Keynote Speakers

DEBORAH S. DELISLE, PH.D.


Alliance for Excellent Education (All4Ed), is a Washington, DC–based national policy, practice, and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring that all students, particularly those who are traditionally underserved, graduate from high school well prepared for success in college, work, and citizenship.

Prior to her current position with All4Ed, Ms. Delisle served as executive director and CEO of ASCD, a professional community of more than 120,000 education professionals around the world. She also served as U.S. assistant secretary of elementary and secondary education from 2012 to 2015. During that time, she played a pivotal role in policy and management issues affecting prekindergarten, elementary and secondary education, and oversaw eighty-six programs with a portfolio of nearly $26 billion.

During Ms. Delisle’s more than forty years in education, she has served in a variety of roles at the local, state, and federal levels. Prior to her role at the U.S. Department of Education, Ms. Delisle was a senior fellow at the International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE) where she worked to enhance educator performance systems and create transformative school and district cultures. She also served as Ohio’s thirty-fifth state superintendent of public instruction and was the superintendent of the Cleveland Heights–University Heights (Ohio) City School District. Ms. Delisle has served on several education-related boards and received numerous honors, including having a school named after her in honor of her lifetime of service to students. In July 2014, she was identified by the National Journal as one of five women in America who influence and shape national education policy.


JIM DELISLE, PH.D.


Dr. Jim Delisle has taught gifted children and those who work on their behalf for more than 30 years. Jim retired from Kent State University recently after 25 years of service as a professor of special education. Throughout his career, Jim has taken time away from university teaching to return to his “classroom roots”, volunteering as a 4 th , 5 th and 8 th grade teacher in 1991, 1997 and 2006. In addition, Jim taught gifted middle school students one day a week between 1998 – 2008 in the Twinsburg, Ohio Public Schools. Presently, he continues to work with students at the Scholars Academy in Horry County, South Carolina.

The author of more than 250 articles and 16 books, Dr. Delisle’s work has been translated into multiple languages and has been featured in both professional journals and in popular media such as The New York Times and on Oprah! A frequent presenter throughout the U.S., Jim has also addressed audiences in nations as diverse as England, Oman, Greece, China, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

The educational credentials for Dr. Jim Delisle include: B.S in Elementary and Special Education (mental retardation), University of Maine, Farmington, 1975 (Summa cum laude). M.Ed. in Special Education (emotional disturbances), Millersville University, 1976. Ph.D. in Educational Psychology (gifted education), University of Connecticut, 1981. Classroom teaching experiences are: 3 years, elementary (K – 6) special education, Gorham, NH; 2 years, gifted and talented teacher, grades 4 -5, Stafford Springs, CT; 1 year, 4 th grade teacher, Solon, OH; 10 years, part-time gifted teacher, grades 6 – 8, Twinsburg, OH; 2 semesters (sabbatical leaves) volunteering as a teacher in grades 4, 5 and 8, Loris, SC.

His tenure at Kent State University encompasses: Professor of Special Education, 1983 – 2008. Selected as Distinguished Professor, the University’s most prestigious teaching award, in 2006. Retired at Full Professor rank in 2008.

INCLUSIONSCHOOL2020 is extremely honored to have an authority at the level of Dr. James Delisle present at this conference. In addition to his keynote address and his break-out sessions, Jim will hold a special two-hour workshop for secondary gifted students and a two-hour workshop for parents and teachers working with gifted students.


JONNA BOBZIEN, PH.D.


Jonna Bobzien, Ph.D. is an associate professor and Graduate Program Director of the Special Education program at Old Dominion University (ODU) in Norfolk, VA. Dr. Bobzien received her baccalaureate in biology at ODU and began working as an occupational therapy technician, providing support with positioning, feeding, and the use of assistive technology in a residential facility for medically fragile children with severe physical and cognitive disabilities. She returned to ODU to earn both a master’s and doctorate degree in special education. Prior to pursuing her doctorate degree, Dr. Bobzien worked as a special educator and served as the lead teacher in a regional pubic day school program for students with severe disabilities. Dr. Bobzien’s research interests include teaching functional academic curriculum to children with severe disabilities, the use of appropriate instructional, sensory, and communication strategies for students with autism spectrum disorder, and classroom strategies that promote social participation of students with disabilities.