We are delighted to have these distinguished speakers with us at the 2021 National Leaders Conference!
To learn more about each speaker, click on their picture. And be sure to check back often for updates!
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.
Mike initially served as HSLDA’s lawyer for California, defending homeschoolers in the courts and state legislature. In 1987 he became HSLDA’s vice president and, in 2000, its president. He continues to serve California homeschoolers, and is HSLDA’s lawyer for Nevada and Puerto Rico as well.
Shaun Alexander was born in Florence, Kentucky. He and his older brother were raised by their mother, Carol, in a single-parent home. Shaun was a high school football All-American and the ESPN #1 high school player of the year. He graduated in 1999 from the University of Alabama's Culverhouse College of Business with a marketing degree. On the field, he was All-SEC first team in 1998 and 1999. In 1999 he was the SEC Player of the Year and named to the NCAA College Football All-America Team. He left Alabama as their all-time rushing and touchdown leader. Shaun still holds the record for most yards in a game from his freshman game versus Louisiana State University and for most touchdowns in a game from his junior-year opening game versus Brigham Young University.
In 2000, Shaun was drafted in the first round to the Seattle Seahawks. As a Seahawks running back, he was a three-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time All-Pro. He set an NFL touchdown record (28) in 2005 and became the first Seahawks player to win the NFL MVP, leading the Seahawks to their first Super Bowl appearance that same year. He is a member of the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team and is one of the top NFL scorers of all time, one of nine to have 100 or more NFL rushing touchdowns.
Shaun is the award-winning author of The Walk and Touchdown Alexander. He and his family now partner with organizations to share the message of Jesus, fathering, marriage, community, leadership, manhood, true success, and the power of a team through their ministry, Amazing Grace Families. Shaun and his wife, Valerie, have 11 children and live outside of Washington, D.C., in Northern Virginia.
Valerie Alexander was born and raised in Seattle, Washington, where she met and married her husband, Shaun Alexander. She finds joy in being able to raise and instruct her children to love the Lord through the avenues of stay-at-home motherhood and homeschooling. During the day you can find her managing her household, instructing her children, and discipling young ladies and mothers. Her biggest blessings in life are the gift of salvation and redemption the Lord gave her at a young age and that of her husband and family. Valerie’s greatest desire is to glorify God with her entire life and to train children willing to do the same.
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.
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 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 at churches, Bible conferences, Christian education conventions, and corporate gatherings. He is the author of Raise Up a Child, Crucible: The Choices That Change Your Life Forever, Detour: Finding Purpose When Life Doesn’t Make Sense, Chosen: When God Calls Your Name, and Revolution: How Millennials Can Change the World.
Phil is also deeply involved in his home church, The Bridge, in Lawrenceville, Georgia, where he occasionally teaches and preaches. His unique blend of biblical instruction, real-life illustrations, and spontaneous humor makes learning easy and enjoyable.
Phil and his wife, Ellen, have two adult children, Emily and Philip, a daughter-in-law, Erika, and two grandchildren.