Speakers & Presenters

Find presenters and speakers below, alphabetically by last name.

Aguilera, Jackie

Jacqueline Aguilera
Project Manager
Mayor’s Office of Adult Literacy – Houston

Let’s Build An Employer Partnership

The “Greening” of Workforce Literacy

Jackie Aguilera’s adult education career spans more than three decades of working with first year college students, immigrants, youth and adults, and AEL providers. Her efforts include projects, programs, and initiatives in financial, digital, health and safety, and environmental literacy. Highlights include piloting financial edutainment online games, Houston’s implementation of the [email protected] program, coordinating efforts leading to a Houston win in the 2019 Xprize Adult Literacy Apps competition, and serving in the Mayor’s Office for Adult Literacy. 

Jackie completed the COABE State Advocates for Adult Education Fellowship and is now an alumni and advocacy mentor. She is one of four Houston women to receive the 2021 Ford Foundation’s Mujeres Legendarias award for her work in education through technology innovations and digital literacy. She served in an advisory capacity with the Environmental Defense Fund and Texas Southern University to implement an environmental literacy certification component to its green jobs training class. Most recently, Jackie was invited to join the Xprize Education Brain Trust, an integral part of their Global Visioneering team.

Audas, Gary Jr.

Dr. Gary Audas, Jr.
Executive Director
Educational Outcomes LLC

Trauma Informed GED: A New Path Forward

Dr. Audas is the Executive Director of Educational Outcomes, a trauma-informed platform specific to creating solutions for disempowered learners via research, program creation and management, and consultation.

He holds a Doctorate in Education-Literacy from Sam Houston State University and has been active in trauma-informed programs in Africa, Europe, Southwest Asia, and locally in the U.S. His “An Assessment of a Texas-based Non-profit’s Trauma-Informed GED Prep Program” provides examples of the research-driven nature of his program goals.

Mahalia Baldini

Mahalia Baldini
AEL State Director
Texas Workforce Commission

Opening Speaker – Monday, August 1

The State of the State in Adult Education

Mahalia Baldini was named the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) Adult Education and Literacy (AEL) State Director in September 2020 after serving as the program’s supervisor for over six years. She earned her B.A in Journalism from the University of Kentucky and her Master’s in Education from Texas State University. 

Mrs. Baldini has spent the last fifteen years integrating workforce and economic development with educational solutions that center on outcomes for low and middle skill workers. She believes in and values a system that supports equitable education and learning opportunities that focus on an individual’s academic preparedness and advancement as well as the social and emotional intelligence needed to contribute to a positive work culture aligned to employer needs.

Bauer, Paula

Paula Bauer
PD Specialist

Introducing the TX AEL Family & Civics Content Standards 3.0

Paula Bauer represents TRAIN PD @ TCALL. She has been with Adult Education for 22 years. She began in 2000 as an Adult Educator and became the Program Director of a Family Literacy Program in 2004.

After 16 years, Paula moved to work with TRAIN PD taking responsibility of the TCALL Library & Professional Development training to Volunteer and Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) AEL programs in Texas.

Paula has been with TRAIN PD @ TCALL for 6 years.

Beeson, Ann

Ann Beeson, M. Ed.
Senior Sales Consultant
New Readers Press

Back to the Basics: Improving Student Learning Through Delivery of Instruction

Ann Beeson has worked with literacy and adult education programs for over 21 years, and currently works in seven states. As an independent sales consultant, Ann offers resources for adult learners, primarily through New Readers Press.

In addition, Ann presents on a wide variety of topics relevant to ABE and ELL programs. 

She has a Master’s degree in Curriculum & Instructional design from the University of Minnesota.

Cantrell, Jenny

Jenny Cantrell
Director of Academic Assistance
Episcopal High School

Dyslexia and Illiteracy: Structured Literacy and the Science of Reading

Jenny Cantrell is a certified educational diagnostician (CALT), a licensed dyslexia therapist (LDT), and a certified educational diagnostician and special education teacher. Graduating from The University of Texas – (Hook ’em!) – Jenny stayed at home to raise her children and discovered both her children have dyslexia. She then went back to school to study dyslexia and became a CALT and started working at a Pre-K through 8th grade school to help dyslexic children learn to read. 

She did not want another child to feel ashamed because they could not read and she strives to help all students learn to read. Helping children discover they can read is a passion of Jenny’s and she is honored to a part of their reading journey. She believes all children can learn when given the proper tools and currently works at a private high school in Houston helping students who have learning disabilities and/or ADHD. Children with disabilities are amazing, and Jenny feels blessed to help them on their journey of discovering their strengths and overcoming their learning disabilities.

Escamilla, Dr Olga

Dr. Olga Escamilla
PD Specialist

Hold the Judgement: Revealing Unconscious Bias

Dr. Olga Escamilla has over 26 years of experience in adult education, and currently serves as a PD Specialist with TRAIN PD @ TCALL.

She has served as a teacher’s aide, data entry, ABE Instructor, AEL Supervisor, Professional Development Grant Coordinator, AEL Director, Job Coach, and Workforce Case Manager. She has served as a Senior Lecturer with TAMUK- Masters of Adult Education program since 2009.

Dr. Escamilla served as on the COABE Board as Region-4 Representative from 2019 – 2022.

Gray, Kayren

Kayren Gray
Educator, Author, DEI Consultant, Barrier Breaker
MK Results, LLC

The Road to Equity®: The Five C’s to Construct an Equitable Classroom

Kayren is the founder of MK Results, LLC, DEI Consultant, Barrier Breaker, and author of The Road to Equity: The Five C’s to Construct an Equitable Classroom. Her work centers on creating equitable spaces and equipping educators and leaders with practical strategies to set all stakeholders up for success.

Kayren brings her experience as a student, Texas public school teacher, parent, administrator, entrepreneur, and DEI advocate. She is passionate about belonging and helping organizations begin the conversation to move from awareness to accountability to action.

She holds a master’s degree in Educational Leadership and has worked with various organizations to facilitate workshops and training across the globe.

Greer, Laura

Laura Greer
Manager of PD Logistics

Become a PD Portal Expert

Laura Greer serves as the Manager of Professional Development (PD) Logistics at the Texas Center for the Advancement of Literacy & Learning (TCALL) at Texas A&M University. Laura received her bachelor’s degree from Texas State University in Interdisciplinary Studies and a master’s degree a few years later in Educational Administration and Policy from the University of Georgia. 

In addition to her current position, she has an education background that includes teaching in various schools in Texas, Georgia, and Kentucky.

Houghton Kathy

Kathy Houghton
Executive Director
Literacy New York

Special Guest Breakout Session Presenter

Building Capacity in Adult Literacy Programs

Intake to Outcomes Online Tutor Training: An Incredible Resource!

Kathy brings extensive experience with onboarding volunteers and setting them up for success in adult literacy programs. Literacy New York, where she is the Executive Director, created the popular Intake to Outcomes (I2O) online training platform. 

Kathy Houghton, M.A., is the Executive Director of Literacy New York.  At Literacy New York, Kathy and her staff support adult education programs and practitioners (including community-based, volunteer-centric agencies) across the state with technical assistance, training, and data management.

Kathy’s 20+ years in adult and higher education include extensive teaching and training experience in reading, writing, learning disabilities, program management, assessment, English as a second language, and volunteer management. Kathy presents at national, state, regional, and virtual conferences. Her knowledge of on-the-ground adult education and literacy issues is a plus when training, and allows her to connect with participants in looking for ways to improve teaching, learning, and program management.

Loa, Martin

Martin Loa
Customer Manager

Hands on Burlington CORE: Make Your Program Shine!

Martin Loa is Customer Manager for Burlington English. Prior to joining BE, he was Vice President of Program Services for Houston Center for Literacy, and the Mayor’s Commission on Adult Education where he supported the literacy organizations, engaged the community to join efforts in solving Houston’s low literacy problem, and connected adult learners to literacy providers.

Martin was program manager for Harris County Department of Education Adult Education Division. HCDE is the second largest adult education provider in Texas. It serves over 10,000 students annually.

Martinez, Elizabeth

Elizabeth Martinez
Founder and Writer
ESL Imprinted

Pronunciation: Climbing Mountains, Skirting Molehills, and Telling the Two Apart

Sounding Out, Sound Blending, and Sight Words: How to Build Literacy in Beginners

Elizabeth Hicks Martinez has taught intensive English since 1981; for nearly a decade before that she was an elementary bilingual teacher. In 2014 she established the company ESL Imprinted and has written four books for teaching literacy to adults, youths, and children.

Her special joy is teaching pronunciation and beginning reading.

Molinari-Sanders, AnneMarie

AnneMarie Molinari-Sanders
PD Specialist

Got Accommodations? Assisting Adult Learners in the Classroom

Introducing the TX AEL Family & Civics Content Standards 3.0

AnneMarie Molinari-Sanders is a Professional Development Specialist for TRAIN PD @TCALL. Ms. Molinari-Sanders was the team lead for the Standards 2.0 and Standards 3.0 project which provided updates to the Texas Adult Education and Literacy (AEL) Content Standards. For over 20 years, AnneMarie has been helping students and instructors within the context of AEL instruction, curriculum development, and professional development training. Nationally, she serves on the Learning Disabilities Association of America’s Adult Topics Committee as an advocate for adults with learning disabilities. 

AnneMarie is a certified Digital Accessibility Specialist through the Texas Distance Learning Association. Ms. Molinari-Sanders holds a Master’s degree in Special Education with a concentration in increasing academic outcomes for AEL students with learning disabilities and low literacy skills. AnneMarie is a passionate ambassador for persons with disabilities and an advocate for accessibility and inclusion.

Mosher, Krista

Krista Mosher
Manager of PD Field Services

Taking Contextualized Video Lessons to Your Classroom

Krista Mosher has been an ABE/ASE teacher for 24 years, and is currently working as a Manager of PD Field Services with TRAIN PD @ TCALL with Texas A&M University. She was involved with the Texas ABE Math Initiative from 2006 to 2014, and the Master Teacher Academy in Math in 2015-2016, and is a nationally trained GED® trainer for all subject areas.

She loves teaching and working with teachers to increase their skills and knowledge, especially in Mathematics.


Melanie Sampson
Clear Language Lab Program Director
Literacy Works

Special Guest Breakout Session Presenter

Plain Language 101 

Creating Accessible Content for our Neurodiverse World

(Re)Framing Our Conversations Around Adult Education

Melanie brings a special focus on accessibility in language and literacy, and will present three breakout sessions for us during the conference, each interpreting our theme of “Literacy for ALL” through a different lens. 

Melanie Sampson (she/her) has over 15 years of experience in adult education, including teaching, program administration, and volunteer management as well as a master’s degree in linguistics. At Literacy Works, she oversees project management at their Clear Language Lab. In this work, she designs training for professionals across a variety of sectors including workforce development, health, legal aid and others so that programs can more effectively communicate with participants. 

She “translates” handbooks, forms, and other client-facing documents to make them clear and accessible to adults of diverse educational backgrounds, and consults with program staff to identify how literacy may affect their participants and how they can reduce barriers. 

In her free time, Melanie enjoys reading advice columns, crafting, and walking around Chicago with her dog.

Horacio Sanchez

Horacio Sanchez
President & CEO
Resiliency Inc.

Keynote Speaker – Monday, August 1

The Foundation of Adult Reading

Horacio Sanchez is a highly sought-after speaker and educational consultant, helping schools learn to apply neuroscience to improve educational outcomes.  He presents on diverse topics such as overcoming the impact of poverty, improving school climate, engaging in brain-based instruction, and addressing issues related to implicit bias. He is recognized as one of the nation’s leading authorities on resiliency and applied brain science.

Horacio has been a teacher, administrator, clinician, mental health director, and consultant to school districts across the United States. Horacio sits on True Health Initiative Council of Directors, a coalition of more than 250 world-renowned health experts, committed to educating on proven principles of lifestyle as medicine. He is the author of the best-selling book, The Education Revolution, which applies brain science to improve instruction, behaviors, and school climate.  His new book, The Poverty Problem, explains how education can promote resilience and counter poverty’s impact on brain development and functioning.

Snow, Katie

Katie Snow
PD Portal Coordinator

Become a PD Portal Expert

Katie Snow has served as the Professional Development (PD) Portal Coordinator at the Texas Center for the Advancement of Literacy & Learning (TCALL) at Texas A&M University since October 2018.

Katie received her bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University in 2007 in Community Health and a master’s degree a few years later in 2012 in Health Education and Curriculum and Instruction from Texas State University. In addition to her current position, she has an extensive background in education which includes roles as a cancer information specialist, public school teacher and mentor, and adjunct instructor.

Speights, Lara

Lara Speights
Vice President of Family Support and Adult Literacy
Neuhaus Education Center

Teaching Reading is Harder Than I Thought!

Lara Speights is the Vice President of Family Support and Adult Literacy at Neuhaus Education Center in Houston, Texas. She is a Certified Academic Language Therapist, Licensed Dyslexia Therapist, Reading Specialist, and English as a Second Language teacher. She earned a M.Ed. in Language and Literacy from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and a B.A. in Spanish and English from Texas A&M University.

Prior to joining Neuhaus, Lara spent a decade working in public charter schools in the Rio Grande Valley and Houston area as a classroom teacher, dyslexia interventionist, English language learner coordinator, and instructional coach. She has widespread experience collaborating with and advocating for parents of students in special populations such as English language learners and students with learning disabilities.

Vasquez, Mariana

Mariana Vázquez
School Psychology, U of H

Assessing for and Promoting Digital Literacy in Marginalized Communities

Mariana Vázquez, M.Ed. (she/her/ella) is a School Psychology doctoral candidate and a Center for Mexican American Studies (CMAS) graduate fellow at the University of Houston. Mariana’s research interests focus on the influence of cultural, linguistic, and social factors on Latinx parents’ involvement and Latinx students’ educational and psychological outcomes.

She is particularly interested in the provision of culturally and linguistically sensitive and responsive services for Latinx youth and families. Through her academic and applied work, Mariana aims to support the advancement of Latinx communities.


Keighty Ward
Community Literacy Program Director
Literacy Works

Special Guest Breakout Session Presenter

Building a Reflective Teaching Practice

Making Space for Everyone: Universal Design for Learning

Developing Safe Learning Spaces

Keighty brings a special focus on accessibility in language and literacy, and will present three breakout sessions for us during the conference, each interpreting our theme of “Literacy for ALL” through a different lens. 

Keighty Ward (they/them) began their work as an educational ASL interpreter and quickly became interested in the teaching they were interpreting. They taught English as a Second Language for three years, while pursuing their M.A. in Applied Linguistics. Their thesis focused on d/Deaf adult English learners, which led them to become interested in adult education specifically.

They spent many years teaching ESL and Citizenship before transitioning to Literacy Works where they support community literacy educators. They have presented at several conferences on various topics including adult education, inclusive teaching and learning, and popular education. Through their work they hope to help make education accessible and equal for all who seek it.

In their spare time, Keighty loves to grow vegetables, practice art making, or watch their cats run around in the yard.

Winkle, Ashly

Ashly Winkle
Manager of Distance Education PD Center

Taking Contextualized Video Lessons to Your Classroom

Ashly Winkle is the Manager of Distance Education PD Center for TCALL @ Texas A&M & Integrating Technology Moderator for LINCS. She is also a Journeyman 2 Technology Coach who started in adult education as a volunteer for the Literacy Council of Tyler in Tyler, Texas in 2013. She immediately fell in love with adult education and became an HSE Teacher within a matter of months.

There, she taught HSE and ABE classes while also taking on roles of Director of Distance Learning, PD Coordinator, and Trainer. In August of 2020, Ashly started her position with Texas Center For Advancement in Learning (TCALL) where she is heavily involved with Texas AEL Distance Learning, content development, project management, and the Technology Integration Coach program. She is extremely passionate about teaching, training, and integrating technology into adult education instruction.

Ashly has an M.S. in Teaching & Learning with a specialization in Teaching Leadership and an M.S. in Business Management with a specialization in Online Education.

Wright, Chasity

Chasity Wright
Assessment Solutions Consultant
Data Recognition Corporation

TABE Testing Updates and Best Practices to Improve Student Outcomes

Chasity Wright is a native of Ohio with a background in special education. Chasity has worked in many capacities including reporting, sales, leadership, and program management prior to joining Data Recognition Corporation in 2013.

She holds a degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology from the State University of New York at New Paltz. As an Assessment Solutions Consultant, Chasity works with Adult Education programs across the country to develop assessment plans for adult learners as well as trains educators on assessment best practices.

More presenters will be added to this page as they’re confirmed. Make sure you’re on our mailing list so you don’t miss any announcements!

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