Wednesday, July 13

Wednesday, July 13

Breakout Sessions

Presenter: Deb Ziegler
Director, Policy and Advocacy – Council for Exceptional Children

What Did We Learn on Capitol Hill?
8:30 – 9:15 a.m.


Deborah A. Ziegler is the director for policy and advocacy at the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), one of the world’s premier special 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 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.

Presenter: Phyllis Wolfram
Executive Director, Special Programs, Springfield Missouri Public Schools


Phyllis Wolfram is the executive director of special programs for the Springfield R-12 School District in Springfield, Mo.  She has worked in the field of education for 33 years.  Phyllis’ administrative experience spans 27 years in the field of special education administration at the local level. She has been a local special education director in three different districts ranging in size from a small rural district to the largest urban district in the state of Missouri.  In addition, she has experience in the area of gifted education, Section 504, ELL and early childhood.

Phyllis is currently the president elect for CEC’s Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE).  Prior to this position, she served as the chair of the CASE policy and legislative committee for three years. She has also chaired the CASE ad hoc committee on IDEA Reauthorization in 2010, and served as a member of the CASE task force, design for the future, 2005. In her home state of Missouri, Phyllis serves on the Governor’s Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders and has served on various state level committees including Early Childhood Special Education, Electronic IEP Development, Missouri’s RTI initiative, Transition from School to Work, and the Elementary English Language Arts Advisory Committee.

Phyllis also serves on the board of directors for the Council for Exceptional Children, and was most recently appointed to serve on the IDEA Reauthorization Workgroup.

Presenter: Jacob Munaker
Account Executive & the Business Development Manager, CQ Roll Call

Taking What You’ve Experienced Back to Your Community/ENGAGE: CEC’s Legislative Action Center
9:15 – 9:45 a.m.


Jacob Munaker was born and raised in Bethesda, Md., where he attended the University of Maryland and joined Kappa Delta Pi, an educational honor society.  Upon graduating, he spent five years teaching in local Fairfax County Va.  Jacob has experience in general education, inclusive classrooms and GT settings at the middle and elementary levels.  The Munaker family has a long line of educators; Jacob’s father, two aunts, and even a cousin are educators around the D.C. area.  Jacob’s father Alan, a former English teacher in Fairfax for over 30 years, currently works with children with autism and intellectual/physical challenges in Montgomery County Public Schools in Md., having started his own career decades ago working with children with special needs in Baltimore.

In the past few years, Jacob has worked at CQ Roll Call as an account executive & the business development manager learning the intricacies of the advocacy/ policy world.  Jacob has been helping clients across the country build their advocacy programs and assisting them in increasing membership involvement through invaluable resources.

Presenter: Tim Lewis
Chair, CEC IDEA Reauthorization Work Group

IDEA Reauthorization Town Hall – Recommendations CEC’s IDEA Reauthorization Work Group
10:00 – 11:45 a.m.


Dr. Tim Lewis has been involved in special education for 30 years. Dr. Lewis has taught students with emotional and behavioral disorders in high school, elementary, and self-contained psychiatric settings. Currently, he is is a professor of special education at the University of Missouri. Dr. Lewis is the associate editor of the Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions and is a member of 13 other editorial boards.

Lewis has been involved with developing school-wide systems of behavioral support for over 20 years. He has worked directly with school teams around the world, secured over $30 million in grants to support his research and demonstration efforts, and is a frequent contributor to the professional literature examining various aspects of Positive Behavior Support. Dr. Lewis directs the University of Missouri Center for School-wide Positive Behavior Support, is co-director of the national OSEP Center for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports and the IES Center for Adolescent Research in Schools. His specialty areas include social skill instruction, functional assessment, and proactive school-wide discipline systems. Dr. Lewis currently serves as the chair of the CEC IDEA Reauthorization Work Group.

Closing remarks

11:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Speaker:  Alex Graham
Executive Director, Council for Exceptional Children


Alex Graham has 25 years of association management experience. Prior to joining the CEC in October 2013, Alex served as the executive director of the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell). Through advocacy, education, research and financial aid, AG Bell helps families, health care providers and education professionals understand childhood hearing loss and the importance of early diagnosis and intervention.

In addition to earning a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Lynchburg College in Lynchburg, Va., Alex has earned a master’s degree in organizational effectiveness and a master’s degree in business administration from Marymount University in Arlington, Va.

Alex is the father of two teenagers with learning disabilities, and he knows firsthand the critical role that special education professionals play in students with special needs being able to reach their potential.  Alex’s wife Melissa is an advanced academics specialist with Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia.

Speaker: Luann Purcell
Executive Director, Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE)


As chief executive officer of an international professional organization of school administrators, whose primary responsibility is in leadership of special education programs for children, Dr. Luann Purcell’s major job responsibilities include: consulting and advising administrators on best practices for leadership and development of quality programs for students with disabilities; assisting members in developing networking systems through state, provincial, and country units in order to provide better services to members; advocating at the governmental level to assure appropriate legislation to facilitate the development and maintenance of quality programs for students with disabilities; and providing keynote/breakout sessions/etc. at state/provincial and regional conferences on leadership, legislative/policy updates, attitude adjustment, the passion in compassion, and other current education issues. In the last 14 years, she has keynoted and led sessions in over 43 states and 3 other countries on IDEA, NCLB, and the development of proactive leadership skills in times of change.

Luann has had a variety of experiences throughout her 44 years in public education including teaching general education at both high school and middle school level, teacher of students with emotional and behavioral disorders, coordinator at a regional educational service center, and assistant superintendent for pupil services in a local district of 25,000+ students. This July marks the completion of 14 years as executive director of CASE.