2019 Conference Speakers


Opening Keynote: The Opposite of Hate

Sally Kohn

Sally Kohn is one of the leading progressive voices in America today. Currently a CNN political commentator and columnist, Sally's first book THE OPPOSITE OF HATE was published in April 2018. Sally is a frequent keynote speaker at business conferences and college campuses talking about political division, hate, otherizing, diversity and identity — and how we can solve the deep problems of our past and present.

Previously a Fox News contributor, Sally's writing has appeared in the Washington Post, New York Times, New York Magazine, More Magazine, RollingStone, USA Today, Time, Afar Magazine and many other outlets. Her three hit TED Talks have been viewed more than 4 million times and her work has been highlighted by outlets ranging from the Colbert Report to the National Review. Sally is a popular media trainer and public speaking coach, helping build the skills of everyone from grassroots leaders to C-suite executives.

Find Sally: website, on Twitter @sallykohn, and on Instagram @SallyKohn.


Closing Keynote: From Privilege to Progress

Michelle Saahene & Melissa DePino

Melissa DePino and Michelle Saahene met at Starbucks in Philadelphia on April 12, 2018. They connected after witnessing two innocent black men being arrested for not buying a coffee. Michelle was the first person to speak up, and Melissa tweeted the video, which went viral with over 13 million views. It took their cohesive effort -- a black woman and a white woman standing up to racism -- to set off an international story that sparked the dialogue on what racism looks like today. 

Together they started From Privilege to Progress, a national movement that calls on allies to #ShowUp against racism by understanding and using their privilege to speak up in their everyday lives and amplify in their social media networks.

Melissa and Michelle continue the conversation they started that day through social media campaigns and speaking engagements that create awareness and inspire action.

Find Michelle and Melissa: website, on Facebook, on Twitter @privtoprog, and on Instagram @privtoprog.


Featured Speaker: The New Childhood: Raising Kids to Thrive in a Connected World

Jordan Shapiro, PhD

Jordan Shapiro believes it’s time for a new approach to screen time, and that we need to rethink parental attitudes toward technology. There's a damaging orthodoxy that presents screen-time as the ultimate modern parenting evil and the only acceptable response to it is restriction. Shapiro, psychologist, educational pioneer and father of two, draws on cutting-edge research in education, philosophy, neuroscience and psychology to show we've let fear and nostalgia stand in the way of our children's best interests. In his optimistic, inspiring and practical guide to the new, digital frontier of childhood, he reframes gaming, social media and smartphones to offer fresh, evidence-based advice on how to take a more progressive approach.

Jordan Shapiro, PhD, is a world-renowned thought leader on global policy and education. He's a senior fellow for the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, where he coordinates research and advocacy around digital technology, child development, and family life. He teaches at Temple University, and he wrote a column for Forbes' on global education and digital play from 2012 to 2017. He lives in Philadelphia.

Find Jordan: website, on Facebook, on Twitter @jordosh, and on Instagram @jordosh.


Featured Speaker: If “Yes” Means “Yes” and “No” Means “No,” then Why is Teaching Consent so Hard?

Sara Narva

Sara Narva has taught theater, dance, sexuality education at The Crefeld School for 13 years. She also serves as the Co-Coordinator of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Sara’s signature curriculum, Power/Play: Teen Dating & Healthy Relationships, goes beyond the basics of sex ed and delves into the complex dynamics of intimacy, communication, and the impacts of gender socialization. In all of her teaching, Sara creates a learning environment where her students can think, learn and talk about the issues they face. She has presented her work as a sexuality educator at multiple National conferences.

As a dance and theater teacher, Sara invites her students to bring their physical, emotional, personal and intellectual selves into the learning space. Under Sara’s direction, students create dynamic performances that integrate personal stories, reflection on identity as well as grapple with issues of race, gender and being a young person in today’s world. She has presented at the National Dance Education Organization as well as published about her dance teaching practice.

Workshop Presenters


Andrea Anza

Chair, LS and MS Science Departments, Doane Academy, Burlington, NJ

WORKSHOP: Advisory - Where Each Student is Known, Loved, and Encouraged to Realize Their Potential

After teaching overseas for 4 years, Andrea Anza returned to the United States and for the last year has helped Doane Academy strengthen and grow the support structures for its Middle School students. Andrea brings a wealth of understanding of how to connect with students and help them grow to her daily role as middle school science teacher and academic advisor.


Brooke Carroll

Principal Consultant and Coach, Acies Strategies, MD

WORKSHOP: New Research on Leadership and Governance in Small Schools: Findings and Recommendations

Brooke Carroll, Ph.D. is Principal Consultant and Coach at Acies Strategies, supporting small schools through leadership coaching, Board development, and strategic thinking and planning. Brooke holds a doctorate in educational psychology and has over 20 years of experience leading schools and nonprofits. She has served on several Boards in various roles. Prior to consulting and coaching, Brooke was Head of School for nine years at Seneca Academy, an International Baccalaureate World School. aciesstrategies.com


Tanya Espy-Disparti

Assistant Director of Enrollment, The Calhoun School, New York, NY

WORKSHOP: Reducing Bias in Admissions

Tanya Espy-Disparti is a native New Yorker who is committed to ensuring that young people, from all communities, have access to a quality education. She currently works in Admissions in a Progressive Independent School on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.


Kevin Gailey

Head of School, Midwest Academy, Carmel, IN

WORKSHOP: Culture Building in a Small School Environment

Kevin Gailey is the Head of School for Midwest Academy, a child centered progressive school for students with learning differences in grades 3-12/Post Grad.  Kevin enjoys sharing Midwest's story and is highly focused on strengthening the school's mission, developing its intentional culture, promoting staff development and enhancing all aspects of student programming.  He also appreciates the opportunity to assist other organizations as they make progress towards their goals and desires to develop a strong sense of community.


Jill Goodman

Jill Goodman Consulting, MD

WORKSHOP: Beyond Wine and Gossip: Parent Volunteerism as a Key to Advancement and Retention

Jill Goodman is a consultant with a diverse range of skills across the non-profit and educational sectors. With over 20 years of experience in developing high-level strategy, executing and growing core programs to forward the mission of numerous independent schools and organizations, Jill’s intense listening skills have helped her develop a reputation for providing exceptional results in executive mentoring, brand analysis, and fundraising initiatives.


Susan Guerette

Attorney at Law, Fisher & Phillips LLP, Radnor, PA

WORKSHOP: How to Manage 24/7 Social Media and "Off the Clock" Conduct


Dave Mullen

Head of School, The Nora School, Silver Spring, MD

WORKSHOP: Mindfulness as Self Care

Dave Mullen has over 35 years of classroom and administrative experience. A long-time practitioner of mindfulness meditation, he has led The Nora School to be one of the nation’s Mindful Schools and to be the first US school to have the entire school participate in the Mindfulness in Schools Project.  In addition to college degrees in music and educational administration, he holds certification in the Dot B-Mindfulness in Schools Curriculum, the Mindful Schools Curriculum, and the New England Educational Institute Symposia on Mindfulness. In addition to his work at The Nora School he has taught mindfulness at the Food and Drug Administration and at both the Beginning Teacher Institutes and the Mentor Teacher Institutes at the Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington.


Dana Nelson-Isaacs

Founder and President, DNI Consulting, CA

WORKSHOP: Using Data to Power Your Messaging Strategy

Dana has twenty years of experience working within and between all levels of administration and faculty, parents, students, board members, and other community stakeholders regarding a range of topics including enrollment management, communication, marketing, and parent and student satisfaction.

In addition to on-the-ground experience working within schools in various admission and marketing roles at four different institutions, Dana is an expert in market research, enrollment feasibility studies and strategic enrollment management projects. Additionally, she has led projects as a consultant in areas including parent satisfaction, admission office efficiencies, staff coaching, curriculum planning, and exit interviewing.

Dana currently serves as the coordinator of the Bay Area Directors of Admission consortium, consisting of approximately 75 schools. Among a variety of tasks to keep the group up and running, she is responsible for professional development planning and other organizational leadership.

Dana holds a BA in Psychology and an MS in Counseling Psychology. She lives in Northern California with her husband and their elementary school aged daughter. dniconsulting.biz


Michael Russell

Director of Studies and Academic Innovation, Doane Academy, Burlington, NJ

WORKSHOP: Advisory - Where Each Student is Known, Loved, and Encouraged to Realize Their Potential

Michael began his professional career as a field engineer before transitioning into education. For the last decade, he has taught math, science, and STEAM courses at Doane Academy while also spearheading numerous curricular and extracurricular initiatives. In his role as Director, he is responsible for cultivating a learning environment that recognizes and supports the unique talents of each Doane student.


Starr W. Snead

Founder & Creative Director, Advancement Connections, SC

WORKSHOP: Solicitation Savvy = Fearless Fundraising

Starr is the founder and principal of Advancement Connections, a firm dedicated to serving advancement professionals and volunteers in schools throughout the United States and internationally. Based in Charleston, South Carolina, Advancement Connections provides fundraising, constituency relations, marketing/enrollment, strategic planning and communications services exclusively to PS-12 schools.

Prior to Advancement Connections, Starr was the executive director of the Advancement Program Council (APC) in Washington, DC, and Starr has worked in independent schools since 1972 as a teacher, administrator and more recently as advancement director for Greenhill School in Dallas; Heritage Hall in Oklahoma City; and Ashley Hall in Charleston.


Namita Tolia

Head of School, Montclair Cooperative School, Montclair, NJ

WORKSHOP: Head of School Evaluation with a Focus on Partnership and Support

Namita Tolia has been the Head of School of Montclair Cooperative School since 2015 and has taught or led in progressive schools for twenty four years. She has served as a division director at Little Red School House and The San Francisco School. As a founding member of the People of Color in Independent Schools Bay Area Chapter and Asian Educator’s Alliance (AsEA), Namita’s areas of special interest include diversity in independent school education and women in leadership.


Valaida Wise

Adjunct Professor, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD

WORKSHOP: New Research on Leadership and Governance in Small Schools: Findings and Recommendations

Dr. Valaida L. Wise (Val) is an educational consultant and adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University where her research interests center on the impact of race, equity and social justice on families and organizational dynamics. An educator for more 20 years, Val received a Bachelor’s degree in developmental psychology from Syracuse University, an M.A.T. in early childhood education from Trinity College, Washington D.C., and holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership from George Washington University.

A recent Brava award winner, Val has lectured nationally and internationally, most recently on the topics of early childhood education, Montessori education, leadership and diversity. She has presented at a variety of national conferences including the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). Val has written several articles on educational leadership in early childhood as well as Montessori Education. Her most recent article: A Critical Absence in the Field of Educational Administration: Framing the (Missing) Discourse of Leadership in Early Childhood appears in the International Journal of Educational Leadership Preparation. She is a trustee on several professional, independent and charter school boards.