Meet the Presenters

Yael valek

Yael Valek is Co-Founder of REEL (Resilience and Engagement for Every Learner), an advocacy group building bridges between twice exceptional learners, their parents and educators. Yael has two 2e children in PAUSD and has founded start-ups in the parenting community and children's creativity spaces. Yael received her MS in Computer Science from Stanford University. She can be reached at

callie turk

Callie Turk is Co-Founder of REEL (Resilience and Engagement for Every Learner), an advocacy group building bridges between twice exceptional learners, their parents and educators. In this work, she draws on her 15+ year career working with ed tech companies and school districts at the cutting edge of educator and professional learning. Callie received her MBA from Stanford University and B.S. from Miami University (Ohio). She can be reached at

tarn wilson

Tarn Wilson has been a writing teacher for over twenty-years. She earned her MA in education from Stanford and her MFA in creative nonfiction from the Rainier Writing Workshop. She is the author of the memoir The Slow Farm and the forthcoming essay collection In Praise of Inadequate Gifts. She teaches at Gunn High School and is the founder of Creator School, where she teaches College Essay Camp to rising seniors.

jennifer lee thuresson

Jennifer Lee Thuresson is a Program Coordinator for The Youth Connectedness Initiative, a Youth Community Service program, promoting youth mental health by strengthening relationships between youth and their peers, adults, and the community. Jennifer moved to the Bay Area from Sweden in 2008 and is an experienced community advocate, working predominantly with children, youth and trauma. Jennifer is also a certified Meditation and Mindfulness teacher.

innovation and agility Team

We believe that every student has their own unique and purposeful pathway to success. Our mission is to provide every student with engaging, relevant, and unique learning experiences that prepare them to thrive as global citizens in a rapidly changing world.

Through our variety of pathway programs representing the state’s 15 CTE industry sectors, students develop knowledge, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. These programs nurture curiosity, creativity, and resilience, empowering young people to reach their full intellectual, social, and creative potential. Throughout this journey, we strive to support all students in discovering and pursuing their interests and careers.

Our mission is to help every student have richer, more meaningful opportunities that prepare them the workforce and beyond.

hillary miller and marcy tivol

Hillary Miller - Hillary is a lifelong education geek who is intrigued with how we learn. She has worked for more than 20 years as a teacher and administrator at all grade levels in districts in the Bay Area and in Austin, Texas. She is a mom of two teens and lives with her family in Mountain View, California.

Marcy Tivol - Marcy is a complete puzzle nerd with a passion for creative thinking. She started out her career as a designer for Games Magazine and then became an award-winning art director in Advertising for over 20 years. Currently living in Palo Alto, California, she’s a mom of two and loves playing games with her family.

We create puzzles, activities, and games focused on perseverance and creative problem solving for kids. Solving Fun was created by an educator and a game designer with the belief that joyful challenges lead to engaged learning. Our passion is making solving FUN.

dr. marci schwartz

Dr. Schwartz founded Thrive College Counseling with the goal of supporting teens with learning differences make the difficult but important transition into adulthood. Thrive College Counseling works with students to discover their best college fit in order to ensure a successful transition to the college or program of their choice after high school. Dr. Schwartz received her Certificate in College Counseling from UCLA Extension in 2016. She currently teaches an on-line class at UC Irvine to individuals who are working on their college counseling certificate. The class is entitled "Working With Students With Learning Differences". Dr. Schwartz is an Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Stephanie abbey, phd

Dr. Stephanie Abbey is a licensed psychologist who provides psychotherapy to teens and adults. She helps with a variety of concerns, including difficulties with relationships, life transitions, stress, anxiety, depression, body image, grief/loss, trauma, and sexual orientation.

She works collaboratively with her clients to identify and cultivate their strengths so they can reach their goals and lead happier, healthier lives. Dr. Abbey integrates issues of diversity and explores clients’ needs within the context of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and religious beliefs.

Dr. Abbey has experience working at community mental health centers, inpatient hospitals, residential treatment centers, and university counseling centers, including Santa Clara University.

sumita vasudeva

Sumita Vasudeva, Founder of Omni Wellness, works with families to enhance their culture of health. She designs personalized wellbeing plans that include wholesome nutrition, herbs, yoga, and meditation. A Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist and a Stanford Health 4 All Fellow; she is uniquely accomplished to coach her clients toward living their best life.

magdalena fittoria

Magdalena Fittoria is proud of her Latinx heritage as a Mexican immigrant and first-generation college graduate. She obtained a B.A. and M.A. from Stanford University. She earned her teaching credential from Notre Dame de Namur and a second M.A. in Educational Administration from Santa Clara University. Magdalena has worked in PAUSD for 25 years. She began her career in PAUSD as a teacher in the Spanish Immersion program. She has been a Teacher on Special Assignment, school principal of Barron Park, and is currently Assistant Principal at Greene Middle School. She has two adult children who graduated from Palo Alto High School, Miguel and Jessica. Magdalena has lived in East Palo Alto since 1984.

yolanda conaway

Yolanda (Lana) Conaway has been in education for over 20 years and has held various leadership roles at the district and site level. She joined Palo Alto Unified School District in 2017 as the Assistant Superintendent of Strategic Initiatives and Operations overseeing student services; special education; research, evaluation and assessment; and the Advanced Authentic Research (AAR) program for high school students. In 2019, her role shifted to Assistant Superintendent of Equity and Student Affairs to respond to the growing need to focus on the achievement gap in PAUSD. She has served as an executive director of student services, site administrator, and supervisor of counseling and support services.

Prior to working as an administrator, Conaway was a high school teacher, an instructional specialist and minority achievement leader in the Williamsburg-James City County School District. Ms. Conaway’s favorite quote is “be the change you wish to see in the world” and strives to live by that each day.

rajul parekh, M.S., CCC-SLP

Rajul Parekh, M.S., CCC-SLP, has practiced speech-language therapy for almost 10 years, first in NYC and now in California. She has guided students aged 5 to 22 in mainstream and special day class settings. Rajul is passionate about finding solutions to help kids function better in their daily lives, whether at school or home. To that end, she has teamed up with teachers, specialists, and parents, to problem-solve these challenges holistically. Through a local PTA, she and a behavior specialist co-teach an executive functioning course for middle schoolers. Rajul has a special interest in food selectivity issues; she presented at the 2019 American Occupational Therapists Association Conference on the Healthy Snack Program she co-designed with an OT colleague. Rajul loves the art and science of Nature, entomology and etymology, making and listening to music, gardening, and cooking.

adriana flores-ragade

Adriana Flores-Ragade is a community advocate, volunteer, parent and counselor. She is also the founder of LatinxAmerica Media and host of the LatinxAmerica Podcast. She has worked for Univision leading Social Impact work focused on education and partnerships and for the College Board advancing equity and access initiatives. She has a masters degree in communications management from USC, a second masters from SJSU in counseling and guidance and a BA from Claremont McKenna College. She serves on the board of SquadCast, the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education and the Bay Area Regional Council of Common Sense Media. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and cooking with her partner and their 11-year old daughter, 8 year old son and two cats.

nallely gomez

Nallely Gómez Jiménez. Es Latina(Mexicana), migrante, emprendora y empresaria múltiple, ingeniera de software, madre, mujer. Por todo esto es parte de las mujeres consideradas Unicornios en Silicon Valley.

Con experiencia internacional, hoy enfoca mayor parte de su tiempo profesional al apoyo de la Comunidad Latina emprendedora alrededor del mundo impulsando no solo la creación de negocios, sino su crecimiento y su inmersión con la tecnología e innovación.

Es asesora pionera en el Espacio de Emprendimiento e Innovación del Consulado General de México en San Jose, CA en donde apoya Micro, Pequeñas, Medianas Empresas, así como Corporativos y Startups tecnológicos mexicanos basados en México y/o EEUU. siendo especialista en desarrollo de negocios en México y EEUU.

Es también Blogger y Video Blogger en su canal :@EnConfianzaconNallely, así como Speaker y Mentor Internacional.


arturo garrido

lisa parnello - m.ed.

Director of Lower School at Sand Hill School

Lisa has been teaching over 10 years and is currently the Director of the Lower School at Sand Hill School in Palo Alto. She has a Masters in Special Education and CLAD certification from Stanford. She is also a Credentialed Trainer in the Wilson Reading System.

anna ros, phd

Postdoctoral Psychology Fellow with the Children's Health Council

Anna provides individual, family and group therapy and psychological assessment for children and adolescents. She is passionate about promoting resilience in children, teens and families using evidence-based treatment methods. Anna provides individual, family and group therapy and psychological assessment for children and adolescents. She is passionate about promoting resilience in children, teens and families using evidence-based treatment methods.

kendra frakA, msw

Licensed Clinical Social Worker with the Children's Health Council

Kendra has nearly 20 years’ experience working with children and their families in outpatient, residential, school and home settings developing strategies with parents and teachers and using social cognitive and behavioral interventions with children who have difficulties with peers, impulse regulation or anxiety.

Alejandra Maria Gabriela, consul general of Mexico

She holds a B.A in International Relations from the UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico). Joined the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1985 and is a career diplomat. In 2006 she was promoted as a career Ambassador. She has served as Ambassador of Mexico in Panama (2011-2015); Consul General of Mexico in Milan, Italy (2009-2010) and Consul General of Mexico in Sacramento, California (2004-2009). In the Embassy of Mexico in Italy she served as Attaché for Economic Affairs (1993-2000) as well as in the Consulate General of Mexico in Los Angeles (2000-2004). Ambassador Alejandra Bologna was appointed as Consul General of Mexico in San Jose, California, by the President of Mexico and on April 2nd, 2019 she was ratified by unanimity by the Senate’s United Commissions of Foreign Relations and Foreign Relations for North America. She took office on June 17th, 2019, as Consul General of Mexico in San Jose with active functions in the counties of Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey.

maria madrigal

Maria Madrigal joins Innovate Public Schools as the Sr. Program Manager Leadership Development of New Schools.

Born in San Bernardino, California, to Mexican immigrant parents. Maria began her career in education as a Teach for America corps member in Richmond, CA where she taught 3rd grade.

Prior to joining Innovate, Maria served as the founding principal of Voices Academies – Mount Pleasant. A dual immersion charter school located in the east side of San Jose, CA. She was also a fellow at Innovate’s StartUp Schools fellowship program in 2015-2016.

A native of California, she holds a B.A. in International Studies Political Science from the University of California, San Diego and a Masters of Arts in Reading Instruction from Loyola Marymount University.

Emily Garrison

Emily Garrison is Coordinator of Educational Technology for the Palo Alto Unified School District. Formerly, she was a Spanish teacher and Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) for blended learning at Palo Alto High School. Ms. Garrison has presented internationally on blended learning including at the Learning Forward Annual Conference, the iNACOL Symposium for Online and Blended Learning, and Schoology NEXT. She provides ongoing professional learning for teachers regarding the use of technology in the classroom, as well as workshops for families around topics of digital citizenship and managing technology in the home.

Blanca HErrera

Blanca Herrera is the Coordinator of Online Learning Technologies at Palo Alto Unified School District. She previously worked at Saratoga Union School District as Director of Instructional Technology where she developed the district EdTech plan collaboratively with teachers, principals, and parents. She has worked in education for 20+ years as a classroom teacher, computer lab teacher, intervention coordinator, and principal. Her passions include student empowerment, student data privacy, and supporting teachers in utilizing technology to provide more effective and efficient instruction.

caroline manley

Carrie Manley and her husband, Brian Goncher, have a 24 year-old son, and a 21 year-old daughter, both PAUSD graduates. A former Emmy award-winning television news reporter (BC, Before Children!), Carrie is a Phono-Graphix tutor at Walter Hays Elementary for children who need help with reading and writing, including children in Special Education. She is a former co-chair for Parent Education for Palo Alto PTA Council. For the past eight summers, Carrie has also provided Phono-Graphix training and mentorship to more than 100 teens, who then volunteer to help younger at-risk students. Last summer, Carrie and her Summer Learning Buddies team donated more than 1,000 hours (all on Zoom!) creating Phono-Graphix lessons for PAUSD remote learning.

kala mehta, dsc, mph

Kala is an Associate Adjunct Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco. Kala also teaches clinical research methods to undergraduates, medical students, residents, fellows, and international faculty. She uses different styles in her teaching including traditional ‘brick and mortar’ as well as cutting-edge online education technologies. She is also faculty of the SFBUILD, a pipeline program to promote diversity in science. In this program she works with undergraduate students, teaches them clinical research skills, and then works with them to find research placements in labs at UCSF and San Francisco State University.

In terms of research, Kala focuses on both domestic and international vulnerable populations. Her early work examines disparities in older adult health. Her more recent work focuses on the intersection of social entrepreneurship and health in a global context. From 2011-2014, she was a faculty affiliate of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where she led a research evaluation on the impact of a management and transportation intervention on health in Zambia. Her current research evaluates a large maternal and child health intervention in Bihar, India.

Kala received her DSc. in Epidemiology from the Erasmus University Medical School in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and has obtained post-graduate specialization in epidemiology and clinical research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of California, San Francisco.