2020 U.S. Department of Education Title I, Part D Conference Presenters and Bios

2020 U.S. Department of Education Title I, Part D Conference Presenters and Bios

2020 U.S. Department of Education Title I, Part D  Coordinators Conference




Virtual Conference | August 24-28, 2020

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Presenter and Staff Bios Participant List Presentations and Handouts



Rodney Robinson is a 20-year teaching veteran and was recently named the 2019 National Teacher of the Year by the Council of Chief States Schools’ Officers. His accomplishments in education vary from his professional growth to his students’ personal growth. He has been published four times by Yale University and has received numerous awards for his accomplishments in and out of the classroom, most notably the R.E.B. Award for Teaching Excellence. Mr. Robinson also was recently named by the Historically Black Colleges and Universities as male alumnus of the year. He has worked with Pulitzer winning author James Foreman to develop curriculum units on race, class, and punishment as a part of the Yale Teacher’s Institute. With a passion for helping underprivileged and underrepresented populations, Mr. Robinson is advocating for cultural equity to make sure students have teachers and administrators who look like them and value their culture. He is using his platform as teacher of the year to advocate for economic equity to make sure all students have the resources they need to be successful in life. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Virginia State University and a master’s degree in educational administration and supervision from Virginia Commonwealth University.

U.S. Department of Education Staff

Ruth Ryder is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Policy and Programs – Formula Grants in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) at the U.S. Department of Education.  OESE has responsibility for implementing programs under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act, in this role, Ms. Ryder oversees a broad range of management, policy, and program functions related to formula and discretionary grant programs under the ESEA. Ms. Ryder was previously the deputy director of the Office of Special Education Programs in the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, which she joined in 1988. In that position, she provided national leadership for moving special education accountability to a more results-oriented focus.  In addition, Ms. Ryder focused attention on ensuring that the needs of children with disabilities were addressed in the major initiatives of the Department, such as the Every Student Succeeds Act, family engagement, school climate transformation and early learning. Prior to joining the Department, Ms. Ryder was a program administrator in a Washington state school district. There she had responsibility for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act Title 1 and Title II programs, state-remediation, gifted education, outcome-based education, and state- and district-wide testing programs.  She also administered an ED-funded demonstration project, examining integrated service delivery models for including children with disabilities in general education.  Additionally, Ms. Ryder has been a special education consulting teacher and a general education classroom teacher.  Ms. Ryder has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and elementary education and a master’s degree in special education.

Patrick Rooney is the Director of School Support and Accountability within the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. Before this recent appointment, Mr. Rooney was the Deputy Director of the Office of State Support.  Previously, Rooney worked in the Implementation and Support Unit, where he helped lead the work of the Reform Support Network, providing technical assistance to states implementing comprehensive Race to the Top reforms, and the Race to the Top Assessment program, which provided grants to groups of states to develop new assessments aligned to state’s college- and career-ready standards. Rooney also worked in the DC Office of State Superintendent of Education, where he was a senior policy advisor and worked on a wide variety of K-12 issues in the District of Columbia. 

Jasmine Akinsipe joined the Teachers, Leaders, and Special Populations group of ED’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education as a program officer in May of 2019. She primarily works with the Title I, Part D program. Prior to working with the neglected or delinquent program she served as an analyst on the Data Analysis & Reporting team in the OESE Office of State Support where she reviewed and evaluated data submitted for Title I, Part A and Title III, Part A. Before joining ED, she managed a teacher evaluation system as an analyst at the District of Columbia Public Schools. Prior to that, she committed one year of full-time service to Maya Angelou Public Charter Schools (DC) as a Data and Evaluation AmeriCorps VISTA. In this role, she developed logic models and modified data systems to collect data from wraparound programs that primarily served students who were at-risk of dropping out of school due to involvement in the juvenile justice and/or child welfare systems. Her work with youth who were adjudicated delinquent or in need of supervision began at the DC Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services as a Youth Development Representative where she counseled groups of youth in custody during non-academic hours at a secure residential facility. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology at Georgia Southern University and has completed graduate level courses in Marriage and Family Therapy at Syracuse University.

Michael Anderson is an attorney in the Office of the General Counsel at the U.S. Department of Education where he provides legal advice on a number of Federal education programs.  He holds a degree in history from the University of Washington and a law degree from the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law.  Prior to law school, he was an elementary school teacher for seven years.

Josie Skinner is an attorney in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of the General Counsel in the Division of Elementary, Secondary, Adult, and Vocational Education where she advises on, among other things, the Education for Homeless Children and Youths Program. Before joining the Department, she worked for a non-profit organization in Maryland representing survivors of domestic violence in protective order hearings. She received a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and a B.A. in History from American University in Washington, DC.

Todd Stephenson is a Management and Program Analyst in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, School Support and Accountability.  In this capacity, he works with different aspects of the Title I, Part A program and other ESEA programs, including allocations, use of funds, and equitable services.

Elizabeth “Libby” Witt has worked at the U.S. Department of Education since 2000. She currently serves as an Education Program Specialist in the Office Elementary and Secondary Education’s Office of School Support and Accountability. Before coming to the Department, she taught English literature and composition at the university level. Witt holds a doctorate in English literature from the University of Rochester and a Master’s in Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.

NDTAC Staff - Leadership

David Osher, Ph.D., is a vice president and Institute Fellow at AIR and principal investigator of NDTAC and NCSSLE and also served in the same role for the National Resource Center on Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention. His expertise includes social and emotional learning, school climate, conditions for learning, school discipline and safety, school and community mental health services and interventions, culturally responsive approaches, collaboration, implementation science, and the science of learning and development. Dr. Osher has led many studies and systematic reviews in these areas; chaired expert panels on early warning signs, school safety, implementation science, and prevention; serves on numerous expert panels and editorial boards; and authored or coauthored more than 250 books, monographs, chapters, articles, and reports and 160 peer-reviewed papers and invitational presentations. He received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Columbia University and has served as dean of two professional schools of human services and a liberal arts college.

Simon Gonsoulin is a principal researcher for the Human Services and Public Health Program for the American Institutes for Research where he serves as the Director for the National Technical Assistance Center for the Education of Neglected or Delinquent Children and Youth (NDTAC). He has served as the director for over 12 years. Gonsoulin also serves as the deputy director of the National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC) where he leads the coaching component of the center’s technical assistance task. The NRRC is funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the primary purpose of the center is to provide technical assistance to 230+ Second Chance Act Grantees and build the capacity of the field as it relates to reentry. He has served as the co-lead for the Children of Incarcerated Parents task of the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs (IWGYP). Most recently served as the co-director of the Defending Childhood State Policy Initiative Strategic Planning Process funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). Additional AIR work conducted by Mr. Gonsoulin included the juvenile justice resource specialist for the Technical Assistance Partnership (TAP). TAP was responsible for providing technical assistance to System of Care Communities around the country. In this capacity he worked directly with SOC Communities that have identified young adults of transition age and/or juvenile justice involved youth as the target population for their five-year grant. TAP was funded by the Substance Abuse, Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Prior to joining AIR, Mr. Gonsoulin was appointed to the Governor’s Cabinet in Louisiana as the Deputy Secretary of the Office of Youth Development where he led the state’s juvenile justice reform efforts for four years. As the lead for the state’s juvenile justice agency, Mr. Gonsoulin served as a voting member and policy maker for the Louisiana Children’s Cabinet whose membership was made of heads of all children and youth serving agencies. He also served as the State Director of Education for the Office of Youth Development prior to the gubernatorial appointment. Prior to working with the Office of Youth Development, Mr. Gonsoulin was the Director of Special Education Services in the West Baton Rouge Parish School System. His prior work history included the positions of school principal on the grounds of a psychiatric facility and community day treatment program for adolescents with emotional and substance abuse diagnosis, educational diagnostician in a correctional setting, and teacher of special education students in a correctional environment and the public school system of East Baton Rouge Parish. Bachelor’s Degree: Louisiana State University, Elementary Grades and Special Education and Master of Education Degree: Louisiana State University, Administration and Supervision.

Michelle Perry is NDTAC’s deputy director and a technical assistance consultant at AIR. She has more than 15 years of experience with project management, data collection, and integration of Web-based learning tools for K–12 and adult education. Ms. Perry serves as the task lead of the National Reporting System for Adult Education Support Project’s tool development, overseeing the creation of data-based tools, Webinars, and virtual training sessions for State adult education staff, and as the community facilitation task lead for the National Science Foundation’s online CS for All Teachers virtual community for computer science educators. Previously, Ms. Perry served as the deputy project director and community manager for the Intel Teachers Engage online community of practice and provided training, technical assistance, and research support to projects such as the National High School Center, the Safe Schools Healthy Students initiative, and the National Resource Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention, as well as special education and early childhood education initiatives.

NDTAC Staff 

Rob Mayo, Ph.D., leads NDTAC’s technical assistance support for Part D coordinators and is NDTAC’s State liaison for the 18 States in the Salmon Community and co-lead of the ND Prevention Community of Practice (CoP). As a senior technical assistance consultant at AIR, Dr. Mayo serves as the project director for the Cleveland Humanware/SEL (social-emotional learning) and the Cleveland Discipline Policy and Data analysis projects. He also serves as a technical assistance specialist for ED’s three Promoting Student Resilience grantees through NCSSLE. In these roles, he provides virtual and direct technical assistance to State and district agencies and their interagency and community partners that support high-quality prevention, intervention, and social support services to youth and families. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from Florida A&M University, a master’s of education degree in guidance and counseling from Bowie State University, and a doctorate in educational leadership from the Lynch School of Education at Boston College.

Greta Colombi, a task lead for the NDTAC evaluation and co-lead for the ND Prevention CoP, has nearly 20 years of experience in providing technical assistance, program monitoring and reporting, and research in both the education and the health and human services fields. Ms. Colombi has been part of the NDTAC team since 2007 and currently is working to bring together education and justice leaders from across the United States to use positive discipline approaches that prevent children from entering the juvenile justice system and promote positive student outcomes. Ms. Colombi also is deputy director of NCSSLE. In addition to managing NCSSLE’s day-to-day work, she is responsible for strategizing and coordinating product development, developing and updating NCSSLE’s online resources, and identifying and vetting experts for NCSSLE and grantee activities. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and urban studies at the University of Pittsburgh and a master’s degree in social sciences from the University of Chicago.

Ramón de Azua of Keleher & Associates serves as an external consultant providing support to NDTAC on specific tasks such as evaluation, research, and product development. He began his work in the area of education working as a legislative aide to the now senior U.S. Senator from New Mexico, Tom Udall. De Azua left Washington, D.C., for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico where he served as Director of the Office of Federal Affairs for the Puerto Rico Department of Education under three different administrations. In that position, he led the negotiations and implementation of two compliance agreements with ED and oversaw federal grant management activities for programs under the No Child Left Behind Act and the Every Student Succeeds Act, with a combined annual budget of more than $600 million. De Azua obtained his juris doctor degree from the Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law in Washington, D.C.

Jake Sokolsky is the task leader of the NDTAC data team, which is responsible for all data-related assistance to State and local Part D coordinators, the compilation and analysis of State-submitted data, and various reports that highlight the aforementioned data. Mr. Sokolsky also is a researcher and data analyst at AIR for numerous projects in the education and justice fields including being a field researcher and district liaison for the Research on the Lowering Violence in Communities and Schools initiative (ReSOLV) and a Clean Slate Clearing House Specialist. Mr. Sokolsky holds a dual bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland in criminology & criminal justice and psychology and a master’s degree in criminal justice with a specialization in criminal behavior from the University of Cincinnati.

David Blumenthal is NDTAC’s State liaison for the 16 States in the Gold Community. In this role, he provides technical assistance to these states, organizes and facilitates community and topical calls, updates the ND Communities website, and performs other tasks in support of NDTAC’s mission, including planning and organizing the national conference. Mr. Blumenthal has extensive experience in evaluating and providing direct technical assistance and professional development to schools, districts, and States in identifying and implementing evidence-based practices, such as an early warning system to identify students at risk of high school dropout. Prior to joining AIR, Mr. Blumenthal served as a juvenile detention officer and then as a labor market analyst and program administrator for job training and employment services in a seven-county region of northwestern Indiana. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and master’s degree in public service management from DePaul University.

Joanne Carminucci is a member of the NDTAC data and web teams, where she assists with data-related technical assistance and analyses, as well as website updates. Additionally, Ms. Carminucci is a research assistant at AIR for other education projects where she regularly organizes, analyzes, and presents data for various deliverables. Ms. Carminucci holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and politics from Brandeis University.

Okori Christopher, a project technology specialist at AIR, has been a member of the NDTAC team since 2013. He works on content management and editorial services for NDTAC’s website and manages Listserv communications. In addition, Mr. Christopher provides technology support to the Center for Coordinated Assistance to States and serves as a task leader for the Computer Science for All Teachers community and the National Resource Center. He holds a master’s degree in criminal justice, specializing in juveniles, from the University of Baltimore and a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Morgan State University.

Kia Jackson, a training and technical assistance associate at AIR, works on multiple efforts, including NDTAC. She provides analytical and administrative support to evaluation and technical assistance projects focusing on at-risk youth, youth prevention, juvenile justice, child welfare, and youth who are neglected or delinquent. Primary responsibilities include creating support materials, supporting technical assistance requests, developing Web content and newsletters, coordinating meetings, and data management and descriptive analysis. Ms. Jackson provides support for ND Prevention, which includes disseminating the bimonthly ND Prevention E-Digest newsletter, developing materials for specialized technical assistance requests, and coordinating and hosting Webinars. Other responsibilities include assisting with OJJDP State calls, responding to client and State requests, and managing materials for conferences and meetings. Ms. Jackson holds a bachelor’s degree in human development and family science from George Mason University.

Sara Trevino, a researcher at AIR, supports NDTAC across a diverse range of tasks, including assisting with logistics for the annual Part D conference and helping to coordinate NDTAC’s evaluation. Her other work at AIR includes supporting technical assistance efforts for grantees who help to transition ex-offenders and a knowledge translation center focused on increasing research-based knowledge about employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Ms. Trevino’s responsibilities at AIR have included project management, training design and facilitation, instrument design, competency modeling, and program evaluation. She holds a master’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology from the University of Houston–Clear Lake.

Dottie Wodraska, M.Ed., is NDTAC’s State liaison for the 18 States in the Teal Community and a technical assistance consultant at AIR. She has 45 years of experience working in education, social service, government, and nonprofit sectors. Common threads throughout Ms. Wodraska experiences are working with and advocating for youth who are system involved (i.e., juvenile justice, child welfare, special education, mental health), developing and engaging in interagency collaboration, facilitating resource coordination, and assisting youth in secure care prepare for and transition to the community. As an NDTAC State liaison, she provides direct assistance to States, schools, communities, and parents seeking information on the education of children and youth who are considered neglected, delinquent, or at risk. She is currently serving as a Governor-appointed Commissioner on the Arizona Juvenile Justice Commission (AJJC) and consulting nationally in the fields of education, child welfare, juvenile justice and organizational leadership.   She holds a Master of Education degree from the University of Missouri, St. Louis, MO in Administration and Curriculum Development and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Fontbonne University, St. Louis, MO.