HSLDA, Special Needs Consultant
Faith Berens lives in Fauquier County, Virginia, with her husband Matthew, daughter Hailey, and son Hayden. Faith joined the HSLDA team of special needs consultants in 2008 and homeschools her children. She also works as a private educational
consultant and evaluator. Some of her passions include reading for pleasure, singing, traveling, nature/science, leading Bible studies, and teaching reading to struggling students. Faith holds a master’s degree in reading from Shenandoah
University. She has over 15 years of teaching experience that includes serving as a classroom teacher in public and private Christian schools, Reading Recovery® teacher, reading specialist, NILD educational therapist, home educator,
co-op instructor, and tutor. Her areas of expertise are early childhood literacy, reading assessment, and the identification and remediation of reading difficulties and disabilities.
Covenant Eyes, Vice President
Sam Black is a vice president at Covenant Eyes and the author of “The Porn Circuit: Understand Your Brain and Break Porn Habits in 90 Days.” He joined the Covenant Eyes team in 2007 after 18 years as a journalist. He has edited 16
books on the impact of pornography and how to protect our families. Sam has been married for 23 years and is a father of two.
Classical Conversations, Inc., CEO
Robert Bortins was homeschooled through high school before earning an industrial engineering degree from Clemson University. He has led Classical Conversations as it has grown into an international organization helping people across four languages
and 20 countries know God and make Him known.
Leadership Institute, Director of Foundation and Corporate Relations
Karla Kraynak Bruno is a former English teacher and librarian with over 30 years as an educator and researcher to her credit. Since arriving at the Leadership Institute in 2011, she has increased foundation giving by 72%. Karla is a published
author of historical fiction and a frequent guest columnist for two regional Virginia newspapers, and she serves on the 2019 Commemoration First English Thanksgiving Committee as part of the celebration of Virginia’s 400th anniversary
of historic contributions to our national heritage. Her latest book is William and Mary and Tyler, Too, a biography of Lyon G. Tyler, due out in 2020.
Lindsey M. Burke
Heritage Foundation, Director of Center for Education Policy and Will Skillman Fellow in Education
As director of the Center for Education Policy, Lindsey Burke oversees the Heritage Foundation’s research and policy on issues pertaining to preschool, K-12, and higher education reform. In 2013, Burke was also named the Will Skillman Fellow
in Education Policy, in which capacity she devotes her time and research to reducing federal intervention in education at all levels and empowering families with education choice. Burke’s commentary, research, and op-eds have appeared
in various newspapers and magazines, and she has appeared on numerous radio and television shows and spoken on education reform issues across the country and internationally. She has published evaluations of education choice options for public
policy foundations such as the Virginia Institute for Public Policy and EdChoice and has done extensive work developing and evaluating education savings accounts. In 2015, Burke won Heritage’s prestigious W. Glenn and Rita Ricardo Campbell
Award in recognition of her work fighting against national standards and tests and for expanded education choice options. Burke holds a bachelor's degree in politics and a master of teaching degree in foreign language education. She graduated
with a PhD in education policy and research methods from George Mason University, where she examined the intersection of education choice and institutional theory.
Heritage Foundation, Center for Education Policy Senior Policy Analyst
Jonathan Butcher, a former homeschool parent, serves as senior policy analyst in the Center for Education Policy at the Heritage Foundation. He has researched and testified on education policy and school choice programs around the U.S., and his
work has appeared in journals such as Education Next and the Georgetown Journal of Law and Public Policy. Jonathan previously served as the education director at the Goldwater Institute, where he remains a senior fellow.
He was a member of the Arizona Department of Education’s first Steering Committee for Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, the nation’s first education savings account program. He is also a senior fellow with the Beacon Center of
Tennessee, a nonpartisan research organization, and a contributing scholar for the Georgia Center for Opportunity. Prior to joining Goldwater, Jonathan was the director of accountability for the South Carolina Public Charter School District,
South Carolina’s only statewide charter school authorizer. Jonathan previously studied education policy at the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas and worked with the School Choice Demonstration Project, the
research team that evaluated voucher programs in Washington, D.C., and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Cheryl R. Carter
Cheryl Carter Communications, Founder
Cheryl R. Carter is a busy homeschooling mother (of five), author, speaker, and college professor with a passion to help others. Besides teaching, she has written broadly on spiritual growth, education, and special needs. She is the author of
several books, including Organize Your Life, Chasing God and the Kids Too, Essential Writing Skills for the College-Bound Student, Inspire the Writer in Your Child, and Organize Your AD/HD Child. In addition
to writing fiction and poetry in her spare time, she blogs regularly on issues of clarity in written communication, college admissions, and the Christian family. Cheryl has a BA in English and an MFA in writing and has done graduate study
in special education and college admission. Active in her local homeschool group, she has taught college-prep co-op classes for several years. She has also written numerous literary guides and won academic awards for her writing. Cheryl is
a member of the HSLDA Compassion Committee.
Alpha Omega Publications, Executive Vice President
A natural-born entrepreneur with a keen eye for market opportunities, Eric Dalton has worked in a number of fields, including healthcare, transportation, and education. He has spent the last 15 years in private education. Having joined AOP in
2013, he has worked to revitalize and expand its brands into leading market products through data-driven marketing. Eric and his wife are homeschooling parents to four adopted children and reside in Arizona.
Mary Beth Dearing
Mary Beth Dearing was born and raised in Roanoke, Virginia. After high school, she attended Radford University, where she earned her bachelor of science in nursing. She met her husband, Bryan, while working during the summers in one of Roanoke’s
local hospitals. Bryan and Mary Beth married in 1983. They home educated their four children, Emily, Charles, Grayson, and Mary Kathryn, from 1994 to 2017. While on their homeschooling journey, Bryan’s work relocated the family from
Tennessee to Virginia and finally to Georgia. They were involved in homeschooling organizations in each state. Mary Beth served on the organizations’ leadership boards in both Virginia and in Georgia, where she spent her later homeschooling
years serving on the Paragon Cooperative Learning Academy board as parent rep (2010–2015) and then as chairman (until summer 2018). Bryan and Mary Beth are active in their church, First Conyers, located just outside of Atlanta.
University of Georgia, Associate Professor
Dr. Cheryl Fields-Smith, an associate professor of elementary education at the University of Georgia, is also currently serving as program coordinator for the master of arts in teaching (pre-K–5th grade). Prior to earning her doctorate from
Emory University in 2004, Dr. Fields-Smith taught elementary school in Connecticut, including in two magnet schools emphasizing the Bank Street Model. Fields-Smith’s research interests include family engagement and homeschooling among
Black families. She has conducted interviews and focus groups with over 80 African American families whose children have attended public schools or been homeschooled. Dr. Fields-Smith infuses the knowledge gained from her research into her
teaching to foster future and in-service teachers’ understanding of partnering with ethnic-minority and low-income families. She also consults and conducts professional development workshops on cultivating home-school partnerships in
diverse communities. In 2014, Dr. Fields-Smith received the University of Georgia, College of Education’s Carl Glickman Faculty Fellow Award for excellence in research, teaching, and service.
HSLDA, High School Consultant
LaNissir James is a wife and mother of seven beautiful homeschooled children (five girls and two boys) with ages ranging from toddler to young adult, and she is a homeschool leader with a passion to serve the home-educating community. She
provides social, spiritual, academic, and supervisory support for many homeschooling families and encourages and equips countless homeschool graduates to transition into colleges, careers, and vocational schools. LaNissir earned her bachelor
of science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland College Park, is pursuing a master of biblical studies degree, and is Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Certified. LaNissir’s hobbies include reading, traveling, photography,
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-op; 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; and 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.
BJU Press Homeschool, Sales Director
Michael Knott is the sales director for BJU Press Homeschool and director of HomeWorks by Precept. He is a husband and proud father of three girls and one boy, all of whom are homeschooled. He has been involved in many aspects of BJU Press Homeschool
for fifteen years, including analytics, marketing, sales, product feedback, and much more. His passion is to encourage the next generation to become a light in a darkness that desperately needs to see God.
Arizona Family Home Educators, Executive Director
Nancy Manos has been serving the Arizona homeschool community since 2001. She and her husband, James, homeschooled their two daughters all the way through high school and found it to be a rich, rewarding experience. Nancy and James served on the
Arizona Family Home Educators board of directors for 13 years in a variety of roles. In 2016, Nancy was hired as the organization’s executive director. She has served on the AFHE Convention Committee since 2005 and has been the convention
director since 2012. One of her great joys is to encourage and equip parents as they endeavor to homeschool their own children. In addition, she takes great pride in the reputation AFHE has amongst speakers and vendors for having a well-run,
organized convention with an engaged community and sweet atmosphere. As a graduated homeschool mom and now a grandma, too, it is a joy to be able to continue to serve and support homeschooling parents and further the work of the statewide
homeschool organization in Arizona.
Homeschool Plus, Director
Margaret McLewin has over 30 years of experience in homeschooling as a parent and as the founding director of Homeschool Plus (HSP) in Norfolk, Virginia. HSP was one of the first enrichment centers for homeschooling in the country and continues
to innovate. It serves about 400 students within four unique programs: Enrichment, Academy, High School, and Brain Bridges. The Brain Bridges team of trained therapists serves students with learning challenges, addressing root causes and building
more competent, confident learners. Targeted therapies bring beneficial changes for learners struggling with attention, processing speed, memory, oral and written skills, auditory processing, dyslexia, ADHD, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia. Margaret
and her husband, Dr. Peter McLewin, homeschooled their five children through high school. Several immediate family members overcame learning difficulties and are thriving. The McLewins travel internationally, training leaders in the persecuted
church and advocating for educational concerns. They enjoy their eleven grandchildren, biking, kayaking, and sailing.
Homeschool Spanish Curriculum, Founder
Karim Morato, a homeschooling mother of three, is a certified native Spanish instructor with more than 20 years of teaching and classroom experience. She formerly taught Fairfax County (Virginia) Public School Immersion and International Baccalaureate
Spanish and obtained her M.Ed. in online curriculum and instruction and online learning. Karim is passionate about teaching students how to gain the skills to become confident bilingual Spanish speakers. In addition, she helps homeschooling
parents navigate the foreign-language aspects of homeschooling. Karim offers Spanish educational solutions through her K–12 online Spanish programs (https://homeschoolspanishcurriculum.com/).
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 U.S. and in Canada, and testified to legislatures regarding educational issues. He is a former university professor and classroom teacher. He holds a PhD in science education from Oregon State University.
Brian and his wife, Betsy, homeschooled their eight children and are now enjoying being grandparents.
Leadership Institute, Deputy Director of Digital Training
In his role as a deputy director at the Leadership Institute, Stephen Rowe trains thousands across the country every year in digital and political technology. Before joining LI, Stephen was the editor-in-chief of Hypeline, where he executed its
start-up and website redesign, and achieved over 12 million page views in one calendar year. Stephen has been awarded places on multiple 30 under 30 lists. His work has been featured on Fox News and Fox Business and in The Blaze, The Daily Caller, The Washington Times, Townhall, Breitbart,
and The Daily Wire. Stephen grew up in Montana, the Treasure State.
In two years, Mary Sayre will be finishing up her tenure as an active homeschooling mom! What began in 1989 as a year-by-year decision for her and her husband Rodger turned into a lifetime commitment of directing the education of their children.
Mary's journey has included a variety of unique scenarios, including teaching school-age children while trying to corral four preschoolers, meeting the Pennsylvania requirement of preparing and submitting six portfolios in one year, and directing
the education of a special-needs son. She has experienced the ups and downs of organizing and leading a homeschool coop and currently serves on the board of her local homeschool support group. In 2021 she will have completed 32 years of teaching
and successfully graduating, with a parent-issued diploma, all 11 of her children. While her personal homeschool journey is about to end, Mary’s heart is to successfully pass the baton to the next generation of homeschool leaders, encouraging
them to step into their leadership role with enthusiasm, conviction, and a vision for the future.
HSLDA, Staff Attorney
Tj was first taught at home in the 2nd grade by his parents in northern Vermont, and he was homeschooled nearly every year after that until he graduated. For much of that time, his family lived in foreign mission fields. Tj 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 answers general legal questions and assists members across the country experiencing legal difficulties. Tj and his wife, Susan,
have seven children: Josiah, Suzanna, Ella, Makenna, Jonah, Annika, and Ezra. They look forward to teaching all of their children at home.
Elizabeth Smith, wife of HSLDA President Mike Smith, taught three of her four children at home from 1981 to 1996, when the youngest entered college. For over 30 years, Elizabeth’s practical wisdom has encouraged audiences at homeschool conferences,
symposiums, and women’s retreats throughout the United States. Mike and Elizabeth have appeared several times on Focus on the Family’s radio program. She serves on the boards of Breakthrough (an intercessory prayer ministry), the
National Black Home Educators, the Family Foundation of Virginia (a pro-family policy council affiliated with Focus on the Family), and the State of Virginia Gideons International Leadership Team.
HSLDA, Senior Counsel
A follower of Christ since his conversion in 1971, Scott earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia in 1980. After working as an assistant attorney general for John Ashcroft and then working for a major regional insurance company,
Scott came to work for HSLDA in 1998.
At HSLDA, Scott has assisted thousands of home-educating families in dealings with child protective services investigators, police officers, truant officers, principals, superintendents,
and prosecuting attorneys. He has represented HSLDA members in court, and testified before many state legislatures on bills affecting the homeschool community.
Scott is a frequent speaker at homeschool conferences and on radio programs
across the country. He currently handles legal issues for HSLDA members in Virginia, Arkansas, Maryland, New Jersey, Idaho, Maine, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, South Dakota, Kansas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He also has extensive previous
experience dealing with members’ legal issues in Oklahoma, Indiana, Colorado, New Hampshire, Vermont, West Virginia, Massachusetts, and Michigan.
Scott is a member of the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States, and
he is licensed in Virginia and Missouri.
Scott and his wife, Jane, homeschooled all three of their adult children and have one little one still at home.