Descriptions of the actual keynote talks are in the conference schedule.


Pat Farenga

Conference Co-Chair and Opening Keynote

Pat Farenga and his wife have three girls, ages 23, 20, and 17. In addition to writing for GWS for twenty years, he has written many articles and book chapters for publications as diverse as Mothering magazine, Paths of Learning magazine, Home Education MagazineThe Bulletin of Science, Technology, and Society and The Encyclopedia of School Administration. He has also published and edited several popular books about homeschooling including his own book, The Beginner’s Guide To Homeschooling. Farenga’s recent work includes a cassette tape, A History of Homeschooling and How You Can Become Part of It (Tape one of The Singing Turtle Homeschool Starter Kit, 2002) and a chapter in A Parent’s Guide To Homeschooling (Mars Publishing, 2002). His most recent book is Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling (Perseus, May 2003). Farenga wrote the article about homeschooling for the International Encyclopedia of Education, 3rd Edition, due in Fall, 2009.

Farenga also appears on local and national television and radio shows as a homeschooling expert; he has appeared on The Today ShowThe Voice of America, NPR's The Merrow Report, and CNN's Parenting Today. Farenga has been quoted as an expert on homeschooling many times in the national media. Farenga has addressed audiences about homeschooling and the work of John Holt throughout the United States, Canada, England, and Italy.

Farenga now works as a writer, speaker, and education onsultant. Visit for the latest writing and information about Pat's work.



David Albert

Board Chairman
Friendly Water for the World

David H. Albert is a husband, father, writer, and storyteller. He is the author of five books on homeschooling and alternative education – Dismantling the Inner School: Homeschooling and the Curriculum of Abundance (Hunt Press, 2012); What Really Matters (with Joyce Reed, The Alternate Press, 2010); Have Fun. Learn Stuff. Grow. Homeschooling and the Curriculum of Love (Common Courage Press, 2006); Homeschooling and the Voyage of Self-Discovery (Common Courage Press, 2003); and And the Skylark Sings with Me: Adventures in Homeschooling and Community Based-Education (New Society Publishers, 1999). He has edited two books about the uses of storytelling, The Healing Heart ~ Families and The Healing Heart ~ Communities (New Society Publishers, 2003), and edited a book about land reform struggles among Dalits (so-called “untouchables”) in South India - The Color of Freedom (Common Courage Press, 2005) - with which he has been associated for almost 35 years. (To learn about the work, visit the foundation he founded at  His writing has appeared in scores of magazines and journals worldwide, ranging from Life Learning Magazine to the Journal of the American Philosophical Society, and he writes a regular column “My Word” for Home Education Magazine. He holds lots of prestigious degrees, which he is willing to trade for exotic musical instruments, and was the founder of New Society Publishers (, and he is still singing opera. His homeschooling website is

David lives in Olympia, Washington with wife and partner Ellen, fewer pets - now only Welsh Terrier Remy, Echo the eight-year-old bunny who thinks he’s a dog, and Ugo the American Singer canary - and tours the world, spreading trouble. He serves as Board Chairman of Friendly Water for the World ( where he promotes the use of biosand water filters, a low-cost, locally produced, household technology that can reduce bacterial and viral contaminants in drinking water among the world’s poor by up to 99%. (He trains homeschooling and other families in the work as well.)  So you may find him virtually anywhere from South India to South Sudan.


Clark Aldrich

Founder and Managing Partner
Clark Aldrich Designs

Clark Aldrich is one of the top educational simulation and interface designers in the world.  As well as the founder and Managing Partner of Clark Aldrich Designs, Aldrich is a global education visionary, industry analyst, and speaker who serves on boards of universities, of companies, and in the intelligence community (where he has Top Secret clearance).

Clients include Cisco, Microsoft, Motorola, Department of Defense, Center for Army Leadership, Harvard Business School Publishing, HP, Shell, GM, UPS, McDonald's, and World Anti-Doping Agency.

Aldrich is also the author of five book, including Unschooling Rules: 55 Ways to Unlearn What We Know About Schools and Rediscover Education.  He is editor of, a free database of simulations and serious games.  He has been called a 'guru' by Fortune Magazine and a 'maverick' by CNN.  Aldrich and his work have been featured in hundreds of other sources, including CBS, ABC, The New York Times, USA Today, AP, Wall Street Journal, NPR, CNET, Business 2.0, BusinessWeek, and U.S. News and World Report.

Previously, Aldrich was the founder and former director of research for Gartner’s e-learning coverage. He earned from Brown University a degree in Cognitive Science (during which he also taught at a leading environmental education foundation), and earlier in his career worked on special projects for Xerox' executive team. He also served for many years as the Connecticut Governor's representative on the education task force Joint Committee on Educational Technology and volunteered on several non-profit organizations aimed at child advocacy.


Cindy Gaddis

Cindy Gaddis is a 20-year home education veteran and mother of seven right-brained children, ages 12-26. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, and their family lives in a log house on 15 acres in beautiful central North Carolina. A passionate advocate for understanding and honoring the natural learning path for creative, right-brained children, Cindy is a popular conference speaker and blogger on the subject. She has helped thousands of learning different children flourish and thrive and find joy in learning as parents and teachers applied her information. Cindy has recently published her first book, The Right Side of Normal, in order to reach many more who want to benefit from strengths-based learning for right-brained children. You can find her at or at



Peter Gray

Research Professor
Boston College

Peter Gray, research professor of psychology at Boston College, has conducted and published research in a wide range of fields, including neuroendocrinology, animal behavior, developmental psychology, anthropology, and education. He is author of a highly regarded college textbook, Psychology (Worth Publishers), now in its 6th edition. Most of his recent research and writing has to do with the value of free, unsupervised play for children’s healthy social, emotional, and intellectual development. He has expanded on these ideas extensively, for the general public, in his recently-published book, Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life (Basic Books, 2013)-- He also authors a regular blog for Psychology Today magazine.

Peter Gray grew up mosly in small towns in Minnesota and Wisconsin, where he had a rich childhood play life, which, he believes, prepared him well for adulthood. He did his undergraduate study at Columbia University and then earned a Ph.D. in biological sciences at the Rockefeller University, in New York City. His career since then has been centered entirely at Boston College. His play life continues, not only in the joy he derives from research and writing, but also in his enjoyment of long-distance bicycling, backwoods skiing, pond skating, kayaking, and backyard vegetable gardening.


Jerry Mintz

Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO)

Jerry Mintz has been a leading voice in the alternative school movement for over 30 years. In addition to his seventeen years as a public school teacher and a public and independent alternative school principal, he has also founded several alternative schools and organizations and has lectured and consulted around the world.

In 1989, he founded the Alternative Education Resource Organization and since then has served as its Director. Jerry was the first executive director of the National Coalition of Alternative Community Schools (NCACS), and was a founding member of the International Democratic Education Conference (IDEC).

In addition to several appearances on national radio and TV shows, Jerry’s essays, commentaries, and reviews have appeared in numerous newspapers, journals, and magazines including The New York Times, Newsday, Paths of Learning, Green Money Journal, Communities, Saturday Review, Holistic Education Review as well as the anthology Creating Learning Communities (Foundation for Educational Renewal, 2000).

Jerry was Editor-in-Chief for the Handbook of Alternative Education (Macmillan, 1994), and the Almanac of Education Choices (Macmillan/Simon & Schuster, 1995). He is the author of No Homework and Recess All Day: How to Have Freedom and Democracy in Education (AERO, 2003) and is editor of Turning Points: 35 Visionaries in Education Tell Their Own Story (AERO, 2010).


Elliot Washor

Co-Founder and Co-Director
The Big Picture Company

Elliot Washor, Ed.D. is the co-founder and co-director of The Big Picture Company in Providence, Rhode Island. He is also the co-founder of The Met Center in Providence, RI.

Elliot has been involved in school reform for more than 35 years as a teacher, principal, administrator, superintendent, video producer, writer, and speaker.  He has taught and is interested in all levels of school from kindergarten through college, in urban and rural settings, across all disciplines. His work has spanned across school design, learning environments, practice, and authentic assessment.  He is supporting others doing similar work throughout the world.  Elliot’s interests lie in the field of how schools can connect with communities to understand tacit and disciplinary learning both in and outside of school.

His professional development programs won the “Innovations in State and Local Government Award” from the Ford Foundation and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He has been selected as an educator to watch in Rhode Island and has been selected as one of the “Daring Dozen– The Twelve Most Daring Educators” by the George Lucas Education Foundation.

His dissertation, “Innovative Pedagogy and New Facilities,” won the merit award from DesignShare, the international forum for innovative schools.

His is the co-author with Charles Mojkowski of Leaving To Learn: How to Increase Student Engagement and Reduce the Dropout Rate.

Elliot lives in sunny San Diego with his wife and five dogs.



Yale Wishnick

Southwest Institute for Violence Free Learning (SWIVL)

Yale Steven (Y.S.) Wishnick has over 30 years of experience with public and private organizations around the country. His experiences include policy development, labor relations, Preschool through higher education, personnel matters, strategic planning, and individual and organizational goal setting and coaching.   Dr. Wishnick has worked with community, state, and national organizations at both the macro and micro levels. As a strength-based coach, he has worked with individuals, teams, and large groups to resolve conflicts, increase collaboration, and solve problems.

Wishnick is convinced that every individual can be successful by focusing on their strengths and positive experiences and less on deficits and weaknesses.  Wishnick has dedicated his life to enhancing the value of each individual within a framework of mutually shared respect, support and trust.

Most recently, he directed the California Teachers Association Institute for Teaching, a think tank dedicated to improving the quality of education for all children. During his work with teachers, administrators, students, parents, and community and business leaders, Wishnick found we cannot improve our schools through traditional methods. He determined that the challenges facing our schools are not that different from the problems we face in our economy, health care system, legal, and political framework.

Working in the schools taught Wishnick a major lesson, which he believes is fundamental, if America is to return to its greatness.  The lesson is you cannot create success by becoming an expert on what’s broken and you cannot understand greatness by focusing on failure. He also learned that individual liberty is not something that can be marginalized.

Wishnick believes every individual is ultimately responsible for their own success and that only when this is clearly understood will Americans be motivated to act on their own behalf. Success occurs when individuals have the freedom to maximize their strengths through hard work and perseverance. With liberty comes the opportunity to use one’s strengths which offers all Americans the opportunity to create their culture of success.

Dr. Wishnick is the author of numerous articles and is here today to discuss with us the fundamental ideas in his new book, From a Culture of Dependency to a Culture of Success - Focusing on What’s Right About American and the American people.

WIth his wife, Dr. Kathleen Wishnick, they are the Co-Founders of the Southwest Institute for ViolenceFree Learning (SWIVL), an animal sanctuary and education center in Arivaca, Arizona.


  • Leslie Barson

  • Monica Cochran

  • Meredith Collins

  • Jamie McMillin

  • Sorina Oprean
  • Carlo Ricci

  • Paula Rothermel 

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