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MAY 16, 17, 18 2019, NYC


Breakout Speakers

Read below to learn more about the breakout speakers at the 2019 Breakthroughs in Twice-Exceptional Education Conference.

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Elissa F. Brown, PhD

Director, Hunter College Gifted Institute, Distinguished Lecturer, Program Coordinator-Advanced Certificate in Gifted & Talented, Hunter College

Dr. Elissa Brown is a Distinguished Lecturer and Director, of the Hunter College Center for Gifted Studies and Education at Hunter College. Previously, she was the Director of Teacher & Leader Education Programs and Gifted Education at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. From 2002-2007, she was the Director of the Center for Gifted Education at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. She has served as a state director of gifted programs, a USED grant manager, a district program coordinator, a principal of a specialized high school and a teacher gifted students. As a professor, Elissa coordinates and teaches the Advanced Certificate program in Gifted & Talented and has served as an adjunct professor at several universities, including Rutgers and Duke University. She is a published author in the field of gifted education and presents widely. She was the recipient of the 2012 Distinguished Service Award from the N.C. Association for Gifted & Talented, the 2007 Dean’s award at the College of William & Mary, and the 2004 Early Leader award from the National Association for Gifted Children.

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Kimberly Busi, MD 

Founder and School Head, The Quad Preparatory School

Founder, The Quad Manhattan

Kim Busi is the Founder and Director of The Quad Preparatory School and The Quad Manhattan, a Psychiatrist in private practice in Lower Manhattan and a former Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine. She left her faculty appointment in 2009 to found The Quad Manhattan. She received her Medical Degree from the Brown University School of Medicine in 1997. After completing a year’s training in Pediatrics at the New York Hospital-Weill Medical Center, Dr. Busi finished her residency training in Psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine in 2001.  At NYU, Dr. Busi designed curriculum, taught and supervised residents. She served on the Curriculum Committee for the Department of Psychiatry, and as the Director of Education for the NYU/Bellevue Program for Survivors of Torture, a not-for-profit multidisciplinary treatment center within the Bellevue Hospital Center. Best of all, she is the mother of two wonderful boys, 16 and 12.


In Partnership with...

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Co-Presented by...


Jacqui Byrne

Founder, Flex School

Jacqui is the visionary behind FlexSchool, learning communities for gifted and 2e students. She loves each of the creative, quirky, asynchronous minds who attend FlexSchool and she enjoys watching them grow into their strengths with confidence. Jacqui has deep experience in education, teaching, counseling, and writing. She is the co-founder of the widely respected Ivy Ed college preparation and counseling firm. Jacqui developed her own verbal test prep curriculum and also wrote a test prep book for McGraw-Hill. Prior to founding Ivy Ed, she taught creative writing to gifted students in Massachusetts and disadvantaged students in Harlem, completed an operations management training program on Wall Street, and started a boutique marketing company. Jacqui earned a B.A. from Yale and has children who are twice-exceptional.

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Nicole Cavaliere, MS. Ed.

Director of Lower School STEM Curriculum, The Quad Preparatory School


Nicole began at The Quad Manhattan as a fine arts teacher in 2013 and has taught in The Quad Manhattan After-School program and summer program as a Core Teacher and Director ever since. In 2016, Nicole she joined The Quad Prep School as a STEM educator in the Lower School. She is an artist and teaching artist with a degree in Art and Design Education from Pratt Institute, and an MS in Education. She has also taught at Academy of the City Charter School in Queens and has worked with sick, disabled, and disadvantaged children in South America and Africa for 3 summers with the Hope For The Children Foundation. 

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Conference Sponsors

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George Delagrammatikas, Ph.D. 

Director of STEM Outreach and Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Art and Science

​George Delagrammatikas joined Cooper Union’s Mechanical Engineering Department in September 2005 and has taught courses in design theory, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, experimentation, internal combustion engines, and automotive engineering.  He has collaborated with multiple faculty members to develop hands-on experiences that apply fundamental classroom knowledge to real-world problems. George first fostered his ‘hands-on’ approach to solving engineering challenges as an undergraduate researcher at MIT, where he helped design, analyze, fabricate, and race solar cars across America. At the same time, college internships allowed him to learn the automotive industry’s best practices at Ford Motor Company and Daihatsu Diesel Company. George earned an MSME and PhD from the University of Michigan where he researched the optimal design of advanced automotive powertrains.  He currently performs research in advanced combustion, electric vehicles, and hybrid electric powertrains. George is currently the faculty advisor for the Cooper Motorsports Club which designs and builds race cars for the Formula SAE competition.

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Maggie Downham, M. A.

Special Education Advocate and Paralegal, Law Offices of Jaclyn Okin-Barkey

Ms. Downham is a veteran special educator who has taught students with varied disabilities in a range of settings, including whole-group, small-group, one-on-one, push-in, and self-contained classrooms. She currently works as a full-time special needs advocate, serving in this capacity as both a paralegal and an independent advocate. She recently initiated COPAA’s Twice-Exceptional Advocacy Committee, for which she serves as Chair.

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Rachel Elmer

Director, Private Prep


Rachel Elmer brings a decade of experience to her work helping families navigate the exciting, complex world of college admissions. She has been with Private Prep since 2010, working as the company’s first admissions coach and, later, helping to develop Private Prep’s college admissions training program. As Director, she oversees the dynamic, collaborative admissions team and trains and mentors new admissions coaches in addition to her work with students and families. Before joining Private Prep, Rachel graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in Latin American Studies and worked as a college essay specialist for several different college and writing support organizations. She also has experience in the classroom as a teacher of English as a Second Language and as an SAT/ACT tutor. Her combination of teaching, test prep, and writing experiences have given her unique insight into the many facets of the college admissions process and have cemented her passion for education. 

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Terry Friedrichs, PhD, EdD

Director, Friedrichs Education


Dr. Friedrichs has served for four decades as an assessor, teacher, case manager, coordinator, researcher, teacher educator, and advocate for gifted students with all major federally-designated disabilities. As an advocate, he has worked successfully, in schools, communities, and civic organizations, for improved gifted, special, and general education for these K-College youth.

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Prudence Heisler, MA, OTR/L

Partner, Special Programs in Occupational Therapy Services (SPOTS) 


Prudence Heisler graduated from the University of Melbourne in Melbourne, Australia.  She received a Master’s Degree in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University in 1985. Prudence divides her time between the Manhattan and Brooklyn offices. In addition to her work as a clinician, evaluator and educator at SPOTS, she provides consultation services to many preschool programs in New York City. She is instrumental in developing the social competency group program and SPOTS Summer Camp.

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Sami Kahn, JD, PhD

Assistant Professor of Science Education, Ohio University


Sami Kahn, J.D., Ph.D., ( is a nationally-recognized science educator and teacher educator with extensive experience in curriculum development, professional development, and program management. She uses her legal background to inform her research on inclusive science practices (including 2e, strengths-based, and UDL frameworks), socioscientific issues, and social justice.  An award-winning teacher and scholar, Dr. Kahn has authored numerous journal articles and has co-authored four books on enhancing scientific inquiry experiences for children and adults. She frequently serves as an invited speaker at national and international conferences and holds leadership positions with the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and the Association for Science Teacher Education (ASTE), as well as editorial positions for two peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Kahn is particularly proud of her recently-published co-edited/authored book entitled, Towards Inclusion of All Learners Through Science Teacher Education (Brill, 2018) and her upcoming sole-authored book, It’s Still Debatable…and Elementary! Using Socioscientific Issues to Develop Scientific Literacy K-5 (NSTA Press, anticipated publication in 2019).  A proud parent of an exceptionally talented adult child who was diagnosed with autism in childhood, Dr. Kahn currently serves as Assistant Professor of Science Education at Ohio University in Athens, OH. Prior to coming to Ohio University, Dr. Kahn held positions at Rutgers University and Collegiate School in New York City.


Anish Kulkarni, Senior

Wayzata, MN High School

Mr. Kulkarni is a high school senior who has studied, and has specialized in debating, the rights of students with disabilities in grades K-12. As a researcher, he has analyzed openings in IDEA law whereby the strengths of students with disabilities can be served. With Dr. Terry Friedrichs, he is co-author of a forthcoming 2019 2e News article “Serving Twice-Exceptional Student Strengths Well under IDEA.” Anish hopes to become an undergraduate history major, a college debater, and, eventually, an attorney concerned with disability and other issues.


Matthew Lerner, PhD

Associate Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry, & Pediatrics, Department of Psychology, Stony Brook University

Matthew D. Lerner, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Psychology Psychiatry, & Pediatrics in the Department of Psychology at Stony Brook University, where he directs the Social Competence and Treatment Lab. He is the founding Director and current Research Director of the Spotlight Program at the Northeast Arc in Massachusetts, a year-round program for social competence and confidence development, serving more than 200 youth annually. Dr. Lerner’s research focuses on understanding emergence and “real world” implications of social problems in children and adolescents (especially those with Autism Spectrum Disorders [ASD]), as well as development, evaluation, and dissemination of novel, evidence-based approaches for ameliorating those problems. He has published roughly 80 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters; he serves on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, Behavior Therapy, and Clinical Child & Family Psychology Review. Dr. Lerner has received grants from organizations including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, the Simons Foundation, the Medical Foundation, the American Psychological Association, the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.


Vasco Lopes, PsyD

Instructor of Medical Psychology (in Psychiatry) at Columbia University Medical Center

Vasco Lopes earned his doctorate in school psychology from St. John's University in 2011 and completed an APA-approved pre-doctoral internship at Andrus where he was part of a team which developed and lead the first school-wide PBIS program. Dr. Lopes went on to complete a clinical and research fellowship in the Pediatric Emotion Regulation Lab at Fordham University where he developed a specialization in diagnosing and treating children with severe emotional dysregulation. Dr. Lopes is certified in Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) and  has developed a long-term collaboration with schools in the community, and used evidence-based treatments to train teachers how to manage disruptive classroom behavior in at-risk students. Dr. Lopes has co-authored several publications, including a leading article in the American Journal of Psychiatry on a new child psychiatric disorder- Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder. He has also published a research article on ADHD and disruptive behavior disorders in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology and a book chapter on pediatric social phobia.

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Lisa Marfleet

Director of Talent Development, The Quad Preparatory School

Lisa's background is in the arts and education with an emphasis on crafting personalized curricula for students from alternative educational backgrounds helping facilitate their transition from school to the "real world" and with the goal of integrating individualized instruction within a more structured educational framework. A member of IECA, Lisa has worked as an educational consultant and academic advisor for over 25 years. In addition to teaching in the NYC public school system, Lisa has also worked as a private tutor and curriculum advisor for grades K-12. A graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts, before education became her focus, Lisa worked in the arts as an actor, talent agent and casting director for film, theater and television. As a fiction writer, she's worked as a freelance book editor and script reader. In her spare time, Lisa works as the assistant editor for LitMag, a literary magazine of poetry, fiction and nonfiction, based in Manhattan.


Ali Mattu, PhD

Assistant Professor of Medical Psychology (in Psychiatry), Columbia University Medical Center and Senior Clinical Psychologist, Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders

Dr. Ali Mattu is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of anxiety and body-focused repetitive behaviors (trichotillomania/hair-pulling disorder and excoriation/skin-picking disorder). He aspires to bring psychology to everyone, everywhere by hosting THE PSYCH SHOW, writing about the psychology of science fiction at Brain Knows Better, presenting to the public, and advocating for the brain and behavior sciences through the American Psychological Association.  Dr. Mattu is a faculty member at the Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders. He received his B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles where he majored in psychology and minored in Asian American studies. Dr. Mattu received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He completed a doctoral internship at the Bellevue Hospital Center and a postdoctoral fellowship at the NYU Langone Medical Center's Child Study Center. Dr. Mattu is known as a “forward thinker” in the field of psychology and was named one of The Mighty’s mental health heroes of 2015.

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Paula McCreedy, OTR/L

Partner, Special Programs in Occupational Therapy Services (SPOTS) 

Paula McCreedy graduated from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, with dual degrees in occupational therapy and psychology. She completed her masters’ degree in education at the University of New Orleans. Paula and the co-founders of SPOTS responded to the needs of children and their families by opening a Manhattan office and later offices in Brooklyn and Orangeburg. The founders of SPOTS have a unique understanding of the challenges of sensory dysregulation which upsets a child’s ability to play and enjoy the simple pleasures of childhood. They appreciate that at times sensory regulation problems leave a child hard to reach, hard to parent and hard to teach.


Erica Miller, PhD

Upper School Psychologist, The Quad Preparatory School 

A New York State licensed psychologist and nationally Certified School Psychologist, Dr. Miller received her BA from McGill University and completed her PhD at Columbia University, Teachers College. Dr. Miller is the Upper School psychologist at The Quad Preparatory School and her clinical work focuses on the neuropsychological assessment and treatment of youth, with a particular emphasis on social-emotional development and school consultation for students suffering from learning and mental health disorders, as well as those grappling with multiple psychosocial stressors. Her research focuses on group and individual level preventative and risk factors for peer sexual harassment and peer sexual assault.

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Max Melby

Program Director and Science Teacher Arete Academy

Max Melby has been immersed in the world twice-exceptional education since 2014, when he joined the team at Arete Academy- a school serving 2e students in St. Louis Park, MN. As a program director and upper school science teacher, Max actively pursues the continued development of effective instructional strategies for 2e learners. Max has been so happy to find his place in the 2e world, where none of the answers are all that straightforward but nearly all of the questions are amazing.

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Deborah Meringolo, MA, MS

Associate Director, Infant/Toddler Team and Co-Director, RELATE at Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center (CERC), Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Debbie Meringolo, a special educator, clinician and developmental specialist, and the Director of Early Childhood Programming at Quad Preparatory School, a school for twice exceptional children, Grades K-12. She assumed this role in July 2018, after a 27-year history as the Associate Director of the Infant/Toddler Team and RELATE program at the Rose F. Kennedy Center Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center of Montefiore. Prior to her current role at Quad Prep, Debbie served as a consultant, bringing social cognitive programming to the school, developing the social emotional learning program and training staff members. Debbie has a long history working in schools as a reading specialist, supervisor and program developer in the New York City Department of Education for many years. She also runs a part-time private practice, Altogether Social, along with Nancy Tarshis, for children ages 14 months through adulthood. They provide individual and group sessions, consult to public and private schools and training for parents and professionals. Debbie is an enthusiastic speaker who enjoys sharing her own clinical experiences with audience. She speaks across the country about social cognitive development, preschool and school age play skill development, assessment and intervention, diagnosis and treatment of individuals with social learning challenges, and developing social programming across the age range.

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Melissa Nishawala, MD


Dr. Melissa Nishawala is a psychiatrist in New York, New York and is affiliated with NYU Langone Hospitals. She received her medical degree from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and has been in practice for more than 20 years. She is one of 153 doctors at NYU Langone Hospitals who specialize in Psychiatry.

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Debbie Reber, MA

Founder, TiLT Parenting

Debbie Reber is a parenting activist, New York Times bestselling author, podcast host, and speaker who moved her career in a more personal direction in 2016 when she founded TiLT Parenting, a website, weekly podcast, and social media community for parents like her raising differently wired children. The TiLT Parenting Podcast has grown to be a top podcast in iTunes’ Kids and Family category, with more than 800,000 downloads and a slate of guests that includes high-profile thought leaders across the parenting and education space. A regular contributor to Psychology Today and ADDitude Magazine, Debbie’s newest book is "Differently Wired: Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World" (Workman Publishing, 2018). In the past year she has spoken at both TEDxAmsterdam (her talk entitled Why the Future Will Be Differently Wired) and TEDxPSU (her talk entitled The 'New Normal' Kids and Why We Need to Embrace Them).

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Ariana Riccio, MA

The Graduate Center, CUNY and Tech Kids Unlimited

Ariana Riccio, MA is currently a doctoral candidate at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York in Developmental Psychology. Her research is focused on identity development in autistic adolescents and young adults, particularly within educational and after school settings. In partnership with Tech Kids Unlimited (TKU), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing technology education for students 7-21 years old who learn differently, Ariana and the TKU team are evaluating and iterating technology curricula to serve the needs of TKU students by incorporating elements of Universal Design principles. Research presented here is the result of a two year study alongside teen participants at TKU summer programs.

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Leigh Richards, JD

College Counselor, The Quad Preparatory School

Founder, Private Prep

Before joining Private Prep as an Admissions Coach, Leigh received a B.A. in Psychology from Emory University and a J.D. from Fordham Law School, where she was a member of the Law Review. As an attorney, Leigh specialized in special education law. In addition, Leigh received an MA in Education from Teachers College of Columbia University and is also a member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA). Her extensive experience as an educator includes working as a high school Social Studies teacher, a tutor for law students, and as a Program Director for two college preparation programs. As a Program Director, she managed intensive, multi-year, academic programs for high-achieving, underserved students preparing to attend college. Finally, as Co-President of Advocacy for Gifted and Talented Education of Port Washington, NY, Leigh works with both parents and the Board of Education to advocate for an appropriate and challenging education designed to help advanced and 2e learners achieve their fullest potential. She is passionate about helping students discover their strengths and develop self-advocacy skills.

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Beth Rosenberg, MA, MS Ed.

Founder, Tech Kids Unlimited

Beth Rosenberg, M.A., M.S. ED, Executive Director founded TKU in 2009. She has been an educator for over 25 years and is a parent of a child with ASD. She has worked on special needs/technology projects for: The JCC in Manhattan, The 14th Street Y, The New York Hall of Science, The Jewish Museum, The New York Transit Museum, etc. She is the co-author of a special needs HTML curriculum. She is an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Technology, Culture and Society at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering.

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Matthew Roth, PhD

Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Milestones Psychology

Dr. Roth is trained on a number of evidence-based treatments for individuals with ASD and specializes in the topic of sexuality. Roth takes a collaborative approach to therapy, working with a child’s support network in developing treatment goals and plans. He is trained in the behavioral psychology tradition, in a number of evidence-based treatments across ages and clinical presentations, including applied behavior analysis, cognitive behavioral therapy, parent management training, parent-child interaction therapy, and mindfulness based strategies. He commonly works with families with presenting with concerns of anxiety, emotion dysregulation, and disruptive and oppositional behavior. His philosophy in therapy is to capitalize on a child’s strengths while developing skills in areas of need. Roth provides assessment in the cognitive, academic, and socio-emotional domains. In addition to his training in general child and adolescent clinical psychology, Roth has a number of years of training and experience working with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder across the lifespan. Additionally, he is trained in Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), the gold standard in assessing Autism Spectrum Disorder. I have developed an understanding of how Autism Spectrum Disorder overlaps and differs with conditions such as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorders, and am able to provide families with diagnostic clarification. Finally, I have an interest in sociosexuality development in Autism Spectrum Disorder and helping individuals transition into adolescence and adulthood. I have developed a treatment manual focusing on the specific challenges adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder face during this time in development.

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Aspergers Are Us

Noah Britton, Ethan Finlan, Jack Hanke, Michael Ingemi


Asperger's Are Us is the first comedy troupe composed of people diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. We've performed over 100 original absurdist sketch shows in nine countries since 2010. We do not poke fun at (or mention) Asperger's and we did not form to prove that autistic people can be funny.  We formed for the same reason anyone does comedy: To make you laugh! Please do not expect us to be anything like the sitcoms about autism, or anything else that relies on making fun of people. Expect silly deadpan sketches that appeal to fans of Monty PythonAndy Kaufman, and The Weather Channel.

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Ariel Sacks

Teacher, Instructional Coach, Workshop Facilitator, Curriculum Developer, Author, EduBlogger


Ariel Sacks has been teaching middle school English Language Arts in New York City public schools for fourteen years. The author of Whole Novels For the Whole Class: A Student Centered Approach (Jossey Bass 2014). She writes about teaching and education issues on her Education Week column, and supports teachers around the world to implement student-centered methods for reading, writing, and literature study.

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Rachel Schneider, MA, MHC

Coming to My Senses


Rachel S. Schneider, M.A., MHC is an award-winning author, delayed-diagnosis SPD adult, and leader of the adult SPD community. Her first book, Making Sense: A Guide to Sensory Issues, broke new ground by addressing SPD adults directly about their experiences. Her second book, Sensory Like You, gave children with SPD an adult perspective on the challenges and triumphs of growing up with SPD. Rachel writes the popular sensory blog, Coming to My Senses, and has been featured in the Washington Post and Mosaic science. She lives in New York City with her loving husband and daughter.

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Amy Lynne Shelton, PhD

Director of Research, Center for Talented Youth, Professor and Associate Dean for Research, School of Education, Johns Hopkins University


Amy Lynne Shelton, PhD is the Director of Research and Interim Executive Director for the Center for Talented Youth and a professor and Associate Dean for Research at the School of Education at Johns Hopkins University.  She holds joint appointments in the School of Medicine and Krieger School of Arts & Sciences, and has served on the steering committee for the university-wide Science of Learning Institute. Her research in cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience focuses on spatial skills, individual differences and mechanisms of learning, couched in the broad context of understanding the characterization and needs of the individual learner.She has a track record of publications in major academic journals and grant support, and her professional orientation takes a strong basic science approach that is informed by the problems and questions of practice and application.


Mark Surabian

Instructor on assistive technologies at NYU, Bank Street College, Pace University, and St. Joseph’s College


Mark also operates, a free AT clinic for children and adults with communication, vision, learning, and physical challenges, and, a free AT professional training program for schools and agencies across the greater NYC area.

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Nancy Tarshis, MA, MS, CCC-SLP

Supervisor of Speech and Language Services at Children's Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center at Montefiore

Nancy Tarshis is a speech-language pathologist with an extensive background in working with children and their parents. She has a Master of Arts in Education of the Deaf and a Master of Science in Speech/Language Pathology, both from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is supervisor of Speech and Language Services at Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center at Montefiore. Currently, she supervises seven SLPs, lectures to medical residents and psychology interns, participates in research, serves as adjunct instructor at New York area graduate schools and continues to maintain a clinical practice seeing patients birth to 21 for diagnoses/treatment. She is a consultant to two New York City schools on social emotional learning. She has extensive experience with a variety of treatment methodologies including Social Thinking.  She is the co-author of their early learner curriculum, We Thinkers Volume 1 and 2 (formerly “The Incredible Flexible You.”) Nancy serves on the professional advisory boards of the Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America and the Quad Prep.


Jose Velasco

Head, SAP Autism at Work Americas

Mr. Velasco’s 30-year Information Technology career spans private and public sectors and companies ranging from startups to Fortune 50 enterprises. During his tenure of 20 years at SAP, Mr. Velasco has occupied positions in product management, consulting, development, strategy, go-to-market and diversity functions. Mr. Velasco participated as a panelist at the United Nations World Autism Awareness Day, testified before U.S. Congress on the “Global Challenge of Autism” and collaborated on the topic of Corporate Social Innovation at the World Economic Forum. Through his work at SAP Autism at Work, Mr. Velasco and his team have been featured in more than 1,000 global, national and local publications including the Wall Street Journal, CBS This Morning, NBC, Fox, Inc. Magazine and Forbes among others. In 2016, Mr. Velasco launched the Autism at Work Summit, a conference series designed to foster collaboration between private and public sectors, academia, government, schools, philanthropists, civil societies and the autism community with the ultimate purpose of improving opportunities for individuals with autism in the labor market. Mr. Velasco is a board member of The Arc, the largest national community-based organization in the United States advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. He holds a Master’s Degree in Technology Commercialization from the University of Texas at Austin and B.S. in Computer Science from Tecnologico de Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico.

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Emily Vizza, MS CCC-SLP

Founding Supervising Speech and Language Pathologist, Director of Related Services


Emily Vizza, M.S., CCC-SLP, is the founding speech-language pathologist at the Quad Preparatory School in New York City, a growing non-profit which serves students in grades K-12 who are twice exceptional. Her current role as part of the school’s leadership team is Supervising Speech-Language Pathologist and Director of Related Services. Emily received her Master’s degree from New York University. She is also an Adjunct Clinical Supervisor at Hunter College, City University of New York.

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Chris Wiebe, Ed.D

High School Director, Bridges Academy


Chris Wiebe is a division director at Bridges Academy, a school for twice-exceptional students. With a co-author, he published a chapter about Bridges’ educational model in a volume from Oxford University Press. His research interests include school redesign and educational technology policy. He is also the managing editor for 2e News, a publication that provides information, perspectives, and resources about twice-exceptional education and neurodiversity.

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Alexa Wallerstein, LMHC

Mental Health Counselor, The Quad Preparatory School


Alexa Wallerstein completed her Bachelors of Art degree at Leigh University and her Masters of Arts in Mental Health Counseling at Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology. Alexa  joined the Quad Prep team as the Founding Psychosocial Intern in 2014. Since then, she has served as a mental health counselor in the Upper School and has spearheaded, along with Quad Prep's clinical team, the Upper School Executive Functioning program. Next year, Alexa will serve as the Director of Cloverleaf, Quad Prep's new transition program that will be launched next school year in 2019-20. Alexa has also been involved in the development of the integrated social-emotional curriculum, supervision of Quad Prep participants in the Certificate in Meeting the Needs of Twice-Exceptional Children program, and serves on accreditation committees. 


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