Events and Conferences

Conference Presenter Bios - Response to Intervention

Mark Alter, Ph.D., is a Professor of Educational Psychology in NYU’s Department of Teaching and Learning at the Steinhardt School of Education. Mark has a very productive professional record with publications in referred journals, chapters in textbooks, national and international workshops and an impressive record of funded grants. He serves on numerous professional advisory committees, was the special education expert witness for the Campaign For Fiscal Equity, and in 2005 he was granted a Fulbright Senior Specialist Award in Special Education to the University of Hanoi, Vietnam.

Jane Ashdown is Vice Chair of the Department of Teaching and Learning at NYU Steinhardt and teaches courses in children's early language and literacy development. She is Principal Investigator for Reading Recovery at NYU and for the Early Career Project funded through the Wachovia Foundation. This project supports NYU teacher education graduates in the early stages of their teaching careers in targeted NYC public schools serving high need pupils. She has been joint author on a number of published studies focusing on the impact of Reading Recovery, the links between teacher professional development and pupil learning, and the state of cost effectiveness analyses in education research. Her doctoral studies were completed at the University of Pennsylvania.

Mary M. Brabeck, Ph.D. joined The Steinhardt School of Education as dean and professor of Applied Psychology in October 2003. Dr. Brabeck was the dean of Boston College’s Lynch School of Education from 1996-2003 and a professor of counseling and developmental psychology at Boston College from 1980-2003. Dr. Brabeck is chair and fellow of APA (Divisions 7, 17, 35 and 52). She has published more than 90 journal articles and book chapters. Dean Brabeck’s research interests include intellectual and ethical development, values and conceptions of the moral self, human rights education, professional and feminist ethics, and inter-professional collaboration. Her most recent edited books are Practicing Feminist Ethics in Psychology and Meeting at the Hyphen: Schools-Universities-Professions in Collaboration for Student Achievement and Well Being. Dr. Brabeck currently serves as a member of the American Psychological Association’s Board of Educational Affairs, Standing Hearing Panel of the Ethics Committee. She chairs the BEA Task Force on Applications of Psychological Science to Teaching and Learning and is an accreditation site visitor. She is a member of the Carnegie Corporation’s Teachers for a New Era Research Coordinating Council, the Board of Directors of the National Church Leadership Roundtable, and the Board of Directors of the National Society for the Study of Education. Dean Brabeck served as chair of the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education 2004-05 and as a member of the Holmes Partnership Board of Directors. She has received numerous awards including an Outstanding Achievement Award from the University of Minnesota, a Leadership Award from the American Psychological Association Committee on Women in Psychology and the Kuhmerker Award from the Association for Moral Education.

Donald Compton is associate professor of Special Education and a John F. Kennedy Center Investigator at Peabody College, Vanderbilt University. He earned a Ph.D. from Northwestern University's School of Communication Sciences and Disorders. He worked as a learning disabilities resource teacher for five years in Skokie, Illinois. Compton then worked for four years as an assistant professor in the department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. He then accepted a NICHD post-doctoral research fellow at the Institute for Behavior Genetics, University of Colorado. From there he accepted his current position at Vanderbilt University. Compton is experienced in designing, managing, analyzing, and disseminating data from cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. He is currently PI or Co-PI on five federal grants (2 NICHD, 2 IES, and 1 OSEP) using randomized controlled trials to evaluate academic interventions for children with learning difficulties. He is knowledgeable in the statistical modeling of growth in individuals and groups. His research involves modeling individual differences in the development of children’s reading skills. He has 25 peer-review publications and is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Educational Psychology, Scientific Studies of Reading, and four other journals. Compton is currently co-editor of Annals of Dyslexia.

Laura Cunningham-Barrett has twelve years of special education teaching experience. Most recently, she taught students with learning disabilities in the Rye Neck public school district in Westchester County for five years. She also taught students with autism and multiple disabilities in the New York City public schools. In addition to teaching, Laura developed a thriving private practice of tutoring students with learning disabilities and performed educational evaluations for her school system. Laura currently teaches as a full-time instructor in the Learning Disabilities Masters Program at Hunter College.

Louis Danielson, a national leader in the field of special education, has been involved in programs that improve results for students with disabilities for nearly three decades. He brings an unparalleled and unique depth of knowledge in both special education policy and research to his current position as Director of the Research to Practice Division in the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). Dr. Danielson was awarded a doctorate of philosophy in educational psychology from Pennsylvania State University in 1976. His career spans several roles in education including secondary school science and mathematics teacher, school psychologist, and teaching at the university level. For the past twenty-five years, Dr. Danielson has held leadership roles in OSEP and is currently responsible for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) discretionary grants program, including model demonstration, technical assistance and dissemination, personnel preparation, technology, and parent training priorities. He has served in numerous research and policy roles across the Department and has represented OSEP in major school reform activities. A frequent contributor to professional journals, Dr. Danielson has published extensively in the literature and is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences and events focusing on special education. His particular areas of interest include policy implementation and national evaluation studies.

Richard D. D'Auria has had twenty-nine years of experience as an educator in New York City. He was appointed by Chancellor Joel Klein as the Community School District 21 Superintendent effective July 1, 2004. He also concurrently serves as Local Instructional Superintendent (LIS) of Cohort 10 in Region 7, which consists of eleven schools, including four elementary (two of which are K-8), and three middle schools, all in District 21, and four high schools. As a LIS, he works directly with the principals of each of the schools to maximize the teaching and learning experience for all students and the ongoing professional development for the adult members of the school community. The cohort represents a constituency of almost 18,000 students, among the largest in the city. Mr. D’Auria formerly served as the Principal of John Adams High School in Queens. For eight years he served as an adjunct member of the Department of Natural Sciences at York College, CUNY where he taught biology to science majors. Prior to his appointment as Principal, he was Director of Technology for the Queens High Schools. He co-administered the Superintendent’s Math-Science Learning Institute and Focus Network. Mr. D’Auria served as Assistant Principal-Supervision, Science at Benjamin Cardozo High School from 1995 through 1998, during which time he co-authored and facilitated two successfully funded New York State Learning Technology Grants. He spent thirteen years from 1982 through 1995 as a member of the science department at John Adams and five years as a teacher in a parochial school.

Eddie Fergus is currently the Director of Research and Evaluation with New York University’s Metropolitan Center for Urban Education. As an educational researcher, Eddie works with schools, districts, foundations, and national organizations on equity issues impacting low-income and racial/ethnic minority students. Eddie’s expertise is in the theory and practice of youth development programming, out-of-school time opportunities, program evaluation and needs assessment, community and school partnerships, academic resilience, adaptation processes of immigrant youth, race/ethnic identity formation, and qualitative research methods. Before joining Metro Center at NYU, Dr. Fergus worked as Education Specialist for the Children's Aid Society. With CAS, Eddie worked with school districts, schools, and foundations on the implementation of community schools, as well as conducting school and community needs and resource assessments. Dr. Fergus has also worked as an evaluator of federally funded programs while at Metis Associates. Fergus currently serves as an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Foundations and Counseling at Hunter College. He is also author of the book entitled Skin Color and Identity Formation: Perceptions of Opportunity and Academic Orientation among Mexican and Puerto Rican Youth, published by Routledge Press.

Lisa Fleisher is Associate Professor of Educational Psychology in the Department of Teaching and Learning and has been the Director of the Programs in Special Education at NYU for over 25 years. Her specialization is literacy acquisition for children with learning and behavior challenges with a focus on models of effective instruction and environmental support that facilitate the inclusion of all students in schools and communities She has a long history of research, teaching and consultation to schools in regard to progress monitoring and data-based decision making, as a component of effective instructional practices. With a commitment to the integration of general and special education, she has designed and directed the implementation of numerous teacher education programs at NYU, and was the PI in numerous federal grants supporting these initiatives.

Esther Klein Friedman has served New York City students since 1973 as a teacher practitioner in elementary, middle and high school, staff development trainer, principal in District Two, director of literacy and social studies in District Six, regional director of intervention services and local instructional superintendent in Region Ten, director of secondary school reform, and currently as director of intervention services K-12 at the New York City Department of Education. She arrived in this country in the middle of first grade and is a product of the New York City public schools. Esther completed her undergraduate degree at Queens College and received a Master's degree and a Ph.D. from New York University. Her professional interests include exploration into the challenges of and solutions for supporting achievement of students in urban schools.

Douglas Fuchs is the Nicholas Hobbs Professor of Special Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University, where he also directs the Kennedy Center Reading Clinic. Doug has conducted programmatic research on response-to-intervention as a method for preventing and identifying children with learning disabilities and on reading instructional methods for improving outcomes for students with learning disabilities. Dr. Fuchs has published more than 200 empirical studies in peer-review journals. He sits on the editorial boards of 10 journals including the American Educational Research Journal, Journal of Educational Psychology, Elementary School Journal, Journal of Learning Disabilities, and Exceptional Children. He been identified by Thompson ISI as one of 250 "most highly cited" researchers in the social sciences, and he has received a variety of awards to acknowledge how his research accomplishments have enhanced reading and math outcomes for children with and without disabilities. His awards include the Council for Exceptional Children’s Career Research Award; the American Education Research Association’s Distinguished Researcher Award from the Special Education Research SIG; Vanderbilt University’s Joe B. Wyatt Distinguished University Professor; the 2001 Article of the Year Award for best article in the 2000 volume year in School Psychology Review; the 2000 Council for Exceptional Children/Division of Learning Disabilities Samuel A. Kirk Award for the exemplary practice article from the 1998 volume of Learning Disabilities Research and Practice; the 2000 Alumni Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award, awarded by the Peabody Alumni Board of Vanderbilt University; the 1998 American Educational Research Association’s Palmer O. Johnson Award for the outstanding article appearing in an AERA-sponsored journal for the 1997 volume year; the 1998: Mayor’s Educator of the Year Award (Nashville, TN); the 1997 Learned Article Award from the Educational Press Association; and the 1996 School Psychology Quarterly/American Psychological Association Division 16 Fellows Award for Best Articles.

Lynn Fuchs is the Nicholas Hobbs Professor of Special Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University, where she also co-directs the Kennedy Center Reading Clinic. She has conducted programmatic research on assessment methods for enhancing instructional planning and on instructional methods for improving reading and math outcomes for students with learning disabilities. Dr. Fuchs has published more than 200 empirical studies in peer-review journals. She sits on the editorial boards of 10 journals including the Journal of Educational Psychology, Scientific Studies of Reading, Elementary School Journal, Journal of Learning Disabilities, and Exceptional Children. She been identified by Thompson ISI as one of 250 "most highly cited" researchers in the social sciences, and has received a variety of awards to acknowledge her research accomplishments that have enhanced reading and math outcomes for children with and without disabilities. Her awards include the Council for Exceptional Children’s Career Research Award; Vanderbilt University’s Joe B. Wyatt Distinguished University Professor; Vanderbilt’s Earl Sutherland Award for Research Accomplishments; the American Education Research Association’s Distinguished Researcher Award from the Special Education Research SIG; the 2001 Article of the Year Award for best article in the 2000 volume year in School Psychology Review; the 2000 Council for Exceptional Children/Division of Learning Disabilities Samuel A. Kirk Award for the exemplary practice article from the 1998 volume of Learning Disabilities Research and Practice; the 2000 Alumni Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award, awarded by the Peabody Alumni Board of Vanderbilt University; the 1998 American Educational Research Association’s Palmer O. Johnson Award for the outstanding article appearing in an AERA-sponsored journal for the 1997 volume year; the 1998: Mayor’s Educator of the Year Award (Nashville, TN); the 1997 Learned Article Award from the Educational Press Association; and the 1996 School Psychology Quarterly/American Psychological Association Division 16 Fellows Award for Best Articles.

Kate Garnett is professor and chairperson of the Hunter College Department of Special Education. She has led Hunter's graduate-level teacher preparation program in Learning Disabilities for more than 20 years. Kate consults with schools nationwide and was a long-term consultant with the Edison Schools, with whom she designed and developed the Special Edison program and special educator training. She is widely published in the field of learning disabilities, has presented at many national conferences, and directed a variety of training, research, and service grants. Her particular areas of expertise includes math learning disabilities, vocabulary interventions, specially designed instruction and responsible inclusion.

Matthew Giugno is an Associate in Staff Development at the New York State Education Department, Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities. He has been with the Education Department for 23 years. Prior to this, he was an Administrator with the UCP of Albany and on the staff of the Questar BOCES (formerly the Rensselaer-Columbia-Greene BOCES). He was also on the staff of the NYC Health and Hospitals Corp. At the Education Department, he is the Program Manager for the federally funded State Improvement Grant/State Personnel Development Grant; he is Program manager for the Higher Education Support Center contract with Syracuse University School of Education; and coordinates, with Barbara Miller, the NYS LD/RTI initiative, that will make recommendations for regulatory changes, policy guidance and professional development programs.

Ellen Hauser has worked with the Reading Recovery Project at NYU for 9 years. As a Director/Trainer, she provides Reading Recovery coursework and professional development for teachers from a range of school regions/districts across New York City, New York State, New Jersey and other affiliated sites in Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Chris Lemons is a doctoral student in the Department of Special Education and a predoctoral fellow in the Experimental Education Research Training (ExpERT) program funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. His interests include the identification of students with reading difficulties and interventions designed to improve outcomes for these students.

Cynthia McCallister is Chair of the program in Literacy Education, Department of Teaching and Learning, Steinhardt School of Education where she teaches courses on literacy assessment and instruction. Her research focuses on teachers’ conceptualizations of normative and non-normative development in children’s literacy and patterns of instructional response that support children who struggle in learning to read.

Brenda McDonagh serves as a Regional Director of Intervention Services for the New York City Department of Education, Region 9. Brenda’s work as a regional director promotes the use of formal and informal assessments to examine and implement research-based intervention programs on the results of what they assess. Within Brenda’s current role, she facilitates monthly professional development with over 80 elementary and 40 middle school intervention teachers, leads study groups on best practices, guides schools to make informed data driven decisions, and encourage the use of the “Responsiveness to Intervention” model to reduce initial referrals to special education. Each position held within the NYCDOE as well as her continued work at NYS Association for the Help of Retarded Children Early Childhood Program have supported Brenda’s mission of providing students of all ages with the targeted and individualized interventions they need to be successful.

Joseph P. McDonald is Associate Dean and Professor of Teaching and Learning at the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University. In his role as Associate Dean, he oversees the School’s effort to establish 25 professional development schools in New York City, to bring more integration to the School’s diverse professional programs, and to bring an interdisciplinary focus to the School’s rich array of study-abroad programs. McDonald is the author or co-author of six books, including The Power of Protocols: An Educator’s Guide to Better Practice (Teachers College Press, 2003), which explores the crucial role of facilitative leadership in making and sustaining educational change. His other titles include School Reform Behind the Scenes (Teachers College Press, 1999), Redesigning School (Jossey-Bass, 1996), and Teaching: Making Sense of an Uncertain Craft (Teachers College Press, 1992). McDonald holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Scranton and Master of Arts in Teaching and Doctor of Education degrees from Harvard University. He lives in New York City with wife, colleague, and co-author Beth McDonald.

Ron Robin, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at NYU Steinhardt, is a cultural historian and the author of several books, including Scandals and Scoundrels: Seven Cases that Shook the Academy and The Making of the Cold War Enemy: Culture and Politics in the Military-Intellectual Complex. His scholarly articles have appeared in such journals as American Quarterly, Diplomatic History, American Studies International, and Journal of American Studies. Robin formerly taught modern American history and communication theory at the University of Haifa, Israel, where he also served for five years as dean of students. The recipient of numerous fellowships and grants, Robin holds at Ph.D. in history from the University of California at Berkeley.

Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz is Research Associate with New York University’s Metropolitan Center for Urban Education within the Steinhardt School of Education. Most recently she was professor of English at Kingsborough Community College, the City University of New York (CUNY). She has taught undergraduate and graduate teacher education courses at New York University, and high school journalism and multicultural literature in New York City schools. She has completed freelance work for Columbia University’s African American Studies department, Scholastic Inc, and urban after school programs. Dr. Sealey-Ruiz’s research interests include race in education, culturally relevant instruction, the educational trajectories of reentry Black women, and the achievement gap. Her articles have appeared in Kappa Delta Pi’s Educational Forum and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Willa Journal.

Robert M. Schwartz is a professor in the Department of Reading and Language Arts at Oakland University and a Reading Recovery university trainer. His research interests include self-monitoring in beginning reading, early literacy intervention, and professional development for literacy teachers. He has recent publication on these topics in Reading Research Quarterly, Journal of Educational Psychology and The Reading Teacher.

Katherine A. Dougherty Stahl (The University of Georgia, 2003) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning in the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University. She is interested in the effective instruction of reading in the elementary years. Her current research focuses on reading acquisition and reading comprehension. Dr. Stahl taught in public elementary and middle school classrooms in high poverty communities for over twenty-five years. In addition to being a classroom teacher, she was a Reading Recovery teacher, worked for several years in the University of Georgia Reading Clinic and acted as the Director of Student Evaluations for the Reading Group, a non-profit reading clinic in Champaign, Illinois. The questions that she researches stem from those experiences and from current classroom observations. She is co-editor of Reading Research at Work: Foundations of Effective Practice, a book that explores the classroom implications of twenty years of reading research. She has published articles in journals such as Reading Research Quarterly, The Reading Teacher, and Language, Literacy, and Learning.

Elizabeth A. Truly is an attorney specializing in special education law and policy. She is currently a legal consultant to the United Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers. She is also certified as an impartial hearing officer in New York State. From 1979 to 2000 she was employed as a staff attorney in the New York City Law Office of New York State United Teachers. In the first decade of her career as a NYSUT attorney, she represented local unions and their members in employment related matters in federal and state courts and before federal and state administrative agencies. During the latter part of her tenure with NYSUT, she was on special assignment to the United Federation of Teachers where her primary responsibility was representation of the union’s interests in special education class action litigation. During that period she also advised the UFT, NYSUT and the AFT on special education, student discipline, Section 504, school health and related issues; wrote for union publications; and was a frequent presenter at union conferences. She worked closely with AFT's Legislation and Educational Issues Departments on the 1997 and 2004 reauthorizations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and with the UFT and NYSUT on State conforming laws and regulations.

Rose Vukovic is an Assistant Professor of Special Education in the Department of Teaching and Learning at NYU. Her research focuses on how factors at the individual-, school-, and community-levels contribute to reading and numeracy difficulties in children. She is particularly interested in the identification of sources of academic achievement difficulties in children in order to guide prevention, intervention, and instructional practices. Her work has been published in the Journal of Learning Disabilities and Learning Disabilities Research and Practice. Her graduate training was supported by funds from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Strategic Training Programme in Community Health Research. She earned her Ph.D. in educational and counseling psychology and special education from the University of British Columbia in 2006.

Linda Wernikoff has been involved in providing special education services to students with disabilities for over thirty years with the NYC Department of Education. Ms. Wernikoff presently serves as the Senior Instructional Manager of the Office of Special Education Initiatives and is overseeing the implementation of the special education reforms emanating from the Chancellor’s Children First initiative. For the last seven years, Linda has been at the forefront of special education reform in New York City. She has been instrumental in making jurisdictional changes that give building principals and superintendents more flexibility in assigning special education staff and allow previously itinerant staff to become an active participant in the mainstream school culture. Most notably, she was the project coordinator for the Department of Education’s new Continuum of Special Education Services, which re-emphasizes concepts of least restrictive environment and home-zone schooling so that students with disabilities can be surrounded and supported by their siblings and non-disabled peers in their neighborhood schools. She continues to be a vocal advocate for the inclusion of students with disabilities in mainstream school culture with the ultimate goal of improved student outcomes for all students.