You are here: American University School of Education SIEEJ 2023

Summer Institute on Education, Equity, and Justice Eradicating the Stigma: Prioritizing Mental Health in PreK-16 Education

Conference • June 26-28, 2023


Register now for lowest early bird pricing!

All sessions are offered virtually, with two events offered in a hybrid format virtually and in-person.

The annual American University School of Education Summer Institute on Education Equity and Justice (SIEEJ) was developed to convene local and national educators and education advocates to highlight new practices and strategies for addressing the educational needs of Black, Brown, and indigenous students. This year's theme is Eradicating the Stigma: Prioritizing Mental Health in PreK-16 Education with speakers including Dr. Norma Day-Vines, Dr. Joanne Frederick, Dr. Carlos Hipolito-Delgado, Dr. Tyrone Howard, Dr. Ian Levy, and many more. Join us to thoroughly examine the intersection of racism in education, and intentionally center the voices and experiences of people of color. All #SIEEJthemoment learning sessions will be offered virtually with recordings of sessions available only to registered attendees after the institute concludes.

Who Should Attend:

PreK-16 educators, mental health professionals, counselors, psychologists, social workers, legislators, education advocates, parents, students (registration discount available), school board members, and those at community-based organizations are encouraged to attend this low-cost, high-impact conference. 

Save with Early Bird Pricing through June 1. 

All sessions are offered virtually, with two events offered in a hybrid format virtually and in-person. The below two sessions are offered in-person:

  • Opening Reception and Book Signing, Monday, June 26, from 6:00-8:00 p.m., Location: TBA
  • Dr. Edmund Gordon Lecture and Networking Reception will be offered both virtually and in-person, Wednesday, June 28, from 5:00-8:00 p.m. Location: TBA

Register Now

Attend Free, In-Person Sessions!

This year you can attend two in-person events at American University in Washington, DC, for free.

  1. Join Dr. Joanne Frederick, author of Copeology: Exploring Coping Techniques at a book talk and signing, followed by a networking reception, from 6:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. on Monday, June 26.
  2. Hear Dr. Tyrone Howard, President of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), followed by a Q&A with the speaker, and then a networking reception starting at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 28. 

Sessions are designed to change both mindsets and practices. The overall goal of SIEEJ is to build a community of practice singularly focused on the strengths, challenges, and opportunities in the lives of young people of color and the communities in which they live.

  • Participants will be provided links to livestream all sessions in advance. 
  • All sessions are offered virtually, with the Dr. Edmund Gordon Lecture offered in a hybrid format virtually and in-person, and a book signing and networking receptions offered in-person only. 
  • All sessions will be closed captioned.
  • Recordings of the sessions will be made available to registered attendees.
  • *** Due to the virtual nature of this conference, certificates of participation will not be issued. ***

We encourage you to engage with the sessions by using the hashtag #SIEEJ2023.

Please email questions at

Register Now

Schedule of Events This schedule is still evolving - check back regularly for updates.

All sessions are offered virtually, with two events offered in a hybrid format virtually and in-person.


DAY ONE (Monday, June 26, 2023, 11:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m. EDT)

11:00 a.m.–11:45 a.m.
Dean’s Welcome Address
Dr. Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy, Dean, American University's School of Education
DESCRIPTION: The dean will give a conference overview and introduce the SIEEJ Conference Planning Committee.

Noon–1:15 p.m.
Opening Keynote Address
Dr. Norma Day-Vines, Professor of Counseling Educational Studies and Associate Dean for Diversity and Faculty Development, Johns Hopkins University 

2:00 p.m.–3:30 p.m.
Panel Discussion

TOPIC: A Critical Conversation on Mental Wellness in Higher Education
DESCRIPTION: COVID-19 and the recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations serve as a touchpoint for the way in which academics and educational practitioners fundamentally need to change their approach to education. Given the disproportionate numbers of deaths of members of the Black community that have resulted from COVID-19 and the surge in numbers of people suffering from mental health conditions because of the government mandated lockdown, it is incumbent upon decision makes to reevaluate the provision given people in marginalized groups and from low social-economic backgrounds. Mental wellness is an international concern because it affects the welfare of students, faculty, and professionals in educational settings. Mental wellness is critical for all educators, who are often the first to be called upon to support students. Many educators recognize the impact that a student's mental health has on learning and achievement, and they realize that there's a great deal that can be done to help students with mental health issues. Poor mental health at K-12 schools and at universities is a big problem, not only because it affects how students learn but because it also influences whether they finish their academic program. Ultimately, symptoms of poor mental health greatly affect the career potential and overall lives of students. Most research highlight challenges caused by the transition from high school to university life, coursework deadlines, exams, and financial difficulties. However, the poor mental health of university professors has received comparatively little attention. This is concerning because research has shown that many academic staff are stressed and at risk of burnout. To that end, this session will largely focus on the wellness of higher education academics by offering resources that can support their mental wellness.
MODERATOR: Dr. Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy, Dean, American University School of Education
PANELISTS: Dr. Brian McGowan, Associate Professor, American University; Dr. Corbin Campbell, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Associate Professor, American University; Okey K. Enyia, doctoral student, The George Washington University; Dr. Tricia Easterling, Professor, Radford University.

3:45 p.m.–5:00 p.m.
Panel Discussion
Adolescent Mental Health, Social Support, and Uncertainty During COVID-19: Moderating Roles of Engagement and Perseverance
DESCRIPTION: Recent research on COVID-19 suggests that adolescents are likely experiencing elevated rates of anxiety and depression. Although evidence has been mixed, some results have indicated that social support (e.g., family and friends) is a protective factor for youth during the COVID-19 pandemic and other times of uncertainty. Given the nature of social distancing and uncertainty during the pandemic, understanding the association of uncertainty related to COVID-19, social support, and psychological outcomes among youth is particularly important. Furthermore, researchers have identified strengths, such as the ability to engage socially and perseverance towards goals despite challenges, as factors which can facilitate the likelihood that youth can find and receive social support during community crises, thereby decreasing their anxiety and depression. This session aims to dismantle the stigma of preK-12 students and staff receiving mental health support while we still navigate multiple pandemics.
MODERATOR: Dr. Mandy Savitz-Romer, Nancy Pforzheimer Aronson Senior Lecturer in Human Development and Education, Harvard University
PANELISTS: Dr. Danbi Choe, Assistant Professor, Louisiana State University; Chaz Kohlrieser, Independent Licensed Clinician

6:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. (IN-PERSON ONLY)
Opening Conference Reception (IN-PERSON ONLY)
Dr. Joanne Frederick, author of Copeology: Exploring Coping Techniques
LOCATION: American University's Spring Valley Building, Room 100 (4801 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC)

DAY TWO (Tuesday, June 27, 2023, 9:15 a.m.–7:30 p.m. EDT)

9:15 a.m.–9:30 a.m.
Smooth Jazz at Breakfast

9:30 a.m.–9:45 a.m.
Opening Comments
Dr. Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy, Dean, American University School of Education

9:45 a.m.–10:45 a.m.
American University School of Education Doctoral Student Panel

TOPIC: Supporting Graduate Students Mental Health and Well-being
DESCRIPTION: The past ten years have seen mounting evidence that graduate students are facing increasing levels of stress and anxiety. In spite of this trend, little is known about the distribution of stress and stressors across diverse subgroups of master’s and doctoral students. Even less is known about student pathways to care, or about the effectiveness of resources, policies, and practices designed to create healthier departmental and campus cultures. First, this graduate-student-led panel will address the intersection of culture and identity with mental health and wellness. In addition, they will share their mental health journey as students and offer advice to their peers.
MODERATOR: Dr. Samantha Cohen, Executive Director, Doctoral Programs, American University School of Education
PANELISTS: Rachel Cason Anthony, Doctoral Student, American University; Katie Blaesing, Doctoral Student, American University; Devon Horton, Doctoral Student, American University

11:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m.
Morning Keynote Speaker and Q&A
KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Dr. Carlos P. Hipolito-Delgado, Professor, University of Colorado Denver, School of Education and Human Development Counseling

12:45 p.m.–1:45 p.m.
Panel Discussion
Examining the Developmental Assets that LGBTQ+ Youth Deploy in Health Education Classrooms
DESCRIPTION: One uniquely marginalizing school environment for LGBTQ+ youth is health and sex education. While research has documented the negative sexual and mental health impacts these marginalizing environments can have for LGBTQ+ youth, we know less about the developmental assets and competencies that this population of youth exercises to survive in and cope with these environments. In this session, participants will discuss the developmental strengths and competencies that LGBTQ+ youth exercise in sex education spaces. In addition, participants will share information about ways to create safe spaces for all students to participate and thrive in classroom settings.
MODERATOR: Dr. George Wimberly, Director of Professional Development and Diversity Officer, American Educational Research Association
PANELISTS: Rev. Terence Mayo, Doctoral Student, Clark Atlanta University; Dr. Haley D. Wikoff, Assistant Professor, Western Illinois University; Christopher N. Smith, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisor, Federal Emergency Management Agency; Dr. Steve D. Mobely Jr., Associate Professor, Morgan State University, Dr. Zainbo Okolo, The Jed Foundation

2:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m.
Panel Discussion
A Culturally Responsive Approach to Mental Health in K-12 Schools
DESCRIPTION: Education professionals have recognized the impact of mental health on students' learning and achievement, documenting consistently the ways mental health affects K-12 graduation rates, coursework, academic performance, motivation, and emotional stability. Complicating the challenges faced by students are also the demands placed on K-12 staff who are hired to support mental health. Often these staff are themselves overly stressed and at risk of burnout. In this session, scholars explore an array of symptoms of poor mental health in K-12 schools and highlight the ways school districts are successfully, and unsuccessfully, seeking to promote the emotional health of their student body and staff.
MODERATOR: Dr. Ian Levy, Assistant Professor, Manhattan College
PANELISTS: Dr. Lauren Davis, Assistant Professor, Montana State University; Dr. Wendy Rock, Assistant Professor, Southeastern Louisiana University; Shawn Wiggins, Founder,  Planted By Nature, LLC; Dr. Mariama Sandifer, Assistant Professor, Bowling Green State University; Dr. Matthew Lemberger-Truelove, Professor of Counseling and Higher Education, University of North Texas

3:15 p.m.–4:45 p.m.
Panel Discussion
TOPIC: Understanding Patterns of Social-Emotional Strengths Across Students With and Without Disabilities: Different, Not Worse
DESCRIPTION: Understanding the diversity of experiences of students who have been identified as having a disability (SPED) could help teachers and administrators better understand the experiences of their student body and help them better utilize interventions to increase positive student academic and social outcomes. A dual-factor perspective to student mental health posits that both students thrive when there is a presence of social-emotional strengths, as well as the absence of distress. The focus on both the distress and strengths of students' mental health provides a unique perspective on the overall well-being of students which traditionally focuses on a deficit model. Understanding the experiences of students who have been identified with a disability is important. Participants in this session will share their lived experiences and offer recommendations to teachers who provide instruction to students with disabilities.
MODERATOR: Dr. Niani Smith, Social Worker, District of Columbia Public Schools
PANELISTS: Gabriela Bourgue, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, St. Charles Parish Public Schools; Rachel Halegoua, Special Education Teacher and Board-Certified Art Therapist, District of Columbia Public Schools; Jessica Stefon, District of Columbia Public Schools; Dr. Shareen Fernanders, Director of Early Literacy Strategy, District of Columbia Public Schools; Felecia Wright, Director of Specialized Instruction, District of Columbia Public Schools; Dr. Gary Hamilton, Instructional Coach, District of Columbia Public Schools

5:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m.
Happy Hour Book Talk 
GUEST AUTHOR: Dr. Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy, Dean, American University’s School of Education 
Antiracist Counseling in Schools and Communities

6:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m.
Mindfulness and Meditation Teaching and Practice
Healing Meditation Practice: Mind, Body, and Soul
FACILITATOR: Rashid Hughes, Heart Refuge Mindfulness Community, LLC
INTRODUCED BY: Bonnie Berry, Special Assistant to the Dean, American University's School of Education
DESCRIPTION: Rashid Hughes seeks to bridge the worlds of contemplative practice and collective care. He is a proud graduate of the Howard University Department of Music and the Howard University School of Divinity. In 2019, Rashid co-founded the Heart Refuge Mindfulness Community, a community in Washington, DC that inspires Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) to live with love and courage in the face of systemic inequities and ongoing racial violence. Rashid is a certified Mindfulness Teacher, a certified Yoga Instructor, a Restorative Justice Facilitator, and currently in training to become a Fire Pujari. All of Rashid's perspectives flow from the two wisdom traditions of contemplative and restorative practices. In this session, attendees will engage in a one-hour mindfulness and meditation healing practice.

DAY THREE (Wednesday, June 28, 2023, 12:45–7:00 p.m. EDT)

12:45 p.m.–1:00 p.m.
Dean’s Closing Remarks
DESCRIPTION: SOE Dean Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy will give closing remarks about the SIEEJ conference.

1:00 p.m.2:15 p.m.
Panel Discussion
Teacher Mental Health in a Global Pandemic: Lessons From 2020
DESCRIPTION: This session explores the psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the rapid shift to remote/virtual education on teachers’ mental health. Teachers play multiple roles in students’ lives (Cross & Hong, 2012), but have faced increased responsibilities for monitoring students’ mental health and helping families cope with the impacts of the pandemic, which has impacted teachers’ mental health both positively and negatively. Participants in this session will share their lived experiences as well as their resilience in coping with their own and students needs as the pandemic continues.
MODERATOR: Dr. Laura Owen, Executive Director, Center for Equity and Postsecondary Attainment & Lecturer, San Diego State University
PANELISTS: Naomi Brown, Adjunct Professor, George Mason University; Thomas Davis, Chief Executive Office and Founder, Limitless Possibilities, LLC; Marquita George, Mental Health Professional, Hahnville High School; Dr. Sandy Savitz-Romer, Nancy Pforzheimer Arson Senior Lecturer, Harvard University; Dr. Fatima Baig, Director of Programs, Asian American LEAD

2:45 p.m.–3:45 p.m.
Panel Discussion
TOPIC: Coping with Stress in PreK-12 Classrooms
DESCRIPTION: Research indicates that one in 20 children will lose a parent by the age of 16, and almost all children experience the death of a close family member or friend by the end of high school. Yet, very few teachers receive bereavement training as part of their coursework in college or graduate school. This has major implications for learning, as grief can mean academic, behavioral, and social issues. This session explores how educators can support grieving children in their classrooms. Implications are applicable to educator perceptions, teacher education programs, classroom practices, and recommendations for mental health partnerships.
MODERATOR: Dr. Joanne Frederick, Associate Professor, George Mason University
PANELISTS: Genevieve Nelson, Internship Director, T.W. Ponessa and Associates; Dr. Joanne Frederick, Adjunct Professor, George Mason University; Crystal Dorn, Founder, Creative Cognitive Solutions, LLC

5:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m. (Offered HYBRID Online and In-Person)
The Dr. Edmund Gordon Lecture and Q & A 
SPEAKER: Dr. Tyrone Howard, President, American Educational Research Association and Professor, University of California, Los Angeles 
MODERATOR: Dean Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy, American University's School of Education
LOCATION: American University's Spring Valley Building, Room 100 (4801 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC)
*Networking reception following the lecture IN-PERSON ONLY.

SIEEJ Speakers

Dr. Norma Day-Vines
Norma L. Day-Vines, PhDDr. Norma L. Day-Vines serves as Associate Dean for Diversity and Faculty Development in the School of Education at Johns Hopkins University and maintains a faculty appointment as Professor of Counseling and Educational Studies. Prior to joining the faculty at Johns Hopkins University, she held tenured faculty positions at The College of William and Mary and Virginia Tech. Day-Vines’ research agenda examines the importance of multiculturalism as an indispensable tool in the delivery of culturally competent counseling and educational services for clients and students from marginalized groups. More specifically, she specializes in the measurement of attitudes towards discussing the contextual dimensions of race, ethnicity, and culture with ethnic minority clients/students and the identification of strategies that reduce barriers to well-being. She has consulted with school districts across the country to address issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion. Her scholarship has appeared in leading counseling journals such as the Journal of Counseling and Development, the Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, the Journal of Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, and Professional School Counseling. She has received more than $5 million in federal and state grants to address mental health concerns. Day-Vines was recognized with an Exemplary Diversity Leadership Award in 2013 by the Association of Multicultural Counseling and Development. In 2018, she received an Excellence in Teaching Award at Johns Hopkins University, and in 2019, she was awarded a Presidential Citation from the American Counseling Association, in recognition of her scholarship on multiculturalism. Norma earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her master’s and doctorate from North Carolina State University.

Dr. Joanne Frederick
Dr. Joanne FrederickDr. Joanne Frederick has been in the field of Counseling for more than 25 years as a university professor and a counselor in private practice. Frederick specializes in treating people with anxiety, depression, relationship issues, terminal illnesses, and learning disabilities. Frederick is the author of the book Copeology. It covers how to deal with grief and loss, being a black man in the world today, disabilities, surviving Covid-19, infidelity, anxiety and fears, trauma, the power of prayer, and single parenting. She holds a Doctorate Degree in Counseling from the George Washington University in Rehabilitation Counseling, and is also a Licensed Professional Counselor in the District of Columbia, a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in Maryland, and a National Certified Counselor.

Dr. Carlos P. Hipolito-Delgado
Dr. Carlos Hipolito-Delgado Dr. Carlos Hipolito-Delgado is a Professor in counseling at the University of Colorado Denver. His research examines the cultural competence of counselors and the sociopolitical development of youth. Hipolito-Delgado has over 35 peer-reviewed journal and book chapters published on the topics of multicultural training, ethnic identity, internalized racism, and youth sociopolitical development. His research has been cited over 1,350 times. He has been co-primary investigator on numerous research grants, totaling over $2.8 million, to develop an assessment of the quality of youth civic performances and document the impact of student voice curriculum on academic engagement and socio-emotional development of marginalized youth. Hipolito-Delgado is the past president of the Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development (AMCD) and past chair of the American Counseling Association (ACA) Foundation. He has previously served as Parliamentarian and Governing Council Representative for the ACA. He has been recognized with the Exemplary Diversity Leadership and Professional Development Awards by AMCD and the University of Colorado Denver Faculty Assembly Award for Service. He possesses a Doctor of Philosophy in counselor education from the University of Maryland College Park.

Dr. Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy
Dean Cheryl Holcomb-McCoyDr. Holcomb-McCoy is the Dean of the School of Education and a Distinguished Professor at American University (AU). She is also the author of the best-selling book School Counseling to Close Opportunity Gaps: A Social Justice and Antiracist Framework for Success and Antiracist Counseling in Schools and Communities. Holcomb-McCoy believes in the revolutionary power of school counseling. An American Counseling Association (ACA) Fellow with 30 years of experience as a former kindergarten teacher, elementary school counselor, family therapist, and most recently university professor and administrator, she has a wealth of knowledge, expertise and wisdom.

Dr. Tyrone Howard
Headshot of Dr. Tyrone HowardDr. Tyrone Howard is a professor of education in the School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA. His research addresses issues tied to race, culture, access, and educational opportunity for minoritized student populations. Howard is the author of several best-selling books, including Why Race & Culture Matters in Schools and All Students Must Thrive. He is a native of Compton, California, where he also served as a classroom teacher. Howard is a member of the National Academy of Education and president of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). 

Dr. Ian Levy
Dr. Ian LevyDr. Ian Levy is an Associate Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Counseling & Therapy at Manhattan College, New York City native, former high school counselor. His research explores preparing school counselors to use Hip Hop based interventions to support youth development. Most notably, Levy piloted the development, implementation, and evaluation of a Hip Hop based counseling framework, which has been featured in the New York Times, CNN, and published in a variety of reputable academic journals. More recently, he has begun exploring the training of school counselors who are versed in Hip Hop based approaches - as both a medium to develop anti-racist and cultural competencies. Ian is also the author of the research monograph, Hip Hop and Spoken Word Therapy in School Counseling: Developing Culturally Responsive Approaches, published with Routledge.

Dr. Laura Owen
Dr. Laura OwenDr. Laura Owen is the Executive Director for the Center for Equity and Postsecondary Attainment at San Diego State University (SDSU). A prior urban school counselor and district counseling supervisor, she is a passionate advocate for closing college opportunity gaps. Her research focuses on evaluating the impact of interventions and programs designed to address the systems, structures and policies that drive inequitable access to high quality postsecondary advising support. Laura has researched interventions targeting financial aid and FAFSA completion, the high school to college transition, text messaging and virtual advising, the impact of technology on college going decisions, and how students prefer to receive college and career information. Her research includes interventions and partnerships with nonprofit college access organizations, technology companies, cross-institutional researchers, and school districts from Baltimore, Maryland, to San Diego, California.

Dr. Mandy Savitz-Romer
Dr. Mandy Savitz-RomerDr. Mandy Savitz-Romer is the Nancy Pforzheimer Aronson Senior Lecturer in Human Development and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is also the faculty lead of the school counseling strand of the Human Development and Education program. Her research and field-facing work examines how schools structure counseling support systems and specifically, what conditions are critical to effective practice. She writes and speaks extensively on college and career readiness and school-based counseling, specially as it relates to students of color and first-generation college students. She is the author of Fulfilling the Promise: Reimagining School Counseling to Advance Student Success, and the co-author of Ready, Willing, and Able: A Developmental Approach to College Access and Success, and Technology and Engagement: Making Technology Work for First-Generation College Students. Savitz-Romer’s previous positions in school counseling, college access, and higher education heavily influence her teaching, writing, and advocacy work. She sits on multiple advisory boards, provides consultation to school districts, foundations, and universities, and engages in research projects that widen access to educational and student support programming.

2023 SIEEJ Planning Committee

The SIEEJ Planning Committees's key purpose is to coordinate the success of the SIEEJ Virtual Conference.

  • Bonnie Berry – Conference Partnerships and Logistics
  • Lumumba Dunduza – Registration, Social Media, and Marketing
  • Jaquial Durham – General Support and Partnerships
  • Dr. Antonio Ellis – Conference Director and Scholar in Residence
  • Mark Forsberg – Conference Registration and Logistics
  • SOE Dean Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy – Conference Oversight
  • Leslie A. Jones – Conference Speakers
  • Jason Pier – Marketing

Conference Resources

Conference resources will be added later.

Save with Early Bird Pricing through June 1.

All sessions are offered virtually, with two events offered in a hybrid format virtually and in-person.

Register Now



  • $30 Early Bird Admission (Until June 1)
  • $40 General Admission
  • $20 Student Admission 
  • $20 Group Admission (Per Person for Groups of 20 or More People)
  • There are a limited number of free passes available for those experiencing financial hardship. 

Please email us with any questions at

SIEEJ in the Media

Diverse: Issues In Higher Education covers the 2022 Summer Institute on Education Equity and Justice (SIEEJ) in its article American University's Summer Institute on Education Equity and Justice to be Three-Day Virtual Event Centered on Antiracism.

2023 Sponsor Logos: Open Technology Group, Life Center Fellowship, Teachers College Press, Information Age Publishing


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