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.

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.

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