SETDA Leadership Summit 2021

Featured Speakers

Geoff Belleau headshotGeoff Belleau
Education Program Consultant, California Department of Education

Geoff Belleau is an education program consultant at the California Department of Education. He has 25 years of experience as a highschool, middle-school, and elementary-school educator. Before joining the Department of Education, he was a county office administrator, serving as program manager for instructional technology. In this role, he coordinated instructional technology projects along with district IT administrators and worked with schools and districts on technology integration and professional development. He has presented at several state and national education technology conferences. In his current role he supports schools in CA and the broadband grant as well as facilitating several special construction grants bringing broadband to under/unconnected schools.

Doug Casey BoardDoug Casey
Executive Director, Connecticut State Commission for Educational Technology
Doug Casey serves as the Executive Director for the Connecticut State Commission for Educational Technology (CET). In that role, he designs and manages strategic plans that help ensure the successful integration of technology in Connecticut’s schools, libraries, universities, and towns. The CET has direct oversight of statewide programs including the Connecticut Education Network (CEN, the state’s research and education network), its digital library (researchIT, formerly iCONN), and other initiatives.

Prior to joining the CET, Doug served for nearly 10 years as the Director of Technology for the Capitol Region Education Council (CREC) in Hartford. There he oversaw and implemented significant improvements in business processes, digital security, and information management for the agency’s 25 schools, 36 districts in the Hartford area, and schools statewide.

Zac Chase HeadshotZac Chase
6-12 Language Arts Curriculum and Library & Media Services Coordinator, St. Vrain Valley School District
Zac Chase is a lifelong learner who lives and works in Colorado. Co-Author of Building School 2.0: Creating the Schools We Need and lead on the 2016 U.S. National Education Technology Plan, Zac currently serves as the 6-12 Language Arts Curriculum and Library & Media Services Coordinator for the St. Vrain Valley School District in Longmont, CO. A graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Education Policy and Management, Zac was also a classroom teacher who proudly helped to build the inquiry-driven, project-based, tech-enabled Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, PA. Zac has worked nationally in the U.S. as well as with teachers and system leaders in Canada, Malaysia, Australia, South Africa, Kenya, and Pakistan. He blogs at and tweets as @MrChase.

Photo Cynthia Curry

Cynthia Curry
Director, National Center on Accessible Educational Materials (AEM Center) at CAST
Cynthia works with stakeholders across early learning, K-12, higher ed, workforce development, families and EdTech developers to increase the availability and use of accessible materials and technologies for individuals with disabilities. Cynthia brings diverse career experiences to her role, including positions as an engineer, science teacher, statewide technology integration mentor for the Maine Learning Technology Initiative, OSEP project director and lecturer at the University of Southern Maine, and instructional designer and disability services coordinator at the University of New England.

Bart Epstein headshotBart Epstein
CEO, EdTech Evidence Exchange
Bart Epstein leads a national movement to improve the use of research and the impact of technology in our schools. As CEO of the EdTech Evidence Exchange, and a research associate professor at the University of Virginia, he is building sector-wide consensus on which “edtech implementation variables” are most important to student achievement, and creating a software platform to collect and distribute research-based feedback from hundreds of thousands of educators. Bart previously founded the first edtech accelerator focused on efficacy research and organized the original EdTech Efficacy Research Academic Symposium. Before spending ten years helping to run the world’s largest online tutoring and homework help service, he served as a law clerk to the former Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals and then worked for a number of years as a corporate lawyer at a prominent international law firm. Bart has been published and/or profiled recently in EdSurge, Education Week, The Hill, Fast Company, and the Hechinger Report.

Julie Evans HeadshotJulie Evans
CEO, Project Tomorrow
Dr. Julie A. Evans is the CEO of Project Tomorrow ( and is the founder of the heralded Speak Up Research Project which annually collects and reports on the authentic views of 400,000 K-12 students, parents and educators on key education issues each year.  Dr. Evans serves as the chief researcher on the Speak Up Project as well as leading research efforts on the impact of innovative learning models and interventions in both K-12 and higher education.  Dr. Evans is the longest serving woman executive in the education technology nonprofit sector.

Prior to this position, Dr. Evans enjoyed a successful career in national and regional sales and marketing management with Unisys and two education technology startups.  As a thought leader and influencer, she brings to new discussions insights from her experiences within the technology industry, entrepreneurship, nonprofit management, and education research.  Dr. Evans is a graduate of Brown University and earned her doctorate in educational leadership from the University of California, San Diego and California State University San Marcos.  She serves on several boards and advisory and is a frequent speaker and writer on new learning models within education, most notably around digital learning.   Among her many accolades and awards, Dr. Evans was named in April 2020 as the winner of EdTech Digest’s National Leader award.

Julia Fallon
Executive Director, SETDA
Julia Fallon is the Executive Director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), where she works with U.S. state and territorial digital learning leaders to empower the education community to leverage technology for learning, teaching, and school operations.

Involved with learning technologies since 1989, her professional interest lies in making the case for public school systems wherein educators are able to optimize technology-rich learning environments to equitably engage the learners who fill their classrooms.

Prior to joining SETDA as the executive director in 2021, Julia worked for Washington’s K-12 education agency, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) as the Title II, Part A Program Lead, where she provided operational leadership and oversight of the federal program designed to improve the quality of instruction and administration.

Tricia Farris HeadshotTricia Farris
Senior Assistant Director, AEM Corporation
Tricia Farris has fifteen years of implementation experience in business process re-engineering, project management, stakeholder engagement, requirement gathering, data analysis, and the systems development lifecycle. She has over ten years of experience working with education data standards. Her career has brought her into frequent contact with schools, state and local education agencies, universities, and teacher preparation programs.

Rick Gaisford
Educational Technology Specialist, Utah State Office of Education and Secretary
Rick Gaisford has 23 years in education at the classroom, school, district and state levels. Currently, Rick is the Educational Technology Specialist for the Utah State Office of Education. His current state responsibilities include teacher professional development on integrating technology, the educational technology core curriculum for K-12 students, and consulting with districts on how to effectively integrate technology tools and resources into teaching and learning. Previously he was an elementary school teacher, school technology specialist, district technology trainer and technology specialist. He is currently on the SETDA Board of Directors and previously served as the Board Chair. He has also served on the state ASCD and ISTE affiliate boards of directors.

Kim Gondwe HeadshotKimberly Gondwe
Program Manager, Education Data and Information Systems (EDIS)
Kimberly Gondwe joined the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) in 2009 and serves as the Program Manager for Education Data and Information Systems (EDIS). In her role, she helps lead the activities of the Education Information Management Advisory Collaborative (EIMAC) and CIO Network as well as supporting states in building statewide education data systems and using education data to improve student performance primarily. In her role, she is also responsible for advancing CCSSO’s commitment to digital equity by supporting chiefs and senior state education agency staff through thought partnership and advancing equity across the EIMAC program.

Melissa Greene
Director, Strategic Partnerships, SETDA
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.

Brad Hagg HeadshotBrad Hagg
Director of Educational Technology, Indiana Department of Education
Brad Hagg currently serves as the Director of Educational Technology in the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) in the areas of E-Rate, Cybersecurity, Connectivity, and Ed-Fi Data Modernization.  He has worked in Indiana schools for over 22 years, serving as Director of Technology and Chief Technology Officer for two public school districts.

Hagg has served as a board member, chairman, and president of the Hoosier Educational Computer Coordinators (HECC) organization.  He has also been an active member of the Consortium of School Networking (CoSN) organization as well as its Indiana CTO Council chapter.  He has been selected as the Technology Coordinator of the Year in Indiana and was also recognized by National School Boards Association (NSBA) as part of its “20 to Watch” Educational Technology Leaders program.

David Huffman-WalddonDavid Huffman-Walddon
Renaissance Strategic Consulting
Over the course of 16 years David Huffman-Walddon worked for the State of Washington in various Technology roles in three different agencies. David also spent 7 years working for Microsoft, first in the Worldwide Partners in Learning Program and then as a contractor in various parts of the technology and education enterprise. Currently David is the President and a Senior Consultant at Renaissance Strategic Consulting. He and his team help state and local governments, as well as large and small private companies, leverage the potential of new and next technologies to maximize business success. David has sat on the Board of Directors of SETDA several times and was a board member and President of the Board of NCCE. David lives in the Portland Metro area and loves to cook anything and everything, as well as spend time at the beaches and in the mountains of great Pacific Northwest.

Kristina Ishmael headshotKristina Ishmael
Deputy Director of the Office of Ed Tech, U.S. Department of Education
Kristina Ishmael is an educator, learner, advocate, and agent of change. She is the Deputy Director of the Office of Ed Tech and brings a wide variety of experience to actively change teaching and learning to provide more equitable access and opportunities for every learner.

Ishmael most recently worked as an educational consultant where she supported educators, schools, and nonprofits as they navigated new learning environments. Additionally, she was the Sr. Research Fellow on New America’s Teaching, Learning, & Tech team where she advised on the inclusive technology portfolio that picked up her prior OER work, and incorporated digital equity and culturally responsive and sustaining education.

Prior to leading the #GoOpen project at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Ed Tech, she was the Digital Learning Specialist for the Nebraska Department of Education where she led professional learning and advocated for school librarians. This experience granted her a unique perspective on leveraging educational technology in urban, suburban, and rural school systems. Kristina started as an early childhood and elementary teacher of emerging bilingual students in Omaha, Nebraska.

Meredith JacobMeredith Jacob
Public Lead, Creative Commons USA
Meredith Jacob is the Director of the Project on Copyright and Open Licensing at the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property at American University Washington College of Law.  She is a co-author of the Best Practices in Fair Use for Open Educational Resources and the Public Lead for Creative Commons United States.  Her other work includes serving on the steering committee of the Open COVID Patent Pledge and the Low Carbon Patent Pledge.  Meredith is a graduate of the Washington College of Law and Williams College.

Hillary Knudson HeadshotHillary Knudson
Director, Whiteboard Advisors
Hillary operates at the nexus of policy and politics, focusing on strategy, advocacy, and research across the PK-12 landscape. Her driving vision is towards system-level change that advances equity in access and success for all students and their transition to postsecondary. Over the past decade, she has worked at the federal, state, and district level in advancing policy, legislation, and implementation.

Before joining W/A, she served as Deputy Chief of Staff at the Tennessee Department of Education. During her tenure, she co-authored Tennessee’s ESSA plan and oversaw the implementation of multi-million dollar strategic initiatives connected to accountability and assessment, early literacy, high quality instructional materials, and school improvement efforts across the state. Prior to TDOE, Hillary worked as K12 policy staffer for the Senate HELP Committee supporting the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act through the legislative process and final passage of ESSA.

Hillary earned her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Child Development from Vanderbilt University and her Master’s degree in Education Policy and Organizational Leadership from Stanford Graduate School of Education.

Keith Krueger HeadshotKeith R. Krueger
CEO, Consortium for School Networking (CoSN)
Keith R. Krueger is CEO of the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), a nonprofit organization that serves as the voice of K-12 school system technology leaders in North America.  CoSN’s mission is empowering educational leaders to leverage technology to realize engaging learning environments.

He was selected by Ed Tech magazine for it’s 2021 K-12 IT influencers.  In 2016 Technology & Learning selected him as one of the “big 10” most influential people in ed tech, and the Center for Digital Education identified him as a Top 30 Technologist/Transformer/Trailblazer.  In 2008 he was selected by eSchool News as one of ten people who have had a profound impact on educational technology over the last decade.  In 2016 he received a Special Recognition award from the Council of Great City Schools.

He is the current Chair of the Learning First Alliance and is on the Executive Committee of the National Coalition on Technology in Education & Training (NCTET).  He serves on many Advisory Boards including the Friday Institute at NC State University, the Public Policy Advisory Council for the American Library Association, Ed Tech Digest, as well as previously the Education Committee of the National Park System.  He is principal investigator of the Driving K-12 Innovation series.

reg leichty headshotReg Leichty
Founder and Partner, FLP Advisors
With over two decades of legal, policy, and lobbying experience, Reg advises education leaders, national associations, and other stakeholders about the federal laws, regulations, and programs that directly impact and support efforts to expand and improve educational opportunities. Among other laws, he counsels clients about the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, and the Universal Service provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. His recent work has included a specific focus on federal requirements and programs related to education technology, early learning, accountability and assessment, data use, and educator professional development and preparation.

Douglas Levin
Co-founder and National Director of the K12 Security Information Exchange (K12 SIX)
Douglas A. Levin is co-founder and national director of the K12 Security Information Exchange (K12 SIX), a non-profit membership community dedicated to helping the K12 sector defend itself against emerging cybersecurity threats. He has been engaged in education and technology policy issues for over two decades in a variety of roles most prominently in helping to develop and implement the nation’s first education technology plan and strategy in 1996 under President Clinton, as well as its subsequent updates in 2000 and again in 2004 (under President Bush). He also consulted on the development of the 2016 plan (under President Obama). From 2009-15, he served as executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA). Previously, Mr. Levin held positions with the American Institutes for Research, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, and the National Association of State Boards of Education.

Sean McDonough
Corporate & Member Engagement Coordinator, NYSCATE
Sean McDonough is the Corporate & Member Engagement Coordinator for NYSCATE, New York’s premier educational technology member association and affiliate to SETDA. Sean works with members and partners on ways to enhance technology’s role in supporting teaching and learning. He has 30 years of educational technology leadership experience in the public and private sectors as a teacher, district, regional, and state technology administrator, and consultant. Sean is an active leader in various educational technology organizations including ISTE and CoSN. He is the former Bureau Director of Educational Technology for PA Department of Education and served as a SETDA member while at PDE. Sean holds a B.A. in Mass Communications and Government and a M.S. in Instructional Technology.

Janice Mertes HeadshotJanice D. Mertes
Assistant Director of Digital Learning , WI Department of Public Instruction
Janice Mertes is the Assistant Director for Teaching and Learning -Digital Learning team at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI). Janice leads the statewide Future Ready and Wisconsin Digital Learning Plan programs in addition to the State Superintendent’s Digital Learning Advisory Council (DLAC) focused on policy, practice, funding, and research. Janice coordinates partnership programming with the Wisconsin Digital Learning Collaborative (WDLC) to support online and blended learning along with other partners to support personalized, innovative student learning opportunities. The digital learning team supports the Wisconsin standards for Information and Technology Literacy, Keeping Kids Safe Online Cybersafety, digital leadership development, Title IVA and ESSA program support, coding, and district planning. Janice is a CoSN Certified Educator Technology Leader (CETL) and helps to coordinate the statewide credentialing program with the Wisconsin Education Technology Leaders. Janice previously served on the SETDA Board of Directors and currently leads the SETDA State Action committee. She currently serves on the CoSN Driving Innovation workgroup. She was named as one of Ed Scoop’s Top 25 State Leaders in 2017.

Erin Mote HeadshotErin Mote
Executive Director and Co-Founder, InnovateEDU
Erin Mote is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of InnovateEDU. In this role, Erin leads the organization and its major projects including technology product development, work on data interoperability and data systems, and an urban education Fellowship for new educators. She leads the organization’s work on creating uncommon alliances to create systems change – in special education, talent development, and data modernization.  An enterprise architect, she created, alongside her team, two of InnovateEDU’s signature technology products –  Cortex, a next-generation personalized learning platform, and Landing Zone – a cutting-edge infrastructure as a service data product.

Erin is also the co-founder of Brooklyn Laboratory Charter School with her husband Dr. Eric Tucker. She is a recognized leader in technology, mobile, and broadband and has spent much of her career focused on expanding access to technology in the US and abroad. She has led ground-breaking initiatives, including scaling wireless communications to the developing world, developing global and national strategic technology plans, and work with the country’s leading technology companies. Erin has served in an advisory capacity to the White House/OSTP’s US Ignite Initiative, the Obama Administration’s Global Development Innovation Policy, the State Department’s TechCamp program, and the Obama Administration’s intra-agency process for Rio 2.0 and Rio+20. Erin served as the founding Chief of Party for the USAID Global Broadband and Innovations Alliance – a $19.5 million global technology expansion project.

Sandy O'Neil NJDOESandy O’Neil
2020 SLY Award Winner, New Jersey Department of Education (Retired)

Sandy is the former Title II-A and Title IV-A Coordinator at the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) and has also served as the State E-rate Coordinator for education. She has had a 23-year fascinating career at the New Jersey Department of Education and has been fortunate enough to sit on national committees for the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), the National CyberSafety Alliance (NCSA)and currently co-facilitates the national SETDA Title II-A Collaborativefor Title II-A directors. She graduated from Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA and has taught grades K-8. She received her master’s degree from Georgian Court University before her initial position as an Educational Technology Specialist at the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE)

Evo PopoffEvo Popoff
Senior Vice President, Whiteboard Advisors
Evo Popoff most recently served as Chief Innovation Officer and an Assistant Commissioner for the New Jersey Department of Education. Prior to joining the Department, Popoff served as the Senior Vice President of Achievement Solutions at EdisonLearning, Inc., where he supported public schools and districts across the country by developing and implementing innovative solutions to improve outcomes for students. When Mr. Popoff joined the Edison Learning organization in 2004, he helped to develop and manage the organization’s school improvement, turnaround and online learning and assessment solutions. Over the course of his employment, he devoted much of his time to working closely with states, districts and schools to help them develop and implement effective school turnaround, after-school, online and blended-learning programs.

Before beginning his career in education, Mr. Popoff practiced law at McDermott, Will & Emery where he worked on labor and employment, antitrust and general corporate issues. Mr. Popoff holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Chicago and a J.D. from the George Washington University Law School.

Stan Silverman
New York State Teacher Centers
Stan Silverman specializes in the application of instructional technologies to enhance teaching and learning in K–12 settings. He currently serves as the chair of the NYS Teacher Center Technology Committee, as a member of the NYS Board of Regents Technology Council, with the Professor Garfield Foundation, and is serving as a mentor in the Intel Education Accelerator. Silverman also runs the Technology Based Learning System Department that supports numerous grants and contracts supporting K–12 education throughout the United States, as well as coordinating the establishment of public/private partnerships in New York State. He received his degree in Physics from SUNY Stony Brook and his administrative degree from C.W. Post (LIU).

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