AERO Portland 2016

Portland OR

Aug 3 - 7, 2016

We’re very excited to be going back to the west coast this year for the AERO conference. People have been clamoring for this ever since we came back east three years ago. So this AERO conference will be from August 3rd to 7th in Portland, Oregon! Since we left there Portland has skyrocketed as a destination and it is close to the airport with free shuttle service. The conference with all events will be at the Hotel. 

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Alan Fortescue

High School Director, Oak Meadow School

Bio: Alan Fortescue holds a PhD in Education and Leadership from the University of Virginia, and he earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees in literature. Alan has extensive experience in teaching and leadership in higher and experiential education. He was the director of education for Earthwatch Institute from 2005-10, and has been a consulting editor for the Journal of Environmental Education since 2007. Alan has served as a consultant for UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization), where he was also a cofounder and steering committee member for the North American Alliance for Sustainable Development and Education. He has consulted for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation, Discovery Channel Education, and WGBH Public Television. Alan enjoys exploring new ways to empower and inspire students to gain awareness of themselves, others, and the world around them. In addition to his accomplishments as an educational professional, he is an award-winning painter and skilled mountaineer.

Ba Luvmour

Director of Summa Academy, Summa Institute

Bio: Ba Luvmour, a pioneer in the field of holistic human development with his wife Josette, for more than 30 years, is the Headmaster of Summa Academy ( ). His life as mentor in the field of Self-Knowledge includes many retreats dedicated to inquiry, meditation, group dialogue, and insight into spiritual philosophy, human development, and the evolution of consciousness. An author of five books, he nevertheless prefers engaging people directly. Personal contact and relationship bring forth trust, the essential foundation for all learning. Ba has facilitated scores of Rites of Passage. His work has inspired the Raven Rite of Passage, a program of Boys to Men in Southern Oregon. His unpublished manuscript, Metamorphoses, describes how to organize Rites of Passage with developmental sensitivity.

Brigid Lawler

Dean of Admissions, Marlboro College

Bio: Brigid Lawler, Dean of Admissions at Marlboro College, Brigid’s has a track record of creating strong admissions teams, building both freshman and transfer admissions programs within public, private and independent school settings. Before joining the staff at Marlboro College, Brigid held leadership positions at Dowling College, Oldfields School and the University of Baltimore. Brigid has been tasked with rebuilding Marlboro’s admissions office and looks forward to spreading the word about Marlboro’s unique student-centered programs and the value of a liberal arts education.

Carol Nash

Co-founder, Alpha II Alternative School

Bio: Carol Nash PhD is a philosopher of education who co-founded Alpha II Alternative School with the Toronto District School Board in 2007. Alpha II is a self-directed democratic school for grades 7-12. Carol is currently Scholar in Residence in the History of Medicine Program, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto

Connie Giffin

PhD Student & Co-Facilitator at Akimai University, Project NatureConnect

Bio: Connie Giffin has been nurtured by nature over a long, tumultuous earth journey. Her US industrial age model primary and secondary schooling contrast with her holistic higher education, placing her in a unique position to share from personal experience and global research. Currently an Ecopsychology PhD candidate, this globe trotting granny lives on an organic mountainside farm with her Ecuadoran family in Vilcabamba. She mentors ecopsychology learners globally through Project NatureConnect and her website classroom. She is an artist, author, biophilic architectural designer, and retreat facilitator.

David Marshak

President, SelfDesign Graduate Institute

Bio: David Marshak is the president of the SelfDesign Graduate Institute and the author of the new book, Evolutionary Parenting.

Dee Kimbrell

Visual Artist, Creative Genius In You

Bio: Dee Kimbrell works as an Educational Play Specialist, Workshop Facilitator and Visual Artist. As a Processology ™ Practitioner, she is extensively trained in the learning process and cutting edge techniques to facilitate creativity, collaboration and critical thinking. Dee’s dynamic style communicates her passion for a new way to experience education. Based on recent brain research, Dee facilitates interactive and collaborative experiences for teachers that are fun and inspiring. As a visual artist, Dee specializes in recycled materials and leads groups to create something beautiful while learning about ways to connect with and care for their community.

Jaya Bhavnani

Executive Director , Dwight Global

Bio: Ms. Jaya Bhavnani is currently the IB Coordinator and oversees Dwight’s online learning, working closely with Pamoja Education. She has a long history of teaching mathematics and science to Upper School students. She came to Dwight in 2010 with extensive experience in international education reflected in her positive attitude and multilingual skills. Ms. Bhavnani has been actively involved with the International Baccalaureate as a Face-to-Face and Online Workshop Leader, Site Evaluator, Consultant, DP Examiner, and MYP Moderator. She has served as a frequent guest contributor for professional development and curriculum alignment and review. She graduated college with a Bachelor of Science in Education and Physics and a Masters of Science in Mathematics. A passionate educator, Jaya firmly believes that as a teacher, there is a lot to learn!

Judy Yero

Director, MindFlight Educational Resources

Bio: Judy Yero is the author of Teaching in Mind: How Teacher Thinking Shapes Education. She was a public school teacher for over 20 years and now focuses on promoting the goals of alternative education.

Kathleen Forsythe

Executive Director, SelfDesign Graduate Institute

Bio: Kathleen lives in Vancouver, BC and is Executive Director of SelfDesign Learning Foundation and Principal of SelfDesign Learning Community, a publicly-funded program which serves more than 2,500 learners in British Columbia.

Kevin Wiley

Producer, Rabbit Feathers Media

Bio: K Wiley is a crowdfunding expert, Burning Man veteran, fire performer, and artistic project manager specializing in the support of independent artists, storytellers, and musicians. A “Walker of His Own Way" for the past fifteen years, he speaks based on his work with hundreds of artists (emerging and established) and dozens of media projects - including albums for musicians (studio-recorded and shoe-string), small event production (concerts and conventions), video/film production and logistics (feature-length and web series), and print projects (hardcovers, paperbacks, and digital).

Khodadad Kaviani

Associate Professor of Education, Central Washington University

Bio: Khodadad (Khodi) Kaviani is an associate professor of education at Central Washington University. His areas of research include Middle Eastern politics and culture, and the intersection of curriculum and ideology. He is the author of Rethinking Khayyaamism, his controversial poems and vision.

Lindie Keaton

Kindergarten, Antioch School

Bio: Lindie Keaton has taught Kindergarten for 10 years in Yellow Springs, Ohio at Antioch School, the oldest democratic school in the U.S. This year, in an expansion of the outdoor connection integral to the school, Lindie added a Forest Kindergarten program. Lindie is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School and an avid camper, hiker, and lover of nature.

Lori Dunlap

Parenting and Education Writer, Coach, and Speaker, Teach Your Own

Bio: Lori Dunlap worked for almost twenty years in the corporate world, first as a management consultant to Fortune 500 companies, and then at a large research university as a career development program director and adjunct faculty member. In 2010 she decided to make a radical life change and left her job to begin homeschooling her two sons. In addition, she has been researching and writing about education and parenting issues, and working with homeschooling families as an education and career advisor. She is currently working on a book for college admissions professionals about recruiting and assessing homeschooled applicants that will be published by GHF Press in 2017.

Lori Walker

Director, Village Home

Bio: Lori Walker is passionate about the idea that learning is a natural, inherently fun process. It feels good to learn, so why are so many students bored and disengaged? Lori is the founder and Executive Director of Village Home, built on choice and autonomy for learners. Prior to founding Village Home in 2002, Lori was the Director of Training and Curriculum at Learning Forum, where she designed academic and life skills curriculum for teens, trained teachers, and facilitated programs for teens. She also served as a facilitator at programs in the United States and abroad. Lori has over 20 years of experience teaching and training adults and children in a variety of subjects, from psychology to accounting for REITs. Lori is an engaging instructor who presents material in a way that is accessible and entertaining. She earned BA degrees, graduating summa cum laude with distinction and honors, from SMU in Business Management and Psychology, with an emphasis in child development. Lori’s two daughters provided the initial inspiration for Village Home, and her job as mom is the best one she has. She lives in Beaverton Oregon with her youngest daughter, husband, and assortment of four-legged animals. Her oldest daughter attends University of Oregon on a Presidential Scholarship.

Lucie Marcotte, M.Sc

Founder, Editions Terre Nouvelle

Bio: Lucie Marcotte, M.Sc.,- teacher, trainer, author, editor. I have founded Editions Terre Nouvelle (New Earth Publishing) and L’Ecole de la Paix (The school of Peace). For many years, I have been carrying the vision of a world of Peace, a New Earth, the Golden Age of humanity. I have been looking for ways to be at peace and to contribute to the greater good. I looked at different perspectives such as education, communications, holistic health approaches and confidence in our health harmonizing potential, arts, personal and spiritual development, blossoming of our soul qualities, development of our human-divine potential, Self recognition and realization, etc. Education projects based on human values are examples inspired by this reflection. My education background is mainly in sciences, communication, health, and personal and spiritual development. So far, my education experience has been with people in university, college, high school, community organizations, business and public environments, and with children. I am the author of many books and new web training programs with education projects based on human values.

Mandy Harpstrite

Facilitator, Agile Learning Centers

Bio: Mandy is passionate about working with young creatives, organizing productions, and dancing her heart out. Prior to joining the ALC Network she taught dance and performing arts in a private school. She is currently a rising ALF and Education Director at the ALC Oahu startup in Hawaii.

Manisha Snoyer

Founder and Director, CottageClass

Bio: Manisha Snoyer is the founder of CottageClass, a community marketplace for childhood education designed to empower parents and teachers to create their own schools classes and workshops by giving the marketing and payments processing support they need, so they can focus on what they love, teaching and developing curriculum. Before founding CottageClass, Manisha developed her own school, a foreign language school for adults, that saw over 2,000 students in three years with a zero dollar marketing budget, purely through digital media marketing strategies.

Michelle Blanchet

Founder & Director, Educators' Lab

Bio: Michelle Blanchet is an educator, speaker, and edupreneur whose goal is to inspire innovation in the field of education. She has been working with young people for the past ten years and recently founded the The Educators' Lab, which aims to revolutionize teacher trainings and support educational innovation. Michelle is a part of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shaper initiative and was a speaker at TedxLausanne 2015.She teaches sociology and economics, and contributed to the book Generation Jobless? Turning the Youth Unemployment Crisis into Opportunity.

Michelle Jones

Founder, Wayfinding Academy

Bio: Michelle Jones, Ph.D. is a former traditional model college professor who is starting her own college, the Wayfinding Academy. Her 15 years teaching leadership and organizational behavior courses at colleges and universities across the country has prepared her well to forge a different kind of college and rethink what higher education can be with this new endeavor. She is also drawing on her experience organizing events and communities with TEDxMtHood and the World Domination Summit and founding non-profit organizations such as SuperThank.

Michelle Simpson-Siegel

Executive Director, Oak Meadow School

Bio: Michelle Simpson-Siegel, Executive Director of Oak Meadow received her undergraduate degree in Education and English from the University of Rhode Island and a degree in Environmental Education from Antioch University New England. Before coming to Oak Meadow, Michelle taught English at Northfield Mount Hermon, was a Learning Specialist in the Massachusetts public schools, and worked as a Program Director for The Massachusetts Audubon Society. Michelle lives in Dummerston, Vermont with her family. Her interests include slow food, travel, parenting, yoga, and the literary arts.

Peter Berg, Ed.D., CHMHC

Author , The Tao Of Teenagers: A Guide To Teen Health, Happiness & Empowerment

Bio: Peter Berg, Author of The Tao of Teenagers: A Guide to Teen Health, Happiness & Empowerment is the founder of Youth Transformations and Education Transformation. He is a board certified holistic health and mental health coach, a teacher, educational administrator, community organizer, educational consultant, school developer an advocate for alternative and integrated education. Peter coordinates the AERO Representatives and was instrumental in organizing the first AEROx Regional Event. He has written extensively on alternative, holistic, integrated educational theory and techniques and has founded and co-founded non-profit community and environmental-based organizations. Peter received his Doctorate in which he explores the ties between school leadership and progressive and holistic education from Walden University and his Master’s Degree in Environmental Studies and Education from Antioch University. Peter maintains partnerships and affiliations with organizations who promote sustainability, social and environmental justice, human rights and holistic health. Often this work entails bringing these organizations together to form partnerships and exchange ideas.

Peter Gray

Research Professor, Boston College

Bio: Peter is an acclaimed expert on unschooling and play, who keynoted the AERO conference in New York in 2013, and will now come to AERO’s first conference in the West coast in four years. He is a Research Professor of Psychology at Boston College. Since he keynoted in New York Gray has become very well known, traveling extensively to talk about his ideas about the importance of play and his experiences with Sudbury Valley School, among other things. He will also be signing copies of his best selling book, Free To Learn.

Samantha Cook

Writer, GeekMom

Bio: Samantha has an MAt in Education, specializing in Museum and Non-Profit based learning. She has two decades of experience in educational programming, outreach, and the arts and is a dedicated teacher and learner. In addition to writing and blogging about feminism, parenting, art technology, education reform, and homeschooling for major publications such as GeekMom, Samantha has started many grassroots groups and is an active member, speaker, and advocate of the hacker/maker and homeschooling communities. In addition to founding and acting as ED for Curiosity Hacked, she is currently leading educator workshops and writing a book on creating learner-centered environments. Curiosity Hacked is a non profit organization, founded and headquartered in Oakland, dedicated to learner centered STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) education and skill building for kids and families.

Scott Noelle

Founding Member, Alliance for Self-Directed Education

Bio: Scott Noelle is a parenting coach and the author of The Daily Groove: How to Enjoy Parenting... Unconditionally! Through his websites, and, Scott offers a variety of tools and support for leading-edge parents.

Shilpa Jain

Founding coordinator, Global Youth Leadership Collaborative

Bio: Shilpa Jain is currently rooting herself in Oakland/Berkeley, CA, where she serves as the Executive Director of YES!. Prior to taking on this role, Shilpa spent two years as the Education and Outreach Coordinator of Other Worlds and ten years as a learning activist with Shikshantar: The Peoples’ Institute for Rethinking Education and Development, based in Udaipur, India, where she served as coordinator of the Swapathgami (Walkouts-Walkons) Network. Shilpa has researched and written numerous books and articles, and facilitated workshops and gatherings on topics including globalization, creative expressions, ecology, democratic living, innovative learning and unlearning. Her publications include A Poet’s Challenge to Schooling, Reclaiming the Gift Culture, Other Worlds of Power, Paths of Unlearning, Unfolding Learning Societies volumes one, two and three, and several issues of Vimukt Shiksha (“Liberating Learning”) and the Swapathgami newsletter “Making Our Paths of Living and Learning”. She is also co-author of “Connect. Inspire. Collaborate”, a highly sought-after facilitation manual. Shilpa has facilitated dozens of transformative leadership gatherings in India, Jordan, Senegal, Lebanon, Egypt, Thailand, Canada, Peru, Pakistan, Puerto Rico, Turkey, and the US, working with hundreds of young leaders from over 80 countries. She was founding coordinator of the Global Youth Leadership Collaborative, a network of 15 Jam facilitators from 14 countries that has collectively produced dozens of international gatherings for young changemakers, and distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to small-scale grassroots social change innovations worldwide.

Tamra Excell

Co-Founder, CSO,

Bio: Tamra is passionate about deviance – the nonconformity required to push past the naysayers to make things happen. She’s even more excited when this involves an individual or group actualizing a potential unique to them. It’s all about empowering personal agency. Tamra created the Personalized Education Philosophy, something which has gained interest from a variety of groups, including university students, school district leaders, and education change agents. Tamra’s favorite university class analysis stated that while her ideas “resonated” they were too “radical” to try to pull off all at once. Which is, of course, something she has already managed to do by co-founding, a world-wide private school based on this philosophy. The result: the school – both regionally and internationally accredited – has ranked #5 in best online high schools. From big projects such as creating schools, to private coaching, Tamra has had a rewarding career helping her “fellow freaks” find their way. Her clients include travelers, artists, athletes, writers, neurodivergents, and – of course – fellow convention and festival enthusiasts. Interest areas include neurodiversity, empathy, the value of creativity, how perception impacts one’s personal reality, and each individual’s right to seek happiness and design a life that is best for him or her.

Ted Weisgal

Director, Emeritus, Leisure Learning Unlimited

Bio: Ted Weisgal has presented at the AERO Conference in 2014 and 2015. He is the author of Robert’s Rules for Kids, and co-writing Robert’s Rules for Kids Newly Revised and Robert’s Rules for BIG Kids. He has taught this subject since 1979 for the lifelong learning program in Houston, TX, Leisure Learning Unlimited. Among his students are the entire school board of the Pearland Independent School District, a former president of the Houston Independent School District board, and members of the Houston City Council. Ted is the advisor to the Houston Independent School District Student Congress which represents students in the 7th largest school district in the United States.

Theodore Timpson

Founder and President, Young Spirit Foundation

Bio: Theodore is the founder and president of Young Spirit Foundation, advocating for schools that create space for wisdom and connection in young people's lives. Under his guidance, the Foundation has sponsored the development of both a public charter high school and an independent elementary school, The Children’s School of Art and Science in Palo Alto, CA, where he now serves as Head of School. Theodore has twenty years of experience in education. He specializes in original approaches to teaching that create a natural connection between student and subject, having developed a unique concept-based math program, original social studies projects, and an inquiry-based science program. He has directed several children's theater productions and facilitated workshops at a number of national conferences and local organizations. Theodore holds a B.A. in English from Harvard University and a M.S. in Education from Bank Street College in New York City, an institution nationally recognized for its developmental approach to children. He also has a M.S. in Educational Leadership from San Jose State University. Theodore's motivation to create schools comes from a philosophy of building identity through reflective engagement, drawing upon his own experiences with meditation and yoga. He lives in Mountain View, California with with wife (and close collaborator) and two children.

Tomis Parker

Coherence Holder, Agile Learning Centers

Bio: My role with Agile Learning Centers is diverse and dynamic. I am a co-founder and coherence holder for the Agile Learning Center model and for the expanding Agile Learning Centers network. I am currently a consulting Director for the Agile Learning Center in NYC --Facilitate tours, visits, and the admissions process for new students --Handle communications and administrative tasks with the State DOE and other third parties --Communicate on behalf of the ALC with parents, visitors, and other interested parties --Coordinate and collaborate with our Agile Learning Facilitators (staff) and other active contributors --Create and disseminate promotional materials for events, workshops, and other ALC news --Invent and evolve culture hacking tools and practices to create and shift the ALC's culture --Catalyze cultural norms by embodying autonomy, respect, humility, intention/reflection, and collaboration I am also consulting with ALC Mosaic in Charlotte, NC: --Support facilitators in their practices and evolution of ALC tools --Streamline administrative processes --Support the financial planning and stability of the school --Share the ALC model and vision with new families --Help architect and develop the school's organizational infrastructure I also hold coherence for the expanding Agile Learning Centers network: --Share the ALC model and vision with other educators, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders --Coach and consult with other Agile Learning communities in the network --Create, organize, and lead Agile Learning Facilitator training programs and workshops --Continue to expand my knowledge and understanding of Agile/Lean principles and tools, and create systems for applying them to self-directed education

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We are excited to use Whova as our event platform. Attendees please download Whova event app, to access the documents and handouts shared by the organizers.