• Meet Our Presenters

    • Norma Rixter
      Developing Your Self-care Arsenal

      Norma Rixter is a published Author, Certified Master Fitness Trainer and Nutritionist, the founder of SoarThru Health and Wellness Consulting and a former Chicago Public School Teacher. I have worked with major corporations such as IBM, McDonalds, Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola providing Lunch-n-Learn seminars and workshops.

    • Nichole Carey
      Own It!

      Nichole Carey, M.Ed., LPC is a licensed professional counselor currently serving as a professional high school counselor. Nichole has almost ten years of experience in the field of mental health working exclusively with young adults.

      To learn more about Own It  Chicago visit ownitchicago.com and follow us on facebook https://www.facebook.com/ownitchicago/.

    • Sarah Peters
      Own It!

      Sarah Peters, M.Ed, is a certified middle and secondary school teacher endorsed in Social Studies and Business.  Currently teaching and coaching at the high school level, Sarah has ten years of experience helping several types of learners develop and grow to prepare for college.

      To learn more about Own It  Chicago visit ownitchicago.com and follow us on facebook https://www.facebook.com/ownitchicago/.

    • Shaka Rawls
      Trauma-sensitive Parenting

      Mr. Shaka A. Rawls is the founder of I.M.P.A.C.T. (Inspiring and Motivating Positive Actions for City Teens), an organization dedicated to community engagement and mentoring city students. He has more than 17 years of classroom experience, holding various teaching positions at both the high school and college level. Receive his Masters in Education and Instructional Leadership from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Mr. Rawls is currently finishing his Ph.D in Educational Policy Studies from UIC where his research explores the intersectionality of school policy and community vitality.  

    • Lynn Gilbertsen
      Math at Home: Add in Fun and Multiply Your Child's Success

      Lynn Gilbertsen, M.Ed. has been working with students for 15 years to help them develop the skills they need to feel confident and successful in any subject they encounter. She provides literacy, math, and executive functioning support to students from preschool age all the way through college. Lynn has taught and coached students in the Chicago Public Schools, suburban school districts, tutoring centers, and private schools. Her passion is helping students and their families feel excited and positive about learning and educational growth.

    • Sandra Gorney
      Playing to Learn and Learning to Play

      Sandra Gorney, M. Ed., currently teaches Title I, Reading and Math, with Catapult Learning. Sandra has 18 years of teaching experience working with diverse student populations and students with special needs.

    • Tracey Foster
      What is Title I?

      Tracy L Foster currently is a Title I Coordinator with Chicago Public Schools. With over 20 years of experience in Early Education, Head Start, Program Governance, and Parent and Community Engagement. Tracy is passionate about supporting Parents, and ensuring all students have access to resources that promote success.

    • Anita Rosso
      Resources for College Access, Scholarships and Success

      Anita Rosso has more than 15 years’ experience working and teaching in the communities of South Chicago, Pilsen, Little Village and Cicero with city, state and national grant programming.  Her current position as director of TRIO Student Support Services (a U. S. Department of Education grant) for the past 22 years has provided holistic academic support for first-generation and low-income undergraduates at DePaul University, helping them to stay at the university, graduate and enter their careers.


    • Katy Steele
      Navigating the ACT and SAT

      Katy Steele is the Director of Classroom Learning at Academic Approach.  She supports Academic Approach’s team of instructors teaching SAT and ACT prep classes across Chicago and the surrounding areas. Katy was a 2009 Teach for America Corps member in Philadelphia where she taught high school special education English Language Arts while earning her M. Ed. in Special Education from Chestnut Hill College.  In 2011, Katy returned to Chicago to teach at a high-performing non-selective charter school for four years where she refined her teaching practices, helped students maximize their annual test growth, and served as the special education department chair for two years.


    • Donna Moss
      Proactive vs. Reactive Parenting

      Donna Moss is a certified, veteran teacher with twenty-four years of teaching experience in all core subjects in both the public and private sectors. She earned her Master’s degree in Urban Teaching from Concordia University Chicago and possesses endorsements in English as a Second Language and Social Studies. Ms. Moss works to instill confidence in all her students by giving them praise and encouragement, challenging students academically, fostering creativity, and allowing students many opportunities to succeed.

    • Corrine Durrette
      Incorporating Mindfulness for Adults and Students

      Corinne Durrette has 7 years of experience teaching high school science (primarily Chemistry and Physics) in the General Education and Diverse Learner setting. Additionally, she teaches a post secondary prep course through a program called Embarc, which focuses on individual student development through experiential learning. She received her B.A from Temple University in Psychology and African American Studies, and her M.Ed in Curriculum Design and Instruction. In her quest to diversify and add meaning and rigour curriculum, she has collaborated with education professionals across the US and abroad through the Stanford Hollyhock Fellowship Program and the Fulbright Teachers for Global Classroom Program.

    • Gabrielle Benoit
      Incorporation Mindfulness for Adults and Students

      Gabrielle Benoit is a Special Education/English teacher at Wendell Phillips Academy High School in Bronzeville.. Gabrielle works closely with Corinne Durrette, coaching students through community advocacy projects and student-led social justice movements. Gabrielle leads her students through mindfulness routines and often writes grants to support mindfulness in the classroom. Gabrielle is an alumni of the Stanford University Hollyhock Fellowship, an Engagement Specialist for The Academy Group, and member of the Board of Directors for the National Youth Advocate Program foster care and social services non-profit organization.

    • Holly Geneva
      When Too much Screen Time Hurts Development

      Holly Geneva holds a Bachelor’s degree in Educational Ministries from Moody Bible Institute and is currently pursuing her Masters in Clinical Mental Health Care from Moody Theological Seminary. Holly is passionate about providing holistic developmental care for children such as helping children overcome shame and low self-esteem. She is particularly interested in technology and how it relates to personhood and the effects on children.

    • Monica Caldwell
      A Parent's’ Guide to Organizing School Life

      Monica Caldwell received a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a minor in Neuroscience at Western Illinois University, and is currently pursuing an advanced degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Concordia University Chicago. She is excited to be an academic coach and have the opportunity to work with individual students in helping them achieve their goals and uncover the skills needed for academic success. Monica enjoys listening to and supporting children as they define and refine their academic selves and to watch them become more confident in themselves as they discover their own unique talents and abilities.

    • Marycarmen Jasso
      Social Media Safety with your Youth

      Marycarmen Jasso holds a Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Sciences in Psychology from UIC and is currently pursuing a Masters of Social Work from Dominican University. Mary Carmen is currently an Academic Coach at Tolton Academy where she builds executive functioning through weekly sessions. She values active listening, ethics, and advocacy.


    • Dr. Citaly Gonzalez
      The TEENy Problems BeTWEEN you and Me: Helping Adolescence Make Sense

      Dr. Citlaly Gonzalez is a licensed clinical psychologist whose specialties include autism, Latino mental health and adolescent identity development. Since joining United Stand in 2011 she has worked at several elementary and high schools all over Chicago. Currently, she serves as Director for United Stand’s Bilingual Center for Inclusive Education and head of counseling and academic coaching at Our Lady of Tepeyac Elementary and High Schools.  She is also a mom and enjoys exploring the city with her family and finding natural opportunities for discovering, connecting, and learning wherever they go!


    • Sharon Ramski
      Help Your Child be a Mathematician

      Sharon Ramski, a Title I supervisor, is a certified reading specialist and has worked with schools to develop RtI programs and align math, reading, and language arts programs to the Common Core State Standards. As a former teacher of the Archdiocese of Chicago, she uses her experiences, resources, and knowledge to conduct professional developments, seminars, and workshops for administration, teachers, and parents. She strongly believes with the right tools and guidance every child can be successful in school.

    • Lois Tawfik
      When Too Much Screen Time Hurts Development

      Lois Tawfik holds a Bachelor’s degree in Pre-Counseling and is pursuing an advanced graduate degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Moody Bible Institute. Lois is an Academic Coach at two different Title 1 schools and works with different age groups, between 5-13 years old. Her professional approach is to integrate CBT with narrative and person-centered therapies. She believes that the person is the expert of their own life and works around meeting them where they are at through empathic listening and asking reflecting questions.

    • Olettia Cheers
      My Child and Special Ed.: There's light at the end of the tunnel.

      Olettia Cheers is committed educator with vast experience spanning 18 years. Olettia’s experience spans various roles from classroom teacher, to counseling students enrolled in a respective high school scholarship program, to school administrator (asst. principal and principal). Her approach to teaching is guided by a true calling and fueled by a genuine desire to help.  She hopes that from her interactions, students are driven to facilitate their own learning while parents have the efficacy to support. Olettia comes from a family of educators and the importance of education is in her DNA, thus her mantra:  “Money grants you access but education grants you opportunity.”


    • Liz Repking
      Protecting Children in a Hyper Digital Age

      Liz Repking founded Cyber Safety Consulting over 5 years ago, with the goal of educating parents, children, and school educators on the safe, savvy, and ethical use of the digital world. She believes that every parent has the ability and responsibility to understand the technology and social networking sites that children are frequenting. She is also the founder of the CASE program, Cyber Awareness & Safety Education, which is implemented in middle schools nationwide. She speaks nationwide to both students and parents on this topic. Liz has been seen on WGN News, Fox Morning Show, NBC News, The Morning Blend and has contributed to many national news outlets and articles.

    • Maria Morales
      Applying for Financial Aid, it’s not as Hard as you Think

      Maria Morales is the Director of Student Services in the Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships at University of Illinois at Chicago.  Maria has over 15 Years of financial aid experience in the University of Illinois System.

    • Janice Wells
      Advocating and Helping your Child at School

      Janice Wells is CEO and founder of Sankofa Education Group, Inc., an educational consulting group that supports school and district leadership. She was the first contract principal of the only public, selective enrollment high school with three authorized International Baccalaureate and two Career and Technical Education programs in the state of Illinois. Ms. Wells is a native Chicagoan and alumna of Whitney M. Young Magnet High School. She received her undergraduate degree from the prestigious Florida A&M University, and graduate degree from Chicago State University.

    • Dr. Danielle Harris
      I Taught You First! 10 Ways to Support Your Student at Home

      Dr. Danielle Harris is a career educator and the founder of Lead Ready Consulting, a company dedicated to helping individuals learn, teach and lead. With over 15 years of experience in teaching, learning and leading, she now uses her experience to help others through speaking, coaching, professional development and workshops.

    • Kenyon Douglas
      Effective Communication

      Kenyon Douglass, LCPC is a strong advocate of higher education. Kenyon actively serve in various capacities relative human development and self-actualization. Her extensive background of working with diverse student populations and linking them to best fit educational and career paths is her primary passion. Her mantra, “Education is the Key to SUCCESS”!

    • Moira Borkovec
      Own It!

      Moira C. Borkovec, M.Ed., currently teaches high school English Literature.  Moira has over 20 years of experience including elementary school administration experience.

      To learn more about Own It  Chicago visit ownitchicago.com and follow us on facebook https://www.facebook.com/ownitchicago/.