2023 WAVE Presenters

Selene Almazan has represented students and families for over 30 years. Selene is a former Supervising Attorney for the Legal Aid Bureau of Maryland where she represented children in the foster care system, including representation in special education matters. For nearly 23 years, Selene represented parents in special education matters with a primary focus on least restrictive environment (LRE) issues at the Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education. Since September 2014, Selene has been the Legal Director for the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) where she supports the work of the Amicus Committee as well as works on federal and local policy issues. In this position she writes appellate amicus briefs for appellate courts as well as the United States Supreme Court. Since May 2015, Selene has maintained a private practice focusing on parent and student representation in special education matters, including LRE. Selene represents families at IEP team meetings, state complaint proceedings, mediations, due process hearings, suspension/expulsion proceedings and federal court proceedings, including matters involving violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. She has extensive experience training families, teachers, school administrators, attorneys and advocates on legal issues related to special education law as well as disability discrimination issues.

Dr. Tessie Rose Bailey is a national expert on Special Education, transition, and MTSS/RTI for states and districts through the National Center on Intensive Intervention and the National Center for Systemic Improvement as well as several state contracts.  Tessie has been supporting the Wyoming Department of Education and local educators for the last 8 years. She is the Principal Consultant for the National Center on Intensive Intervention and Director of the Center on Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS Center) and the new PROGRESS Center which provides information, resources, tools, and technical assistance services to support local educators and leaders (kindergarten through transition age) in developing and implementing high-quality educational programs that ensure students with disabilities have access to free appropriate public education (FAPE) which allows them to make progress and meet challenging goals, consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District (2017).

Dr. Christerralyn Brown recently completed her Ph.D. in special education at the University of Illinois at Chicago and has joined American Institutes for Research and the NCII technical assistance team. For NCII, Dr. Brown helps develop products related to intensive intervention in behavior and provides support for Wyoming. In addition to her work on NCII, she supports states, educator preparation programs, and schools/districts to build their capacity to implement evidence-based practices within MTSS. Dr. Brown’s professional interests are in the areas of intensive interventions for behavior, MTSS, evidence-based practices, professional development, and culturally responsive classroom behavior strategies. She has a doctorate from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a master’s degree in special education from Governors State University and is a former elementary, middle, and high school special education teacher, an MTSS coordinator and a support services case-manager.

Dr. Robin Gillespie earned her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of South Dakota. Before joining BHSSC, Robin spent 36 years serving the staff and students within the Rapid City Area School District. She served as a classroom teacher, a special educator, a building principal, and finally the Director of Federal Programs and Grants. Her expertise lies in developing strong data-driven academic programs based on the foundation of collaboration and community support. Robin is a member of the Results Driven Accountability (RDA) Team at Black Hills Special Services Cooperative facilitating data retreats and providing various professional development opportunities for various districts. Robin specializes in student engagement, co-teaching, leadership trainings, paraprofessional training, and data analysis. When she is not working, Robin spends her time with her husband, children, grandchildren, and numerous extended family members and friends. Together they enjoy boating, camping, and hiking, as well participating in family barbecues and sporting events.

Amy Beasley (Bio coming Soon)

Zebadiah Hall, University of Wyoming Staff: Vice President of Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Michelle Heinen Educator/Life Lover/Accidental Advocate. As the proud mother of two uniquely gifted children, I am passionate about helping families like mine secure the services and supports they need in order to be the most successful…at home, at school, and in their communities! I have been the Executive Director at UPLIFT since 2014 and enjoyed a multi-decade career as an elementary educator prior to that.

UPLIFT, a family-run organization, is proud to serve as the Wyoming Chapter of the Federation of Families, Wyoming Family Voices, and the Wyoming Statewide Family Network.

Lenore Knudtson’s career has been shaped by diverse professional opportunities. After earning a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in education, Ms. Knudtson became a nationally certified school psychologist working with school teams, parents, and children. School psychology ignited a passion for special education and improving the lives of children and young adults with disabilities. Ms. Knudtson later attended law school, where she earned a Juris Doctor degree with honors from William Mitchell College of Law. She now combines school psychology and special education law, dispute resolution, the work of special education teams, and building professional capacity in special education disciplines.

Currently, Ms. Knudtson’s career has culminated in a rich blend of issues focusing on education and dispute resolution. She is certified as a mediator, and also serves as a special education mediator, complaint investigator, and hearing officer in several states. Ms. Knudtson provides professional development in education and dispute resolution, and speaks to audiences across the nation. In 2012, Ms. Knudtson joined with Stephanie Weaver to create Pingora Consulting, LLC, offering an array of services focusing on education, dispute resolution, systems building, and legal compliance.

Kim Lane has 23 years of experience in education. She has a BA In Elementary Education and Special Education, ME in Special Education/Early Childhood Special Education, an Autism Spectrum Disorder certificate and a 6-12 Reading Endorsement. She is a National Board Certified Teacher as an Exceptional Needs Specialist. Kim has 23 years of experience in education with 19 in special education, two as a reading teacher, one as a special education monitor for the WDE, and currently serves as the Literacy Supervisor for the state of Wyoming. Kim has developed countless programs for students receiving special education, has an in-depth knowledge of special education systems and processes, and additional expertise in adolescent literacy, reading, and reading interventions. Kim has provided professional development for district coaches, administrators, and teachers.

Christine Manning is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and a Licensed Behavior Analyst in the state of Utah. She has a passion for helping children with autism and other abilities in the home and school settings. She enjoys collaboration with administrators, teachers, and parents in support of children with challenging behaviors using evidence-based interventions. Christine has worked as a special education teacher and principal. She also worked for the Utah State Board of Education (USBE), as an education and behavior specialist in the special education department. She currently works as a behavior and special education consultant for Utah schools and contracts with Utah State Center for Schools of the Future Behavior Supports Team at Utah State University. She is the chair of the School Collaboration Committee supporting behavior staff in Utah schools as well as the UtABA President Elect. She is a team member for the Utah School Mental Health initiative working to promote mental health services in schools with wrap-around services in the community. She is the Owner and Director of Manning Behavior Services, an in-home ABA provider serving clients along the Wasatch front. Christine has a genuine compassion and dedication to working with children in home and school settings. When she isn’t working, her favorite thing to do is to spend time with her own children and grandchildren.

Jose Martín, J.D., Attorney at Law, is a partner with the school law firm of Richards Lindsay & Martín, L.L.P. in Austin, Texas. His practice focuses exclusively on disabilities issues and litigation affecting public schools, including special education consulting and litigation under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the

Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Mr. Martin graduated from the University of Texas and the University of Texas School of Law, and, in April, will have been a practicing attorney for 30 years, all in special education. He has presented in more than 40 states, from Hawaii to Florida to Alaska to New Jersey. He has been partnering with the Wyoming Department of Education to bring quality professional development and guidance on special education issues since 2007.

Reithel Mercer, WDE (Bio coming Soon)

Dr. Kelli Nagel (Bio coming Soon)

Melissa Dittman (Bio coming Soon)

Elizabeth Price, Ph.D is an Assessment Consultant in the Standards and Assessment Division for the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE). Previous to working with WDE, she ran a small business teaching leaders and teams collaborative communication strategies. She began her career in education while studying and teaching cognitive education and dynamic assessment in Israel. Elizabeth then worked as a Special Education teacher in California and Tennessee, Special Education Assistant Director in Washington, and as a teacher-of-teachers all over the USA. Her doctorate is in Educational Psychology and Research from The University of Tennessee and her Master’s is in Special Education from California Polytechnic University.

Elizabeth is interested in helping administrators and educators use the ACCESS and WY-ALT in a dynamic and useful way to enhance student experiences.

Dr Jenna Min Shim, University of Wyoming (Bio coming Soon)

Stephanie Weaver is a principal partner in Pingora Consulting, LLC. She offers over twelve years of experience in state education agency administration (including serving as a former Deputy Director of Special Education for WDE), strategic planning, fiscal controls and program improvement. Business finance and data analysis expertise served as the foundation for Ms. Weaver’s career, which proved invaluable as she followed her heart (and her parents) into a career in the field of education. Now considered a national expert and an indispensable resource on all matters pertaining to special education, school finance, and refining education systems, Ms. Weaver is regularly engaged to work with school districts and states in programmatic finance, data analysis, legal compliance, and systems management. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management with honors from Montana State University, Bozeman and a Masters of Business Administration degree from the University of Wyoming. As a life- long learner, Ms. Weaver has expanded her knowledge and skills to include certification as a mediator. She incorporates the facilitation and team building expertise of a professional mediator across all aspects of her profession, making her an expert in working with diverse groups and building cohesive workplace teams.