NAGC 2020 Award Recipients

Congratulations to NAGC's 2020 Award Recipients

Ann F. Isaacs Founder's Memorial Award

Carolyn Callahan, Ph.D., Commonwealth Professor, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

Dr. Carolyn M. Callahan, Commonwealth Professor of Education Emeritus at the University of Virginia has been principal investigator on projects of the National Center for Research on Gifted Education (formerly NRC/GT), and principal investigator on five Javits grants including Project PLACE, focusing on the identification and provision of services to rural gifted students. Her work with the NRC/GT and with the Javits projects has focused on curriculum development and implementation. She has been recognized as Outstanding Professor of the Commonwealth of Virginia and Distinguished Scholar of the National Association for Gifted Children and has served as President of the National Association for Gifted Children and the Association for the Gifted, and as Editor of Gifted Child Quarterly. Dr. Callahan has published over 250 articles and 50 book chapters. She is the co-editor of the recently published books, Fundamentals of Gifted Education: Considering Multiple Perspectives (2nd ed.) and Critical Issues in Gifted Education (3rd ed.).

President's Award

Sally Krisel, Director of Innovative and Advanced Programs, Hall County Schools, GA

Dr. Sally Krisel devoted her career to the recognition and development of the creative and cognitive abilities of all children, including those from economically, culturally and linguistically diverse groups. She taught at the elementary, middle school, high school, and university levels; and she spent 10 years as Georgia’s State Director of Gifted Education, served as Program Coordinator for the University Georgia site of the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, where she worked with Dr. Mary Frasier on the absolute priority of the Jacob Javits Gifted & Talented Students Act, finding better ways to identify gifted students from under-served populations.

As Director of Innovative and Advanced Programs for Hall County Schools in Gainesville, Georgia, Dr. Krisel lead programming initiatives designed to help teachers recognize and develop students’ advanced abilities. She has contributed to the development of 30 charter schools, magnet schools, and specialized programs, all of which focus on high-end learning opportunities and pedagogy once thought to be the exclusive domain of gifted education, as a means of improving engagement and achievement for all students.

Krisel is a part-time faculty member in the Gifted and Creative Education Program at the University of Georgia. She has been recognized for her work in promoting both equity and excellence in gifted education by the National Association for Gifted Children, the Georgia Association for Gifted Children, the University of Georgia, and the U.S. Department of Educations’ Office for Civil Rights. Dr. Krisel served five terms on the NAGC Board of Directors from 2009-2020 and currently serves as Past President.

Konnie Risinger, imageA. Harry Passow Teacher Scholarship

Konnie Davidson Risinger, Teacher, Madison County, MS

Konnie Davidson Risinger received her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Southern Mississippi. She received her Master of Education with an emphasis in Gifted Education from William Carey University. She is NBCT certified with an emphasis in Gifted Education. The 2020-21 year is her ninth year in the gifted education classroom; she has over twenty years of experience in teaching overall. Risinger is currently teaching gifted education at Mannsdale Upper Elementary in the Madison County Schools District in Mississippi.


Michael A. Grego, Ed.D., Superintendent, Pinellas County Schools, FL

Michael A. Grego, Ed.D. became the Superintendent of Pinellas County Schools in September 2012. Throughout his tenure, Dr. Grego has implemented initiatives to increase opportunities for learning including aggressively working to eliminate achievement gaps for minority students through the Bridging the Gap plan.

In 2019, the district began universal gifted screening to ensure all under-represented student sub-groups are identified and receive services. The district employs a variety of gifted services at all our schools, including part-time services, school-wide enrichment models and gifted electives. The district also has full-time gifted magnets. A talent development program supports students exhibiting characteristics, but who may not meet eligibility criteria. The district received the Jacob K. Javits grant to support gifted and talented learners through increased differentiation and enhancement of the talent development and summer programming.   

Under Dr. Grego’s leadership, the district continues to be recognized for many local, state and national accomplishments and awards. 

Photo of Ophelie DesmetCarolyn Callahan Doctoral Student Awards

Ophélie Allyssa, Graduate Student, Purdue University

Dr. Ophélie Allyssa Desmet is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at Purdue University. She received her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology, with a focus on Gifted, Creative, and Talented Studies, Psychological Statistics, and Qualitative Research Methods from Purdue University in 2020. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Pedagogical Sciences from KU Leuven, Belgium. Before attending Purdue University, Dr. Desmet was a K-6 enrichment teacher and provided affective support and coaching for K-16 students. She also co-founded the Steunpunt Onderpresteren, a non-profit organization that focuses on advocacy, teacher training, and programming for underachieving students in Belgium and The Netherlands. Her research and service focus on talent development, underachievement, and affective needs of students with gifts and talents, with a particular focus on equity issues. Her work has been published in Gifted Child Quarterly and AERA Open among other outlets.

Lisa Ridgley, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Research Associate, Duke University

Lisa M. Ridgley, Ph.D, is currently a Postdoctoral Associate with Duke University’s Talent Identification Program. Lisa completed her doctoral work in Educational Psychology at Ball State University.

Lisa is passionate about unifying educational psychology theory, advanced statistical methods, and strong research methodology in the field of gifted education. Lisa’s research examines how academically talented students regulate their learning. Specifically, her work explores how the experience of challenge or difficulty influences the processes that students use to regulate their learning. She is also interested in how to determine whether students perceive or experience challenge in specific academic tasks and what information they use in making judgments about the difficulty level of the tasks they encounter. By understanding how and when students experience challenge, her work aims to help learners develop adaptive and strategic approaches in response to that challenge.

Anne Marie Roberts, Doctoral Student, University of Connecticut

Anne Marie Roberts is an Assistant Professor of Education at Fisk University, an HBCU in Nashville, TN. She also currently attends the University of Connecticut and is finishing up her doctoral degree in Educational Psychology: Giftedness, Creativity & Talent Development, as well as an M.A. in Educational Psychology: Research Methods, Measurement, and Evaluation. She currently has a Program Evaluation Certificate from UConn and an M.Ed. from the University of Mary Washington. Her research interests include teachers' perceptions of curiosity and creativity in the classroom setting. She also works extensively with Makerspaces and helped to start a Women in Making conference at UConn. She has been published in the Cambridge Handbook of Creativity, Creativity & Humor, and The Handbook of Positive Psychology in Schools, among other publications. She has presented internationally, nationally, and locally on gifted, creativity, and STEM topics. 

Community Service Award

Jacqueline DeVries, Retired Teacher, IL

Jacqueline DeVries, before retiring, worked as a mathematics teacher and taught math and reading for the academically talented program at Byron Middle School, as well as an adjunct professor in the Master of Arts in Teaching program at Rockford College. She received several teaching awards

She coached mathletes, created an academic bowl for middle schools in Illinois, and developed and lead an academically talented advisory board. After recieving her master's degree, she developed two classes at Rockford University about gifted children and eduction for teachers getting their master's degrees.

DeVries has received the Byron Middle School Educator of the Year award and was recognized by the ISPE Rock River Chapter for her 29 years of dedication to the MathCounts program. She previously received the ISPE Joint Honors Award for Illinois and the Rock River Chapter.

Mihyeon Kim, Ph.D., Director of Precollegiate Learner Programs, Center for Gifted Education, William & Mary

Mihyeon Kim is the Director of the Precollegiate Learner Programs at the Center for Gifted Education, William and Mary. She develops and implements academic services for K-12 students for various student populations, including Saturday, summer, and residential programs. Under her leadership, K-12 programs at the Center for Gifted Education, William and Mary expanded their educational services to international students. Her passion to serve diverse students led her staunchly committed to providing educational opportunities to disadvantaged students. She is eager to make a difference in the lives of high-ability students that may not have been given out-of-school educational opportunities.

David W. Belin Advocacy Award

The New Jersey Association for Gifted Children, Advocacy Committee—Roberta Braverman, Elaine Chesebro, Michelle Falanga, Lynne Henwood,  Michael Kaelber, and Jennifer Madsen

Distinguished Scholar Award

Jean Peterson, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Purdue University

Jean Peterson, Ph.D., professor emerita and former director of school-counselor preparation at Purdue, was a classroom teacher and state teacher of the year prior to her midlife doctorate in counselor education. Informed by her research and clinical experience with gifted children and teens, she has presented keynotes and workshops internationally on their development and her proactive small-group model. She has authored more than 140 books, articles, and invited chapters during her second career, has received 10 national awards for cross-disciplinary scholarship (high ability, counseling, development) and 12 at Purdue for research, teaching, or service. She served two terms on the NAGC Board of Directors. Her 8 longitudinal studies, 4 to 15 years in duration, were focused on high-risk gifted adolescents, trauma, underachievement, negative life events, and social-emotional curriculum. Three of her 12 books are Gifted At Risk; Counseling Gifted Students: A Guide for School Counselors; and Get Gifted Students Talking.

Catherine Little Distinguished Service Award PhotoDistinguished Service Award

Catherine A. Little, Ph.D., Professor, University of Connecticut

Catherine A. Little, Ph.D., is a Professor in Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent Development in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Connecticut. Her research interests include professional learning, differentiation of curriculum and instruction for advanced learners, and classroom questioning practices. She serves on UConn’s Honors Board and as Honors Advisor for students in the Neag School of Education. Catherine completed her graduate work at William and Mary, where she also served as Curriculum Coordinator for the Center for Gifted Education. Recently, she has been the Project Director for Project SPARK and Project LIFT, two Javits-funded initiatives focused on working with schools and teachers to recognize and respond to advanced academic potential in the early grades, particularly in students from underserved populations. Catherine has served on the NAGC Board of Directors as Member-at-Large, Governance Secretary, and Treasurer.

Early Leader Award

Cindy M. Gilson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor & Academically or Intellectually Gifted Graduate Concentration Coordinator University of North Carolina, Charlotte

Dr. Cindy M. Gilson is an Associate Professor of Gifted Education in the Special Education and Child Development Department at University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She is also the Director for the Graduate Certificate in AIG(Academically or Intellectually Gifted) Program and Co-Director for the Honors in Education Program. Dr. Gilson teaches undergraduate and graduate courses focused on gifted education, differentiation, and conducting research studies. Her professional and research interests include differentiated curriculum and instruction for gifted students, enhancing rigorous classroom discourse, teachers’ listening orientations, differentiated professional learning, and specialized STEM schools. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, reading books, baking, cooking, and going for walks.  

Early Scholar Award

Nielsen Pereira, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Purdue University 

Nielsen Pereira (PhD) is an assistant professor of Gifted, Creative, and Talented Studies at Purdue University. His research focuses on conceptual, contextual, and measurement issues in the identification of gifted and talented populations; design and assessment of learning in varied gifted and talented education contexts; and understanding gifted and talented student experiences in talent development programs. He has published 26 peer-reviewed articles and conference proceedings, and 5 book chapters. He is one of the authors of the HOPE Teacher Rating Scale, an instrument designed to help teachers identify gifted students from underrepresented populations. He has received research grants from the U.S. Department of Education and the American Psychological Foundation, and was the recipient of the 2018 Hollingworth Award from NAGC and the 2019 Pathbreaker Award from AERA’s Research on Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent special interest group. He currently serves as Associate Editor for Gifted and Talented International.

(Photo: Elisabeth Griffioen)

Gifted Coordinator Award

Ladona Gorham, Advanced Program Coordinator, Fauquier County Schools, VA

Lori Leibowitz, Coordinator of Gifted and Talented, Norwalk Public Schools, CT

Kathleen Plott, Advanced Academic Officer, Klein ISD, TX

Dornswalo Wilkins-McCorey, Gifted Coordinator, Virginia Beach Public Schools, VA

Master’s & Specialis

Lynne Henwood, Head of School, FLEX School, NY

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 since 2018. She also serves on the Strengthening Gifted and Talented Education Advisory Committee for the NJ 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.