Past Conference Speakers

Read more below about our speakers from past conferences. The Morgridge College of Education is proud to host these thought leaders in the annual conference.

2019 Conference Speakers

Dr. Susan G. Assouline

Dr. Susan G. Assouline is the director of the Belin-Blank Center, holds the Myron and Jacqueline N. Blank Endowed Chair in Gifted Education, and is a professor of school psychology at the University of Iowa.  Upon completion of her doctorate, she was awarded a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY) at Johns Hopkins University. Throughout her career, she has been especially interested in identification of academic talent in elementary students, academic acceleration as an intervention for advanced students, and twice-exceptionality. She is a co-developer (with Nicholas Colangelo and Ann Shoplik) of the Iowa Acceleration Scale, a tool designed to guide educators and parents through decisions about grade-skipping students.  In 2015, she co-edited with Nicholas Colangelo, Joyce Van Tassel-Baska, and Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik,  A Nation Empowered:  Evidence Trumps the Excuses Holding Back America’s Brightest Students.  She received the NAGC 2016 Distinguished Scholar Award.


Dr. Tracy L. Cross holds an endowed chair, the Jody and Layton Smith Professor of Psychology and Gifted Education, and is the Executive Director of the Center for Gifted Education and the Institute for Research on the Suicide of Gifted Students at The College of William & Mary. He has published over 150 articles, book chapters, and columns, made over 300 presentations, and published ten books. He is the President Emeritus of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) and is the current President of The Association for the Gifted (TAG). He has edited seven journals and is the current editor of the Journal for the Education of Gifted. For nine years, he served as the Executive Director of the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics and Humanities; Indiana’s residential school for intellectually gifted adolescents. 

He received the Distinguished Service Award from TAG and NAGC, the Early Leader, Early Scholar and Distinguished Scholar Awards from NAGC, and in 2009 was given the Lifetime Achievement Award from the MENSA Education and Research Foundation. 


Dr. Jann Leppien is the Margo Long Endowed Chair in Gifted Education and Professor in the Graduate School of Education at Whitworth University. Whitworth’s Center for Gifted Education supports policies that encourage the diverse expressions of gifts and talents and offers a Gifted Education Specialty Endorsement and Master of Arts in Teaching: Emphasis in Gifted and Talented programs. She is the co-author of The Multiple Menu Model: A Practical Guide for Developing Differentiated Curriculum, and The Parallel Curriculum: A Design to Develop High Potential and Challenge High-Ability Students. She has served on the board of the National Association for Gifted Children and currently serves on the Gifted Advisory Board for Washington, the 2e Center for Research and Professional Development for 2e students. She is President of Edufest, a summer teaching and learning institute in gifted education. She provides professional development in the areas of identification, program services, and advanced curriculum design.


Dr. Jonathan Plucker is the Julian C. Stanley Endowed Professor of Talent Development at Johns Hopkins University, where he works in the Center for Talented Youth and School of Education. Previously, he was Raymond Neag Endowed Professor of Education at the University of Connecticut and  Professor of Educational Psychology and Cognitive Science at Indiana University, where he was the founding director of the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy. He graduated with a B.S. in chemistry education and M.A. in educational psychology from the University of Connecticut, then after briefly teaching at an elementary school in New York, received his Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Virginia. His research examines talent development, educational psychology, and education policy, with over 300 publications to his credit and over $40 million in external funding to support his work. His recent books include Excellence Gaps in Education with Scott Peters (Harvard Ed Press) and Creativity and Innovation (Prufrock Press), both of which have received the NAGC Book Award. He is an APA, APS, AERA, and AAAS Fellow and recipient of the 2012 Arnheim Award for Outstanding Achievement from APA and 2013 Distinguished Scholar Award from the National Association for Gifted Children. He is president-elect of NAGC.


Dorothy A. Sisk, Ed.D., Ph.D., is the C.W. and Dorothy Anne Conn Endowed Chair at Lamar University and directs the Gifted Child Center and the Center for Creativity, Innovation and Leadership. She specializes in the field of gifted education, focusing on creative behavior and leadership development.  Dr. Sisk has authored and coauthored numerous chapters, articles, papers, and books. She has served as the director of the U.S. Office of Gifted and Talented; president, vice president, and executive administrator of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children; and president of The Association for the Gifted (TAG). She was the first president of The American Creativity Association (ACA) and currently serves on the board of directors. She also serves on the editorial boards of a number of journals including: Journal of Talent Development and CreativityJournal of Creative Education and Associate Editor of Gifted International.


Dr. Renzulli is the Lynn and Ray Neag Chair for Gifted Education and Talent Development at the University of Connecticut, where he also serves as director of the Renzulli Center for Creativity, Gifted Education, and Talent Development. He is an international leader in gifted education and applying the pedagogy of gifted education teaching strategies to total school improvement.  His work on the The Schoolwide Enrichment Model, and the use of instructional technology to assess student strengths and match resources to students’ electronic profiles were pioneering efforts to make the field more flexible and to place the focus on talent development in all students.  He has obtained more than 50 million dollars in research grants and the American Psychological Association named him among the 25 most influential psychologists in the world.  In 2009 he received the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Award for Innovation in Education and he was recently listed as one of the world’s top 30 international education professionals by the Global Guru Annual Survey.


Frank C. Worrell is a Professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley, where he serves as Director of the School Psychology Program, Faculty Director of the Academic Talent Development Program, and Faculty Director of the California College Preparatory Academy.  He also holds an affiliate appointment in the Social and Personality Area in the Psychology Department, and was a Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Auckland (2014–2017).  His areas of expertise include at-risk youth, cultural identities, gifted education/academic talent development, scale development and validation, teacher effectiveness, time perspective, and the translation of psychological research findings into school-based practice.  Dr. Worrell served as Co-Editor and Editor of Review of Educational Research from 2012 to 2016 and as a Member at Large (2016 – 2018) on the Board of Directors of the American Psychological Association (APA).  He is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, the American Educational Research Association, and five divisions of APA, and an elected member of the Society for the Study of School Psychology and the National Academy of Education.  Dr. Worrell is a recipient of UC Berkeley’s Chancellor’s Award for Advancing Institutional Excellence (2011), the Distinguished Scholar Award from the National Association for Gifted Children (2013), the Distinguished Contributions to Research Award from Division 45 (Society for the Psychological Study of Culture, Ethnicity, and Race) of APA (2015), and the Outstanding International Psychologist Award from Division 52 (International Psychology) of APA (2018).  Dr. Worrell has ongoing international collaborations in China Ethiopia, Germany, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Peru, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

2018 Conference Speakers

Keynote speaker – dr. dina brulles

Dr. Brulles is the Gifted Program Coordinator for the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. Dina is also the Director of Gifted Education in the Paradise Valley Unified School District in Arizona where she has developed a continuum of gifted education programs. Dr. Brulles is Past President of the Arizona Association for Gifted and Talented (AAGT).  She currently serves on SENG’s Editorial Board and on their Diversity Committee (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted), and also serves on the NAGC’s Equity and Diversity Committee (National Association for Gifted Children).  Dina assists school districts in evaluating and developing their gifted programs.  She has created and supervised cluster-grouping programs and has become a recognized expert in that practice. Dr. Brulles’ publications include, The Cluster Grouping Handbook:  How To Challenge Gifted Students and Improve Achievement For All and Teaching Gifted Kids in Today’s Classroom, both by Free Spirit Publishing, and Helping All Gifted Children Learn:  A Teacher’s Guide to Using the NNAT, by Pearson Assessment Inc. 

Keynote Speaker – Dr. STEPHEN H. CHOU

Dr. Chou is a licensed clinical psychologist and Director of Training at the Summit Center. He is also the owner of and a licensed clinical psychologist within his private practice in Burlingame, CA and Boulder, CO. Dr. Chou is a former adjunct professor at the Alliant International University – California School of Professional Psychology at the San Francisco Bay Area campus, and current adjunct professor at the University of Denver. He has specialties in Family/Child and Multicultural/Community counseling and neuropsychological assessment, especially within the field of giftedness/2e/multi-e. Dr. Chou has been delighted with the myriad of fascinating mind, heart, and soulful presentations of gifted and talented children, youth, and their families; not only with their intelligence but also with their unique socio-emotional development over the lifetime.

Dr. Chou graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a BA in Integrative Biology and a minor in music, Johns Hopkins University with a BS in Nursing, and from Alliant International University – California School of Professional Psychology with an MA and PSYD in Clinical Psychology.

Keynote Speaker – Dr. JUDY KIYAMA

Dr. Judy Kiyama received her PhD from the University of Arizona. Dr. Kiyama’s research examines the structures that shape educational opportunities for underserved groups through an asset-based lens to better understand the collective knowledge and resources drawn upon to confront, negotiate, and (re)shape such structures. Her research is organized in three interconnected areas: the role of parents and families; equity and power in educational research; and underserved groups as collective networks of change. Dr. Kiyama’s current projects focus on the high school to college transition experiences of first-generation, and low-income, and families of color and their role in serving as sources of cultural support for their college-aged students. In 2014 Dr. Kiyama was awarded the Mildred García Exemplary Scholarship Award.

Policy & Practice Symposium Speaker – Dr. James T. Webb

Dr. James T. Webb
2017 Palmarium Award Winner
President, Great Potential Press, Inc. Recognized as one of the most influential psychologists nationally on gifted education, with 16 books, over 75 professional publications, three DVDs, and many research papers.


Marcia Gentry (PhD, UCONN 1996), Professor of Educational Studies, directs the Gifted Education Resource Institute at Purdue University. She has received multiple grants worth several million dollars in support of her work with programming practices and underrepresented populations in gifted education. Dr. Gentry’s research interests include student attitudes toward school and the connection of these attitudes toward learning and motivation; the use of cluster-grouping and differentiation to meet the needs of students with gifts and talents while helping all students achieve at high levels; the use of non- traditional settings for talent development; the development and recognition of talent among underserved populations including students with diverse cultural backgrounds including Native American youth, and children who live in poverty. She actively participates in NAGC and AERA; frequently contributes to the gifted education literature, and regularly serves as a speaker and consultant. She has collaborative projects across the country and around the world. Prior to her work in higher education she spent 12 years as a teacher and administrator in K-12 settings. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, spending time with her daughter who just graduated from Miss Porter’s School in Farmington Connecticut and will attend Purdue this fall, gardening, hanging out in the horse barn, collecting contemporary Navajo weavings, spending time at her cabin on Lake Superior, and working with her doctoral students.  She was the 2014 recipient of the prestigious National Association for Gifted Children’s Distinguished Scholar Award—and at this same meeting Scott Peters, one of her graduates received the Early Scholar Award and, Jiaxi Wu, one of her doctoral students received the Doctoral Student Award.

2017 Conference Speakers

Keynote Speaker – Dr. Frank C. Worrell

frank-c-worrellA Professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley, he holds affiliate appointments in the Psychology Department (Social and Personality area), and with the Center for Child and Youth Policy, the Center for Race and Gender, and the Center for Latino Policy Research. His current appointments include Faculty Director of the School Psychology program, Faculty Director of the Academic Talent Development Program, and Faculty Director of the California College Preparatory Academy.

Dr. Worrell’s areas of research include academic talent development/gifted education, the education of at-risk youth, ethnic identity, racial identity, scale development and validation, teacher effectiveness, time perspective, and the translation of psychological research findings into school-based practice.

Dr. Worrell is an active member of several professional organizations, and is currently a Member at Large on the Board of Directors of the American Psychological Association (APA) and editor of the Review of Educational Research. He served on the Committee for Psychological Tests and Assessment (APA), the Board of Educational Affairs (APA), and the Joint Committee of AERA, APA, and NCME appointed to revise the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing and is a Fellow of several divisions. In 2013, Dr. Worrell was awarded the Jack Bardon Distinguished Service Award from Division 16 of APA.

2017 Palmarium aWARD rECIPIENT – Dr. jAMES t. wEBB

james-t-webbJames T. Webb, Ph.D., has been recognized as one of the most influential psychologists nationally on gifted education. Dr. Webb has written 16 books, over 75 professional publications, three DVDs, and many research papers for psychology conventions or for conferences regarding gifted and talented children. Six of his books are on gifted children and adults, and four have won “Best Book” awards.

A frequent keynote and workshop speaker, Dr. Webb, a licensed psychologist, has appeared on Good Morning America, CBS Sunday Morning, The Phil Donahue Show, CNN, Public Radio International, and National Public Radio.

In 1981, Dr. Webb established SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of Gifted Children, Inc.), a national nonprofit organization that provides information, training, conferences, and workshops, and he served as Chair of SENG’s Professional Advisory Committee. In 2011, he was recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arizona Association for Gifted children, the Community Service Award from the National Association for Gifted Children, and the Upton Sinclair Award by

Dr. Webb has served on the Board of Directors for the National Association for Gifted Children, and was President of the American Association for Gifted Children. Currently, Dr. Webb is President of Great Potential Press, Inc.

It is with great sadness that we have learned of the passing of Dr. Webb. Please find an in memoriam by the Webb family here.

Policy & Practice Symposium Speakers

del-siegleDr. Del Siegle
University of Connecticut
Distinguished Professor of Gifted and Talented Education, Director of the National Center for Research on Gifted Education

dorinda-carter-andrewsDr. Dorinda Carter Andrews
Michigan State University
Assistant Dean of Equity Outreach Initiatives, Associate Professor of Teacher Education. Teaches courses on racial identity development, urban education, critical multiculturalism, and critical race theory

susan-assoulineDr. Susan Assouline
University of Iowa
Myron and Jacqueline Blank Endowed Chair in Gifted Education Director, Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education & Talent Development, Professor, Psychological and Quantitative Foundations

jaqueline-medinaJacquelin Medina
CO Dept. of Education
State Director in Gifted Education, extensive experience in the history of Colorado’s gifted program development. Past president of the Council of State Directors of Programs for Gifted

Panel moderated by Dr. Norma Hafenstein•University of Denver Morgridge College of Education Daniel L. Ritchie Endowed Chair in Gifted Education; Clinical Professor, Curriculum Studies and Teaching

2016 Conference Speakers

Keynote Speaker – Dr. James Delisle

Dr. James (Jim) Delisle, has taught gifted children and those who work on their behalf for more than 38 years. Jim retired from Kent State University in 2008 after 25 years of service there as a professor of special education. Throughout his career, Jim has taken time away from college teaching to return to his “classroom roots”, volunteering as a 2nd, 4th, 5th and 8th grade teacher in 1991, 1997 and 2006. Too, Jim taught gifted middle school students one day a week between 1998-2008 in the Twinsburg, Ohio Public Schools. Currently, Jim works part-time with highly-gifted 9th and 10th graders at the Scholars’ Academy in Conway, South Carolina.

The author of more than 250 articles and 19 books, Jim’s work has been translated into multiple languages and has been featured in both professional journals and in popular media, such as The New York Times, People Magazine, and on Oprah! Jim’s newest book, Dumbing Down America: The War on our Nation’s Brightest Young Minds (and What We Can Do to Fight Back), was published in 2014. A frequent presenter throughout the U.S., Jim has also addressed audiences in nations as diverse as England, Greece, China, Oman, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Jim is currently on the Board of Directors for the Institute for Educational Advancement, a California-based nonprofit offering a variety of services and scholarships to gifted youth, and previously served as a Board member on the National Association for Gifted Children and the Roeper School for the Gifted. In his retirement, Jim plans to walk as many beaches as possible and to write children’s picture books where the main characters are based on young people he has taught or counseled during his career.

2016 Palmarium aWARD rECIPIENT – Dr. Del Siegle

Dr. Siegle is a professor in gifted and talented education, Head of the Department of Educational Psychology, and the Director of the National Center for Research on Gifted Education at the University of Connecticut.  He is a past president of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), past president of the Montana Association of Gifted and Talented Education (Montana AGATE), and chair of the Research on Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent SIG of the American Educational Research Association (AERA).  Along with D. Betsy M
cCoach, he is co-editor of Gifted Child Quarterly.  He writes a technology column for Gifted Child Today.  Dr. Siegle is coauthor with Gary Davis and Sylvia Rimm of the popular textbook, Education of the Gifted and Talented.  He is also author of The Underachieving Gifted Child:  Recognizing, Understanding, and Reversing Underachievement.  Prior to becoming a professor, Dr. Siegle worked with gifted and talented students in Montana.

Policy & Practice Symposium Speakers

Dr. Slyvia Rimm
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
Clinical Professor
Director, Family Achievement Clinic

Dr. Julia Link Roberts
Western Kentucky University
Mahurin Professor of Gifted Studies
Executive Director, The Center for Gifted Studies and The Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science

Panel moderated by Dr. Norma Hafenstein•University of Denver Morgridge College of Education Daniel L. Ritchie Endowed Chair in Gifted Education; Clinical Professor, Curriculum Studies and Teaching

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