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2018 Conference Presenters

John Dougall Utah State Auditor John Dougall – The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations

W. Edwards Deming said: “A bad system will beat a good person every time.” What is the objective of the system of public education and why do too many students struggle to succeed within it?

Bio: After a long career in the technology sector working for large companies and start-ups, John took up the challenge of public service and was elected to the Utah House of Representatives. After 10 years serving as a Representative, John ran for and was elected as Utah’s state auditor in 2012. John has been a champion of tax reform, transparent government, performance management, and fiscal responsibility. John’s educational background includes a Master of Science degree in electrical engineering and an MBA from Brigham Young University.

Autumn Cook

Autumn Cook-Smothered in the Cold Arms of the State

You have the best interests of your child at heart, don’t you? Well, the state isn’t so sure of that anymore. More and more, the state is using the education system to edge you out in the business of making decisions about your children’s lives. From the rejection of parental rights in the federal government’s Every Student Succeeds Act, to your home state’s mandatory data collection system, to your local district’s school attendance policies, government is pushing parents away from their children as it steadily increases the reach of its directives into family decisions.Bio:Autumn Foster Cook is a freelance journalist who traveled the world in her youth with her Air Force family. She has organized, led and worked with grassroots organizations in the arenas of family and education policy. Her interest in life, family and political issues was kindled in college when she worked with the United Nations-focused World Family Policy Center. In 2011, she co-founded the Nebraska Family Forum, which went on to successfully push for a repeal of an oppressive school attendance law.  She holds a degree in Journalism from Brigham Young University.

Oak Norton – Workshop Kickoff

New to our conference this year, you’ll get a chance to mingle with other attendees and have some fun, brain engaging sessions as you help develop ideas, content, and direction for Agency-Based Education. A morning session will set things up with some fun brainstorming, and an afternoon session will let participants choose a second project to participate in.

Lisa Cummins

Utah State Board Member Lisa Cummins – Can Classical Liberal Arts Save the Republic?

Lisa Cummins is currently on the Utah State Board of Education, representing District 11. Last September Lisa was invited to participate in the Moms March for America, and was invited to speak at the first MomTalks hosted by Moms for America on Constitution Day this year. She has had articles written and published, with her latest one “The Constitution, Elected Officials, and You” being published in the August/September issue of The Scoop, a magazine in Colorado. On top of all this, Lisa has been working with the Tim Aalders campaign helping to get him elected to the U.S. Senate. She believes in God, sustaining her family and the Constitution, in that order.

Adam Hailstone – A New Religion of Dataism

Bio: Adam is a thought leader and speaker in the education and leadership fields. He is currently serving as the CMO and Director of Leadership with Williamsburg Learning. He became passionate about education and leadership during college, when he was given an opportunity to travel with two professors and speak to audiences around the United States and Canada about obtaining a liberal arts education.After college, he started two small businesses. But over time it became apparent something was missing. He longed for the opportunity to once again help people obtain a greater education. Then, about 7 years ago, he sold one business and closed the other to help build Williamsburg Learning. Since then Williamsburg has grown by 10 times with students all over the world. He is married to Laura Hailstone and they have a 5 year old son named Emmett.

Dr Gary Thompson

Dr. Gary Thompson – Youth Suicide: Dispelling Myths. Empowering Parents. Providing Hope

In 2016, a quiet father and doctor of child psychology reluctantly ran for the Utah State Board of Education.  The campaign consisted of literally one non-political message to his neighbors, and those embedded in power in Utah politics… The Hippocratic Oath: Above all else, do no harm.”   As the co-founder of a private pediatric educational/trauma psychology clinic, Dr. Gary Thompson and his staff observed a dramatic uptick in trauma related youth suicidal ideations in children as young as four.   Dr. Thompson’s unique “campaign” message did not resonate with the voting community or public policy leaders, and he quietly returned to focus on his growing family, and a clinic besieged with youth suffering from serious mental health issues. Fast-forward two years to 2018, as predicted by Dr. Thompson and other doctoral level scholars/clinicians, Utah parents and policy makers woke up to find themselves as one of the nation’s leaders in youth suicides. After two years outside of the public eye, Dr. Thompson speaks for the first time to dispel myths surrounding youth suicide, and to empower parents with basic peer reviewed research findings in the area of mental health/trauma. Dr. Thompson provides a unifying framework of hope and practical suggestions to his neighbors of all political, religious, racial and gender backgrounds.

Bio: Dr. Gary Thompson is a clinically, and educationally trained doctor of psychology and has previously used his expertise assisting parents navigate the complex public/private school maze of Individual Education Plans (IEP) and 504 accommodation meetings. He has represented over 500 children in various school settings in 25 different school districts in multiple states. Dr. Thompson received both his Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D. Forensic Psychology) and Master’s Degree (MS Clinical Forensic Psychology) from Phillips Graduate Institute in Los Angeles, California, and completed his award winning doctoral training internship and residency requirements at A Better Way Child & Family Services located in Berkeley, California. Prior to completing his graduate studies, Dr. Thompson earned a bachelors degree in Communications-Pre Law from the University of Utah, via several years of undergraduate studies at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

Jennifer Jensen

Jennifer Jensen – It Just Might Have to be You

There comes a time when you look around for someone else to take charge, come up with a great idea, or even just make something happen; but as you look around, there isn’t anyone else there. It then becomes clear that if you want to see it happen, it might just have to be you. This is where I found myself a year ago. What made me think I was capable of such a feat as starting a classical liberal arts college? I didn’t; that’s the story.

Bio: BA, Brigham Young University; MA, Political Economy, George Wythe College; Ph.D., Constitutional Studies, George Wythe University; Adjunct Faculty and Graduate Dean, George Wythe University, Adjunct Faculty, BYU-Idaho, Board Member and blogger for Gathering Families, author of Raising Intentional Parents, volunteer with various political organizations, and homeschool mom of 25 years.

Joan Landes

Joan Landes – KidCEO School: How your child’s small business can create incredible opportunities

Joan describes how her 7 children had small businesses that paid for college, created true resilience, and inspired hard-work and integrity. Teach your child to be responsible and independent while following in the footsteps of some of our nation’s most outstanding leaders. Bonus: If you think you can’t afford private school, this presentation will show how your student can earn their own tuition!

Bio: Joan Landes, MA, CMHC, is a mother of 7 children, grandmother of 11+ grandchildren and a practicing psychotherapist. Through it all, she has been married to the same amazing husband and shares a small farm with friends, family, and clients. As a clinical mental health counselor, she uses her extensive experience to diagnose and treat individuals couples, and families wanting to do better and feel better. She speaks at conferences around the country and is an advocate for children and family entrepreneurship as a vehicle for social, intellectual, and financial stability.

Troy Towns – Take Action with Hope Ink

Troy believes that the church can no longer shrink away from government or any of the spheres  that influence our culture. His political philosophy “Voting With  A Kingdom Mindset” His goal is to inspire and activate Christians, to use the power of  effectual fervent prayer, the powers of the vote, to promote honest and upright leaders: making sound decisions that promote Godly values in government. By so doing, ensuring God’s blessings and security for generations to come.

Bio: Troy Towns , an ordained minister with a specific calling to the governmental and educational mountains. He is a Pastor at Rivers Edge Church, in Montgomery AL. Troy is the former State Vice Chairman of Alabama Republican Party. Prior to his service as Vice Chairman, he was  the Director of Minority Outreach and Engagement. Troy is also a motivational speaker and political activist.  He has spoken at various churches, civic groups and political events. Troy’s personal passion is for The Body of Christ to be bold, active, and relevant, so that it can effectively influence society. Troy has been married 23 years to his wife Dianne and has four awesome children:  Briana (27), Philip (24), Celina (21) and Jasmyne (19).

Alisa Ellis

Alisa Ellis – Staying Involved

Alisa is currently serving on the Utah State Board of Education. She spoke briefly at the conference on the urgent need for parents to stay involved. It’s not enough to get good people elected and abandon the cause. Good people need to stay involved and support those they elect.