Adun Akinyemiju, with a career spanning 40 years in the Nigeria University and School Administration, worked in the University of Ife Administration, Bayero University Kano and the Joint Admission & Matriculation Board (JAMB) from 1972 to 2015. She is the President of Dansol Christian Mission, a mission dedicated to raising Godly children through schools (Dansol High School and Dansol Nursery and Primary School) with the vision of educating children to stand out and be different to make a difference in their generation (the name Dansol is a combination of two Bible names, Daniel & Solomon, connoting “Wisdom & Excellence” in young people). She is the Chairperson of Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) Africa, and founded and runs the Kingdom Women Fellowship which seeks to draw women to a deep and meaningful relationship with God.
Jake Becker began serving as Head of School at The City School in 2011, where he first became involved as a parent. Jake Becker grew up as the son of a pastor and a teacher living and serving in the Olney neighborhood of Philadelphia. Jake earned both a bachelor's degree in Urban Studies and a master's degree in education at the University of Pennsylvania. He served as a Christian school teacher after college and earned his master's degree in business administration at Eastern University shortly thereafter. Jake served at Esperanza Health Center, a Christian health care ministry in North Philadelphia for nearly six years, first as director of HIV/AIDS services, then as the Finance Director. In addition to serving currently at The City School, Jake is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania and Eastern University.
Dan Beerens is an educational consultant, author, international speaker, and educational leader. Before starting Dan Beerens Consulting in May 2010, he served as Vice President of Learning Services and Director of Instructional Improvement at Christian Schools International. Prior to that, he was the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Holland Christian Schools. Dan has also worked as teacher and principal in urban and suburban public and Christian schools in Wisconsin and Illinois. He serves as a Senior Fellow at CACE (Center for the Advancement of Christian Education), as an adjunct professor at Dordt College, and represents Curriculum Trak sales and professional development. He blogs regularly for CACE and is the author of Evaluating Teachers for Professional Growth: Creating a Culture of Motivation and Learning (Corwin Press).
Karen J. Bradberry, Ph.D. is the Director of Equity and Inclusion at Greenhill School, a PK-12, co-ed independent school in the Dallas area. While Greenhill began its diversity work when it was founded, Karen became the school’s first, full-time director in 2004. She is charged with leading and managing the School’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and to develop and institutionalize programs, policies, and procedures that advance the school’s equity and inclusion goals. A former co-chair of the National Association of Independent School’s (NAIS) People of Color Conference, she has served as a member of NAIS’s Call-to-Action Committee and currently works as a faculty member with NAIS’s Diversity Leadership Institute, where she has taught courses focused on multicultural education, power, privilege and difference, educational leadership, and systems theory, particularly as it relates to organizational culture and change.
Jenny Brady serves as the Director of Diversity at Prestonwood Christian Academy, a position created for the passion and personal experiences she brings to the diversity discussion. Jenny grew up on the mission field in Honduras and returned to the US for college graduating with a BA in Spanish from Stephen F. Austin State University. She is completing her Masters in Sociology in December 2018, while working at PCA as a teacher and administrator. Jenny has a passion for missions and mentoring – taking the gospel to the ends of the earth while training up the next generation of godly young men and women.
Adrienne Castellon, EdD, is Assistant Professor and Stream Director of Masters of Educational Leadership, at Trinity Western University, British Columbia, Canada. She is the primary investigator for the project Exploring Excellent Practice in K-12 Christian Education in Canada. Adrienne has worked as a secondary teacher, elementary principal and education consultant. In addition to teaching numerous graduate level courses for educators, she enjoys teaching undergraduates in the School of Education and stays current in the K-12 system through consulting and school-related projects. Her research interests include social justice issues particularly Indigenous, Women in Leadership and Special Education.
Dr. Michael Chen has been an educator for over 20 years in the San Francisco and Boston areas with experiences in urban education, international education, school leadership, cultural formation, and organizational development. His school leadership experience includes serving as dean of faculty at a diverse school in Boston, and the founding director of Trinity Institute for Leadership and Social Justice, an integrative service learning and leadership development program for high school youth in Boston. Recently, he accepted the appointment of the head of school position at Pacific Bay Christian School. For his doctoral work, Michael developed a system-theory of resilience to further understand human development in the context of war-affected widows in Nepal. In addition, he also provided consultative services to schools and organizations in South Korea, Nepal, and India in areas of leadership, monitoring and evaluation, and also managed a tuition-free school for widows and disadvantaged women in Kathmandu, Nepal. He served on the boards of Hope Initiatives in Nepal and Christian Coalition for Educational Innovation in the US.
Eric Cook has led Covenant Classical School as Head of School since 2009. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Social Studies Education from Transylvania University, and a master’s degree in Instructional Leadership from Northern Kentucky University. He has taught history, political science, psychology and philosophy in public schools, and served as an assistant principal for several years. In 2006, Eric felt called to join the classical Christian school movement and became the Middle and Upper School Head at Faith Christian School in Roanoke, Virginia before moving to Fort Worth, Texas to lead Covenant Classical School. Eric also serves as the Executive Director for the Society for Classical Learning. Eric is a voracious reader and a true lifelong learner, with special interest in the areas of philosophy, theology, education and history.
After teaching in British Columbia, Toronto, and at his alma mater Hamilton District Christian High School, Justin is now with the Edvance Christian Schools Associationas the Director of Learning, where he partners with 70 member schools in a vision of learning for flourishing communities. At home, Justin and his wife Rachel (and their three beautiful children!) love trying to live intentionally in their neighborhood: sharing and restoring a multi-unit house, practicing hospitality, walking to church, feasting with friends. Justin attended Redeemer University College and Calvin College, and is currently an M.A. candidate at the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto, ON.
Christina Crook’s book, The Joy of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World, has made her leading voice on technology and human flourishing. Through her writing and speaking she reveals how key shifts in our thinking can enable us to draw closer to one another, taking up the good burdens of local work and responsibilities. She writes about the value of focus, making space to create, and the meaning we find in more limited connections. She challenges the Western values of power, control, and success, revealing how wonder, trust, and discipline are central to the experience of being human and the keys to our joy. Learn more about Christina at www.christinacrook.com.
Cynthia (Cindy) de León has taught history and government for 19 years in diverse classrooms. She currently teaches U.S. history at Prestonwood Christian Academy, along with electives on the Holocaust and an elective with emphasis on the various cultures and ethnicities which have contributed to the making of the United States. Her greatest joy as a teacher is to help students discover three things: God has a plan for each individual one of His children; God’s hand is evident throughout history (i.e. our lives); and history, if learned as an interconnected story, is never boring. In addition to teaching, Cindy has helped lead mission trips to Cuba, part of her cultural heritage.
Laszlo Demeter is passionate about identifying, equipping, and empowering young leaders to reach their full potential in life, that is, to fullfil their God-given calling. Laszlo holds three university degrees: MSc in Engineering, MA in teaching EFL, and MEd in Christian school education. He is currently working on his PhD degree in Christian school leadership at Columbia International University. Laszlo has been with ACSI Europe since 1995 and has served in various positions. He was appointed as Regional Director in 2011.
Elizabeth Dombrowski is the executive director of CLC Network, where she serves as a champion for inclusion in schools and churches. Beginning at a young age, Elizabeth says she experienced the beauty of communities that recognize and celebrate the diverse gifts of all. After serving at the Adler Planetarium for nine years in fundraising and operations, she joined CLC Network in 2012, returning to an organization tied to her own family history. Her calling to CLC Network and lifelong advocacy for places of belonging help her to lead an organization that is transforming school communities across the country.
Jonathan Eckert is a Professor of Education at Wheaton College (IL). Prior to joining the faculty at Wheaton, he served at the U.S. Department of Education in the Bush and Obama administrations working on policy issues related to school leadership, teacher compensation, and teacher quality, and also spent 12 years in the classroom. In addition to preparing preservice teachers, Eckert has continued his research and policy work on teaching effectiveness and related issues. He has written numerous articles and two books, including The Novice Advantage: Fearless Practice for Every Teacher (2016) and Leading Together: Teachers and Principals Improving Student Outcomes(2018). Eckert holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Wheaton College, a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Technology-Integrated Instruction from Benedictine University, and a doctorate in Leadership, Policy, and Organization from Vanderbilt University.
Kimberly Ellefsen is Director of Marketing at Valley Christian Schools in San Jose, CA overseeing marketing, brand management, and message strategies. She is both a VCS alumnae and Lifer (attended Kindergarten through 12th grade). She originally began full-time employment at Valley Christian Schools in the late 90s during the fundraising and building of the Skyway Campus. After moving out of the Bay Area, Kimberly served as the Legislative Director to a member of the Illinois General Assembly and, later, as a District Liaison to the Chief Deputy Whip of the US House of Representatives. She returned to Valley Christian Schools in 2011. She holds a BA in Creative Writing, MA in Integrated Marketing and Communications from Northwestern University, International Advancement Certification (Professional Level with Independent School Management—ISM), and her marketing campaigns have won awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).
Julia Ellis is currently the Principal of Alpha Omega Academy, a K–12 online private Christian school that is based in Rock Rapids, Iowa. Her goal as principal is to help create an environment where students have the opportunity to receive a rich, Christ-centered educational experience. Prior to her role as principal, she worked as a science teacher for Alpha Omega Academy, teaching primarily chemistry, physics, and engineering. She also has worked in public education as a high school teacher and as a teaching assistant at the university level. Julia holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry with a minor in Secondary Education from the University of Tennessee. She also holds a master of arts degree in curriculum and instruction with a minor in educational administration.
Dr. Roger Erdvig is the headmaster at Wilmington Christian School in northern Delaware. With a doctorate in education from Liberty University, Roger also serves as an adjunct professor in the Church Leadership and Theology Department at the University of Valley Forge and speaks and consults on the topics of leadership, worldview development, and effective pedagogy. Roger is a co-author of Bring It to Life: Christian Education and the Transformative Power of Service-Learning (forthcoming 2018).
Chuck T. Evans is the Senior Partner of BetterSchools, LLC, a full-service consulting firm based in Austin, Texas. A 25-year veteran of Christian schooling, Chuck has led schools in Virginia, North Carolina, and Texas. He is the author with Robert Littlejohn of Wisdom and Eloquence: A Christian Paradigm for Classical Learning (Crossway 2006), a seminal work on the classical Christian school movement. He also contributed a chapter entitled “Understanding Our Weaknesses: The Need for Change in American Christian Schools” to Building A Better School: Essays On Exemplary Christian Leadership (Paideia Press 2012). He is a co-founder of both the Society for Classical Learning (SCL) and the Council on Educational Standards and Accountability (CESA). Chuck also serves on the faculty of Peabody College/Vanderbilt University in the Independent School Leadership graduate program where he teaches a course on independent school finance.
Jay Ferguson, J.D., PhD is the Head of School of Grace Community Schoolin Tyler, Texas. Jay is in his 16th year as head of Grace. Since that time, Jay has worked to build a flourishing culture at Grace, a vibrant educational community that has been awarded Blue Ribbon Exemplary status by the U.S. Department of Education in 2015 and 2017. He is an adjunct professor at Covenant College and at Gordon College, and recently served on the adjunct faculties of the Van Lunen Center at Calvin College and at Peabody College of Education at Vanderbilt University. Jay is currently President of the Board of the Texas Private School Association, the Chair of the Board of the Council on Educational Standards and Accountability, and serves on the executive board of the Association of Christian Schools International.
David Fyfe is the Group CEO of Australian Christian College. He is responsible for the strategic direction of nine schools and Australia's largest non-government, K–12 online school. David has had the opportunity to discuss the emergence of online education with federal and state education ministers and state regulatory bodies. He believes that online education will continue to be a disruptive force in the educational landscape. Prior to his role in education, David has owned and operated businesses in the area of property development, commercial security, and publishing.
Dr. Beth Green, FRSA, is the director of education at the faith-based think tank CARDUS. Beth’s expertise is in Christian school ethos; leadership and management; teaching and learning and social theory in education. At CARDUS Education she is leading a program to enrich the public conversation with credible data on the impact of the religious school sector on graduate outcomes. Dr. Green is a former high school teacher and a graduate of Oxford, Cambridge and London universities.
Joel R. Gaines serves as the high school principal at The City School in Philadelphia. He graduated from Philadelphia Biblical University (Cairn University) with a BS in education and biblical studies, and earned his MEd in education from Cabrini University. Joel has served in multiple roles over the past 10 years in both Christian and public education, and in both urban and suburban settings.
Tia Gaines has been teaching for 16 years, with 11 of those years spent in online education. She has taught as a middle school English teacher at Agora Cyber Charter School, where she also served as a Family Coach (helping students assimilate into online education) and then moved into the role of enrollment administrator (working with marketing, enrollment and retention). She currently is part of a start-up online school, Insight PA Cyber Charter School, where she is the English department chair and serves on the strategic planning committee. In addition to working in every aspect of online education— from academic, to student support, to enrollment—she has also taught in the SAIL (School for Applied and Innovative Learning) program at Delaware County Christian School in Newtown Square, PA.
The Reverend Nigel Genders is the Church of England's Chief Education Officer and has lead responsibility for the development of the Church's national strategies and policies for education in schools, colleges and universities. The Church of England provides 4,700 schools, educating one million children across the country. Nigel’s role in education has developed throughout 26 years of ordained ministry working in a variety of roles, including: vicar, school chaplain, governor, director of education for Canterbury Diocese, head of School Policy for the Church of England and he has been Chief Education Officer since 2014. He has led the Church of England Education Office through a period of transformational change leading to a vision-centric approach to national education policy.
Rudi Gesch serves as the Director of Marketing and Enrollment Management at Eastern Christian Schoolin New Jersey. Under his leadership, the marketing and enrollment program has undergone dramatic changes which have produced results. Over the past 5 years, Eastern Christian School enrollment has grown by over 100 students. Rudi also serves as the EC Boys Varsity soccer coach.
Aimee Gruber is the Senior Director of Global Outreach for theEnrollment Management Association. Her decades-long commitment to the private school admission and enrollment industry gives her a first-hand understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing schools. Before joining The Enrollment Management Association in 2006, Aimee was associate director of The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) where she managed professional development workshops, organized international student recruitment fairs in Asia, developed marketing materials about boarding schools, and represented TABS worldwide. Prior to her position at TABS, Aimee worked in admission at The White Mountain School (NH), Tilton School (NH), and the Webb School of Knoxville (TN). She served on the board of the Independent Educational Consultants Association foundation and is a recipient of the Western Boarding Schools Association's Hilton Award for outstanding contributions to the association.
Linda Harrelson came into the field of education as a business owner. In 1999, she couldn’t shake the calling to apply as head of school to Summit Christian Academy (SCA) located in the Kansas City, MO area. She sold her businesses, earned her master’s in educational administration and began her tenure at SCA. Under her leadership, the school has established partnerships with 180 churches, has grown from 200 to over 800 students, purchased land and built a 36-acre campus, and added a comprehensive high school program offering 70 dual credit hours. Modeling the SCA core value of igniting leadership, Linda serves on several boards, including ACSI, and as a leader in civic organizations. Last February, she was named a 2018 Icon of Education, a prestigious award honoring Kansas and Missouri leaders from colleges, universities, and K-12 school districts.
Joel Hazard serves as the assistant head of high school and diversity advisor at Mount Paran Christian School in Kennesaw, Georgia. Joel is also a member of the organization Profound Gentlemen, a community of male educators of color that look to serve and impact boys of color. Joel has a heart and passion for doing diversity and inclusion work within the private school sector. His efforts focus on building a learning environment that is inclusive, racially literate, and socially and emotionally proficient in preparing students to thrive in the 21st century.
Daniel Hill is the Author of White Awake and 10:10: Life to the Fullest, and is the Founding and Senior Pastor of River City Community Church, located in the west Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago. The vision of River City is centered on the core values of worship, reconciliation, and neighborhood development. Formed in 2003, River City longs to see increased spiritual renewal as well as social and economic justice in the Humboldt Park neighborhood and entire city, demonstrating compassion and alleviating poverty as tangible expressions of the Kingdom of God. Prior to starting River City, Daniel was part of a series of dot.com startups in the 90s before serving 5 years on the staff of Willow Creek Community Church in the suburbs of Chicago. Daniel has his B.S. in Business from Purdue University, his M.A. in Theology from Moody Bible Institute, his certificate in Church-based Community and Economic Development from Harvard Divinity School, and his D.Min. from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Chris Horst is the vice president of development at HOPE International, where he employs his passion for advancing initiatives at the intersection of faith and work. Chris serves on the boards of the Denver Institute for Faith & Work and the Mile High WorkShop. He loves to write, having been published in The Denver Post and Christianity Today and co-authored Mission Drift, Entrepreneurship for Human Flourishing, and Rooting for Rivals with Peter Greer. Christianity Today, WORLD Magazine, and the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association named Mission Drift a book of the year in 2015. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and an MBA from Bakke Graduate University.
Dr. Keri Ingraham has served in Christian education the past 16 years in both the on-campus and online learning environments. Her experience includes head of school, administration, curriculum development, Biblical integration, teaching, coaching, spiritual life leading, program development, and technology implementation. Currently, Dr. Ingraham is in her 3rd year as the Director of PCAplus at Prestonwood Christian Academy in Plano, Texas where she is responsible for all aspects of the virtual academy, part-time on-campus program, and hybrid program. Her focus includes ensuring that PCAplus operates fully integrated with a Kingdom education philosophy, while moving PCAplus toward higher levels of unprecedented excellence and innovation. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Educational Ministries from George Fox University, a Master of Education in Christian School Administration from Regent University, and a Doctor of Education in Christian Education Leadership from Regent University.
Dr. Darren Iselin is currently Executive Officer, National Tertiary Partnerships and Research, at Christian Schools Australia. Darren has over 25 years leadership experience within Christian education, serving in a range of principal, CEO and executive leadership roles and responsibilities within both K–12 schooling and higher education sectors, in Australian and international contexts. Darren’s award-winning doctoral research explored the sustainability of Christian school cultures in an era of change.
Deborah Johnson joined the leadership team of Prestonwood Christian Academy in the fall of 2013 serving as the senior director of Marketing and Communications. Prior to her time at PCA, Deborah served in ministry leadership positions with LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, and First Baptist Church of Hamilton Park in Richardson, Texas. Deborah brings a broad business background gained through more than 20 years in leadership roles with Fortune 500 companies in finance, sales and marketing, and business development.
Nathan Johnson has studied education throughout his academic career (at Furman, CIU, and Vanderbilt Universities). Based off of his studies, international living, and passion for bridging cultures and sharing the love of God, he founded the Charleston Bilingual Academy as a pilot school for Christian, intercultural, language immersion education. Nathan is also the co-founder of the Clapham Group, an educational think tank and consulting firm.
Bill Latham is the CEO of MeTEOR Education, an organization that works with communities to inspire and create holistic, High-impact Learning Experiences™ that fully engage today’s students and teachers. Mr. Latham works with leading organizations in the fields of learning environment design, neuroscience, and education leadership to develop deeper understanding of how best to support students and teachers to learn deeply in real-world collaborative spaces. In their work with over 1000 schools in the U.S. (designing classrooms, school buildings, and broader school systems), his and his team’s designs have led to measurable increases in basic literacy, collaborative learning, and complexity of student tasks at all grade levels. A founder of the International EdShift Conference and a co-author of the book Humanizing the Education Machine, he is an Accredited Learning Environment Planner (ALEP) and works as faculty with the Association for Learning Environments in the area of integration of pedagogy and space.
Steven Levy has spent 27 years in the classroom and 20 consulting for Expeditionary Learning. He is now a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Advancement of Christian Education (CACE), offering independent consulting to Christian schools. He has been honored with numerous awards, including the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year and Disney National Elementary Teacher of the Year. He has written various articles for educational journals, and his book, Starting From Scratch, tells stories of his classroom adventures.
Dr. Robert Loe is the Founder and Director of the Relational Schools Foundation. Having studied Education at Cambridge University, he pursued areas of specialism such as schooling and exclusion, the family and community dimensions of social exclusion, and school improvement and effectiveness. A former teacher and senior leader, Robert now researches, writes and speaks on the importance of fostering positive relationships between key stakeholders in schools.
Andy Lynch is the President and CEO of North Star Marketing, which he founded in 2000. The firm took on its first education client in 2001. Today North Star serves businesses and schools nationwide, providing consulting, message development, branding, website development, and online marketing. Andy’s team recently launched Via, an online marketing calendar and project collaboration tool. The North Star team has also developed Start Smart, a lead-generation content offering for schools that offsets the significant cost of developing a high quality content offer for prospective families. A little-known fact: in 2004 Andy helped stage the world’s largest pillow fight (1,036 people at Duke University). The record was walloped a month later by the University of Warwick, Coventry, England.
Joshua Expeditions co-founder and CEO Amir Mahadi is a living example of God’s providence. Amir and his family were forced to flee Iran during the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and lived as refugees in Europe until being allowed to immigrate to America. Growing up as a foreigner in small Texas town, going to school, and trying to understand American culture was further complicated by his struggle to learn English and overcome the past his family had left behind in Iran. A seemingly small gesture by a classmate inviting him to play basketball would change his life forever. As the saying goes, God works in mysterious ways, and this invitation to play basketball is what ultimately led a lonely, ex-Muslim to find Christ, attend a Christian University and eventually start a Christian travel company that supports ministries around the world. Joshua Expeditions is a non-profit Christian travel organization that offers a wide variety of experiences from education to mission trips and assists Christian organizations to inspire purpose, develop leaders, and share Christ through travel.
Jason Malec is a Managing Director in U.S. Ministry at American Bible Society. Their mission is to partner with God and the Church to see 100 million people actively engaging his word over the next decade. He has been a creator and visionary at ExploreGod.com, New Denver Church, North Point Community Church, and a variety of PR and tech startups. Married for more than 20 years, he and Meredith have three teenage children. They recently moved from Denver to Philadelphia, and are still wondering why locals add “whiz” to a sandwich.
Mrs. Gail Marten has been serving as Principal of Cornerstone Christian Schools Online based in San Antonio, Texas, since June 2012 and works remotely from her home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Previous to working for CCS, Mrs. Marten was the Head Administrator from 2006 to 2012 for the ORU eAcademy, an online school for grades 3 thru 12 at Oral Roberts University. Gail has two Bachelor of Science degrees and a Master’s degree, all from Oral Roberts University. She has served in Education since 1985 as a high school teacher and/or administrator in these past 33 years.
Carl Martinez has both a B.S. in Marketing and a Masters’ of Business Administration from Azusa Pacific University. After a successful business career with employment at Dun & Bradstreet and Republic Industries, in 1999 he stepped into education becoming the Director of Athletics and Marketing at Whittier Christian High School in Southern California. Subsequently, he also served as Director of Advancement. In 2011 Carl Martinez became Head of School at Whittier Christian High School, where his focus is to advance Christian education locally and nationally.
Rex Miller is the lead author for Humanizing the Education Machine, which tells the story of what great 21st-century learning looks like and how to bring that dynamic into schools. His company, MindShift, has tackled numerous large and complex problems, including the waste and adversarial culture of the construction industry and the chronic problem of workplace disengagement. His two books from these projects have both won international awards for innovation and excellence. His current project examines ways to create a healthy workplace in schools (www.rexmiller.com).
William R. Mott, Ph.D. is headmaster of Providence Christian Academy in Murfreesboro, TN. He is the author of two books on the topic of school governance: The Board Game and Super Boards. His third book, Healthy Boards – Successful Schools: How Governance Impacts Independent and Faith Based Schools,is forthcoming in Fall 2019.
Phillip Nash is the Head of School of Sekolah Pelita Harapan, Lippo Village and the Coordinator of the five schools in the SPH Group. He has nearly 20 years experience of senior management positions in Christian schools in New Zealand and Australia as well as being General Manager for the Christian Education Trust in New Zealand which operated a large Christian school, a private tertiary institute, 5 pre-schools and an English language school. The son of missionary parents, he was born in the Solomon Islands, is an Australian citizen but a resident of New Zealand. He is a graduate of Canterbury University (NZ) and he has a Masters in Educational Leadership from Morling Education (Australia).
Paul Neal is Sr. VP for Enrollment & Marketing at Cairn University and co-founder and partner at Charter Oak Research, a marketing research and consulting firm serving private schools, non-profits, and businesses. Paul is also Senior Fellow at CACE (Center for the Advancement of Christian Education) at Dordt College. Prior to founding Charter Oak Research, Paul was a Principal at Olson Research Group for 15 years, where he directed the research offerings of the company. Paul’s role in leading research offerings, design, and analytics on behalf of clients has included thousands of studies across most marketing research topics. Paul is a graduate of Eastern University (BA), Villanova University (MA), and Temple University (PhD, ABD). Paul has presented and been published on various topics including the use of normative data in analysis, respondent motives, trends in education and online communities, respondent quality in research, governance, and public policy on education.
Andrew Neumann is an educational entrepreneur driven to ensure all children in America have access to excellent learning opportunities which maximize their potential to fulfill their greater purpose and live flourishing lives. In 2006, he joined Open Sky Education (formerly Educational Enterprises) and serves to support the team to advance its mission by growing its school networks (HOPE Christian Schools and EAGLE College Prep public charter schools), Christian wraparound programs (Compass Educational Programs), and Character Formation Project. His passion is to contribute to building an educational ecosystem in America which will provide world-class academics, build deeply-held internally-driven character, and provide faith-formation as an integral part of education for all who desire it regardless of a family’s income or location. Andrew also serves on the boards of mission-aligned organizations including School Choice Wisconsin, the Alliance for Choices in Education and the Institute for Missional Visioning.
Dr. Daniel Pampuch was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Christian Schools Australia in January 2017. He was previously the Executive Officer of the Uniting Church Schools Commission, overseeing 18 institutions in Queensland. Daniel has 20 years of experience in Christian Education and most recently served as the Executive Principal of the Crest group of Christian schools and Early Learning Centres. Daniel has a PhD in Next Generation Leadership as well as Masters in both Business and Educational Leadership.
With 17 years of professional experience, Josh Patterson, PhD is principal of Sterling School, a K–8 public school of choice in Greenville, South Carolina. A graduate of Furman University (B.A. & M.A.) and the University of South Carolina (Ed.S. & Ph.D.), Dr. Patterson is the immediate past president of South Carolina ASCD. He is also an adjunct professor at Anderson University (S.C.) and frequently writes and speaks, both locally and nationally, on topics related to inquiry/instruction, school culture, and school leadership.
Aileen H. Riady is the Associate Head of School, Sekolah Felita Harapan Lippo Village Campus (Jakarta), Coordinator of Pelita Harapan Schools System, and board member, Light and Hope Educational Foundation. Actively involved in Christian Education for 25 years, she has a heart and passion to take part in developing education for children in Indonesia. As one of the founders of Light and Hope Educational Foundation that serves Christian schools in Indonesia with more than 20,000 students from K-12, Aileen continues to work in implementing the mission of the foundation: proclaiming the preeminence of Christ and engaging in the redemptive restoration of all things in Him through holistic education.
David Robinson serves as the Director of Diversity and Inclusion for Grace Community School in Tyler, Texas. David has a BS in Bible from Baptist Bible College (Clarks Summit University) and has spent his entire professional career working in Christian education. This has helped shape his passion of cultivating an environment in which all students have access to a Christ-centered education, while feeling appreciated and celebrated. Along with David’s diversity and inclusion work, he continues to invest in young people through the world of athletics as a basketball and football coach.
Girien (pronounced “Gideon”) Salazar serves as the Director of the Faith and Education Coalition for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC). Prior to serving in this capacity, Girien taught English at a Christian school in Mexico, served as a member of the Naval Reserves including two deployments, and worked as Associate Professor for Latin American Bible Institute in San Antonio, TX. He is a board member for the Latin American Heritage Society, and a former community liaison for Grace Tabernacle Church and former city official for San Antonio Parks and Recreation. He is a licensed minister with the Assemblies of God, teaches and preaches at El Tabernáculo Church in Houston, TX, and is a third-year PhD student in Leadership Studies at Dallas Baptist University. Girien holds a B.S. in Church Ministry and a M.A. in Theological Studies from Southwestern Assemblies of God University.
Doug Sikkema is the managing editor of Comment magazine and a senior researcher for CARDUS doing work in the education and health files. Doug is also currently finishing up a dissertation in American literature at the University of Waterloo and helping to establish a Classical Christian school in Ancaster.
David I. Smith has an international reputation as a thinker and practitioner at the intersection of faith and teaching. He began his career teaching French, German, and Russian in public secondary schools in the United Kingdom, where he became fascinated by the question of how our beliefs, values, and commitments can shape and guide our approaches to teaching and learning. After graduate work in philosophical theology, philosophy of education, and curriculum studies he moved to Calvin College, where he has received the College’s Award for Innovative Teaching. He is the founding Director of the Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning and Editor of the International Journal of Christianity and Education. In recent years he has traveled widely as a speaker and consultant to schools, universities, and conferences in North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa. Various of his writings are widely used in teacher education and faculty development contexts. His most recent book is On Christian Teaching: Practicing Faith in the Classroom.
Elena V. Solodyankin has more than 30 years of experience in the field of education. She founded an online Christian school in 2003, which is now Enlightium Academy. Since then, she guided the development of 7 brick and mortar private schools along the west coast within Slavic churches. Mrs. Solodyankin has spoken at numerous educational conferences about the need for personalized Christian education and how she applied it to raising her three biological and five adopted children. She holds an M.Ed. in K-12 Guidance & Counseling from Whitworth University and is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in Leadership at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Elena is ACSI and state certified. Throughout her career, she has been devoted to preparing the next generation of godly leaders by making a difference in their hearts and minds.
Dr. Barbara Sorrels is the Executive Director of The Institute for Childhood Education and author of the award-winning book, Reaching and Teaching Children Exposed to Trauma. She currently directs a therapeutic preschool program for children with a history of trauma. She travels nationally, training teachers, childcare providers, caseworkers, mental health professionals and foster parents on trauma informed practices. Dr. Sorrels is a certified expert witness in child development and trauma in the state of Oklahoma, advocating for the well-being of vulnerable children. She has worked in the field of early childhood education for over 40 years serving as a teacher, program director, and university professor. She holds a bachelor’s degree in early childhood from the University of Maryland, a master’s in education from Southwestern Seminary, and a doctorate in early childhood from Oklahoma State University.
Darren Spyksma is the Director of Learning at the Society of Christian Schools in British Columbia. He works with schools to intentionally develop learning experiences that are transformational and built on students participating as faithful followers of Christ. In his leadership roles, he seeks to challenge educators to explore ideas that bring schools closer to best practice within a framework that is distinctly Christian. Prior to his role at SCSBC, Darren worked at four schools in various positions including administration. In two of those schools, he built middle schools programs that are responsive to the developmental needs of adolescents.
Dr. Walter R. Strickland II is the Assistant Professor of Systematic and Contextual Theology and Associate Vice President for Diversity at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Born in Chicago and raised in Southern California, Walter’s passion is to equip people to flourish in their context from a deep commitment to God’s design. Prof. Strickland’s interests include contextual and systematic theology, African American religious history, multicultural studies, education theory, and theology of work. Along with being a diversity consultant, frequent conference speaker, and itinerant preacher, Walter contributes to Canon & Culture as an associate Research Fellow of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), Gospel Project, and the Biblical Recorder (the North Carolina Baptist state newspaper). Walter’s work has also appeared in Christianity Today, Baptist Press, World Magazine and his first book entitled Every Waking Hour: An Introduction to Work and Vocation for Christians was released in March of 2016. He holds a B.A. from Cedarville University, M.Div. and Th.M. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen (Scotland).
Diane Stronks has recently joined EduDeo Ministries as a co-leader of the Walking Together program, which helps indigenous Christian school associations/organizations in Central America and Africa grow in their knowledge and application of Christian learning, leadership and organizational health. She has worked for four decades in Christian education. After 27 years in high school education which included being a vice-principal, caring for the school culture and the discipleship of students, Diane became the Executive Director at the Ontario Christian School Teachers Association (later Edifide Christian Educators Association). She is a trainer for the International Institute of Restorative Practice and a Level 1 Mediator for the ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) Commission of Ontario. Her focus lately has been on how leaders develop healthy cultures for their staff and faculty to thrive and grow, encourage others to give critique and feedback, and create the right conditions for a workplace or an institution to embrace change.
Dr. Lynn E. Swaner is the Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer at ACSI, where she leads initiatives to address compelling questions and challenges facing Christian education. Prior to joining ACSI she served as a Christian school administrator and a graduate professor of education. A published scholar, noted researcher, and conference speaker, she is the lead editor of the book PIVOT: New Directions for Christian Education, co-author of Bring It to Life: Christian Education and the Transformative Power of Service-Learning, and editor of the ACSI blog. She received her EdD from Teachers College, Columbia University, in New York City.
Dr. Mitchell Salerno is Headmaster of Monte Vista Christian School in Watsonville, CA, president of the Christian Coalition for Educational Innovation (CCEI), and a well-regarded speaker on school innovation and technology.
Dr. Mark T. has founded thriving and sustainable schools reaching in impoverished rural communities. He is also actively involved in the education of children rescued from human trafficking. Mark leads ACSI India—the first national level Protestant School Association. There are a potential 15,000 schools that have a need for an Association. ACSI India is looking at harnessing the potential of the Indian IT Industry for sustainable revenue. This will be through the innovation of various education technology products for school management, academic excellence and human resources.
Dr. Larry Taylor is in his nineteenth year as the Head of School at Prestonwood Christian Academy (PCA) in Plano, Texas. Dr. Taylor co-launched a national training institute for schools, “Becoming a Kingdom School Institute” and developed a training program for parents titled, “Becoming a Kingdom Family.” Dr. Taylor published the book, Running With The Horses, that helps parents raise children to be servant-leaders for Christ and helps to build a family plan.
Dr. Joel Uecker has served as a teacher, coach, and administrator in both CSI and ACSI Christian schools for 19 years. He is currently the high school principal at Covenant Day School, a TK–12th grade Presbyterian (P.C.A.) college preparatory school in the suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina. He holds a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Wheaton College (IL) and earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Educational Leadership from Columbia International University (SC). Joel also serves as the vice chair of the Board of Directors for the National Institute of Learning Development (NILD). Joel and his wife, Caron, have two daughters.
Dr. Milt Uecker, professor emeritus at Columbia International University, has been involved in Christian Early Education for over 45 years. He is currently serving as Director of the Lowrie Center for Christian School Education at CIU and director of the International Institute for Christian School Education. Throughout his career he has been an advocate for appropriate instructional practices within the classroom and curriculum related to spiritual formation, early literacy, and mathematical thinking. Dr. Uecker has recently completed a book, awaiting publication, on spiritual and worldview development during early childhood. He received his graduate training from the University of Texas and The University of Virginia.
David Urban is cofounder and chief operating officer of Charter Oak Research. He consults regularly in both K–12 and higher education admissions, marketing, and development. He presents regularly on educational trends and best practices both in the U.S. and internationally. David was the North American Coalition for Christian Admissions Professionals (NACCAP) Admissions Officer of the Year in 2010. He is a graduate (BS, MBA.) of Eastern University.
Deani Van Pelt
Deani Van Pelt is the founding President of Edvance Christian Schools Association in Canada. She is a CARDUS Senior Fellow and former education policy director at the Fraser Institute where she is now a Senior Fellow. Previously Associate Professor of Education and Director of Teacher Education at Redeemer University College, and formerly a secondary school teacher in both Christian and public schools, she has a B.Commerce (McMaster University), B.Ed. (University of Toronto), and M.Ed. and Ph.D. in Education (Western University) where she received a medal for excellence in graduate studies. Van Pelt, an Ontario Certified Teacher, has researched and published frequently on aspects of school choice in Canada (including home schooling, charter schools, religious schools, and independent schools), on education spending, and school sector enrolments. She has initiated and led international research collaborations (funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada) and recently received the Charlotte Mason Institute’s Charlotte Mason Tribute award for doing so. She has served as an expert witness and presented at numerous academic and education conferences across North America. Her work has been regularly featured in Canadian print and broadcast media.
Tim Van Soelen
Dr. Tim Van Soelen serves as the Director for the Center for the Advancement of Christian Education (CACE). He is also a professor of education at Dordt College, teaching courses for aspiring school leaders. The combination of these workplaces allow him to pursue his personal mission—to help grow people who are growing people. Tim has served as middle school math and technology teacher, an assistant principal, a principal, and a head of school. The son of two educators, the spouse of another, a brother to two educators, and the father of three (one of whom teaches middle school STEM)…one can imagine the family table conversations. Tim is a graduate of Dordt College, Azusa Pacific University, and the University of South Dakota.
Maria Varlet currently serves as the Head of Research & Innovation at Crest Education in Melbourne and is a Board Member for ACSI Australia. She has been involved in Christian Education for over 25 years, holding positions of Head of Learning & Teaching, Campus Principal and Executive Officer for Christian Schools Australia. Her doctoral research investigates how professional learning can help teachers navigate tensions between biblical ethos and assessment practices in the Christian school context.
Kathryn (Katie) Wiens is currently an Assistant Professor or Educational Leadership at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, GA and a research fellow at the University of Virginia's Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture. Katie has enjoyed her career as a teacher and administrator in both public and independent schools while pursuing her passion for educational research and writing that has the potential to transform schools.
Dr. Erin Wilcox is the Assistant Vice President for Academic Services at ACSI, where she is responsible for accreditation, certification, and international student programs. Before coming to ACSI, she served as the Associate Superintendent at Colorado Springs Christian Schools, where she oversaw the instructional program at four campuses as well as developed a hybrid program and online courses. She has also taught computers and special education at the Alliance Academy in Quito, Ecuador, as well as the Dalat School in Penang, Malaysia. She holds an Ed.D. in educational administration from Bethel University in St. Paul, an M.A. in instructional leadership from the University of Alabama, and a B.S. in special education from Illinois State University.
Andy Wolfe is the Deputy Chief Education Officer (Leadership Development) for the Church of England Foundation for Educational Leadership. He joined the foundation from the Nottingham Emmanuel School, where he worked for 10 years, initially as a middle leader, before being appointed Vice Principal, overseeing the development of Teaching and Learning and the school’s Christian ethos. He brings a wealth of leadership experience to his senior role across the wider Church of England Education Office, and is committed to combining rich theological reflection with the most incisive and creative approaches to improving teaching, learning, and leadership in schools.
Mark Spencer is the Executive Officer Policy, Governance & Staff Relations for Christian Schools Australia, where he is responsible for advocacy on behalf of Christian schools in a wide range of educational policy as well as areas relating to religious freedom and equal opportunity and discrimination law, both at the Commonwealth and State or Territory level. Mark is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and holds a Bachelor of Business degree with a major in accounting, a Master of Labour Relations and Law degree, and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Studies. Mark is also a Graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a Fellow of the Governance Institute of Australia, and has completed executive education at the Said Business School of the University of Oxford.