2022 WAVE Presenters

Tessie Rose Bailey, Ph.D 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. 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). She is the Director of the new PROGRESS Center. Dr. Bailey serves as the project quality assurance director for the new Wyoming Multi-Tiered Systems of Support Center.

Abigail “Abby” Cooper Ms. Cooper has 40 years of experience implementing complex systems changes, from a Statewide Administrator for Vocational Rehabilitation to being a provider to consulting on Competitive Integrated Employment Nationally and Internationally. She provided Technical Assistance to South Korea government on the structures needed to provide Competitive Integrated Employment. She has provided TA and training in forty states. In 1981 her leadership resulted in a Day Activity Center transformation into the first Supported Employment (SE) agency in Washington State. In 2005 under a System Change contract, she provided TA to Washington State’s largest Mental Health provider, creating a path to competitive integrated employment (CIE). In 2016 she provided TA on 511 guidance to the State of Connecticut and wrote their implementation policy, she spent from 2015 to 2019 providing TA to the State of New Mexico on transforming Day Activity Centers to provide Customized Employment. She provided TA to King County and Seattle School District on Transition and created parent training for transition students. Since 2014 she has worked as a subject matter expert on Community Integrated Employment with the Office of Disability Employment Policy. Subject Matter Expert for MT Pre-ETs TAC 2015-2017. In 2019 she provided training to IL Transition teachers on using group discovery as an age-appropriate assessment tool and created a multiple agency guide to assist in the process transition. Currently, she works on the National Expansion of Employment Opportunities Network (NEON), focusing on 14-(c) transformation, employer outreach, and provides consulting for Marc Gold and Associates. ‘As a Statewide Administrator for Washington State Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), she secured federal funding for a five-year Informed Choice grant that she administered. She started the first program in the nation that provided benefits planning and financial literacy to VR clients, and established Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) (match-saving accounts) with Ticket-to-Work dollars for DVR customers.  She created policies and procedures on; Informed Choice, Ticket to Work, and partnering with the Workforce System. Ms. Cooper served as the statewide liaison for the Workforce system. She has published articles on Asset Development, Manuals on implementing Customized Employment strategies, Employer Guide to hiring Persons with Disabilities, and State as a Model Employer.

Karen Haase is a partner in the law firm of KSB School Law, where she focuses her practice exclusively on representing public school districts and related entities. She holds degrees from Hastings College, Kansas State University and the University of Nebraska College of Law. Prior to attending law school, Karen taught at both the high school and post-secondary level. Karen has been married to her high school sweetheart for 25 years and has two children.

Mary Beth Hyland, author of Permission to Be Human: The Conscious Leader’s Guide to Creating a Values-Driven Culture, knows that when people are connected through shared values, there’s no limit to what they can achieve. Through retreats, workshops and coaching, she’s known for her ability to gracefully transform disconnected leaders and their teams into a unified force for positive change. As a certified mediator, mindfulness instructor, and core values expert MaryBeth engages people all over the world to illuminate possibility and ignite alignment by knowing, owning and living their values each day.

Jose Martin, J.D. is a partner with the school law firm of Richards Lindsay & Martín, L.L.P. in Austin, Texas. For the last twenty years, his practice has focused on matters involving the education of disabled students under the IDEA and Section 504. He is a graduate of the University of Texas and the University of Texas School of Law. A background in journalism has led Jose to frequent publication in the area of disabilities laws and their effect on public schools. He currently serves as Contributing Editor to the national LRP publication The Special Educator and LRP’s online-based Special Education Connection. As a speaker, Jose presents numerous topics on disabilities laws to numerous audiences at national, regional, and state conferences, as well as local education agency staff development programs.

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.

Julie Kurtz is an author, national speaker consulting and training on trauma and resilience. She promotes the concept of optimal brain integration to maximize human growth potential. Julie is the Founder and CEO for the Center for Optimal Brain Integration®.She is a co-author of Trauma-Informed Practices for Early Childhood Educators: Relationship-Based Approaches that Support Healing and Build Resilience in Young Children, Culturally Responsive Self-Care Practices for Early Childhood Educators, Trauma Informed Practices for Early Childhood Leaders: Creating and Sustaining Healing and Engaged Organizations, Trauma-Responsive Family Engagement in Early Childhood: Practices for Equity and Resilience. She is the author of Understanding My Brain: Becoming Human(E)! (Ages 4-8 and 5-10). Julie is the creator of the phone/tablet Application (APP) Trigger Stop: Sensory and Emotional Check-in designed specifically for children ages 3-8 years to promote sensory and emotional literacy and to support self-regulation.

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. She worked as a special education teacher and principal for Spectrum Academy in North Salt Lake for 10 years, supporting children with autism. She worked for the Utah State Board of Education (USBE), as an education and behavior specialist in the special education department. These experiences have allowed her to grow and fulfill her life-long desire to help children be successful. 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. She is the chair of the UtABA School Collaboration Committee supporting behavior staff in Utah schools as well as the President Elect. She is part of 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 clinic serving clients along the Wasatch front. She has a genuine compassion and dedication to serving children and families and takes joy in supporting people in living happy and fulfilling lives.

Reithel Mercer is the Dispute Resolution Coordinator in the Special Education Programs Division for the Wyoming Department of Education. She has 20 years of teaching experience in a variety of educational settings. The majority of her teaching experience was with students who were eligible for special education services due to a specific learning disability. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Special Education (1997), Master of Arts in Education (2004), and her Juris Masters in American Legal Studies (2018). Prior experience includes working as a Principal Education Consultant at the Illinois State Board of Education, Special Education Department as a Special Education State Complaint Investigator, an Accountability and Support Monitor, and as the Acting Supervisor for the Accountability and Support Monitoring team. While in Illinois, she was a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for children placed in foster care. Her passion for special education was ignited by her younger brother, who has autism, and my parents’ dedication to ensuring his educational needs were met during a time (1980s and 1990s) when very little was known about autism and scarce support and resources were available. She continues to assist her widowed mother in advocating for her younger brother’s needs as an adult. In her spare time, Reithel enjoys the three (3) Rs: relaxing, running, and research.

Julie Nicholson Ph.D. is Professor of Practice in the School of Education at Mills College where she has been a faculty member since 2005 and directed several innovative programs including the Leadership Program in Early Childhood, a Joint MBA/MA Educational Leadership Program and the Center for Play Research. Nicholson is also Co-Founder/Co-Director of the Center for Equity in Early Childhood Education, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving equity for young children and families and the early childhood workforce dedicated to serving them. She is the author of 12 books and many peer reviewed articles focused on early childhood. She has many years of experience participating in policy committees, serving on nonprofit Boards and leading professional development across the US and internationally. She taught young children for ten years in preschool and public kindergarten classrooms.

Donna Sheen JD, MPA, CWLS – Director/Attorney founded the Wyoming Children’s Law Center in 2009. She is a 2001 Graduate of the University of Wyoming College of Law. She is a Child Welfare Law Specialist. Donna has been admitted to Federal and State court. She has been an advocate for children’s legal rights for many years. She is a parent of a child with special needs and also completed a graduate assistant-ship with W.I.N.D. (Wyoming Institute for Disabilities).

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.