General Sessions & Keynote Speaker
CEC 2022 will feature 3 general sessions and a dynamic keynote speaker.
The Opening General Session is a reflection on CEC's impact over 100 years on the field of special education. Featuring CEC leaders and partners, “A Gathering of Kindred Spirits” will include a look at CEC’s advocacy, history, and community— celebrating the past 100 years of CEC and looking towards the next 100 with our new Strategic Plan. Please join us for a reception and the opening of the Expo Hall immediately following.
Dr. Cierra Kaler-Jones, Ph.D. is a social justice educator, scholar, and artist based in Washington, DC. As a community-based researcher, Dr. Kaler-Jones’s research broadly focuses on how to create and sustain educational spaces rooted in joy and love, while refuting control and management tactics in schools that deny young people opportunities for creativity and critical consciousness-building. Her heart’s work includes running a program which uses art and education to fuel social change through the co-creation of healing-centered spaces for and with Black girls and TGNC (transgender, non-conforming) young people.
Over the past ten years, Cierra has learned alongside preschoolers, K-12 students, college students, and adults. In 2015, she served as a fellow with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. In her current role, Cierra is the Director of Storytelling for Communities for Just Schools Fund, a donor collaborative that resources education justice organizing across the country.
Dr. Kaler-Jones’s writing is featured in online outlets and can also be found in peer-reviewed journals like the Middle School Journal and books including Strong Black Girls: Reclaiming Schools in Their Own Image and Black Girl Civics: Expanding and Navigating the Boundaries of Civic Engagement.
In 2015, she created and implemented a residence life program at The George Washington University, called the Speak Your Truth series, which gave hundreds of students a space to discuss social justice issues through monthly events grounded in a storytelling for social justice framework. She took her love of storytelling in all its forms and founded Unlock Your Story, an organization that offers coaching, consulting, and community aimed at helping people tap into the stories that they are bravely meant to share with the world.
When Cierra’s not conducting research, writing, dancing, or leading workshops, she loves to read, deepen her yoga practice, and spend time in nature.
Each year at the CEC Convention & Expo, the Yes I Can Awards recognize 12 outstanding students with exceptionalities in six categories: Academics, Arts, School & Community Activities, Self-Advocacy, Technology, and Transition. Join us as CEC leaders interview this year's recipients and celebrate their incredible achievements.
Thank you to Pearson for their continued support of the Yes I Can Awards!