Experience and backgrounds 

Meet Our Presenters

Ms. Christine Baeta

Christine Baeta is the former Chief Academic Officer of the Sacramento City Unified School District where she was responsible for professional learning, curriculum and instruction, early childhood through adult education, multilingual education, as well as programs for all students including students with disabilities, English learners and gifted students.  As Chief Academic Officer, Christine led with a laser focus on building a systemic, scalable, and sustainable MTSS framework across all departments. Christine also served Sacramento City Unified as an Instructional Assistant Superintendent.  Prior to her tenure in Sacramento City Unified, Christine spent 20 years serving students in Elk Grove Unified where she worked as a principal, vice principal, and classroom teacher.  Christine is the mother of four children.  Her service to children, and passion for service, began when her oldest child was born with Cerebral Palsy.  In learning to navigate the educational system for a child with special needs, Christine has dedicated her career to teacher, principal, school, and district improvement by building caring leadership capacity for high quality tier 1 instruction matched with effective supports for all students.

Ms. Debbie Boersma

Debbie A. Boersma, M.A., is a Literacy Consultant for the Kalamazoo RESA Instructional Center. She received her education training and Master’s Degree in Teaching and Learning from Western Michigan University. Before her work at Kalamazoo RESA, she spent over fifteen years in both the elementary and middle school settings. Debbie has also worked as a middle school reading interventionist and instructional coach, as well as, designed and implemented a successful Title 1 reading initiative. Currently, she spends the majority of her time as an instructional coach where she brings her expertise in the areas of data-based decision making and evidence-based best practices to support educators in adjusting instruction to impact student achievement. In addition to coaching at the classroom level, Debbie works to support the coaching system needed to support the district-level instructional coaches. Debbie is extremely passionate about education and enjoys sharing this experience with other educators.

Ms. Vanessa-Buitrago

Vanessa started her educational journey as an English Learner in Modesto City Schools, the CA district from which she graduated high school. She earned a B.A. in Political Science from University of Southern California, a M.A. in Political Science from San Diego State University, a M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from University of the Pacific. Vanessa is currently working towards my doctorate in Educational Leadership. Most of my life has been dedicated to serving Sacramento City Unified School District. Currently, Instructional Assistant Superintendent, she previously was a teacher and Site Instruction Coordinator, SCUSD Special Education Supervisor, Assistant Principal, and Principal.  This broad range of district and site experience has enabled Vanessa to support district and site leaders, promote shared accountability to improve outcomes, and meet the needs of our students and families. Her passion and expertise are in the areas of equitable education and transformation of systems.

Ms. Michel Cazary

Michel Cazary has been an educator for over 20 years and has served students and staff in many capacities- classroom teacher, instructional coach, district coach, and currently as an elementary school principal. She is passionate about creating physical and emotional spaces that are full of love, joy, and connection where both staff and students can be their full selves. She supports other educational leaders in their own personal leadership journeys as well as systems design to help engineer equitable outcomes for students. Most recently she has launched her doctoral research into occupational fear and educational leadership- exploring the emotional barriers leaders face in an ever-shifting socio-political context in which our education system is nested.

Ms. Nicole Coleman

Nicole R. S. Coleman, M. A., is a Professional Learning Content Specialist for Michigan’s Multi-Tiered System of Supports Technical Assistance Center. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education and Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Western Michigan University. Nicole's joyful journey includes teaching in both the middle school and high school settings for nearly ten years. In addition, she served as a curriculum writer of new courses intended to support literacy in all content areas. Most recently, Nicole served as a Literacy Consultant and Instructional Coach for Kalamazoo RESA, where she supported secondary school teachers and support staff throughout southwest Michigan in the implementation of high-yielding instructional best practices in literacy instruction.

Ms. Allison Dauerheim

Alison Dauernheim began her career as a school psychologist in Waukegan Public Schools, where she remained for seven years before taking a position at Northwest Suburban Special Education Organization (NSSEO) as a behavior specialist. In her roles, she demonstrated a focus and passion for building efficient systems that streamlined student access to supports and data-based decision making. Alison moved on to be an assistant principal, where she continued to grow her skills in systems building and tiered supports both within a general education district and a therapeutic environment. Currently, Alison is the MTSS Coordinator for Responsive Systems in Glenview School District 34. Her current work includes development of district-wide systems and equity based practices at all three tiers, ranging from School Improvement Planning and principal development, data-based intervention entry and exit criteria for both SEL and academic supports, common teaming infrastructures, and coordination of after school programming for diverse students who demonstrate learning

Dr. Michelle Dunn

Dr. Dunn is a Leadership Development & Research Project Director at SWIFT Education Center. SWIFT is a national technical assistance center that focuses on state, region, district, and school transformation efforts supporting high-quality, equity-based, inclusive education utilizing a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) framework to promote positive outcomes for all students. Dr. Dunn has decades of experience serving students, teachers, and school staff in various educational settings as a school psychologist and district administrator. Michelle is passionate about equitable educational opportunities that lead to positive school and life outcomes for students and promoting social-emotional learning for children and adults as an essential component of comprehensive K-12 education.

Dr. Judy Elliott

Judy Elliott is the former Chief Academic Officer of the Los Angeles Unified School District.  Before that she was the Chief of Teaching and Learning in the Portland Oregon Public Schools and prior to that an Assistant Superintendent of Student Support Services in the Long Beach Unified School District in CA.  Judy also worked as a Senior Researcher at the National Center on Educational Outcomes at the University of Minnesota. She started her career as a special education classroom teacher and then school psychologist.  During this time, she was an adjunct Professor at the State University College at Buffalo New York. Judy continues to assist school districts, cooperatives, national organizations and state departments of education in their efforts to update and realign systems and infrastructures around curriculum, instruction, assessment, data use, leadership and accountability that includes all students and renders a return on investment.

Dr. Brian Gaunt

Dr. Brian Gaunt is an MTSS Implementation consultant and a Technical Assistance Specialist with the Florida PBIS Project located at USF’s Florida Center for Inclusive Communities in Tampa.  With 20 years of experience in education, and knowledge in the areas of school psychology, behavior analysis, curriculum & instruction, program evaluation, implementation science, and data-based decision-making practices, he has been supporting Florida school districts and other school leaders nationally and internationally to implement MTSS. He has served as an adjunct instructor for the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences and the College of Education at USF, and has provided many presentations at various state, national and international conferences focused on school improvement, MTSS, PBIS, and School Psychology in education.

Ms. Lori Hensold

Lori Hensold has been part of the Illinois MTSS Network over its iterations beginning with Illinois ASPIRE and Illinois RtI Network. She now serves as the Associate Director of Professional Learning. Lori has a B.S. in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from the University of Illinois and a M.Ed in Instructional Design. She has experience as a classroom teacher, an educational diagnostician, a MTSS Regional Coach and an Area-Wide Instructional Leader. She has developed and facilitated professional learning in face to face, virtual, and blended formats and has presented at regional, state and national level conferences. Lori also serves on the Board of Directors of the Learning Forward Illinois Affiliate and is a Doctoral student in Learning Design and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Dr. Amber Humm Patnode

Dr. Amber Humm Patnode is the Associate Director for Proving Ground at Harvard University's Center for Education Policy Research, where she supports districts in implementing evidence based continuous improvement processes. Prior to joining the Center for Education Policy Research, Amber worked at the University of Minnesota's Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement and the Florida Problem Solving and Response to Intervention Project at the University of South Florida where she conducted program evaluation, facilitated professional learning and provided technical assistance to school districts and schools related to MTSS implementation, early warning systems, data-based problem-solving and chronic absenteeism. She co-developed tools to identify reasons for chronic absenteeism among secondary students and parents of chronically absent PreK-12 students. She has also worked as a school psychologist within school districts in MI, LA, AZ and SC. Amber received a Ph.D. in school psychology with an emphasis in organizational consultation and systems change from the University of South Florida.

Dr. Amy Jablonski

Dr. Amy Jablonski entered public education as a general education classroom teacher and after obtaining her Master’s degree, served as a school administrator for a public school district in North Carolina. She also worked as the PBIS/RtI Coordinator for that same district.  As the RtI/MTSS State Consultant and State Transformation Specialist at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, she worked on supporting MTSS implementation. Dr. Jablonski then served as the NCDPI Director of the newly constructed Integrated Academic and Behavior Systems Division at NCDPI. Her work was geared to lead the statewide rollout of a fully integrated Multi-Tiered System (MTSS) of Support in North Carolina.

She now serves as a Leadership and Project Director at the SWIFT Center working with public schools across the nation in the pursuit of creating, establishing, and sustaining equitable and just education systems.

Ms. Nancy Lindahl

Nancy Lindahl has been nationally recognized as an outstanding Direct Instruction teacher. She has also been a Behavior Specialist, consultant, and principal.  Her career spans decades during which she has helped teachers, principals, schools and districts successfully improve outcomes for all students. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening and painting. 

Ms. Cheryl McGee

With nearly 18 years of career attention focused in the domains of mental health and education Cheryl continues the quest to transform the way mental health is communicated, viewed, and funded and hopes to break down the stigma associated with mental wellness. Cheryl is the Executive Director of School Based Mental Health for the Office of Student Support within the Oklahoma State Department of Education. She supervises the implementation of all three Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education) grant awards totaling nearly 26M. Cheryl is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor and continues to serve in this capacity. For approximately 11 years Cheryl has owned and operated a psychotherapy private practice in her hometown. Cheryl also is a certified school counselor and served for several years in a high need elementary setting. Cheryl is currently working towards her doctoral degree in Education Administration and Leadership and hopes this furthers her ability to transform the landscape of education.

Dr. Margie McGlinchey

Margaret McGlinchey, Ph.D. is currently an independent education consultant. She has worked in education for 40 years, and for the last 28 years, her work has focused on data-based decision-making models within a Multi-Tiered System of Supports in the areas of reading and behavior. Research and publications have focused on these areas. Margaret has worked in numerous roles, including Assistant Superintendent, Implementation Specialist, Consultant, Co-Director of Michigan’s Integrated Behavior and Learning Support Initiative (MiBLSi), and School Psychologist.

Ms. Karmen Mills

Karmen Mills, MA, SSP, Assistant Director of Systems Coaching at SWIFT, has experience in school, district, and state education. In her work, she supports leaders as they develop and implement an equity-based multi-tiered system of support. In addition, she currently coaches school redesign efforts in urban districts and leads the development of a new equity transparency tool.

Dr. Dawn Miller

Dawn Miller, Ph.D. is Associate Director of Technical Assistance of SWIFT Education Center at the University of Kansas. Her experience includes roles in statewide and district planning, professional learning, implementation, and evaluation of an integrated Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS). In addition she served on a committee that led state regulatory changes regarding Child Find and eligibility of children in the community for special education services and translated these changes into district procedures linked to MTSS. Dr. Miller is well known for her leadership in a national network of like-minded individuals and state agencies who share a vision for and systems approach to supporting student success. She has recently published a book on Leading Equity-Based MTSS for All Students, contributed to the literature in several Best Practices in School Psychology volumes, and had other publications related to MTSS. She strives daily to support the creation of a single system that demonstrates strong outcomes for each and every student.

Ms. Ruth Poage-Gaines

Ruth Poage-Gaines has served the IL MTSS network for 11 years as a regional coordinator, lead coach, area wide instructional leader, coaching services coordinator, and network capacity coach in the Northern Region of Illinois. Ruth received her Masters in School Psychology from Loyola University (1994), then continued her education with General Administration (Principal) endorsement (2007), and most recently Director of Special Education endorsement (2013) from Aurora University. Ruth has worked as a systems coach with urban and rural districts and schools in Illinois. She brings lessons learned throughout the cycles of the State Personnel Development Grant work in Illinois.

Ms. Amy Pratt

Amy Pratt currently works as a K-12 Mathematics Specialist in Galesburg-Augusta Community Schools. Previously she was a Mathematics Consultant and Instructional Coach for the Kalamazoo RESA Instructional Center, in Kalamazoo, MI. She received her educational training at Western Michigan University with a B.A. in Elementary Education (2001), and a M.A. in Teaching and Learning (2004). Prior to working at Kalamazoo RESA, Amy worked for 14 years as a mathematics teacher, mathematics interventionist, and instructional specialist for mathematics. Through these roles Amy supported the strengthening of Professional Learning Communities, MTSS, data-based decision making, and classroom instructional practices for mathematics. Currently, Amy supports educators and administrators in the implementation of research-based strategies to improve student outcomes in mathematics through professional development and instructional coaching.

Dr. Pamela Radford

Pamela M. Radford, Ph.D. has over 20 years of school based experience as a school psychologist and school administrator in providing ongoing training, coaching and technical assistance to districts in the development of system wide practices to promote academic and behavioral growth. Dr. Radford earned her doctoral degree from Western Michigan University in School Psychology. Previously, she served as the Statewide Administrator for the Illinois RtI Network, formally known as I-ASPIRE, developing a coaching of coaches model to support implementation of MTSS across the state of IL. Dr. Radford has extensive experience as a coach and professional development trainer in the implementation of MTSS practices across Illinois and has provided leadership in MTSS implementation at the state level. Within a continuous improvement model, her focus has been on using a data based decision making framework to build sustainable evidence based practices at both the building and district levels.

Mr. Kristopher Rivera

Kristopher Rivera, currently the Superintendent of Lyons School District 103 in Illinois, has been an educator for 21 years as EL teacher, Assistant Principal, Principal, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources in School City of Hammond in Indiana.  Kris is passionate about systems building and leadership as well as working with culturally diverse students. Some notable trainings include Yale’s School Development program and TAP system which focuses on student and teacher advancement. Kris is currently working towards his doctoral degree. Under his leadership, Lyons School District has partnered with Illinois MTSS Network to build coherent and sustainable MTSS practices to meet the diverse learning needs of all students.

Dr. Seena M. Skelton 

Dr. Seena M. Skelton serves as Director of Operations for the Region III Midwest and Plains Equity Assistance Center at Indiana University Purdue University – Indianapolis, She has 25 years’ experience working in inclusive education, school improvement, and educational equity and holds a Ph.D. in School Psychology and M.Ed. and B.S. in Psychology.  Seena has worked as a school psychologist, as a consultant for the Southwest Ohio Special Education Regional Resource Center, and as co-director of the Equity Alliance at Arizona State University. Seena has taught as an adjunct instructor at Northern Kentucky University, University of Cincinnati, Mount Saint Joseph University, and currently teaches as an adjunct instructor at Indiana University, Purdue University - Indianapolis.  She has authored journal articles and book chapters, and is co-editor of the peer-reviewed journal, Multiple Voices: Disability, Race, and Language Intersections in Special Education.  Seena received the Leadership in Special Education Field Award from the University of Kansas in 2020.

Dr. Kimberly St. Martin

Dr. St. Martin is the director of Michigan’s MTSS Technical Assistance Center and co-director of the state’s federally funded State Personnel Development Grant (SPDG). Previously, she was the co-director of a federal adolescent literacy model demonstration grant and co-principal investigator of an Institute of Education Sciences (IES) grant evaluating a state-level initiative to implement supplemental academic and behavioral interventions in an MTSS framework. Dr. St. Martin has been a panel member for the IES Practice Guide, Providing Reading Interventions for Students in Grades 4–9. Dr. St. Martin also collaborates with the National Implementation Research Network (NIRN) in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Effective Implementation Cohort. She also works with the National Center on Intensive Intervention (NCII) as a Center Trainer. Dr. St. Martin is the primary author of the Reading Tiered Fidelity Inventory (R-TFI) and co-author of implementation capacity assessments for districts and Regional Educational Agencies to guide their supporting infrastructures for an MTSS framework. She has more than 22 years of experience in the field of education.

Dr. Stephanie Stollar

Dr. Stephanie Stollar is the founder of Stephanie Stollar Consulting LLC and the creator of The Reading Science Academy. Dr. Stollar is a part-time assistant professor in the online reading science program at Mount St. Joseph University, and a founding member of a national alliance for supporting reading science in higher education. As a board member for the Innovations in Education Consortium, she collaboratively plans the annual MTSS Innovations in Education Conference.  Dr. Stollar has worked as a school psychologist, an educational consultant, and as Vice President for Professional Learning for Acadience Learning Inc. She has provided professional development, conducted research and published in the areas of assessment, early intervention, and collaborative problem solving. She is passionate about improving educator knowledge and aligning school systems to prevent reading failure.

Dr. Travis Thomsen

Travis has 15 years of adTravis has 15 years of administrative experience at varying levels and locations. He spent much of his early career as a middle school science teacher and assistant principal in Southern California prior to moving back to Michigan. Travis served as the Director of West Michigan Academy of Arts and Academics for four years prior to moving to the Kalamazoo area. He has served as principal at Portage North Middle School for the last nine years. Over that period of time, Travis and his team led the school through a complete overhaul of instructional delivery focused on proven adolescent reading strategies coupled with an intense and robust tier two and three intervention program. Travis was also instrumental in the research and design of two new middle schools within Portage Public Schools. Travis also earned his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Eastern Michigan University with a research focus on adolescent literacy.

Dr. W. David Tilly

Dr. W. David Tilly is the former Director of Innovation and Accountability for Heartland Area Education Agency (AEA) 11.  Prior to joining Heartland AEA, Dr. Tilly was a consultant for assessment, research and innovation at the Iowa Department of Education.  In that role, he worked statewide to implement changes in the educational system throughout Iowa. 
Of particular note was his work with Iowa’s practices and procedures that are the foundational components of a RTI/MTSS approach to services.

David is a school psychologist by training.  He has worked as a practicing psychologist, a University trainer at Iowa State University, a state department of education consultant and an administrator. He is an award-winning educator, the author or coauthor of 31 published journal articles, book chapters or books, and a tireless advocate for improving outcomes for all students.

Mr. John Vail

One of John’s favorite activities is observing an excellent teacher at work in the classroom.  For the past 10 years, he has been fortunate to see many such examples of this while serving as a trainer and instructional coach. During this time, John’s primary focus has been on the teaching of secondary content area literacy and reading interventions. Previously in his 30-year career in education, John has been a middle school principal, an interventionist, a school psychologist, a content developer, and a consultant, as well as serving as adjunct faculty at the college level.  Prior to his time in education, John worked for over a decade as an engineer.  He received his bachelor’s degree in engineering from Valparaiso University with masters work in engineering at Lehigh University. John’s Masters of Arts and Educational Specialist degrees were earned at Western Michigan University.