The Southwest Washington Special Education Conference and Resource Fair owes a special thanks to the conference committee members.
John Krejcha, Autism Empowerment
John Krejcha is the co-founder of Autism Empowerment, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit located in Vancouver, WA that serves individuals and families within the Autism and Asperger communities locally, nationally and worldwide . He currently serves as Programs Director and oversees the Autism and Scouting Program. John has two sons on the autism spectrum and has been married for 21 years to Karen Krejcha who is also on the autism spectrum with Asperger’s. In 2013, John co-authored the Autism and Scouting Leadership Training Kit that scouting units from Florida to Alaska as well as overseas are using to support boys, girls and adults in scouting who are on the autism spectrum. These kits have been sent to a variety of different types of scouting units worldwide. In addition to his volunteer work with Autism Empowerment, he also volunteers at his youngest son’s school teaching beginning chess. John has also served for eight years with the Boy Scouts in a variety of leadership roles. His newest role has him serving on the National Disability Awareness Committee that helps shape national policies. One fun fact, John Loves Hippos!
Karen Krejcha, Autism Empowerment
Karen Krejcha is Executive Director of Autism Empowerment, a 501(c)(3) non-profit Karen and her husband, John co-founded in Vancouver, WA in June 2011. Autism Empowerment is dedicated to making life more meaningful for children, teens and adults in the Autism and Asperger communities and offers in-person and online trainings, support groups, special events and a variety of programs. She is host of Autism Empowerment Radio, a national podcast which features educational and inspirational programming. Karen was published as an Aspie Mentor in “Been There, Done That, Try This, An Aspie’s Guide to Life on Earth” (2014), was co-author of the “Autism and Scouting Leadership Training Kit” (2013) and had a story in “Chicken Soup for the Soul – 101 Inspirational Stories for Parents of Children with Autism and Asperger’s” (2013). She currently serves on the Editorial Advisory Board of Spectrums Magazine and has been part of the Clark County Leadership Development & Advocacy Training Program for developmental disability advocates since 2012. Karen was diagnosed on the autism spectrum later in life after her two sons (now 7 and 14) were diagnosed in 2008. She was awarded with the 2012 GRASP (Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership) Distinguished Spectrumite Medal and was also honored as a 2013 Washington state Jefferson Award winner for public service.
Annie Lamberto, Battle Ground Public Schools
Annie Lamberto is a Life Skills teacher at Prairie High School in the Battle Ground School District. She works with students aged 16-21, addressing vocational skills, independent living skills, and social skills. Annie has been a special education teacher for the past 18 years, beginning her career in Broward County, Florida. She has experience in a variety of special education fields, including working with behavior disorders, autism spectrum disorders, at-risk students, resource classrooms, and self-contained classrooms. Annie has been the adviser for the after school environmental program, Earth Rangers and the ASL Club. She holds a B.Ed. in Varying Exceptionalities , a M.Ed. in Technology, and is a Certified Autism Specialist. In 2013, Annie achieved National Board Teacher Certification as an Exceptional Needs Specialist. Annie lives in Vancouver with her two cats, Apollo and Starbuck. Her son, Tyler, is a student in the Firefighter Program at Portland Community College.
Kelli Marshall, Battle Ground Public Schools
Craig Mills, Miracle League of Vancouver
Over 30 years’ accomplished Sales, Marketing and Business Development Executive with expertise in launches planning, forecasting building client relationships, outstanding programs and sales teams. He has worked as a Director, Consultant and managing several executive Midmarket CIO conferences regional and National level. He also worked in remote Alaska with Southwest Regional School District in direct communication and training in the maintenance field with the Yupik Eskimos in Bristol Bay region and was Operation manager of the Egan Convention Center in Anchorage, Alaska for many years. He was in charge of all aspects of building Food and Beverage, Marketing, Sales and Operation. At this time he is the League Director of the Miracle League of Vancouver Washington. The Miracle League is dedicated to promoting the health and well-being of individuals with disabilities while educating the public and promoting a greater understanding of matters concerning individuals with disabilities.
Kelli Nye, Vancouver Public Schools
Kelli Nye has been teaching for 7 years with Vancouver Public Schools. She is currently teaching in the Supported Communication Program for students with high-functioning autism and other related disabilities. Kelli loves teaching students social skills and self-regulation strategies to support them in the general education classrooms. She received her Masters in Special Education at Western Oregon University in 2006. Kelli is the proud mom of two amazing kids and enjoys spending her free time playing at the park and going on hikes.
Lamees Shahtout, Battle Ground Public Schools
Lamees Shahtout is a Life Skills teacher at Prairie High School. This is her second year teaching and first year at Prairie. She lives in Portland, Oregon and enjoys jogging, movies, and reading. Lamees has a black lab named Coal.
Patty Sprenkel, Battle Ground Public Schools
Patty Sprenkel is a Special Education Teacher at Amboy Middle School in the Battle Ground School District. She has worked in the field of special education in California and Washington for over 20 years. In that time, Patty has provided support to individuals of various ages and ability levels. Her work has included: special education teacher, behavior analyst, educational interpreter, job coach, ILS instructor, and direct support professional. In 2010, Patty earned her M.A. in Special Education from the University of the Pacific.
Patty Trotter, Battle Ground Public Schools
Patti Trotter is the job coach supporting the Life Skills Program at Prairie High School. She is the co-chair of the SW WA Sped Conference. Patti loves spending her work day with students and addressing their vocational skills off campus.