2017 Conference Speakers

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, MD, MSed

Kenneth Ginsburg, M.D., M.S.Ed, is a pediatrician specializing in Adolescent Medicine at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He also serves Philadelphia's homeless youth as Director of Health Services at Covenant House Pennsylvania.

The theme that ties together his clinical practice, teaching, research and advocacy efforts is that of building on the strength of teenagers by fostering their internal resilience. His goal is to translate the best of what is known from research and practice into practical approaches parents, educators, professionals and communities can use to prepare children and teens to thrive. He has more than 125 publications, including original research articles, clinical practice articles, five parenting books, videos for parents and teens, and a toolkit for youth-serving professionals. His most recent parenting books are Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Kids Roots and Wings and Raising Kids to Thrive: Balancing Love with Expectations and Protection with Trust, published by The American Academy of Pediatrics. His comprehensive professional toolkit "Reaching Teens: Strength-based Communication Strategies to Build Resilience and Support Healthy Development" includes 450 films and offers up to 65 CEUs for health professionals, social workers, and counselors. To advocate for parents' critical role in raising resilient children and teens, he has appeared on CNN, NPR, The Today Show, The CBS morning show, Good Morning America, Fox and Friends, and ABC, NBC, and CBS Nightly News programs. 


Keynote Speaker: Ali Michael, PhD

Ali Michael is the Director of K-12 Consulting and Professional Development at the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education at the University of Pennsylvania and the Co-Founder and Director of the Race Institute for K-12 Educators. She is the author of Raising Race Questions: Whiteness, Inquiry and Education (Teachers College Press, 2015): a book designed to support teachers in the long term and personal process of understanding the role that race plays in their lives and in their classrooms.  She is also co-editor of Everyday White People Confront Racial and Social Injustice: 15 Stories (2015, Stylus Press) and The White Women’s Guide to Teaching Black Boys (Forthcoming, Corwin). 

Ali sits on the editorial board of the journal Whiteness and Education. She and her partner, Michael, live in Philadelphia and consider questions of race and education on a daily basis in the raising of their two children.



Featured SPEAKER: Debra P. Wilson, general counsel for NAIS

Current and Coming Legal Issues for Small Schools

The number of legal concerns and exposures seems to grow exponentially every year. Privacy and technology, protecting students from educator abuse, issues in counseling with students, student on student sexual assault, wage and hour excitement, are all on the docket this year. What are the issues and how can small schools manage them? How do you implement a risk management program without having a cast of thousands on staff? We’ll discuss these and more!

Debra P. Wilson is general counsel at NAIS, overseeing the association’s legal work. Wilson monitors and analyzes legal issues relevant to independent schools, and speaks regularly about the topics throughout the country. An expert on independent school governance, Wilson is coauthor of the Trustee Handbook, 10th edition. She also authors amicus briefs for key court cases. 
Prior to joining NAIS in August 2000, Wilson participated in the Attorney General’s Honors Program as a trial attorney for the Tax Division at the Department of Justice. She holds a J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law. She is also an alumna of The Williams School (Connecticut).


Session Facilitators


EJ Albin

Pre-K Teacher at The Advent School, Boston, MA

Session: Cultivating Teacher Leadership in Small Schools

EJ Albin is an Early Childhood Educator at The Advent School in Boston. She is the Head of the Playground Committee and is in the process of resigning the outside space at the school. Inspired by the schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy, EJ sees herself as a teacher researcher and co-collaborator with families and children. Amongst the many projects she's worked on with her co-teacher over the years, her classroom investigations have included deep dives into mathematical and social-emotional connections, the design process with recycled materials, and storytelling. 


Rachel Baldi

Coach and Trainer at Graydin, London, UK & New York, NY

Session: The Coaching Teacher

Rachel is a trainer, supervisor and certified coach, with over six years’ experience of coaching individuals and delivering courses. Her expertise is in leadership development, sales, and project management, and has been trained in the Neuroscience of Coaching and Mindfulness. She is a Certified Co-Active Coach (CPCC) trained by The Coaches Training Institute (CTI) and a graduate of their Leadership Programme. She has a background in youth coaching, focusing on career development and rehabilitation in the criminal justice system, and works internationally as a CTI coach in the UK, USA and Singapore. She now works for the Corporate Department bringing coaching and leadership development into companies and organisations. 


Liz Dover Baker

Head of School at The GreenMount School, Baltimore, MD

Session: The Power and Perils of Parent Volunteers

Liz has been walking the walk and talking the talk for progressive education for nearly 20 years. This is Liz’s third year as Head of School for The GreenMount School in Baltimore, Maryland, a school that has welcomed her vision, leadership, and commitment to empowering students to make good decisions about themselves and their learning. She holds degrees from University of Delaware and Johns Hopkins University.

Liz is a native Baltimorean and a proud city dweller. She can parallel park anywhere. She and her husband have a 10-year-old son, and they spend free time rock climbing, biking, and being amazed by nature.


Brian Bloomfield

Head of School at The Academy at Charlemont, Charlemont, MA

Session: Pivot-Leadership: The Modern Face of School Leadership


Timothy Boyle

Founding Principal at Science Leadership Academy Middle School, Philadelphia, PA

Session: Everyone an Advisor: Building Intentional Communities of Care

Timothy is the Founding Principal at Science Leadership Academy Middle School. He's worked in Philadelphia schools for 11 years as a teacher, school design leader, and now principal.


Chris Bright

Executive Director at CHAMPS Charter High School of the Arts, Van Nuys, CA

Session: The Power of School Culture

Chris has served as a teacher, principal, Head of School, and Executive Director in schools in the United States and internationally, since 1989. He began teaching art and music in a small independent school (Westminster Day School) in his hometown of Oklahoma City. He taught middle school English and British History at The American School in London (1993-2001), served as Upper Division Head at New Canaan Country School (2001-2008), and was Head of School at Casady School in Oklahoma City, OK (2008-2014). He currently serves as Executive Director of CHAMPS Charter High School of the Arts since June, 2014.

Mr. Bright earned his BA in Art History from Trinity University in San Antonio, his MA in Philosophy of Education from the University of London, Institute of Education. He's an avid painter, musician, and is completely devoted to the pursuit of the transformative power of creativity and what schools should do to make a difference in students' lives.


Bill Carbone

Senior Project Manager at The Rock and Roll Forever Foundation, New York, NY

Session: Using Music in an Interdisciplinary Setting

Bill is an ethnomusicologist, musician and senior project manager at The Rock and Roll Forever Foundation.

About the Foundation: Stevie Van Zandt’s (yes, that Stevie Van Zandt) Rock and Roll Forever Foundation brings rich, interdisciplinary educational materials to teachers through its TeachRock project—at no cost. Whether using the core lessons or materials drawn from TeachRock's collaborations with Ron Howard's Beatles documentary, the PBS Soundbreaking series, or others, educators across disciplines can bring a new kind of energy into learning, connecting with students and teachers in an area where they’ve already made an investment: popular music.


Brooke Carroll

Brooke Carroll Consulting

Session: The Strategic Planning Process Re-Imagined: Embedding Strategic Thinking and Action into Everyday Operations

Brooke recently retired as a Head of a small school and is currently consulting with schools and nonprofits to meet strategy, governance, planning, accreditation, curricular, and management needs. With over 20 years of school leadership experience at all grade levels, she collaborates with groups and individuals to meet goals and exceed expectations.


Jen Cort

Jen Cort Educational Consulting

Session: Meaningful Equity, Justice and Diversity Work When Your Budget Does Not Support A Diversity Coordinator Position


Deborah Crocker

Director of Admissions at The Miquon School, Conshohocken, PA

Session: Creating a Major Gifts Program at a Small School

Deborah is the current Director of Development at The Miquon School and earned her Master's in Arts Administration from Columbia University. For the past ten years she has been raising money for Philadelphia nonprofits, with a focus on creating development programs that fit each institution's unique needs and that lead to increased funding over the long term.


David Cutler

History, Government & Journalism Teacher at Brimmer and May School, Chestnut Hill, MA

Session: The Rewards and Challenges of Advising an Independent School Online Student Newspaper

David teaches History, Government and Journalism at Brimmer and May School (Chestnut Hill, MA). An official blogger for Edutopia, his work has also appeared in The Atlantic, PBS News Hour and Independent School Magazine. @SpinEdu on Twitter


Nica Fleming

Director of Technology & Co-Director of Diversity at The Crefeld School, Philadelphia, PA

Session: In2Out: Holding Space For Students & Ourselves to Explore Social Responsibility, Intelligence, Justice & Culture


Hilary Hamilton

Teacher at Science Leadership Academy Middle School, Philadelphia, PA

Session: Everyone an Advisor: Building Intentional Communities of Care

Hilary is a founding teacher at Science Leadership Academy Middle School. She worked at The Philadelphia School before joining the SLA-MS team.



Erick Johnson

Head of School at The Howard Gardner School, Alexandria, VA

Session: Don't Send a Vegan to Slice the Sausage: A Guide to Intentional Professional Culture


Rebekah Jordan

Head of Lower School at Indian Mountain School, Lakeville, CT

Session: Cultivating Teacher Leadership in Small Schools

Rebekah Jordan is the Head of Lower School at Indian Mountain School.  A progressive educator, she previously served as the founding head of The Peak School in Frisco, Colorado and has worked as a classroom teacher, consultant, family advocate, and experiential educator. 


Laura Marsico

Co-Curricular Program Manager at The GreenMount School, Baltimore, MD

Session: The Power and Perils of Parent Volunteers

With her vivacious personality and deep commitment to the children and families of The GreenMount School, Laura Marsico is both a leader and a force for positive change at the school. A nearly 20 year teaching veteran of both public and independent schools (highly decorated, we may add!), Laura pioneered the Kindergarten program at GreenMount, creating curriculum and driving enrollment for 8 years. Seeing an opportunity in 2016 for both the school and GreenMount families, she left the Kindergarten classroom and led the effort to bring the after school enrichment program “in-house.” She created a wide and varied array of educational and entertaining activities for students in keeping with the GreenMount philosophy. In addition, by using her leadership prowess she completely overhauled the management structure of the Parent CO-OP, offering a better parent experience and ensuring that the school partners with each parent to best effect.


Betsy McKenna

Founder, Consultant and Coach at Exponential Returns, LLC

Session: The Power of School Culture

Betsy McKenna is the Founder of Exponential Returns, LLC, a company designed to help professionals in the academic and nonprofit communities advance individual and team performance by deepening conversations, tapping into creative minds and talents, and fostering strategic relationships. She is a certified coach through Columbia University's Coaching  Certification Program. Prior to her current work, Betsy was a senior administrator and teacher at the early elementary level where she gained experience at reputable independent schools in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York.  


Dave Mullen

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

Session: Stress Reduction for School Adults


Sara Narva

Theater, Dance & Sex Ed Teacher at The Crefeld School, Philadelphia, PA

Session: Power/Play

Sara Narva has worked at The Crefeld School for 11 years as a dance and theater teacher, advisor and sex educator.  She has been a sex educator for over 20 years and values creating an environment for students to think, learn and talk about complex issues they face. 


Christine Nick

Project Manager at The Rock and Roll Forever Foundation, New York, NY

Session: Using Music in an Interdisciplinary Setting

Christine Nick has a rich background in education including classroom instruction, curriculum development, and policy work. She is a project manager at The Rock and Roll Forever Foundation.


Sharlean Pillay

Counselor at Science Leadership Academy Middle School, Philadelphia, PA

Session: Everyone an Advisor: Building Intentional Communities of Care

Sharlean Pillay is a founding counselor at Science Leadership Academy Middle School. Previously she was a vocational school counselor in Philadelphia.


Quinn Simpson

Co-Founder, Coach and Trainer at Graydin, London, UK & New York, NY

Session: The Coaching Teacher

Quinn is a well-established coach and trainer, and co-founder of Graydin. She focuses on teacher, youth and business coaching, and excels in the areas of leadership, strategy development and communication skills. She has led over 400 workshops on coaching, leadership, confidence and talent management skills, and provided one-to-one coaching to over 350 clients. In addition, Quinn is a co-founder and Director of Operations of Akosia, a global charity that uses coaching as a facilitation technique in filmmaking projects for underprivileged children and women. Trained by the Coaches Training Institute, Make Change Work, and Coach U, Quinn is a certified Co-Active Coach and NLP Coach Practitioner. She graduated from the University of Edinburgh with an MA in Sociology and Social Anthropology after writing a dissertation that examined self-help books. 


Starr Snead

Founder, Advancement Connections

Session: Adding OOMPH to Development in Small Schools

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. 

Starr is a frequent speaker at CASE and NAIS conferences. Her popular workshops and seminars offer practical solutions to today's development, enrollment and advancement challenges, combining more than 40 years of personal and professional experience with the "best practice strategies" of many of our nation's leading independent schools.