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Portrait of Dr. Ruby Payne Ph.D., Ruby is a distinguished speaker and author on the topics of poverty in classrooms, communities, businesses and more.

Dr. Ruby Payne


Ruby empowers educators and community leaders around the globe to address issues of poverty in classrooms, communities, businesses, hospitals, churches, and social services.  Over her distinguished career, Ruby has worked as a teacher and principal, written K–12 curriculum in all subject areas, and assisted in strategic planning and staff development programs for multiple organizations.  She is the founder of aha! Process.

The first 250 registrants will receive at the conference, a FREE copy of her current book Emotional Poverty, which won an IPPY Award from the Independent Publishers organization and was named one of the best educational resources of the year.  Be empowered by empathy.  Implement Ruby Payne’s proven practices.  Write your students’ future story with dynamic tools and hope.

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DeShanna Reed, EdD


I have 18+ years as a special education teacher including providing transition to life skills for adulthood; over 4 years as a general, math and science elementary classroom teacher, including over 3 years as a curriculum and instructional leader and administrator.  I establish and develop strong relationships with students and communicate with parents regularly about their child's learning progress, needs, and concerns.  I conduct interventions and tutorial sessions based on data analysis of student performance.  I enjoy working collaboratively with parents, school, and community committees on all student learning and success.



  • Special Education, EC-12

  • Generalist, EC-6th grade

  • Generalist, 4th-8th grade

  • Teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)

  • ESL Supplemental

  • Board Certification in Advocacy for Special Education (BCASE), National Association of Special Education Teachers, American Association of Special Education Professionals

Natalia Gómez Ramback


Natalia Gómez Ramback joined Raise Your Hand Texas in 2021 and is the Senior Regional Advocacy Director for Houston. She brings an advocate’s heart, passion, and extensive knowledge about Texas public education to her work. For more than 18 years, Natalia served as a public school educator and leader; she was a bilingual Pre-Kindergarten teacher, and her most recent post before joining Raise Your Hand, was as an elementary principal of a dual-language campus.

Natalia has been a Raise Your Hand Texas Alumnus since 2014, participating first as a member in the Raising School Leaders program where she attended the Harvard Graduate School of Education Institute: The Art of School Leadership. Additionally she was selected to serve as a member of the Principal Advocacy Fellowship in 2019.

Natalia received a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies with a Specialization in Bilingual Education from Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, and her masters degree in Educational Leadership from Concordia University.

Natalia and her husband Tim live in Houston and enjoy cooking and entertaining with friends and family. They also have two furry kids (aka dogs), Chica & Lola.

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Dr. Francisco Usero-González, Ph.D


Francisco Usero Gonzalez, Ph.D, has several B.A. degrees in Education as well as M.Eds in Hispanic and English studies. His research interest surrounds multilingual and multicultural education and its different models, programs, and interventions at all levels. He is particularly interested in examining culturally and linguistically responsive approaches to help Hispanic bilingual students’ education and development and the influence of socio-cultural factors on the family engagement in diverse school communities through the innovative use of Instructional Technology. Through his scientific training and teaching experience -national and internationally- he increased his knowledge and experience surrounding bi-literacy program design and implementation and world languages. Dr. Usero-González has participated in national and international educational conferences and published several papers in international educational journals.


Dr. Laurie Ballering, EdD


My expertise includes both K-12 and nonprofit central office leadership as well as extensive special education experience as a teacher, diagnostician, and administrator.  I have developed programs, trained staff, and evaluated the effectiveness of strategies that improve college readiness, access, and success for underrepresented students.


  • Elementary self-contained (grades 1-8)

  • Elementary Reading (grades 1-8)

  • Intellectually Disabled (Pk-12)

  • Language Learning Disabled (Pk-12)

  • Mid-Management Administration (Pk-12)

  • Educational Diagnostician (Pk-12)


Dr. Wren Bump


Wren M. Bump, PhD is a diagnostician and learning specialist of Dynamics Learners, (DL) in the metropolitan area of Houston, Texas. Dr. Bump earned her doctoral degree in educational psychology and educational technology at Texas A&M University and a Master of Science degree in special education at the University of Houston-Clear Lake and a Master of Science degree in educational administration at Lamar University. She was a clinical assistant professor at Texas Southern University, the University of Houston, and the University of Houston–Clear Lake. She is an instructor in the Vocational Advancement and Skills Training Academy (VAST) for differently-abled individuals at Houston Community College.

Wren has almost 40 years of experience working with learners of all ages. She began her career as a public school teacher in elementary and middle school grades. As a classroom and special education teacher, she created individual learning plans to assist struggling learners to succeed by getting to know how they learn best and scaffolding their learning processes. She has conducted numerous workshops for teachers, parents, administrators, and community leaders nationally and internationally on topics such as technology integration, active learning, brain and learning research, and universal design for learning. Wren has created numerous tutorials and training materials, as well as curriculum programs from elementary to college level.

As a diagnostician, Wren conducts diagnostic analysis and prescribes personalized learning solutions for our students. Wren attends brain and learning research seminars and provides professional development training for DL on this important research. Encouraging and inspiring students to keep trying is Wren’s passion for developing learners who take ownership of their learning progress and accomplishments.


Karen Coffey


Karen has a MA  in Special Education, UHCL, a MA in Counseling, Liberty University, and a BS in Elementary Education, University of North Texas.  She was the Director of Intervention at Goose Creek ISD for 31 years until she recently retired.  She was responsible for dyslexia, Section 504, response to intervention, positive behavior support and the Pre-K program.    She studied Pre-Kindergarten Education at Howard Payne University and Principalship at UHCL.



Sandra Duree is a lifetime educator committed to excellence in education.  Over the course of her career, she has served as a teacher, curriculum coordinator, principal, and a national consultant providing workshops in the areas of Reading, Writing, School Reform, and Leadership.  For the past 15 years, she has worked in Barbers Hill ISD where she serving as the Deputy Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction prior to her retirement at the end of 2021.

Sandra Duree

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Stacey Evans


Stacey Evans has been educating, advocating, and caring for kids of all ages, who are impacted by Dyslexia, for over two decades.  After receiving her teaching degree from Texas A&M in 1997, she began teaching junior high and coaching girls' athletics in Conroe ISD at the Woodlands High School, Knox Junior High and Branch Crossing Junior High. When Dyslexia began to impede the academic success of her children, she chose to put her teaching career on hold and spend the next several years figuring out how to ensure her children received the best education possible.  Now, she is the founder and director of A Brighter Education for Dyslexia,  where she empowers, educates, and instills hope to families impacted by dyslexia.  Stacy enjoys giving back to the community and sharing the knowledge gained by her own personal journey.

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Lori Smith


I am a dedicated and compassionate professional with a strong commitment to nurturing the social and emotional well-being of students. With a master’s degree in counseling and development, I have the knowledge and skills to provide exceptional support and guidance to students, helping them thrive academically and socially, and emotionally. With ten years of experience in education, including specialized training in special education, I have a deep understanding of the unique needs of diverse learners. I’ve had the privilege of working with students from various backgrounds, helping them overcome challenges and succeed.

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