2020 NSBA School Safety Summit

Keynote Speakers

Headshot of Marc Brackett

Marc Brackett, Ph.D.

Director, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence
Professor in the Yale Child Study Center
Co-Creator, RULER

Marc Brackett, Ph.D., is founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and professor in the Child Study Center, Yale School of Medicine at Yale University. His grant-funded research focuses on: (1) the role of emotions and emotional intelligence in learning, decision making, creativity, relationship quality, and mental health; (2) the measurement of emotional intelligence; and (3) the influences of emotional intelligence training on children’s and adults’ health, performance, and workplace performance and climate.

Marc has published 125 scholarly articles and has received numerous awards, including the Joseph E. Zins Award for his research on social and emotional learning and an honorary doctorate from Manhattanville College. He also is a distinguished scientist on the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development and on the board of directors for the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL).

Marc is the lead developer of RULER, a systemic, evidence-based approach to social and emotional learning that has been adopted by over 2,000 public, charter, and private pre-school through high schools across the United States and in other countries, including Australia, China, England, Italy, Mexico, and Spain. RULER infuses social and emotion learning into the immune system of schools by enhancing how school administrators lead, educators teach, students learn, and families parent. Research shows that RULER boosts academic performance, decreases school problems like bullying, enriches classroom climates, reduces teacher stress and burnout, and enhances teacher instructional practices. Marc is the author of Permission to Feel (Celadon/Macmillan), which was released in September of 2019.

Marc regularly consults with large companies on best practices for integrating the principles of emotional intelligence into training and product design. He is co-founder of Oji Life Lab, a corporate learning firm that develops innovative digital learning systems for emotional intelligence. With Facebook, Marc has developed a number of products, including: social resolution tools to help adults and youth resolve online conflict; a bullying prevention hub to support educators, families, and teens; and InspirED, an open-source resource center to support high school students in leading positive change in their schools. Marc also holds a 5th degree black belt in Hapkido, a Korean martial art.

Headshot of Scott Levy

Scott Levy

Executive Director, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence

Scott Levy is the Executive Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. Scott is deeply committed to education and children’s health. He completed a Senior Research Fellowship in Public Education Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in 2015. Scott is an elected member of the Byram Hills School District Board of Education, serving as President of the Board for two years. He is the Vice President of the Westchester Putnam School Boards Association and sits on the NYS Education Department’s Reopening Schools Regional Task Force. Scott also serves as the Chairman of Blythedale Children’s Hospital.

Prior to working at Yale, Scott spent 20 years as an Investment Banker at JPMorgan and Lehman/Barclays, most recently as Managing Director providing strategic and financial advice to senior management teams and boards of public and private companies. He serves on the board of a venture-backed digital healthcare technology company, having previously acted as interim CFO. He graduated from Harvard College with an AB in Economics.

Portrait of Robert A. Spicer

Robert A. Spicer Ph.D

CEO, Restorative Strategies, LLC

Dr. Robert Spicer is the CEO of Restorative Strategies, LLC based in Chicago, IL. Restorative Strategies, LLC provides training and technical support to a variety of stakeholders throughout the country with a focus on eradicating the school to prison pipeline in schools and fostering healthy school organizations based in the practices of the Restorative Justice philosophy. Through these practices and with an emphasis on teaching Social/Emotional Learning, Restorative Strategies, LLC focus is to build capacity and move away from criminalizing our most precious resource—our youth.

Dr. Spicer gained national notoriety later taking the position as the Chief Dean of Discipline, Restorative Justice and Code Switching at the recently turned around Christian Fenger High School in Chicago, IL in 2009. After a traumatic school year, Dr Spicer‘s role shifted to the Culture and Climate Coordinator to meet the needs of this high school. In this new role, and the first of its kind in a U.S. Public School, Dr. Spicer supported the staff in sustaining a safe and stable school culture and climate through the effective implementation of Restorative Justice Practices and Social Emotional Learning. These programs reduced the school’s reliance on zero-tolerance policies and created a model for schools both nationally and internationally. His work was featured in the CNN docudrama ‘Chicago Land’ in 2013.

Dr. Spicer has received numerous awards and honors for his work of bringing Restorative Practices to schools and creating an “ecosystems of care”. He has spoken widely about the power of Restorative Justice on major news networks including CNN, National Public Radio, WTTW, Chicago Sun-Times and the Associated Press. Dr. Spicer was also recognized by the White House and received President Obama’s National Volunteer Service Award in 2013. In 2015, Dr. Spicer was invited by the Department of Education and Department of Justice to be a featured speaker at the White House and share the work of Restorative Strategies to educators from around the country.

Dr. Spicer is a sought after national conference speaker and motivational speaker and has been a featured speaker and workshop facilitator at numerous Colleges and Universities, including John Jay College, NYU, University of California at Berkeley, University of Chicago Law School, University of Chicago School of Social Work, Loyola University and Northwestern Law School. He is currently a national trainer in Restorative Practices and trains school districts and Community based organization in Peace Building and Conflict resolution. Dr. Spicer has also served twenty years in a variety of leadership capacities in Christian churches across the City of Chicago.

Additional Speakers

Portrait of Arianna Howard

Arianna Howard, Ph.D

Master Trainer & Cultural Diversity Expert
Founder, Plant-A-Seed Educational Consulting, LLC

Arianna Howard, PhD is a master trainer and leading cultural diversity expert. Dr. Howard possesses extensive and varied educational experience, serving as a preschool teacher, middle school teacher, guidance counselor, high school administrator and trauma coach over her 14-year career. She has effectively facilitated anti-racist, trauma-informed work with school leaders resulting in equitable school environments.

Dr. Howard has real, lived experience. As the eldest of three in a poor, single-parent household, Dr. Howard has intimate knowledge of poverty, racism and generational trauma and explores how our childhood experiences of trauma influence the way we show up for students, families and peers. She has been able to break free from mental illness, domestic violence, and low self-worth. Dr. Howard earned a bachelor’s degree in child development, a master’s degree in middle grades education and a doctoral degree in Literacy Studies from Ohio State University. Her dissertation research uncovers the ways single, Black mothers support their children’s education. Dr. Howard is an active community member, organizing conversations about race and spearheading efforts to elect a black Superintendent to her alma mater.

Dr. Howard is a highly sought after speaker whose charismatic presence draws you to the edge of your discomfort, daring you to dive deeply and challenging you to question, “How can I be better? How can I do better?” Dr. Howard has authored numerous peer- and editor-reviewed articles, maintains her blog, The Radical Educator, and YouTube channel, Radical Learning Spaces.

Headshot of Melissa Sadin

Melissa Sadin, EdD.

Executive Director, Ducks & Lions: Trauma Sensitive Resources
School Board Member, Somerville Public Schools, NJ

Dr. Melissa Sadin has served as a special education teacher, a gifted education teacher, and a building administrator. Most recently she served as a director of special education. Dr. Sadin has been vice-president of her local School Board and is recognized as a Master School Board Member. She has conducted research on the perceptions of teachers working to create trauma-informed classrooms. Dr. Sadin is a published author and has produced numerous webinars on children with attachment trauma in schools.

Currently, Dr. Sadin works as an education consultant and developmental trauma expert providing professional development to school districts, municipal service providers and parents. Nationally, Dr. Sadin is a highly sought after keynote speaker and conference presenter. Her Trauma Guide Series of books are available on her website, traumasensitive.com.

Portrait of JC Pohl

JC Pohl

President & CEO, TEEN TRUTH

JC Pohl is an award-winning producer, nationally recognized speaker, and certified counselor who has reached over 10 million people with his efforts to build school culture and empower student voice. He has produced groundbreaking programs such as TEEN TRUTH and RISING UP, and award-winning content for companies such as Warner Brothers, ESPN, and Disney. He is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and can be reached on Facebook and LinkedIn or directly at jcpohl.com.

Portrait of Michelle Anhang

Michelle Anhang, BA, PCC, CPCC

Certified Leadership & Life Coach

Michelle Anhang, BA, PCC, CPCC, is a Certified Leadership & Life Coach, who specializes in supporting individuals and families living with mental health challenges as well as those moving forward after loss. Her customized practice draws from an academic background in psychology, as well as training in mindfulness & meditation, leadership skills, and co-active coaching techniques.

In addition to coaching, Michelle is a motivational speaker who shares her story of becoming widowed at the age of 34 when her husband died by suicide, and how she navigated her way through stigma, shame, and her own mental health challenges to rebuild her life intentionally. Michelle also facilitates workshops on topics that include personal empowerment, stress management and developing a healthy mindset.

Michelle holds a BA in Psychology and is a graduate of CTI’s Co-Active Leadership Program. Michelle is certified in Mental Health First Aid through MHCC and is trained in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness Training for Emotional Resilience (MTER).

Portrait of Anura Shah

Anura Shah, LICSW, MHA

Founder, Beyond Force LLC

Ms. Anura Shah founded Beyond Force in 2015 as a response to the growing need for consultation, education and training regarding crisis management. She has more than 15 years of professional experience in the industry and provides training on subjects ranging from forensic mental health to de-escalation strategies and workplace safety. Anura travels throughout the nation providing executive-level consultation services to elected officials, corporate managers, police chiefs and health care providers.

As an Instructor with the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (WSCJTC), Anura teaches Crisis Intervention Team training (CIT) courses to law enforcement and other first responders. Anura is an Associate Faculty member at Shoreline Community College in the Criminal Justice Department. She has created a series of professional development courses for co-responders, (civilian professionals who work alongside law enforcement), a rapidly growing field. She is also a member of the Criminal Justice Advisory Board at the College.

Prior to starting Beyond Force, Anura spent 11 years as a social worker and manager at the Department of Veteran's Affairs. During her tenure, she served as Director, Workplace Violence Prevention Program at VA Puget Sound Health Care System, a forensic mental health department that she founded in 2012 and has since been replicated nationwide. It was in this capacity that she served as a co-responder with federal law enforcement officials. Anura is a graduate of the Brown School of Social Work (MSW) as well as the School of Medicine Health Administration Program (MHA) at Washington University in St. Louis. She is a licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW).

Portrait of Joyce Morley

Joyce Morley

President & CEO, Morley & Associates, Inc. & J. Morley Productions, Inc.

Dr. Joyce Morley was born the youngest of fourteen children. She is the President & CEO of Morley & Associates, Inc. & J. Morley Productions, Inc. She is affectionately known as, “Dr. Joyce,” “Dr. Joyce the Love Doctor,” the “Doctor of Hope” & the “Relationship Expert.” Dr. Joyce holds a Bachelor of Science Degree (BS) in Elementary Education/Psychology from SUNY Geneseo; a Master of Science Degree (MS) in Counselor Education from SUNY Brockport, Specialist Degrees (EdS) in Counselor Education & Education Administration from SUNY Brockport & a Doctorate Degree (EdD) in Counseling, Family & Worklife (CFW) from the University of Rochester.

Dr. Joyce is a National Certified Counselor (NCC), National Certified School Counselor (NCSC) by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), a Diplomate, Clinical Member & Approved Supervisor by the American Association for Marriage & Family Therapy (AAMFT), Certified Criminal Justice Specialist by the National Association of Forensic Counselors (NAFC) & Board Certified Coach (BCC) by the Center for Credentialing Education (CCE). She has served as an educator in the public school system & professor at the post secondary level. She was selected to serve as an International Delegate for the World Mental Health Organization, led a mental health team to treat mental health needs of hurricane Katrina survivors, specifically first responders & their families.

Dr. Joyce served as secretary, treasure & Chair of the Board of Trustees for the National Board for Certified Counselors Foundation (NBCCF). She is a member of the Partnership Council of the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, a member of the Atlanta Press Club, as well as many other community & professional organizations. She was selected as a Georgia Education Policy Fellow (EPF), a Global Education Policy Fellow (GEPF), prompting a trip to China to assess & investigate effective educational approaches, while serving as a speaker at the Sino-American Educational Leadership Forum at Southwest University in China. Dr. Joyce also serves on the DeKalb County, GA School Board of Education. She was elected member & reelected Secretary of the Steering Committee of the National Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE).

Dr. Joyce engages in motivational/keynote speaking, training, executive, relationship/life coaching, workshop/seminar presentations & mediation at the local, state, national & global levels. She also serves as a licensed psychotherapist in private practice & she provides consulting for businesses, organizations, corporations, educational institutions & families, including The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL). Dr. Joyce was recognized by Who’s Who in Medicine & Healthcare, Who’s Who Among Human Service Professionals, the World’s Who’s Who Among Women & she was featured in the 2008 Edition of the African-American National Biography & Storyofmylife.com. She was a winner of WE Magazine’s Video Contest & she received the Narvi J. Harris Education Award from the DeKalb County Branch NAACP. She has also been honored with the Prayze Factor Community Spirit Award.

Dr. Joyce serves an expert to magazines & newspapers, as well as TV & radio shows. She is an author, poet & columnist. She served as an expert consultant to Ebony Magazine, Essence.com, Essence Magazine, Black Enterprise Magazine, the Rome News Tribune, Atlanta Good Life Magazine, Atlanta Women Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, WebMD, the New York Daily News, the Atlanta Journal & Constitution (AJC), as well as other magazines & newspapers. She also served as a columnist & Relationship Editor for Family Digest Magazine & she authored featured articles in Savoy Magazine, Best Self Atlanta Magazine, Ebony Magazine & others.

Dr. Morley served as the relationship & behavioral expert on the Emmy Award Winning team of experts on WXIA 11Alive TV & 11Alive.com news shows, analyzing the court proceedings of “The Hot Car Death Trial,” where she continues to serve as an expert contributor. She currently has a reoccurring role as an expert psychotherapist & relationship expert on TV One’s TV Show, “Fatal Attraction, ” Oxygen’s TV Show, “Snapped,” She writes a monthly blog & she serves as the Relationship Expert & psychotherapist on the monthly radio Relationship Segment on Atlanta’s Kiss 104.1FM.

Portrait of Joyce Morley

Leanne D. Gassaway, MHA

Vice President, State Government Affairs, CVS Health

Ms. Gassaway is a passionate health care advocate and is the Vice President of State Government Affairs for CVS Health. CVS Health is a health care innovator which includes CVS Pharmacy, CVS Caremark, and Aetna, as well as other subsidiaries changing the way health care is delivered to help people on their path to better health. In her role at CVS Health, she is responsible for overseeing state affairs in all 50 states and with a variety of political and regulatory organizations. She frequently testifies at national and state venues regarding health care matters including pharmacy issues, rural health matters and administrative challenges.

Ms. Gassaway has served in a variety of roles to promote health reform and policy. She began her career in 1994 at PacifiCare Health Systems, now a UnitedHealth Care company. At PacifiCare, she was the Director of Regulatory Advocacy for all business lines. She worked for CIGNA Corporation as the Western Region Government Affairs Director. She also served as Vice President of Legal and Regulatory Affairs for the California Association of Health Plans. In this capacity, she oversaw legal and regulatory issues for 40 full service health plans and Medi-Cal managed care plans in California. Prior to coming to CVS Health, Ms. Gassaway was Senior Vice President for State Affairs and Policy for America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP). AHIP is the national trade association representing health insurance providers.

Ms. Gassaway has a Masters Degree in Health Care Administration (MHA) from California State University, Long Beach. She received a Bachelors Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. She is currently working on a Master of Studies in Law (MSL) from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law (2020).

Portrait of Joyce Morley

Brooke Wilson

Head of Resources For Living, Aetna

Brooke Wilson is the Head of Resources For Living for Aetna Behavioral Health, a leading provider of mental health and employee assistance program (EAP) solutions to members around the globe. In her current role, Brooke oversees Resources For Living’s strategic direction and product fidelity while also developing solutions to engage and improve the mental wellbeing of members, caregivers, employers and other populations. She was a pioneer in work-life program development. Throughout her career, Brooke has specialized in connecting people to solutions for non-medical determinants of health and lowering the barriers to care for mental wellbeing by incorporating new points of access such as digital solutions and focusing on improving education and literacy.

Brooke brings nearly 25 years of experience in strategy, product development, operations management, communications, and digital innovation to her current role. She started her career in the work-life field at Work & Family Benefits, Inc. in 1997. In 2007, Brooke became Vice President of Marketing and Work-life Operations at Horizon Health EAP Services. In 2009, she joined Aetna Behavioral Health. Brooke earned her degree from Drew University and is an avid cyclist. She is currently based in southern Florida.

Portrait of Joyce Morley

Diana Baker Freeman

Governance Specialist, Diligent Corporation

Diana Baker Freeman is a governance specialist with many years and varied experience in board development. She holds an MS in Education Leadership, teaching in both public schools and at the university level. Her experience in classrooms led her to be an enthusiastic advocate for education. After being elected as a school board member she became intrigued with the field of governance, developing a deeper understanding of the role of board member, and how that could lead to improved educational outcomes. As a public school trustee, Diana was nominated and accepted to the yearlong leadership academy, Leadership TASB, through the Texas Association of School Boards, graduating that course as a Master Trustee. 

Diana became a Board Development Consultant for the Texas Association of School Boards and later as an independent consultant. She has led boards through strategic planning, goal setting, as well as ethics training and examination of roles and responsibilities of board members. She has presented at various state-wide, regional, and national conferences and developed online training for TASB as well as the Southern Regional Training Consortium. She brings her experience to Diligent in order to further her work in the field of governance. 

NSBA School Safety Virtual Summit, Inaugural Event on September 16 and 17

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