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Yoga in the Schools Symposium

Keynotes | Presenters | Program Committee | Research Summit Committee

Keynote Presenters

John J. RateyJohn J. Ratey, MD, clinical psychiatrist, research synthesizer, speaker, and associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, has lectured throughout the world and published 60 peer-reviewed articles on the topics of aggression, autism, ADHD, and other issues in neuropsychiatry. Author of A User’s Guide to the Brain, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, and Go Wild, Dr. Ratey has been voted one of the Best Doctors in America every year since 1995. He has made it his mission to broadcast life-changing science and establish best practice policies in schools and other organizations to reclaim human health.

Sat Bir S. KhalsaSat Bir S. Khalsa, PhD, is an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in the department of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He also directs research for Kripalu’s Institute for Extraordinary Living. His projects have focused on the therapeutic applications of yoga in a number of settings, including public schools, and for several conditions, including insomnia, performance anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. He is one of the most active and experienced researchers in the yoga world today. Read more about Sat Bir.

Jennifer Cohen Harper Jennifer Cohen Harper, MA, E-RYT, RCYT, is a leading voice in the children’s yoga and mindfulness community, and the author of Little Flower Yoga for Kids: A Yoga and Mindfulness Program to Help Your Child Improve Attention and Emotional Balance. She is the founder and director of Little Flower Yoga, a national organization based in New York, and the School Yoga Project, which brings yoga and mindfulness to schools nationwide. Jennifer is the vice president of the Yoga Service Council and an active member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists. She leads a well-respected children’s yoga and mindfulness teacher certification program, offers continuing education seminars for allied professionals, and provides therapeutic yoga classes to children and families. Her work has been featured in prominent publications, including the New York Times, Yoga Journal, and the International Journal of Yoga Therapy.

Traci ChildressTraci Childress, an educator, organizer and visionary, has been supporting the fields of yoga and mindfulness since 2000. She is co-editor of the Yoga Service Council’s White Book, Transforming Education Through Yoga. As co-founder and executive director of the Children’s Community School in Philadelphia, she supports the integration of mindfulness into classroom curriculum and school culture. As founder of the Mindful Reflection Project, she supports schools, mission-based organizations, families, teachers, and individuals to create space for authentic relationships, sustainable work, and more socially just community. tracichildress.com


Presenters

Anne Buckley-Reen, OTR, RYT, is a pediatric occupational therapist and yoga therapist/teacher with more than 30 years of pediatric experience. She is creator of the popular programs Yoga Therapy for the Child with Developmental Challenges and the school-based Get Ready to Learn (Yoga Therapy in the Classroom). A sought after presenter, Anne shares a wealth of practical yoga interventions for children of all abilities.

Bethany Butzer, PhD, author, speaker, and yoga teacher, is a postdoctoral research fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School in Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa’s lab. Bethany directs research on the Kripalu Yoga in the Schools program to evaluate yoga’s effect on child and adolescent mental health. Bethany’s research background spans several areas of Positive Psychology.

Michelle Campbell, MEd, joined the Physical Education department at Monument Mountain Regional High School in 2006. Prior to her tenure at MMRHS, Michelle taught in Minnechaug High School and at Springfield College. Michelle has worked with students in courses such as Physical Ed. and Health, as well as serving in the capacity of class advisor to Class of 2010 and assistant girls’ soccer coach for four years.

Catherine Cook-CottoneCatherine Cook-Cottone, PhD, is a licensed psychologist, registered yoga teacher, and associate professor in the Department of Counseling, School, and Educational Psychology at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Her research specializes in embodied self-regulation through practices such as yoga, mindfulness, and self-care; and psychosocial disorders, including eating disorders and trauma. She has studied school interventions for 15 years and is the author of more than 50 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and four books, including a school-based yoga intervention for girls (Girls Growing in Wellness and Balance: Yoga and Life Skills to Empower) and the forthcoming Mindfulness and Yoga for Self-Regulation: A Primer for Clinicians. As a national and international speaker, Catherine uses her model of embodied self-regulation to structure discussions on empirical work and practical applications. She teaches classes on mindful therapy, yoga for health and healing, self-care and service, and counseling for children and adolescents. gse.buffalo.edu

Anne Desmond is a certified yoga teacher and co-founder of Bent On Learning (BOL)—an organization that brings yoga into New York City public schools during the academic day. She is co-creator of BOL’s curriculum and has taught yoga to hundreds of middle- and high-school students in urban classrooms since 2001. BOL is currently taught to 3,000 students in 16 schools and has served 18,000 students to date.

Eugene Fisher is one of the founding members of the Watts Learning Center (WLC)—a middle school in Los Angeles who’s mission is to provide a world-class education to children from low-income families—and president of the school’s Board of Directors. As a consultant, he conducted focus groups that revealed the public’s great concern about low achievement in traditional public schools, especially for children from inner city communities. The results of these studies formed the foundation for WLC, which has received many awards for academic excellence including the 2007 California Charter School of the Year Award. Eugene spent many years in government, working in a myriad of roles for the South Coast Air Quality Management District. As the organization’s chief lobbyist, he led efforts to help pass numerous laws regulating air pollution sources and improving air quality in California. He has received numerous commendations from local government and state and federal legislative bodies for his work toward improving California’s environment. Eugene also served as senior vice president at Medicine for Humanity and worked in South Africa to mitigate cervical cancer, the number one cancer killer of women in Africa. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from UCLA and a master’s in environmental studies from California State University-Dominguez Hills.

Kathy Flaminio, E-RYT 200, is the founder of 1000 Petals LLC, a well-being training and consulting company on the science and practice of mindfulness and movement. As the national director of training development for Yoga Calm®, Kathy has trained more than 4,000 individuals on how to integrate yoga-based movement, breathing techniques, and social/emotional skills into their work with children and teens. She is adjunct faculty for St. Mary’s University and holds a master’s degree in social work with more than twenty years of experience in school settings, non-profits, and community organizations. Kathy is a frequent presenter at local and national mental health conferences specializing in mind-body work, including the American School Counseling Association, Minnesota Adolescent and Child Mental Health Conference, the National Association of School Social Workers, the Minnesota Education Association, and the keynote speaker for the Minnesota School Social Workers Association and Central Minnesota School Counselor’s Association.

Lisa Flynn, E-RYT, RCYT, is founder and director of ChildLight Yoga® and its school yoga affiliate, Yoga 4 Classrooms®—organizations providing evidence-informed yoga and mindfulness education to children. She also trains and consults for yoga teachers, educators and schools. Lisa is the author of the Yoga 4 Classrooms Cards and Yoga for Children: 200+ Yoga Poses, Breathing Exercises, and Meditation for Healthier, Happier, More Resilient Children.

Lynea Gillen, MS, LPC, RYT 200, is the cofounder of Yoga Calm® and an adjunct faculty member at Portland State University and Lewis & Clark College. She has been practicing yoga since 1973 and has more than 35 years of experience as a schoolteacher and counselor. Lynea is a licensed professional counselor and holds a Master of Science degree in counseling in education from Portland State University. She is the award-winning author of Yoga Calm for Children: Educating Heart, Mind and Body; Good People Everywhere; and Mindful Moments Cards. To date, her Yoga Calm program has trained more than 6,000 school teachers, counselors, therapists, and parents.

Jory Houser is a school counselor with Des Moines public schools, playing an integral role in integrating yoga curricula at his school. He is especially interested in monitoring the impact of program implementation by collecting and reviewing data. Jory recently presented Yoga 4 Classrooms: How to Implement a School-Wide Approach at the annual conference of the Iowa School Counselor’s Association.

Andrea Hyde, PhD, is an associate professor at Western Illinois University, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the social foundations of education, education policy and qualitative research. Andrea studies school-based yoga and mindfulness programs in K–12 and higher education and relates this work to critical pedagogy and social justice education. Her policy and curriculum work argues to have mind-body practices incorporated into teacher education based on their alignment with state and national standards for social-emotional learning, physical education, universal design for learning principles, anti-bullying programs, and wellness initiatives, including teacher resiliency. As a consultant and program evaluator for the Pittsburgh-based non-profit organization Yoga in Schools, Andrea is part of a team that designs and delivers a grant-supported, standard-aligned, professional development program for teachers in the use of yoga techniques as part of their physical education and health classes. This team also provides training and support to teachers and other school staff on how to use these techniques in the classroom to calm students and get them ready for learning. Andrea is certified to teach yoga to both children and adults and to develop and facilitate the Yoga Ed. Tools for Teachers workshops for education students and active educators at all levels. She teaches a free, weekly adult yoga class on campus.

Krishna KaurKrishna Kaur has passionately taught the art and science of Kundalini Yoga and self-awareness for 40 years. A spiritual activist, she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from her teaching in Africa, Mexico, and inner cities throughout the United States. A master teacher trainer of Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan, she also conducts workshops in Canada, Europe, and Latin America. She is certified by the Kundalini Research Institute as a Lead Kundalini Yoga Teacher Trainer of both Level I and II. Krishna is the regional coordinator for 3HO Africa, focused on stabilizing Kundalini Yoga practices in countries throughout Africa. She also founded and runs Y.O.G.A. for Youth, a non-profit dedicated to training yoga teachers to work with at-risk youth and creating yoga programs in schools and juvenile facilities. Krishna opened the first yoga center in South Central Los Angeles, and still resides in the area today. Her passion is sharing yogic tools to “Release Fear and Allow Joy” coupled with “Practicing Forgiveness” to the full spectrum of yoga practitioners. She has a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Redlands.

Keval Kaur Khalsa, MA, is a professional Kundalini Yoga trainer, North Carolina regional coordinator for Y.O.G.A. for Youth, and associate professor of the Practice in Dance and Theater Studies and Service Learning Faculty Fellow at Duke University, where she has been on the faculty for 25 years and served as the Director of the Dance Program for seven years. Keval helped bring the first Level I Kundalini Yoga teacher training and Y.O.G.A. for Youth teacher training courses to North Carolina and spearheaded the development of Y.O.G.A. for Youth programming in four counties in central and western North Carolina. She has taught yoga on three continents, and served on Level I Teacher Training teams around the country and the world. At Duke University, she developed and currently teaches the course Kundalini Yoga and Sikh Dharma, as well as courses in modern dance technique and performance and social change, a service learning based on the work of Augusto Boal. She is a co-creator and administrator of five Across the Threshold: Creativity, Being & Healing conferences, which have brought together scholars and practitioners from many fields, cultures and countries to explore the transformative paths humans have discovered/created through performance, spiritual/religious/ritual practices, and healing practices.

Kelli Love, MEd, RYT 500, teaches yoga and mindfulness at Girls Prep Bronx in New York City, where she builds themed curriculum with an emphasis on combining yoga and mindfulness with social and emotional learning and literacy concepts. Kelli has been teaching in schools since 2000. She has had experience in many educational environments—both public and private, first as a classroom teacher and now as a yoga and mindfulness specialist in a charter school. She began the path of contemplative education at Naropa University (early childhood education), where practices such as yoga and mindfulness were integrated into the higher-education curriculum. After observing the impact yoga and mindfulness made on her own life, Kelli set out to combine her background in education with her yoga training (YogaWorks) and bring yoga into schools. She is a Yoga Alliance–registered children’s yoga teacher.

Alison Pope joined Communities in Schools of Orange County (CIS Orange) in August 2013 as a teacher for a CIS afterschool program at Stanford Middle School. In 2014, she became the program director for CIS Orange. Alison graduated from Hendrix College in Arkansas with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and minor in gender studies.

Cynthia Zurchin, PhD, is the superintendent of the Ambridge Area School District in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. She spent 25 years in the Pittsburgh Public Schools where she worked as an elementary and high school principal, an administrator on special assignment training new principals, assisting low achieving schools, and integrating arts education programs. She also served as a staff development specialist, middle school assistant principal and a middle and high school teacher. Cynthia created the first Whale Done! school, building a team that supported each other through this new initiative and teaching them to rewire their thinking to achieve beyond their greatest expectations. Cynthia is the past board president for Yoga in Schools and past board member for The Education Partnership. She received her doctorate degree in educational leadership from Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She has also studied leadership at the Covey Leadership Institute in Utah and taught in Brisbane, Australia.

Program Committee

Iona M. SmithIona M. Smith, MEd, CYT 500, is Program Leader for Kripalu Yoga in the Schools. She cocreated the KYIS curriculum, co-facilitates the KYIS Teacher Training, and serves as a Yoga Educator for KYIS research studies. Iona holds a master’s degree in education from Harvard University and a 500-hour yoga teacher certification from the Nosara Yoga Institute in Costa Rica. Read more about Kripalu Yoga in the Schools.

Traci ChildressTraci Childress, an educator, organizer and visionary, has been supporting the fields of yoga and mindfulness since 2000. She is co-editor of the Yoga Service Council’s White Book, Transforming Education Through Yoga. As co-founder and executive director of the Children’s Community School in Philadelphia, she supports the integration of mindfulness into classroom curriculum and school culture. As founder of the Mindful Reflection Project, she supports schools, mission-based organizations, families, teachers, and individuals to create space for authentic relationships, sustainable work, and more socially just community. tracichildress.com

Joanne SpenceJoanne Spence is the director of Yoga on the Square, an all-inclusive, eco-friendly yoga studio in Pittsburgh’s East End, and the founder and executive director of Yoga in Schools. Since 2005, Yoga in Schools has exposed approximately 18,000 K–12 students to yoga programs, and 1,000 teachers to varying levels of Tools for Teachers trainings and Yoga Ed curriculum. She brings 20 years of social work experience to her work, and is also a yoga therapist and staff developer for the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic. yogainschools.org

Michelle Kelsey MitchellMichelle Kelsey Mitchell is the co-founder and executive director of YoKid…Stretch Your Limits, a nonprofit organization bringing the benefits of yoga to underserved youth. Michelle has has a master’s in counseling & human services, and has spent more than 10 years working in the public school systems of northern Virginia and Buffalo, New York. Her work with students has made her aware of the deep need for early cultivation of self-awareness in our society.

Carla TantilloCarla Tantillo is the founder of Mindful Practices, offering yoga and wellness programs for school districts. A certified yoga teacher with a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, Carla was a founding teacher and curriculum director of a high-poverty school in Chicago, and has taught at both the secondary and elementary levels. She is the cocreator of Hip-HopYoga™ and provides professional development to schools across the country. An international presenter, consultant, and author, Carla is dedicated to putting yoga and wellness strategies into the hands of students and teachers everywhere.


Research Summit Committee

Sat Bir S. KhalsaSat Bir S. Khalsa, PhD, is an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in the department of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He also directs research for Kripalu’s Institute for Extraordinary Living. His projects have focused on the therapeutic applications of yoga in a number of settings, including public schools, and for several conditions, including insomnia, performance anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. He is one of the most active and experienced researchers in the yoga world today. Read more about Sat Bir.

Catherine Cook-CottoneCatherine Cook-Cottone, PhD, is a licensed psychologist, registered yoga teacher, and associate professor in the Department of Counseling, School, and Educational Psychology at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Her research specializes in embodied self-regulation through practices such as yoga, mindfulness, and self-care; and psychosocial disorders, including eating disorders and trauma. She has studied school interventions for 15 years and is the author of more than 50 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and four books, including a school-based yoga intervention for girls (Girls Growing in Wellness and Balance: Yoga and Life Skills to Empower) and the forthcoming Mindfulness and Yoga for Self-Regulation: A Primer for Clinicians. As a national and international speaker, Catherine uses her model of embodied self-regulation to structure discussions on empirical work and practical applications. She teaches classes on mindful therapy, yoga for health and healing, self-care and service, and counseling for children and adolescents. gse.buffalo.edu

Tamar MendelsonTamar Mendelson, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Mental Health at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. Trained as a clinical psychologist, she specializes in research on the development of prevention and intervention strategies, with a focus on underserved urban populations. Tamar is particularly interested in evaluating the potential of school-based mindfulness and yoga interventions to improve emotional and behavioral outcomes for urban youth. www.jhsph.edu

Shari MillerShari Miller, PhD, is a research psychologist at RTI International. She has worked in schools for more than two decades, and recently completed a school-based pilot study, implementing a mindful yoga curriculum with high-risk adolescents. Shari is a registered yoga instructor and is currently enrolled in a yoga therapy training program. She is also a clinical psychologist with experience in inpatient and outpatient mental-health and pediatric settings.