Insular Areas & Palau Annual Technical Assistance Meeting

Title: 2023 Insular Areas and Palau Technical Assistance Meeting

Date: Tuesday, March 14th – Thursday, March 16th, 2023

Time: 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM Eastern Time – view in your time zone


Registration Closed.

Hotel Block

We have secured government rate room blocks at two hotels – The Holiday Inn Capitol and the Hyatt Place National Mall. They are both within walking distance to the U.S. Department of Education. These hotel blocks are now CLOSED.





Dr. Tiffany T. Forrester


Dr. Tiffany T. Forrester has over fifteen years of experience in education policy and research, specifically in the areas of equity and access, diversity, subgroup accountability, federal, state, and local policy development, and legislative analysis. She has been with the Department for six years and is currently a Supervisory Management and Program Analyst serving as the Group Leader for the Insular Areas Team within the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. Dr. Forrester manages a portfolio of $1.5 billion in Federal education grants to the Insular Areas/Outlying Areas as well as the Freely Associated States. Prior to her tenure at the Department, Dr. Forrester served as the Director for Policy and Research at the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO), State Relations Manager for the Campaign for High School Equity,  Advocacy Specialist for the National Parent Teacher Association  where she launched a “Training the Trainer” advocacy initiative, and Director of Organizing at Advocates for Children and Youth where she worked with Maryland elected officials to pass legislation aimed at reducing disparities in school discipline. Dr. Forrester is passionate about equity and social justice and hopes to honor that passion through her service and leadership. She earned two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Virginia, a master’s degree from American University, and a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership: Policy and Administration from George Washington University. In her free time, she enjoys traveling (She has a goal to reach each continent) and spending time with family.

Dr. Patrick Carr

Patrick Carr is the Director of the Rural, Insular, and Native Achievement Programs division in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education. In this role he manages several programs that provide financial support and technical assistance to improve the educational outcomes of students, particularly students in rural and geographically isolated areas.

Office of Budget Service

Ian Soper

Ian Soper has been with the Department’s Office of Budget Service for over 20 years. He is an expert in the formulas for the Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies program, as well as for several other elementary and secondary education programs. Ian is also the budget analyst for the Insular Areas and the budget analyst for the Impact Aid, English Language Acquisition, Comprehensive Centers programs.

Mike Zawada

Mike Zawada has been with the Department’s Office of Budget Service for over 15 years. He is the budget analyst for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Rural Education, D.C. Opportunity Scholarships, American History and Civics, and Javits Gifted and Talented programs.

Ruth Ryder


Ruth Ryder is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Policy and Programs – Formula Grants in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) at the U.S. Department of Education.  OESE implements programs to support disadvantaged students under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act, In this role, Ms. Ryder oversees a broad range of management, policy, and program functions related to formula and discretionary grant programs under the ESEA. Ms. Ryder joined OESE in April 2019 and has responsibility for formula grants under Title I (Basic Grants, Assessment, Migrant and Neglected and Delinquent), II-A (Effective Educators), III-A (English Learners), IV-A (Student Support and Academic Enrichment), IV-B (21st Century Community Learning Centers) and National Activities for School Safety, Title V (Rural Education Achievement Program), Title VI (Indian Education) and Title VII (Impact Aid).  In addition, OFG administers numerous discretionary grants related to Titles I-VI, including the Comprehensive Centers and Equity Assistance Centers. Ms. Ryder was previously the deputy director of the Office of Special Education Programs in the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, which she joined in 1988. Prior to joining the Department, Ms. Ryder was a program administrator in a Washington state school district. Additionally, Ms. Ryder has been a special education consulting teacher and a general education classroom teacher.  Ms. Ryder has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and elementary education and a master’s degree in special education.

Dr. James F. Lane


James F. Lane, Ed. D. Senior Advisor, Office of the Secretary, Delegated the Authority to Perform the Functions and Duties of the Assistant Secretary, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Dr. James Lane most recently served as Virginia’s 25th Superintendent of Public Instruction, a position appointed by the Governor of Virginia. Prior to this appointment, Dr. Lane was a division superintendent in three school divisions in Virginia (Chesterfield, Goochland, and Middlesex Counties). Throughout his career, he has served as an Assistant Superintendent, Principal, and Assistant Principal after beginning his career as a Teacher/Band Director.

He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, and the University of Virginia.


Session I- Guidelines for Assessing “Reasonable and Necessary” Uses of Funds

Dr. Sandra Toro


Dr. Sandra Toro is a Management and Program Analyst in the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Grants Management Policy Division (GMPD), where she is a member of the GMPD Training Team and works with CFI Group on the Administration of the Grantee Satisfaction Survey. Prior to joining GMPD, she was the Data and Evaluation Team Lead for ED’s Office of Migrant Education, where she led data collection and analysis efforts as well as evaluation and related technical assistance for the HEP, CAMP, and MEP grant programs. She first worked for ED as an Education Program Specialist for Charter School Programs in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. Before joining ED, Dr. Toro was a Senior Program Officer at the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for over seven years, where she oversaw library grant programs – for Native American and Native Hawaiian communities for over three years – and was the research subject matter expert for the Office of Library Services. Prior to working at IMLS, Sandra was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), where she conducted research on how children and families learn outside of traditional school settings and taught courses on learning and development; the psychology of race and ethnicity; cognition and design of instruction; and the psychology of informal learning contexts. While at UWM, Dr. Toro was on loan to the National Science Foundation’s Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL) and oversaw research proposal review panels focused on STEM learning and technology use in informal settings.

Breakout Session II- Building Staff Capacity

Dr. Melly E. Wilson

 As Director of Research, Policy and Government Relations at PREL, Dr. Wilson oversees the design of research and statistical analysis plans for a variety of projects including experiments, survey research, psychometric studies, evaluations, and secondary analysis of administrative data. Dr. Wilson has deep knowledge of statutory requirements, regulations, and policies related to programs authorized under ESEA and current education issues and policy initiatives for supporting the implementation and scaling up of evidence-based programs, practices, and interventions. For the past 15 years, she has planned and executed research-based technical assistance, training, and coaching to education stakeholders across the Pacific region. Dr. Wilson currently serves as Director for the Region 19 Comprehensive Center (American Samoa, Hawaiʻi, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands), delivering intensive capacity building services in the areas of planning, performance and productivity; grants management, educational equity; educator effectiveness, migrant education; and distance education. 

Dr. Emerson Lopez Odango


Dr. Odango serves as Director of Languages and Literacies at PREL and as a Co-Director of the Region 18 Comprehensive Center, which provides capacity-building services to the Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Palau, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The Center’s service foci include strategic planning and performance management; Multilingual Learners support, bi/multilingualism policy and practice; and social emotional learning and trauma-informed practice. Dr. Odango also serves as the Principal Investigator for Transformative Advocates for STEAM Innovation & Knowledge, funded by the National Science Foundtion (NSF-2215554). His work on multiple federally funded projects spans the areas of equitable systems of support; Local Ecological Knowledge; place-based education; and Indigenous epistemology, pedagogy, and metalinguistic analysis. Dr. Odango graduated from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa with a PhD in Linguistics, and he holds a Certificate in Education Finance from the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University. Languages: English, wikang Tagalog (Tagalog/Filipino), and Kapasen Mwoshulók (Mortlockese).

Breakout Session III- Dual Diagnosed Student Needs: English Language Learners & Students with Disabilities

Amy Bae


Amy Bae is an Education Program Specialist in the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) at the U.S. Department of Education. In OSEP she supports States and Part C Lead Agencies to ensure effective implementation of IDEA Part B and C. She works across the Department supporting children who are dully identified as English learners with disabilities. Prior to coming to the Department, Amy taught English as a Second Language (ESL).

Session IV- New General Education Provisions Act (GEPA) Requirements

Kelly Terpak


Kelly Terpak is a policy liaison with the Grants Policy Office (GPO) in the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, serving as a liaison on the discretionary grant portfolios of the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education and Office of Special Education Programs. Prior to her role with GPO, Ms. Terpak oversaw multiple grant programs as the director of the Education Innovation Programs division of the Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII) that focused on innovation and the use and development of evidence. With the U.S. Department of Education since 2004, she has served as a program officer with the Investing in Innovation program, Teaching American History, Teacher Quality Partnership, and Congressional earmarks. Ms. Terpak has a bachelor’s degree in History from St. Mary’s College of California and a master’s degree in Government from Johns Hopkins University. 

Session V- National Comprehensive Center Resources and Opportunities for the Outlying Areas and Palau

Dr. Allison Crean Davis


Dr. Allison Crean Davis, Vice President at Westat, specializes in evaluation, capacity-building, survey research, and predictive analytics. Dr. Crean Davis currently directs the U.S. Department of Education’s National Comprehensive Center and The Wallace Foundation-funded Summer Learning and Enrichment Study. In prior work, Dr. Crean Davis was a Partner at Bellwether Education Partners, leading their evaluation practice, and the Director of Data Systems and Development for the U.S. Department of Education’s North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, helping educators engage in evidence-based systemic change and continuous improvement at all levels.

Dr. Jill Lammert


Dr. Jill Lammert is an Associate Director in the Education Studies practice at Westat. She has 20+ years of experience designing, conducting, and evaluating programs to support education policy and reform, plus providing exceptional capacity-building and evaluation expertise. Dr. Lammert is Co-Director of the National Comprehensive Center and also Co-Director of the Center to Improve Program and Project Performance, which delivers evaluation technical assistance to Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) grantees to help them measure performance and improve outcomes for students with disabilities.

Chris Dwyer


Chris Dwyer leads capacity building for the National Comprehensive Center, including the NCC’s Accelerated Learning work group. She also co-leads the Equity and School Improvement Community of Practice with colleagues, Dr. Donna Elam and Dr. Carol Keirstead. Chris is senior vice president of RMC Research and has a long career that has focused on literacy, early childhood, and school improvement.

Danielle Crain


Ms. Danielle Crain has more than 15 years of experience providing technical assistance to support policy development, systems improvement, and addressing equity issues. On the National Center She coordinates the efforts of the other three CCNetwork Liaisons with the work through the National Comprehensive Center. She regularly communicates with her four assigned Regional Centers to gather important information about needs, trends, successes, and stories arising through Regional Centers work with clients and recipients. She also is a key member of the Evidence-Based Interventions: Using ARP Resources to Accelerate Learning Community of Practice leadership team. Ms. Crain also provides technical assistance on improving fiscal reporting to states via conference calls, emails, webinars, and on-site visits for the Center for IDEA Fiscal Reporting (CIFR). Ms. Crain also serves as Targeted Technical Assistance Lead on the Equity Assistance Center- South.

Breakout Session VI- Grant Closeout Preparation

Adam Graham


Adam Graham is a Management and Program Analyst within the Grants Management and Policy Division (GMPD), in the Office of Financial Operations at the Department of Education. He is a liaison for the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, lead for issues related to Human Subject Research, and member of the GMPD Training Team. Previously he worked at the National Institutes of Health as a Grants Policy Officer and Grants Management Specialist. He has a master’s degree from American University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida.

Breakout Session VII- Developing Monitoring Plan and Protocols

Daniel Behrend

Dan Behrend works on the Monitoring and Risk Team in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE). Prior to joining OESE’s Office of State Support in 2016, Dan worked at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Dan taught middle school students in Henderson, NC for three years, before returning to school to earn law and Master of Public Policy degrees.

Shane Morrisey

Shane Morrisey is the Director of the Management Support Office in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. He has been working for the Department of Education for almost nine years. Shane is a licensed attorney, and prior to joining the Department he spent two years serving as a volunteer with the Peace Corps in Morocco.

Jedidiah Sorokin-Altmann, Esq.

Jed Sorokin-Altmann has been with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education since 2013. Since 2019, Jed has been OESE’s Audit Liaison Officer. In his spare time, Jed enjoys reading and playing the ukulele. 

Session VIII- Internal Control Practices and Procedures

David Downey

David J. Downey is a management analyst in the Grants Management Policy Division in the Office of Finance at the U.S. Department of Education. With a career spanning nearly 30-years of government service, Mr. Downey has worked in virtually every facet of grants administration. He is currently responsible for developing and conducting grant related training tutorials for prospective grant applicants, grantees, members of Congress, their constituents as well as Federal and State personnel working with discretionary and formula grant programs.

Mr. Downey previously served in the Office of Management and Budget and provided leadership on various White House Initiatives at the Department.

During his career, Mr. Downey has trained over 100,000 individuals on the principles of grant writing and grants administration across the country and countless more through computer-based trainings and webinars.

Mr. Downey is a 1993 graduate of Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky where he received a BA in History and a minor in Communications. 

Presentation Materials

“Guidelines for Assessing “Reasonable and Necessary” Uses of Funds

“Building Staff Capacity”

“Dual Diagnosed Student Needs: English Language Learners & Students with Disabilities”

“New General Education Provisions Act (GEPA) Requirements”

“National Comprehensive Center Resources and Opportunities for the Outlying Areas and Palau”

“Grant Closeout Preparation”

“Developing Monitoring Plan and Protocols”

“Internal Control Practices and Procedures”