ASBA-ASA 64th Annual Conference

ASBA’s Annual Conference will be held on Dec. 16-17, 2021 with two half-day Pre-Conference Tracks on Dec.15. The Annual Conference is our celebratory end-of-year gathering of school board members and other district leaders in the state. Attendees will hear from two amazing keynote speakers, experience breakout sessions in four topic tracks and participate in celebrations of leadership and educational excellence.

Registration opens Oct. 12 and closes Dec. 6, 2021.

COVID-19 Safety Guidelines: Pending any changes from the CDC, masks will be required in all public areas at the Annual Conference.



Karen M. Allen

TEDx Speaker, Resilience & Mindset Coach and Founder of The Groflo community

Karen is the creator of the mental exercise: Stop & Shift. She developed this method to help people jumpstart their mental strength training. Her story has been featured on Forbes, Good Morning America, MSNBC and various other media outlets and podcasts.


Shayla Rivera

Aerospace Engineer and former Rocket Scientist with NASA, International Speaker, TEDx Speaker, TV & Radio Host, Emcee/Host, Comedian, Actor, Writer, Seminar Facilitator, Panel Moderator and Awareness Expert.

With numerous awards and accolades throughout her engineering, speaking and comedy careers, Shayla is not easily placed in just one category or class, she defines her own. After obtaining a degree in Aerospace Engineering with a minor in Psychology at Texas A&M University, she spent five years working with NASA. From there she moved on to stress management corporate training and motivational speaking, where Shayla discovered her comedic talents.

Wednesday, December 15, Board Presidency Workshop

8:00 am - 8:30 am

Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:30 am - 8:45 am

The Board Presidency

Julie Bacon, Leadership Development Manager; Ann O'Brien, President ASBA Board of Directors and Deer Valley USD Governing Board President

It's a big job that looks easy. Do you have what it takes to be a board president? Now more than ever, board members with hopes of being board president have to know the role inside and out before volunteering for it.

8:45 am - 9:00 am

The Organizational Meeting

David DeCabooter, Interim Director of Legal Services; Nikkie Whaley, Board Support and Equity Services Manager

We'll cover the legal requirements and explore best practices for choosing a board president.

9:00 am - 9:20 am

Essential Skills Needed

Nikkie Whaley, Board Support and Equity Services Manager; Dr. Michael Robert, Superintendent, Osborn ESD; Lisa Nye, Executive Assistant to the Superintendent and Governing Board, Osborn ESD

What are the essential skills needed to be board president? This session will review the varied and comprehensive skills required of board presidents.

9:20 am - 9:30 am


9:30 am - 10:00 am

Board President's Panel

Tracey Benson, ASBA Associate Executive Director, and a panel of veteran board members

Learn from seasoned veterans the ups and downs of being board president.

10:00 am - 10:20 am

Roles of the Board President

Julie Bacon, Leadership Development Manager; David Sandoval, Board President, Peoria USD

The board president wears many hats and a clear understanding of what those roles are is critical to success. In this session, we will cover just a few of those roles.

10:20 am - 11:00 am

Efficient, Effective and Informative Meetings

Julie Bacon, Leadership Development Manager, Nikkie Whaley, Board Support and Equity Services Manager

How does a board cover all the business of the meeting while listening to community members and informing the public of issues the school district is facing? You will get some tips and tricks during this session for smooth meetings.

11:00 am - 11:15 am


11:15 am - 11:45 am

Board Dynamics and the Board President

Nikkie Whaley, Board Services and Equity Manager; Julie Bacon, Leadership Development Manager PLUS… Special Guests!

Just like a family, school boards have dynamics that need to be managed. We'll share nine different dynamics and how understanding those will make you a better board president.

11:45 am - 12:00 pm

Questions and Wrap-Up

ASBA Staff

Wednesday, December 15, The Board's Role in Student Achievement

1:15 pm - 3:45 pm

By the Numbers: Statewide Indicators of Student Achievement

Erin Hart, SVP and Chief of Policy and Community Impact, Education Forward

1:30 pm - 2:30 pm

It's Personal: What Student Achievement Means to Us

Tracey Benson, Associate Executive Director, ASBA; Julie Bacon, Leadership Development Manager, ASBA

What is Success Activity. Identify what came out of the surveys from Town hall I terms of what people defined student achievement as . Report out the finding of question 2 & 3 of Town Hall Survey-by county, identify the common threads here as well as county snapshots.

2:30 pm - 2:40 pm


2:40 pm - 3:15 pm

All Kids Are Capable of Success: What Statistics Don't Show

Lupita/Paul/David or Betsy/Mike (Flag)/ Pima rural

Highlight how several districts used a strategy form L4E to improve student achievement. 3 Examples (15 min each)of strategies that improved student achievement

3:15 pm - 3:30 pm

The Role of Equity in Student Achievement

Nikkie Whaley, Board Support & Equity Services Manager, ASBA

The Premise, the Pathways. Here we basically show what we have been working on all day is equity.

3:30 pm - 4:00 pm

Connecting the Dots: Linking ASBA's Political Agenda to the Experiences of Districts

Leigh Jenson, Governmental Relations Associate, ASBA; Devin Del Palacio, Advocacy and Strategic Initiatives Consultant, ASBA

Discuss how we can use this on the political agenda in upcoming session.

4:00 pm - 4:15 pm


4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Opening Night Exhibit Hall Reception

Thursday, December 16

7:30 am - 8:00 am


8:00 am - 8:30 am

Continental Breakfast

8:30 am - 9:50 am

Opening General Session

Karen Allen

A first-day conference kick-off with keynote speaker Karen Allen (sponsored by ADM Group) featuring conference emcee and pianoman Gregory Offner plus the posting of the colors and a student performance of the national anthem by the Deer Valley USD students.

9:50 am - 10:30 am

Exhibit Hall

Visit with exhibitors and learn more about products and services that service school districts. Participate in this year's service project, sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield. This is also your chance to win some wonderful door prizes provided by our exhibitors. Winners must be present to win, so make sure you are there!

10:30 am - 11:20 am

Breakout Sessions: Round 1 (choose from 6)

Members will have the opportunity to choose from six different breakout sessions.

  1. Starting on the Right Foot: The Importance of 100-Day Plans for New Superintendents

    Track: Communication (ASA Track)

    Description: You made it through the selection process and are ready to hit the ground running! While there is much to do as a new superintendent, there is one thing that can help the board and the superintendent get off to a better start: a plan. Learn how three superintendents worked to make their transitions as smooth as possible by working with the board to develop a plan of action designed to get everyone on the same page.

    Presenter(s): Dr. Anna Battle, Superintendent, Casa Grande UHSD; Dr. Jennifer Cruz, Superintendent, Pendergast ESD; Dr. Lynnette Michalski, Superintendent, Sacaton ESD; with Dr. Mark Joraanstad, Executive Director, Arizona School Administrators
  2. Combating Burnout: The Value of EAP Programs in Supporting Staff

    Track: Climate & Culture

    Description: There is no denying the last couple years have been incredibly hard. During this pandemic, many people have experienced new or worsening mental health, financial issues and other stressors. This is true for our students and families, and also our staff. In this session, learn about the value of Employee Assistance Programs and how they can help staff manage in these difficult times.

    Presenter(s): Ken Downie, Chief Account Executive, Alliance Work Partners/ASBAIT Employee Assistance Program
  3. Parent Power: How the Parent Educator Academy Is Creating Opportunities for Parent Engagement Hosted by the ASBA Hispanic-Native American Indian Caucus

    Track: Climate & Culture

    Description: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ALL In Education spoke to over 200 parents and educators and heard the concerns they expressed. The top line issue was lack of communication between the school system and families. From this, ALL In Education developed the Parent Educator Academy to provide parents and families with the tools and knowledge to become advocates for their child’s education. In this session, you'll learn about highlights from the pilot year, which resulted in parent growth and an increased confidence in their abilities to help their children successfully navigate their educational journeys.

    Presenter(s): Livier Delgadillo, Leadership Programs Director, ALL In Education; Jeffrey Zetino, Director of Policy and Research, ALL In Education
  4. A Leadership Blueprint for Social Emotional Learning: How Teachers, Administration and Boards Can Foster Connectiveness

    Track: Social Emotional Learning

    Description: Many of our students today carry unreasonable expectations, stress from home, trauma and loneliness. We all know, and the research proves, that these items weigh heavily on students and can greatly impede their educational progress. We also know that if teachers can create a relational connection to students, performance goes up and behaviors greatly improve, because kids want to be in school. The same can be said of teachers, staff and administrators who also face challenges. When school culture is built on relationships that tend to the social-emotional needs of students and educators, it is proven that campuses, districts and entire communities can be transformed. In this session, learn the "Five key Indicators of School Performance" and how connectedness can positively impact them.

    Presenter(s): Linda Gibson, Superintendent, Payson USD; Chris Layton, Leadership Solutions Strategist, Capture Kids Hearts
  5. School Finance 101: Budget Basics Mock Study Session (Course 4)

    Track: Student Achievement

    Description: Attendees will have the opportunity to attend a mock budget study session of a school district to observe how board members can participate in the budget planning process. This session will be engaging and interactive for all attendees as audience participation will be encouraged and is the fourth course in a series presented this fall by ASBA and Forecast5 Analytics.

    Presenter(s): Julie Bacon, Leadership Development Manager, ASBA; Melissa Higdon, Senior Advisor, Analytics, Forecast5 Analytics; PLUS... Special guest appearances by ASBA staff!
  6. Ready for What? Defining College and Career Readiness for Student Success

    Track: Student Achievement

    Description: The phrase “college and career readiness” is often used casually, as if readiness for college and readiness for a career are one and the same. This session will overview ACT’s Readiness Framework which provides empirical clarity about “readiness” and what it takes to be “ready” across the education to work landscape. This session will also highlight benchmarks of foundational career pathway readiness for 16 career clusters in the US which can be used by education and training providers to guide students who are exploring different college majors, CTE programs, or job training programs linked to different career pathways. The session will be formatted as dialogue to challenge the practice of classifying students as either “college prep” or “career focused” and instead preparing all students for both college and career after high school to ensure equal access and opportunity for postsecondary education, whether that is career and technical education or a formal degree program.

    Presenter(s): Mary LeFebvre, Director of State Government Relations, ACT

11:30 am - 12:20 pm

Breakout Sessions: Round 2 (choose from 5)

Members will have the opportunity to choose from five different breakout sessions.

  1. Measuring What Matters: A Look at the NEW ASBA-ASA Superintendent Evaluation Tool and Pilot

    Track: Climate & Culture (ASA Track)

    Description: Is your superintendent evaluation process fraught with challenges for both board members and the superintendent? We have the evaluation tool you need to make the process simple, productive and smooth.

    Presenter(s): Julie Bacon, Leadership Development Manager, ASBA; Tracey Benson, Associate Executive Director, ASBA; JoEtta Gonzales, Superintendent, Casa Grande EESD; Paul Tighe, Superintendent, Saddle Mountain USD
  2. Communicating a Sense of Certainty During Uncertain Times: How A Strong Communication Plan Can Bring Stability to Your District

    Track: Communication

    Description: It is said that "communication is key," and we believe that is especially true in times of change and uncertainty. Designing and executing a communication strategy that increases the trust of the community is essential. Further, such a strategy can provide reliability when reliability may be hard to ascertain for members of the community. During the pandemic, the Buckeye Elementary School District implemented a communication model that was predictable, informative, and sustainable, yet adhered to several mindsets that allowed the district to avoid common pitfalls. Managing crises while maintaining neutral positions on sensitive topics and not inviting unnecessary critiques and criticisms can be challenging, but it is not impossible. BESD has demonstrated success in this endeavor and invites you to see how you may find similar success in your district.

    Presenter(s): Mike Lee, Assistant Superintendent, Buckeye ESD
  3. ASBA Black Alliance Election PLUS... Discussion: Looking Ahead

    Track: Meeting

    Description: Black Alliance members will elect a president and vice president. All attendees will have the opportuniy to engage in a discussion about the educational and action priorities of the alliance for the year ahead.

    Presenter(s): Black Alliance President Lindsay Love (Chandler USD) presiding; discussion facilitated by Nikkie Whaley, Board Support and Equity Services Manager, ASBA
  4. One Pill Can Kill: Prevention Strategies to Address the Fentanyl Crisis and Other Drug Trends in Our Schools

    Track: Social Emotional Learning

    Description: Teenagers in Arizona are overdosing at an alarming rate from counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl. In fact, more children are dying from fentanyl in Pima County than from car crashes, suicide or Covid. At the same time, schools are being inundated with nicotine and THC, cannabis, vaping. This session will discuss the current substance use trends and concrete action steps for school personnel to consider when preventing substance use, referring children for treatment or implementing school policies and programs on substance use.

    Presenter(s): Shelley Mowrey, Demand Reduction Coordinator, High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Program
  5. Early Indicators of the Impact of COVID on Student Outcomes

    Track: Student Achievement

    Description: The past two years have been very disruptive to students and schools. This presentation looks at the available data on the impacts of COVID – on achievement and academic growth, student participation in school, graduation, college going, and other indicators. These data are just being released, and are important as you plan how to support your students and how to target ESSER funds and other resources.

    Presenter(s): Dr. Joe O'Reilly, Director, Decision Center for Educational Excellence; Arizona State University ; Wendy Davy, Chief Accountability Officer, Arizona Department of Education

12:30 pm - 1:45 pm

Celebration Café

Join us for live entertainment from conference emcee and pianoman Gregory Offner PLUS prize drawings and inside glimpses into the people and programs that are making Arizona education great. Featuring the celebrations of the winners of the ASA Superintendent of the Year Awards and ASBA Golden Bell Promise Program Award. Sponsored by Grand Canyon University.

1:45 pm - 2:30 pm

Exhibit Hall plus Dessert

Enjoy dessert, exhibit viewing, door prizes and this year's service project.

2:30 pm - 3:20 pm

Breakout Sessions: Round 3 (choose from 5)

Members will have the opportunity to choose from six different breakout sessions.

  1. The Role of Athletics in Student Success and Community Involvement

    Track: Climate & Culture (ASA Track)

    Description: School sports are one of the greatest contributors to student success and family engagement, and provide access and opportunities that local, for-profit club sports cannot. In this session, you'll hear the data and learn how a healthy and equitable athletics program can contribute to the climate and culture of the district.

    Presenter(s): David Hines, Executive Director, Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA); Jim Love, Governing Board Member, Flowing Wells USD, and Member, AIA Executive Board
  2. Advocacy: A Call to Action

    Track: Communication

    Description: We will give you the tools to be an informed, engaged advocate and use your position as an elected official to change the conversation in 2022. This session will recap the basics of how to connect with and interact with your state legislators, and then walk through some of the biggest issues we foresee in 2022 and how to tackle them. In some districts, the tone has shifted and we will prepare you to handle thorny issues in a professional, effective way.

    Presenter(s): Chris Kotterman, Director of Government Relations, ASBA; Leigh Jenson, Governmental Relations Associate, ASBA; Devin Del Palacio, Advocacy and Strategic Initiatives Consultant, ASBA
  3. A Public Schools Social Media Primer: Risks, Rewards & Recognizing Fake News

    Track: Communication

    Description: For public employees, including public school teachers and staffers, social media represents special challenges, special opportunities and special risks. Accessibility, information-sharing and gauging public interest are easier and more convenient than ever before. As are the opportunities to criticize, organize opposition and spread misinformation. And when a crisis hits, it will play out on social media. This seminar will help participants understand the influence of social media – and how it’s only going to grow. Best practices for public school employees on private social media pages. And how we can all help limit the spread of fake news.

    Presenter(s):Thom Fladung, Managing Partner, Hennes Communications
  4. Meeting the Needs of the Whole Student: The Vital Role of the Board in Supporting Social-Emotional Wellness in Schools

    Track: Social Emotional Learning

    Description: In June 2021, Tempe UHSD passed a board-led, comprehensive student social-emotional wellness policy. The policy incorporates research-based strategies on how to approach mental health and create safe and health school environments. It also creates procedures for suicide prevention, intervention and postvention while giving schools the tools necessary to create best practices that fit their individual needs and student populations. This policy is aimed to create a long-term infrastructure of support systems to identify and support students in need and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health to create a positive school environment that is and socially and emotionally healthy for all students. Learn about the policy and the process the board used to create it.

    Presenter(s): Armando Montero, Governing Board Member, Tempe UHSD; Dr. Kevin Mendivil, Superintendent, Tempe UHSD; Sean McDonald, Assistant Superintendent of District Operations, Safety and Student Support; and Ron Denne, Coordinator of Social/Emotional Wellness, Tempe UHSD
  5. Virtual Schools: Best Practices for Preparing Educators

    Track: Student Achievement

    Description: COVID-19 caused districts everywhere to have to adapt to continue to serve students. Some of the changes, like virtual or remote learning, are here to stay, with some districts are choosing to keep an online education option. In this session you will learn some of the key differences between online and in person education models as well as ways to support teachers who are teaching online. Presentation includes best practices in online instruction and information on free resources!

    Presenter(s): Dr. April Willis, Director of Operations and Business Development, National Virtual Teachers Association

3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

ASBA Annual Membership Meeting

Including the election of officers to the ASBA Board of Directors, and a state of the association report by Dr. Sheila Harrison-Williams, executive director.

3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

ASA Meeting

5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Exhibit Hall Reception plus Corn Hole Tournament

Join us for live entertainment from conference emcee and pianoman Gregory Offner! Enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres and drinks, more door prize drawings and try your luck at our second annual Corn Hole Tournament, sponsored by Imagine Learning and Schneider Electric. You will also have more time to meet with vendors at this fun-filled event.

Friday, December 17

7:15 am - 8:15 am

Arizona Rural Schools Association Meeting

7:30 am - 8:00 am


8:00 am - 8:30 am

Continental Breakfast

8:30 am - 9:20 am

Breakout Sessions: Round 1 (choose from 5)

Members will have the opportunity to choose from five different breakout sessions.

  1. Social Media Rules: What’s Enforceable and Coaching Best Practices Among Students, Staff and Board Members

    Track: Communication

    Description: Social media has brought people both closer together and further apart. It has fostered personal expression in a way like never before. It has resulted in both people better informed and full of misinformation. This session will discuss the legal parameters of free expression online – and what may not be protected – and provide guidance in promoting our communities to use social media to more often bring out the best in us.
    Presenter(s): Jessica Sanchez, Attorney, Udall Shumway; Heidi Vega, Director of Communications, ASBA
  2. What's Love Got To Do With It? Creating a Culture of Support and Unity

    Track: Climate and Culture

    Description: The pandemic forced Creighton ESD to take a long look at its traditional family engagement program and take it to new heights. The district moved from an approach of fulfilling short-term immediate needs to transforming lives through greater access to education, self-advocacy and direct connections to social agencies. These shifts in how it viewed community engagement has changed the culture to one of equity and inclusivity. This intensive focus on family connection led Creighton to successfully have 96 percent attendance when other districts were losing hundreds of students and a created a feeling of togetherness across the district. Learn the steps districts can do to lead with love.

    Presenter(s): Dr. Donna W. Lewis, Superintendent, Creighton ESD; Angel Campos, Governing Board Member, Creighton ESD; Ivan Carvajal, Director of Community Education and Outreach, Creighton ESD
  3. ASBA Rural Alliance Meeting and Election

    Track: Meeting

    Description: Rural Alliance members will elect a president and vice president; all attendees will engage in a discussion about the assets and challenges of rural and remote schools when it comes to providing excellence in education for the students they serve.

    Presenter(s): Rural Alliance President Kenney Denney (Kirkland ESD) presiding; discussion facilitated by Nikkie Whaley, board support and equity services manager, ASBA
  4. Planning for 2022: Emerging Legal Trends

    Description: This session will provide an update on some of the most up to the minute legal challenges and trends school leaders have (or should have!) on their radar.

    Presenter(s): Ryan Cole, Associate Executive Director, The Trust; Denise Lowell-Britt, Attorney, Udall Shumway
  5. Beyond Textbooks: Helping Teachers Master Their Craft and Meet the Needs of All Students

    Track: Student Achievement

    Description: Beyond Textbooks is not an abandonment of textbooks, nor is it simply and “teacher resource bank.” Beyond Textbooks (BT) is a collaborative community and online resource created by teachers and district leaders in the Vail Unified School District and is used by 117 partners in over 17 states! The goal of BT is to collaborate with schools to improve student achievement through proven teaching and learning frameworks. Teaching, at its core, is a creative endeavor. BT offers teachers tools that inspire creativity and empower teachers to be artists in the classroom, creating lessons that inspire all students.

    Presenter(s): Justin Chesebrough, Beyond Textbooks Director, Vail School District; Brent Edwards, Beyond Textbooks Assistant Director, Vail School District; Chelsea Scopellite, Beyond Textbooks Coordinator, Vail School District

9:40 am - 12:00 pm

Keynote Speaker and 2021 Tribute to Leadership

Hosted by conference emcee and pianoman Gregory Offner and featuring Shayla Rivera

In this festive and fun closing session hosted by emcee Gregory Offner, we'll close out 2021 on a high note, starting off with keynote speaker Shayla Rivera, then introducing the new ASBA Board of Directors and moving into our Tribute to Leadership, sponsored by Veregy, where we'll honor YOU and the winners of the ASBA's most prestigious awards: the ASBA All-Arizona School Board Members Award, the Lou Ella Kleinz Award of Excellence and Barbara Robey Lifetime Achievement Award.