PACEC 2020


Advocating Equity for All Learners

Friday, October 9

The Pennsylvania Council for Exceptional Children (PACEC) is collaborating with The Parent Education and Advocacy Leadership (PEAL) Center to present a virtual conference focused on equity for individuals with diverse abilities. PACEC and PEAL share a commitment to education and empowering youth and young adults with diverse abilities and their families.


This event will provide families and education professionals opportunities to connect with experts and collaborate – with a focus on high quality, evidence-based educational practices.

The impact of COVID-19 has been magnified for individuals with disabilities and/or special health care needs. The challenges of distance learning have been especially difficult for students with disabilities, their teachers, and their families.


Strategies for strong educational outcomes during this unprecedented time will be interwoven throughout the conference presentations. While entering a school year filled with uncertainty, the conference provides a venue to learn about current best practices, locate resources, and share ideas.

The 2020 conference features two keynote speakers! Additional sessions include presentations from The PEAL Center, PATTAN, and experts in the field of special education from across the state of Pennsylvania.


Natasha Strassfeld, JD, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Special Education, NYU Steinhardt;

Associated Assistant Professor of Public Service, NYU Wagner

The conference will kick off with a keynote presentation from Natasha Strassfeld, JD, PhD, focused on collaboration between educators and families in the midst of COVID-19 and virtual learning.


Natasha Strassfeld is a teacher educator whose research examines the lives of parents and families within special education, with a particular focus on how special education laws and policies guide service delivery for families. In addition, her work examines minority disproportionate representation within special education and juvenile justice supports for students with disabilities.


Her recent work has explored special education teacher preparation programs and the use of curriculum that instructs and provides resources regarding home–school collaboration, advocacy, conflict resolution, and federal legislation and programmatic support to enhance parent involvement within an ever-changing and increasingly diverse society.


Natasha has published peer-reviewed research in leading special education journals including Exceptional Children, Teacher Education and Special Education, and Journal of Disability Policy Studies.


She received her Ph.D. in Special Education from the Pennsylvania State University and J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School. She has been an assistant professor of special education at New York University in the Department of Teaching and Learning since 2016.

Learn more about Natasha here.


Kristen Betts, Ed.D.

Educational Leadership and Management
MS, Higher Education Leadership

Kristen Betts, Ed.D. will present a keynote focused the application of mind, brain, and education science to teaching and learning in face-to-face and virtual environments. Kristen Betts is a Clinical Professor in the EdD Program in Educational Leadership & Management in the School of Education at Drexel University.


Dr. Betts has over 20 years of experience in higher education serving in key leadership positions within private, public, and for-profit institutions as a program director, Senior Director for e-Learning, (90+ online and blended programs), Director of Online & Blended Learning, and Chief Academic Officer. She has also served as a Trustee at The George Washington University.


Dr. Betts is currently serving as a national faculty member with the Urban Special Education Leaders for Tomorrow (USELT) Project, which is a collaborative grant initiative with Drexel University's School of Education, four partner schools, the National Urban Special Education Leadership Initiative (NUSELI), and national and international special education leaders.


Dr. Betts’ expertise is in higher education, online and blended learning, curriculum and instructional design, strategic planning, and evaluation. Her research focus is on online and blended learning, Online Human Touch/high touch, Brain-Targeted Teaching, 21st century skills, workforce/career development, student/faculty retention, eAdvising, eStudent Affairs, accessibility, faculty development and Mind, Brain, and Education Science.


Dr. Betts is a peer evaluator with Middle States Commission on Higher Education, a Quality Matters certified peer reviewer, and an instructor for the Online Learning Consortium Advanced Certificate program. She has received distinguished national awards for her work in higher education and online learning.

Learn more about Kristen here.


Access pre-recorded sessions from the PACEC Conference


Nominations are open for students and instructors for various awards that will be presented during the Conference.


Sponsor opportunities are available for this year's CEC-PA Conference.