Conference 2016
Our Speakers
Fred Luskin
Dr.Luskin is a Senior Consultant in Health Promotion and the Director of the Stanford Forgiveness Projects. He speaks nationally on the importance of emotional intelligence and the need to manage stress. His research centers on the intersection of spiritual values and physical and emotional well being.
Roni Habib
Roni is the founder of EQSchools, an organization dedicated to providing Emotional Intelligence training to teachers, students, and parents nationally and abroad. He teaches Positive Psychology at Gunn High School in Palo Alto and is the director of the MERIT Institute at Foothill College. Roni speaks and consults for schools and business organizations on the topics of Mindfulness, Creative Confidence, Emotional Intelligence, Positive Psychology, Design Thinking, and the importance of Play. He lived in Israel and Belgium before coming to the U.S. where he got his Masters of Education and teaching credential at Harvard. He currently lives in Sunnyvale, California, with his wife Allison and two children, Eli and Leah.
Donnovan Somera Yisrael
Donnovan Somera Yisrael ('89) is the Manager of Emotional & Sexual Health Programs with I Thrive @ Stanford (Health Promotion Services) at Vaden Health Center. Through interactive course lectures and workshops in the residences he introduces students to the practices that lead to healing, health and happiness. During his 20+ year career as a health educator he has encouraged his audiences to critically examine the media they consume and the cultures that they navigate each day to understand the conscious and unconscious ways that cultural values and messages affect our health.
Daniel Rechtschaffen
Daniel Rechtschaffen, Marriage and Family Therapist, is the author of The Way of Mindful Education and The Mindful Education Workbook. He leads mindfulness trainings and helps develop curricula for schools and organizations around the world, such as the South Burlington School District, Marin Preparatory School, and Phucket International Academy in Thailand. He is the training director for SEEDS of a Awareness, a mindfulness based school counseling non-profit in the Bay Area. Daniel is also the director of Mindful Education, a mindfulness and emotional intelligence training program for educators.
Carin Winter
Carin Winter is the founder and CEO of Mission Be and has successfully lead their mindful education program into 28 schools from Big Sur, California to Harlem, New York. Carin has trained thousands of educators and students. She holds a LMSW with a clinical background and 15 years of experience working with youth in schools, offering children's yoga & movement, counseling and mindfulness. Carin has been studying the work of mindfulness for over 20 years and is talented meditation teacher, gifted speaker and visionary.
Tarn Wilson
Tarn Wilson has been teaching journaling and creative writing to teenagers and adults for over twenty years. She earned her MA in Education from Stanford and her MFA from the Rainier Writing Workshop. In 2014, her memoir the Slow Farm was published by Ovenbird Books, and her essays appear in numerous literary journals. Learn more about her at
John Remark
John is an improv coach, actor, corporate trainer, and attorney. He has performed and trained improv for over 20 years throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe. He's a company member and former Artistic Director at San Francisco's premier troupe, BATS Improv, as well as Managing Director of the S.F.'s Secret Improv Society.
Joan Young
Joan Young is a passionate educator who has taught students of all ages over the past two decades. With a deep interest in strengths based and positive psychology, Joan is thrilled to be teaching Self-Science at Keys Middle School. She is the author of 2 published books: Scholastic's 25 Super Sight Word Songs and Mini-books for K/1 teachers, and Encouragement in the Classroom, published by ASCD. Joan is also known on Twitter and around her PLN members as @flourishingkids. She believes that our goal should not be simply for kids to "succeed" in school; we must ensure that they "flourish" and become their best possible selves.
Diane Ichikawa
Diane (RYT 200) has been a dedicated yogini since she discovered the practice in her early twenties. She hopes that her students will begin to see the clarity that a connection among the body, the breath, and the mind can bring--and how that clarity can move with them throughout the rest of their busy days. Using her background in teaching literature, she creates a narrative that helps students find a balance between learning their best physical alignment and maintaining mental focus with the breath. Diane has learned something from each of her teachers--notably Phoenix Artemisia, Mark Tanaka, Hana Raftery, and Jillian Glikbarg.
Meike Hennon
Since 2012, Meike, a former high school English teacher and co-founder of Shinebright, an education organization rooted in Positive Psychology, has dedicated her time to helping student's embrace their authentic self and strengthen their self-worth. Over the last three years, Meike has worked to create curriculum and workshops using innovative educational tools to help students embrace their unique strengths and learn how to leverage them. Her passion is to empower students to know themselves and to be able to make informed, confident decisions towards their future.
Martin Blank
Martin E. Blank is entrepreneur, educator and consultant with a degree from UC Berkeley in Education, Social Change and Linguistics. He has reached over 15,000 students, educators, and administrators nationwide in public and private schools for 11 years. Since 2013, he has focused on incorporating mindfulness in schools through the YES! for Schools program and through his own organization, he provides education, arts and music to underserved communities in the greater SF Bay Area. He is also a sailor and the co-founder of a successful Bay Area-based 14-member Cumbia orchestra, Pasto Seco Band, and lives in Redwood City, California with his girlfriend and a small assortment of baby stuffed animals.
Nicole Steward
Nicole Steward is a social worker (MSW) and yoga instructor (200RYT) with a focus on community engagement, public education, foster youth advocacy, and trauma-informed yoga. With more than a decade of social work practice in non-profits and accountability work in K-12 education, Nicole has noticed the need for radical self-care to discharge toxic stress we absorb through our work. This awareness drives her to study the ways yoga and mindfulness affect our brains and bodies, keeping us engaged and renewed. Nicole teaches yoga and offers self-care workshops to social service agencies and non-profit organizations. Nicole believes self-care is a radical tendency we must adopt if we are to sustain ourselves as service providers and human beings.
Pam Lozoff
Pam Lozoff is a trained social worker (MSW) and yoga instructor (RYT) who specializes in holistic youth development as a means of fostering physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. She has 7+ years of experience in youth development, program development, and yoga teaching. Seeking to merge social justice and yoga, her work in the field of yoga service has led her to work with youth in the juvenile justice system, therapeutic day schools, public & charter schools, and group home settings. She is also the Founder/Director of Spirit of Youth Yoga which offers yoga and social-emotional learning circles to youth, families, and service providers to build self-awareness, leadership, and community together.
Bill Overton
Bill has always been an advocate for strong social-emotional programs in schools. His experience at Ohlone Elementary School in Palo Alto and related training proved how academic rigor and success and social and emotional well-being are not mutually exclusive. He believes that strong relationships make the difference in student success. As both a teacher and principal, his number one focus was establishing such relationships with students, parents, and teachers. He believes that as educators we have two curriculum responsibilities: the academic skills needed and the life skills that are critical in helping kids navigate the social milieu and life's ups and downs.
Jennifer Harvey
Jennifer Harvey is an Elementary School Teacher, Reading Specialist and leader in Mindful Education. She supports staff, students and parents in explicit practices that cultivate self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship skills. Her integrated approach to social and emotional learning supports schools in creating climates where kids and adults feel safe, seen and open to learning. Jennifer provides direct instruction within classrooms, ongoing professional development for teachers and care-givers as well as classes for parents. She is continually honored and grateful for this heart-centered practice and for opportunities to connect, learn and grow together.
Todd Armstrong
A graduate of Colgate University, Todd spent 20 years in the tech industry with IBM before pursuing teaching. Currently with Synapse School where he teaches middle school social and emotional learning (SEL), Todd is also co-founder of the EQ Vehicle, an educational start-up mission-ed with bringing SEL to underserved schools while promoting a practicing Bay Area-wide SEL community. A board member of the East Palo Alto Rotary Club, Todd is committed to strengthening its community. A father of three, Todd enjoys cooking, drumming, reading, fitness and engaging the California coast with his four legged son, Samson.
Jorina Elbers
Jorina Elbers is an assistant professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences at Stanford University. As a pediatric neurologist, Dr. Elbers treats children with neurological problems such as headache, tics, dizziness and chronic abdominal pain. Her research focuses on the neurobiology of stress and trauma, and its impact on child health. She is passionate about promoting psycho-emotional safety and security in homes and schools to optimize health and wellness.
Zoila Jovel
Zoila is passionate about helping people re-discover and learn about their own gifts in communicating with each other to create healthy and satisfying relationships. She was a stay at home mom and ran a full time day care for twenty-four years while raising her two sons. She believe it was this experience, helping families on a daily basis, prepared her to do what she does now. She has lived in the same home for thirty-two years with her wonderful husband, and they're enjoying watching their sons families grow, she is also a proud grandma to three beautiful children.
Tracy Poelzer
Tracy is the District Technology Coordinator for School District #73 in Kamloops, BC Canada. She is a Google Certified Innovator, a Common Sense Digital Citizenship Certified Educator and a SMART Exemplary Educator, and has taught as a sessional instructor in the Bachelor of Education program at Thompson Rivers University.Tracy loves sharing her excitement and knowledge about technology with her colleagues, students, and all those who want to learn!
Lisa Rowland
Lisa Rowland is a San Francisco-based improvisor, teacher and trainer who has worked teaching improv all over world. A graduate of Stanford University and now a lecturer in the Theatre and Performance Studies department there, Lisa is a founding member of two improv ensembles in the Bay Area - Improv Playhouse of San Francisco and Awkward Dinner Party - and a mainstage company player at BATS Improv. With a particular delight in the ways improvisation can aid in collaboration and presence, Lisa does a lot of work teaching design thinking with the Stanford d.School, and has lead trainings in work settings for companies such as Google, Levi's, Facebook and more. In her non-improv time, Lisa is learning to play the guitar.
Leana Lee
Leana Lee has been teaching elementary school for 6 years in Sacramento and the Bay Area. She graduated with a B.A. in Liberal Studies from CSU Sacramento as well as a Multiple-Subject Teaching Credential and M.A. in Education from UC Davis. Leana presented an Emotional Intelligence workshop at Synapse School's "Spark of Synapse" event in 2014. In her leisure time, she enjoys the outdoors, cooking, and yoga while also working on her bakery business.
Anne Marie Sebastiani
Anne Marie Sebastiani helps school teachers and principals lead by example and feel alive knowing they are making the difference that called them to education in the first place. She delivers innovative talks that help educators implement a powerful vision for ultimate school success. Holding top leadership positions in schools for over twenty years, she delivers workshops, speeches and powerful trainings that combine intuition with modern leadership to break free of overwhelm and master their true work and life flow!
Jessica Lura
Jessica Lura is the Director of Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships at Bullis Charter School. A National Board Teacher and Google Certified Innovator, she has taught both elementary and middle school including first, second, third, and eighth grade. She has the best job in the world--she works with students and teachers supporting their learning and helping them develop leadership skills. Her favorite part of being an educator is sparking student curiosity so that they become lifelong learners who can communicate effectively, work collaboratively, think critically, and use innovative and creative approaches to solve the problems of today.
Rowena Mak
Rowena Mak is the Director of Student Learning Programs at Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois. In this role, she oversees the development and coordination of multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) and Response to Intervention (RtI) programs for high school students. This works includes collaborating with district leadership team in supporting the creation and implementation of tiered levels of academic interventions, and evaluating the effectiveness and efficiencies of student learning programs through a continuous improvement cycle. Her dissertation focused on the emotional intelligence of high school principals as an integral component of their success. Her interest in this topic has prompted her to develop as she continues to explore the connection between school leaders’ emotional intelligence and the overall wellness of the school and the people within it.
Liz Davis
Liz Davis is the Assistant Head at Synapse School, a K-8 independent school dedicated to combining leading edge instruction with social emotional learning to develop the changemakers of tomorrow. She is a founding organizer of both EdcampBoston and EdcampIS. This year she is organizing EdcampSEL on June 11th at Synapse School in Menlo Park. You can follow Liz on Twitter @lizbdavis.
Amy Saltzman M.D.
Amy Saltzman M.D. is a holistic physician, mindfulness coach, scientist, wife, mother, devoted student of transformation, long-time athlete, and occasional poet. Her passion is supporting people of all ages in enhancing their well being and discovering the Still Quiet Place within. She is recognized by her peers as a visionary and pioneer in the fields of mindfulness for youth and holistic medicine. She has offered mindfulness to young people from pre-K to college undergrads in socioeconomically diverse school and community settings, and conducted two research studies evaluating the benefits of teaching mindfulness to child-parent pairs and to children in low-income elementary schools. These research projects were conducted in collaboration with the Department of Psychology at Stanford University. She offers holistic medical care and mindfulness coaching in Menlo Park. She is available in person, and via the web, to offer introductory presentations, workshops and 8-week courses to children, teens, parents, and professionals in schools, after school programs, and community settings (including sports teams, performing arts, service learning, faith-based and other youth groups).
Anya Warburg
A lifelong performer, Anya moved to Los Angeles after completing her BA in Theatre Studies from Emerson College, where her dreams transformed when she realized that her true passion lies not just in performing, but also in using her love of theatre and dance as a vehicle for social change. In 2012, Anya earned her MA in Applied Theatre Arts from the University of Southern California, where she was trained in the activism and therapeutic techniques of Theatre of the Oppressed. During her five years in Los Angeles, Anya worked with various youth organizations and schools teaching theatre, dance, and creative writing. After completing her graduate work, Anya spent a summer in Rwanda, participating in and facilitating workshops exploring the use of theatre for healing in traumatized communities. Currently, Anya holds the position of U.S. Program Director for Move This World, an organization that harnesses the power of creativity to build trust, reduce fear, and inspire change within communities. Anya continues to direct, choreograph, and perform in musicals for fun with the AfterWork Theater based in NYC.
Rolynda Simpson
Rolynda started her teaching career 12 years ago and is loving every step! She has a Master of Education degree in Counselling and has immersed herself in Mindfulness, alongside yoga, for over the past 4 years. She wholeheartedly believes in the value of emotional intelligence. Practicing Mindfulness in her personal life led to sharing elements with students in her classroom, school, and community, which has had ripple effects far beyond her imagination. Rolynda plans to continue to cultivate her practice of Mindfulness as a part of her own self-care and to share it with others.
Ellen Deutscher
Ellen Deutscher is a Design Thinking and Creativity Consultant with over 20 years experience teaching public school in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a Teacher Coach for the IDEO Teachers Guild and works as an advisor to David Kelley (founder of IDEO and Stanford in the K12 space. In 2011, Ellen began her Design Thinking adventure at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford (the where she was a teacher-in-residence. Since then, she has become both a learner and leader in the world of Design Thinking and Creative Confidence. She gives talks, teaches workshops and classes at the, throughout the SF Bay Area, and around the country. While continuing to support others in Design Thinking, Ellen returned to her classroom in San Carlos where she developed and taught a middle school Design Thinking program that included a 6th Grade Creative Design Bootcamp class, 7th/8th grade Leadership and Design course, and a lunchtime Maker Space. Throughout her extensive years in public school education, she has taught a wide variety of grades and subjects including 5th grade Language Arts/Social Studies and a self-designed 5th/6th grade Shakespeare class and summer camp, "Shakin' It Up with Shakespeare.” Ellen continues to learn, “play,” and iterate with students and educators from around the globe.
David Schrag
David Schrag received his BA in English from U.C. Davis and a Masters in Education and Policy Analysis from Stanford University. He taught for 8 years in a Title I Elementary school in South Hayward. He also served as a Middle School Assistant Principal in Belmont-Redwood Shores. Currently, David is in his 9th year as Principal at Stanley Middle School in Lafayette, California. Stanley has implemented significant school reform initiatives that promote healthy students, including a strong emphasis on character education, integration of technology, and a block schedule.
Betsy Balmat
I have been an educator for over twenty-five years working in both urban and suburban schools. I have worked as a classroom teacher, district reform coach, and currently as a site administrator. I am dedicated to supporting the work of classroom teachers and promoting a positive learning environment for all students. I am a true believer in the importance of public education and that meaningful change is always within our reach.