Team

team

Our team at Gifted Support Center has the knowledge and know how to help parents and educators understand the unique learning profiles of their children and students. We provide a unique combination of psychological and educational expertise to determine and support asynchronous and diverse learners.

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Ann Smith

Executive Director

Ann is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Gifted Support Center. She serves as Past-President for the California Association for the Gifted, on the Advisory Board of the Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development at the University of Iowa, on the Parent Content & Advisory Board for National Association for Gifted Children, and on a National Public Policy Committee, which focuses on advancing services for gifted students, for the Institute for Educational Advancement. Ann spearheaded the creation of Leave Your Sleep for Education, an interdisciplinary language arts curriculum that uses poetry and music as stimuli to learning across disciplines for PreK – 8th grade students and houses a free, online curriculum platform for teachers to access lessons and units. Leave Your Sleep for Education curriculum is designed to lift all children to higher levels of achievement by focusing on engagement and rigor. Ann has a special interest in advocating for appropriate academic, social, and emotional accommodations for gifted children, and she is passionate about enhancing learning outcomes for all children, especially children living in disadvantaged communities. Prior to her work in the field of gifted education, Ann’s background includes over 25 years of extensive corporate management, business development and entrepreneurial experience.

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Nicole Niederer, CFA

Finance Director

Nicole has over 25 years of experience in finance, international business development, and strategic leadership across many industries. She has worked with companies large and small, from Fortune 20 companies to startups in China and the US. Through her career, she has developed a collaborative style to fostering business partnerships and relationships. Nicole was identified gifted as a child and grew up experiencing many programs for gifted education in San Francisco public schools in addition to experiencing grade acceleration twice in elementary school, and early college entrance at 16 years of age. She holds a BA in physics from Reed College, Portland, Oregon and an MBA with a finance specialization and a strategy concentration from University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois. Nicole is the parent of two gifted children, and she is passionate about finding education solutions for gifted kids which keep alive their excitement about ideas.

Assessment

Elsie Mak, Ph.D.

Licensed Psychologist, Examiner

Dr. Elsie Mak earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Palo Alto University, with a focus on neuropsychology. She completed her neuropsychology practicums at the VA Palo Alto Healthcare System and Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center in San Francisco, predoctoral neuropsychology internship at Cincinnati VA Medical Center, and postdoctoral neuropsychology residency at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco. She was also a contractor at the Stanford Math Project at the Department of Psychiatry at Stanford University, conducting neuropsychological evaluations of children. Following licensure, she worked at the Kaiser Permanente San Jose Autism Spectrum Disorder Center, conducting Autism evaluations on children and adolescents. She also worked as a supervising psychologist at Kaiser Permanente San Jose ASD Center. She has been working with children, adults, and/or families for 8 years. Currently, she works at Children’s Health Council in Palo Alto and the Center for Social Dynamics in Santa Clara, California. She also has a private practice at Saratoga, California. Dr. Mak has a M.S. degree in Computer Science and a B.A. degree in Computer Science and Mathematics. She was previously a software engineer before pursuing her passion for neuropsychology.

Christine Pearston, Psy.D.

Licensed Psychologist, Examiner

Christine earned her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Hartford, where she also studied Dramatic Arts. She subsequently earned an M.A. in Experimental Psychology at UHA and went on to the Psy.D. program in School-Clinical Child Psychology at Pace University in New York City, graduating in 2014. She relocated to California for her predoctoral training year at Monterey County Behavioral Health, Children’s Division, and the following year completed the postdoctoral residency program at the Kaiser Permanente Department of Child Psychiatry in Santa Clara. Until 2018, Christine administered cognitive assessments to children and teens as a part of a Stanford-based research study on cognitive development and diabetes management, while also staying on at Kaiser as a staff psychologist, pediatric liaison, and testing supervisor for two future postdoc cohorts. She subsequently joined the team at Children’s Health Council in Palo Alto, where she currently provides both assessment and mental health treatment in addition to cognitive test administration at the Gifted Support Center.

Bradley Siu, Psy.D.

Licensed Psychologist, Examiner

Bradley is a San Francisco Bay Area native who earned his doctorate in psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology with a focus on the evaluation and treatment of children and adolescents. He conducted his predoctoral internship with Child and Adolescent Services at UCSF/San Francisco General Hospital. In 2004, he completed his postdoctoral residency at the Kaiser Permanente Department of Child Psychiatry in Santa Clara. Throughout Dr. Siu’s training and practice, he has performed countless assessments and evaluations to a wide range of children in both the clinical and research settings. Currently, he is on staff at the Kaiser Permanente Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in South San Francisco. There, he delivers clinical evaluations, mental health treatment, as well as leads the ADHD Evaluation Clinic. He has a special interest in working with gifted children and their parents. For the Gifted Support Center, he provides WISC-V and WPPSI-IV testing.

 

Patrice McElligott​, M.A.

Patrice holds a Masters in Special Education along with Clear Multiple Subject and Special Education Credentials. She is a qualified ADHD and Executive Functioning Parent Coach and is currently working on becoming a Board Certified Educational Therapist. She recently obtained certification in twice exceptional learners. Over the last 20 years, she has worked in both public and private school settings as a teacher and tutor for students in 2nd – 11th grades. She is trained in the Lindamood-Bell LIPS Program and uses a variety of strategies including the Visualizing and Verbalizing Program to enhance reading comprehension. She is highly skilled in teaching writing strategies as well as Singapore Math, and at incorporating Executive Functioning strategies in all aspects of student learning. Her varied teaching experiences in a variety of schools along with the fact that her own 3 children are twice exceptional learners, gives her a unique perspective on educating gifted students with learning differences from the point of view of a parent, teacher, and a tutor. She believes in identifying and promoting a child’s strengths, therefore, instilling a more mindful approach and developing their self-awareness. Patrice’s passion is being a resolute proponent for all students and families, and she has vast knowledge of the IEP process. She believes that every student can learn when provided the appropriate accommodations in the classroom, as well as knowing and utilizing the strategies that are effective for their own individual learning preferences.

Leave Your Sleep for Education

Karen Anderson

Pasadena, California

Karen Anderson is the Arts & Enrichment Coordinator/GATE Specialist for the Pasadena Unified School District. She graduated from Northwestern University and received her Master’s degree in education from the University of Southern California. Karen started her career in the Los Angeles Unified School District and has also worked in private and charter schools. She has worked extensively in bilingual or dual language environments as a teacher, administrator, and coach. She has had the honor of working with Dr. Sandra Kaplan and the California Association for the Gifted (CAG) for over 10 years at events across the state and is currently serving on the board of CAG as an At-Large Member. Karen is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the MAT program at USC, where she instructs new teachers in pedagogy and GATE differentiation. Her work and research related to addressing the needs of diverse GATE students has been published in the Gifted Education Communicator.

Lynne Henwood

East Coast Implementation Facilitator

Lynne Henwood has dedicated her career to advocating for gifted and twice-exceptional learners. She is currently Head of School for FlexSchool and has served as President of the New Jersey Association for Gifted Children (NJAGC) since 2018. Lynne is the Leave Your Sleep for Education (LYSFE) East Coast Implementation Facilitator, supporting a creative and cross-disciplinary curriculum. She also serves on the Strengthening Gifted and Talented Education Advisory Committee (SGTEAC) for the New Jersey Department of Education. Previously, she was a gifted teacher and program coordinator for Washington Township Schools in Morris County, NJ. Lynne earned a B. A. in Psychology from Dickinson College, a Gifted Education Certificate from Rutgers University, and an M. A. in Educational Psychology from the University of Connecticut Neag School of Education. In 2018, Lynne was named New Jersey’s Gifted Teacher of the Year and is the 2019 Mensa Foundation’s Gifted Education Fellowship Award winner. Most recently, Lynne was awarded the NAGC 2020 Master’s & Specialist Award, and her NJAGC Advocacy Team won the NAGC 2020 David W. Belin Advocacy Award.

Cherilyn Leet

Phoenix, Arizona

Cherilyn is a gifted specialist, faculty mentor, and curriculum designer based in Phoenix, Arizona. Her expertise lies in the instruction and curricular integration of social emotional competencies for gifted youth. Cherilyn has served as a gifted homeroom teacher, technology specialist, and camp coordinator in Arizona, California, and overseas. At the present time Cherilyn leads the Global Office of Education for Six Seconds, a network of emotional intelligence researchers, educators, and advocates. Cherilyn holds her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction for Gifted Education from Arizona State University and received a Fulbright scholarship to teach and study in Bucaramanga, Colombia.

Jessica Manzone

Phoenix, Arizona

Jessica Manzone is currently an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the MAT Program at the University of Southern California, Rossier School of Education. She also works in the Office of Professional Development at Rossier as well as on two U.S. Department of Education Jacob Javitz grants. Dr. Manzone was a lead designer and developer for Leave Your Sleep for Education curriculum lessons and units. Jessica has been a primary teacher in Baltimore City, Maryland, as well as an instructional coach and professional development consultant. She has provided professional development in the areas of gifted education, curriculum design, and instructional strategies for school districts and for the California Association for the Gifted. Her presentations at local, state, and national organizations such as the CAG and National Association for the Gifted include Differentiation in the Primary Grades with an Emphasis on Play, Introducing a Scope and Sequence for the Teaching of the Prompts of Depth and Complexity, and the Use of Pedagogical Practices to Create Differentiated Instruction for Gifted Learners. Jessica’s interests are also in differentiated pedagogy and the learning-to-learn strategies.

Gretchen Stanerson

Early Childhood Specialist, Curriculum and Teacher Training

Gretchen is an early childhood educator, and curriculum consultant and developer. She has over a decade of experience as a preschool teacher and director, where she created and enhanced early childhood programs in Florida, Illinois, and California. Gretchen is a trained musician in Violin, Viola, Trumpet, French horn, and Electric Bass guitar and brings her musical expertise to the classroom aligning an integrated curriculum with VAPA standards. She holds a BA in Early Childhood Education with a concentration in Creative Arts from Concordia University Wisconsin, a teaching license for preschool – 3rd grade, and a MA in School Leadership K-12 from Concordia University Chicago. Gretchen serves as an education consultant for Gifted Support Center, and a curriculum writer, implementation manager, and teacher trainer for Leave Your Sleep for Education.

Advisors

Susan Assouline, Ph.D.

Professor Susan G. Assouline is the director of the UI Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development. She holds the Myron and Jacqueline N. Blank Endowed Chair in Gifted Education. She is especially interested in twice-exceptionality, specifically gifted students who also have and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or gifted students who have a specific learning disability (SLD). She also conducts research on the academic talent development of elementary students and is co-author (with Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik) of Developing Math Talent: a Guide for Educating Gifted and Advanced Learners in Math (2011). As well, she is the lead author of The Iowa Acceleration Scale (2009), a tool designed to guide educators and parents through decisions about grade-skipping students. In 2015, she co-edited, with Nicholas Colangelo, Joyce Van Tassel-Baska, and Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik, A Nation Empowered: How Evidence Trumps the Excuses Holding Back America’s Brightest Students.

Regan Foust, Ph.D.

Regan is co-founder of Gifted Support Center and was involved in the initial launch of the organization. Regan co-developed the assessment structure and authored the initial qualitative assessments offered at GSC. During the pilot process, she worked first-hand with families administering assessments and providing feedback sessions and then transitioned to the role of Research Director for GSC. Regan earned her doctorate in Educational Psychology with a specialization in the Psychology and Education of the Gifted from the University of Virginia. She has extensive research and evaluation experience in the field of gifted education and the psychology of the gifted. Regan currently serves as Director of Strategic Partnerships and Research Scientist at The Children’s Data Network.

Anabel Jensen, Ph.D.

Anabel is the founding advisor to Gifted Support Center. She is Co-Founder of Synapse School, President and Co-Founder of Six Seconds, and Professor of Education at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, CA. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and she has been a visionary in gifted education since the beginning of her career designing programs for gifted minors, evaluating school programs, and guiding teachers in selecting methods and materials for prescriptive teaching. She served as Executive Director at the Nueva School for 14 years during which time she led the school to achieve recognition as a Federal Blue Ribbon school, twice-honored for excellence in education. Dr. Jensen is a master teacher and a pioneer in emotional intelligence education. She helped develop Self-Science, a proven approach to Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) that is featured in Daniel Goleman’s bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence.

Sandra Kaplan, Ed.D.

Dr. Sandra Kaplan is Professor of Clinical Education at the University of Southern California. She has been Principal Investigator on four projects funded by the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Student Education Act, with the Department of Education. Each of these projects focused on Gifted/Talented economic, linguistic, and culturally diverse students in Title 1 K-8 California schools. Dr. Kaplan has been an international and national consultant for districts, State Departments, and other educational agencies to provide professional development in the areas of differentiated curriculum and instruction. She has written over 40 articles and 10 books related to identifying and providing appropriate educational services to gifted students. Currently, Dr. Kaplan is an active member and past president of the California Association for the Gifted and chair of both the Blue Ribbon Committee and Education Committee for the organization to research a non-traditional identification instrument to recognize the underrepresented students as gifted. Dr. Kaplan has received recognition for her work, including awards for Excellence from the Council of Exceptional Children, National Association for the Gifted for Service and Achievement as well as research awards from the California Association for the Gifted.

Vivien Keil, Ph.D.

Vivien earned her B.S. in Cognitive Neuroscience from Brown University, and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of California, San Diego. She has since completed specialty training in pediatric neuropsychology. She completed her predoctoral internship at Children’s Hospital, Orange County where she focused on the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with comorbid medical and psychiatric conditions. Vivien then completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, where she worked primarily with children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Following licensure, she worked at the Neurobehavioral Clinic and Counseling Center in Orange County, conducting neuropsychological assessments on children and adolescents. She also worked as the supervising psychologist in the Department of Outpatient Psychiatry at Rady Children’s Hospital, San Diego before relocating to the Bay Area in 2011. Since her relocation, Vivien has been a staff neuropsychologist at the Children’s Health Council in Palo Alto.

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Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik, Ph.D.

Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik, Ph.D. is the Administrator for the Acceleration Institute and Research at the Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and an adjunct professor in the Department of Psychological and Quantitative Foundations, both at the University of Iowa. She founded and directed the Carnegie Mellon Institute for Talented Elementary Students (C-MITES) at Carnegie Mellon University for 22 years, which provided weekend and summer programs for gifted students, an academic talent search for 3rd-6th graders, and professional development for teachers. Together with Dr. Susan Assouline, she wrote Developing Math Talent: A Comprehensive Guide to Math Education for Gifted Students in Elementary and Middle School (2nd ed.). She is also a co-author of the Iowa Acceleration Scale with Susan Assouline, Nicholas Colangelo, Jonathan Lipscomb, and Leslie Forstadt; and co-editor of the 2015 report on academic acceleration, A Nation Empowered: Evidence Trumps the Excuses Holding Back America’s Brightest Students, with Susan Assouline, Nicholas Colangelo, and Joyce VanTassel-Baska.

Allen Uzzell

Allen brings more than 35 years of government and business experience to Gifted Support Center Inc. Allen retired in 2013 from his position as Vice President and General Counsel for Chevron Energy Solutions in San Francisco. During his career with Chevron, he held positions as Chevron Corporation’s Chief Patent Counsel and Chief Intellectual Property Counsel. Allen received his B.A. in chemistry from Trinity University and his J.D. from St. Mary’s University Law School in San Antonio, Texas. He began his legal career as a patent attorney for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, which became the U.S. Department of Energy, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and attended classes part time to earn his M.S. in Engineering Science and Mechanics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Allen is also father and grandfather to gifted individuals and is a member of California Association for the Gifted.