Maria Tope Akinyele Ph.D. is the founder and Lead Education Consultant of Agiri Learning, an organization that has helped hundreds of school leaders and organizations embrace, strategize, and enact positive change. Dr. Akinyele is a Professional Learning Strategist, Organizational Development Specialist, and an adjunct professor at Teacher’s College Summer Principals Academy. Dr. Akinyele draws upon her expertise in mindfulness, emotional intelligence, adult development, cultural competence, and racial equity to enhance the capacity of leaders and organizations to implement positive change. She specializes in leadership development and professional learning design focused on creating culturally responsive, racially literate, and equitable schools and organizations. For the past fifteen years, she has helped numerous school leaders envision and implement equitable literacy practices that empower youth and teachers with cultural competence and critical thinking tools. She collaborates with leaders and organizations to not only imagine but create thriving learning communities where people are genuinely developing and moving towards the actualization of their organization’s mission, vision, and goals.
Dr. Akinyele holds a bachelor’s degree in History and Women Studies with a concentration in African American Studies from Williams College; a Ph.D. in Urban Education from the CUNY Graduate Center; a certificate in Organizational Development and Change Leadership from Georgetown University.
Alex J. Bowers is an Associate Professor of Education Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he works to help school leaders use the data that they already collect in schools in more effective ways to help direct the limited resources of schools and districts to specific student needs. His research focuses on the intersection of effective school and district leadership, organization and HR, data driven decision making, student grades and test scores, student persistence and dropouts. His work also considers the influence of school finance, facilities, and technology on student achievement. Dr. Bowers studies these domains through the application of Intensive Longitudinal Data analysis (ILD), data science, and big data analytics, such as data visualization analytics, multilevel and growth mixture modeling, and cluster analysis heatmap data dashboards. He earned his Ph.D. in K12 Educational Administration from Michigan State University, and previous to teaching and education research, spent a decade as a cancer researcher in the biotechnology industry, with a M.S. in Biochemistry, Microbiology and Molecular Biology, and a B.S. in Biochemistry. Dr. Bowers is the recipient of multiple awards, including being the first person to win both the AERA Emerging Scholar Award for Division A (Administration, Organization and Leadership), and the UCEA Jack A. Culbertson Award for outstanding early faculty research, both in 2012. He was named an Outstanding Reviewer of the Year for the journals American Educational Research Journal (2009), Educational Administration Quarterly (2012 & 2016) and the Journal of Educational Administration (2018). Dr. Bowers is a faculty advisor to the Harvard Strategic Data Project and currently serves on the editorial boards of the journals Educational Administration Quarterly, Journal of Educational Administration, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, and the Journal of Education Finance and is co-editor of volume 4 (2013) volume 5 (2014) and volume 6 (2015) of the Information Age Publishing book series International Research on School Leadership. He has served as Principal or co-Principal Investigator on over $1.5 million in externally funded research grant projects. In 2019, Dr. Bowers served as a Thomas J. Alexander Fellow at the OECD headquarters (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) in Paris, France.
Jared Boyce, Ph.D., is a quantitative education researcher specializing in using adult and student data to better understand instructional practices, education leadership, and data use in schools. He has firsthand experience building researcher-practitioner partnerships that empower educators in collecting, interpreting, and taking action on their own data through sustainable processes and improvement science. Boyce received the 2016 Advanced Studies of National Databases Outstanding Dissertation Award from the American Educational Research Association and the 2016 Emerald/EFMD Outstanding Doctoral Research Award in Education and Leadership Strategy for his research on education leadership. He earned his Ph.D. in education leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University and his B.S. in symbolic systems, M.A. in philosophy, and M.A. in education from Stanford University.
Kevin P. Brady (Ph.D., University of Illinois) began his career as an assistant professor in the Department of Educational and Community Programs at The City University of New York (CUNY), Queens College, where he first developed his passion for preparing future school leaders for the varied and complex legal issues in today’s schools. Currently, Dr. Brady is an associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. One of his primary research and scholarly interests comprises legal issues involving students with disabilities. Dr. Brady is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Education Law Association and is on the editorial board of several journals, including Education and Urban Society and the Journal of Disability Policy Studies.
Pamela Burke, PhD specializes in helping people recognize and use their creativity in leading collaborative change. Her clients come from innovation units in the bio-medical, healthcare, education, publishing, services, communications, energy, defense, and aerospace industries. She is an affiliate faculty member teaching graduate courses on leadership, creative collaboration, constructive conflict, design thinking, consulting, and organization development at Stevens Institute of Technology and at Teachers College, Columbia University.
Pam received a PhD in psychology from Cornell, completed a two-year NSF Research Fellowship in decision making at Stanford, and managed User Experience technical organizations at Bell Laboratories before establishing her consulting company, Unbound Edge, Inc. She received the affiliate faculty teaching award from Stevens and a New Jersey State Council on the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship (Fiction).
Example clients: Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST; Vera C. Rubin Observatory); GENEWIZ, Inc.; Pearson Publishing; Thorlabs; GlaxoSmithKline; ImClone Systems Inc.; Croda Inc.; Bobst Group U.S.A.; Alcatel Lucent; Avaya Inc.; Lockheed Martin Corporation; Meridian Health; JP Morgan Chase; Pfizer, Inc.; Barnabas Health Care System; Hoboken University Medical Center; CentraState Healthcare System; Englewood Hospital; Zodiac Aerospace; Safran; DRS Technologies; NASA Johnson Space Center; ExxonMobil; New Jersey Institute of Technology; Defense Acquisition University; Solix, Inc.; and others, 2001-present.
Joseph Daschbach is a doctoral candidate in Leadership, Policy and Politics at Teachers College, Columbia University. A former public school teacher in both New Orleans and New York City, and a former charter school principal in New Orleans, Joe currently works as an independent consultant with a variety of educational clients. His areas of expertise include school operations and finance, school decentralization, and privatization. He is also the founding director of US-HP Skilled Trade Initiative, a recently launched startup that provides job skills and industry-based certifications to area high school students. Joe currently serves on the Board of Directors at the New Orleans Charter Science and Math High School. In his role as a researcher and doctoral candidate, Joe is examining the impact of decentralization and privatization on school finance. In particular, he is interested in identifying trends that emerge as charter schools in New Orleans begin to re-centralize as charter management organizations, and whether and how those organizational changes lead to a change in expenditures within schools.
Dr. Yolanda Davis is an Associate Director at the Summer Principals Academy-Teachers College, Columbia University. She is originally from Chicago, IL and earned her B.A. in English, Secondary Education, EdM in Education Policy, and PhD in Education Policy at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests include: urban educational leadership, recruitment and retention of diverse educators, issues of equity and access in K-12 schools, and principalship. She is a certified secondary education teacher and is very passionate about teaching, researching education issues, and working within education programs to help create change in K-12 schools.
Michael Eatman is a Certified Diversity Professional, Executive Coach, Advanced EQ, and Mindful Facilitation Practitioner. As an educator celebrating 26 years spanning Prek - 20 learning environments, Michael has created the Leadership Edge, a framework that incorporates Emotional Intelligence (EQ), Cultural Competence, and Conflict Engagement to support educational leaders in leading successful organizations. He believes that successful institutions start with leaders, armed with visions that beckon collaboration.
Michael utilizes his EQ expertise to ground his diversity and educational leadership work. With Michael’s guidance, governing leaders of institutions have expanded their understanding of how emotional intelligence and diversity awareness impact their organization’s ability to fulfill its mission.
As an Inclusion Strategist, Michael works with organizations and educational leaders in identifying cultural competence gaps to develop robust systems that promote more inclusive learning and working environments. Michael uses an organizational inclusion change framework to demonstrate the value and presence of diversity at every level of organizational life.
Michael currently serves as the Director of Community Life at the Pike School in Andover, Massachusetts. He resides in New England with his wife and three children. Michael received his B.A. in Psychology from Fordham University with a Masters in the Art of Education (MAE) from Spring Arbor University.
Joshua is the chief executive officer of the Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Network, the global community for EQ. He is one of the world’s top experts on developing emotional intelligence to improve performance. One of a handful of people in the world with over 20 years of full-time experience implementing emotional intelligence, his clients include FedEx, Intel, Etihad Airways, Amazon, Microsoft, the UN, all branches of the US armed services, and numerous organizations around the globe. He co-developed Six Seconds’ EQ Certification Training which he has delivered on five continents as master-trainer to thousands of professionals seeking practical tools for learning and teaching emotional intelligence, and has helped launch emotional intelligence programs and companies in over a dozen countries. He is to cocreator of the POP-UP Festival in partnership with UNICEF World Children's Day, which reached over 1.7 million children in over 200 countries & territories.
Freedman is author of the international bestseller, At the Heart of Leadership, The Vital Organization, as well as INSIDE CHANGE: Transforming Your Organization with Emotional Intelligence plus Whole-Hearted Parenting and dozens of cases and articles including The Business Case for Emotional Intelligence and The Workplace Vitality Report. He is coauthor of six validated psychometric assessments including the EQ Leadership Report and the Organizational Vital Signs climate measure, as well as several books and training programs including the Management Foundations and the pioneering approach to social emotional learning, Self-Science. He is also a Master Certified Coach by the International Coach Federation.
Ramon Gonzalez has been a trend setting educator for the past 25 years. He was the founding principal of MS/HS 223-The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology, a secondary school in the South Bronx created in 2003 and as an international leadership coach. Ramon started his school in one of the most dangerous middle schools in NYC in 2003. Less than 10% of his students were at grade level in Reading and Mathematics when the school was created. Six years later, 85% of his students were proficient in English and 85% in math. Prior to this feat, no school in New York City had ever moved test scores at the K-8 level from single digit proficiency levels to over 50%!
Ramon’s community activism and equity lens has deeply influenced the schools he had led. Students take courses in animation, computer programming, and financial literacy. Students also participate in a school-wide economy where they can earn, save, and spend “school bucks”. With over 50% of his AP classes comprised of female and students of color, the school has received an equity award from the College Board as recognition for the large number of Calculus, Physics, and Computer Science female proficient students. Other note-worthy initiatives include an expanded day, week, and year program and more
than 50% of the students complete internships or work opportunities. Through Ramon’s determination, he was able to get the state to waive state exams and develop alternative assessments called PBATs (Performance Based Assessment Tasks). The PBATs require students to pick tasks that are semester long projects that require oral, written presentations for graduation. Today there are 33 schools out of 4822 schools that are PBAT schools in NY state. He recently created a high school that received top 10% national ranking by US News and World Report.
Ramon has extended his message on leadership development internationally, most recently in South Africa, Brazil and the Netherlands. Ramon was named a 2007-2008 Cahn Fellow for Distinguished Principals at Teachers College/Columbia University and received a 2011 Sloan Public Service Award. He was also awarded a 2013 Educator’s Voice Award for being an exceptional middle school principal. His school received the 2010 Intel School of Distinction Award in Mathematics and was named an International Spanish Academy by the Spanish Government in 2014. He was named a Master Principal in 2015. He currently serves as a mentor for emerging principals in the Advanced Leadership Program for Assistant Principals (ALPAP), and is an adjunct professor at Teachers College Columbia University. He holds a B.A. from Cornell University, M.S. from City College, M.A., Ed.M., and a doctorate from Teachers College.
Dr Scott Hollinger earned his BA in languages and BS in education from The Ohio State University. While teaching Spanish in an inner-city middle school, he continued at OSU, earning his MA in deaf education. Deaf ed brought Dr Hollinger to McAllen, Texas, where he taught English and math, and served as special education department chair. He earned his Mid-Management Administrator certificate at Pan American University, served as Supervisor of the Regional School for the Deaf, and then as an elementary school principal. He earned his Ed.D. at The University of Texas–Pan American, and then worked as a middle school
and high school principal for a charter management organization in South Texas. He served on the Board of the Texas Elementary Supervisors and Principals Association for five years, in all elected positions, including State President. A highlight of his professional career, Dr Hollinger was named the National Distinguished Principal of Texas in 2003. Officially retired, Hollinger teaches for the Department of Educational Leadership at UTPA; is a Professor and Internship Coach for the Summer Principals Academy of Teachers College Columbia University; teaches principal preparation courses for Capella University; and is a
senior consultant for Hollinger Education Consultants. Dr Hollinger supports the
continuous improvement of schools by serving as a Team Member for AdvancED, having contributed to dozens of reviews in South Texas and the Northeast.
Dr. Welton Kwong grew up in San Francisco and resides in the Bay Area. He currently serves as the Coordinator of Curriculum and Teacher Leadership in a public high school district. Previously, he was a teacher and administrator in programs for English Language Learners.
Welton is a member of the 2007-2008 SPA Cohort and completed his doctoral at Teachers College, Columbia University in Adult Learning.
Eric Marcus is a consulting social psychologist specializing in building the capacity of individuals, groups and organizations for a wide variety of public and private sector client systems. Primary areas of practice over the last twenty five years include: working with individuals and groups on issues of change, resistance, leadership and team development, intra and inter group mediation and conflict resolution, diversity, feedback, and related areas. Eric also conducts workshops on group dynamics, conflict resolution, feedback, team development and variations of these focused on particular client needs.
Dr. Marcus is director of graduate programs in Industrial & Organizational Psychology at the University of New Haven. He is also on the faculty at the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution at Columbia University, teaching courses in conflict resolution, negotiation, team building, organization development and consultation and related areas.
Dr. Marcus is a certified mediator in New York State involved in
community mediation in Bronx County. Eric is one of the co-editors of
The Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice (3rd Edition), with Morton Deutsch and Peter Coleman, in which he has a chapter on Change and conflict.
He received his MA and PhD from Columbia University in social and organizational psychology, and a Bachelor’s degree from Binghamton University.
Lorea is a researcher and consultant, supporting schools to implement Social Emotional Learning (SEL) programs and practices, by teaching educators and administrators the principles of emotional intelligence. She is a faculty member of the Principals Academy at
Teachers College, Columbia University. Past and current clients include Aspire Public Schools, New Schools Venture Fund, Learning Policy Institute, Hispanic Information Telecommunications Network
(HITN), Facebook, Nearpod, LEEP Dual Language Academies, as well as a number of public, private and charter schools. Her favorite emotions are curiosity, courage and serenity.
Lorea approaches the implementation of SEL programs with the expertise of a practitioner and the rigor of a researcher. Her most recent case study, conducted with the Learning Policy Institute (LPI), investigates how pre-service and in-service teacher training can support good teaching practices and SEL integration into the school day. Using Six Seconds assessment tools, Lorea has studied how principals’ emotional intelligence support their leadership effectiveness, and has partnered with school districts to develop the capacity of their leadership teams. Her doctoral dissertation received
highest honors from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, and won the 2014 Graduate Student Award for Excellence in SEL Research from the American Association of Educational Research (AERA). A testimony of the impact SEL can have on students and teachers, her research identifies the conditions that make SEL implementation successful in schools. She is part of the leadership committee at AERA’s SEL Special Interest Group, currently serving as the Program Chair.
Lorea published her first book for teachers, the EQ Educator, in 2018, and she is currently working on a second book, Teaching with the HEART in Mind. She has published several peer-reviewed articles in the Journal of Character Education, the Journal of Advanced Developmental Psychology, the International Journal of Emotional Education, the Advances in SEL Research, the Manual de Orientación y Tutoría, and the well-known educational website Edutopia. She frequently blogs about how to incorporate SEL in teaching practices. Prior to her research and consulting work, Lorea was a special education teacher and administrator, serving students and adults in Spain, Nicaragua, Peru and California where she led several successful innovative initiatives. She developed the first Special Education Program for 8 charter schools in the San Francisco-Bay Area and created a training-of-trainers program to enable 500+ school data leaders to interpret student achievement results
to make instructional decisions.
Professor Laura McNeal is a member of the faculty of University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law. Her scholarly interests examine issues of access and equity in employment and education law, with a particular emphasis on issues of access and equity for individuals from traditionally marginalized populations. Professor McNeal has contributed to the national debate on law, education policy, and race relations for CNN, CBS, NBC, NPR and other news networks. She has worked with the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School since 2012 where she conducts national empirical legal studies that explore issues of access and equity in education, employment and criminal law. She also conducts implicit bias workshops for educators, lawyers, judges, non-profit organizations and various other sectors. Recently, she served as an expert witness for the Indiana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Hearings on School-to-Prison Pipeline. She has received numerous fellowships, honors, and awards, including the Washington University Employment Law Achievement Award and a two-year Stafford Faculty Fellowship for the National Institute on Leadership, Disability and Students Placed at Risk. Dr. McNeal was inducted into the Illinois State University Hall of Fame for her innovative work in the area of education law and policy.
Dr. Andra Penny is currently a practicing elementary school principal at Cottonwood Creek Elementary in Coppell, Texas. She has served as the principal of the school since its inception in 1996. Cottonwood Creek Elementary has been awarded the state’s highest “Exemplary” rating by the Texas Education Agency for all 16 years. Prior to leading Cottonwood Creek, she was an assistant principal in Coppell ISD and Denton ISD, both Texas public school systems. Dr. Penny taught Kindergarten for seventeen years and Gifted and Talented education for one year. She has a total of almost 40 years in Texas public schools. Andra received her BS in Elementary Education, MEd in Early Childhood Education, and PhD in Early Childhood Education/Public School Administration from the University of North Texas. For the past seventeen years, Dr. Penny has been an adjunct professor at UNT where she has taught in the departments of Educational Administration, Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, and Curriculum and Instruction.Dr. Penny is also an adjunct professor with Summer Principals Academy at Teachers College, Columbia University. Andra has served on the state board of Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association for 10 years, and served as the President of the association in 2009-10. TEPSA is the largest organization for elementary principals in the nation. She is the recipient of many awards and honors including the UNT Outstanding Alumnae for two years and National Distinguished Principal finalist. Dr. Penny is a frequent keynote speaker and presenter.
Laura Smith is a Professor of Psychology and Education here at at Teachers College. Her scholarly Interests include Ssocial inclusion/exclusion and emotional wellbeing, social class and poverty, antiracism and Whiteness, and participatory action research.
Dr. M. T. Speller is the CEO and founder of Ivy Learning Services. She is an educational leader with more than 15 years of experience. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Rochester, and her doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Speller’s decision to become an educator was born from a desire to provide equity and access for students of color. She believes that all students can succeed with the right resources and support. She intentionally pursued teaching and leadership opportunities in areas where young people were experiencing the most challenges. As a former high school teacher, assistant principal, principal and executive director, she never settled for mediocrity from her students or staff.
During her tenure as principal at the Harlem Children’s Zone, Promise Academy Charter High School, all of her students graduated on time, and all were accepted into college. While serving as the executive director in the same district, students continued the tradition of excellence. Under her leadership, students were accepted into some of the country’s top colleges and universities, including Cornell University, Brown University and the University of Pennsylvania. Accomplishing this goal was not simple. After learning about some of the early struggles that her former students faced as they transitioned to college, Dr. Speller worked with her team to reimagine the high school experience for her students by creating a school community that was more aligned with the demands of post-secondary education. Read about her journey in Repositioning Educational Leadership. This journey allowed her to examine and refine her own
leadership practice. Dr. Speller’s experience as a teacher, school leader, district leader and
executive director give her a unique perspective.
Dr. Speller’s is also an adjunct professor at Columbia University and the College of Staten
Island. Her research focuses on culturally relevant leadership, school reform, college and career readiness and college persistence with a special emphasis on Black and Brown students.