2012 Speaker Biographies

2012 Speaker Biographies

Catherine Augustine is a Senior Policy Researcher at RAND. Her work focuses on improving educational outcomes for students in large urban school districts. She is leading an evaluation on the impact of six urban districts’ summer learning programs on elementary students. She is also part of a team evaluating the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s effort to improve teaching effectiveness in four urban sites across the country.

Past work includes an evaluation on the impact of policy coherence on school leadership. Dr. Augustine has assisted the Army in developing mechanisms to recruit and retain Captains in the Army National Guard and United States Army Reserve. She has also studied school district governance, leadership in arts education, human resource development for the Department of Defense, and the particular challenges facing middle schools. Dr. Augustine has expertise in direct implementation of reforms, in addition to their evaluation. From 2001-2004, Dr. Augustine was part of a team that developed and implemented a new K-12 school system for the country of Qatar.


Claudia Bach is the Director of Educator Preparation, Policy and Leadership at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. She is responsible for the Education Program Reviews for educator preparation programs, Title IIA, the Teacher Incentive Fund for educator effectiveness, Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure, and the National Institute for School Leadership. She also oversees 26 Race to the Top projects, including the implementation of the new Educator Evaluation regulations that all public schools are implementing over the next two years.

Before joining ESE, Dr. Bach served as Superintendent of Schools for 12 years in Andover, Massachusetts and for three years in Milton-Freewater, Oregon. She has taught at the elementary, middle, high school, undergraduate, and graduate levels. She earned her doctorate in Harvard’s Urban Superintendent Program. Her dissertation was a study of Interest-Based Bargaining in the Sacramento City Unified School District.


John Bailey is the Executive Director of Digital Learning Now! He previously served as the co-founder of Whiteboard Advisors, providing specialized strategic consulting for investors, philanthropies, and entrepreneurs. Prior to joining Whiteboard, he served as a domestic policy advisor at the White House coordinating education and labor policy. Mr. Bailey has worked at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and also served as a top technology and telecommunications advisor to the Secretary of Commerce. He was the nation’s second Director of Educational Technology, where he oversaw more than $1 billion in annual grants and research projects, and he has served as a formal or informal advisor to three Presidential campaigns.

In 2009, Mr. Bailey was named as one of 25 American Council on Germany “Young Leaders” to participate in an annual conference with German business, finance, and government professionals. He was also selected by eSchoolNews as one of the 30 most influential leaders in the education technology industry. He is also a board member for the Data Quality Campaign and the regional board of Indego Africa.


Jean-Claude Brizard is Chief Executive of the Chicago Public School, the nation’s third-largest school system, serving approximately 409,000 students in more than 670 schools. Prior to his appointment in Chicago, he was Superintendent of Schools for the Rochester City (N.Y) School District, a position he held for three years.

His experience also includes a 21-year career as an educator and administrator with the New York City Department of Education. This includes service as a regional superintendent, the executive director for Secondary Schools, Region 8, a high school principal, a high school physics teacher, and as a junior high school science teacher

He is also a former Executive Committee member of the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) and the New York State Council of School Superintendents. Mr. Brizard was named a Fellow of the Aspen Institute NewSchools Venture Fund’s prestigious Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education Fellowship Program, and he is one of 24 accomplished leaders who have joined the Aspen Institute’s Global Network.


David Coleman was an architect of the Common Core State Standards, which to date have been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia. He is a Founding Partner of Student Achievement Partners, a nonprofit organization devoted to the successful implementation of the Standards, where he leads the organization’s work with teachers and policymakers to achieve the promise of the Common Core to improve education. Mr. Coleman will become president and CEO of the College Board Oct. 15.

Mr. Coleman has been recognized as one of Time magazine’s “11 Education Activists for 2011” and was recently named one of the NewSchools Venture Fund Change Agents of the Year for 2012.


Lisa Sharma Creighton (née Sharma) serves as the senior coordinator for nutrition, hunger and physical activity programs at the National Education Association Health Information Network (NEA HIN). In this role she leads an national initiative to improve the quality of snack foods and beverages sold in schools, oversees a project to increase school breakfast participation through the adoption of breakfast in the classroom, provides trainings to NEA members on creating healthier schools, and guides the expansion of NEA HIN’s portfolio of projects in the areas of nutrition, hunger and physical activity. Ms. Creighton also works closely with other NEA departments to advise on issues related to child obesity and hunger policies and programs including work on farm-to-school.

Prior to working for NEA HIN, Ms. Creighton managed the National League of Cities’ childhood obesity prevention portfolio, including providing technical assistance to cities seeking to implement a comprehensive citywide wellness strategy and producing resources and trainings for city leaders on combating childhood obesity at the local level. Ms. Creighton holds a Master of Public Health (MPH) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Health Policy and Management from Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from New York University.


Linda Darling-Hammond is Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University, where she has launched the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education and the School Redesign Network and served as faculty sponsor for the Stanford Teacher Education Program. She is a former president of the American Educational Research Association and member of the National Academy of Education.  Her research, teaching, and policy work focus on issues of school reform, teacher quality, and educational equity. From 1994-2001, she served as executive director of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, a blue-ribbon panel whose 1996 report, What Matters Most: Teaching for America’s Future, led to sweeping policy changes affecting teaching in the United States.  In 2006, this report was named one of the most influential documents affecting U.S. education, and Darling-Hammond was named one of the nation’s ten most influential people affecting educational policy over the last decade. In 2008-09, she headed President Barack Obama’s education policy transition team.

Among Ms. Darling-Hammond’s more than 400 publications are The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future (Teachers College Press, 2010), winner of the 2011 Grawemeyer Award in Education; Powerful Teacher Education: Lessons from Exemplary Programs (Jossey-Bass, 2006); Preparing Teachers for a Changing World: What Teachers Should Learn and Be Able to Do (with John Bransford; Jossey-Bass, 2005), winner of the AACTE Pomeroy Award; Teaching as the Learning Profession (co-edited with Gary Sykes; Jossey-Bass, 1999), which received the National Staff Development Council’s Outstanding Book Award for 2000; and The Right to Learn (Jossey-Bass,1997), recipient of the American Educational Research Association’s Outstanding Book Award for 1998.


Deb Delisle is the Assistant U.S. Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education. In this position, she directs, coordinates and recommends policy for programs designed to assist state and local education agencies with improving the achievement of elementary and secondary school students. She helps ensure equal access to services leading to improvement for all children, particularly children who are economically disadvantaged. She fosters educational improvement at the state and local levels, and provides financial assistance to local education agencies whose local revenues are affected by federal activities. She also serves as the principal adviser to the U.S. Secretary of Education on all matters related to pre-k, elementary, and secondary education.

Ms. Delisle’s career in education spans 37 years, serving as a teacher, gifted education specialist, curriculum director, elementary principal, associate superintendent and superintendent. Prior to her role at the Department, Ms. Delisle was a senior fellow with the International Center for Leadership in Education with a deep interest in educator performance systems and creating transformative cultures in schools and districts to support educators and students. From 2008-2011, she was Ohio’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Ms. Delisle was a member of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) Executive Board and held several leadership positions with CCSSO, including co-chair of the Human Capital Subcommittee, and was a member of CCSSO’s ESEA Reauthorization and Early Childhood Subcommittees. She also served on the NCATE Executive Board and the Governing Boards of the Midwest Regional Education Lab and the Minority Student Achievement Network.


Dr. Pascal (Pat) D. Forgione Jr. was appointed Distinguished Presidential Scholar and Executive Director for the K–12 Center at ETS in July 2009. His career as an educator and educational administrator is extensive.

From 1999–2009, Dr. Forgione was Superintendent of the Austin (TX) Independent School District. From 1996–1999, he was U.S. Commissioner of Education Statistics for the National Center for Education Statistics. From 1991–1996, Dr. Forgione was Delaware State Superintendent for Public Instruction. In 1991, he served as the first Executive Director for the U.S. Department of Education’s National Education Goals Panel.

His background in educational research and assessment includes positions with the Connecticut State Department of Education, the National Center for Research in Vocational Education at Ohio State University, the Syracuse Research Corporation, the Maryland State Department of Education and Stanford University.

Forgione has also served as a consultant to, or member of, numerous educational organizations and initiatives, including: the Council of Chief State School Officers; the Council of the Great City Schools; the National Governors Association; U.S. Department of Education; U.S. Department of Defense; National Science Foundation; the College Board; RAND Corporation; American Education Research Association; and the National Council for Measurement in Education.


Steve Gering is Chief Leadership Development Officer for Chicago Public Schools. He has worked in education for over 25 years in a wide variety of roles. He has worked in both urban and suburban districts, as a high school teacher and coach, a high school administrator, a middle school principal, a District Administrator, and Deputy Superintendent in Kansas City, Kansas. In addition, Mr. Gering was also the co-creator and principal/director of an alternative school for at-risk adolescents who had either been expelled or dropped out of the neighborhood schools.

Mr. Gering played the lead role in implementing district reform efforts in Kansas City, especially the First Things First initiative, which aimed at developing leadership capacity at all levels of the system. Due to the significant gains in student outcomes, the Kansas City School District was recognized nationally by the United States Department of Education and the Gates Foundation for successful district reform.


Ruchi S. Gupta, M.D. , M.P.H., is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, with a joint appointment to Northwestern University’s Institute for Healthcare Studies and the Smith Child Health Research Program at Children’s Memorial Hospital. She is also on the Board of Directors of the Chicago Asthma Consortium and the Steering Committee of the Alliance for Research in Chicagoland Communities. Dr. Gupta completed her residency at the University of Seattle and was honored with the Fitzhugh Mullen Resident Leadership Award and the American Medical Association’s National Leadership Award. Following residency, she entered the National Research Service Award (NRSA) T32 Pediatric Health Services Research Fellowship at Children’s Hospital Boston and received an M.P.H from the Harvard School of Public Health. She then continued as a NRSA fellow at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, where she is currently on faculty. Dr. Gupta’s research interests include childhood asthma and food allergies.

As an academic pediatrician, Dr. Gupta’s primary goal is to reduce childhood asthma prevalence, severity and disparities. Her interest in childhood asthma began early in her career, while a resident in an inner-city practice. Dr. Gupta was amazed at how common asthma was among her low-income, minority patients, many of whom were debilitated with frequent exacerbations and hospitalizations. Driven to improve the lives of these children and their families, Dr. Gupta began her study of asthma as a fellow, where she collaborated on two studies assessing disparities in childhood asthma. Since that time, she has conducted several studies and published multiple papers investigating asthma and asthma disparities.


Laura Hamilton is a senior behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation, a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School, and an adjunct associate professor in the University of Pittsburgh’s Learning Sciences and Policy program. Her research focuses on educational assessment, accountability, and the measurement and evaluation of instruction and school leadership. Recent projects include an evaluation of teacher and principal evaluation and compensation reforms in several districts and a study of educators’ responses to state standards-based accountability policies. She has expertise in psychometrics; survey research methodology; and measurement of instructional practices, leadership, and reform implementation. She has served as an advisor to states and districts on the development of improved teacher and principal evaluation systems and currently serves on several state and national panels including the APA/AERA/NCME Joint Committee to Revise the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing.

Dr. Hamilton is also an editor of Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, and she recently chaired a panel on data-driven decision making for the What Works Clearinghouse.


Dr. Christopher A. Koch has served as the Illinois State Superintendent of Education since late 2006 and has worked with the Illinois State Board of Education since 1994 in a variety of administrative capacities, including Director of Special Education and the states’ Chief Education Officer.

As State Superintendent, Dr. Koch has led efforts to bring coherence between state standards, curriculum, assessments and college entry requirements in Illinois through state membership in the American Diploma Project and the 21st Century Skills initiative. He has been a strong proponent of using data to inform policy and is working to establish a P-20 longitudinal data system where pre-K to 12 student achievement data can be linked to postsecondary education and careers. He supports the establishment of nationally and internationally benchmarked standards that promote rigor and relevance, as well as assessments common to all states so that fair and accurate comparisons about student performance between states and countries can be made.

Dr. Koch has experience as a special educator, having taught in four states in various settings, including an Outward Bound program, a college preparatory school, a youth detention center, and a psychiatric hospital. He served at the federal level with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education, where he administered programs in correctional education and School-to-Work transition.


In July of 2008, Kathryn LeRoy was appointed Chief Academic Officer of Duval County (FL) Public Schools, a district with 183 schools serving more than 125,000 students. Her responsibilities include all curriculum areas; assessment; Exceptional Student Education (ESE); Multiple Pathways/Alternative Education; and district professional development. She also works directly with low-performing Turnaround schools to dramatically improve student achievement. LeRoy came to Duval in 2007 as the Chief Officer of Mathematics and Science, for which she managed all aspects of the K-12 mathematics and science program.

Prior to coming to Duval County, she spent more than 22 years in Miami-Dade County Public Schools. She held many leadership roles including the Executive Director for Science, where she was involved in a major National Science Foundation (NSF) research project with the University of Miami implementing Promoting Science among English Language Learners. Her research appears in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching and Journal of Science Teacher Education and she is a program author of a national K-5 science series.


Karen McAvoy is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and the Director of the Center for Concussion at the Rocky Mountain Youth Sports Medicine Institute.

Dr. McAvoy graduated with a doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Denver and went on to complete a Pediatric Psychology Internship at The Children’s Hospital in Denver and an adult/pediatric Behavioral Medicine post-doctorate fellowship at Farren Memorial Hospital in Massachusetts. She has 20+ years of experience both as a clinical psychologist and as a school psychologist.

Most recently, Dr. McAvoy has been the Coordinator of Mental Health Services and Brain Injury Services for Cherry Creek School District. From 2004-2007, Dr. McAvoy was the Clinical Manager on a Centers for Disease Control study of concussion in high school athletes. As the result of that study, Dr. McAvoy authored REAP – A Community-Based Concussion Management Program for Families, Schools and Medical Professionals. In partnership with HealthONE Emergency Departments, REAP provides communities with an immediate and comprehensive concussion management protocol.

When not running after her daughter, her dog and her cat, Dr. McAvoy is an avid runner and consumer of fiction.


Rebecca Mieliwocki is the 2012 National Teacher of the Year. Ms. Mieliwocki is a 7th grade English teacher at Luther Burbank Middle School in Burbank, California, which houses 1100 students in grades 6-8. She has been teaching for 14 years and has spent nine years in her current position. She is the 2005 California League of Middle Schools Educator of the Year for Southern California, a 2009 PTA Honorary Service Award Winner, and a BTSA mentor, and has also served as a teacher expert for a CSUN College of Education Panel titled “The ABC’s of IEPs.”


Stanley N. Rabinowitz directs WestEd’s Assessment and Standards Development Services
As Program Director, Mr. Rabinowitz oversees program activities, directs assessment development
for the Kentucky and Nevada statewide assessment programs, and consults extensively with policymakers and assessment staff at the national, regional, and state levels. He also directs the WestEd/CRESST Assessment and Accountability Comprehensive Center.
He has authored a number of published papers on issues related to the use of integrated standards and assessment systems in high-stakes state programs and worker-training initiatives. Previously, Rabinowitz directed the statewide assessment program for the New Jersey Department of Education.


Jeff Smink is Vice President of policy for the National Summer Learning Association. He leads all activities related to the Association’s policy portfolio at the national, state, and local levels. Current projects include leading a National Campaign for Summer Learning to increase public investment and support of summer programs; leading an initiative to create a new vision of summer school for urban school districts; and the creation of state-level legislative task forces on summer learning. Mr. Smink also develops and delivers presentations and trainings at selected national, regional, and local policy conferences and meetings.

Prior to his arrival at the Association, he served in a variety of education policy positions, including as special assistant to the deputy secretary at the Pennsylvania Department of Education and legislative associate for the Council of Chief State School Officers. In both capacities, he was deeply involved in the development and implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and other education reform efforts.


Doug Sovde is Achieve’s Director of PARCC Instructional Supports and Educator Engagement, where he works with states to increase the rigor of their standards and align their standards and assessments. Recently, he participated as a member of the writing team of the Common Core State Standards, having principal responsibility for creating Appendix A to the mathematics standards, also known as the Model Course Pathways in Mathematics.

Prior to joining Achieve, Mr. Sovde spent 12 years in the Bellevue, Washington Public Schools as a teacher, an assistant principal, and a principal. As a mathematics teacher, he taught courses from pre-algebra to AP Calculus BC and participated in district-wide curriculum development. He later became an assistant principal at Bellevue High School and Sammamish High School, where he supervised the mathematics departments and supported mathematics curriculum development. In 2006, Doug became the principal of Chinook Middle School, where he managed the development of new curriculum in mathematics, science, and social studies at the school level. He also served as the liaison between the school district and the University of Washington’s LIFE Center to provide staff development to principals and curriculum developers on the applications of learning theory and cognitive science to instructional leadership, curriculum development, and classroom instruction.


Kyla Wahlstrom is Director for Center for Applied Research and Education Improvement (CAREI) at the University of Minnesota. There, she researches the politics of change, the professional development of teachers, and leadership issues such as the characteristics essential for leaders in today’s globally oriented world. In particular, she and a colleague recently completed a six-year project examining how educational leadership affects learning across the United States.

Before joining CAREI, Dr. Wahlstrom spent 19 years in education, including service teaching inner city children with behavior problems and as an elementary school principal in a suburb. She seeks to blend her research work with teaching and advising within the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development (OLPD) at the university. “I believe there is an energy that occurs between student and teacher,” she write, “that has to do with challenging one’s intellect and demanding high-quality work.”


Gov. Bob Wise has been president of the Alliance for Excellent Education since 2005 and is former governor of West Virginia. He co-chairs the Digital Learning Council with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and also chairs the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Since joining the Alliance in February 2005, Gov. Wise has also advised the U.S. Department of Education, White House Transition Team, and frequently testifies before the U.S. Congress. In 2011, Governor Wise was named to the NonProfit Times “Power & Influence Top 50,” an annual listing of the 50 most influential executives in the nonprofit sector.

As governor of West Virginia from 2001 to 2005, he signed legislation to fund the PROMISE Scholarship program, which has helped thousands of West Virginia high school graduates continue their education, and he established a character education curriculum in all state schools and created the Governor’s Helpline for Safer Schools. From 1983 to 2001, Governor Wise served in the U.S. House of Representatives representing the 2nd District of West Virginia.

Gov. Wise serves on the Public Education Network’s board of directors, the Springboard Project Commission, the board of trustees of America’s Promise, and the steering committee for the Coalition for a College- and Career-Ready America. He is an advisory committee member for several organizations, including the Campaign for Educational Equity, Editorial Projects in Education, the Bay Area Coalition for Equitable Schools, and the National High School Center, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education and Office of Special Education Programs and housed at the American Institutes for Research.

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