Keynote Speakers

Liz Huntley

Elizabeth “Liz” Huntley is an accomplished litigation attorney, dedicated child advocate, author and lecturer. Liz is the President and Co-Founder of the Hope Institute which is an organization in Alabama that helps schools build a culture of character for their students. She practices law at Lightfoot, Franklin & White, LLC in Birmingham, Alabama.Liz earned her law degree from the University Of Alabama School Of Law where she now serves on the Law School Foundation Board of Governors. She received her undergraduate degree from Auburn University, where she is now a member of the Auburn University Board of Trustees. Liz serves on multiple civic boards, commissions and tasks forces throughout Alabama and the country. She regularly speaks to groups throughout the U.S., often referencing her own journey as described in her published memoir titled “More Than A Bird.” Liz and her husband Tony live in Alabama and have three children.

Jenna Weglarz-Ward, PhD

JENNA WEGLARZ-WARD is an associate professor in early childhood/special education at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and research coordinator at the Lynn Bennett Early Childhood Education Center. Her research focuses on the inclusion of young children with disabilities in community settings through family-centered practices. She serves as the principal investigator for several projects centered around supporting professionals’ skills in family partnership. She serves on Nevada early childhood-related councils including the Nevada Pyramid Partnership, Nevada Part C Interagency Coordinating Council, and the Nevada Early Childhood Advocacy Council and national organizations including the Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children (serving as President) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children. She was formerly a UNLV College of Education Dean’s Policy Fellow and National Center on Pyramid Model Innovations fellow.

Joy Winchester

Joy Winchester is the Director of the Office of Early Childhood Development and Professional Support within the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education. Her position involves supporting the work of 60 Education Specialists statewide with challenging behaviors and coaching teachers through tough situations. Her background in educational neuroscience allows for a unique perspective when working with challenging behaviors and understanding the brain to understand behaviors. Joy Winchester has completed neuroscience coursework In Mind, Brain and Teaching with Johns Hopkins and now is working with an international cohort based in Australia to build skills in applying educational neuroscience in coaching. Following the research trends in educational neuroscience, she will be completing coursework with Butler University to explore applied educational neuroscience and trauma in a multitude of areas. Joy Winchester has worked with families, teachers, state and community leaders, juvenile probation officers, inmates, and recovering addicts to understand their brains to better understand behaviors.

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