2024 National Leaders Conference
About the conference

About the Conference

Be equipped, inspired, and refreshed at HSLDA’s annual National Leaders Conference, with a program cultivated just for you, the leaders who help make homeschooling possible! You’ll hear from encouraging speakers and enjoy fellowship with new and old friends as we all come together in service to homeschooling.

Event Highlights

The conference is coming up!

Why Should I Attend?


Gain new information and skills to grow as a leader and meet the needs of your homeschool group.


Compare notes, ask questions, and exchange insights with fellow leaders about how to support homeschooling families.


Form friendships and build your network with others who understand the rewards and challenges of leadership.


Relax and enjoy the fun, food, fellowship, and sightseeing, and refresh your faith with daily worship and devotions.

Program Details

Program Details

We are excitedly working on the program for our 2023 conference, and hope you will check back for more updates. In the meantime, you can check out our program schedules to get an idea of what to expect.

The whole family is welcome at the National Leaders Conference! In addition to our adult program, we offer kids and teen programs for ages 5–19.

Stay Informed

Join the conference Facebook group for the latest updates! 
Join Group


2023 Speakers

Aziza Butler
Aziza Butler
WeSchool Academy, Founder

Long before becoming wife to her amazing husband, Chris, and a happy mom to five blessings, Aziza Butler was a passionate educator! Trained at the University of Virginia and DePaul University, she taught in Chicago inner-city elementary classrooms, both public and private, before transitioning to thriving as a homeschool parent when her first child was born a decade ago. As a homeschool advocate and founder of WeSchool Academy, she works to coach, equip, connect, and resource parent educators to experience tremendous success as their child’s primary teacher. Aziza presents urban homeschooling as a viable option to all families, especially of color. She specializes in helping parents leverage their unique skills, strengths, and family values to create a personalized and family-centered homeschool for their child’s educational journey. Since 2017, she has led a “city as the classroom” approach to learning, and the WeSchool community has grown by leaps and bounds. Chris and Aziza are senior leaders at Chicago Embassy Church Network in the Chicagoland area. Married 16 years, they live in a South Side neighborhood of Chicago and never have a dull moment as they raise their five children (ranging in age from 1 to 12) and look forward to meeting their newest Butler baby via home birth in November!

Chris Butler
Chris Butler
Chicago Embassy Church Network, Lead Pastor

Chris Butler is a homeschool dad, pastor, advocate, and experienced organization builder. He and his amazing wife, Aziza, have five wonderful children. In 2016, Pastor Chris was installed as the senior leader at Chicago Embassy Church in the Englewood community of Chicago. Under his leadership, the congregation has relocated to the Hyde Park community, completed its first missional church plant, and established another campus. Chris is a strong supporter of homeschooling freedom and parental rights, and his 2022 primary campaign, in which he ran from Chicago’s South Side as a pro-life Democrat for Illinois’s first congressional district, was endorsed by the HSLDA Action PAC. Chris is also the founder of Citizen Consulting Group Inc., an organizing and communications consulting firm. Having worked across the spectrum of organizations and types of engagement, Chris often lends insight and leadership on organization building and civic engagement to elected officials, organization heads, community organizers, and other faith leaders. Pastor Chris coauthored Compassion (&) Conviction: The AND Campaign’s Guide to Faithful Civic Engagement with Justin Giboney and Michael Wear

James R, Mason
Jim Mason
HSLDA, President

Since joining HSLDA to lead the litigation team in 2001, Jim Mason has represented homeschooling families in a wide range of challenging situations and has set precedents that have expanded freedom for the homeschool community. Under Jim’s leadership, HSLDA’s 4th Amendment litigation work has changed the way three states (North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and New Mexico) approach social services investigations. In Wilson v Russo, HSLDA won a $700,000 settlement for our client, a single parent whose children were seized by a rogue child protective services investigator. Jim was instrumental in litigating the 2008 California case Jonathan L., in which a state appellate court reversed its previous ruling that homeschooling was illegal. This put an end to years of controversy over the legal status of homeschooling in California and set a precedent that affects other states as well. Jim became the president of HSLDA in 2022 after serving as vice president of litigation and development for seven years. He also serves as the vice president of HSLDA Action and chairman of ParentalRights.org. He and his wife Debbie live in Winchester, Virginia. They have seven children and six grandchildren. The Masons homeschooled all of their children through high school.

Howard Schmidt
Howard Schmidt
Patrick Henry College, Executive Vice President

In addition to serving as Patrick Henry College's executive vice president, Howard Schmidt is director of the college's Economics and Business Analytics Program. He has worked for a variety of major companies distributed over six industries throughout his career, and he specializes in organizational behavior, change management, and technology integration. While serving in industry, Howard was heavily involved in the support and growth of PHC. Since the inception of the college, Howard has served as a major donor and as a member of the foundation board, strategic planning committee, and board of trustees. As executive vice president, Howard is the chief strategy advisor to the president and is responsible for the college's overall branding and growth strategies. Since his position was created, PHC has seen enhanced relations with the board of trustees, 80% growth in incoming class size of mission-fit students, a growing culture of cross-department collaboration, industry-leading new technology, and expanded brand awareness. Howard also provides strategic direction and oversight to the EBA program and serves as an active professor within it, teaching advanced classes such as Business Methods, Financial Analysis, and Competitive Strategy.

Phil Tuttle
Phil Tuttle
Walk Thru the Bible, President

For more than three decades, Phil Tuttle has been a vital member of the Walk Thru the Bible family. While pastoring in central Illinois, he began teaching Walk Thru the Bible’s live events in 1988. Since that time, he has served as dean of faculty, senior vice president for international ministries, and global teaching pastor before becoming president and CEO in 2007. Phil received his bachelor of arts degree in Christian education and Bible from Wheaton College in 1980 and his master of theology degree in Christian education from Dallas Theological Seminary in 1984. As president of Walk Thru the Bible, Phil continues to share God's Word throughout the world in churches and at Bible conferences, Christian education conventions, and corporate gatherings. He is the author of multiple Bible-study series, including Raise Up a Child: A Biblical Portrait of Parenting, Chosen: When God Calls Your Name, and Revolution: How Millennials Can Change the World. Phil and his wife, Ellen, have two children and three grandchildren.

Dena Bless
Dena Bless
Christian Home Educators Association of California, Events Manager and Regional Advisory Board Member

With a heart for families and dedication to the benefits of private Christian home education, Dena Bless is excited to support and mentor others in any way possible. She serves as the events manager of Christian Home Educators Association (CHEA) of California, and she and her husband, Ed, are CHEA’s regional advisory board members for the Bay Area and Northern California. Dena is now the leader of the private school satellite program to which she belonged for several years as a homeschooling mom.

Kevin Boden
Kevin Boden
HSLDA, Director of Global Outreach

Kevin and Wendi Boden became homeschooling parents in 2008, when their oldest child was in 1st grade. Now, many years later, they continue to educate all their children at home. Kevin is a graduate of Wheaton College and received his JD from Seattle University. Prior to joining HSLDA, Kevin served on active duty in the US Air Force for 10 years as a judge advocate, allowing him and Wendi to homeschool in three countries and five states. Kevin has served three years in the Alaska Air National Guard and continues his service as a drill-status guardsman. As an HSLDA attorney, Kevin serves as the primary contact for member families in 12 states. He is passionate about the freedom to homeschool and the blessings of being a dad. He also enjoys running, (almost) all things outdoors, and spending time with his family.

Debbie DiVirgilio
Debbie DiVirgilio
Faith Based Nonprofit Resource Center, President

Debbie DiVirgilio has more than 25 years of experience serving in the nonprofit sector. Over the past 15 years, Debbie has acquired more than $48 million in grant funds to support individuals and communities and has helped numerous organizations raise funds using a variety of fundraising methods. Recognizing that strong, effective organizations have strong boards and strong leadership, Debbie works with nonprofits and ministries to develop their boards and leadership through trainings, retreats, and coaching. She has taken organizations from struggling to thriving, from start-up to growing. Debbie holds a master’s degree in nonprofit management from Regis University and has completed the course requirements for an MDiv from Liberty University. She lives in northeastern Maryland with her husband and golden retriever and is an active volunteer for several community-based organizations, including her local church. In everything she does, Debbie is committed to helping others maximize their potential and live out their God-given hopes and dreams.

LaNissir James
LaNissir James
HSLDA, High School Consultant and Black Outreach Coordinator

A homeschooling mom and leader, LaNissir James has a passion to serve the home-educating community. She provides social, spiritual, academic, and supervisory support for families in local groups and encourages and equips homeschool graduates to transition into colleges, careers, and vocational schools. As an HSLDA High School Consultant, LaNissir loves speaking to parents to encourage and support their homeschooling. She earned her BS in journalism from the University of Maryland College Park and is pursuing a master’s degree in biblical studies. LaNissir is wife to Lorenzo and the mother of seven beautiful homeschooled children with ages ranging from toddler to young adult.

Darren Jones
Darren Jones
HSLDA, Director of Group Services

Darren Jones has worked at HSLDA since 1996, first as a legal assistant and then as an attorney in various capacities. As senior counsel, much of his focus is on helping member families in legal difficulties. As HSLDA’s director of group services, he advises homeschool group leaders about everything from crafting statements of faith to designing policies to protect children at co-ops. Darren and his wife Sara homeschool as a team and have graduated the oldest of their four children. He enjoys board games, teaching Sunday school, and speaking at homeschool conferences around the country.

Sue Manning
Sue Manning
Maryland Association of Christian Home Educators, Board Member

A veteran homeschooling mom of three, Sue Manning is still actively teaching a high schooler and has two homeschool graduates: one a college graduate and one enrolled in a trade apprenticeship program. As a military spouse for many years, Sue has experience with homeschooling throughout the US and overseas. She is passionate about creating connections in the homeschool community. Sue is on the board of directors for the Maryland Association of Christian Home Educators.

Anne Miller
Anne Miller
Home Educators Association of Virginia, President and Executive Director

Anne Miller has served as president of the Home Educators Association of Virginia (HEAV) for 28 years and as executive director for the last 13 years; she also directed HEAV’s publications and marketing for 21 years. Anne is on the advisory council for the National Alliance of Christian Home Education Leadership. In 2019, she received HSLDA’s Chris Klicka Award for her steadfast courage and commitment to homeschooling. Anne and her husband, Jeff, decided to homeschool in 1980; their eight always-homeschooled, now-married children have become entrepreneurs, teachers, NASA rocket scientists, business owners, builders, and engineers. Anne and Jeff enjoy their 25 grandchildren while living the HGTV dream remodeling homes in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Heidi St John
Heidi St. John
MomStrong International and The Busy Mom, Founder

Heidi St. John is the author of several books, including Becoming MomStrong: How to Fight with All That's in You for Your Family and Your Faith and its corresponding Becoming MomStrong Bible Study, as well her latest, MomStrong 365: A Daily Devotional to Encourage and Empower Everyday Moms. Her podcast, Off the Bench with Heidi St. John, is nearing 20 million downloads and is available wherever podcasts can be found. Heidi has been married to Jay, her college sweetheart, since 1989. The St. Johns reside just outside beautiful Vancouver, Washington, where their nonprofit organization, Firmly Planted Family, and the Homeschool Resource Center are based. The St. Johns have seven children, all of whom have been homeschooled, and four grandchildren.

Irene Tucker
Irene Tucker
Homeschool Alabama, Board Member

Irene Tucker, MEd, is from Huntsville, Alabama. She and her husband, Gus, are the proud parents of five children and have been homeschooling for over 19 years. The Tuckers are actively committed to and involved in Christian home education. In 2013, they began serving on the Homeschool Alabama board (of which Gus is president). When she isn’t homeschooling, Irene enjoys using her educational prowess through Ars Dei, the boutique music conservatory she operates. She also supports Gus, who founded Daily Grace Academy, an organization dedicated to the trades and to educational and consulting services. Irene’s favorite hobby is coaching competitive homeschool cheerleading; she has led two victorious teams to multiple national titles.

Zan Tyler
Zan Tyler
BJU Press Homeschool, Consultant, and the Zan Tyler Podcast

Zan Tyler’s homeschool journey began in 1984 when homeschooling was illegal in her state and she was threatened with jail. For eight years, she and other families battled for homeschool freedom and established landmark homeschool legislation in South Carolina. In 1990, she founded the South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools and served as its president for 10 years. Zan’s greatest privilege in life has been homeschooling her three children all the way through high school alongside her husband, Joe, and she loves to empower parents as they answer their God-given calling to homeschool. She is now a consultant with BJU Press Homeschool and the host of the Zan Tyler Podcast (sponsored by BJU Press Homeschool).

Luz Velazquez
Luz Velázquez
North Carolinians for Home Education, Multicultural Liaison

Luz Velázquez is a Hispanic leader, passionate homeschool mom, and Army veteran’s spouse who has lived in the US for nearly 28 years. Originally from Dominican Republic and raised in Puerto Rico, Luz embraces her multicultural background while homeschooling her 9-year-old son, Carloscésar, as a bilingual child of God. Luz’s dedication to inspiring and encouraging others, particularly in minority communities, led her to become the representative voice in Spanish for North Carolinians for Home Education, a role she joyfully fulfills as a volunteer. Believing that education and schooling are distinct yet complementary processes, Luz advocates for an approach that goes beyond traditional eight-hour classroom settings. As the first generation in her family to homeschool, Luz sees this journey as a divine calling to break free from limiting cultural myths and to foster the proper development of the tools, opportunities, and talents bestowed by God.

Daniel Heffington
Daniel Heffington
Generation Joshua, Director of Communications

Daniel Heffington is a worship leader, songwriter, and recording artist. He grew up in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where he was homeschooled by parents who were also professional musicians. He is one of the worship leaders at his church (Cornerstone Chapel in Leesburg, Virginia) and regularly leads worship at conferences, summer camps, and churches around Virginia and the US. In addition to music, Daniel has a heart for justice, advocacy, and empowering future leaders. He pursues these goals by serving on the senior staff team at HSLDA Action's Generation Joshua. Daniel lives in Berryville, Virginia, with his wife, Abigail, and their kids: Ellie, Piper, and Tuck. If he doesn't know you already, Daniel would love to meet you, and he looks forward to lots of great conversations (that hopefully include coffee) at the National Leaders Conference!


HSLDA is a fantastic organization! We have been members for years and continue supporting their efforts through membership even though our youngest graduated two years ago. Valuable resources and wonderful people.
Tina R., Facebook
I would not have been able to purchase most of these supplies had we not received a grant. We are so grateful for those who have unselfishly donated to this fund. Our family’s life has been significantly impacted by their kindness and generosity.
Andy K., Curriculum Grant recipient
Thank you for a grant this year. It came at a time when we couldn't have continued homeschooling without it. My 8-year-old daughter struggled to read. Now, two years later, because of homeschooling she is a wonderful reader and her fears are gone.
Tina E., Curriculum Grant recipient

Meet Our People

We're privileged to have an amazing team of attorneys and educational consultants who are passionate about defending homeschooling families and helping them thrive.
Learn more here »

Have questions about the conference? Contact Us

2023 Sponsors

Special thanks to our sponsors, who make this event possible!

Interested in sponsoring? Please reach out to Sandra Kim by emailing sandrak@hslda.org .

Meet Our People

We're privileged to have an amazing team of attorneys and educational consultants who are passionate about defending homeschooling families and helping them thrive.
Learn more here »

Cost to Attend

TEEN (Ages 13–19)
KID (Ages 5–12)
(Reduced rates available through 7/31/21)

Children 4 and under are free, but no childcare is provided. Registration covers all sessions and catered meals. Lodging is not included; it is the responsibility of each attendee to make hotel reservations as needed.

Registration is closed

Registration closes on August 18, 2023