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Learning Curve

2019 Kickoff Presenters


Wednesday Keynote

Tracy Rackensperger, Ph.D. holds a public service faculty position within the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, Institute on Human Development and Disability at the University of Georgia. Dr. Rackensperger has conducted a number of research studies, including published scholarly works regarding transition and people with disabilities. Dr. Rackensperger has personally used K-12 special education services.

Thursday Keynote

Michael L. Wehmeyer, Ph.D. is the Ross and Marianna Beach Distinguished Professor in Special Education; Chairperson, Department of Special Education; and Director and Senior Scientist, Beach Center on Disability, all at the University of Kansas. His research and scholarly work has focused on issues pertaining to self-determination, positive psychology and disability, transition to adulthood, the education and inclusion of students with severe disabilities, conceptualizing intellectual disability, and technology use by people with cognitive disabilities. He has published extensively in these areas and is a frequent speaker nationally and internationally. His research have been recognized with lifetime contribution awards from various organizations, including The Arc of the United States, the Council for Exceptional Children, and the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Closing Keynote

Laura Whitaker, M. Ed., began her relationship with Extra Special People, Inc. by working as a counselor and on the leadership team as a college student. Her passion for enhancing the lives of children with developmental disabilities and her specialized education in this field led her to be selected as the director after the founder of ESP suddenly passed in 2004. As Executive Director, Laura uses her leadership and management strengths to manage staff, oversee multiple year-round programs and raise funds to run programs. Her favorite part of the job is getting to hug the many children who walk through the ESP doors.