Morning Sessions Information & Zoom Links

Below you will find more information about the morning sessions, including the Zoom links and presentation abstracts. Click on the session you would like to explore. Most sessions have three to four options to choose from. Remember, you will need the passcode that was emailed to you to access these links.

8:00 - 9:25 Session9:30 - 10:20 AM Session10:30 - 11:00 AM Session11:10 AM - 12:00 PM Session

Conference Opening

Morning Networking, Conference Welcome, Keynote Speaker


Join members of the PCC 2021 Steering Committee at 8:00 AM (EST) for a morning networking session. The Conference will open up with a welcome at 8:45 AM (EST), followed by the Keynote Presentation at 9:00 AM (EST). Click here to learn more about the Keynote. 

Option 1: The How of Character Strengths – Applying Strengths to Yourself and Students

SPEAKER: Dr. Ryan M. Niemiec, Education Director, VIA Institute on Character


Dr. Ryan Niemiec is a leading educator, researcher, and practitioner in character science and practice. He’s a popular international speaker, an award-winning psychologist, and education director of the renowned, nonprofit VIA Institute on Character. He’s authored 11 books (including the bestselling The Power of Character Strengths), more than 100 academic papers, and delivered over 1,000 presentations, including a keynote at Harvard, annual presentations at the University of Pennsylvania, a mindfulness tour across Australia, and a global character strengths tour 12 years ago. He was interviewed by the legendary Larry King in 2020. He’s a proud graduate of Michigan State University. 

This workshop will build from the foundation laid in the keynote and emphasize applications. It will bring the new science of character strengths to life, with the student in mind. An important first step in applying any new tool – especially activities of self-development – is to apply it to oneself first (i.e., “teacher/leader, know thyself”). Therefore, participants will learn ways to apply character strengths to themselves and establish a routine or practice with character strengths, not unlike creating a regular habit of exercising, meditating, socializing, or eating healthy. Participants will engage in character strengths activities, including a visceral experiential activity and a small group discussion. In addition, four levels of applying character strengths will be reviewed. They will walk away with a new mindset to helping others and with essential tools that can be used with students (and oneself) tomorrow! Prerequisite: Before the workshop, registrants received a specific link to the VIA Institute survey. Attendees can then print their free rank-ordered results or add an additional report(fee required for upgrade, but not for the basic results report) or have them available on their smart device for this session.

Option 2: Understanding Youth Mental Health in a Pandemic

SPEAKER: Dr. Natalie Moser, Director, MSU Psychological Clinic and Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Michigan State University


Natalie L. Moser, Ph.D. is the Director of the MSU Psychological Clinic. Natalie received her doctorate from the University of Delaware and completed her predoctoral clinical internship at the Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware. During this internship, Natalie received specialized training in pediatric psychology, the assessment and treatment of children with chronic medical illnesses and children who experience medical symptoms with no known medical etiologies. 

This presentation will discuss recent trends available regarding youth’s emotional experiences during COVID-19, including those families particularly impacted and factors that have buffered the impact for some families. The presenter will review ways to recognize behavioral indicators of mental health concerns and provide an outline for responding in a calm fashion. The presenter will also discuss how to make mental health a part of the conversation with you and your families.

Option 3: InPACT at Home: Move Together, Be Together, Think Together

SPEAKERS: Rebecca Hasson, Associate Professor, University of Michigan; Lisa Jo Gagliardi, Consultant, LG Gagliardi, LLC: Building a Whole Child Toolbox; Heather Lewis, Kindergarten Teacher, Discovery Elementary

  • Dr. Rebecca Hasson is an Associate Professor of Kinesiology and Director of the Childhood Disparities Research Laboratory at the University of Michigan. For the past 8 years, her research has focused on the development and implementation of physical activity interventions in school and home environments to improve the health and well-being of Michigan children and their families. As Principal Investigator of the Interrupting Prolonged sitting with ACTivity (InPACT) program and adapted InPACT for dissemination in the home environment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her programming is currently being broadcast on public television across the state of Michigan.
  • Lisa Jo Gagliardi, BA, MPA, is the founder of LJ Gagliardi, LLC: Building a Whole Child Toolbox. She is a consultant, facilitator, and coach for whole child health, with a focus on adult and student social-emotional health. She is past President of the Michigan School Health Coordinators’ Association and served on many local and State-level committees and boards, most recently the Michigan Department of Education’s SEL and Mental Health Network. Lisa Jo is also a certified Emotional Intelligence Practitioner and Emotional Intelligence Assessor and Coach through the international Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Network.
  • Heather Lewis holds an MA in Psychology in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, as well as an MA in Child Development from Michigan State University. She is the K-12 Social Emotional and Mindfulness Coordinator for Williamston Community Schools and also teaches Kindergarten at Discovery Elementary in Williamston, Michigan. She specializes in SEL, Mindfulness, and Student-Athlete Mental Health.

InPACT at Home is an evidence-informed, physical activity program that targets mental health and wellness by encouraging children and families to “move together, think together, and be together.” The program includes a Family Engagement Toolkit that connects physical activity to the following topics: resilience, feeling good, focus, nutrition, sleep, family team building, and family discussion. The toolkit complements exercise videos that are developmentally appropriate and are currently being broadcast statewide on the recently launched Michigan Learning Channel. The focus of this interactive session will highlight the social-emotional learning activities incorporated into the family engagement toolkit.

Option 1: University of Michigan’s ArcPrep: Engaging Students Through Project-Based Learning Online

SPEAKER: Anya Sirota, Associate Dean for Academic Initiatives, Associate Professor of Architecture, University of Michigan’s ArcPrep


Anya Sirota, Associate Dean for Academic Initiatives, Associate Professor of Architecture, University of Michigan’s ArcPrep

The University of Michigan Architecture Preparatory Program (ArcPrep) provides Detroit Public School juniors with an immersive, semester-long college preparatory course in architecture, urbanism and studio design. The recent online pivot raises questions about how digital adaptation affects studio and seminar instruction. This teaching is traditionally individualized and immersive – grounded in embodied encounters and collective discovery. This talk will address ArcPrep’s innovative curricular and pedagogical strategies to engage high school students in rigorous project-based online learning and consider blended instructional opportunities for the future.

Option 2: Fostering Engagement and Belonging Online: A Case Study of Three Innovative Programs

SPEAKERS: Laurie Rivetto, Christine Heverly, Jackie Martin, Janelle Stewart, Extension Educators, Michigan State University


  • Laurie Rivetto is a 14-year Extension educator with Michigan State University Extension based in Wayne County (Detroit, Michigan). Laurie specializes in 4-H youth development in the areas of career exploration, workforce preparation, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship. Her work focuses on volunteer and curriculum development around these topic areas as well as direct programming with youth in a creative, engaging, and fun manner. Laurie holds a Masters in Youth Development and serves on a team providing leadership on the pre-college program, 4-H Exploration Days.
  • Christine Heverly is a 12-year Extension educator with Michigan State University Extension based in Clinton County. Christine specializes in volunteer management and youth development. She works on creating safe environments for youth through building youth professionals’ knowledge and skills around best practices and policies. In addition, Christine has a focus on training volunteers in the areas of youth development, social media, building safe programming environments, and communication skills. Christine has a Master of Science in Youth Development and serves on a team providing leadership on the pre-college program, 4-H Exploration Days.
  • Jackie Martin is an MSU Extension Educator with 4-H leadership and civic engagement responsibilities housed in Washtenaw County (Ann Arbor), Michigan. Jackie focuses on providing opportunities for youth to develop leadership skills and helps youth find their voice in democratic and community processes through understanding civic engagement. Jackie works with adults to recognize the value of youth voices in decision-making. Jackie teaches group decision-making including parliamentary procedure, consensus-building tools, and facilitation techniques. Jackie holds a Master of Public Administration with nonprofit leadership emphasis. Jackie provides leadership to the Michigan 4-H State Youth Leadership Council and 4-H Capitol Experience.
  • Janelle Stewart is a 4-H Extension Educator with 35 years of experience in positive youth development work. Janelle focuses on providing opportunities for youth to develop leadership skills and helps youth find their voice in democratic and community processes through an understanding of civic engagement. Janelle also works with adults to help them recognize the value of youth voices in decision-making. Janelle teaches a variety of tools for group decision-making including parliamentary procedure, consensus building, and facilitation techniques. Janelle is certified by the National Council for Mental Wellbeing in Youth Mental Health First Aid and Teen Mental Health First Aid.

This workshop explores the shift to full virtual programming which led to opportunities and challenges in pre-college programming. As an organization that focuses on positive youth development, youth safety, voice and engagement are always at the forefront of our program planning and implementation. Michigan State University (MSU) Extension 4-H staff members adjusted to virtual programming while still aligning with program outcomes and goals for positive youth development. This workshop will highlight best practices in safe virtual programming through three signature programs from MSU Extension that engaged youth online, built community with participants, and allowed for cross-campus and community partnerships.

Option 3: Gen Zoomers and the State of Mind of Post-Pandemic Youth

SPEAKER: Cassy Tefft de Munoz, Director, Educational Outreach, Michigan Tech


Cassy Tefft de Muñoz is the Director of Educational Outreach at Michigan Technological University. With 11+ years of experience in higher education, Cassy has extensive experience in pre-college outreach, admissions, recruitment, international student and scholar services, and study abroad. Her passion is in developing innovative student support programming and early leadership capacity-building.

During summer 2021, Michigan Technological University ran in-person, residential Summer Youth Programs for 900+ students in grades 6-12. After documenting day-in and day-out interactions with participants, we made surprising observations about their future outlook and state of mind following the COVID-19 pandemic. In this interactive roundtable, we will share our hypothesis regarding a new generational delineation in youth we are calling Gen Zoomers and invite our colleagues to contribute their own anecdotal experiences as well.

Option 4: Sculptures and Sentences: Creating an Interactive Virtual Writing + Art Field Trip

SPEAKERS: Grace VanderVliet, Curator for Museum Teaching and Learning, Museum of Art, University of Michigan; Megan Gilson, Interim Program and Education Director, 826michigan


  • Grace VanderVliet connects teachers, students, and art. A former high school English teacher and university art history instructor, she enjoys thinking about how learning happens outside traditional classrooms. She works with volunteer docents to create engaging art museum tours that center students’ ideas and voices.
  • Megan Gilson is an experienced Program Manager at 826michigan, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting school-aged students to write with skill and confidence in collaboration with adult volunteers in their communities. Megan holds a BA in Education from the University of Michigan, with secondary teacher certification in English and Psychology, and is currently working on a Master’s in Language and Literacy Education at Harvard University. Prior to these roles, she taught high school English in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, supervised an after-school enrichment program, and taught Care of Magical Creatures at a Harry Potter-themed camp.

We, the staff at the U-M Museum of Art and tutoring center 826michigan, wondered, “How can we translate a physical field trip to an interactive virtual experience?” We wanted to practice persuasive writing, gather student input about a pressing social issue, and discuss visual art’s power to impact communities. Throughout the process, we learned: 1) Less is More. 2) Multi-modal learning invites students to participate more fully, and 3) Content is key. We’ll present tips for creating a relevant and funny asynchronous video, using multiple literacies to tap into students’ prior experience, and embracing technological tools that promote conversation and creativity.

Option 1: Are You Aiming for Meaningful Learning? Student Engagement is Your Key Ingredient!

SPEAKER: Angela Marocco, Instructional Learning Specialist, University of Michigan


Angela Marocco is an experienced Instructional Learning Specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the higher education industry. She is skilled in learning management systems, educational technology, public speaking, leadership, and training. Angela is an operations professional with a Master’s focused in Educational/Instructional Technology. She has prior work experience in higher education outreach programming (Teach For America-Detroit) as well as a history of K-12 teaching and K-12 instructional coaching.

Without an intentional student engagement plan, teaching and learning simply does not occur. This workshop explores why engagement is especially critical when teaching and learning is occurring online. This workshop also connects the K-12 arena to higher education programming. Guiding questions for the workshop include: Why is engagement critical for learning and online instruction? What is student-center remote teaching? What are the four principles of engagement? What can instructors do to increase engagement?

Option 2: (1) Campus Connections & (2) Financial Aid Programming (2 Presentation Topics)

CAMPUS CONNECTIONS – SPEAKERS: Laura Saavedra, GEAR UP Program Director; Sheri Samaha, Sr. Program Manager, Center for Educational Outreach, University of Michigan

FINANCIAL AID PROGRAMMING – SPEAKERS: Charlotte Pierce, College Advisor, Michigan College Advisor Corps, University of Michigan; Matthew Bozzo, Career Navigator, Grand Valley State University Battle Creek Regional Outreach Center


ABOUT SPEAKERS - Campus Connections
  • Laura Saavedra has served as a higher education professional for over twelve years working at multiple post-secondary institutions in several functional areas across Ohio and Michigan. Currently, she serves as the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, GEAR UP Program Director for the Center for Educational Outreach (CEO), housed within the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. In this role and alongside her talented team, she is excited to lead an evidence-based, data-informed organizational framework and program design that will support CEO’s strategic plan to significantly increase college access and success outcomes across the State of Michigan. Throughout her career, she has been committed to ensuring equitable pathways of opportunity through advocating for and empowering underrepresented, first-generation, and historically marginalized student groups. Laura is a proud second-generation Mexican-American, first-generation college graduate, who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a Master of Arts in College Student Personnel from Bowling Green State University, and she has made this work her life’s mission because she wholeheartedly believes in the transformative power of higher education.
  • Sheri Samaha is a Senior Program Manager who implements and manages the U-M Center for Educational Outreach initiatives that include guiding and collaborating with U-M students and faculty interested in advancing their educational outreach activities. Previously, Sheri served as the assistant director in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at U-M. She utilizes her admissions background to support students in under-resourced high schools pursuing higher education and works to demystify the college experience. With over 20 years of experience, Sheri leads CEO’s Wolverine Express program that coordinates large groups of diverse U-M faculty and staff to travel to high schools across the state of Michigan promoting college access, readiness and success. Sheri is deeply invested in U-M DEI initiatives and serves on CEO’s Outreach Consulting Team. She has developed expertise in providing resources that support faculty-led efforts with K-12 students and educators to broaden their impact and inspire them to make educational outreach a core component of their role as U-M Faculty. Sheri holds a Bachelor of Social Work from Western Michigan University and a Master of Guidance and Counseling with a focus on Higher Education from Eastern Michigan University.

FIRST PRESENTATION (25 mins) - Campus Connections
Re-Imagining Campus Connections and Moving Beyond the Traditional Campus Tour – Research shows that selective institutions are increasingly becoming less accessible to historically underrepresented students, although these institutions are more likely to graduate their students and possibly increase options in the labor market. Therefore, with the changing demographics of our nation and the worldwide impact of COVID-19, we must re-imagine our outreach efforts, leverage the virtual space and think differently about how to promote postsecondary access and success with youth, families, and communities. 

ABOUT SPEAKERS - Financial Aid Programming
  • Charlotte Pierce is a second-year college adviser serving at Battle Creek Central High School. A graduate of the University of Michigan, she received her Bachelor’s degree in Public Policy, focusing on youth and education policy, and a minor in Gender, Race, and Nation. While at Michigan, she worked with the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP), a program that pairs first and second-year undergraduates with research projects. In this role, she discovered her passion for mentorship and helping students carve out their educational paths. Her ultimate goal is to create policy change that increases accessibility to higher education, especially for low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented students. In her free time, she enjoys kickboxing, reading, and taking trips to northern Michigan.
  • Matthew Bozzo is responsible for empowering students to see opportunities for their futures. As a Career Navigator for Grand Valley State University at Battle Creek Central High School, Matthew supports students in preparing for their post-secondary education. He is passionate about developing and sustaining systems to promote the college-going culture among school faculty and community partnerships to effectively collaborate and support students in succeeding in their future goals. As a coach and adviser, Matthew promotes positive connections among every student and colleague he works with to encourage supportive relationships.

SECOND PRESENTATION (25 mins) - Financial Aid Programming
Student-Centered Strategies for High School Financial Aid Programming – This presentation aims to educate practitioners on strategies and programming to complete financial aid tasks in a virtual, hybrid and in-person setting. With an emphasis on FAFSA and scholarship completion, this presentation will provide tools and best practices when engaging high school students in understanding and completing financial aid documents. Implemented on-site as members of the Battle Creek Central High School staff, these strategies and tools resulted in high student engagement in completing the FAFSA and earning scholarship dollars.

Option 3: (1) High-Potential in High-Risk Area to Doctor & (2) Advocacy Training (2 Presentation Topics)

HIGH-POTENTIAL IN HIGH-RISK  TO DOCTOR – SPEAKER: Vy Tran Plata, 4th-year Medical Student, University of Michigan

ADVOCACY TRAINING – SPEAKERS: Othelia Pryor, Project Senior Manager, University of Michigan; Robert Holt, Medical Student Mentor, University of Michigan


ABOUT SPEAKERS - High-Potential Teen to Doctor
Vy Tran Plata grew up in a small village in Vietnam and immigrated to a diverse community in Atlanta when she was 10. She has been gifted with many opportunities to reflect on power and privilege as a student of first-generation and low-income background who is pursuing higher education/medicine. She graduated from Stanford University in 2016 with a B.A. in Human Biology focusing on Creativity, Innovation, and Change, and in 2018 with an M.S. in Community Health and Community Research. From her time being part of various communities (be it in Vietnam, the U.S., Mexico, or India), she’s learned that well-being comes in many different forms. In a doctor’s prescription, yes, but also in our inner strengths, in neighbors caring for one another, and in our resilience making ends meet each day. Vy sees these strengths as the untapped potential that she hopes to leverage as a future physician. She aspires to design programs and policies helping patients overcome behavioral and systemic challenges in their environment. In addition, she is interested in transforming medical education to reflect the diverse backgrounds of learners and infusing it with the humanistic values so fundamental to good care. When not out tackling community health issues or keeping up with med school, she finds joy on her yoga mat or oil painting.

FIRST PRESENTATION (25 mins) - High-Potential in High-Risk Area to Doctor
From High-Potential Teen in High-Risk Area to Medical Doctor – What does it take to transform the life of a blossoming youth at risk? Learn from a success story the contributing factors that promote Leadership Development, Social Awareness, College and Career Preparation, and Community Activism. In addition to sharing her personal participant journey, the speaker will share the signs to look for in at-risk youth to best navigate their world and creative ways to build trust and improve youth programs retention. 

ABOUT SPEAKERS - Advocacy Training
  • Othelia W. Pryor received a Ph.D. from Michigan State University in Measurement and Quantitative Methods and a Master’s in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the Project Senior Manager for the University of Michigan, Michigan Medicine Office for Health Equity and Inclusion (OHEI). Dr. Pryor’s current responsibilities include developing and delivering the Advancing Medicine through Equity and Social Justice curriculum (AMES) for faculty, staff, residents, medical students, and undergraduate and high school participants in the Michigan Health Sciences Summer Institute. Her role contributes to OHEI’s mission of diversifying the next generation of physicians, nurses, health professionals, and scientists.
  • Robert Alexander Holt was born and raised in Chicago, IL. He graduated with a BS in biomolecular science from University of Michigan in 2020, and will start a master’s in molecular & integrative physiology at the University of Michigan this fall. He plans to become an MD-PhD. He is part of the OHEI staff and helps lead and coordinate various programs and research projects. His passions and interests include health equity, mentorship, research, making music, biking, wrestling, and more.

SECOND PRESENTATION (25 mins) - Advocacy Training
Advocacy Training for Health Care Aspirants – The American Medical Association has charged physicians responsible for advocating for the social, economic, educational, and political changes that contribute to human well-being and alleviate suffering. Since advocacy training is being prioritized in the development of a competent health care professional, it is appropriate for high school medical pipeline programs to include advocacy in their curriculum. This presentation will demonstrate how the University of Michigan’s Science Pre-College Exposure Academy used the topic, Racism: A Public Health Crisis, to develop advocacy skills for participants.

Option 4: (1) How to Engage Youth Past Program & (2) Engaging Youth Advisory (2 Presentation Topics)

HOW TO ENGAGE YOUTH PAST PROGRAM – SPEAKER: Mollie Mfodwo, Manager of Pre-College Programs, College of Osteopathic Medicine, Michigan State University

ENGAGING YOUTH ADVISORY – SPEAKER: Lauren Vasquez, Program Specialist, Adolescent Health Initiative


ABOUT SPEAKER - How to Engage Youth Past Program
Mollie Mfodwo serves as the Manager of Pre-College Programs at Michigan State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine. Mollie’s primary role is to facilitate Pre-College Programming that exposes youth to osteopathic medicine and healthcare careers. In addition to this experience, Mollie serves on the University’s Pre-College Leadership team and is a current doctoral student in Michigan State’s Doctor of Educational Leadership program, with a focus in K-12 Administration.

FIRST PRESENTATION (25 mins) - How to Engage Youth Past Program
How to Engage Youth Past the Program: Pre-College Alumni AssociationThis session will walk participants through the process of establishing a Pre-College Alumni Association for their Pre-College Programs and the benefits of establishing such an association. Participants in this session can anticipate the following: greater understanding of the need for post-program engagement in a virtual world and how to launch a Pre-College Alumni Association. This session is ideal for new and returning Pre-College professionals with annual Pre-College Programs.

ABOUT SPEAKER - Engaging Youth Advisory
Lauren Vasquez is a Program Specialist and facilitator of The Adolescent Champion Teen Advisory Council (TAC TAC) at the Adolescent Health Initiative. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Education and a Master of Science in Community Health Education from Eastern Michigan University. She also holds a CHES (Certified Health Education Specialist) certification. Lauren has taught Spanish and Health Education in public schools worked as a Wellness Coordinator for EMU’s Wellness Center and worked in Corporate Wellness. She is passionate about educating and empowering youth and parents about sexual and reproductive health, emotional health, nutrition, and cultural competency.

SECOND PRESENTATION (25 mins) - Engaging Youth Advisory
Engaging Youth Advisory Councils Virtually – Adolescents have been disproportionately negatively impacted by COVID-19 due to a lack of social engagement and sense of community. For organizations that serve youth, their voice is imperative and drives the work that they do. The Adolescent Health Initiative has been able to engage their formerly in-person Youth Advisory Council virtually in their monthly meetings, resource development, Annual Conference on Adolescent Health and Annual Connection Session. This presentation will highlight strategies used for virtual program engagement and community building through a youth-driven lens.

Win a free college access book, swag bags, beanies, tumblers, and more during the Conference Raffle at the end of the day! Must be on Zoom link to be considered for the raffle! Join us at 4:00 PM for the conference closing ceremony