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Embodied Positive Psychology Summit: Leadership in Education
Sunday, June 23–Wednesday, June 26, 2019.

Without collaboration our growth is limited to our own perspectives.—Robert John Meehan

Panel Discussion

During the panel discussion on Monday, June 24 from 2:45-3:45 pm, leaders will share how they have embodied positive change in their organization. Through hearing these diverse perspectives, we broaden our understanding of what is possible, and learn how to tackle thorny challenges one step at a time.

You’ll have a chance to ask the panel questions as you learn how other leaders are setting the context for positive and constructive ecosystems.

Barbara Vacarr

Barbara Vacarr, PhD, is the CEO of Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. She is a psychologist, an adult educator, and the former president and CEO of Goddard College in Vermont. Her distinguished careers in higher education and mental health and human services have given her the skills and wisdom to advance Kripalu’s leadership position, offering the gold standard for yoga education and serving as a global vehicle for social impact. Committed to learning what creates meaningful change in the world, Barbara has spent almost 30 years developing programs that support adult and non-traditional students to grow and transform—strengthening the connections between education, livelihood, and daily life.

Barbara will add the perspective of deep listening as the foundation for creating a culture of trust.

Curtis Smith

Curtis Smith is an educator, speaker, and creator of Moment of Mindfulness LLC (MOM), a mindfulness methodology and company committed to empowering communities to activate their best intentions through culturally responsive yet evidence-based mindfulness tools. In 2013, he co-founded one of the top-rated public middle schools in Brooklyn, New York. In his tenth year as an educator, he leads the mindfulness program that is infused into the school’s mission, Character Education. The program has contributed to Vista Academy’s improved learning community and led to his work with New York City Department of Education District 19, where he facilitates and designs workshops for Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance. Curtis has transformed thousands of lives in more than 33 New York City public schools by using music, movement, art, and writing to activate the science-based benefits of mindfulness.

Curtis will add the perspective of culturally responsive mindfulness in schools of color.

Tom Thibodeau

Tom Thibodeau is an assistant provost at the New England Institute of Technology in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, where he has worked for the last 17 years. He serves as the division chair for seven academic departments with 15 degree programs and more than 1,200 students. He also leads faculty development, outcomes assessment, and attendance tracking through a team-based approach. As facilitator of new faculty orientation, Tom stresses the use of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), active learning, problem-based learning, and technology-enhanced teaching and learning. He has been involved in online education since 1996, and has seen firsthand the impact that positive planning and design can have on student engagement, especially when these are designed to meet the needs of all learners. He is the co-author with Dr. Katie Novak of UDL in the Cloud.

Tom will add the perspective of active learning and universal design.

Ellen Feig Gray

Ellen Feig Gray is the co-author, with Angela Stockman, of Hacking School Culture: Designing Compassionate Classrooms, ​and the founder of Parent with Perspective. Ellen is a parent educator and positive psychology practitioner who is passionate about cultivating the well-being of families, children, and teens. Through consultations, workshops, and programs, she shares findings and insights from the science of happiness, the wisdom traditions, and her own life, to support those who raise and educate young people.

Ellen will add the perspective of how teachers are “hacking” school culture by using empathy-building tools, practices, and protocols to inspire positive change.