he taught himself to code at home on a Commodore 64. After immigrating to the United States, he spent his summers working as a software engineer to help pay his way through high school and college. Upon graduating from Harvard University with a Masters degree in computer science, Hadi pursued a career in technology starting at Microsoft where he rose into the executive ranks. He founded two startups – the first was a huge success and the second a dismal failure – and he now invests and advises other technology startups.
In 2013 Hadi and his twin brother Ali launched the education nonprofit Code.org, which Hadi continues to lead full-time as CEO. Code.org has established computer science classes in 20% of US classrooms, created the most broadly used curriculum platform for K-12 computer science, and launched the global Hour of Code movement that has reached over 100 million students.
Hadi has served as an early advisor or investor at many tech startups including Facebook, Dropbox, airbnb, and Uber. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Axon and Convoy.
Jason Botel, Acting Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education & Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, U.S. Department of Education
Jason Botel first began his service at the Department of Education in the role of Senior White House Advisor for Education. Botel started his career teaching at Booker T. Washington Middle School in West Baltimore as a Teach For America corps member and went on to serve as founding principal and executive director of KIPP Baltimore. Most recently, he was the executive director of MarylandCAN. Botel holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in English from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in education administration and supervision from National-Louis University.
Cynthia Curry, Co-Director, National Center on Accessible Educational Materials for Learning, @clcurry, @AEM_Center
Cynthia Curry is Co-Director of the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials for Learning (AEM Center), a technical assistance center funded by the Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education. In this capacity, she works with stakeholders across preK-12, higher education, and workforce development to ensure that all learners have the same access to high-quality accessible materials and technologies for learning. A significant area of the Center’s work is to build the capacity of a cohort of states to develop scalable expertise and replicable implementation approaches for the procurement and provision of accessible materials and technologies.
Bridget Foster, SVP, SIIA, Education Technology Industry Network of SIIA
As Managing Director of ETIN, Bridget helps companies better understand the education market so that they can grow their brands worldwide. She has held key leadership positions at companies including: PolyVision, Key Curriculum, SchoolNet, PLATO Learning and as the Executive Director of the California Learning Resource Network, a service of the California Department of Education. She has served on the SIIA Board, E-Learning Workgroup, Office of the Secretary of Education, and the Technology Advisory Group, Office of the Governor of California. She has been a guest lecturer for university education programs and holds credentials in English, science, mathematics and school administration.
Christine Fox, Deputy Executive Director, SETDA, @cafox
Christine is the Deputy Executive Director for SETDA. Christine’s tasks include member professional development planning and implementation, research, and report writing. She manages the development of the annual SETDA national educational technology trends report, other SETDA research products and white papers, association professional development programs, and oversees all conference and event content.
Christine Fox’s background includes experience in education and consulting. She worked as a 3rd grade teacher, ESOL coordinator, educational consultant and curriculum developer for a national whole school reform model. Christine has a Master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language from Florida International University and received her Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Florida State University.
Lora Gibbons, Teacher, Mountain Heights Academy
Lora Gibbons received her BS from Brigham Young University in Biology Composite Teaching, with a minor in Physical Education and Coaching. Lora’s experience includes teaching Eighth Grade Science, Biology, Physical Science, Ecology, and Anatomy and Physiology in Tennessee and Utah. Lora is the Mountain Heights Academy 2017 Teacher of the Year and the eCybermission team she advised placed second in the state. She is bilingual in Spanish and she loves teaching. Lora regularly volunteers in her children’s elementary classes to teach hands-on science.
Theresa Gibson, Professional Learning & Leadership Collaborative Program, The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at NC State University’s College of Education
Theresa Gibson is the Professional Learning & Leadership Collaborative Program Manager at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at North Carolina State University. Since 2014 she has managed the development, implementation, and facilitation of the Friday Institute’s vertically aligned professional learning programs to support the transition to personalized learning for Superintendents, District Teams, School Level Administrators, Instructional Coaches, Instructional Technology Facilitators, Media Coordinators, and Teacher Leaders. Theresa also supports the implementation of the Friday Institute’s national Leadership in Blended and Digital Learning Program which has been implemented in 15 states and 19 organizations. In North Carolina she supports the the Friday Institute’s statewide professional learning programs as part of the implementation of North Carolina’s Digital Learning Initiative.
Theresa plays a key role in the business development, sustainability, evaluation, and continuous improvement. Drawing on her experience as a mathematics educator, Theresa is also a course developer for the Fraction Foundations and Teaching Statistics Through Data Investigations, and Teaching Mathematics through technology MOOC-Ed teams. In addition to her contribution as a course developer Theresa authored 8 micro-credentials that align with the Fraction Foundations course and contributes to the scoring and validation of the Institute’s micro-credentials on myriad topics. Theresa earned her B.S. in Mathematics and in Mathematics Education at Buffalo State College in NY and will complete her MBA with a certificate in Decision Analytics in December 2017 at North Carolina State University.
Melissa Greene, Director, Strategic Partnerships, SETDA, @marymelgreene
Melissa is SETDA’s Director of Strategic Partnerships and brings over 20 years of experience in education, including eight years of experience working as a sales consultant and representative in educational publishing. While at both Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Teacher Created Materials, Inc., Melissa was known for her excellent customer service and relationship building skills, as well as her creative and customized marketing strategies for all of the New York school districts that she served.
Ms. Greene’s career has focused on increasing the quality of education for all students as an educator, in the private sector and most recently via New York’s state education agency. Prior to joining SETDA, Melissa was a project coordinator in the Higher Education Office of Teacher and Leader Effectiveness at the New York State Education Department. From 2013 through 2015, Melissa coordinated grants, teacher and leadership events and meetings, professional development projects, created presentations for the Board of Regents meetings, and participated in policy-making groups and conferences in order to improve teacher and leader quality in New York State.
Bradley C. Landis, Ed.D., Montgomery County Intermediate Unit, Pennsylvania
Dr. Bradley C. Landis joined the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit in Norristown, Pennsylvania in October 2012, as the Assistant Executive Director. In this role, he provides leadership to all of the offices of the MCIU and works directly with school districts and nonpublic schools to develop services that support best practices in curriculum, instruction and professional development.
Dr. Landis has worked in public education for 32 years, serving in a variety of roles including Special Education Teacher, Elementary Teacher, Elementary Principal, Director of Technology, Assistant Superintendent and Superintendent. Before arriving at the MCIU, Dr. Landis served as Superintendent of Schools for the Pottsgrove School District. Prior to being named Superintendent in 2007, Dr. Landis worked for two years as the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum/Staff Development and Technology for the Pottsgrove School District.
Dr. Landis has served as a board member of a nonpublic school for nine years, Christopher Dock High School – the final three years as board president.
Kate Larson, Student, Mountain Heights Academy
Kate Larson, 14, is from Cedar Hills, Utah and has been attending Mountain Heights Academy for three years. She is a National Junior Honor Society member, the president of the STEM Club, and has received the President’s Volunteer Service Award. In 2016, she and her team placed second in the state in the e-cybermission science contest.
Todd Lawrence, Educational Technology Coordinator, Idaho State Department of Education, @toddlawrence208
Todd Lawrence is the Educational Technology Coordinator for the Idaho State Department of Education. His focus is on building an effective online education portal for parents and high school students, managing state and federal grants, and facilitates the Idaho 1×1 Pilot Project that launched in August 2013. After spending more than 15 years in the technology industry with Micron and HP, he decided to make a change to the education field, specifically to become a teacher. After teaching for 4 years and earning his Masters in Education degree, he somehow found his way back into the technology field while still making a difference for the students and teachers of Idaho.
Jeff Mao, Senior Director, Learning Solutions Program, Common Sense Education
Jeff Mao joined Common Sense Education in the fall of 2014. He provides strategic consulting to states and districts on the effective implementation of digital learning programs. Prior to joining Common Sense Education, Jeff served as the Learning Technology Policy Director for the Maine Department of Education. In that role, he provided leadership and education technology policy support to four Commissioners of Education, and he was directly responsible for the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI). He oversaw all aspects of the program including vision, implementation, policy, professional development, procurement and contract management. Jeff has keynoted international events sponsored by UNESCO, World Bank, InterAmerica-Development Bank, and the Korean Education and Research Information Service. He served on the Board of Directors of the State Educational Technology Directors Association for six years including two as Chair of the Board. Common Sense Media named him Educator of the year in 2012, and SETDA named him Leader of the Year in 2013.
Steve Nordmark, Chief Operating Officers, UDL-IRN
Steve’s passion is finding ways to intelligently and intentionally leverage technology to increase the effectiveness of teachers and maximize the personalization for learners. Steve has dedicated his career to advancing the conceptual development and implementation of high-value technology solutions for K-12.
It is Steve’s hope that his passion for serving learners and his background in technology, product development, strategic planning, and business development will enable him to create systemic, positive change in learning opportunities for all children. Steve’s consulting background and educational technology R&D experiences focus on bringing insight to competency-based and universally designed learning communities.
Allen Pratt, Ed.D., Executive Director
, National Rural Education Association, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, @PrattAllen, @NREA1
Dr. Allen Pratt has served as a high school science teacher and coach, a high school principal, assistant superintendent/curriculum director, executive director of the Tennessee Rural Education Association, executive director of the East Tennessee Center of Regional Excellence for the Tennessee Department of Education, and rural outreach liaison for Lincoln Memorial University. His primary interests are those issues which impact rural schools and the role of instructional leaders at the district and building levels. He is also involved at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga School of Education and Educational Leadership.
Avril A. Smart, Ph.D., Research and Engagement Manager for Future Ready Schools®, Alliance for Excellent Education
Avril A. Smart, Ph.D., joined the Alliance in March 2017 as research and engagement manager for Future Ready Schools® (FRS), for which she will provide leadership on the planning, design, and analysis of research that measures the impact of FRS. In addition, her work will explore the intersection between digital equity and personalized learning.
Prior to joining the Alliance, Dr. Smart was a research scholar at the William and Ida Friday Institute for Educational Innovation where she specialized in research, evaluation, and policy analysis and worked on several mixed methods studies focused on innovations in teaching, learning, and leadership, including initiatives at the local school and district levels. Dr. Smart’s work also emphasized the role of for-profit and nonprofit educational service agencies that provide effective and complementary instructional support outside of school.
Dr. Smart holds memberships in several professional organizations, including American Evaluation Association, American Educational Research Association, Society for Community Research and Action, Association of Black Psychologists, and Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic and Minority Issues. She earned a bachelor of arts degree from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and master of science and PhD degrees in applied social and community psychology from North Carolina State University.
DeLaina Tonks, Director, Mountain Heights Academy
DeLaina Tonks has been involved in education since 1991 and has been the director at Mountain Heights Academy, the top-rated digital school in Utah, since 2009. She also taught high school French and Spanish and worked as an instructional designer in Upper Arlington, Ohio for over a decade. She is a 2014 “Best of State – Principal” winner and was named as one of Utah Business’s “30 Women to Watch.” She is scheduled to graduate with a PhD in Instructional Psychology and Technology from Brigham Young University next year. She also holds a Master of Arts in Second Language Acquisition from the Ohio State University and a Bachelor of Arts in French and Spanish Teaching from BYU. She is passionate about leveraging technology’s promise to improve education.
Donna Trane, Student, Mountain Heights Academy
Donna Trane is in 9th grade and she lives in Uintah Basin Utah, in a little town called Myton. She has attended Mountain Heights Academy for two years. She enjoys the flexible schedule because it allows her to focus on dance, singing, acting, violin, and riding horses. In 2016, she and her team placed second in the state in the e-cybermission science contest.
Kyana Trane, Student, Mountain Heights Academy
Kyana Trane is in 9th grade and lives in the Uintah Basin in Utah. She is currently in her second year at Mountain Heights and participates in a variety of extra-curricular activities such as dance, violin, singing, acting, drawing, and riding horses. In 2016, she and her team placed second in the state in the e-cybermission science contest.
Dr. Tracy Weeks, Executive Director, SETDA, @tracyweeks
Dr. Tracy Weeks is the Executive Director for the State Education Technology Director’s Association (SETDA). Prior to joining the team at SETDA, she served as the Chief Academic and Digital Learning Officer for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, the first senior state leadership position of its kind in the nation. In that role, Dr. Weeks oversaw the areas of: K-12 Curriculum and Instruction, Career and Technical Education, Exceptional Children, and the North Carolina Virtual Public School. She also served as the state agency lead on the development of the North Carolina Digital Learning Plan.
From 2008-2014, Tracy led the North Carolina Virtual Public School, the second largest state-led virtual school in the nation, as the Chief Academic Officer and subsequently the Executive Director. She holds a bachelors degree in Secondary Math Education from UNC-Chapel Hill, a Masters of Education in Instructional Technology with a Statistics minor and a Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction from NC State University. She is a NC Teaching Fellow, NC Education Policy Fellow, and a member of Phi Kappa Phi.
John Windhausen, Jr., Executive Director, SHLB Coalition
John Windhausen, Jr. is the Executive Director of the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition, a diverse coalition of community anchor institutions, broadband companies, foundations (such as the Gates Foundation) and public interest groups. Mr. Windhausen also represents a variety of non-profit and commercial organizations through his consulting firm, Telepoly Consulting. In prior years, he served as President of a telecommunications trade association in Washington D.C., as senior counsel to the United States Senate Commerce Committee working for Senator Hollings (SC) and Senator Inouye (HI), and as staff attorney at the FCC. Mr. Windhausen currently serves on the MiCTA Board of Directors. Mr. Windhausen graduated from Yale University and the UCLA School of Law.
Sarah Young, Coordinator for Digital Teaching and Learning, Utah State Board of Education