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Keynote Speakers

Dr. Daniel Willingham

Dr. Daniel Willingham earned his B.A. from Duke University in 1983 and his Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from Harvard University in 1990. He is currently Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, where he has taught since 1992. Until about 2000, his research focused solely on the brain basis of learning and memory. Today, all of his research concerns the application of cognitive psychology to K-16 education.

He writes the “Ask the Cognitive Scientist” column for American Educator magazine, and is the author of Why Don’t Students Like School?, When Can You Trust the Experts?, Raising Kids Who Read. and The Reading Mind (2017). His writing on education has appeared in fifteen languages.

In 2017 he was appointed by President Obama to serve as a Member of the National Board for Education Sciences.

Johnny W. Collett, Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services 

Color photo of Johnny W. Collett, Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
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Johnny Collett is the assistant secretary in the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the United States Department of Education. In this capacity, he serves as the advisor to the U.S. education secretary on matters related to the education of children and youths with disabilities, as well as employment and community living for youths and adults with disabilities. The mission of his office is to improve early childhood, educational, and employment outcomes, and to raise expectations for all people with disabilities, their families, their communities, and the nation.

Prior to joining the department, Collett served as the program director of special education outcomes at the Council of Chief State School Officers. Collett also served at the Kentucky Department of Education as the state’s special education director, as an assistant division director, and as an exceptional children consultant.

Collett, a former high school special education teacher and church pastor, graduated from Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky in 2005 with a Master of Arts in education. In 1994, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Clear Creek Baptist Bible College and in 1991 he received an associate degree from Southeast Community College, at that time a part of the University of Kentucky college system. Collett also holds a certification in learning and behavior disorders from Kentucky.

Dr. Jane West

A former teacher and education administrator, Dr. Jane West is visiting professor at the University of Maryland and policy advisor to several national education organizations, including the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education(http://aacte.org/), the National Network of State Teacher of the Year(http://www.nnstoy.org/), the Higher Education Consortium for Special Education (http://www.hecse.net/) and the Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children(http://www.tedcec.org/). For 8 years she led AACTE’s advocacy and policy work as Senior Vice President.In the mid 1980’s she worked as senior education advisor on the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions where she led the national effort to craft multiple federal education statutes.

Focusing on bringing the voice of expert education practitioners into the national policy dialogue, West supports professionals – teacher educators, expert teachers, researchers, principals, doctoral students and others — in engaging in the policy making process by honing their message, supporting it with evidence, engaging at the right time during the process and building effective political alliances.

With a focus on teaching quality, West has led the effort to build an influential100 organization coalition – the Coalition for Teaching Quality ( http://coalitionforteachingquality.org/main/) – to advocate for a professional continuum for teaching and education leadership with a focus on a diverse workforce and bringing the most accomplished educators to the students with greatest need.She has organized multiple briefings for policy makers and routinely consults with elected officials to develop education policy which will serve the highest need students.

West contributed to multiple legislative provisions in the new federal education law — the Every Student Succeeds Act — which promote teacher leadership and comprehensive educator preparation as strategies to address critical teacher shortages, teacher recruitment and teacher retention challenges, particularly for diverse student populations and high need schools.

Her scholarship focuses on analyzing education policy and effective strategies for professionals to ensure that their expert practice and scholarship influence national education policy.As co-editor of a recent special issue of Teacher Education for Special Education, she has articulated a powerful analysis of effective advocacy for educators (http://tes.sagepub.com/site/misc/Index/Podcasts.xhtml).

Her extensive publications and national keynote lectures bring education policy to life for teachers and researchers alike.

West has served on the faculties of the University of San Francisco, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland and Virginia Commonwealth University. She has been a special education teacher and administrator and edited two books about the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a law she participated in crafting.

West holds a BA from the University of California at Santa Barbara, an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University and a Ph.D. in special education from the University of Maryland.

Dr. Lynn M. Gangone, President and CEO of American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education

Dr. Lynn Gangone is a seasoned higher education leader with both campus- and association-based senior leadership experience. Prior to her appointment as president and CEO of AACTE, she served as vice president at the American Council on Education (ACE), where she and her team guided ACE’s suite of programs, products, and services for current and future higher education leaders. She consults, writes, and speaks on higher education leadership, advancement of underrepresented men and women, strategic planning, and change management.

She served as dean of Colorado Women’s College, University of Denver, one of 12 deans and 7 vice chancellors within a private doctoral/research university dedicated to the public good. Gangone’s faculty appointment was at the clinical professor rank at the University’s Morgridge College of Education. Prior, she was a visiting professor of higher education at the George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development (DC). As vice president of the Maryland Independent College and University Association, she led the association’s academic policy and related lobbying work, with specific oversight of teacher education and accreditation in the independent college sector. She has also served as executive director of the National Association for Women in Education, and as vice president of development, as well as vice president/dean of students, at Centenary University (NJ). As a faculty member, campus senior administrator, association executive, and lobbyist and policy analyst, Gangone brings a unique perspective to her work.

Gangone’s research and publications include “Benchmarking Women’s Leadership in Academia and Beyond” in Women and Leadership in Higher Education (2014); Is Discrimination the Reason Why More Women are Not in Leadership Roles? in The Shriver Report (2013); “Higher Education Resource Services: Revolutionary Leadership Development” in Rethinking Leadership in a Complex, Multicultural, and Global Environment: New Concepts and Models for Higher Education (2009); “National Association for Women in Education: An Enduring Legacy” in Journal About Women in Higher Education (2008); and “Meeting the Leadership Challenges of the 21st Century: An Evaluation of a National Leadership Institute” in Initiatives: the Journal of NAWE (2000). She also served as an editor and contributor to Benchmarking Women’s Leadership in the United States 2013 and delivered a 2013 TEDx talk based on that report. Her most recent works include “Reflections on Advancing Women in Higher Education” in ACE’s The Presidency, “Confronting the Myths Surrounding Women’s Advancement” in the Association of American Colleges and Universities’ Liberal Education, and “Commentary: The Link Between Presidential Ideology and State Policy” in Public Administration Review.

Gangone received an Ed.D. and M.Ed. in higher and postsecondary administration, with a concentration in organizations and leadership, from Teachers College, Columbia University (NY); an M.S. and C.A.S. in counseling psychology from the University at Albany, State University of New York; and a B.A. in political science from the College of New Rochelle. She was a member of the class of 2010 Harvard Institute for Educational Management (MA) and is certified through Trustee Leadership Development. She is also a member of the Colorado and Washington, DC, chapters of the International Women’s Forum (IWF) and served as Colorado’s 2013 president; she has served the IWF Leadership Foundation as a fellows mentor. Some of the many honors she has received include Twenty-Five Most Powerful Women in Colorado, Women of Distinction—Girl Scouts of Colorado, Women Making History—Colorado Black Women for Political Action, Diamond Honoree—American College Personnel Association, and the Ursula Laurus Alumnae Award from the College of New Rochelle. She serves on the national board of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America.

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