Speaker/Attendee Biographies A-F

Bios as submitted by attendees. Please send any changes to Bridges 2e Center: admin@2esymposium.com 🙂

Cameron Aaron is a native of Studio City, CA and graduated from Bridges Academy with a young expert designation after doing Neuroscience and Artificial intelligence research. He is a Junior at Connecticut College in New London, CT and a Software Engineer at GitHub a subsidiary of Microsoft. Cameron is a double major in Computer Science and Psychology with a minor in Cognitive Science and a Scholar in the Ammerman Center of Arts and Technology. He conducts both Artificial intelligence and Cognitive Neuroscience research. He is currently the head of special events at the Connecticut College TED Club and is in charge of the youth event TEDxYouth@NewLondon. He is a Google product Expert and is currently a moderator for the official Google Android Beta subreddit.

Janis Adams is the CEO/Founder of Academic Achievers Educational Services. She has taught at private as well as public high schools in both Pennsylvania and California. As an educator, Janis has designed cooperative learning curriculum, team-taught several innovative cross-disciplinary courses, and implemented the first paperless classroom in California.

Janis originated KinderPrep® and KinderPrep Camp® as a play-based academically oriented transition to school for the young learner.

She also founded Academic Achievers Academy, a unique one-on-one K-6 school with interest-based customized academics, flexible scheduling and differentiated instruction.

Janis has twice received the Women in Business Gold Stevie Award in national recognition of “Entrepreneur of the Year – Small Business”. She has been nominated by the Los Angeles Business Journal as a “Woman Making a Difference” for five straight years and runner-up “Rising Star”. She has been recognized by the SBDC and the County of Los Angeles for her dedication to educational services.

Laura Almo is a professor of film at El Camino College in Torrance where she oversees the film department. She is also the parent of a 2e twelve year old.

Professor Joe Assouline earned his Ph.S. at the University of Iowa. Following a research fellowship at the National Institutes of Health, he joined the faculty of the UI where he is a neuroscientist and biomedical researcher. He has extensive experience in neuroimaging and nanoscience. He is the founder and director of Nanomedtrix, a company that specializes in biotechnical research. Dr. Assouline is also a musician and artist.

Lois Baldwin is an inaugural 2e Hall of Fame honoree. She is a former supervisor and principal of special education for the Board of Cooperative Education Services of Southern Westchester in White Plains, N.Y. She directed, supervised, and produced comprehensive educational and support services for students in Grades 1-12 who have average or above average/gifted intelligence and are learning disabled and/or emotionally disturbed. In addition, she supervised a wide variety of special education services, coordinated staff development for the Special Services Center, and coordinated mainstream efforts with public school administrators and staff. Lois received her doctorate in gifted, special education, and educational administration from Teachers College at Columbia University. Lois is the current president and one of the co-founders of AEGUS. She is a member of NAGC, AGATE, CEC, and ASCD. She currently consults nationally.

Jon Baum is Head of Content Operations at 2e News and Bridges Academy. Prior to joining Bridges in 2016, he spent 15 years in online sports journalism, focusing mainly on creating original content, developing and implementing editorial plans, and managing content teams for the web’s top-trafficked sports sites. Having worked at Yahoo! Sports, ESPN.com, and GOOD Magazine, Jon has covered events such as the Super Bowl, the NBA Draft, the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500, the final games at Yankee and Shea Stadiums, Pacquiao-Hatton, the Vancouver Winter Olympics, and a café down the street in Studio City being turned into a replica of the diner from Gilmore Girls.

Susan Baum, Ph.D. is the Director of the 2e Center for Research and Professional Development at Bridges Academy, a school for twice exceptional and Provost for the Bridges Graduate School of Cognitive Diversity in Education. She is the 2010 recipient of the Life Time Achievement Award granted by the Weinfeld Group, for her contributions to the field of the education of twice exceptional learners, 2011 recipient of the Connecticut Association for the Gifted “Friend of the Gifted Award: and the 2015 Distinguish Professional Alumni Award from the Neag School of Education for her work with twice exceptional students and the Lifetime Achievement Award from AEGUS and the 2e Newsletter in 2017.In addition the  seminal book now in its third edition, To be gifted and learning disabled: Strength-based strategies for helping twice exceptional students with LD, ADHD, ASD, and more (Baum, Schader, & Owen) was awarded the won the book of the year NAGC Book of the Year award in 1918. 

Professor Emeritus from The College of New Rochelle, Dr. Baum is widely published in the areas of differentiated instruction, twice exceptional students, primary-aged gifted students, and social and emotional factors affecting gifted students. A popular speaker and workshop presenter, she has traveled worldwide teaching about creativity, education of the gifted and talented and twice exceptionality. She currently is a frequent presenter at Bright and Quirky—an online summit for supporting twice exceptionality. 

Dr. Baum has served on the Board of Directors of the National Association for Gifted Students, Smart Kids with 2e, and is the past president and founder of the Association for the Education of Gifted Underachieving Students (AEGUS).

Kristin B. Berman, Ph.D.
Kristin is currently the Director of Academics at Bridges Academy working with all divisions of the school. She recently came to Southern California having previously served as Head of School at The Quad Preparatory School for Twice Exceptional Children in New York City.  She received her Ph.D. in educational psychology at the University of Connecticut.Over her career Kris has held many roles: teacher, curriculum developer, administrator, Coordinator of Gifted and Talented in New York City, and then as a professor of education, teacher trainer and consultant, she has specialized in differentiated curriculum and instruction, gifted education, and arts integration in content areas. She has  also worked with teachers, administrators, and parents throughout the United States, as well as in Asia, Europe, Middle East, Latin America, and Africa.  She served on the Advisory Committee for the Development of Education for All Students for the Bhutan Foundation, and worked extensively with Bhutanese educators and policy makers on developing special education for the country. Kristin also serves on the Board of The Association for the Education of Gifted Underachieving Students (AEGUS). Kristin has authored several publications on arts, creative leadership, and 2e educational models. Kris loves trekking and has an affinity for all of nature’s creatures and is excited to explore the terrain of Southern California. One of her most recent areas of interest is exploring animal assisted therapy. Kris’ therapy dog, Joey, has brought a lot of smiles to young and old alike.

Yvonne Blinde
Yvonne is a founder and director of Triad School in Reno, Nevada. Her formal education is in Art, with a specialty in casted and welded metals; although, this is not the direction life took her. Her professional life has been a zig-zag of career paths, with a current undertaking of developing an elementary school focusing on gifted and 2e students. Triad School is a small, private school which focuses not only on the academic needs of their students but also the social-emotional needs as well.

Yvonne is the mother of two children, each one a puzzle in their own right. She has fallen into the world of 2e because of her oldest child, which she describes as a “mini-me.” Triad School, her children, and 2e have become her all-encompassing passion.

Rose R. Blucher, M.Ed., is the Director of Blucher Educational Services for Boundless Potential (BES). For more than 20 years, she was a 2e Specialist/Director in Maryland, developing programs for twice exceptional students. She has taught at the K-12, undergraduate, and graduate level at Johns Hopkins University where she taught the course, Teaching the GT/LD Learner. Ms. Blucher served on the Maryland Advisory Council for Gifted Education; the board of directors of the Association for the Education of Gifted Underachieving Students; and currently is on the board of the 2e Center for Research and Professional Development. She is an award winning educator and is known nationally for her various publications and teacher training sessions.

Barry Braverman is a cinematographer with over thirty-five years of experience in television documentaries and feature films.  His credits include Wes Anderson’s MOONRISE KINGDOM, THE DARJEELING LIMITED, as well as National Geographic TV Specials (THE BORDER, THE ERUPTION OF MOUNT SAINT HELENS) and numerous segments for ABC 20/20 and CBS News Sunday Morning.  Braverman has conducted camera and storytelling workshops in more than 30 different countries, including sessions throughout South Asia, the Middle East and Africa. His latest book VIDEO SHOOTER from Focal Press explores the art and craft of visual storytelling with the latest-generation HD/4K and 3D cameras.

Patrick Bromark
I am a medical professional with a son who is in 2nd grade and HGA and highly functioning Aut in a gifted magnet needing supports and services to continue to thrive and excel within an LAUSD school that does not know what 2E represents.

Edith Burke
Edee has a life-long interest in supporting all students and the impact that their educational experiences have on their futures. With over 30 years of teaching experience, she has worked with students of all ages and abilities from very diverse backgrounds in rural, suburban, and urban classrooms. Currently she is an instructor for Bridges Graduate School and teaches full time in a BOCES 6-1-2 program for EBD students.

Andrea Callaghan
Andrea has been a teacher since 2011, with 5 of those years spent in a gifted education environment. She was GATE Coordinator in Carson City, Nevada from 2014-2018. Andrea’s other passion, outside of gifted education, is special education and where her two interests intercept. Andrea currently uses her background in gifted education, SEL and curriculum design at Triad School in Reno, Nevada. Andrea’s goal is to be on the cutting-edge of education to meet her students’ needs.

Cristhian Camacho is an event management veteran with over a decade of experience in managing events for high-end hotels. He currently manages facility operations at Bridges Academy, and is also the assistant to the Head of School. Before coming to Bridges Academy he was part of the event team at the JW Marriott & Ritz-Carlton in L.A. Live, and oversaw the execution of all major events, most notably the 2015 Special Olympics in Los Angeles.

Mara Cantarella
Since joining TECA in 2014, Mara has worked to expand the grassroots organization into a vibrant online resource and community for parents of twice exceptional (2e) children. As the mother of a 2e child, she experienced first-hand both the scarcity of resources and information available to help parents raise these uniquely challenging children and the sense of isolation that comes from having a differently wired child. Before joining TECA, Mara spent her most of professional life as a development consultant working for numerous local, national and international organizations addressing such issues as human rights, education, mental health, social justice, medical research, leadership development and the arts. Mara received her BA in philosophy from Bryn Mawr College. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and amazing teenaged daughter and son.

Debbie Carroll is an educational consultant and advocate who collaborates with families and school teams to create instructional programs that meet the individual needs of 2e students. With experience as a teacher, counselor, and parent, she assists educators with resources and teaching strategies that are reasonable to implement, and guides parents through the IEP and 504 processes. Debbie served on the CT SDE task force on the gifted and talented, and currently co-chairs the 2e subcommittee of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates. She has delivered workshops on educating twice-exceptional students and differentiating the curriculum to meet the needs of all learners. Debbie earned an MA from the University of Connecticut in educational psychology with a concentration in gifted and talented education, and a BA in special education from the University of Hartford.

Joan Cass is an Innovative Functional Nutrition Consultant offering various health supports. She possesses a gift for connecting the dots of gifted/2e children in a way that conventional methods often cannot by filling in the gaps between traditional and holistic medicine. She provides a simplified support for the overwhelmed while integrating functional nutrition, diet & lifestyle awareness including the latest scientific bio-hacks for invaluable support.

She has been blazing this trail, while homeschooling her sixteen year old gifted 2e son. A Graduate of FBS-Functional Nutrition, Kharrazian Institute trained in Neuroinflammation & Gastrointestinal.

Joan’s unique expertise helps reveal root causes, find the best solution creating a positive shift in healthy alternatives with results that allows our incredible children to shine in this world!

J.T. Chaiyakam received his undergraduate degree at the University of California, Irvine. He is currently studying at Bridges Graduate School of Cognitive Diversity in Education.

J.T. is on faculty at Bridges Academy. For the 2018-2019 school year, he worked with Rick Danenberg in Creative Arts. For the current 2019-2020 school year, he’ll be working with Mary McInerney in Phoenix Humanities. J.T. also teaches acting, art, and filmmaking at Bridges Academy.

Outside of academics, J.T. writes, directs and acts on screen, for plays, and on the comedy stage.

Maria Chrysochoou is a Professor and Head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Connecticut. She obtained her BS in Physics at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, her MS in Environmental Engineering at Technische Universität Dresden in Germany and her Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology. She was hired as Assistant Professor at the University of Connecticut in 2007, promoted to Associate Professor in 2013, Full Professor in 2019 and was recently appointed as the first female Department Head in the School of Engineering. Dr. Chrysochoou’s serves as the Principal Investigator of the project “Beyond Accommodation: Leveraging Neurodiversity for Engineering Innovation”. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation Revolutionizing Engineering Department program, this 5-year project aims at transforming educational practices and cultivate the potential of neurodivergent individuals to contribute to engineering breakthroughs.

Marcy Dann has been in clinical practice as an educational therapist for 35 years and has worked at Bridges Academy for 15+ years. She is currently the coordinator for the Master’s and Post-Master’s Certificate Programs in Educational Therapy at California State University at Northridge (CSUN) as well as an instructor and supervisor. She was President of the Association of Educational Therapists (2010 – 2012) and was honored by AET as a Fellow for her exceptional work performed on behalf of the profession of educational therapy. She is a contributing co-author of the Clinical Practice of Educational Therapy; Learning and Functioning with Diversity (Ficksman & Adelizzi, 2017) and the 2e Newsletter.

Michael Dennis has taught 5th and 6th grade Humanities at Bridges Academy since 2012. This semester his class is exploring the Big Idea of Truth, through content that includes mythology, Ancient Greece, and debating ethical issues. Michael has also originated 2e-specific courses on film criticism, drawing and painting, architecture, publishing, and screenwriting.
Outside of his work at Bridges, Michael enjoys driving, technology, design, and exploring the ice cream shops of Southern California with his wife and two preschool-aged children.

Amy Faigin is an artist, educator and proud autist. An alumni of Bridges Academy High School, Amy went on to attend Otis College of Art and Design, obtaining a degree in Digital Media. Her design work can be found through the entertainment industry in products and apps, and she currently in the process of turning her own IP into a game. Last year Amy returned to Bridges as an instructor, teaching Comic Book making, and fell madly in love. She is presently enrolled at the Bridges School of Cognitive Diversity, pursuing a masters so that she may better educate and advocate for other 2e learners like her.

Ann Farrow
For over 15 years, my consulting practice has provided a unique approach that is very 2e-centric, both functionally and visually. As both a 2e individual and a 2e parent, I am constantly refining spaces, supports, and survival skills.

Leaning into the strengths of twice exceptional wiring in a neuro-typical world has been transformational. Creating strategies that combine each family member’s unique needs has allowed for a calmer, happier, more grace-filled lifestyle.

Designing spaces and processes that work well makes a huge difference. The blend of unique 2e needs with the basic day-to-day functions has led to a calmer, more peaceful life.

Ley-Anne Folks is a Canadian educator specializing in twice-exceptional learners. In her interdisciplinary M. Ed (Gifted with ADHD), she investigated the role of executive functions (EF) in learning and developed classroom support techniques for gifted and twice-exceptional (2e) students with EF delays and deficits. As a Learning Strategist for grades 7-9 at Westmount Charter School, she uses these skills and knowledge to support students with widely varying needs.

Sheryl Fox
I am a parent of a 2e student. I want to learn more about 2e students. I am looking at furthering my 2e education.

Heidi Friedman
I am a Special Education Advocate supporting families and children with unique needs. I am an attorney choosing to practice as an advocate to work collaboratively with schools and not the schools’ attorneys. I have 3 sons in elementary, middle, and high schools on IEPs with various labels- Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Anxiety, and Sensory Processing. My two older sons are 2E. I get it because I am living it!

Terry Friedrichs, Ph. D., Ed. D., has spent 40 years assessing, teaching, and advising twice-exceptional students, for 20 years in K-12 schools (1979-1999) and for 20 years in private practice (1999-2019). He is licensed or certified in seven areas of exceptional education, including gifted/talented, learning disabilities, emotional/behavioral needs, cognitive challenges, autism spectrum differences, adult exceptionalities, and directing special education programs. Dr. Friedrichs has also written several books/monographs and numerous articles, and has made approximately 200 presentations around the world, on academic and advocacy needs of various gifted populations with differences. He has organized parent groups for 2e youth and presently serves as Co-Chair of the Independent Educational Consultants Association’s Gifted/2e Affinity Group. As an advocate, he formally assists 2e students toward better instruction and accommodations for strengths and challenges in school. Additionally, he is co-creator of a present MN Legislative bill to better serve gifted and 2e students.

C. Matthew Fugate is assistant professor, Educational Psychology, at the University of Houston-Downtown. He received his doctorate in Gifted, Creative, and Talented Studies from Purdue University. Previously, Matthew worked as an elementary teacher, Gifted Coordinator, and Magnet Coordinator in the Houston Independent School District. His research has examined the relationship between working memory and levels of creativity in gifted students who also have characteristics related to ADHD. He has also examined the coping mechanisms of twice-exceptional girls in secondary school as they navigate both their academic studies and interpersonal relationships. Matthew has presented to audiences nationally and internationally on topics including twice exceptionality, Total School Cluster Grouping, affective development, and creativity. He is an active member of the National Association for Gifted Children and the Texas Association for Gifted and Talented and serves as the Associate Editor of Teaching for High Potential.