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Speaker Bios

Tuesday, March 1

9:00 – 10:15 a.m.                    Panel discussion: federal policy priorities for school leaders and public education in 2022 (Schuyler Ballroom)

Moderator: Amanda Karhuse, NASSP Director of Policy & Advocacy

Beth Houf, Principal, Fulton Middle School – Missouri, and 2022 National Principal of the Year

Beth Houf is the proud principal of Fulton Middle School in central Missouri. She is the Co-Author of Lead Like a PIRATE: Make School Amazing for Your Students and Staff. Beth also serves as a facilitator for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Leadership Academy, providing monthly training to state educational leaders.

She is also active in her local, state, and national principal associations. Beth is an adjunct professor at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. Fulton Middle School was recognized as a Missouri Exemplary Professional Learning Community and Solution Tree Model Professional Learning Community in 2019. Beth was named a Missouri Exemplary New Principal in 2011, the Missouri National Distinguished Principal for 2016 the 2019 National Association of Secondary School Principals Digital Principal of the Year, the EducationDive 2019 Principal of the Year, the 2021-2022 Missouri Secondary School Principal of the Year and the 2022 NASSP Principal of the Year. Beth also serves as a principal advisor for Future Ready Schools and is a Solution Tree PLC at Work Associate.  Beth’s proudest accomplishments are her two sons, Paul and Dawson. She has been honored to help lead schools that both have attended.

Aaron Huff, Principal, Benjamin Bosse High School – Indiana, and member of NASSP Board of Directors

Aaron Huff is entering his 13th year in educational leadership and 4th year as the principal of Benjamin Bosse High School in Evansville, Indiana. His professional journey has included various roles across the PreK-12 landscape, including serving as a co-curricular/after-school site coordinator, an elementary guidance counselor, an athletic coach, and an assistant principal. He is also entering his 5th year of service as a member of the Board of Directors with NASSP.

His educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Ball State University, a Masters in School Counseling from Indiana State University, completion of two Summer Leadership Institutes at Brown University, and an Education Law certificate from Indiana University. Aaron is currently a doctoral candidate in Educational Leadership Policy Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington.

Aaron’s passion for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion continues to expand as well as the goal of further understanding the implications of innovative and intentional educational leadership. His current research agenda focuses on the methods and mentalities school districts use to support and cultivate culturally responsive leadership practices across organizational and building-level terrains.

Moira Lenehan, Senior Policy Advisor, Senator Jack Reed (D – RI)

Moira Lenehan-Razzuri is the senior policy advisor for education, labor, child welfare, arts, and humanities for Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island.  Previously, she worked as the education advisor to Congressman Ruben Hinojosa, who chaired the Education Task Force for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.  In addition to her legislative experience, Moira has worked as an education advocate and has managed college internship programs. 

Kelly Vaillancourt Strobach, Policy and Advocacy Director, National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)

Dr. Kelly Vaillancourt Strobach is a nationally certified school psychologist and the Director of Policy and Advocacy for the National Association of School Psychologists.  In this role she collaborates with policymakers, national and state organizations, and individuals to advance NASP’s public policy agenda and increase access to comprehensive school psychological services.  Prior to assuming this role, Kelly was a school psychologist in Virginia for 8 years.  Kelly is a nationally recognized expert on issues including school mental health and comprehensive school safety, and she has authored numerous articles, book chapters, and presented nationally on these topics and the intersection of public policy and educational practice.  

10:30 – 11:50 a.m.                  Policy Workshops

Workshop #1: Educator Shortages and Pipelines (Schuyler Ballroom)


Jen Halter, Principal, Green Cove Springs Junior High School and NASSP Florida State Coordinator

Jen Halter is the State of Florida’s 2021 Principal of the Year! Mrs. Halter is a sixteen-year educator who began her career teaching eighth-grade students English and later became an administrator who was quickly promoted to Principal and has served in that role for the last seven years. She currently is the Principal of Clay High in Clay County, Florida. Mrs. Halter leads with the belief of providing positive learning experiences and holding high expectations for academic excellence for all students! Mrs. Halter continues to lead outside of her schools by serving as the representative for all secondary school principals at the state and national level through the Florida Association of School Administrators and the National Association of Secondary School Administrators as the State Coordinator advocating for all educators. She is currently earning her doctorate degree in Educational Leadership at the University of North Florida and is a member of Leadership Florida Education Class 6.

John Gies, Principal, Shelby High School and NASSP Ohio State Coordinator

John Gies is in his 13th year as principal at Shelby High School in Ohio.  John also has five years of experience as an assistant principal and ten years of experience in the classroom as a social studies teacher.  This is John’s third year serving as the State Coordinator for the Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators and 15th year as a member of the organization.  He also serves on the Legislative Committee and the OASSA/Ohio High School Athletic Association Committee for OASSA.  John and his wife, Cheryl, live in Shelby, Ohio, and have three children, Alex, Rachel, and Lindsey, who were all “fortunate” to have their father as their principal. 

Trevor Goertzen, Principal, Spring Hill Middle School, and NASSP Kansas State Coordinator

Trevor Goertzen is a middle school Principal for Spring Hill Middle School in Spring Hill, Kansas. He is a National Board Certified teacher, Adjunct Professor for Harding University, Vice-President of the Kansas Principal Association, NASSP State Coordinator, and Nebraska Football fan! In 2021 Trevor was awarded as one of three NASSP Digital Principals of the Year. Trevor earned his undergraduate degree from Harding University and his Masters’s in Administration from Baker University.  Previous to becoming an administrator, he was a middle school Social Studies & English teacher, Instructional Coach, and Football & Wrestling coach. Trevor spent his summers while teaching as an 1860’s living history actor, driver’s ed instructor, adventure camp counselor, and house painter. He lives in Olathe, Kansas with his wife Stephanie, kids Luke, Will, and Jane. He is an avid bow hunter, adventure seeker, active in his local church, and strives to live life to its fullest.

Workshop #2: School Safety and Mental Health Support for Students and Educators (Hamilton Room)


Derek Bellow, Principal, Liberty High School, and NASSP Nevada State Coordinator

Derek Bellow is the NASSP State Coordinator representing the state of Nevada as well as the Principal of Liberty High School in Las Vegas. Mr. Bellow has been in education since 1996, having taught special education and social studies prior to embarking on his administrative career. As an administrator, Mr. Bellow has worked as a behavior school principal, middle school principal, and now at Liberty High School. In addition to his work with NASSP, Mr. Bellow serves on the board of the Nevada Association of School Administrators as well as the local administrative bargaining group that represents administrators throughout the Clark County School District.

Clifton Hayes, Principal, Delcastle Technical High School, and NASSP Delaware State Coordinator

For the past nine years, Dr. Clifton Hayes has served as the Principal of Delcastle Technical High School. He was previously an assistant principal at Howard High School of Technology for seven years and has over 22 years of experience working at all levels of public education. He was named Assistant Principal of the Year awarded for the State of Delaware and was a two-time Harvard Club of Delaware recipient where he engaged in intensive leadership training at Harvard University. During his time as principal, Delcastle has received a SuperStars in Education Award and three Best High School Awards by the U.S. News & World Reports.

In addition to serving the students in his school, Dr. Hayes currently serves on a number of Boards including Child Inc., Delaware Association of School Principals, Delaware Association of School Administrators, and the University of Delaware’s Advisory Board for the Delaware Academy for School Leadership. Dr. Hayes lives in Delaware where he and his wife of 22 years have raised their three sons. He is active in his community and currently serves on a team that supports young adults between the ages of 19-29 at Seeds of Greatness.

Melissa Shindel, Principal, Lake Elkhorn Middle School, and NASSP Maryland State Coordinator

Melissa Shindel currently serves as a middle school principal in Howard County, Maryland.  During her 25+ years in education, she has been a teacher at the middle school and university levels, project manager and school director for a non-profit educational organization, instructional facilitator for a large school system, and assistant principal in two different large school systems near Washington DC and Baltimore. For the past thirteen years, Melissa has been a middle school principal in Howard County, Maryland. She earned her BA in secondary education and her MA in K-12 education leadership and higher education administration, both from the University of Maryland. In 1996, Melissa was awarded the Sallie Mae First Class Teacher of the Year award, and in 2009, was the NASSP/Virco National Assistant Principal of the Year. She served as President of the Maryland Association of Secondary School Principals from 2013-14, and currently serves as the NASSP Maryland State Coordinator; she was also the Vice President of the University of Maryland’s College of Education Alumni Board from 2018-2020. Melissa resides in Maryland with her husband Kevin and their children, Jake, Zach and Aaron.

1:30 – 1:45 p.m.                      NAESP-NASSP Afternoon Programming Introduction (Capitol Hilton – Presidential Ballroom)

Paul Wenger, NAESP President

Paul Wenger has been a dedicated school leader for over 21 years. He began his first principalship in Iowa in 2000 at Ed-Co Elementary School in Colesburg, before joining Jordan Creek Elementary School in West Des Moines from 2015 onward. During his tenure Wenger has also been committed to serving the profession at large and has been an active, engaged member of NAESP. His roles have included serving on the membership committee, nominating committee, as federal relations coordinator, as state representative, and as director of Zone 6 on the NAESP board.

He has also been an active member in NAESP’s state affiliate in Iowa. Wenger has served on the representative council of the School Administrators of Iowa from 2007-2015, and from 2016-2017 served as its president.

Gregg Wieczorek, NASSP President

Wieczorek has served as the principal of Arrowhead Union High School for the past 27 years and has worked in both rural and suburban settings. Wieczorek has been a member of the board for four years and has held the position of treasurer for the past two years. As an NASSP Board of Directors member, he has devoted significant advocacy efforts to raise awareness about the teacher shortage crisis and the impact of student vaping. Wieczorek and his school were recently highlighted in a Good Morning America segment regarding the proactive steps they have taken to reduce vaping among students in the school.

Wieczorek was a member of the board of directors of the Association of Wisconsin School Administrators for 14 years and served as president for the 2005–06 school year. In 2012, he was named the Wisconsin High School Principal of the Year by the organization. Wieczorek earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

1:45 – 2:15 p.m.                      Advocating for Federal Education Funding in Annual Appropriations (Capitol Hilton – Presidential Ballroom)

Sarah Abernathy, Executive Director, Committee for Education Funding (CEF)

Sarah Abernathy joined ACG Advocacy in 2016 and serves primarily as Executive Director of CEF. She has close to 30 years of experience working on education and budget issues in both Congress and in the Administration, including at the Department of Education, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Department of Health and Human Services.

For the previous 18 years Ms. Abernathy worked on the Democratic staff of the House Budget Committee, most recently serving as Senior Policy Coordinator focusing on budget issues relating to education, social services, and job training as well as environmental issues. She helped lead and manage the staff to develop goals and policy, including budget legislation. Before her stint with the Budget Committee she spent 6 years as a legislative assistant for two Democratic House members.

From 1994-1998 Ms. Abernathy worked at the U.S. Department of Education in the Planning and Evaluation Service where she focused on rehabilitation services and adult and vocational education issues. Ms. Abernathy graduated from Williams College and also earned a Master’s in Public Affairs from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs.

2:15 – 2:45 p.m.                      NAESP-NASSP Capitol Hill Day Training (Capitol Hilton – Presidential Ballroom)

  • Danny Carlson, NAESP Associate Executive Director, Policy & Advocacy
  • Amanda Karhuse, NASSP Director of Policy & Advocacy
  • Greg Waples, NASSP Senior Manager of State Engagement & Outreach

4:00 – 5:00 p.m.                      Keynote Speaker (Capitol Hilton – Presidential Ballroom)

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona

Miguel A. Cardona is the 12th U.S. Secretary of Education. Secretary Cardona has dedicated his career to serving students, educators, and families as an elementary school teacher, school principal, district administrator, and, most recently, as commissioner of education for the state of Connecticut. Secretary Cardona’s focus on equity and excellence for all learners has driven his work at all levels of the education sector. Secretary Cardona has led the federal government’s effort to support states in reopening America’s public schools for in-person learning amid the recovery from the pandemic, moving from only 46 percent of schools open when President Biden took office to nearly 100 percent of schools open today. Under Secretary Cardona’s leadership, the U.S. Department of Education also has distributed historic funding through the American Rescue Plan to support K-12 schools and colleges and has granted more than $13 billion in student loan forgiveness.

Secretary Cardona earned a bachelor’s degree at Central Connecticut State University as well as a master’s degree and doctorate degree from the University of Connecticut. Secretary Cardona and his wife Marissa are the proud parents of two children who attend public school.