2023 NAPDS Conference Jacksonville
Hyatt Regency Jacksonville

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Main Conference, Thursday-Saturday, March 23-25

Keynote Luncheon featuring Dr. Ricki Gibbs (Thursday, March 23, 11-12:45) 
Come enjoy a meal together and get inspired!

Membership Meeting (Thursday, March 23, 4:45-6)
Catch up on the important information regarding the business of the association, and receive a ticket for a drink on us at the Welcome Reception!!

Welcome Reception (Thursday, March 23, 6-7:30)
Finish the first day with a welcome reception and enjoy visiting colleagues both old and new!  All are invited to mingle on the beautiful Riverside deck, enjoy sweet and savory hors d’oeuvres, and a cash bar.

Awards Luncheon featuring Dr. Jonathan Eckert (Friday, March 24, 11-12:45)
Public celebration of our successes is a part of our 9 Essentials.  You won’t want to miss this time of honoring exemplary partnerships, an outstanding dissertation, and the Jason Kinsey Friend of NAPDS. And, your conference registration includes membership in the Association.  This luncheon will give you the opportunity to meet your elected and appointed leaders as well as to learn more about the Association’s strategic plan, member benefits, financial position, and planned initiatives.

Affiliate Mixer (Saturday, March 25, 10:15-11)
This is a networking meeting for those who are members of the NAPDS Affiliates (CASUP, SASUP, NJCAPS and SCAN-PDS).

About Dr. Gibbs

“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change; I am changing the things I cannot accept,” Angela  Davis. 

This quote has been the driving force behind Dr. Gibbs’ passion to change lives through the  power of a great education. Dr. Ricki Gibbs earned his B.S. in Elementary Education and M.Ed. in  Administration and Supervision from Tennessee State University. He then went on to earn a Doctor of  Education degree in Organizational Leadership and Strategic Change from Lipscomb University. He  started his career teaching 3rd grade at Paragon Mills Elementary in Nashville, TN for four years. He  served as an assistant principal and principal in Metro Nashville Public Schools and now has the honor of  currently leading the transformation work as principal of Warner Arts Magnet Elementary. In 2020, Dr.  Gibbs was named Elementary Principal of the Year for Metro Nashville Public Schools. 

Dr. Ricki Gibbs’ work was featured in season 2 of The Promise, a podcast produced by Nashville Public  Radio that received the Peabody Award for most compelling and empowering stories released in  broadcasting and streaming media in 2020. Under Dr. Gibbs’ leadership, Warner transformed from one  of the lowest performing schools in Metro Nashville Public Schools to being the first and only Metro  Nashville Public School to be recognized as a Blue Ribbon Beacon School in 2021.  

Dr. Gibbs attributes much of the schools’ success to their adoption of trauma-informed practices for  classroom management with their non-profit partner, BeWell. At Warner, teachers utilize mindfulness,  movement, and breathing to help students develop emotional self-regulation strategies. His passion for  student centered discipline is personal: as a child growing up in an inner-city Miami community similar  to the East Nashville community where the majority of Warner’s students live, Gibbs struggled with  anger management and was often suspended from school for fighting. He credits mentors and educators for making the difference in his life, and seeks to “pay it forward” for the students he serves at Warner.

About Dr. Eckert

Jonathan Eckert, Ed.D., is the Lynda and Robert Copple Professor of Educational Leadership at Baylor University. He taught outside of Chicago and Nashville for 12 years. After completing his doctorate at Vanderbilt University in 2008, he served at the U.S. Department of Education in both the Bush and Obama administrations on teaching quality issues. He has won multiple teaching awards in higher education and is the author of Just teaching (forthcoming), Leading together, The novice advantage, and numerous articles. He has written and presented white papers on Capitol Hill and the National Press Club and has been invited to present all over the U.S. and as far away as Muscat, Oman at a G8-Broader Middle East Summit for education ministers.

Antiracism Summit, Saturday, March 25

NAPDS and ATE are excited to host the 2023 Anti-racism Summit to assemble university faculty, mentor teachers, educators, administrators, and community leaders to examine our roles and responsibilities in promoting anti-racism within our schools, communities, and society. Participants will interact with experts to interrogate what it means to be anti-racist across P-20 educational spaces. Prepare to engage in critical conversations, collective reflection, and differentiated action groups – leaving you empowered to become change agents in local schools, communities, and institutions of higher education. #AntiracistEdThis is a ticketed event. Registration can be added to your conference registration, or chosen a la carte HERE.


Dr. Natalie S. King

About Dr. King

Natalie S. King, PhD is an associate professor of science education at Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA. Her scholarly work focuses on advancing Black girls in STEM education, community-based STEM programs, and the role of curriculum in fostering equity in science teaching and learning. Dr. King is a National Science Foundation Early CAREER Award (#1943285) recipient whose research challenges the capitalist agenda for encouraging girls’ involvement in STEM. She elevates the identities and brilliance of Black girls in her scholarship, programs, and grant projects. She also serves as Principal Investigator of an NSF Noyce project (# 1852889) seeking to diversify the STEM teaching workforce. Dr. King is the founder and executive director of I AM STEM, LLC and partners with community-based organizations to provide Black and Brown children with access to comprehensive academic summer enrichment programs that embrace their cultural experiences while also preparing them to become productive and critically-conscious citizens. Her work is published in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, Science Education, Journal of Multicultural Affairs, The Science Teacher, and Teaching and Teacher Education.


Dr. Irvin PeDro Cohen

About Dr. PeDro Cohen

Dr. Irvin PeDro Cohen is the Executive Director of LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation) Jacksonville. Dr. Cohen is a Jacksonville, FL native and he received his bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of North Florida, an MBA in Marketing from Pfeiffer University and a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership and Urban Education from Nova Southeastern University. His research is largely centered on the social well-being of the African American community (education, healthcare and economics) and particularly the role the African American church plays within that space.

Dr. Cohen serves on the advisory boards of the University of Florida’s Clinical Translation Science Institute and Vanderbilt University’s Recruitment Innovation Center, IDEA Schools and Changing Homeless Coalition. He is a member of the Jacksonville Downtown Rotary Club, the Jacksonville Chapter NAACP, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Incorporated and a member of Leadership Jax Class of 2014.

His blog can be read at www.irvinpedrocohen.blogspot.com.


Mr. Nicholas Collins

About Mr. Nicholas Collins

Nicholas W. Collins is a science educator and student-centered educational leader whose work emphasizes the need for Black male educators in urban schools. Mr. Collins attained his Master of Arts in Teaching degree in secondary science education from Georgia State University and Bachelor of Science in biology from Clayton State University. He is a National Science Foundation Robert Noyce Teaching Fellow through GSU’s Developing STEM Educators as Teacher Leaders Program. Nicholas is a recipient of Fulton County Schools’ 2022-2023 Legacy of Excellence Teacher of the Year award. In his professional pursuits, Mr. Collins has effectively navigated student-engagement through the pandemic and led a $30,000 initiative to develop a game room tied to social emotional learning (SEL) and positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS). His passion for education drives his commitment to high expectations for all students and eradicating “deficit perspectives” from urban P-12 academic spaces.


Dr. Rachael Tutwiler Fortune

About Dr. Rachael Tutwiler Fortune

Rachael serves as President of Jacksonville Public Education Fund. She previously served as Senior Director of the GradNation Campaign at America’s Promise Alliance and a 2013 Presidential Management Fellow and Program Officer at the U.S. Department of Education. 

She earlier served as an Education Pioneers Fellow at the Oakland Unified School District, and led JPEF’s community mobilization efforts, launching the ONE-by-ONE campaign to develop a shared community vision for schools. Rachael began her career as teacher at S. P. Livingston Elementary in Jacksonville through Teach for America.    

Rachael holds a master’s in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership from Stanford and a bachelor’s in Political Science from UNF. Rachael currently serves on the Board of Baptist Medical Center. She was recognized by Jacksonville Business Journal as a First Coast 40 under 40 in 2020. She’s a member of Leadership Florida’s Education Class of 2018 and Leadership Jacksonville’s Class of 2022.  



Dr. Dione Thomas Webber

About Dr. Dione Thomas Webber

Dr. Dione Thomas Webber is a Jacksonville native and product of Duval County Public Schools. Dr. Webber has 11 years of PK-12 experiences with 6 of those years being an educational leader in Duval County Public Schools. Primarily educating students from lower socio-economic status, her current research interests are trauma-informed education, and creating policy for novice teachers and leaders at Title I turnaround elementary schools. In her current role as Clinical Assistant Professor in Educational Leadership at UNF, she teaches Intro to Educational Leadership for Equity and Social Justice, Organizational Learning, and Curriculum and Assessment for leaders. She also co-facilitates the UNF AACTE Holmes Scholars program which supports high achieving doctoral students who self-identify as racially and ethnically diverse and are pursuing doctoral degrees in education at AACTE member institutions. As a leader she seeks to empower individuals, schools, and communities by uniting strengths, inviting advocacy, equity, and inspiring innovation.