National Practitioner Advisory Group (NPAG) Members
Michelle Ackley is a professional educational counselor and certified trauma practitioner specializing in social-emotional learning and interventions at Evergreen Unified School District in Northern California. She received her Master of Science in educational counseling and Pupil Personnel Services Credential for school counseling from National University. Believing that all student can learn and thrive when their social-emotional needs are met, Ackley is passionate about helping students attain the skills they need to be successful in school and life as soon as they enter the educational system. As a leader in her district, she has helped develop multi-tiered systems of support and implemented tiered social-emotional interventions. Knowing it “takes a village,” her work also has included developing strong parent and community engagement to build bridges for student success
Kay A. Augustine, EdD, is the project director for the federal School Climate Transformation Grant at the Iowa Department of Education. She works at the state level and with local school districts to develop a strong foundation for a multi-tiered system of learning supports that includes social, emotional, and behavioral supports to positively impact student achievement. Dr. Augustine’s experience includes cofounding and serving as the associate director of the Institute for Character Development at Drake University, now the Ray Center. She has a rich background of expertise and experience consulting and training educators and youth to implement comprehensive character development initiatives in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Bermuda. A key focus of Dr. Augustine’s passion, experience, and strategy is to actively engage youth in the leadership of social-emotional learning in their schools and community.
Claudia Bessette is a K-12 school counselor in Sky Ranch Middle School in Washoe County School District in Reno, Nevada. She currently works with 12- to 14-year-olds, their teachers, parents, and the community to help them be healthy and successful in their academic, social-emotional, and career educations. Before her current middle school position, she worked in elementary and high school counseling. Bessette was a K-12 music educator before moving into school counseling, teaching choir, music history, music theory, and instrumental classes. She has served in varied leadership roles in professional organizations at the state, district, and school-site levels, including the Nevada School Counselors Association, Nevada Music Educators Association, American Choral Directors Association, and Nevada Music Teachers Association. She currently serves as the chair of the Sexual Health and Responsibility Education Advisory Committee for Washoe Schools. In addition to her school career, she teaches private piano and voice lessons and enjoys outdoor activities in the beautiful High Sierras right outside her door. Bessette plans and manages schoolwide social-emotional learning programs, large conferences, small meetings, and special events of all sizes. She and a team of colleagues lay out the strategies to implement the schoolwide social-emotional learning year for their building; selecting, writing, and providing the weekly lessons and activities. Bessette holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education from University of Nevada Las Vegas. She holds a master’s degree in educational counseling from the University of La Verne.
Victoria Blakeney holds a master’s degree in education leadership and has more than 25 years of experience in education, including 14 years in the administration of school-based programs for social and emotional learning (SEL). She served as the first social-emotional learning curriculum coordinator in the Anchorage School District, bringing together diverse stakeholders to plan, coordinate, and implement school initiatives and to write and adopt SEL standards, and she was honored by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) as the first-ever winner of the Joseph E. Zins Purpose Award, given to a practitioner who has contributed substantially to promoting system-level changes for SEL in schools. Blakeney has been a high school teacher and an elementary school vice principal, where she worked to implement SEL theories and practice at the classroom and school levels; teaches an SEL for Leaders course through the Academy for Social-Emotional Learning in Schools; and has worked with curriculum developers to write SEL lessons for publication. After leaving Alaska, she served as the state lead for SEL through the Nevada Department of Education and then moved to Washington with her husband and four children, where she currently works in the Renton School District as the director of student support, where her role is to implement districtwide SEL.
Dale Blyth is currently a senior consultant to CASEL. Formerly, he was a professor in the College of Education & Human Development at the University of Minnesota, where he served as the Howland Endowed Chair in Youth Development Leadership. For 15 years, he was associate dean and director of the Extension Center for Youth Development. Prior to that, he was the director of Research and Evaluation at the Search Institute and was on the faculty of Cornell University and Ohio State University. He codeveloped the Center for Adolescent Health at the American Medical Association and was a research scientist at the Boys Town Center for Youth Development. Dr. Blyth has coauthored a book, as well as authored many chapters and articles and helped found the Society for Research on Adolescence as well as several journals. His experience includes bridging research and practice to shape the fields of youth development and nonformal learning to make a difference.
Sara Burd, Director of guidance and social emotional learning, Arlington Public schools Massachusetts, Massachusetts
Carla Burley serves as the director of SEL at Boston Public Schools in Boston, Massachusetts. Her work is deeply rooted in the belief that SEL practices transform educational and life outcomes for students. Since joining Boston Public Schools in 2016, she has directed the expansion of SEL initiatives throughout the district, including designing an integrated SEL instructional coaching framework, a quadrant model of SEL implementation, writing the SEL standards, and securing the Wallace Foundation Partnership in Social Emotional Learning Grant. Her 15- plus years of experience in education include assistant principal and school psychologist in Fall River Public School District, and kindergarten teacher in Attleboro, Massachusetts. She holds a master’s degree in applied developmental psychology from Boston College, a master’s degree in counseling, and a CAGS in school psychology from Rhode Island College, as well as multiple state license in education and a national certification in school psychology.
Peter M. Di Nuovo currently serves the New York City Department of Education as the director of Behavior Intervention for the Special Education Office. With 14 years of experience as an administrator and educator, including 4 years as an adjunct professor for the School of Education at Pace University, Di Nuovo presents a wealth of research-based practices and strategies for differentiating instruction to support learners with developmental delays and special needs. Di Nuovo graduated from State University of New York at Geneseo with a bachelor of arts in psychology and then earned a master of professional studies, with a dual certificate in elementary education and special education from Manhattanville College. He also has an advanced certificate in Teaching and Research in Autism and a master of science in educational leadership, both from Pace University. Di Nuovo’s academic background illustrates his passion for knowledge and his continued quest for reflection and self-improvement. Di Nuovo has developed and delivered instruction to a variety of adult learners, including principals, district leaders, borough field staff, and school-based staff. Di Nuovo’s interests include developing curriculum, implementing SEL skills, and building positive behavioral supports for schools and districts. He currently lives in Nanuet, New York.
Courtney Franklin is the director of Strategic Data Consultation & Support for measuring student outcomes at Teach For America (TEA). She has worked for the organization for 8 years and been a part of shaping the organization’s measurement strategy for the past 6 years, working across 53 regions in 38 states. Prior to joining TFA’s staff, Franklin taught at the middle school, high school, and college levels, beginning her career in education as an English language Arts teacher in Chicago Public Schools. She served as a founding classroom teacher and dean on the leadership team, working to establish a community-based charter school, Ceiba College-Prep, in Watsonville, California. She oversaw the execution of several TRIO grant programs in San Diego County, working for the Pre- College Institute at San Diego State University (SDSU), School of Education. She also has held positions within the English and Rhetoric & Writing Studies departments, as well as serving as an academic advisor and mentor for undergraduate student athletes at SDSU.
Kee Fricke-Pothier comes to this work with a background in special education and adult education. In her current role as a central office administrator, Fricke- Pothier manages a team of coaches to coordinate districtwide professional development, implementation, and coaching on positive behavioral interventions and supports, PAX Good Behavior Game, and classroom management strategies that focus on equity and developing SEL skills. She also collaborates with site leaders, families, and district staff across all contexts to resolve complex behavior- based issues to create productive, restorative, and sustainable interventions that highlight safety of the community and the development of SEL within the student. She serves on a district SEL team in developing districtwide best practices for promoting and measuring systems of SEL in schools. This team also collaborates with CORE districts in measuring SEL competencies in students. Recently she completed a 2-year fellowship for Transforming Education to support the integration of SEL into existing school and district practices.
James Gallagher is the Vice President of Education for Aspire Public Schools. In this role, he designs and facilitates professional learning for Aspire’s senior education team, which includes superintendents, associate superintendents, and other instructional leaders. During the 2017-18 school year, Gallagher led Aspire’s 9-12 Math Instructional Program redesign and Aspire’s SEL implementation across Aspire’s 40 schools. Currently, Gallagher is enrolled in the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI), born at Google’s Teacher Training program—a mindfulness-based emotional intelligence leadership program. In school year 2018-19, he will incorporate the content and practices from SIYLI into a year-long leadership development initiative for Aspire’s 40 principals and other senior leaders. Prior to his role as Aspire’s Vice President of Education, Gallagher served as Aspire’s senior director of instructional effectiveness, supervising Aspire’s instructional coach team, focusing on educator development and the implementation of Aspire’s K-12 curriculum, instruction, and assessment program. Gallagher joined Aspire in 2004, where he began as a high school humanities teacher, then served as Dean of Academic Excellence, and ultimately as an instructional coach. Prior to joining Aspire, he taught history in the Boston Public Schools system. Gallagher holds a bachelor’s degree in pre-law and philosophy from Binghamton University and a law degree from George Washington University.
Maria D. Guzman-Rocha, PhD, joined the YMCA of the USA in February 2014. Prior to working at YMCA of the USA, Dr. Guzman-Rocha held research, evaluation, and practitioner roles in community-based organizations across Chicagoland. Dr. Guzman-Rocha’s current role as implementation sciences manager is to lead a team in using implementation sciences best practices and strategies to design, manage, and further operationalize how program evaluation findings and other information are applied into delivery, improvement, and scaling of a suite of research- and evidence-based youth development programs and practices at the national office to support the work of local YMCAs across the country. Dr. Guzman-Rocha has 15 years of youth development experience, including 10 years in program evaluation and assessment. She has led several research and evaluation teams, with a focus on youth program quality and program development, in-school and out-of-school time programs, social- emotional development, community needs assessments, and immigration in higher education. Dr. Guzman-Rocha has experience in the full cycle of research, from planning a project to gathering data to transforming findings into reports tailored for various stakeholders and translating research so that it is usable for practitioners and youth development leaders. Dr. Guzman-Rocha graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a doctorate of philosophy, a master of arts in developmental psychology, and a bachelor of science in psychology.
Heather Hirsch is a school climate specialist with the School Safety Technical Assistance Center, Minnesota Department of Education (MDE). Hirsch’s work for MDE addresses school climate improvement, bullying prevention, and social- emotional learning. She travels across the state providing training and consulting with schools and districts on best practices in those areas. She holds a master’s degree in public health and a school climate leadership certificate from the National School Climate Center. She is a South Washington County District School Board member and serves on the board of a nonprofit aimed at improving literacy and social-emotional skills of students.
Amy Hoffmaster has led program pilots and innovation at Citizen Schools since 2011. As director of Program Innovation, she leads national efforts on curriculum resources, ongoing training and support of educators and community volunteers. As Citizen Schools launches a 2-year pilot called Catalyst, Hoffmaster’s current focus is on educator design workshops; curriculum and resource development; refinement of theory of action; and testing feasibility of student, teacher, and volunteer evaluation and assessment tools for 21st century skills and SEL. Before Citizen Schools, Hoffmaster served in instructional and program management positions at Sea Perch Teacher Training Workshops, the Museum Institute for Teaching Science, and the Dorr Museum of Natural History at the College of the Atlantic. Hoffmaster served as a fellow with Education Pioneers and as a research assistant at the EcoMUVE Project and the Distributed Collaborative Learning Project. She earned a Master of Education degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Bachelor of Arts degree in human ecology and elementary education from College of the Atlantic.
Peter Jacob-Dolan is a classroom teacher with more than 20 years of experience teaching middle and high school. He is actively involved in teacher professional development endeavors that focus on standards-based scoring and reporting; he is particularly interested in classroom practices that lead to efficient and effective feedback that helps students become better learners, thinkers, and community members. He holds a Master of Arts degree in the teaching of English from Tufts University and a Master of Education degree in educational research, measurement, and evaluation from Boston College.
Tracy Litchfield is a public-school educator striving to increase the well-being of teachers, students, families, and community members by incorporating the tenets of positive psychology, mindfulness, appreciative inquiry, and SEL. She holds a Master of Applied Positive Psychology from The University of Pennsylvania, as well as a Master of Educational Leadership from Immaculata University. Throughout her 17-year career as an educator, Litchfield has served on many leadership and curriculum committees in the Avon Grove School District. She is a closet introvert who enjoys reading, writing, travel, and pursuing lifelong learning. Litchfield currently resides in West Grove, Pennsylvania, with her husband, two adult children, and two rambunctious canine companions. Her dream is for every public school district in the United States to fully and seamlessly incorporate SEL into curriculum and implementation for students, families, and staff.
Brenda McLaughlin serves as Chief Strategy Officer for BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life), a national nonprofit that empowers educators to design and deliver summer and afterschool experiences that accelerate academic achievement and SEL. In her role, Brenda is responsible for evaluation and impact, strategy, and innovating the BELL experience. For the past 15 years, she has been a passionate advocate and leader in the out-of-school-time community, working to close the opportunity gap and ensure equitable access to high-quality learning and enrichment for all young people. Prior to joining BELL, she founded and led The Learning Agenda, a thriving consultancy dedicated to helping nonprofits, philanthropies, and educators expand their knowledge and capacity, and amplify their impact. McLaughlin also served as vice president at the National Summer Learning Association, where she guided the organization’s growth and strategy, and designed and implemented research and evaluation projects. She wrote or coauthored a variety of publications that showcase her thought leadership on summer learning, and she spent time as an instructor for Johns Hopkins University’s Out-of-School Time Leadership certificate program. McLaughlin has a master’s degree in public policy from the Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies from the University of Pittsburgh.
Eric Moore has recently been appointed the Chief of Accountability, Innovation and Research at Minneapolis Public Schools. This new appointment will provide leadership for the full scope of the Research, Evaluation, Accountability and Assessment Department (REAA), as well as the district’s efforts around equity, integration and innovation. Prior to this appointment, Eric provided four years of leadership to MPS as the Executive Director of REAA (2013-2017) leading efforts in youth evaluation, SEL measurement, 9th grade on-track systems, data visualization, and community partner evaluation. Prior to his current position in the district, he served as a Senior Research Associate at Rainbow Research Inc., a non-profit evaluation firm specializing in evaluation capacity building as well as the Director of Student Services and Diversity in the Anoka-Hennepin school district from 2001-2008. He has over 15 years of mixed method evaluation experience in K-12 education, juvenile justice, out of school time programming, and organizational development. He is a former Woodrow Wilson fellow recipient at the University of Texas, Austin (1993) and a recent graduate of the Strategic Data Project at the Center for Education Policy Research, Harvard University (2015-2017). He holds a BA in English Education at Langston University, a MA in Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota and has completed preliminary examinations towards his PhD in Evaluation Studies at the University of Minnesota.
Marc Morgan brings more than 15 years of experience helping youth development agencies and institutions advance educational and social outcomes for children and teens. As the Director of Programs for Denver Kids, Inc., Morgan has helped lead and manage the organization’s social, emotional, and academic framework that’s administered to 1,150 Denver Public Schools students supported through the program.
Deborah Moroney is a managing director at the American Institutes for Research (AIR), and she serves as the director of the Youth Development and Supportive Learning Environments practice area. Dr. Moroney’s research and practice experience is in social and emotional learning and youth development. Dr. Moroney is the architect of a collaborative method for the design of dual purpose (improvement and demonstration) evaluation frameworks. She has led numerous projects aimed to explore the factors that influence child and family well-being, including a Global Scan on Child and Family Well Being. She works with national multisite programs, including the YMCA of the USA, Boy Scouts of America, and Every Hour Counts. In addition, Dr. Moroney serves as the principal investigator of city and statewide evaluations, including a collaborative project with the Partnership for Children and Youth in California and the citywide evaluation for School’s Out New York City. She serves as a member of the Afterschool Technical Assistance Collaborative for the C.S. Mott Foundation’s statewide afterschool networks. Dr. Moroney holds a doctorate and a master’s degree in education from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Laurie Morrison is currently an executive director of Instructional Leadership in Highline Public Schools Morrison has spent nearly 20 years in public education as a teacher, instructional coach, new teacher mentor, school administrator, and educational consultant with the City of Seattle, Office of the Mayor. With an extensive practical and theoretical experience in early childhood and family development, Dr. Morrison was the director of Early Learning in Seattle Public Schools and has consulted nationally and internationally on child development; PK-3 strategic planning and alignment; and social-emotional development. Dr. Morrison also has been an independent contractor for Sesame Workshop and an adjunct professor at the University of Washington. Dr. Morrison spent 5 years as a successful school administrator prior to educational consulting work. Dr. Morrison has a bachelor’s degree in early childhood development. She holds a master’s degree in teaching from Antioch University, where she focused on early warning indicators that interrupt reading development; a certificate in special education from Glasgow University, Scotland; and a doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies from the University of Washington.
Christine M. Rick holds a Master of Educational Leadership from Lynn University. She attended Barry University to receive her certification in Montessori Education, dedicating her thesis paper on Peace Education. Rick earned her bachelor’s degree in early childhood and elementary education from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. Rick began her teaching career at Pine Richland School District as a second-grade teacher. She was a member of the Total Quality in Education Committee. After 5 years, she relocated to Palm Beach County. For the last 20 years, Rick has been working for the School District of Palm Beach County. The past 10 years have been in the capacity of leadership—she has served as the assistant principal of a middle school for 3 years, assistant principal of a high school for 4 years, and, for the last 6 years, principal of Egret Lake Elementary School. She believes herself to be a servant leader, and her role is to promote success from building people’s capacity to become a better version of themselves. She has completed the Florida Department of Education Brian Dassler Leadership Academy. This year, her school was chosen to be a pilot for SEL. This opportunity arose because of a grant from the Wallace Foundation. Working closely with CASEL, her school has implemented morning meetings and schoolwide SEL matrix. She is looking forward to continuing the SEL journey.
Kirsten Sanft is a site administrator who works with primarily low-income, rural students to cultivate their personal skill set while acquiring the academic knowledge necessary to participate in our global economy. Sanft believes that education is a primary tool in creating equity in our community, and is devoted to ensuring students receive the support and challenge they need to build happy and fulfilling lives for themselves as adults. She is the founding principal of West County Charter Middle School, an educational community dedicated to providing an innovative education in a nurturing environment. Sanft holds a Master of Education degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and is a credentialed teacher and administrator with 20+ years of experience in education.
Dr. Jennifer Scarpati is the principal of Amherst Street Elementary School in Nashua, New Hampshire. Dr. Scarpati has earned a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education from Boston University, a Master of Education degree in childhood risk and prevention from Harvard University, and a doctorate in leadership and policy studies from the University of New Hampshire. Prior to working in school administration, she taught at a range of elementary levels in the Nashua School District. She currently serves as project director for the Mental Health and School Together grant within the Nashua School District.
Laurie Solchenberger, Behavior Interventionist, Port Townsend School District, Washington
Dana Stiles is an early childhood educator in Washington, D.C. Originally from Pennsylvania, she has an undergraduate degree from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Master of Education in globalization and educational change from Lehigh University. She started her work as a teacher in 2011 as a TNTP Cohort Member in Washington, D.C. She taught in D.C. Public Schools in a self-contained classroom for preschool and kindergarten students with pervasive developmental delays. She served as the Early Childhood Grade-Level Chair and was a Highly Effective Teacher. After 2 years, she moved into a role as early childhood inclusion teacher at E.L. Haynes Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. This year is her fifth year as an inclusion teacher for a culturally and linguistically diverse population of preschool and kindergarten students. Outside of the classroom, Stiles has worked as a New Teacher Selector for TNTP and a salaried and pro bono education consultant abroad. She also held roles on the leadership team at Bellwether Education Partners in Washington, D.C., and the early childhood development team at Save the Children International. Currently, Stiles works for the Johns Hopkins Graduate School of Education as a portfolio coach.
Susan Ward Roncalli is a graduate of Occidental College in Los Angeles. She is a veteran teacher with more than 30 years of experience as a secondary English and peer counseling instructor in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). She was a National Board Certified Teacher and a site coordinator for Service Learning, three college prep GEAR UP grants, and the International Baccalaureate program. She has presented at conferences nationally and internationally. Ward Roncalli is working on her doctorate at Claremont Graduate University. She serves on the California team for the CASEL Collaborating States Initiative and participates in the CORE Data Collaborative. She and her husband also own a Pilates studio, and her children, Tony and Caroline, are both in college. She currently works as a social- emotional learning facilitator for the Division of Instruction with the LAUSD.
Joey Webb is the Chief Academic Officer at Washington Leadership Academy (WLA) Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. WLA in an innovative new high school awarded the XQ Super School Prize in fall 2016, a $10 million award for innovative ideas toward a total redesign of the high schools. Webb was previously the founding principal of the school and designed the school’s culture, academic, and staff development models, including the XQ proposal. Prior to WLA, Webb was an assistant principal, director of innovation, and teacher in Durham, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in neuroscience from St. Lawrence University and a Master of School Administration from the University of North Carolina. Webb also was a 2009 Teach For America Corps Member in D.C.
Erin Whalen, born and raised in Los Angeles, California, serves as Da Vinci RISE High’s founding assistant principal. After graduating from New Roads High School in Santa Monica, Whalen moved away to study anthropology at Grinnell College and at the University of Cape Town. After graduating, Whalen went on to pursue a career in education at North Miami Middle through Teach For America (TEA). After being nominated Teacher of the Year and serving as a TEA Corps Member Advisor in Los Angeles and Phoenix, Whalen transferred back home to Los Angeles, where he worked at KIPP: Sol. Whalen taught Sol’s founding class and was quickly selected to engage in the teacher-leader program to be developed into a school principal. Throughout the years, Whalen worked with students, families, and partners to develop concepts for RISE, a school devoted to meeting the needs of youth experiencing homelessness, in the foster care system, and those in the probation system. In 2016, RISE was chosen from more than 700 applications across the country as one of 10 winners of the XQ Super School Challenge to reimagine high school. As an XQ Super School, RISE High received $10 million and the support of the XQ to officially launch. Whalen currently serves as the assistant principal of RISE, now a full high school with two campuses serving more than 110 students.
Jean Wing is executive director of research, assessment, and data (RAD) for the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) in Oakland, California. She has spent much of her working life in the field of urban education. She earned her teaching credential in New York City. After returning to California, she worked at the Educational Testing Service for nearly a decade in the field of performance-based assessments. Wing joined OUSD in 2004 as part of a new school incubator, where she supported 25 community-based design teams in opening new public schools in some of Oakland’s most underserved neighborhoods. In 2007, she moved to RAD and became its executive director in 2011. She led a strategic plan task force in 2010-11 that developed a Healthy Kids, Healthy Oakland data framework that expanded district data indicators beyond test scores to include health and wellness, school culture and climate, and other conditions for learning. She received her doctorate from the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley. Along with Pedro Noguera, she is coeditor of Unfinished Business: Closing the Racial Achievement Gap in Our Schools. 4 .