2015 Speakers

Opening Keynote

Dr. Dipesh Navsaria

Early Experiences Elevate Everything: Early Brain & Child Development, Toxic Stress & Childhood Adversity

Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, MSLIS, MD is an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and practices primary care pediatrics at a community health center working with underserved populations. 

In addition, Dr. Navsaria is the director of advocacy training for the pediatric residency, serves as the faculty advisor for the Pediatric Interest Group, and is the director of the MD-MPH program at the University of Wisconsin. Committed to understanding how basic science can translate into busy primary-care settings via population health concepts and policy initiatives, he aims to educate the next generation of health care providers in realizing how their professional roles include being involved in larger concepts of social policy and how they may affect the cognitive development of children.

Dr. Navsaria is also strongly engaged with early literacy programs in health care settings, particularly around ideas of early brain and child development, which include neurobiological effects of adversity and poverty upon the developing brain. He is the founder and director of the Pediatric Early Literacy Projects at the University of Wisconsin and is also the founding medical director of Reach Out and Read Wisconsin.

Dr. Navsaria’s undergraduate education was at Boston University, majoring in Biology and English Literature. He completed a Master’s in Public Health at Boston University and Physician Assistant training at The George Washington University in the District of Columbia. He practiced as a pediatric physician assistant in East Central Illinois before attending medical school at the University of Illinois in Urbana. During his time there, he also completed a master’s degree in library and information science at the University of Illinois, focusing on children’s librarianship. He then completed his residency in pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics.

Featured Speaker

Dr. Clancy Blair

The Science of Self-Regulation: Implications for Programs and Policies for Children and Families and Teachers

Clancy Blair, PhD is a professor of cognitive psychology in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development at New York University. Over the last two decades he has been conducting research on the development of self-regulation – specifically executive function abilities – in early childhood. This research has demonstrated that executive functions are:

  • Central to school readiness and school achievement in the elementary grades;
  • Substantially influenced by experience and by the characteristics of the family and the home environment; and
  • Highly interrelated with the regulation of stress response physiology. 

An important focus of his research is on the ways in which experience influences executive function development through its effects on stress physiology. This mechanism is one that appears to be particularly relevant to the effect of poverty on children’s development and may be one primary route through which childhood poverty exerts long-term influence on cognitive and social-emotional development into adulthood.

Dr. Blair serves as a consultant on numerous federally funded research projects and serves on the advisory boards of several initiatives focused on early childhood education and child wellbeing (First Things First, Arizona; Early Childhood Comprehensive Assessment System, Maryland and Ohio; Learning about Infant and Toddler Early Education Services Compelling Models, Mathematica, Washington DC; BUILD K-3 Formative Assessment Consortium, North Carolina). 

He earned a BA at McGill University and an MPH in maternal and child health, and MA and PhD in developmental psychology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Featured Speaker

Dr. Nonie K. Lesaux

The Road to Impact: Overcoming Common Pitfalls & Identifying High-Stakes Decisions for Literacy Success

Nonie K. Lesaux is the Juliana W. and William Foss Thompson Professor of Education and Society, Harvard Graduate School of Education.  She leads a research program that focuses on promoting the language and literacy skills of today’s children and youth from diverse linguistic, cultural and economic backgrounds. The practical applications of this work are featured in numerous publications, including, Making Assessment Matter: Using Test Results to Differentiate Reading Instruction, a guide for instructional leaders, and Cultivating Knowledge, Building Language, an instructional guide for educators serving English language learners.  

She is the author of a widely circulated state literacy report, “Turning the Page: Refocusing Massachusetts for Reading Success,” that forms the basis for a Third Grade Reading Proficiency bill passed in Massachusetts. The legislation established an Early Literacy Expert Panel, which Lesaux co-chairs, charged with developing new policies and policy-based initiatives in a number of domains that influence children’s early literacy development. Lesaux also directs a project focused on building capacity in the early education workforce and works across the country with teams of district and state leaders, center directors, administrators, and teachers focused on strengthening their Pre-K to 3 initiatives. 

Lesaux has served on a number of federal committees, including the U.S. Department of Education’s Reading First Advisory Committee and most recently, the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council’s Committee on the Science of Children Birth to Age 8. She is a recipient of the William T. Grant Scholars Award and of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor given by the United States government to young professionals beginning their independent research careers.  

A native of Canada, Lesaux earned her doctorate in educational psychology and special education from the University of British Columbia.

Tribal Gathering Keynote

Dr. Hilary N. Weaver

Nurturing Our Future: Culturally Responsive Services for Young American Indian Children

Hilary N. Weaver, DSW (Lakota) is a Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the School of Social Work, University at Buffalo (State University of New York). Her teaching, research and service focus on cultural issues in the helping process with a particular focus on Indigenous populations. She currently serves as President of the American Indian Alaska Native Social Work Educators’ Association. Dr. Weaver has presented her work regionally, nationally, and internationally including presenting at the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at the United Nations in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2013, 2014 and 2015. She has numerous publications including the text, Explorations in Cultural Competence: Journeys to the Four Directions (2005) and the edited book, Social Issues in Contemporary Native America: Reflections from Turtle Island. Dr. Weaver has received funding from the National Cancer Institute to develop and test a culturally-grounded wellness curriculum for urban Native American youth, the Healthy Living in Two Worlds program.

Celebration Lunch Keynote

Enrique C. Feldman

Inspiring Others to Inspire Themselves

Enrique Feldman is an artist, educator and thought leader in early childhood professional development. He is the founder and director of education of the Global Learning Foundation (formerly the F.A.M.E. Foundation) and the author of “Living Like a Child” (Redleaf Press), which helps early childhood educators, caregivers and parents to see life from a child’s perspective and provide environments that promote creativity, growth and learning.

Enrique’s initiatives have been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts, and he has presented numerous keynotes for organizations such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC), as well as local workshops for fathers, parents, cultural awareness and community building.

A Grammy-nominated composer and artist, Enrique is a former professor of music and education at the University of Arizona and the University of Wisconsin.