Leadership & Advocacy Conference 2022

Earlier this month, the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) held its annual Leadership and Advocacy Conference, which brought over 85 advocates for gifted and talented children − including representatives from 31 NAGC Affiliates, to Alexandria, Virginia for three days of learning, networking, and advocating.  

The first two days of the Conference were centered on providing attendees with the knowledge and tools to be successful advocates for gifted and talented children. The morning of the third day was dedicated to highlighting the successes of our NAGC Affiliates and helping attendees learn how to craft impactful policies for gifted children in their home states. Attendees also spent the afternoon of the third day meeting with Members of Congress virtually and on Capitol Hill.  

Day 1  

To kick off the Conference, NAGC President Lauri Kirsch and NAGC Executive Director John Segota offered insights into the importance of advocacy to advance the needs of all gifted and talented children. Following their remarks, Christine Deitz, the state representative on the NAGC Board of Directors, spoke briefly about previous Conferences and the progress that has been made by advocating on behalf of gifted children.  

Following the opening remarks, NAGC President-Elect Shelagh Gallagher presented on how advocates could maximize public support for gifted and talented children through specific messaging that best resonates with the general public, such as the need for gifted education in the United States in order to be internationally competitive. After a productive networking and lunch break, Del Siegle, the Director of the National Center for Research on Gifted Education at the University of Connecticut, discussed the emerging issues in gifted education and how our attendees might move forward in addressing them through effective advocacy and public policy.  

To wrap-up the first day of the Conference, NAGC’s Director of Government Relations and Public Affairs, David Cutler, facilitated a “Problem and Solution Tree” activity, which allowed attendees the opportunity to visually represent a major policy problem impacting gifted and talented education and how they would solve it.  

Day 2  

To start the morning of the Conference’s second day, Reid Willis, Legislative Aide to Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA). spoke to attendees about the importance of the Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented Students Act and the recent Dear Colleague letter that Senators Grassley and Cory Booker (D-NJ) crafted in support of increased funding for the Javits Act in 2023. Willis also answered questions and gave advice to attendees meeting with Capitol Hill staffers such as himself.  

Dina Brulles of the Paradise Valley Unified School District and member of the NAGC Board of Directors followed with a presentation on building more inclusive gifted programs to further empower all gifted learners. Following Brulles, Cutler provided a federal policy update focusing on significant issues facing gifted and talented children and highlighting the Association’s legislative priorities for this session of Congress. Cutler detailed the recently passed FY 2022 federal budget, highlighting funding for programs such as the Every Student Succeeds Act and Javits Act, and spoke about the Advanced Coursework Equity (ACE) Act, which aims to remove barriers to access for many students who wish to take advanced courses in high school. Following this in-depth policy update, participants gathered for a session led by April Wells of Illinois School District U-46 and member of the NAGC Board of Directors, who discussed how educators and advocates alike can help provide our children with equitable access to gifted education programs and services.  

Roby Chatterji, a senior policy analyst with the Center for American Progress arrived in the afternoon to discuss a recent article he published on the advanced coursework equity gaps that exist in high schools across the United States.  

To close out the day, attendees were led through activities to help them prepare for meetings with their Members of Congress. This included a panel of past attendees who also sit on the NAGC Public Policy and Advocacy Committee.  

Before the day ended, however, attendees were greeted virtually by Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20), who introduced the ACE Act in the House of Representatives. Rep. Castro discussed going through a gifted program in an underserved part of Texas and the inequities he saw and experienced first-hand that led him to help craft the ACE Act alongside Sen. Booker. The Congressman then took questions from Conference attendees on how they could best advocate for gifted and talented children to their representatives in Congress.  

Day 3  

The Conference’s final day began with two workshops. Kali Fedor, from the Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education, led the first workshop, which helped attendees highlight the successes and growth their affiliates experienced over the last several years. The next workshop was facilitated by Julie Gunnigle from the Arizona Association for the Gifted and Talented and Julia Link Roberts from the Kentucky Association for Gifted Education. Attendees were led through activities to help them craft effective policies to improve gifted and talented education and were provided with insight and advice to help them better connect with policy makers at all levels of government.  

The afternoon was dedicated to meeting with members of Congress virtually and in-person on Capitol Hill. Attendees reported that their meetings were productive and offered reflections on their experience at the Conference during a closing debrief. Reby Parsley, attending on behalf of the Washington Association of Educators of the Gifted and Talented, noted that a staffer for Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) said their discussion “was one the of the most enlightening conversations on education she ever had.”  

Information about the 2023 NAGC Leadership and Advocacy Conference, including the dates and location, will be announced in late 2022.  

See more photos from the event on Facebook.