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MindShift 2020
Virtual Gathering

October 20 & October 22
12:00PM & 5:30PM EST/USA

An invite only virtual event for Christian education leaders working to catalyze innovative change in our schools

Register Today

Virtual Gathering

With the world radically changed due to COVID-19, plans to gather in person have been put on hold. Instead, this fall we will host a virtual conference by invitation only, on Tuesday and Thursday, October 20 and 22, respectively (with sessions offered at 12 noon and 5:30pm, Eastern USA).

The purpose of the conference is to both provide sessions related to the recent book, MindShift: Catalyzing Change in Christian Education, as well as push beyond the book to raise pressing and often controversial questions facing Christian schools, educators, and students. We sometimes refer to these as “mind blown” questions.

About MindShift

MindShift is an organic, informal, and international network of Christian education leaders working to catalyze innovative change in our schools. We provide forums for like-minded Christian education leaders—and friends who care about the mission of Christian education—to converse, convene, and collaborate.


Using a flipped model, sessions will feature a pre-recorded keynote to be viewed by attendees prior to the conference, and then a 60-minute engagement session with panels and discussion groups led by school and field leaders.

Pre-Conference Welcome: Setting the Stage
Pre-Conference Welcome
Conflict as Opportunity? Recovering the Ever So Relevant Ministry of Reconciliation

Michael Gulker

President, The Colossian Forum

Rev. Michael Gulker is President of The Colossian Forum. He has a long-standing interest in the oft-times contentious intersection of faith and culture and how both thrive best when rooted in worship. Michael has, during his ten years leading The Colossian Forum, become a leader turning conflict into opportunity for both deeper discipleship and more beautiful witness. The Colossian Forum has equipped hundreds of church leaders and thousands of laypeople in transformative Christian practices that harness the energy of everyday conflicts for positive spiritual formation. A native of West Michigan, he studied philosophy and theology at Calvin College, has a divinity degree from Duke Divinity School, and is an ordained Mennonite pastor.

Before coming to The Colossian Forum, Michael served as pastor of Christ Community Church in Des Moines, Iowa. He and his wife Jodie have two children.

Tuesday, October 20, 12:00PM EST/USA
Session 1
Isolated to Networked: Update from the UK

Andy Wolfe

Deputy Chief Education Officer

Andy Wolfe is the Deputy Chief Education Officer (Leadership Development) for the Church of England Foundation for Educational Leadership. He joined the foundation from the Nottingham Emmanuel School, where he worked for 10 years, initially as a middle leader, before being appointed Vice Principal, overseeing the development of Teaching and Learning and the school’s Christian ethos. He brings a wealth of leadership experience to his senior role across the wider Church of England Education Office, and is committed to combining rich theological reflection with the most incisive and creative approaches to improving teaching, learning, and leadership in schools.

Emily Norman

Head of Networks

Emily Norman is the Head of Networks for the Church of England Foundation for Educational Leadership, where she brings together school leaders from around England to think collaboratively about what it means to put a Christian vision into practice. She is passionate about the wellbeing of school leaders and enabling them to have the confidence to implement what they believe to be right for their students, rooted in gospel values.
Session 2
Machine to Human: What Does Love Require?

Justin Cook

Director of Learning

Justin joined the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools in 2013 as the Director of Learning. Justin now partners with Edvance affiliate schools in a vision of learning for flourishing communities, supporting schools to develop a learning vision that helps students to thrive as engaged citizens committed to their local communities and rooted in a vision of the interdependence and right-relatedness of all things through Christ’s reconciling reign. This desire to engage with students in purpose and hope for the future has connected Justin with Christian Deeper Learning colleagues and speaking engagements across Canada, the United States, and internationally.

Marianne Vangoor

Leader in Residence

Marianne Vangoor is Edvance’s first Leader in Residence where she supports school leaders in growing personally and professionally in their leadership roles. Marianne has 27 years of experience as a Christian school leader, most recently at Halton Hills Christian School in Georgetown, Ontario where she has served as principal and COO for the past 14 years. Under Marianne’s leadership, Halton Hills Christian School has been an example of innovative programming, strategic growth, and unique connection and contribution to its local community. Marianne is committed to having her school be a joy-filled place to learn, teach, and work, and she will bring this same spirit as Edvance’s Leader in Residence.
Tuesday, October 20, 5:30PM EST/USA
Session 3
White to Mosaic (with keynote: For God So Loved the World: A Blueprint for Kingdom Diversity)

Walter Strickland

Associate Research Fellow

Dr. Strickland was born in Chicago and raised in Southern California, his passion is to equip people to flourish in their context from a deep commitment to God’s design. His interests include systematic and contextual theology, the African American theological tradition, education theory, and theology of work.
Along with being a diversity consultant, frequent conference speaker, and itinerant preacher, Dr. Strickland is an associate Research Fellow of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), and his work has appeared in The Gospel Project, Canon and Culture (of the ERLC), the Gospel Coalition, the Biblical Recorder, Christianity Today, Baptist Press, and World Magazine among other media outlets. He has contributed to, edited, and authored multiple books in his areas of research interest.

Michael Chen

Head of School

Dr. Michael Chen has been an educator for over 20 years in the San Francisco and Boston areas with experiences in urban education, international development, and organizational change. His experience includes serving as dean of faculty at Boston Trinity Academy, and the founding director of Trinity Institute for Leadership and Social Justice. Currently, he serves as the head of school at Pacific Bay Christian School. For his doctoral work, Michael developed a system-theory of resilience to further understand human development in the context of war-affected widows in Nepal. In addition, he also provided leadership and program evaluation consultative services to schools and organizations in South Korea, Nepal, and India.

Tia Gaines

Writer/Conference Speaker/Department Chair

Tia Gaines is a writer and conference speaker who focuses on diversity, inclusion, and equity within Christian education as well as innovation and technology. She has been teaching for 16 years, with 11 of those years spent in online education. She currently serves as Department Chair for the English department as well as the 6-12 Instructional Coach for her school. She coaches and trains over 200 teachers on teaching strategies in a virtual setting. She has also taught in the SAIL (School for Applied and Innovative Learning) program at Delaware County Christian School in Newtown Square, PA. In addition, Tia provides consulting to schools, universities and organizations on diversity, equity and inclusion alongside her husband, Joel. Tia resides in Philadelphia with her husband Joel and their four children.

Jenny Brady

Director of Diversity

Jenny is currently serving as the director of Diversity for Prestonwood Christian Academy, a position created to express her passion for diversity while combining her personal experience growing up on the mission field in Honduras. She holds an MS in sociology and a BA in Spanish. In the educational realm, Jenny has worked as a teacher and administrator, and is on the Leadership Team at PCA. She is the co-creator of the Christian Educators Diversity Alliance and is a speaker, teacher, author, and trainer on diversity for schools across the country.

Joel Gaines

Head of School

Joel R. Gaines serves as Head of School at The City School in Philadelphia. He graduated from Philadelphia Biblical University (Cairn University) with a BS in education and biblical studies and earned his MEd in education from Cabrini University. Joel has served in multiple roles for nearly 20 years in both Christian and public education, and in both urban and suburban settings.
Session 4
Siloed to Engaged: Shalom, Reconciliation, and Indigenous Peoples

Daniel Pampuch

Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Daniel Pampuch was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Christian Schools Australia in January 2017. Daniel currently works with 170 schools across Australia. His role spans political advocacy, governance, strategic planning, resource development and service provision. His role centres on assisting schools to retain their Christian distinctive and missional focus, as well as guiding them on pathways to further maturity as ministries and centres of educational excellence.

Darren Iselin

Director of Research and Innovation

Dr. Darren Iselin is currently Director of Research and Innovation with Christian Schools Australia (CSA) and the coordinator for the Cardus Education Survey Australia Project.
He has completed extensive formal study, including doctoral studies through the University of Queensland where his PhD explored “How Principals are cultivating Sustainable School Cultures Within Christian Schools During Changing Times”. Darren’s thesis was awarded the Grassie-Basset prize for best thesis in Educational Administration from The University of Queensland and also won the Research in Educational Leadership Management Award from the Australian Council of Educational Leaders (ACEL).
Thursday, October 22, 12:00PM EST/USA
Session 5
Digital Life Together in a COVID-19 World

David Smith

Professor of Education

Dr. David I. Smith is Professor of Education, Calvin University; Director of Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning, Calvin University; Coordinator of the Global Faculty Development Institute, Calvin University; and Senior Editor of the International Journal of Christianity and Education.
David earned his B.A. in Modern Languages (German and Russian) at Oxford University; a Post Graduate Certificate in Education from the University of Nottingham; an M.Phil. in Philosophy of Education/Philosophical Theology from the Institute for Christian Studies, Toronto; and a Ph.D. in Education with a specialism in Curriculum Studies from the University of London.

Mitchell Salerno


Dr. Mitchell Salerno is headmaster of Monte Vista Christian School in Watsonville, California, president of the Christian Coalition for Educational Innovation, and a well-regarded speaker on school innovation and technology.
Session 6
Christian Education in the Majority World: Vision and Engagement

Ben Thomas

Founder and CEO

Benjamin Thomas is Founder and CEO of B2THEWORLD and the leader of Kigali International Community School in Rwanda. He is a New Yorker, the son of Indian immigrants to the U.S., a husband and raising 4 kids in Rwanda. Ben is passionate about global leadership (leading people from multiple nationalities), education for children in post-conflict countries, and most passionate about being a dad and a husband.
Thursday, October 22, 5:30PM EST/USA
Session 7
White Evangelicalism and the Current Political Moment

Kristen Du Mez

Professor of History and Gender Studies

Kristin Kobes Du Mez is a professor of History and Gender Studies at Calvin University. She holds a PhD from the University of Notre Dame and her research focuses on gender, religion, and American politics. She has written for the Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Religion News Service, Christianity Today, and Christian Century, and her work has been featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, the BBC, the CBC, and several other national and international outlets. She blogs at Patheos’s Anxious Bench.
Session 8
Women Leaders for Christian Education

Maria Varlet

Head of Research & Innovation

Dr. Maria Varlet is the Head of Research & Innovation at Crest Education in Melbourne, Australia. She currently serves as the Deputy Chair of the CSA National Council and is a member of the Advisory Committee for Casey Tech School. She has been involved in Christian Education for over 25 years, holding a variety of positions including Campus Principal and Executive Officer for Christian Schools Australia. She is passionate about promoting and developing innovation in education with interests in future focused pedagogies, teacher professional learning, change management and the support of women in leadership. Her doctoral thesis contributes insights into how Christian schools might utilise professional learning strategies to address tensions between ethos and assessment practices.

Beth Green

Provost and Chief Academic Officer, Tyndale University

Dr. Beth Green earned her DPhil from Oxford University, funded by a prestigious Economic and Research Council scholarship. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts and also a graduate of the University of Cambridge and the University of London. Dr. Green regularly publishes her research in international journals, including the British Journal of Sociology and Education and the Cambridge Journal of Education. Her many peer-reviewed articles explored the intersection of faith, learning and formation as they impact culture and society. She is also the current Canadian Regional Editor for the International Journal for Christianity and Education (IJCE). Her sought-after consultancy work takes her worldwide where she advises on effective approaches to measurement, professional development and pedagogy in the religious school sector. At Tyndale, Dr. Green continues her work on current projects, including a manuscript providing Christian educators with commentary on dominant themes in contemporary education, in particular, innovation, character, excellence, measurement and school choice. She also acts as a resource to fellow faculty members as they shape their own research agendas.

Catina Taliaferro

Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Mount Paran Christian School

Catina Taliaferro currently serves as the Director of Diversity and Inclusion and leads the schools' CommUNITY taskforce at Mount Paran Christian School in Kennesaw, Georgia. She has been married to Emmett Taliaferro for 23 years and has two children. Catina has a degree in Business Management and a minor in Administration from Hampton University. Within her roles, Catina has the pleasure of working closely with staff, parents, and students to provide educational opportunities centered around diversity and inclusion. At Mount Paran Christian School, inclusion means accepting and appreciating one another regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, age, socioeconomic status, and physical abilities. With the belief that God created diversity, Catina feels that racial reconciliation is integral to being united in Christ.

Donna Harris

President, Minnehaha Academy

Donna Harris, Ed.D. has served as President of Minnehaha Academy, a PreK-12 Christian school, since 2009. Previously Donna served as the Assistant Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer at Valley Christian Schools, a K-12 school located in San Jose, CA. Prior to her work in independent schools, Donna taught in public schools for 12 years, having earned a bilingual elementary and secondary teaching credential, twice receiving Intel Corporation’s prestigious Innovation in Teaching award. Donna has frequently presented at conferences on topics such as project-based learning, integration of technology, school governance, strategic planning and school improvement. She authored a chapter in the book, Building a Better School called Diversity in the Christian School. Donna has served on the Board of Trustees at North Park University (2010-2015), the Minnesota Independent School Forum (2013-2016) and currently serves as Vice Chair for the Independent Schools Association of the Central States (2016-Current), the Ordway Center of Performing Arts (2016-Current), and Hope Academy, a K-12 Christian independent inner-city school (2018-Current). Donna holds a ministerial license and is ordained to Word and Service with the Evangelical Covenant Church. Donna is married to Rick, a Minnesota business owner, and is a proud mother of 5 adult children and 5 grandchildren.

Lynn Swaner

Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, ACSI

Dr. Lynn Swaner is the chief strategy and innovation officer at ACSI, where she leads initiatives and develops strategies to address compelling questions and challenges facing Christian education. Prior to joining ACSI, she served as a Christian school administrator and a graduate professor of education. Dr. Swaner serves as a Cardus Senior Fellow and is the lead editor of the books MindShift: Catalyzing Change in Christian Education and PIVOT: New Directions for Christian Education, co-author of Bring It to Life: Christian Education and the Transformative Power of Service-Learning, and editor of the ACSI blog. She received her EdD from Teachers College, Columbia University, in New York City.

Katie Wiens

Executive Director, CESA

Kathryn Wiens is the Executive Director of the Council on Educational Standards and Accountability and a Fellow at the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture. Along with her teaching at Kennesaw State University, Gordon College, and Cairn University, she has done extensive research and writing on independent and faith-based schools as well as single-gender education. She holds a doctorate in education from Boston University. Having worked in both public and independent schools, Wiens has served as Dean of Curriculum and Instruction, Director of Admissions, Science Department Chair, and has taught chemistry and biology. Her publications include a book on single-gender education, multiple journal articles, co-editor of a book on school leadership, as well as the most comprehensive study done to date on Christian education.