We are proud to welcome the following speakers to the 2015 Special Education Legislative Summit.

Swenson, Sue

Sue Swenson
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of Education

Sue Swenson is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) at the U.S. Department of Education. She serves as the principal adviser to the U.S. Secretary of Education on matters related to the education of children and youth with disabilities, as well as employment and community living for youth and adults with disabilities. Ms. Swenson got involved with disability advocacy because her middle son, Charlie, had profound disabilities. She was active in the Minneapolis schools as well as in State and federal policy while working as a professional services marketing director before being named a Kennedy Fellow in the US Senate in 1996. She has served as the US commissioner for developmental disabilities in the US Department of Health and Human Services and now serves as deputy assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services in the US Department of Education. Ms. Swenson served as CEO of The Arc of the United States and executive director of the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation. She was educated at the University of Chicago and earned an MBA at the University of Minnesota.


Musgrove, MelodyMelody Musgrove
Director, Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education

Dr. Melody Musgrove grew up in Mississippi, the child of public school teachers. She worked as a classroom teacher, school administrator, district special education director and assistant superintendent before becoming State Director of Special Education for the Mississippi Department of Education. Dr. Musgrove’s career is distinguished by her commitment to collaborative frameworks that find creative solutions to difficult educational problems. She is focused on improving outcomes for all children, and experienced in using data to influence systemic improvement decisions. During her tenure as State Director of Special Education, students with disabilities achieved improved results in reading and math, schools implemented more inclusive practices, graduation rates increased, and drastic steps were taken to halt disproportionate identification of African-American students for special education.


Doggett, LibbyLibby Doggett
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, U.S. Department of Education

Libby Doggett brings to the Office of Early Learning a lifetime of early learning experience from her work in schools, Head Start and child care, serving both children with and without disabilities. Most recently she was the director of the Pew home visiting campaign where she oversaw a robust research agenda and worked with advocates in target states to build political and public understanding and support for data-driven investments that align with federal guidance. Prior to that Dr. Doggett directed Pre-K Now, a 10-year campaign to advance high-quality, voluntary pre-kindergarten for all three- and four-year-olds in states across the country. Through its successes, Pre-K Now significantly increased the investments and number of children attending state supported pre-k. Dr. Doggett also worked for the National Head Start Association, directing their HeadsUp! reading program to improve literacy instruction in early learning classrooms across the country. She began her career as a bilingual first grade teacher at Ortega Elementary School in Austin, and returns to the Department, where in the nineties she served as executive director of the Federal Interagency Coordinating Council for infants, toddlers and preschoolers with disabilities and their families. Dr. Doggett holds a doctorate from the University of Texas in early childhood special education.


Jennings, Jack

Jack Jennings – Keynote Speaker
Founder, Center on Education Policy

Jack Jennings founded the Center on Education Policy in January 1995. From 1967 to 1994, he served as subcommittee staff director and then as a general counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Education and Labor. In these positions, he was involved in nearly every major education debate held at the national level, including the re-authorizations of such important legislation as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Vocational Education Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Higher Education Act, and the National School Lunch Act.Over the years, he has received awards from dozens of organizations, and recently was the recipient of awards for distinguished public service from the American Educational Research Association and from Phi Delta Kappa. His latest book, Presidents, Congress, and the Public Schools, was published in March 2015. Mr. Jennings has previously written a book on the politics of national education standards, edited four volumes on federal education policy, and currently writes a blog for the Huffington Post.


Jane Clarenbach PhotoJane Clarenbach, J.D.
Director of Public Education and Publications, National Association for Gifted Children

Jane Clarenbach, J.D., is the Director of Public Education and Publications at the National Association for Gifted Children.  She coordinates NAGC’s legislative and advocacy initiatives and raises awareness and promotes the needs of high achieving and high-potential children through her work with the media and state and national organizations.  Jane came to Washington for college and law school (and never left!) and has three decades of federal advocacy experience, including as a staff member in the U.S. Senate and for several national advocacy organizations.


Susan Nogan
Senior Policy Analyst, National Education Association

Susan Nogan, Esq., is a policy analyst in the National Education Association’s Office of Education Policy and Practice, where her portfolio includes such education “reform” efforts as vouchers and tuition tax credits, and policies and practices that implicate the separation of church and state. She also monitors opposition to the Common Core State Standards, and matters related to student data privacy.

Prior to joining NEA in 2003, Ms. Nogan served as a federal lobbyist with National PTA, where she chaired a national coalition of education, labor, civil rights and civil liberties, religious and other advocacy organizations that oppose vouchers and tuition tax credits. Before becoming an advocate for public education, Ms. Nogan practiced law in New York City.  She earned her law degree and a master’s degree in history at New York University, and her undergraduate degree at Duke University.


Packer, JoelJoel Packer
Executive Director, Committee on Education Funding

The former director of educational policy and practice at the National Education Association, Joel Packer offers his extensive knowledge of the issues and people involved in federal education policy. Mr. Packer has successfully represented educators, state universities and college students before Congress and the Administration for more than 34 years. He combines messaging, coalition building and direct advocacy on a broad range of education and budget issues.

Mr. Packer was at NEA for 25 years and was responsible for key issues, including school readiness, standards, testing and accountability, teaching and learning conditions, educator quality, parent involvement, funding, special education, high school reform, 21st century skills/STEM issues, English Language Learners, voucher programs and charter schools. Mr. Packer also led NEA’s policy and advocacy work on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and was the organization’s lead liaison with the U.S. Department of Education. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Binghamton.


kelly vaillencourtKelly Vaillancourt, PhD, NCSP
Director of Government Relations, National Association of School Psychologists

Kelly is the Director of Government Relations for the National Association of School Psychologists, where she works collaboratively with public policy makers, professional organizations, educational and health professionals, and elected officials to advocate for the importance and value of school psychology, school psychologists and school psychological services. She also represents NASP on a number of coalitions working to advocate for public policies that support NASP’s mission.  Prior to joining the NASP staff in 2011, Kelly spent seven years practicing as a school psychologist in Loudoun County Public Schools (VA).  Kelly earned her BA in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her MA and Certificate of Advanced Study in School Psychology from Appalachian State University, and her PhD in Education Policy from George Mason University.


Deb PhotoDeborah A. Ziegler, Ed.D.
Director, Policy and Advocacy and Professional Standards, Council for Exceptional Children

Deborah A. Ziegler is the Director for Policy and Advocacy and Professional Standards at the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), one of the world’s premier education organizations.

She has broad public policy experience at the international, national, state, and local levels. Dr. Ziegler works to further the overall goals of CEC through improving policies affecting exceptional children and youth and the professionals who work with them, at all levels of government. In her position, she is responsible for providing leadership and direction for the association’s public policy agenda, including policy development, implementation, and analysis; information collection and dissemination; and maintaining a grassroots network of Children and Youth Action Network (CAN ) Coordinators. She works closely with the White House, the United States Congress, and the Federal Agencies including the U.S. Department of Education to advocate for policies that guarantee a free appropriate public education for children and youth with disabilities and gifts and talents.

Dr. Ziegler serves on the board of and works with several international disability organizations, whose focus is the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. She is the recent editor of Inclusion for ALL: The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a publication of the IDEA program of the Open Society Institute. Dr. Ziegler has worked since 1994 in providing technical assistance and training on behalf of the Open Society Institute and other nongovernmental/governmental organizations in Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Africa and the Middle East to assist programs in implementing policies and practices in early childhood education and inclusive education for children with disabilities.

Dr. Ziegler has worked as a special education teacher, special education administrator and faculty at the university level. She has consulted widely and written extensively in the policy arena.

justinJustin Beland 
Senior Director of Health Practice, Social Driver

Justin Beland works in Social Driver’s healthcare practice with clients ranging from nonprofit medical societies to large biotechnology and health information companies. He has worked in Washington, DC for more than 15 years, and his robust health care background includes positions with the American College of Cardiology and the Children’s Hospital Association.

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