50 Years of Excellence in Technical Assistance
September 30, October 7, and October 14, 2021
We recently celebrated a half-century of OSEP-funded, technical assistance (TA) excellence at FPG with keynote speakers Judy Heumann, Jani Kozlowski, and Dr. Seena Skelton. The 75-minute celebratory keynote presentations and panel discussions took place on September 30, October 7, and October 14, 2021., beginning with the ground-breaking work that Pascal "Pat" Trohanis started in 1971, today's TA continues to educate, support, and provide services through IDEA.
Judy Heumann is an American disability rights activist. Recognized internationally as a leader in the disability community, Heumann is a lifelong civil rights advocate for people with disabilities. Her work with government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), non-profits, and other disability interest groups, has produced significant contributions since the 1970s to the development of human rights legislation and policies that benefit children and adults with disabilities. Through her work in the World Bank and the State Department, Heumann has led the mainstreaming of disability rights into international development. Her contributions extended the international reach of the independent living movement. Heumann is the author of Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist and is featured in the documentary, Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution. Judy's podcast The Heumann Perspective features conversations with disabled change makers and allies committed to fight harder for all people.
Jani Kozlowski, MA, is a Technical Assistance (TA) Specialist for the ECTA Center at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute. Previously, Kozlowski served as the Inclusion Lead for the Office of Head Start-funded National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching and Learning at Zero to Three. She also provided TA to support Early Head Start - Child Care Partnerships and State Professional Development Systems as part of her work with two other national TA centers. While working at the state level in North Carolina, Kozlowski was the Program and Policy Resources Section Chief at the Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE) and served as the Early Education Specialist for Smart Start. Kozlowski has provided TA for Head Start programs at the regional level, served as the Education and Disability Services Coordinator for a large Migrant Head Start program, and taught a group of spirited preschoolers in an inclusive childcare classroom. Kozlowski recently authored a book, Every Child Can Fly: An Early Childhood Educator's Guide to Inclusion, to be published in Spring 2022.
Seena Skelton, Ph.D., is Director of Operations of the Midwest and Plains (MAP) Equity Assistance Center, where she directs the provision of equity-focused technical assistance to state and local education agencies throughout the Center's 13-state region. She began her career as a school psychologist in early childhood education working in Head Start Centers in northern Kentucky and throughout southwest Ohio. She continued as a school psychologist in public K-12 education agencies in the greater Cincinnati area. Dr. Skelton has garnered more than 25 years of experience working in the areas of systems change, school improvement, and educational equity in special education and equity assistance TA centers that serve states in the Midwest and Southwest regions. She has also instructed preservice educators as an adjunct professor at Northern Kentucky University, the University of Cincinnati and at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. She has authored publications on topics related to improving outcomes for marginalized youth including a book chapter on addressing equity in transition education for youth of color with disabilities and the article, Situating my positionality as a Black woman with a dis/ability in the provision of equity-focused technical assistance: a personal reflection, published in the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education. She regularly presents at local, state, and national conferences on various topics related to promoting the success of historically marginalized students, and is co-editor of the peer-reviewed journal, Multiple Voices: Disability, Race, and Language Intersections in Special Education. In 2020, Dr. Skelton received the Leadership in Special Education Field Award from the University of Kansas.
Betsy Ayankoya, M.Ed., is an associate director of the Early Childhood Technical Assistance (ECTA) Center. She specializes in personnel/workforce development and quality assurance. Ayankoya has worked with states to evaluate their current personnel and general supervision systems, helping them to identify potential areas for improvement and develop more effective and streamlined processes for ensuring positive outcomes for children and families.
Julia Martin Eile is an education program specialist with the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) within the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) at the Department of Education (DOE). She is the project officer for the new Early Childhood Systems Technical Assistance Center and works on early childhood special education policy issues in the Research to Practice Division of OSEP.
Glenn Gabbard, Ed.D., is the associate director for Administrative Services and Development at the national office of Family Voices. A Pacific islander living in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, Gabbard is the father of two adult children—one with complex medical healthcare needs since birth—who have taught him a great deal about building equitable, hopeful futures for all children and youth with special health care needs and their families.
Priscilla Irvine is a project officer at OSEP where she monitors and provides technical assistance for several state special education systems including Connecticut and Oklahoma. As the collaboration facilitator at OSEP, Irvine works across the DOE as well as other federal government agencies, and partners with multiple organizations on behalf of students with disabilities.
Christina Kasprzak is director of the Trohanis Technical Assistance (TA) Projects at the Frank Porter Graham (FPG) Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Kasprzak currently is co-director of the ECTA Center and is the principal investigator (PI) on the FPG subcontract for the Center for Early Childhood IDEA Data Systems (DaSy).
Chih-Ing Lim, Ph.D., is the co-director of the STEM Innovation for Inclusion in Early Education Center (STEMIE.) She also leads Supporting Change and Reform in Preservice Teaching in North Carolina (SCRIPT-NC), where she works with community college faculty to better prepare early childhood professionals to serve children with disabilities and who are from culturally and ethnically diverse families.
Katy McCullough, M.A., is a TA specialist and a member of the leadership team with the ECTA Center within the Trohanis TA Projects. She provides TA to Early Intervention/Part C and Preschool Special Education/619 coordinators in states supporting system change in early intervention services, finance, and early childhood inclusion.
Katherine Neas is the acting assistant secretary in OSERS at DOE. In this capacity, she serves as advisor to the U.S. secretary of education on matters related to the education of children and youth with disabilities, as well as employment and community living for youth and adults with disabilities.
Alissa Rausch, EdD, is an assistant research faculty member in the Positive Early Learning Experiences (PELE) Center at the University of Denver. In addition to supporting ECTA, Rausch is staff on the National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations. Her work centers on supporting leaders and practitioners to build their capacity for high quality early care and learning and inclusion of children with varying abilities in practice, systems and advocacy.
Rhodus Riggins, Jr., is quality enhancement coordinator at the Education Quality Improvement and Professional Development Project (EQuIPD) at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and adjunct faculty member at Alamance Community College. He is co-founder and co-owner of Bailey, Pullis, & Riggins LLC, a racial equity consulting organization.
Megan Vinh, Ph.D., is a member of the leadership team for the Trohanis TA Projects at FPG. Currently, Vinh is an associate director at the ECTA Center, the co-PI of the Early Childhood Recommended Practice Modules project (RPM) and the evaluation lead for DaSy.
Sharon Walsh is a consultant to the ECTA Center and DaSy. She is also the governmental relations consultant for the Division for Early Childhood of CEC (DEC) and the IDEA Infant and Toddler Coordinators Association (ITCA).
Larry Wexler has been a special educator for 51 years and is currently director of OSEP’s Research to Practice Division. In addition, he represents the DOE on the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee and serves as the DOE’s policy expert on restraint and seclusion.
Catasha A. Williams is a TA Specialist with ECTA and is a co-PI on the NC Early Learning Network Project and the International Early Childhood Inclusion Institute. In addition, she serves on the Board of Directors for the Pyramid Model Consortium. Her work centers on supporting early childhood leadership teams to deliver evidence-informed practices for promoting healthy social and emotional development, inclusive opportunities and culturally responsive practices for children and families.
Sherri Britt Williams is a member of the leadership team for the Trohanis TA Projects at FPG and is co-lead for its TA Division. She is a TA Specialist and member of the leadership team for ECTA with lead roles on multiple teams focusing on providing support to state (and U.S. territory) early childhood programs in developing high-quality early intervention and preschool special education service systems, including implementing evidence-based practices and enhancing outcomes for young children with disabilities and their families.
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