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WQED Hosts Institute for Digital Innovation, Education

and Family Engagement



 WQED welcomes national leaders to the WQED Institute for Digital Innovation, Education and Family Engagement at the Fred Rogers Studio on April 25.  Attendees from around the country will gather at WQED for in-depth sessions to help local leaders prioritize how to use digital innovation as a new approach in family engagement in the 21st century.


WQED is collaborating with New America Foundation and Joan Ganz Cooney Center to bring together educators, community partners, philanthropic leadership, government representatives and decision-makers for this one-day experience.


Objectives for the institute are to: help state and local leaders prioritize and get organized on how to use new approaches to modernizing family engagement in ways that that make a lasting difference and test an Action Agenda established by the Institute to show how a city like Pittsburgh is an example of how this model can be replicated.


With Pittsburgh as a model, the conference will focus on how these new education approaches can be used in real life.  Featured presenters include Michael Levine, Executive Director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center and Lisa Guernsey, Deputy Director, Education Policy and Program Director, Learning Technologies Project from New America Foundation.


A panel discussion on the framework and action agenda will include Naomi Hupert, who has worked at the intersection of technology, literacy and STEM; Dorothy Stoltz, Program Coordinator for the Carroll County (MD) Public Library; and Tonja Rucker, Program Director for Early Childhood Success in the Institute for Youth Education and Families at the National League of Cities.


The keynote speaker will be M. Elena Lopez, Co-Director of the Global Family Research Project in Boston.


Biographies of all presenters, panelists and the keynote speaker are below.


In 2016, Levine and Guernsey published a guide for community leaders to stimulate new thinking based on human-centered uses of technology in pioneering projects across the United States.  At the Institute on April 25, they will present a comprehensive agenda coupled with a local program that aims to help leaders stimulate their communities.


The framework for development at the Institute includes:

·       Taking stock of family engagement offerings and online connectivity with an eye toward equity and diversity.

·       Develop professional learning programs that create corps of media mentors.

·       Invest in physical infrastructure that promotes connectivity and meaningful connection

·       Create a continuous cycle of improvement using research and evaluation.


The Institute is funded in part by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and The Grable Foundation.


About WQED

WQED changes lives by creating and sharing outstanding public media that educates, entertains, and inspires.  It is the parent company of WQED-TV (PBS); WQED World; WQED Create; WQED Showcase; WQED PBS KIDS Channel; Classical WQED-FM 89.3/Pittsburgh; Classical WQEJ-FM 89.7/Johnstown; the Pittsburgh Concert Channel at WQED-HD2 (89.3-2FM) and online at www.wqed.org/fm; local and national television and radio productions; WQED Interactive (www.wqed.org) and iQ: smartmedia, WQED’s Educational initiative (www.wqed.org/edu).




https://na-production.s3.amazonaws.com/images/lisa-guernsey_person_image.original.jpgLisa Guernsey is deputy director of the Education Policy program and director of the Learning Technologies project at New America. She leads teams of writers and analysts to tell stories, translate research, examine policies, and generate ideas for new approaches to help disadvantaged students succeed. Prior to her work at New America, Guernsey worked as a staff writer at The New York Times and The Chronicle of Higher Education and has contributed to several other national publications, including The Atlanticthe Washington PostNewsweekTimeSlate, and USA TODAY. She is co-author with Michael H. Levine of Tap, Click, Read: Growing Readers in a World of Screens (Jossey-Bass, 2015) and author of Screen Time: How Electronic Media – From Baby Videos to Educational Software – Affects Your Young Child (Basic Books, 2012). She won a 2012 gold Eddie magazine award for a School Library Journal article on e-books and has served on several national advisory committees on early education, including the Institute of Medicine's Committee on the Science of Children Birth To Age 8. Guernsey holds a master’s in English/American studies and a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Virginia. She is on Twitter @LisaGuernsey.


Michael_Levine_headshot (2) (3)Michael H. Levine is the founder and executive director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center.  The Center conducts research and catalyzes industry and policy reforms needed to advance quality media experiences for all children. Levine also serves on the executive team at Sesame Workshop where he focuses on educational impact and philanthropic partnerships for the global non-profit. Previously, Levine was Vice President for Asia Society, managing interactive media and educational initiatives to promote knowledge and understanding of other world regions and cultures.  He oversaw Carnegie Corporation’s groundbreaking work in early childhood development and educational media, and was a senior advisor to the New York City Schools Chancellor, where he directed early learning, dropout prevention and afterschool programs.  Dr. Levine is a Pahara-Aspen Education Reform Fellow and a frequent adviser to the White House and Department of Education.  He serves on several boards including: the Forum for Youth Investment, We Are Family Foundation, Journeys in Film, Woot Math and Digi Learn. He is the co-author with Lisa Guernsey of New America of the book Tap, Click, Read: Growing Readers in a World of Screens. He received his B.S from Cornell University and PhD in Social Policy from the Heller School at Brandeis University.




Naomi Hupert has worked at the intersection of technology, literacy, and STEM content areas for over 20 years. Her work focuses on the use of technology as a tool to support learning for children and the adults who work with them, and aims to provide all students with engaging and challenging academic instruction. She brings a special focus on improving outcomes for students who struggle to meet grade-level academic benchmarks due to inadequate access to quality instruction, disabilities, or other challenges to learning, and engages digital resources to support this population of students and their families. Hupert’s research has led to better understanding of the impact of transmedia learning experiences, teachers’ use of digital tools to support early learning, and the role of digital tools in Prekindergarten through middle-school science, math, and literacy education. In addition to her work at EDC, Hupert has been a board member in her local school district, and currently serves on the board of a foundation supporting children and adults with disabilities to participate and flourish in their communities.


Dorothy Stoltz coordinates programming and outreach at Carroll County (MD) Public Library.  She is co-author of several books and articles for ALA, and a co-author of the ALSC white paper, Media Mentorship in Libraries Serving Youth.  Dorothy spearheaded a public library research-tested study focused on early literacy training and previously served on the ALSC/PLA Every Child Ready to Read Oversight Committee, and its chair for 2014-2015.  With more than 30 years of experience in public libraries, she is active in LLAMA, PLA, and ALSC.  Her most recent books are Inspired Collaboration andThe Power of Play: Designing Early Learning Spaces.


Tonja Rucker currently serves as the Program Director for Early Childhood Success in the Institute for Youth Education and Families at the National League of Cities. She works directly with mayors, city councilmembers, and other municipal officials and is responsible for developing and overseeing implementation of the Institute’s work plans and long-term strategies for early education. She conceptualizes and leads efforts to identify and document best practices, oversees the implementation of TA, and contributes to the overall management of the Institute, including strategic planning, coordination of cross-program initiatives. By helping cities develop the necessary local infrastructure and providing concrete ideas for policy and programmatic action, a significant number of cities and towns have positioned themselves as models for investing in children’s healthy growth and development. Prior to joining the NLC team, Tonja served as Transition Coordinator for Baltimore City Head Start and as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Maryland College Park. She serves on a variety of boards and committees, supporting and advising national and local work for young children. She has a doctorate in Human Development from the University of Maryland College Park and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Spelman College.


Keynote Speaker

“Seeing the Whole Picture: Families and Digital Innovation”


Elena_Lopez-highres-1M. Elena Lopez is Co-Director of the Global Family Research Project in Boston, MA. She received her doctorate in Social Anthropology from Harvard University and has worked for most of her career as an educational researcher at the Harvard Family Research Project. Her research interest lies in expanding learning opportunities beyond school to include the family and community. She has used her research and numerous publications to inform major policy and program initiatives, including the Office of Head Start’s National Center on Parent, Family and community Engagement, United Way Worldwide’s Family Engagement for High School Success, and currently, a partnership with the Public Library Association for Libraries for the 21st Century: It’s a Family Thing. Her professional experiences include evaluating public and philanthropic initiatives and managing education and health grants for a philanthropic foundation. She currently serves on the Mountain View, CA Library Board of Trustees.



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