Director of Career-Technical Education
Ohio Department of Education
Educational Research Scientist (Workforce and CTE)
Student/Student Worker at Alabama A&M
Alabama A&M University
Leah R. Amstutz received a B.S. in Animal Science from Michigan State University and her M.A. in Education from Defiance College. A strong advocate of hands-on, inquiry-based learning, she spent 9 years in the classroom teaching agricultural education. In 2011, she began her career with the Ohio Department of Education as a program specialist in the Agricultural and Environmental Systems career field. Leah was then promoted to assistant director in 2013 and associate director in 2015. She currently serves as Director of the Office of Career-Technical Education where she promotes the expansion of career tech in Ohio.
Dr. Amanda Bastoni is a research scientist at CAST. During her 20+ years in education as a researcher, teacher and Career and Technical Education (CTE) director, Amanda has focused on increasing equity and access for special populations in CTE. Specifically, she sought to use UDL to increase pathways for English Language Learners and females interested in exploring STEM careers. Most recently Amanda has been working with agencies and organizations to remove barriers and utilize local assets to increase access to STEM for rural populations.
At CAST Amanda spearheads work with CTE educators and administrators at the secondary and post-secondary levels. Through one-on-one coaching, workshops, and presentations her work has focused on work-based learning, designing competency-based assessment tools, supporting non-traditional learners, and effectively using Perkins funds to support innovative initiatives. For example, in New Hampshire, Amanda has been working with school districts and the Bureau of Career Development to create a CTE pathway in outdoor recreation. She is the Association for Career and Technical Education’s (ACTE) national Inclusion Access Equity and Diversity (IAED) Coordinator. Before working at CAST, Amanda was an accomplished Career and Technical Education (CTE) director and teacher with a proven record of achievement including being named the 2019 NH CTE Leader of the Year.
Georgia native Kendall Brown discovered CTE through her high school culinary services program, where she served as an intern. She continued her career journey at Alabama A&M University, where she is pursuing a degree in Family and Consumer Sciences and Nutrition. In addition to her studies, she is also a student employee and student-athlete as a university cheerleader.
Texas Education Agency
Director of High School Connections
Lane Community College
Division Chair of Workforce Programs
Trinity Valley Community College
As a Data Strategist for the Texas Education Agency, Josie Brunner serves on projects advancing college, career, and military preparation programs. Through collaboration under the Texas Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative, her work informs on P20 career pathways and initiatives through bridging insight with action. She works with the TEA Career and Technical Education team to develop and improve data resources under Perkins V and supports the state’s vision that Texans of all ages should have access to high-quality education and workforce training that empowers them to achieve their full potential.
Her prior roles include leading the evaluations under the state’s strategic plan for higher education under the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and conducting analysis and research to support programs for an urban school district.
Justin Chin is the Director of High School Connections at Lane Community College. Chin is the son of Chinese immigrants who settled in rural western Oregon in 1971, and honors his family’s sacrifices in his work in K–16 education. Chin’s background as a first-generation college graduate has influenced his focus on post-secondary access, workforce development, and career technical education in his broad-ranging career in rural, frontier-fringe, and urban centers in Oregon. Chin is a Post-Secondary State CTE Leader Fellow through Advance CTE and the ECMC Foundation. His research, as part of the Post-Secondary State Leaders Fellowship, explores scaffolding career readiness through holistic student support in CTE for Asian Pacific Island American students.
Outside his work for Lane Community College, Chin serves as the Vice-Chair for Oregon Humanities, is acting President for the Oregon Career Development Association, and works with national and regional initiatives to elevate Asian and Pacific Islander communities. Chin resides in Eugene, Oregon with his wife, Thanh.
Richard Crosby has been teaching in post-secondary CTE for 14 years in east Texas. He is currently teaching drafting for Trinity Valley Community College in the TDCJ division where he works with incarcerated students to earn certifications and associate degrees in CTE programs. Advocating for workforce development and ensuring that students have the best opportunity for job attainment is his passion. Richard earned his A.A.S. in Manufacturing Engineering Technology from Texas State Technical College, a B.S. in Industrial Technology and M.S. in Human Resource Development from the University of Texas at Tyler. He is currently enrolled at Liberty University where he plans to earn an Ed.D in Educational Leadership in 2023.
Anchor / National Correspondent
Ciera Mead Franks-Ongoy
Perkins Equitable Access Coordinator
Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education – Montana University System
Chief Customer Officer
Opportunity At Work
Derricke Dennis is a news anchor and national correspondent for ABC Network News in New York City, where he reports breaking, political, business, and human interest stories for ABC Radio and all ABC News platforms. Additionally, he has served as a Host/Anchor for the Law & Crime Network, an upstart competitor to Court TV.
Previously, Derricke anchored a weeknight global newscast on I24 News, an international news channel with studios in Tel Aviv, France, Washington DC, New York and Los Angeles. Earlier, Derricke served as nighttime correspondent for WCBS-TV in New York, and as a morning anchor for FOX News Channel on SiriusXM.
Known for his passionate storytelling and his LIVE reporting, Derricke is always covering the big story — the Coronavirus Pandemic, Superstorm Sandy, the Newtown Connecticut School Massacre, the Boston Marathon Bombing, the death of civil rights icon Rosa Parks, the Trump Presidency, and now the new Biden Administration.
Before moving to New York, Derricke worked as a reporter and anchor for News 12 New Jersey. He also spent six years as a lead reporter and substitute anchor for WDIV-TV, Detroit’s NBC affiliate.
Derricke is a New Jersey native who grew up in Atlantic City. He’s a graduate of Howard University‘s prestigious John H. Johnson School of Communications in Washington D.C., with a degree in journalism.
He is also a proud member of the Newark / Essex County, New Jersey chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated.
Ciera Mead Franks-Ongoy is the Perkins Equitable Access Coordinator and MOA Coordinator for Montana’s Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education (OCHE). Ciera has been with OCHE for 1.5 years and has a combined experience of over 6 years working on post-secondary campuses to support student success, within education non-profits to amplify community engagement, and serving in both Peace Corps and AmeriCorps. Ciera received her M.Ed. from Western Washington University and a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Washington. She is thrilled to be a part of projects using data to elevate equity issues in student access and success to mobilize leadership and community buy-in. When she’s out of the office, Ciera enjoys spending time with her husband and two dogs, out running or mountain biking on Helena’s phenomenal public trail system, or tinkering away in her garden.
Bridgette Gray is a strategist, operator, and organization builder. She exemplifies leading-edge best practices in inclusive talent development and onramps to opportunity and currently leads the Customer Success & Delivery team as Opportunity@Work scales the hiring of workers who are Skilled Through Alternative Routes (STARs) nationwide.
Gray joins Opportunity@Work after seven-and-a-half years at Per Scholas, where she was their first Chief Impact Officer, responsible for managing all training operations, and organizational impact for Per Scholas’ 17 campuses. Bridgette joined Per Scholas in 2014 as the startup Managing Director for the National Capital Region where she was instrumental in leading Per Scholas’ cybersecurity training efforts, including a regional cybersecurity task force, which led to sizable investments from Symantec and Capital One. In 2015, Bridgette joined the Executive Leadership team as the Executive Vice President of national program operations, managing all training locations.
In 2019, Bridgette became the Chief Impact Officer responsible for managing org-wide training operations & delivery, impact, and strategic programmatic growth. Under Bridgette’s leadership, Per Scholas expanded its gold-standard evidenced-based model from five to 17 campuses, from 800 to 3,000 learners trained with a strategic plan to expand to 25 campuses and 10,000 learners trained by 2025; and built a national team to support the growing campuses. Additionally, and in response to COVID-19, under Bridgette’s leadership, Per Scholas expanded its traditional training model to not only in-person but also remote offerings.
Prior to Per Scholas, Bridgette held several senior and executive leadership roles at Year Up, the Points of Light Foundation, and the Corporation for National and Community Service. Bridgette has spent the last 20+ years helping diverse talent access and benefit from training and employment opportunities, and helping businesses to acquire this talent, and influencing DEI as central to their bottom line.
Bridgette can often be found adding her thought partnership and leadership to collective impact work with the Markle Foundation’s Rework America Alliance, JFF’s Thrive @Work Innovation Council, Racial Equity Learning Community @PolicyLink, America Forward WFD & Economic Justice Task Force, as a LEAP Ambassador, and as a Founding Member of Chief DC. Bridgette served on the Montgomery County Maryland Workforce Board from (2014-2019).
Strategic Data Project Director
Harvard Strategic Data Project
State Director of CTE
Indiana Office of CTE
Policy Director, Innovation
Miriam is the Director of the Strategic Data Project overseeing the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University’s efforts to build and sustain data-driven leadership and research capacity in education systems and organizations. She provides direction and support for the Strategic Data Project Fellowship programs, the SDP Institute for Leadership in Analytics, and the Partnering in Education Research Fellowship, among other key initiatives. Miriam also contributes to strategic leadership activities for the center. Previously, Miriam directed the Best Foot Forward project, an impact evaluation of the use of video technology in teacher evaluation. Her writing has been published in Education Finance and Policy, Education Administration Quarterly, and Education Week, among other publications. Miriam is a graduate of George Washington University and Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
Anthony was recently promoted to State Director of Career and Technical Education with the Indiana Office of CTE under the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet. Since joining the Office of CTE in August 2018, he has served as a career specialist and Assistant Director of CTE Programming where he has been heavily involved with redesigning Indiana’s CTE programs of study and work-based learning.
Prior to joining the Office of CTE, Anthony served in school administration as a Principal, Assistant Principal and Dean of Students for over nine years. He also taught Business Education and Economics and served as a Professional Career Internships Coordinator for 12 years before becoming an administrator.
Adriana Harrington is the Policy Director, Innovation for ExcelinEd focusing on policies connected to education to workforce and college and career pathways. Adriana previously worked at the Tennessee Department of Education in the Division of College, Career and Technical Education and the Division of Consolidated Planning and Monitoring working on school improvement. Adriana was a high school social studies teacher in Memphis for several years and a Teach for America corps member. Adriana earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Public Policy from Duke University.
Director of Innovative Partnerships
Deanna Strauss Hersko
Manager, K12 CTE Pathways & Programs
Lorain County Community College
Senior Director of Public Policy
Association for Career and Technical Education
Joy Hermsen, MBA, Director of Innovative Partnerships, Futuro Health.
Joy’s deep understanding of the workforce and education ecosystem, paired with her ability to listen and respond to employer needs, allows her to identify partnership opportunities that bring qualified employees to healthcare. Joy began her career in Operations/Training Development in Hospitality building the corporate university for a national franchise chain, developing a framework for franchisee business success, and running a company-owned store division. She has served as Head of People, Director of Operations, Director of HR & Strategy, Director of Training & Development, and Director of Employee Engagement & Community Relations from Fortune 500 to local, family-owned companies.
A long-time college CTE Instructor for Business & Entrepreneurship, Joy served three years as Statewide Director for Retail/Hospitality/Tourism with the California Community Colleges Workforce Economic Development Division, instituting programs such as Hospitality to Healthcare(H2H), showcasing Healthcare Career Opportunities and related Community College education opportunities.
Joy earned her MBA at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, her BA in Political Science from UC Davis, and is a graduate of the Sacramento Entrepreneurship Academy. She is a founding faculty member in the Leadership Studies program at Cal Poly Humboldt University. She has volunteered in leadership roles on several boards, including the Cal Aggie Alumni Association, UCD GSM Alumni Association, and Girls on the Run Sonoma County.
The daughter of immigrant parents and the first person to graduate from college in her family, Joy is passionate about bringing educational and career opportunities to all individuals regardless of means or background. Joy’s motto is “Everything is figureoutable.” A lifelong champion of initiatives that launch people into careers that they love so they live the life they love, Joy is delighted to be included in a community of CTE practitioners and advocates to lift up people across the country.
Deanna Strauss Hersko is the Manager for K12 Career Technical Pathways and Programs at Lorain County Community College. She has a diverse background that includes experience across K12 and post-secondary education, industry and government sectors. Mrs. Hersko attended The University of Akron and Malone University where she holds degrees in Business Administration, Organizational Management and Higher Education Administration. As a first-generation college student, she credits the investment that community college faculty and staff at The University of Akron – Wayne College made in her as a freshman, as the reason she became a post-secondary educator. With seventeen years of experience in higher education, predominately focused on the development of robust pathways and programs, Mrs. Hersko has dedicated her life work to ensuring all students have access to educational pathways that lead to careers in high-wage, high-skill in-demand jobs. Her work spans multiple facets of higher education including admissions, academic advising, financial services, new student orientation, residential education, student life and teaching first-year experience and freshman leadership classes. Throughout her career, she has been recognized as an Outstanding Woman in Higher Education, an Outstanding Graduate Assistant from The University of Akron and received the Pentagon Award from the Board of Trustees at Ashland County West Holmes Career Center for her significant contributions to developing opportunities for their students. Additionally, Mrs. Hersko was recognized by NextFlex, a Manufacturing USA Institute, for her outstanding impact on developing the next generation of workforce in Ohio. Some of her favorite moments as an educator have happened while traveling the U.S. and Ecuador with students on immersion trips doing social justice and advocacy work. Mrs. Hersko loves the unique challenges each day presents in higher education, as no one day is ever the same.
Dr. Alisha Hyslop has spent over 20 years working with career and technical education and is currently the Senior Director of Public Policy at the Association for Career and Technical Education. At ACTE, Alisha leads the organization’s legislative, advocacy, research, and policy implementation efforts that cover both secondary and postsecondary policy issues, and is particularly involved in efforts related to the Carl D. Perkins CTE Act and ACTE’s High-quality CTE Initiative. Previously she worked with the Florida House of Representatives and with career and technical student organizations on a local, state and national level. Alisha received her Bachelor’s in Public Relations and Family and Consumer Sciences Education from Florida State University, her Master’s in Career and Technical Education from Virginia Tech University, and her Ph.D. in Career and Workforce Education from the University of South Florida, where she developed specific expertise in program evaluation and has served as an adjunct instructor.
Commissioner of Education
Rhode Island Department of Education
Deputy Executive Director
Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green has served as the Rhode Island Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education since April 29, 2019. During her first year as Commissioner, she instituted several major efforts to improve K-12 education across the state, most notably leading a comprehensive review of the Providence Public School District. She is now leading the state intervention in the city schools to overcome decades of neglect and poor performance. As a first-generation American, Commissioner Infante-Green sees her first day as a teacher as a life-changing moment, when she realized her personal calling. Having herself learned English in school, and as the parent of a child with special needs, she has fought to replace a “deficit” view with an “enrichment” view for students who need more. Indeed, having seen shortfalls in her own child’s special education, she founded the first autism bilingual inclusion special education program in the nation. Since leaving the classroom, Commissioner Infante-Green has served in a variety of roles focused on improving instruction for all students, particularly for students learning English. Before assuming her current role, she served as the Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Instructional Support P-12. She began work in New York State in 2013. Her portfolio included overseeing the Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages; the Data Systems and Educational Technology Office; the Office of Assessment, Standards, and Curriculum; the Office of Special Education; and the Office of District and School Review. In her previous role as the Associate Commissioner for Bilingual Education and World Languages, she spearheaded the release of the nationally-recognized Blueprint for English Language Learners’ Success, a statewide framework that establishes clear expectations for administrators, policymakers, and practitioners to prepare English Language Learners (ELLs) for academic success. In addition, while she was leading this work, the Board of Regents adopted Commissioner’s Regulations Part 154, the foundation for progressive statewide policies governing ELL education. Prior to her position with the New York State Education Department, she was the Chief Executive Officer of the New York City Department of Education’s Office of English Language Learners in the Division of Students with Disabilities and ELLs, setting policies and implementing programs that have an impact on more than 150,000 ELLs each year. She also served the Department in a variety of instructional leadership positions, including Deputy Director in the Office of ELLs and Region 10 ELL Regional Instructional Specialist in professional development, instruction, and compliance. Under her leadership, more than 100 bilingual programs were opened in New York City. Commissioner Infante-Green began her career as a bilingual classroom teacher in the South Bronx where she was a Teach For America corps member before moving to Community School District 6 in the heart of Washington Heights in 1995. As a Dual Language Program teacher, she worked to maintain and expand students’ native language and culture. As a Dual Language Program project director, she worked to create a curriculum in two languages that met the specialized learning needs of the Dominican community. She also served as Director of the Early Childhood Center located at The George Washington High School Campus, where she was also Assistant Principal and Bilingual Coordinator. Commissioner Infante-Green has also served as an adjunct professor, and she also holds an M.A. in Education and in School Administration & Supervision from Mercy College. She currently serves on Stanford University’s Understanding Language Committee. Understanding Language aims to heighten educator awareness of the critical role that language plays in the State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards. She is a member of the first cohort of the Chiefs for Change Future Chiefs program. She is married with a son and daughter.
Rebecca Koenig is an editor at EdSurge, where she covers the future of learning in higher education and workforce training.
Her story about innovative adult education at the D.C. jail won the 2020 Dateline Award for best online feature from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a finalist for best feature in the 2019 National Awards for Education Reporting from the Education Writers Association.
She is a 2020 Higher Education Media Fellow of the Institute for Citizens & Scholars and was a 2018 fellow of the National Press Foundation.
Previously, Rebecca worked as a reporter for U.S. News & World Report, The Chronicle of Philanthropy and The Chronicle of Higher Education. She’s also written for Washington Post Express, Sauce Magazine, Narratively and Town & Style St. Louis Magazine, where she worked as managing editor.
Kate Kreamer serves as the Deputy Executive Director of Advance CTE, the longest-standing national non-profit that represents State Directors and state leaders responsible for secondary, postsecondary and adult Career Technical Education (CTE) across all 50 states and U.S. territories. In her role, she manages large-scale projects that sit at the nexus of policy, advocacy, communications and implementation.
During her tenure at Advance CTE, she launched a dedicated body of work focused on state CTE policy, starting with the first State Policies Impacting CTE: Year in Review report in 2013; led the CTE Forward Summit that resulted in the publication of Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education; helped secure funding from foundations and the federal and state governments to support a wide array of initiatives; coordinated the development of two Board of Director-approved strategic plans; and has presented across the country on a variety of issues related to CTE and career readiness.
From 2006-2013, Kate worked at Achieve, where she led a range of policy, research, and communications projects to support states’ college- and career-ready agendas as an associate director. Previously, Kate was a policy advisor at Third Way and a research assistant at the Progressive Policy Institute. Kate received her B.S. from Cornell University and her master’s of public policy from Georgetown University.
Emergency Medical Technician
Alumni of Alvirne High School and Wilbur H. Palmer CTE Center
Gabrielle "Gabe" Madison
Director, Community Relations
Director, Government Relations
Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT)
Hello, my name is Faith Lanzillo and I am an alumni of Alvirne High School and the Wilbur H. Palmer CTE Center. In high school, I participated in the Health Science class offered in my CTE center and was also a part of the CTE ambassador program. Now, I am currently attending Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio as a biomedical science major with the hope of furthering my education in medicine. I obtained my NREMT license while in my senior year of high school and now I work as an Emergency Medical Technician at Armstrong Ambulance in Massachusetts. I absolutely love my job and truly believe that taking the Health Science CTE class helped me understand this field better. In my free time, I enjoy reading, helping advocate for CTE, and volunteering for things I am passionate about.
Gabrielle Madison is the Director of Community Relations for Thomson Reuters. In her role, she has responsibility over various community partnerships for the Dallas office of Thomson Reuters. She engages the Thomson Reuters team in various industry associations, charitable organizations, civic groups and other organizations to develop community engagement strategies that make have a positive impact on the community, the team and build brand awareness.
Over the last ten years besides working in Community Relations, Gabrielle has worked in HR with Thomson Reuters.
Gabrielle’s passion for creating better communities is also found in the areas where she serves. She currently serves in her fourth year as the Southwest Region Board Member for the American Heart Association and is the chair of their Health Equity Committee helping to drive health care access to those that have been neglected. She is the Vice-Chair on the Trusted World Organization’s Board, the Vice-Chair of the Education and Talent Workforce Council for the Dallas Regional Chamber, a member of the P-TECH Impact Board for Dallas ISD, and the Board Chair for Bonton Farms.
Gabrielle has also been fortunate to be honored in various ways including being named “40 under 40” by the Dallas Business Journal, a member of the Dallas Regional Chamber’s Leadership Class of 2019 and was recently honored as a Dallas 500 for the second year. Another organization that is near to her heart is the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which provides scholarships and premier leadership development for minority college students.
Gabrielle graduated from Baylor University with a B.B.A. in Marketing, and currently lives in Frisco, TX with her amazing family.
José was born and raised in Nicaragua and moved to Miami at the age of 11. He currently resides in Washington, D.C., where he is the Director of Government Relations at the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT). In this role, he advocates for community colleges and the students they serve. He previously spent time in Congress working for Congresswoman Roybal-Allard (CA-40) and Congressman Raul Grijalva (AZ-03). As a first-generation college student, José is a proud alumnus of the Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars (MFOS) program, which allowed him to attend the University of Florida without the financial burden of the rising costs of college. José graduated in 2014 with a B.A. in Political Science and International Studies, with a focus on Latin America. Prior to moving to DC, José lived in Miami, where he taught high school ESL. In his spare time, José enjoys playing (and watching) soccer, and reading.
Director of Policy
Opportunity At Work
Chief Impact Officer
The Dallas Foundation
Washington Workforce Training & Education Board
Kate Naranjo is the Director of the STARs Policy Project at Opportunity@Work, a nonprofit focused on improving the labor market for workers who are Skilled Through Alternative Routes (STARs). Kate was previously the CEO’s Chief of Staff. Before Opportunity@Work, Kate managed projects at Poverty Solutions, a research and action tank based at the University of Michigan. She also helped to launch university-community partnerships, managed the Summer Youth Employment Program, and managed a large-scale project on rural communities. Kate was also a Schools Manager with EverFi, an education technology company and served two years with City Year, an Americorps program.
Drexell is the Chief Impact Officer at The Dallas Foundation, where he leads a team focused on the Foundation’s community impact strategy to reduce intergenerational poverty and improve child well-being through investments in programs that ensure a strong and healthy start for all Dallas children. He works closely with philanthropic, nonprofit, and civic leaders across Dallas and collaborates with the Foundation’s donor partners to advise or direct over $80 million a year in community philanthropy.
Prior to joining The Dallas Foundation, Drex was the Senior Vice President of Education & Workforce at the Dallas Regional Chamber, where he led the organization’s efforts to equitably grow and develop the existing regional education and workforce pipeline. Previously, he founded and served as CEO of Brave Capital Partners, an investment company focused on catalyzing minority communities. Drex also previously served as Managing Director and Chief of Staff at Civitas Capital Group, a private real estate investment firm, where he led the establishment of the GrowSouth Fund to invest in southern Dallas. Drex has also served in several leadership and strategy roles including The Owl Group, Blockbuster, FedEx Office, and Accenture.
Drex serves on a number of civic and nonprofit boards, including on the boards of Better Block Foundation, DHA Opportunity Rising Foundation, Education is Freedom Foundation, Impact Ventures, the SMU Simmons School of Education and Human Performance, and on the City of Dallas Economic Development Task Force. He also works closely with Dallas ISD, where he chairs the Dallas ISD Bond 2020 Advisory Council as well as serving with the Dallas Education Foundation, Dallas ISD Racial Equity Trustee-Appointed Advisory Council, and the West Dallas STEM School Advisory Board.
Drex earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from Rice University, where he was a two-time Track and Field All-American in the triple jump. He lives in Oak Cliff with his wife and three children.
Eleni Papadakis is the Executive Director of Washington’s Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board, first appointed by Gov. Christine Gregoire in 2007 and reappointed by Gov. Inslee in 2012. Business, labor and government are equally represented on this tri-partite board, which oversees planning, performance accountability, policy development and advocacy for the state’s comprehensive workforce development system. The board also serves as the Washington’s Career and Technical Education Board. Eleni has served on the board of Advance CTE, representing states now part of Region E. She has served for the past 6 years as the founding chair of the board of Credential Engine and now chairs their policy committee. Eleni has been involved in workforce and economic development, counseling and education for over 40 years, and has worked at the local, state and national levels to improve economic outcomes for individuals, businesses and communities in need.
Brennan McMahon Parton
Vice President, Policy and Advocacy
Data Quality Campaign
Associate Professor and Director of Faculty Development for the Office of Academic Affairs
University of the District Columbia Community College
National President of the Technology Student Association
Technology Student Association
As Vice President of policy and advocacy, Brennan leads DQC’s strategy to ensure that state leaders enact policies and practices that get individuals across the P–20W spectrum the data they need for every student to excel.
Brennan joined DQC in 2011 to advance the organization’s mission that seeks to ensure that data is used in service of student learning. Before joining DQC, Brennan worked at the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, in Nashville, Tennessee, as a research and policy analyst. During her graduate studies, she worked for the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office of Research and Education Accountability.
Brennan earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Vanderbilt University and a master’s in public policy from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody School of Education. She is a native of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Dr. Plourde is an Associate Professor at the University of the District of Columbia, where he balances teaching mathematics and directing the faculty development initiatives of the college within the Office of Academic Affairs for its Community College campus. He is also the faculty advisor for The UDC Artist Collective.
Gowri Rangu is the 2021-2022 National TSA President. The Technology Student Association is a national STEM organization dedicated to competition, service, and leadership opportunities. As a six-year member of this organization, Gowri has realized the importance of career and technical education and hopes to inspire youth in this field. Being a part of TSA has gifted her with lifelong friendships, leadership skills, and a passion to use her voice for change. In her free time, Gowri enjoys spending time in nature, baking with her friends, and writing/reading poetry. This fall, she will attend Harvard University and pursue a major in Government and a minor in Spanish and Economics. Ultimately, Gowri aspires to be a lawyer advocating for youth mental health and women’s rights.
Senior Associate, K-12 Education
Chief for Innovation
Rhode Island Department of Education
Kumea Shorter-Gooden, Ph.D.
Rosen joined MDRC in 2014 and is currently co-director of MDRC’s Center for Effective Career and Technical Education (CTE), which incubates new ideas, synthesizes findings and lessons learned, and disseminates this knowledge to policymakers, practitioners, and other researchers to ensure that expansion and scale-up of CTE programs are informed by a growing evidence base. She is also project director of the CTE Advise study, a randomized controlled trial funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) that is testing the efficacy of two popular, technology-based advising tools for supporting students to make high school CTE and career choices. Rosen also leads the evaluation of the New York City P-TECH model, a lottery-based impact study, also funded by IES, that is examining to impact of NYC’s innovative six-year high school model where students earn both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree while also engaging in work-based learning experiences provided by industry sponsors. Before joining MDRC, Rosen was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy. She holds a PhD in education policy and social analysis from Teachers College, Columbia University, and master’s degrees from Columbia University and Trinity College in Ireland.
Spencer Sherman serves as the Chief for Innovation at the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE). In that role, he oversees the Office of College & Career Readiness, the agency’s research team, tutoring initiative, math initiative, and other new strategic projects. Previously at RIDE, Spencer served as the Director of the Office of College & Career Readiness and managed PrepareRI, the state’s cross-agency career pathways initiative. Before coming to Rhode Island, Spencer worked as a dean and teacher in public schools in New Orleans. Spencer earned a bachelor’s degree in political science at Yale and a master’s degree in public policy at Harvard Kennedy School.
From 2012 to 2016, Dr. Kumea Shorter-Gooden served as the first Chief Diversity Officer and Associate Vice President at the University of Maryland, College Park. Formerly, she was an Associate Provost for International-Multicultural Initiatives at Alliant International University, Professor at the California School of Professional Psychology, Director of student counseling at The Claremont Colleges, and an administrator in two Chicago community mental health centers. She is a Licensed Psychologist and co-author of Shifting: The Double Lives of Black Women in America, a winner of the 2004 American Book Awards. A Fellow of Divisions 35 (Society for the Psychology of Women) and 45 (Society for the Psychological Study of Culture, Ethnicity and Race) of the American Psychological Association, she is a thought leader with respect to equity, diversity and inclusion and the Principal of Shorter-Gooden Consulting, which is based in Washington, DC. Kumea earned a bachelor’s degree magna cum laude from Princeton University with its first class of women and a Ph.D. in Clinical/Community Psychology from the University of Maryland.
Kentucky Department of Education, Office of Career and Technical Education
Utah FFA State Vice President 2021-2022
Senior Policy Advisor
Leslie Slaughter currently serves as the Executive Advisor to the Kentucky Department of Education’s Office of Career and Technical Education. She began her career as a classroom CTE teacher and has since served the Kentucky Department of Education as a state CTE program area supervisor, Kentucky’s State Coordinator for the New Skills for Youth (NSFY) initiative and as the Executive Director of the Kentucky Board of Education. Leslie has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky and a master’s degree from Campbellsville University.
Kenadee Stubbs graduated from Cedar High School in 2020. During her high school career, Kenadee was highly involved in the agriculture, foods, and natural resources CTE program. She was an active member of the FFA for 5 years, during that time she was able to re-establish agricultural classes and an FFA program in her high school, compete in public speaking at a national level, and most recently served as the 2021-2022 Utah FFA State Vice president. After graduation, Kenadee completed various emergency medicine and fire certification programs and began working as a Ski patroller, Municipal Volunteer firefighter, and began a lifelong career with the United States Forest Service as a wildland firefighter and EMT.
Lul Tesfai is a Senior Policy Advisor with the Center on Education & Labor at New America, which is focused on restoring the link between education and economic mobility. She conducts research and analysis on federal, state, and local policies related to high-quality education and training models, workforce development, and worker protections. Lul also works directly with communities and stakeholders to design and implement systems that improve economic and educational outcomes.
Prior to joining New America, Lul was a senior policy director at CNA Education, where she led efforts to strengthen the adult education and career and technical education (CTE) research base. Lul previously served as the director of policy in the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education (ED), which is responsible for the ED’s CTE, adult education, community college, and correctional education and reentry portfolio. She has also worked as a policy consultant for the California Senate Office of Research, an educational consultant to several school districts across the country, and a public-school teacher.
Her research has been cited in The New York Times, NPR, and other publications. Lul holds a master’s degree in public policy from the University of California, Berkeley, and a bachelor’s degree in political science and international studies from Northwestern University.
Director of Dual Enrollment and State CTE Director
Montana University System
Kentucky Department of Education (Office of Career and Technical Education)
Federal Policy Advisor
Jacque has been working in higher education for over 10 years, spending her early years working in recruitment, financial aid, and advising. She has been with the Montana University System for almost six years, starting as the Perkins Program Manager and moving into the State CTE Director role over three years ago. Jacque loves working with CTE and dual enrollment, and is so thrilled to be making a difference in the lives of students, families, employers, and communities in Montana.
As Data Manager in the Office of Career and Technical Education (OCTE), I have been involved in initiatives such as Kentucky and federal career readiness data; Kentucky student post-high school outcomes; dual credit initiatives; career pathways data; postsecondary credentials data; and CTE End-of-Program assessment analysis.
Steve Voytek is the Federal Policy Advisor for Advance CTE. In this role, Steve advocates for the organization’s federal policy priorities on Capitol Hill and cultivates relationships in support of Advance CTE’s federal policy agenda and national legislative goals and objectives. Steve also serves as a Policy Advisor at Foresight Law + Policy—a national education law firm based in Washington, D.C. In this role, Steve provides strategic policy and advocacy support to public and private sector organizations on a range of issues including Career and Technical Education (CTE), workforce development, and the federal budget and appropriations process.
Steve holds a Master of Arts in History from West Virginia University and a Master of Arts in International Relations from Collegium Civitas in Warsaw, Poland. He also graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Economics with honors from Hiram College.
Senior Research Associate
Dr. China Wilson
Equity and Civil Rights Compliance Specialist
Maryland State Department of Education
National Governors Association
Candace Williams is a Senior Research Associate with Advance CTE. In this role, Candace supports Advance CTE’s data quality and research initiatives, conducting cutting-edge research and providing direct support to state leaders as they work to advance quality and equity in CTE.
Formerly, she was the Director of Policy & Research at the New England Board of Higher Education. A native of mid-coast Maine, Candace made her way to Boston to earn her undergraduate and graduate degrees in economics at Northeastern University. Candace now resides in Seacoast New Hampshire with her husband and dog.
Dr. China L. Wilson currently serves as the Equity & Civil Rights Compliance Specialist in the Division of Career and College Readiness at the Maryland State Department of Education. In this role, Dr. Wilson provides leadership and support in ensuring all students are provided with equitable access and opportunity to education and learning environments in Career and Technical Education (CTE) across the state of Maryland, especially as it relates to underserved, marginalized communities. While high-quality CTE programming delivers positive outcomes for students, the reality is that not all students have equitable access and opportunity. Students in underserved, marginalized communities often lack access to these educational opportunities.
Dr. Wilson, a first-generation college student, has 20 years of experience as an educator, having taught students from elementary, secondary, and postsecondary levels, and knows first-hand the issues faced by students in underserved, marginalized communities. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, a Master of Science in Counseling Education from Central CT State University, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Management from Hampton University. Her mission is to use her personal and professional experiences to advance equitable learning for all students through the lens of public policy. Dr. Wilson continues to support policymakers, administrators, and community advocates to effectively partner on key issues and to discuss her work in the community as she contributes to the core purposes of equity. She has developed several local and national partnerships within the community, including Greater Baltimore Urban League, National Association for Partnerships in Equity, Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium, Advance CTE, and members of Maryland’s House of Delegates.
Amanda Winters serves as Program Director for postsecondary education at the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices. In this role, she oversees a team that supports governors offices and state policymakers on issues that connect postsecondary pathways to economic mobility and workforce outcomes. Her current portfolio is focused on economic recovery for families and communities, serving adult students, work-based learning, postsecondary financing, and quality postsecondary credentials. She came to her position from roles at the Illinois Board of Higher Education and the University of Illinois. She centers her work on the importance of collaboration and partnerships to create impact and real outcomes.
Education Team Research Analyst
Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission
Kelly Zinck is the Education Team Research Analyst in the Office of Community Colleges and Workforce Development at the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC). In this role, she is responsible for federal reporting for both WIOA Title II and CTE Perkins, along with managing the Title II performance-based funding model and Career Pathways data submission and analysis. Kelly earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree from Oregon State University, majoring in Environmental Science with a focus in Natural Resource Environmental Law and Policy, and a Master’s in Public Policy from Oregon State University, focusing in Environmental Law and Policy.
Teresa Valerio Parrot is Principal of TVP Communications. Teresa often says that while her husband is her true love, her alma mater was her first love. She reenergizes when she steps onto a college campus and TVP Communications’ clients can verify that she lights up when she visits. Higher education is her love and her home. She is known for her honesty juxtaposed with optimism, and the two combine to provide communications counsel that is focused on transparency and relationship building. Teresa describes her job as truthfully sharing excellence and genuinely owning mistakes, because she knows that honesty is present in all sound proactive and crisis outreach.
With over two decades of work in higher education, Teresa has only known a career focused on making higher education relatable, innovation understandable, presidents’ and boards’ decisions understandable, and student and faculty successes known. She serves as TVP Communications’ resident “president whisperer” for her ability to get senior administrators to share their thought leadership expertise.
Previously, Teresa served as Senior Vice President for Widmeyer Communications’ higher education practice and Vice President of Media Relations and Crisis Communications for SimpsonScarborough. She counts almost 10 years of experience with the University of Colorado System, including an officer-level appointment as Assistant Secretary of the University.
If her first home is a campus, then her second home is on an airplane and her third is on stage as a keynote and conference presenter. Teresa has spoken on behalf of nearly every acronym in higher education’s alphabet soup. She serves as founding co-editor and contributor to the Inside Higher Ed blog, Call to Action, which is focused on marketing and communications topics in higher education, and has by-lined pieces for national and higher education-focused outlets.
Teresa earned a bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in environmental biology, and a master’s degree in public administration with emphases in state and local government and non-profit management, both from the University of Colorado. She holds accreditation in public relations from the Public Relations Society of America and is pursuing a doctorate in higher education from the Simmons School of Education at Southern Methodist University. She lives just outside of Boulder with her husband and dogs. Each year she threatens to become a runner and instead spends her time traveling with her family. Don’t get her started on how amazing her college-aged daughter is unless you have a spare hour or two. Or three.