Conference speakers include:
Dr. Pamela J. Buffington, PhD., is the Director of Rural the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Initiatives for the US Division at Education Development Center (EDC) where she focuses on bridging research and practice with STEM researchers and practitioners particularly in service to the needs of rural schools and districts. Dr. Buffington is an expert in technology integration in education, with extensive work in mathematics and science, and she has desig ned and implemented online and face-to-face professional development materials. She is the PI on an NSF funded grant to develop and study a blended-learning PD program to support mathematics teachers in enhancing English learners' mathematics learning. Additionally, Dr. Buffington provides outreach, needs sensing, technical assistance and dissemination to educational leaders and stakeholders for the Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast and Islands (REL-NEI). Dr. Buffington also leads the work of the Rural Research Advisors where she supports and informs REL NEI research in rural schools and communities and serves on the Cross-REL Rural Working Group. Buffington leads the Student Success in Mathematics Partnership (SSMP) for Regional Educational Laboratory Appalachia focusing on implementing a research agenda concentrating on mathematics success for all learners, especially those students currently being underserved. In addition to the research, development, and policy work of recent years, Buffington has nearly two decades of experience as mathematics, physics, and computer science teacher which she has leveraged in her equity-oriented STEM efforts.
Dr. Sheneka Williams is professor and chair of the Department of Educational Administration. Williams's research focuses in two main areas: rural education and school desegregation. Her research specifically examines educational opportunity for African American students in rural contexts, and the resulting effects of (de)segregated schools on students of color. Her research has been published in journals such as Educational Policy, Teachers College Record, Urban Education, and the Peabody Journal of Education. Aspects of her research have been presented at The National Press Club, American Enterprise Institute, and on CNN and NPR.
Dr. Benjamin Winchester has worked in and for small towns across the Midwest since 1997 - with a focus on his home state of Minnesota. He joined the Extension Center for Community Vitality in 2008. As Research Fellow for the center, Ben manages evaluation studies that monitor the effectiveness and outcomes of leadership, civic engagement and community economics programs for all of Extension. Ben also conducts research on topics relevant to community vitality. Currently, he is documenting a rural "brain gain" - the trend of 30-49 year-olds moving to rural areas - to identify the social and economic opportunities of this migration. He is also analyzing rural community leadership, especially as it affects community-wide requirements to support the public sector to "keep the town running. Before joining Extension, Ben was on staff with the Center for Small Towns at the University of Minnesota-Morris.
Dr. Sandra Richardson is a Program Director at the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the Division of Undergraduate Education, Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) and the Program Lead for the NSF Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program. She has also served as the Acting Director for the Science and Engineering Indicators Program in the National Center for Engineering and Science Statistics at NSF. In her role as a Program Director in EHR, she manages a portfolio of awards in the Noyce program, Improving Undergraduate STEM Education program, Transforming Undergraduate Education in STEM, and Laboratory Improvement program. Dr. Richardson is also the Executive Secretary for the Broadening Participation Subcommittee of the EHR Advisory Council and a member of the Federal Strategic Partnerships Interagency Working Group. Her research publications and scholarly interests have been motivated by the intersection of her personal, professional, and scholarly experiences as a student, teacher, and academic. Her scholarly and research interests include developing effective tools for undergraduate mathematics curricula, mathematics teacher education, and broadening the participation of minorities in STEM majors and careers.