Keynote Speakers

Kymyona Burk Ed.D.
Keynote Speaker
Kymyona Burk is a Senior Policy Fellow at ExcelinEd. In this role, she supports states pursuing a comprehensive approach to K-3 reading policy by assisting state leaders in building new or improving existing K-3 reading policies, with a heavy focus on supporting successful policy implementation.
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Previously, Dr. Burk served as the State Literacy Director at the Mississippi Department of Education where she led the implementation of Mississippi’s Literacy-Based Promotion Act.
Brent Conway M.Ed.
Keynote Speaker
Brent Conway is an educational leader with nearly 25 years of experience in the field. He has been a classroom teacher, worked in higher education, has been a special education leader, building administrator and is currently the Assistant Superintendent for the Pentucket Regional School District in West Newbury, MA.
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As a Principal, Brent led Lincoln Elementary School in Melrose, MA to achieve a National Blue Ribbon School designation for closing achievement gaps. As the Assistant Superintendent in Pentucket, he leads efforts in the district, across the state of MA and the country to implement evidence-based literacy instruction, school and district-wide systems to support literacy and provide enhanced advanced coursework opportunities for high school students. Brent is also a doctoral student in the Education Leadership program at The University of Southern Mississippi.
Emily Hanford
Emily Hanford is a senior correspondent and producer for American Public Media. Her work has appeared on NPR and in The New York Times, Washington Monthly, The Los Angeles Times and other publications.
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Her work has won numerous honors including a duPont-Columbia University Award and the Excellence in Media Reporting on Education Research Award from the American Educational Research Association. Emily is a member of the Education Writers Association’s Journalist Advisory Board and was a longtime mentor for EWA’s “new to the beat” program. For the past several years, Emily has been reporting on early reading instruction. Her 2018 podcast episode “Hard Words: Why aren’t kids being taught to read?” won the inaugural public service award from EWA. You can find all of her reporting on reading at apmreports.org/reading, including her new podcast, Sold a Story: How teaching kids to read went so wrong (soldastory.org). Emily is based in the Washington, D.C. area.

Julie Washington PhD
Keynote Speaker
Dr. Washington is a Professor in the School of Education at the University of California – Irvine (UCI). She is a Speech-Language Pathologist and is a Fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
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Dr. Washington directs the Learning Disabilities Research Innovation Hub. She is also director of the Language Variation and Academic Success (LVAS) lab at UCI. Currently, Dr. Washington’s research is focused on the intersection of literacy, language variation, and poverty. In particular, her work focuses on understanding the role of cultural dialect in assessment, identification of reading disabilities in school-aged African American children and on disentangling the relationship between language production and comprehension on development of reading and early language skills for children growing up in poverty.
Dr. Tracy White Weeden
Keynote Speaker
Dr. Tracy White-Weeden is a seasoned leader dedicated to advancing literacy success for all and academic excellence for children. She brings 28 years of experience to a calling of shaping dynamic systems-change so that children are well prepared for the realities of a 21st-century knowledge economy.
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White is also a relentless literacy advocate who frames literacy as a fundamental human right that transforms the family tree when evidence-based practices are scaled responsibly. Her life’s work has been to position literacy success for all as a moral imperative that creates a place at the table for every child and adult, regardless of zip code or country of origin.

Session Speakers

Elizabeth Bassford

Gina Biancarosa

Gina Biancarosa is the Ann Swindells Chair in Education and a full professor in the Department of Special Education and Clinical Sciences in the College of Education at the University of Oregon.
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Biancarosa’s research centers on questions related to more precise and informative measurement of reading, especially of reading comprehension, and modeling of growth in reading over time. To date, she has led the development of MOCCA, a diagnostic measure of cognitive processes involved in reading comprehension for Grades 3-5, and DIBELS 8th Edition, which now covers kindergarten through eighth grade and offers better precision and more information for teachers than previous editions. Before coming to UO, she was a reading specialist and after-school teacher in Massachusetts and completed her Master’s and Doctoral studies in Language and Literacy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
John Luke Bell
John Luke Bell is committed to a lifetime of literacy problem solving. Before joining NWEA, he was an English teacher, school leader, and consultant.
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As the Senior Content Designer for literacy-focused professional learning services at NWEA, Luke is excited to engage teachers and leaders in conversations about equitable and excellent literacy instruction.
Suzanne Carreker, Ph.D.
Suzanne Carreker, Ph.D., CALT-QI, joined Lexia Learning in 2015 as Principal Educational Content Lead and spearheaded the design of Lexia PowerUp Literacy, a ground-breaking reading program for adolescents.
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Previously, she was Senior VP of Innovative Solutions at Neuhaus Education Center, a nonprofit organization in Houston offering professional development in evidence-based reading methods to teachers. She served 10 years on the board of The International Dyslexia Association (IDA), where she led the development of a teacher certification exam. In 2009, Dr. Carreker was the recipient of the Nancy LaFevers Community Service Award for her contributions to students with dyslexia and other related learning differences in the Houston community and was selected as the 2018 recipient of the Margaret Byrd Rawson Lifetime Achievement Award by the International Dyslexia Association. She co-edited the 4th edition of the textbook Multisensory Teaching of Basic Language Skills and contributed two chapters.
Marnita Coenraad M.Ed
Marnita Coenraad is a National Board certified teacher who has worked in education for 14 years. She has a Master’s of Education in Reading and Writing instruction, as well as a M.Ed in Curriculum Studies, Mathematics with a graduate certificate in Ethnomathematics.
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Marnita has taught elementary special education, gifted education, 1st, 3rd, and 4th grades. Currently, she is the Juneau School District Project Specialist for the Raven Writes Program. Marnita is committed to developing culturally relevant curriculum, and supporting teachers in implementing engaging instructional practices that integrate the arts and decenter dominant culture narratives. Her approach to education is deeply rooted in advocating for educational equity for all students. Marnita is grateful that her work has brought her back to live and teach on lands of the Áak’w Kwáan.
Valentina Contesse
Dr. Valentina Contesse is a clinical assistant professor of special education in the School of Special Education, School Psychology, and Early Childhood Studies at the University of Florida.
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Dr. Contesse works for the University of Florida Literacy Institute (UFLI) and is the co-author of UFLI Foundations: An Explicit and Systematic Phonics Program. Dr. Contesse teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in various UF teacher preparation programs and coordinates several coursework-aligned field experiences. Additionally, she supports professional development and school-based implementation of UFLI Foundations. Dr. Contesse’s scholarship focuses on early literacy instruction and intervention, teacher preparation and training in the area of reading, and the effects of performance feedback on the implementation of evidence-based instructional practices.
Stacey Coonsis
Ms. Stacey Coonsis was born and raised on the Navajo Nation in northwestern Arizona. She currently serves as the 4th-grade educator at Native American Community Academy (NACA) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Prior to working at NACA, Ms. Coonsis spent 8 years serving as a Bureau of Indian Education educator.
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She completed her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of New Mexico. Ms. Coonsis is committed to being a lifelong learner and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in educational leadership at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. GO CRIMSON!

In her free time, she enjoys reading autobiographies/biographies and historical fiction; watching true crime documentaries; spending time with her daughter. Ms. Coonsis loves sending and receiving snail mail postcards and collecting pens.

Diane Katzenmeyer Delgado
Diane Katzenmeyer Delgado is currently a Teacher Coach with NISN and the NM CES LEAP Program. She brings 33 years of educational experience as an Administrator, Principal, Director of Instruction, Teacher and Coach with both public schools and tribally controlled schools to her work as a curriculum writer and editor for the NISN Native Literature Project.

Hollins Emili

Dr. Marybeth Flachbart Ed.D
Dr. Flachbart provides technical assistance to schools, districts, and states to build capacity for literacy and school improvement.
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Most recently she was the lead author of the Alaska Reading Playbook and worked closely with the staff of the Region 16 Comprehensive Center and the Department of Education & Early Development. In the past year she provided more than a dozen training sessions for Alaskan educators and paraprofessionals. Prior to joining our team, she was the Director of the Region 17 Comprehensive Center serving the State Departments of Education for both Idaho and Montana from 2015 until 2020. Dr. Flachbart served as president and CEO of the Neuhaus Education Center in Houston, Texas; a nonprofit think tank for literacy solutions that specializes in supporting individuals with dyslexia through applied literacy and language research and professional learning for educators from 2011 until 2015. Marybeth has also served as Deputy Superintendent of Student Achievement and School Improvement at the Idaho State Department of Education, taught at Boise State University, established, and directed Idaho’s Reading First Program. Dr. Flachbart and consulted and created professional development for the network of National Reading First Technical Assistance Centers. Her classroom experience includes 10 years of both general and special education. Marybeth holds an Ed.D. in curriculum and instruction from Boise State University and an M.S. in special education from Fairfield University. She is a Certified Academic Language Therapist (CALT) and a dyslexia specialist.

Kristi Graber

Dr. Kristi Graber is the Administrator of the Academic Support Team at DEED.
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In this role, she supports districts through their implementation of the Alaska Reads Act and leads the Department Reading Program intensive support team. Additionally, she supports the teacher professional development and training initiatives at DEED. She has taught in both special and general education classrooms, while having the opportunity to collaborate with educators in classrooms all over the world. Her research focus is reading fluency and teacher preparedness in the foundational skills of reading, earning her Doctorate at Northwest Nazarene University. Kristi also serves on the board of IDA-Alaska, supporting families of children with dyslexia.

Danielle Hass

Danielle Hass was born and raised in Southeast Alaska where she now lives with her husband and two-year old son.
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As a former classroom teacher of seven years, Danielle primarily taught grades 4th and 5th in the Juneau School District. She is currently the Literacy Specialist for the Raven Writes program at Sealaska Heritage Institute.

Under the Raven Writes program, Danielle works with teams of educators and cultural specialists to develop culturally relevant writing curricula. The curriculum embodies Indigenous ways of knowing and learning, centering Tlingit core cultural values. These values are embedded within the units, as they are reflected in mentor texts, lesson activities, and culturally responsive teaching practices.

Along with curriculum development, Danielle strives to provide high quality professional development for educators in the Juneau School District.

Marci Houseman MSA

Marci is celebrating her 30th year as an educator. She has taught elementary and middle school and served as a turnaround principal for a Title I school in North Carolina.
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Her work in education leadership focuses on school improvement efforts that are anchored in the collaborative use of data and evidence based practices to improve instruction. In her role with Lexia, she partners with states that are working to empower educators to change more lives more often by aligning their instruction to the science.

Marci’s study of Abraham Lincoln has had a significant impact on her core beliefs for leadership. She seeks to emulate five of his leadership traits: courage, integrity, empathy, creativity and equity. She integrates these core beliefs within her professional specialties. These specialties include developing and delivering effective professional learning, providing targeted and impactful coaching, engaging in personalized leadership development and collaborating with teams to foster high-functioning professional learning communities.

As a connected educator, Marci regularly engages in essential conversations on literacy and educational leadership with a variety of thought leaders via Twitter. She believes leaders are readers and readers are leaders and is perpetually on the lookout for the next book to add to her professional library. She invites Alaskan educators to find her on Twitter and share their book recommendations!

Jerusha Ignacio

I am Dine’ (Navajo) from the small community of Ojo Encino, New Mexico.
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I am Ute Clan and born for the Mud Clan, my maternal grandparents are Red House Clan and my paternal grandparents are Bitterwater Clan. This is how I identify myself as a Native American woman. I have been teaching for 15+ years, primarily with indigenous children in various educational settings in the states of New Mexico and Arizona. My passion for teaching was motivated by the need for highly effective teachers in my home community. I saw a need in the community and wanted to meet that need. I currently work for the Bureau of Indian Education at Ojo Encino Day School, helping our indigenous students take pride in their cultural identity and to become native scholars. My drive in education is to help our indigenous students become effective change agents in their own communities – to see a need and meet that need.

Joel Isaak MFA

Joel Isaak is an artist, educator, and lifelong learner. He uses the unique way the arts uncover understanding for working in an educational environment that combines a formal Western education model with customary traditional Native Alaskan life ways.
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Indigenous language work inspires Isaak’s artistic practice and education methodology. He currently serves as a Tribal Affairs Director for Alaska’s Department of Education and Early Development.
Lisa Klein
Lisa Klein is Vice President of Keys to Literacy, a literacy-focused professional development organization based in Massachusetts that trains educators across the country. An experienced educator with a passion for literacy and learning, she began teaching in 1995 at the Landmark School, a school renowned for their work with children and adolescents with language-based learning disabilities.
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Throughout her career in education, Lisa enjoyed being a classroom teacher, a special educator, and a reading specialist, in both urban and suburban schools. As a Keys to Literacy trainer for eight years, she was passionate about her work with students, teachers, and administrators from schools across the United States. In her current role, Lisa appreciates the opportunity to collaborate with district and school leadership to customize professional development plans which bring consistent literacy routines to students across all grade levels and subject areas.
Joshua Krause
Joshua Krause is the Director of Curriculum and Professional Inquiry for the NACA Inspired Schools Network (NISN) where he convenes Indigenous genius from NISN school communities to design community-led curriculum and professional learning that centers holistic wellness, identity development, and academic relevance for Indigenous youth.

Susan Lambert M.Ed.

Susan Lambert is the Chief Academic Officer, Elementary Humanities at Amplify and the host of Science of Reading: The Podcast. Her career, including classroom teacher, building administrator and district-level leader, has been focused on creating high quality learning environments using evidence-based practices.
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She has worked in public, private, and charter schools both nationally and internationally. Susan holds a B.Ed, M.Ed, advanced coursework in Educational Policy, and is currently pursuing her Ed.D.

Allison Layland PhD

Dr. Layland has more than 30 years of teaching and leadership experience in general and special education at the school, district, and state levels
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She brings research to practice building the capacity of state and local agencies in school improvement, instructional transformation, systems of support, and strategic performance management to better service students and their families.
Amy Jo Meiners MS
Amy Jo Meiners is an Educational Specialist with Region 16 Comprehensive Center and SERRC: Alaska’s Educational Resource Center.
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After 30 years in the K-5 classroom at Auke Bay and Riverbend Elementary Schools in the Juneau School District, Amy Jo shifted to support statewide projects to improve student achievement. As the 2016 Alaska Teacher of the Year, Amy Jo contributed to a significant reform effort, Alaska’s Education Challenge: increase student success, cultivate safety and well-being, and support responsible and reflective learners. Current projects support all students to read at grade level by the end of third grade and retain effective education professionals. Amy Jo holds a B.A. in Elementary Education from Whitworth University, and an M.S. in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment from Walden University.

Lucy Hart Paulson Ed. D

Dr. Lucy Hart Paulson, Ed.D., CCC-SLP, is an author and literacy specialist with a mission of bringing research to practice. She is also a speech-language pathologist with many years of experience working with educators and with young children and their families in a wide range of educational settings.
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In addition, Lucy was an associate professor teaching and conducting research in the areas of language and literacy development and disorders. She provides professional development using a broad-based perspective blending areas of language and literacy together resulting in effective, appropriate, and engaging language-based literacy instruction and intervention for all children. Finally, Lucy is the co-author of the Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) for Early Childhood Educators, 2nd Edition, Building Early Literacy and Language Skills, a resource and activity guide for young children, and also for Good Talking Words, 2nd Edition, a social communication skills program for young children.
Allison Peck PhD
Allison Peck is currently the Chief Academic Officer at Neuhaus Education Center in Houston, Texas. She holds certifications as a Certified Academic Language Therapist-Qualified Instructor, Licensed Dyslexia Therapist for the state of Texas, and a Structured Literacy Dyslexia Specialist per the International Dyslexia Association.
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She is a special education, general education, and reading specialist teacher, with her experience being in the public school (middle school) and private school (elementary) realms for the last 18 years. She started her journey in the field of education after her oldest child was diagnosed with dyslexia. Allison has a BA in Political Science, an MLA in History, and an MEd in Curriculum and Instruction. She recently completed her Ph.D. in Literacy at St. John’s University in New York. Her dissertation and current research are centered on the link between the structured practice of oral language in the classroom and the development of third-grade student writing skills.

Dr. Patti Permenter

Patti Permenter, Ed.D. is a consultant with the Academic Development Institute (ADI).
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She has served as an empowerment specialist and coach for the Successful School Improvement Project with DEED, SERRC, and Region 16. Dr. Permenter is currently an assistant professor for William Carey University School of Education where she teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in Integrating Reading and Writing in the Content Areas and Classroom Management. She is a founder and co-chair of the MS Rural Education Association. She is also the Associate Director for the Program of Research and Evaluation for Public Schools, a non-profit organization. Dr. Permenter has 28 years of experience as a K-12 educator, and she achieved National Board Certification as an Early Childhood Generalist during that time. Areas of interest include Rural Schools, Integrating the Arts, Early Childhood Education, and Working with Students in Poverty.
Tricia Skyles
Tricia McKale Skyles is a senior educational consultant with Randy’s Sprick’s Safe and Civil Schools.
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After being a classroom teacher, Tricia served as an Instructional Coach with Dr. Jim Knight. Through her initial work with coaching, she assisted teachers in implementing CHAMPS Classroom Management. After moving into the role of Behavior Coach, she began to work extensively with the Safe and Civil Schools library of resources. She now works with SCS to provide training, coaching, and consultation with district and campus leaders, classroom teachers, and paraprofessionals. A middle school teacher at heart, Tricia now resides in Rolla, MO, with her family, when she isn’t flying around the country in an aluminum tube.
Rebecca Tolson PhD
Rebecca Tolson is Vice President of Literacy Initiatives for Neuhaus Education Center.

Tolson has a PhD in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Akron and is a member of Academic Therapy Association at the level of Qualified Instructor and Certified Academic Language Therapist and a Certified Dyslexia Therapist through the International Dyslexia Association.

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Tolson began her career in education as a fifth-grade teacher and later transitioned to teaching both children and adults with learning disabilities. She specializes in using Structured Literacy techniques as intervention for dyslexia and dysgraphia.

Tolson is an instructor in the Masters of Dyslexia Therapy program at Walsh University.