Mary Abrams, MA, RSME

Mary is owner/director of Moving Body Resources (NYC), a space for teachers and practitioners supporting body awareness, wellness, and authenticity in life.  Mary teaches group classes, works privately, and leads the MA Dance & Somatic Well-being course in the USA from the University of Central Lancashire in England.  Her love for teaching is informed by her MA in Consciousness Studies focusing on embodied movement, the biology of emotion, and Epistemics.  



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Joshua Aronson, PH.D.

Joshua is associate professor of developmental, social, and educational psychology at NYU.  He is also research scientist at the Metro Center where he conducts research to find solutions to educational problems. His research on “stereotype threat” and minority student achievement has been broadly influential, cited over 6,000 times in the academic literature, cited in three supreme court cases, presented in every psychology textbook for over the last decade, and discussed in bestsellers Blink and The Nurture Assumption. His work for the past decade has been uniquely devoted to enhancing the school experiences of disadvantaged students and improving their learning, engagement, and well being. Joshua’s groundbreaking research is was popularized by Carol Dweck under the name of the Growth Mindset, itself highly influential in the field of education and social psychology—and featured in best selling books, Mindset, Drive, Nerve, Grit, How Children Succeed, and Intelligence and How to Get It.

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Yuet M. Chu 

Yuet joined the NYC Department of Education in 1996 as a substitute teacher at School of the Future in District 2. With support and mentorship from then principal Kathy Pelles, she taught math, science, and special education; facilitated teacher teams; and worked closely with parents and community partners via the School Leadership Team and Parent Teacher Association. Nominated by her peers in 2003, Yuet humbly accepted the position of Middle School Director at SOF and served in that capacity until 2006 when she was invited to join the Empowerment Schools initiative as an Achievement Coach for Special Education.  In 2015, Yuet was selected as one of 7 Executive Directors for the newly formed Manhattan Field Support Center where she leads a team of 100+ professionals who collaboratively serve 256 schools in the borough. Yuet is honored to support schools to implement the Mayor and Chancellor’s vision for Equity and Excellence for All by ensuring rigorous instruction and effective leadership in supportive environments that foster parent engagement and student ownership of learning.

Brian M. Goldman, Ph.D.

Brian is a social psychologist and an Associate Professor of Psychology at Clayton State University in Morrow, GA. His research focuses primarily on authenticity and self-esteem and their role in healthy psychological functioning and interpersonal adjustment. His influential and innovative work as a co-creator of a multicomponent perspective of dispositional authenticity along with the Authenticity Inventory (AI) used to assess people’s authenticity has helped to generate a growing academic interest in and empirical research on the topic of authenticity. His research has been cited extensively in diverse works and disciplines and has garnered international appeal with the AI being translated into nine different languages. His research has been published in prominent scholarly journals and books including Advances in Experimental Social Psychology and has been featured in various media outlets including Psychology Today, Psychologies, and Self magazine.




Lesley Koplow M.S., L.C.S.W,

Lesley is the Director of the Center for Emotionally Responsive Practice at Bank Street College. The Center collaborates with early childhood programs and elementary schools to support the social and emotional well being of children, parents and teachers in the school setting. Ms. Koplow is the author of several books on child mental health in schools, including; Unsmiling Faces: How Preschool can Heal, Creating Schools That Heal: Real Life Solutions, Bears, Bear Everywhere: Supporting Children’s Emotional Health in the Classroom and Politics Aside: Our Children and Their Teachers in Score-Driven Times.  She was the winner of the 2013 New York Zero-To-Three Emily Fenichel Award for Educational leadership.


Lynn S. Liben, Ph.D

Lynn is the McCourtney Professor of Child Studies, and Professor of Psychology; Human Development and Family Studies, and Education at Penn State. She has published widely on first, gender development, gender stereotypes, and the emergence of social-group identities and their effects on educational and occupational choices; and second, the development of spatial thinking and on how students' spatial skills are linked to interests and success in science and math. She is former President of the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD), the Piaget Society, and the Developmental Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association (APA); past Editor of Child Development and the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology; and current Editor of the Monographs of the SRCD. Her research has been funded by NSF, NICHD, NIE, and the National Geographic Society.






Natalia Ortiz

Natalia is a former high school social studies teacher who is currently a full time mom to a 3-year-old toddler and newborn, an Adjunct Professor in Education at Hunter College and a full time PhD student in the Urban Education Program at the CUNY Graduate Center.

In addition, she is a core member of the New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE), a grassroots organization that fights for social justice inside and outside the classroom. Natalia is a passionate educator who believes change is necessary and possible in order to ensure equity for all children in New York City.

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Maya Projansky

May has taught fourth and fifth grade for thirteen years in a dual-age classroom at the Earth School, a public school in the East Village. She emphasizes social-emotional learning to develop a strong classroom community. Maya uses mindfulness, classroom discussions, writing, and shared texts to create a space where students feel safe to take risks and bring their whole selves to learning. She structures her classroom to maximize student choice and independence in learning.

Maya is a Returning Fellow and Teacher Consultant with the Hudson Valley Writing ProjectNational Writing Project site at SUNY New Paltzwhere she designs and facilitates professional development for nursery through post-secondary educators.

Maya has twice participated in design teams for alternative/authentic assessments with a network of progressive educators in New York City. She was a 2015 Finalist for the Big Apple Award: Recognizing Teacher Excellence in NYC.

Maya received her Masters in the Science of Education at Bank Street College of Education. Her undergraduate degree is from SUNY Empire.

Laura Simms

Laura Simms is an award-winning and renowned storyteller, writer, arts-educator,recording artist, festival director and humanitarian. She has performed and taught worldwide. Her trainings are legendary. Laura is artistic Director of the Hans Christian Andersen Storytelling Center,NYC and was a Senior Research Fellow at Rutgers University for UNESCO. She has appeared at the Nobel Peace Festival in Oslo and most recently worked with UN Women, Global Citizens Committee on Education and The Red Cross. Laura is a Senior Meditation Instructor and teacher of Dharma Art in the Tibetan tradition of mindfulness- awareness since 1977. Her most recent books: are OUR SECRET TERRITORY and WILD ROSE: The Private Life of a Story. Laura is a cofounder of The Healing Story Alliance and directs projects at The Center for Engaged Storytelling. She is an advisor for Tellers Without Borders, Germany. www.laurasimms.com

Benny Vasquez

Benny Vasquez describes himself as a lifelong learner and a seeker of justice. A native of Brooklyn, he graduated from Wesleyan University with a B.A. in African American Studies and Sociology, and completed his Masters Degree in Curriculum and Teaching from Columbia University. He is currently pursuing an MPA at New York University. Benny’s journey includes working as the Director of Diversity at The Town School, an independent school in New York City. Prior to creating impactful cultural change at Town, Benny was the Director of Education at GLSEN – the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. In this position, Benny worked with educators across the country to create safer schools irrespective of sexual orientation and/or gender identity and expression.  His work has included co-chairing the Diversity Committee for the New York Association of Independent Schools, training public school teachers on the Respect For All initiative, collaborating with the NEA in developing materials for No Name Calling Week, and developing social justice focused programing for mission based non-profits. He is also one of the co-founders of The CARLE Institute (Critical Analysis of Race and Learning in Education): An Institute for White Educators in independent schools.

Thomas Wartenberg, Ph.D.

Thomas is Senior Research Fellow in Philosophy at Mount Holyoke College and President of PLATO. He has published numerous books and articles,including Big Ideas for Little Kids: Teaching Philosophy Through Children’s Literature (Rowman and Littlefield, 2 nd Edition 2014), and A Sneetch is A Sneetch and Other Philosophical Discoveries: Finding Wisdom in Children’s Literature (Wiley Blackwell, 2013). The program that he founded, Teaching Children Philosophy (teachingchildrenphilosophy.org), was awarded the 2011 APA/PDC Prize for Excellence and Innovations in Philosophy Programs. He received the 2013 Merritt Prize for his contributions to the philosophy of education. His course, Philosophy for Children, is the subject of a PBS documentary: http://wgby.org/bigideas. His other publications include Mel Bochner: Illustrating Philosophy (MHCMA, 2015), Existentialism: A Beginner’s Guide (Oneworld, 2008), Thinking on Screen: Film as Philosophy (Routledge, 2007) and Unlikely Couples: Movie Romance and Social Criticism (Westview, 1999).He lectures widely in the US, Australia, and Europe on topics in both philosophy for children and the philosophy of film.