Webinar Presenter Biographies

Jody Angelone

Program Specialist, Ohio Professional Development Network And
national trainer, LINCS and World Education, Inc.


Jody Angelone has served in Adult Education for over 25 years and is currently the Staff Training & Development Coordinator for the Ohio Professional Development Network, at The Ohio State University. She has worked as a reading specialist, instructor, coordinator and program director in the context of Correctional Education, ABLE/GED, Workplace Education, Volunteer Literacy, Vocational Evaluation & Assessment and Professional Development. She has served on various boards, committees and task forces at the local, regional, state and national levels supporting adult education and community services. Currently, she provides program support and training in the areas of CCR Standards Implementation, Program Improvement and Consultation Plans, National Leadership Excellence Academy, and Assessment.  She served as COABE Region 4 Representative between 2014 and 2016 for the Coalition on Adult Basic Education (COABE) national board.  She is currently serving as the Vice President of Membership for the Coalition on Adult Basic Education (COABE) national board and the Advocacy and Governance Chair for the Ohio Association for Adult and Continuing Education (OAACE). Previously, as the Director of the NW Ohio ABLE Resource center, Jody provided oversight for the National Career Awareness Project in Ohio, as well as statewide training and support to the field in the areas of Assessment, Leadership and Transitions. Jody holds a B.S. in Elementary Education with a minor in Psychology, from the University of Toledo, and a M.Ed. in Education Administration and Supervision from Bowling Green State University.

Eric Appleton

Science Professional Developer, CUNY Adult Literacy/HSE Program

Eric Appleton is a math and science professional developer for CUNY’s Adult Literacy/HSE Program. Before coming to CUNY, Eric worked in an education program for formerly incarcerated people. He has taught all subjects in adult basic education and high school equivalency, and has been working in adult education since 1999. Eric is a founding member of the NYC Community of Adult Math Instructors (CAMI).

Dr. Ellen N. Beattie

Director of Literacy, Community College of Baltimore County, MAACCE Treasurer

Dr. Ellen N. Beattie is an educational leader, college administrator, and national presenter. Her areas of expertise include neuroscience-based teaching and learning, online faculty and student success, student retention, and educational leadership. She enjoys intermingling research and practical experience to provide educational leaders, administrators, and faculty evidence-based practices to immediately employ within their institutions. Dr. Beattie has held senior leadership positions including Director of Academic Counseling and Student Retention, Director of Literacy, and Regional Director of Operations and Student Services for public and private higher education institutions. She currently serves as the Director of Literacy at the Community College of Baltimore County with oversight of the Center for Adult and Family Literacy.  Dr. Beattie has over 14 years’ experience teaching at the college level, including undergraduate teaching at Ashford University, Community College of Baltimore County, and University of Phoenix. At the University of the Rockies, she facilitates graduate and doctoral level coursework and mentors dissertation research.  She serves on the Executive Committee (Treasurer) of the Board of Directors for the Maryland Association of Adult Community and Continuing Education (MAACCE).

Cynthia Bell

Numeracy & Youth Specialist, Literacy Assistance Center


Cynthia Bell is a Numeracy & Youth Specialist at the Literacy Assistance Center, who develops curricula and specializes in the College and Career Readiness standards for mathematics. When she’s not training she is coaching instructors in the best practices of teaching and learning mathematics. In 2016, she co-authored the teacher resource book Teaching Adults: A HiSET Exam Resource Book. She has presented at international, national, state and regional conferences, and is an active board member of ANN (Adult Numeracy Network) and affiliate delegate of NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics).

Melissa Braaten

Consultant, System of Adult Basic Education Support (SABES)

Melissa Braaten has been teaching adult numeracy for the past seven years in Dorchester, MA to women with all levels of math ability and confidence.  She is also a consultant for the SABES (System of Adult Basic Education Support) PD Center for Mathematics and Adult Numeracy.  As part of the SABES team she has worked on developing and facilitating online and in-person trainings for ABE and ESOL teachers.

Cynthia Macleay Campbell

Principal Consultant, Gold Apple Services

Cynthia Choice 1 for web 200 x 255.jpg

Cynthia Macleay Campbell EdD has worked for over 25 years in education including teaching adults in ESOL and ABE classes, directing an urban adult literacy program, developing curricula, and providing professional development. Dr. Campbell has presented workshops at both regional and national conferences. Locally, she serves on the board of the Maryland Association for Adult, Continuing and Community Education (MAACCE) and chairs MAACCE’s Advocacy and Communications Committee. Dr. Campbell’s credentials include a Bachelor of Education in elementary education, a Master of Arts in Religion, and a Doctorate of Education, where her dissertation focused on teacher development. As principal consultant for Gold Apple Services LLC, she specializes in educational program design and development, editorial support, professional development for teachers and leaders. She is also a Standards for Excellence® Licensed Consultant. She is the writer for the WorkWise series for New Readers Press.

Rebecca DeJesus

Adult Basic Education and GED Instructor

rebecca-dejesus 200 x 258.jpg

Rebecca DeJesus has over 9 years of experience as an Adult Basic Education and GED instructor. Her diverse educational experience includes a strong background in Math instruction with the addition of Reading, Writing, Language, and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). She has over a decade of experience tutoring students of varying ages, elementary through adult learners, in test preparation. In addition to experience in the classroom, Rebecca has served as a training coordinator, presenter, and curriculum specialist and her experience has spanned the sales process from curriculum writing to marketing and securing a bid and delivering training. Rebecca is a self-proclaimed “technology junkie” who has spent years integrating technology-based teaching strategies into her classroom. She loves to provide tech-based professional development sessions and frequently provides software training to her adult students and co-workers.

William S. Durden

Policy Associate for Guided and I-BEST Pathways in Basic Education for Adults, Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges


William S. Durden is the Policy Associate for Guided and I-BEST Pathways in Basic Education for Adults at the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. His primary responsibilities include supporting and scaling up I-BEST and guided pathways with Basic Education for Adults as the foundation of those pathways, with the ultimate goal that all adult Washingtonians will have access to innovative, high quality education programs that provide the knowledge, skills, and credentials necessary for securing family sustaining employment that strengthens the state and local economies. In addition, he supports the development and expansion of I-BEST nationwide, having provided I-BEST training and technical assistance to 33 states and counting. A former I-BEST instructor, William served as English faculty at Clark College for six years. He earned an MA in English Studies from Western Washington University (2008) and a BA in English from Washington State University (2005).

Todd Elliott

Budget Manager at Strong City Baltimore & MAACCE Past President


Todd Elliott has been attached to adult education for more than 20 years in the Baltimore, Md. area, starting as a classroom assistant and then teaching ESOL and GED preparation. In 2001, he became program director for a nonprofit adult literacy program. Todd became a board member with the state association for adult education, MAACCE, in 2007, and was president of the group for three years.

Solange Farina

Lead Teacher/Instructional Coordinator
Borough of Manhattan Community College/CUNY

Solange Farina is a lead teacher/instructional coordinator in the Adult Basic Education Program at the Center for Continuing Education and Workforce Development for the Borough of Manhattan Community College/CUNY. Solange has been teaching in the adult basic education field for over 25 years. She has taught and offered professional development in all subject areas of the high school equivalency exam, along with ESOL. She was a founding member of the NYC Math Exchange Group (MEG) and is now a member of the NYC Community of Adult Math Instructors (CAMI). 

Dan Griffith

VP Sales, Essential Education


Dan started his career in adult education at a young age when he dropped out of high school in the early 80's. Since then he received his GED, graduated Summa Cum Laude from Northern Arizona University with a degree in Math Education, taught high school and community college and has been in educational publishing for 21 years. Dan has been with Essential Education since 2012. A father of 5 children, avid adventurer and volunteer in his community, Dan loves working with adult education professionals to help people find their unique talents and gifts.

Jill Holloway

Director, PDCenter

JWH headshot 10.15.jpg

Jill Holloway, the Director of the PDCenter since 2007, leads and manages a team of professional development specialists, and also provides professional development to the field in the areas of program improvement, data use, and distance learning.  Jill came to the PDCenter from Year Up, an educational and training opportunity for urban young adults, and had previously worked for 16 years in public schools (K-12, urban and rural). She has been an Internship Coordinator, Guidance Counselor and Director of a small school. As the School Director, she was responsible for developing annual professional development plans, and managing the professional development delivery itself, in alignment with annual goals the staff selected as a result of data analysis and self-assessment. She has been trained to deliver distance learning courses for adult education practitioners and in data use and leadership courses for program leaders.  Jill completed the coursework in the Educational Leadership Doctoral Program at Johnson & Wales University, earned a Master's of Education degree from Keene State College and a B.A. from Portland State University.

Lori Howard

AEFLA/WIOA Title II Program Specialist Coordinator, CASAS

Lori HowardIMG_0200 x 266.jpg

Lori Howard is an ESL consultant, teacher educator and author of reading textbooks for adult ESL learners including the Read All About It and Read and Reflect Series.  She is also the AEFLA/WIOA Title II Program Specialist Coordinator for CASAS specializing in EL Civics. She has provided ESL teacher education in California, Florida, Illinois, Maine and Singapore and is a frequent presenter at state, national and international conferences. Her many years of experience in the field includes teaching ESL and Vocational ESL, administering ESL programs, being a TV/Video Teacher on the Los Angeles Unified School Districts’ Learning English Series and a Video Teacher on the Teacher Training Through Video Series, published by Pearson. 

Mike Johnson

National Sales Director for Adult Assessments
Data Recognition Corporation|CTB

Mike has been with Data Recognition Corporation|CTB for 10 years and involved with Adult Education for over 20 years. As the National Sales Director for Adult Assessments, Mike is responsible for supporting and working with the product development teams for TABE and TASC to meet the needs of Adult Learners in ESL, Basic Skills, and High School Equivalency programs. Mike’s responsibilities include managing assessments targets for Adult Basic Education and providing support for test and program development related to industry direction and meeting the needs of the customers.

Judy Mortrude

Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Law and Social Policy

Judy Mortrude has over 30 years of experience developing, delivering, and managing secondary and postsecondary education projects for workforce development, particularly with low literacy and high barrier populations. Ms. Mortrude was the lead administrator for Minnesota's largest Adult Basic Education (ABE) consortium before moving to the Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development in 2009 to staff the Minnesota FastTRAC Adult Career Pathway cross-system initiative. Currently, she facilitates a network of practitioners in the Alliance for Quality Career Pathways at the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). This Alliance of education, workforce development, and human service providers from across the country has developed quality standards for career pathway system partners to use as they develop and evaluate their aligned efforts. As a senior policy analyst for CLASP, Judy focuses on the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Perkins Career & Technical Education, and other education/workforce development policy.

Kathleen O'Connell

kathleen-oconnell-200 x 250.jpg

Kathleen O’Connell is the Workplace Education Coordinator at World Education, Inc. She comes to World Education with more than twenty years’ experience planning for, delivering, coordinating, and teaching in workplace education projects in Massachusetts. In addition to leading the needs analysis process for our workplace programs, she is responsible for overseeing the development of curriculum that is contextualized for each workplace. Kathleen is also an ESOL Pre-Lean trainer in partnership with English for New Bostonians and the Massachusetts Manufacturing Partnership (Mass MEP). She currently teaches a beginning level class in the Seaport Hotel workplace education program.




Michael Ormsby is the founder and CEO of Essential Education.  Michael started his career in New York City as an advertising executive.  After fifteen years in advertising and marketing, Michael moved into the field of education, first as a teacher in high school and elementary school, and then as a professional developer for new instruction design. In 2004, Michael started Essential Education as a way to improve the success rates of adult learners. Using innovative adaptive learning technology and situational instruction systems, Essential Education’s courses have helped over 1.4 million people make fundamental change in their lives.  

Tara Plouff

Lead ELL Instructor/Coordinator, Hawkeye Community College

Tara Headshot 200.jpg

Tara Plouff has nearly 10 years of experience teaching adult ELLs. She spent one year teaching in Japan and five years teaching in South Korea. She has a Graduate Certificate in Instructional Technology and Design from the University of Wisconsin-Stout and will complete her M.S. in Education in May 2018. At Hawkeye Community College’s Metro Center, she is the Lead ELL Instructor/Coordinator and specializes in developing curriculum with a strong emphasis on technology integration. Currently, she teaches a newly created hybrid IELCE course, Workplace Technology, in which advanced ELL students learn valuable digital literacy skills, employability skills, and can receive a proficiency certificate in MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Heather Ritchie

Professional Development Specialist/Instructional Coach & MAACCE Past President


Heather Ritchie is an education consultant and ESOL instructor/trainer, Heather has taught ESOL/EFL, locally and abroad, to students of all ages around the world. She has held positions as Adjunct Professor, American University ITEP, Adjunct ESOL Instructor, Montgomery College as well as program management positions. She currently works as a professional Development Specialist/Coach at Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School. She has served on three nonprofits boards and worked in nonprofits as a staff member with boards. Heather was a MAACCE board member from 2013 – 2017 and served as President for 2 years. During her time on the MAACCE board, continued to work with the state DLLR, held annual conferences, experienced the first term limits under the by-laws, created a strategic plan and committees, and expanded the celebration of Adult Ed and Literacy Week throughout the state of Maryland.

Susan Roberts

Susan Roberts is an entrepreneurial education consultant whose ten years of education experience ranges from elementary through post-secondary schools in the areas of instruction, curriculum design, Common Core State Standards/College and Career Readiness Standards, standards-based education/lesson planning, English/Language Arts curriculum coaching and design, and employability skills-infused lesson planning. In the area curriculum design, Susan is nationally recognized and offers a vast array of knowledge in standards writing and implementation, soft skills-infused lesson writing and training, forward-thinking teaching strategies, lesson design and coaching, and organization of learner-centered lessons. Her expertise in soft skill integration translates into customized coaching at the K-12 and adult program levels.

David J. Rosen

Independent Consultant


David J. Rosen was Executive Director of the Adult Literacy Resource Institute at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, a greater Boston adult education professional development and training center, from 1986 to 2003. As an independent consultant since 2003, he has recently provided education and evaluation services to: World Education’s Education Tech Center, and Essential Education, to develop an online guide to blended learning for adult educators. He is the moderator of two U.S. Department of Education-sponsored LINCS communities of practice: Integrating Technology, and Program Management, co-moderator, with Susan Gaer, of Adult Educators Using Facebook for Education (AEFE); and with Donna Chambers of an online group focusing on competency-based /proficiency-based adult education.

Susan M. Sheehan

Adult Education Services Assistant Director
Cuyahoga County Public Library


Susan M. Sheehan is the Adult Education Services Assistant Director with the Cuyahoga County Public Library.  She is the primary contact for the Aspire Greater Cleveland Program, including the Aspire Grant, the Integrated English Language Civics Education (IELCE-IET) Grant, the Workplace Education Programand the Project Learn Program.

Ms. Sheehan is passionate about assisting adults in reaching their potential so that they can find fulfillment and success. She believes that this affects not only the individual but the family and friends of the individual, and ultimately, the entire community. Ms. Sheehan strategically partners with multiple community members and organizations to make this happen.

Prior to serving as Adult Education Services Assistant Director in Cuyahoga County Public Library, Ms. Sheehan worked as Supervisor of the Adult Education Services Department of the Parma City School District. In addition, she has collaborated with employers in coordinating and providing Skills Enrichment programs at workplace sites. She also taught high school and middle school level English classes. In addition, she served as an elementary school Reading Specialist and designed and facilitated Family Literacy programs.

Ms. Sheehan graduated from John Carroll University with a B.A. in Education and certification in English and Reading. She earned her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction at Cleveland State University. Ms. Sheehan is an avid reader, a true believer in life-long learning, and has earned an additional 85+ graduate hours in Educational Administration through Ashland University and Kent State University.

Ms. Sheehan serves as a Board member for the Workforce Development Board Area 3, is an active member of Ohio Association of Adult and Continuing Education (OAACE), Commission on Adult Basic Education (COABE), Refugee Services Collaborative, and The Literacy Cooperative. Ms. Sheehan is a 2008 graduate of Leadership Parma.

Carrie Colladay Stell


Carrie Colladay Stell Carrie Colladay Stell received her B.A. in Social Studies Education from St. Olaf College in Minnesota and taught 8th grade U.S history for seven years in New Jersey. She then homeschooled her three children from kindergarten through 12th grade. For the past eight years, Carrie has been teaching in adult basic and secondary education classrooms for Grayson College Adult Education and Literacy in Denison, Texas. Recently she became a Certified Manager for Program Improvement through the Leadership Excellence Academy. Carrie considers herself to be a read-aloud evangelist; she has spread the word by presenting at past conferences for the Coalition on Adult Basic Education, ProLiteracy, Literacy Texas, and Texas Association for Literacy and Adult Education. Her adult students are her heroes.



Karisa Tashjian serves as the Director of Education for the Providence Public Library.  In this role, she leads the design and implementation of educational and workforce development programming across all ages that results in measurable engagement, value and impact to the community. Common themes in her work are the power of partnerships, technology and innovation. She is a Board Member of the New England Literacy Resource Center, a Partner of World Education's EdTech Center and a member of the Rhode Island Governor's Workforce Board's Career Pathways Committee.

Luanne Teller

luanne-teller-200 x 245.jpg

Luanne Teller is the Director of Workplace Education at World Education, Inc. in Boston, MA. She also currently serves as the Director of the MA Adult Literacy Hotline and as the Coordinator for SABES, the MA professional development system for adult educators. Luanne has worked with adult learners in a variety of capacities for 30 years, having created and directed office skills training and job placement, ESOL, transitions to college, and workplace education programs. In addition to creating effective structures that generate strong performance outcomes; her work has included professional development, curriculum development, teaching, advising, and developing partnerships with employers and community organizations. She is a LINCS trainer in the areas of program management, postsecondary completion, and adult English language learners. 

Mark Trushkowsky

Mark Trushkowsky is the math professional development coordinator for CUNY’s Adult Literacy/HSE Program. Mark's career in adult education began in 2001 in a basement classroom at a community college in Queens, NY. After 9 years of teaching ABE classes in all subjects and high school equivalency math, Mark joined the CUNY Adult Literacy Professional Development Team where he does professional development for Adult Learning Center teachers across the CUNY system. Mark is a founding member of the NYC Community of Adult Math Instructors (CAMI).

Jen Vanek


Jen Vanek, PhD, has been working in the field of adult English language learning since receiving an MA TESOL from the University of Illinois-Chicago in 1996. She has supported adult English language learners on college campuses, at adult learning centers, in workforce centers, and in factories. Her work and research has informed her view that it is critical that ABE learners have access to computers and the internet and that sound federal, state, and local policies are needed to ensure that learners have the skills and knowledge to leverage that access.

As IDEAL Consortium director Jen provides technical assistance to states offering distance and blended learning and provides professional development to  teachers. She also work as adjunct faculty at the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development, where she teaches in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Her research explores the difficulties faced by many migrant, refugee, and immigrant adults confronted with technological ubiquity in economically developed countries.

Lauren Walizer

Lauren_headshot 100 x 115.jpg

Lauren Walizer is a senior policy analyst at CLASP's Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success, where she works to expand access to postsecondary opportunities and advocates for financial aid policies that serve low-income students. Prior to joining CLASP, Ms. Walizer was with the U.S. Department of Education, where she addressed policy, management, and operational challenges related to federal postsecondary student financial aid programs. Ms. Walizer holds an MSEd in Education Policy and a Master of Government Administration from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as a BA in Political Science from The George Washington University.

Douglas Weimer

Director of English Language Services and Basic Skills for Baltimore City Community College in Baltimore, MD


Douglas Weimer is the Director of English Language Services and Basic Skills for Baltimore City Community College in Baltimore, MD, and is the current President of the Maryland Association for Adult, Community, and Continuing Education (MAACCE), a position he has held since January 2017.  Doug has been in adult education for nine years, working as an adjunct ESL instructor for three years before transitioning into administration as first an ESL Coordinator and now the Director of English Language Services, as well as a grant manager for Adult Education grant funds.  Prior to his work in adult education, Doug has also spent five years as a Middle School Math teacher and three years as an Assistant English Teacher in Asahikawa, Japan.  Doug has a Master’s Degree in Management from University of Maryland, University College, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from Towson University.  In his spare time, Doug enjoys camping, going to the movies, and spending time supporting his wife’s work as a theatrical costume designer.

Laura Weisel, Ph.D.

Executive Partner and the Director of Research and Development at The TLP Group


Laura Weisel, Ph.D., is an Executive Partner and the Director of Research and Development at The TLP Group. The TLP Group is a social entrepreneurial company that uses traditional commercial principles to organize, create, and manage ventures addressing social problems that have not been successfully solved by traditional government or nonprofit initiatives. Working in partnership with state departments, universities, colleges, community organizations, and institutional providers, the TLP Group combines the best of talents, resources, and the evidence-based research to co-create alternative routes for service delivery yielding dramatic impact on client outcomes.

As a nationally known speaker and facilitator, Dr. Weisel has over thirty years of experience in the private and service sectors. With a B.S. in Early and Middle Childhood Education, a M.A. in the field of reading, and a post-masters in special education, Dr. Weisel also holds a Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Leadership focusing on learning, neuro and cognitive psychology, and research.  Beginning her career as a middle school teacher for at-risk youth, Dr. Weisel held positions in education including: learning disabilities and reading teacher, principal, school administrator, director of adult basic and literacy education programs, and university faculty. She established model education programs in psychiatric and forensic facilities. As the Manager of Community Mental Health Training and Systems Development for the Ohio Department of Mental Health, Dr. Weisel led initiatives for systemic changes resulting in retraining clinical, direct service, and administrative staff to realign service delivery directed towards community-based, consumer-driven services. 

Authoring numerous monographs, video series, articles, and publications, Dr. Weisel’s most recent publication, PowerPath to Education and Employment, is based on over 30 years of research. PowerPath is a practical learning system for retooling education and workforce development. The PowerPath System is currently an online educator professional development series, co-created with KET and Kentucky Adult Education, that is hosted on PBS.

In 2000, Dr. Weisel researched the field of leadership and launched L2000+, A Leadership Academy for Emerging Leaders in Behavioral Healthcare. L2000+ continues to be the flagship program for The Ohio State University’s John Glenn Institute for Public Policy and Public Service. Dr. Weisel maintains a close relationship with the International Authentic Leadership in Action Institute based in Halifax, Canada. 

As a past President and current Executive Board Member of the National Association of Adults with Special Learning Needs (NAASLN), Dr. Weisel serves her profession by participating in multiple state and national associations.

Melissa Zervos, MA

Adult Education Program Specialist, Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning at the Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation (DLLR)


Melissa Zervos has worked in WIOA/WIA funded adult education programs since 2002, first in a community-based organization then in a public school system and community college.  Now in her roll with Maryland DLLR Adult Education and Literacy Services she serves as a program specialist responsible for state-wide professional development as well as grant management.  Melissa is a past-present for the Washington Area Teachers of English  to Speakers of Other Languages (WATESOL) professional organization and sat on the Maryland Association of Adult Continuing and Community Education board prior to her working for the state of Maryland.  She holds Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from The American University and has taught both in the U.S. and abroad.