2021 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?

LEARN

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

SHARE EXPERTISE

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

MAKE CONNECTIONS

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

RENEW

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

Program Details

Program Details

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

Leaders, you’ll enjoy workshops, panels, and special events tailored to your needs in serving the homeschool community. Meanwhile, your kids can learn and grow in a fun, educational, supervised setting. Outside of our planned events, be sure to take advantage of the many family opportunities in the greater Cincinnati area—including Ark Encounter, with its colorful exhibits, family playground, and zoo!

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Location

Speakers

We are delighted to have these distinguished speakers with us at the 2021 National Leaders Conference! 
Select a speaker to review their bio and learn more about them.

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS
J. Michael Smith
J. Michael Smith
HSLDA, President

Mike Smith and his wife Elizabeth, along with Michael Farris and his wife Vickie, incorporated Home School Legal Defense Association in 1983 and were the original board members. Mike grew up in Arkansas and graduated from the University of Arkansas. Upon graduation, he entered the U.S. Navy and served for three years before attending law school at the University of San Diego. He graduated in 1972 and was admitted to practice law in the state of California shortly thereafter. He is licensed in Virginia, California, and Washington, D.C.

In 1981, Mike’s life changed drastically when he heard a radio program that introduced him to the idea of homeschooling. Mike and his wife began homeschooling one year at a time to meet the academic and social needs of their children. After several years, however, it became obvious that God had exposed the Smith family to homeschooling for many other benefits, including spiritual development and family integrity. All of Mike’s children are now grown, and three of the four were homeschooled.

When he started with HSLDA, Mike began defending homeschooling in California both in court and before the legislature. In 1987 he came to HSLDA full-time, serving as its vice president until 2000, when he became its president. In addition to serving as President of HSLDA, he also is HSLDA’s lawyer for California, Nevada, and Puerto Rico.

Michael Farris
Michael Farris
HSLDA, Board Chairman

Michael Farris is board chairman of HSLDA and chancellor emeritus of Patrick Henry College. He was the founding president of each organization and currently serves as the president and CEO of Alliance Defending Freedom.

Farris is a constitutional appellate litigator who has served as lead counsel in the United States Supreme Court, eight federal circuit courts, and the appellate courts of 13 states. He has been a leader on Capitol Hill for over 30 years and is widely known for his leadership on homeschooling, religious freedom, and the preservation of American sovereignty.

A prolific author, Farris has been recognized with a number of awards, including the Heritage Foundation's Salvatori Prize for American Citizenship, and as one of the “Top 100 Faces in Education for the 20th Century” by Education Week magazine.

Mike and Vickie Farris have 10 children and many grandchildren.

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 and then moved to Atlanta in 1992 to serve as dean of faculty. He later served as senior vice president for international ministries and global teaching pastor before becoming president and CEO in 2007. A native of Normal, Illinois, 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.

Sam Sorbo
Sam Sorbo
Actress

Sam Sorbo is a Hollywood actress, international fashion model, nationally syndicated radio show host, film producer, and author. After studying biomedical engineering at Duke University, Sam pursued a modeling career, which afforded her the opportunity to travel extensively and learn foreign languages. Fluent in Swedish, French, Italian, and German, she then embarked on an acting career. On Hercules: The Legendary Journeys she met Kevin, who swept her off her feet. They married in 1998 and have three teenagers whom they homeschool. Sam is a passionate advocate for parental autonomy and home education. Together, the Sorbos produced the highly successful Let There Be Light in 2017. Their comedy, Miracle in East Texas, is due out in 2021.

Sam speaks across the country on education, culture, politics, and religion. She has appeared on Fox Business, Newsmax, and One America News and writes for news outlets like the Epoch Times, National Review, Breitbart, and Fox News. Sam’s most recent book, Words for Warriors, delves into the hijacking of our language by a Leftist movement dead set on not simply denying God, but proclaiming itself as god. The book reached number one on Amazon shortly after launch earlier this year. Sam’s other books include They’re YOUR Kids: My Journey from Self-Doubter to Homeschool Advocate and Teach from Love: A School-Year Devotional for Families.

Ken Ham
Ken Ham
Answers in Genesis, President

Since moving to America in 1987, Australian Ken Ham—founder of Answers in Genesis–US and the highly acclaimed Creation Museum, and visionary behind a popular, full-size Noah’s ark—has become one of the most in-demand Christian conference speakers and talk show guests. He became internationally known for his 2014 creation-evolution debate with Bill Nye, “the Science Guy,” which has been watched by an estimated 20 million people

In May 2007, Answers in Genesis (AiG) opened its high-tech Creation Museum and education center in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area. The brainchild of Ken Ham, the state-of-the-art facility contains dozens of world-class exhibits, including impressive animatronic dinosaur models, a $1 million allosaur fossil, and a planetarium. The Ark Encounter opened in Williamstown, Kentucky, in July 2016, and in its first two years drew over two million awestruck visitors and countless media.

A biblical apologist, Ken gives numerous faith-building talks to tens of thousands of children and adults each year on such topics as the reliability of the Bible, how compromise over biblical authority has undermined society and even the church (which is seeing a massive exodus of young people), witnessing more effectively, dinosaurs, and so on. Ken cofounded AiG in 1994 with the purpose of upholding the authority of the Bible from the very first verse. In addition, he provides biblical and scientific answers to some of the most difficult questions people ask about the Christian faith.

Ken and his wife, Mally, reside in the Cincinnati area. They have five children and 16 grandchildren.

WORKSHOP SPEAKERS
Daniel Beasley, Esq.
Daniel Beasley
HSLDA, Staff Attorney

Dan serves HSLDA member families and advocates for homeschooling in 13 states. He was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, where he was homeschooled through high school. He went on to earn a juris doctor from Oak Brook College of Law and a master’s degree in applied biblical studies from Moody Bible Institute.

While in law school, Dan worked as a legal assistant to HSLDA Senior Counsel Mike Donnelly. After graduation, he returned to the Midwest and gained experience practicing law at a small consumer protection law firm in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he eventually accepted management responsibilities. He returned to HSLDA in 2015.

Dan and his wife Bethany (also a homeschool graduate and a photographer) are homeschooling their four children.

Thomas J. Schmidt, Esq.
Thomas J. Schmidt
HSLDA, Staff Attorney

Tj was homeschooled starting in the 2nd grade through high school graduation. For much of that time, his family served as missionaries in Haiti.

He earned his juris doctor from Oak Brook College of Law while serving as a legal assistant at HSLDA. Now, as an HSLDA staff attorney, Tj assists members across the country with legal questions and challenges to their homeschool freedom.

Tj and his wife, Susan, homeschool their seven children: Josiah, Suzanna, Ella, Makenna, Jonah, Annika, and Ezra.

Amy Buchmeyer, Esq.
Amy Buchmeyer
HSLDA, Staff Attorney

A Wisconsin native, Amy was homeschooled K–12 along with her four younger siblings. She developed a passion for politics while involved in Generation Joshua in high school and eventually double majored in politics and government and in criminal justice at Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee.

Upon graduation, Amy returned to Wisconsin where she worked as a field director for Americans for Prosperity. She later received her JD from the University of Wisconsin Law School, where she served as president of the Federalist Society and articles editor of the Wisconsin Law Review.

Now, at HSLDA, Amy serves as the contact attorney for 13 states.

Amy loves to travel, and, in addition to Wisconsin and Tennessee, has lived in Idaho, Colorado, England, Thailand, and now Virginia. When not at work, she can usually be found buried in a book (she averages over 300 a year), traveling, or making new friends.

Heather Frommack, RDN
Heather Frommack
HSLDA, Director of Outreach and Consulting Services

As an 18-year veteran homeschooling mom, and an ardent lifelong learner, Heather Frommacks counts rich conversation as one of her favorite things —especially when that conversation is about homeschooling and the heart. She serves as the program manager for HSLDA’s educational consultants and is a teacher, writer, speaker, encourager, and listener. Believing the adventure of life is fullest when courageously shared, she delights in engaging and inspiring others through authenticity, relevance, and humor.

Heather is a Registered Dietitian (RDN) currently pursuing her master’s degree in educational psychology with a view towards her PhD. Her educational journey has also included postgraduate work in biblical counseling and Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).

The school of life richly informs her message. Her experiences include international adoption, 14 moves, world travel to more than 15 countries, and designing and remodeling homes, all while homeschooling!

Heather and her husband have five beloved and creative children, ages ranging from 10 to 24 years old. Their two youngest were joyfully adopted from Ethiopia nine years ago. She’s homeschooled all of her children, first as a stay-at-home mom and now as a full-time working mom. She calls homeschooling the “best and most challenging career I’ve ever had.”

LaNissir James, BS
LaNissir James
HSLDA, High School Consultant

A homeschooling mom and leader, LaNissir 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 with empathetic, engaging, and practical wisdom. She says, “The joy of helping a family feel confident that they can homeschool is priceless.”

She earned her BS in journalism from the University of Maryland College Park, is Myers-Briggs Type Indicator certified, and is pursuing a master’s degree in biblical studies.

LaNissir is wife to Lorenzo, who also serves the homeschooling community through sports programs, photography services, and photography classes. She is the mother of seven beautiful homeschooled children (five girls and two boys) with ages ranging from toddler to young adult. Her hobbies include reading, traveling, photography, and kayaking.

Karim Morato
Karim Morato
HSLDA, Bilingual Consultant and Hispanic Outreach Coordinator

Karim Morato supports homeschooling parents by serving in HSLDA's educational consulting department. In addition, she reaches out to and collaborates with Hispanic leaders who are advancing the homeschooling movement.

Karim is originally from Guatemala and emigrated to the United States in 1992. Karim and her husband have been homeschooling their three children for the last 14 years. Their oldest daughter graduated in 2020 and is currently studying biomedical engineering. Besides her homeschooling experience, Karim is a certified Spanish teacher with 16 years of teaching experience in public schools. In 2014 she founded Spanish Educational Solutions with the mission to support homeschool parents, parents who only speak English, and families who want to educate bilingual children.

Karim holds her master’s degree in curriculum and online learning, earned at George Mason University in Virginia. For more than 20 years she has been teaching and serving the Hispanic community through educational advice, mentoring, and counseling. One of her passions is to equip parents to lead their children's education and advocate for what is best for them. She is convinced that homeschooling can bridge the academic gaps that sometimes exist in her community.

At HSLDA, Karim dedicates her time to upholding Hispanic leaders who support homeschooling and Hispanic parents who wish to educate at home. She also participates in conferences and offers workshops nationally and internationally, sharing her knowledge, experience, and resources. She aims to encourage parents to continue their homeschooling journey and enjoy their children.

Beyond her position at HSLDA, Karim is passionate about cultures, multicultural work, and programs that advance higher education. She and her husband like serving in their church and supporting marriages by mentoring young couples.

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 professional musicians. Since the age of 15, Daniel has led worship in churches of many different sizes and formats.

Daniel lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, Abigail, and their two daughters, Ellie and Piper. He is one of the worship leaders at his church (Cornerstone Chapel in Leesburg, Virginia) and regularly serves as a guest worship leader 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 as part of the core staff team at HSLDA’s Generation Joshua. If he doesn’t know you already, Daniel would love to meet you and looks forward to lots of great conversations and catch-ups at the National Leaders Conference!

Sandra Kim
Sandra Kim
HSLDA, Director of Media Relations

Sandra Kim has over 15 years' experience in marketing, public relations, and media relations with various Fortune 500 companies. She is also the mother of three kids who started homeschooling during the pandemic.

She has a master of science in journalism from the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism. At Northwestern, she received a $10,000 special studies scholarship in religion, spirituality, and ethics. She really enjoys trying new foods, traveling, reading, crafting with her kids, and running Disney races!

Sandra is fluent in Korean and loves everything French. (Ooh la la!)

She lives in Loudoun County, Virginia, with her husband, John, their three kids, and a rescue puppy named Tupelo.

Darren Jones
Darren Jones
HSLDA, Senior Counsel

Darren Jones has worked at HSLDA since 1996, first as a legal assistant and then as an attorney in various capacities. He spends his time at the office:

  • 40% talking to members in legal difficulties, persuading them that it’s not as bad as it could be and HSLDA has got their back
  • 40% advising homeschool group leaders about everything from crafting statements of faith (he prefers the Nicene Creed) to designing policies to protect children at co-ops
  • 10% writing legal briefs (and wondering how in the world documents of 30 pages can possibly be called “brief”)
  • 10% keeping HSLDA and its sister organizations in compliance with the charitable solicitation laws of way too many competing jurisdictions
  • 100% advocating for the fundamental right of parents to direct the education of their children

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.

Brian Ray
Brian Ray
National Home Education Research Institute, President

Dr. Brian Ray is a leading international expert in research on homeschooling and president of the National Home Education Research Institute. He has published numerous articles and books, been repeatedly interviewed by major media, served as an expert witness in court cases across the US and in Canada, and testified to legislatures regarding educational issues. He is a former university professor and public and private school classroom teacher, and is an elder in a local church. He holds a PhD (science education, Oregon State University), MS (zoology, Ohio University), and BS (biology, University of Puget Sound). Brian and Betsy have been married 42 years and have eight children, all of whom were homeschooled, and they have a growing number of grandchildren.

Steven Duvall
Steven Duvall
HSLDA, Director of Research

After working as a public school psychologist for 21 years—during which he served students, parents, teachers, and administrators—Dr. Steven Duvall spent the next 19 years teaching as a university professor while directing school psychology training programs. During this time, he also served as a consultant for homeschool families across the country.

He is currently licensed or certified as a school psychologist in three states (Kansas, Oklahoma, and Washington) and has earned degrees from Wichita State University (BS), Pittsburg State University (MS and EdS), and the University of Kansas (PhD in developmental and child psychology).

Maggie McKneely
Maggie McKneely
HSLDA, Federal Relations Liaison

Maggie is the federal relations liaison for HSLDA, advocating on behalf of homeschool families on Capitol Hill. She holds a BA in government from Patrick Henry College. Maggie first defended the rights of families as a legislative aide for the Family Foundation of Virginia before working on numerous state and federal election campaigns. She also served as the Tom and Kipp Gutshall Fellow at the Media Research Center.

Maggie was born and raised in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and currently lives in Washington, D.C.

Candice Dugger
Candice Dugger
Bullied, Broken, Redeemed, Founder

Candice Dugger, a nationally recognized antibullying expert, author, speaker, and trainer, specializes in equipping leaders, parents, and youth in all aspects of Gen Z bullying. Under her leadership, the team at Bullied, Broken, Redeemed has built life-changing programs that use interactive activities and projects to motivate and empower effective antibullying warriors. Candice has been featured on several networks nationally and internationally, including NBC, the Christian Broadcast Network, and Family Research Council, and is a recognized trainer for Fortune 100 companies. She is regularly featured as the keynote speaker for US and international conferences. Bullied, Broken, Redeemed is on a mission to impact one million families in 2021.

Candice is also passionate about helping families transition from public school to homeschooling. Candice successfully made this transition with her two neurodiverse children while helping them heal from trauma, and both are now thriving at home. Her teen boys own their own businesses and are embracing all homeschooling has to offer. Candice’s philosophy of mental health before math and character before curriculum has helped thousands of families make this transition successfully.

Andrew Pudewa
Andrew Pudewa
Institute for Excellence in Writing, Founder

Andrew Pudewa is the founder and director of the Institute for Excellence in Writing. Presenting around the world, he addresses issues relating to teaching, writing, thinking, spelling, and music with clarity, insight, practical experience, and humor. His seminars for parents, students, and teachers have helped transform many a reluctant writer and have equipped educators with powerful tools to dramatically improve students’ skills. Although he is a graduate of the Talent Education Institute in Japan and holds a Certificate of Child Brain Development, his best endorsement is from a young Alaskan boy who called him “the funny man with the wonderful words.” He and his beautiful, heroic wife, Robin, have homeschooled their seven children and are now proud grandparents of 14, making their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

James R. Mason
James R. Mason
HSLDA, Vice President of Litigation and Development

Since joining HSLDA to lead the litigation team in 2001, Jim 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.

In addition to serving as HSLDA’s vice president of litigation and development and penning many of the most popular articles in HSLDA’s Home School Court Report magazine, Jim is the vice president of HSLDA Action and president of ParentalRights.org. Before coming to HSLDA, Jim represented numerous right-to-life groups in campaign finance cases and clerked for an appellate court in Oregon. He graduated with highest honors from Regent University School of Law in 1996. Jim is a veteran of the US Navy and served on active duty in Operation Desert Storm.

Jim and his wife Debbie live in Winchester, Virginia. They have seven children and two granddaughters. The Masons have homeschooled all of their children: six have graduated and one is still being taught at home. In his spare time, Jim is an avid bird watcher, waffle connoisseur, and abstract art fan.

Joyce Burges
Joyce Burges
National Black Home Educators, CEO and Cofounder

Joyce Burges is an experienced homeschooling mom of 30 years. She has five children and has been married for nearly 45 years to her high school sweetheart. Joyce is the author of Teach Me How to Teach My Child, A Gentlewoman’s Guide to Greatness, and A Home Educator’s Guide to Greatness. She is also a singer, a national speaker on education and family matters, and an effective community leader.

Joyce is the CEO and cofounder, along with her husband Eric, of the National Black Home Educators (NBHE), a 20-year organization that empowers parents to educate their children for excellence. She's been featured in Ebony, Essence, Jet, and The Crisis, as well as by the New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, USA Today, Fox News, BET Tonight with Queen Latifah as guest host, BET News, the Tom Joyner Morning Show, the Roland Martin Show, and more.

Joyce is a former city-council member and former mayoral candidate; presently she serves on her local school board. She mentors families and, through a group she created called "Princess to Queen," mentors girls ages 9–17. Joyce enjoys traveling, singing, cooking, gardening, and spending time with her husband, children, 10 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Keep up with Joyce at wwww.nbhe.net and www.joycemburges.com.

Kim Glanowski
Kim Glanowski
My Story Is Beautiful, Founder

Kim Glanowski is an author, speaker, and the founder of My Story Is Beautiful. Her passion is to help students who have experienced trauma heal through writing their stories. Kim and her team gently guide students to embrace healing by transforming their stories into tools to help others.

Newly empowered, her students become leaders, speakers, and published authors. Kim's work with Bullied Broken Redeemed is cited as the genesis of healing for students around the world.

Richard Lorenzen
Richard Lorenzen
Fifth Avenue Brands, Founder

Richard Lorenzen is an American entrepreneur, an investor, CEO of Fifth Avenue Brands—and a homeschool grad. He speaks on entrepreneurship, foreign policy, and the economy at the United Nations, TEDx, universities, and corporate forums. Richard is regularly cited as one of America’s most influential millennial entrepreneurs and has been featured by Forbes, CNBC, Fox News, Entrepreneur, Adweek, PRWeek, and more.

Entrepreneur magazine ranked him one of the top 50 people in digital marketing, and Inc. magazine named him one of the top inspirational entrepreneurs. Born in New York as the son of a journalist and a firefighter, Richard developed an interest in entrepreneurship at the age of 15 and founded what would become Fifth Avenue Brands out of his parents' home. He bootstrapped the firm to having now served hundreds of clients across the US, London, Tokyo, and Singapore.

Natalie Mack
Natalie Mack
HSLDA, High School Consultant

Natalie Mack is a mom of five, inactive licensed therapist, Navy chaplain’s wife, military home educator since 2001, president of Belvoir Home Educators, soccer mom, Scouts BSA merit badge coordinator, business owner, and newbie writer and blogger. Her passions include people, homeschooling, travel, her alma mater (Spelman College), cooking and baking, languages, history, and genealogy research.

She received her BA in political science and Spanish from her beloved alma mater, Spelman College, in Atlanta, Georgia, and her MEd with a concentration in community counseling from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Hanging up her therapist shingle, she followed God’s leading to home educate her children in 2001. She has launched three of her five children to college, and then on to graduate school or professional careers.

As a military naval spouse, she has lived all over the world, founding and leading military homeschooling groups throughout her journey. Homeschooling abroad in Europe was an incredible opportunity. She and her family have traveled as often as they can to bring history and culture alive for their children.

In response to many requests to provide marital enhancement workshops and how-to-homeschool seminars, Natalie and her husband established Mack Family Consulting LLC.

In 2017, she put on her caregiving hat by relocating her mother-in-love to reside with them. As a result, she penned her blog Life in the Middle, which is a forum for discussion about the sandwich generation and other topics. She is also a writer for The Old Schoolhouse magazine, sharing her perspective on military life and the sandwich generation.

Anita Gibson
Anita Gibson
HSLDA, High School Consultant

Anita Gibson is an author, speaker, and educational strategist. She develops paths to academic success for students and organizations through educational programs, training sessions, and academic support. Her book, STAR Finder, assists parents with finding their children’s strengths, talents, and abilities and provides resources to discover their future potential.

For the past 18 years, Anita has served as the director of Shabach Christian Academy, a homeschool program that assists families with all aspects of the homeschool journey. In this role, she acts as the liaison to the state of Maryland for the program’s oversight families and manages over 30 kindergarten–12th-grade classes annually.

She is also the president of a nonprofit educational consulting firm, The RAS Foundation, which creates and develops nontraditional educational programs for students and organizations. This includes Project Excel Academy, an academic learning center for homeschool students. Anita’s motto is “Help and Hope Are Here!” 

Anita resides in Maryland with her amazing husband, Glen. They homeschooled three awesome children from kindergarten through 12th grade. Their oldest daughter is now a diplomat with the US Department of State after earning her bachelor’s degree in international marketing and master’s degree in international affairs. Their youngest daughter is a middle school science teacher who also teaches high school–level chemistry, biology, and physical science to homeschoolers. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Bowie State University. Their son chose the entrepreneurial route and currently owns a lucrative photography and videography business. He also works full-time in a large church media ministry using his gifts.

Jonathan Butcher
Jonathan Butcher
The Heritage Foundation, Will Skillman Fellow in Education

Jonathan Butcher is the Will Skillman Fellow in Education at the Heritage Foundation. He has researched and testified on education policy around the US, and he is currently writing a book for Post Hill Press discussing critical race theory in schools and America’s national identity. In 2021, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster nominated Jonathan to serve on the board of the South Carolina Public Charter School District, a statewide charter school authorizer.

Jonathan previously served as the education director at the Goldwater Institute and director of accountability for the South Carolina Public Charter School District. In addition to his role at Heritage, Jonathan is a senior fellow at the Goldwater Institute and the Beacon Center of Tennessee. He holds a BA in English from Furman University and an MA in economics from the University of Arkansas.

Bridget Weisenburger
Bridget Weisenburger
The Heritage Foundation, Associate Director for Coalition Relations

Bridget Weisenburger serves as associate director for coalition relations for the Heritage Foundation. In this role, she builds and maintains lasting networks to advance Heritage policy priorities. Prior to coming to Heritage, Bridget managed communications for Texas charter school operator ResponsiveEd. She received a BA in philosophy from the University of Dallas and is currently pursuing an MA in government at Hillsdale College in D.C.

Jay Richards
Jay Richards
The Heritage Foundation, William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow

Jay W. Richards, PhD, is the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation. He is also a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, executive editor of The Stream, and adjunct professor in the Busch School of Business at The Catholic University of America. Richards is author or editor of more than a dozen books and also the creator and executive producer of several documentaries. 

His 2008 debate at Stanford University with Christopher Hitchens, moderated by Ben Stein, was broadcast live to several hundred churches in North America. Jay has a PhD, with honors, in philosophy and theology from Princeton Theological Seminary. He also holds a master of divinity, a master of theology, and a BA, with majors in political science and religion.

Chuck Hurst
Chuck Hurst
HSLDA, Vice President of Administration

In addition to serving as HSLDA's vice president of administration, Chuck Hurst is the executive director of HSLDA’s Compassion program. A graduate of Bob Jones University’s School of Education with an emphasis in US history, Chuck taught school from 1979 to 1988. During that time, he met his wife, Dianne, and earned his master of arts in social sciences from Governor’s State University in Illinois. After sensing God’s call to leave teaching, he received certification in the lawyer’s assistant program at Roosevelt University in Chicago in 1989. 

Chuck came to HSLDA in the fall of 1989. He first served as membership director and later took on the role of director of human resources after receiving his certification as a Senior Professional in Human Resources in 2005. His desire to bless homeschoolers also led him to become executive director for what is now HSLDA’s Compassion program. And in 2015 he became vice president of administration at HSLDA. He and Dianne homeschooled their three children and are now the proud grandparents of two grandchildren.

Mike Donnelly
Mike Donnelly
HSLDA, Senior Counsel, Director of Global Outreach

As HSLDA Senior Counsel, Mike serves members in seven states and as Director of Global Outreach, coordinates HSLDA’s support of homeschooling freedom around the world. He is also an adjunct professor of government at Patrick Henry College, where he teaches constitutional law.

Mike saw combat as a cavalry officer in the United States Army during the first Persian Gulf War. Before coming to HSLDA he worked in private legal practice and founded a nationally ranked internet marketing firm. He holds a juris doctor with honors from the Boston University School of Law as a Paul J. Liacos Scholar and an LLM with merit in Constitutional and Human Rights Law from the London School of Economics. He is a member of six federal and state bars.

Mike is an internationally published writer and frequent speaker on homeschooling, educational freedom, parental rights, and human rights. His published work includes articles and chapters in The International Journal of Human Rights, Homeschooling in the 21st Century, International Journal of School Choice and Reform, Homeschooling in New View, Balancing Freedom, Autonomy, and Accountability in Education, Religious Freedom in Education, The International Journal of Religious Freedom, and Homeschooling in America and Europe: A Litmus Test of Democracy.

Mike and his wife Patricia are homeschooling parents of seven children.

Silvia Copio
Sílvia Cópio
Movement for Freedom in Education, President

Sílvia Cópio is a social entrepreneur in the area of education and family, and president of the Movement for Freedom in Education (Movimento Educação Livre, or MEL). MEL is a pioneering association in Portugal that promotes and defends innovative, child-centered forms of education and advocates for homeschool freedom. Sílvia is also the founder of the Discovering (DEScobrir) Project, a place to promote parental empowerment for education and family rights based on personal-development tools and pedagogical training.

Sílvia is married to Paulo and the mother of three homeschooled children, one of whom has graduated. She hosts various homeschool support activities, such as family arts, sports groups, mom and dad sharing circles, and teen tutoring.

Sílvia has a master’s degree in museology and was a PhD researcher in preventive conservation and risk assessment in museum reserves. She also worked for a long time in curating exhibitions and conserving collections. In 2014 she stopped this activity to devote herself entirely to her family and the rights of the family in general, in her country and in the world.

Peter Kamakawiwoole
HSLDA, Staff Attorney

Born in a New England blizzard and raised in the island paradise of Hawaii, Peter was the first of five graduates from Keolahou Christian Academy (est. 1992, by Peter and Rhonda Kamakawiwoole), graduating first in his class (of one), earning the honorific of “guinea pig” along the way. After high school, Peter attended Patrick Henry College where he met and married his wife, Corrie.

After earning his law degree from Saint Louis University School of Law, Peter returned to northern Virginia to join HSLDA as a staff attorney where he assists families in five states. He is also a member of HSLDA’s litigation team, helping families across the country who encounter difficulties obtaining Social Security benefits because of their decision to homeschool, and represents families before administrative tribunals, and in state and federal court.

Peter and Corrie have five children.

Testimonials

HSLDA is a fantastic organization! We have been members for years and continue our 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

Sponsors

Special thanks to our sponsors, who make this event possible! (Interested in sponsoring? Apply here.)

GOLD SPONSOR

SILVER SPONSORS

WORKSHOP SPONSOR

BREAK SPONSOR

LEGACY SPONSOR

EXHIBIT SPONSORS

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

HSLDA MEMBER
$365
NONMEMBER
$410
TEEN (Ages 13–19)
$215
CHILD/ELEMENTARY (Ages 5–12)
$170
(Reduced rates available through 7/31/21)
VIRTUAL ATTENDEE
Participate Online (Adults Only)
HSLDA Member: $100
Nonmember: $150

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

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