CAST UDL Cadre Members

The CAST Professional Learning UDL Cadre is focused on continuous improvement through professional learning and assists CAST in scaling and supporting UDL implementation at the state, district, college and university, school and classroom levels. The UDL Cadre represents the broadest spectrum of talent available and is the “premiere” group for providing professional learning services on CAST’s behalf. Cadre members work with CAST in a variety of areas including our institutes, online learning and our customized solutions.


Lisa Carey, CAST UDL Cadre member

Lisa Carey

Lisa Carey is the Assistant Director of the Center for Innovation and Leadership in Special Education (CILSE) at Kennedy Krieger Institute.  Lisa was part of the CILSE’s first fellowship cohort, where she studied neuroscience, behavior science, school law, and scientific inquiry with faculty of Kennedy Krieger Institute and The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Lisa serves as a bridge between researchers, clinicians, and educators, translating advances in the cognitive sciences to actionable practices within the classroom. Prior to joining CILSE, Lisa served as a special educator in Baltimore County and St. Mary’s County, Maryland, where she specialized in inclusive practices. Lisa has facilitated UDL implementation projects in several school systems and states. She received a BA in History from St. Mary’s College of Maryland, a Masters in Teaching with certification in special education and social studies education from Goucher College, and a School Administrator certificate from Towson University. She has also served as adjunct faculty at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and Towson University, covering topics of exceptionality and UDL. Lisa is currently a doctoral student in instructional technology at Towson University, where she is focused on the improvement of pre-service and in-service training and supports for teachers.


Kimberly Coy, CAST Professional Learning UDL Cadre Member

Kimberly Coy

Kimberly Coy is an Assistant Professor of Education at California State University, Fresno. Before working in post secondary education she taught K-8 general and special education, including working in a full time online public school. Kimberly has done extensive work; research, writing, and speaking, on UDL in a variety of educational environments. These include elementary, post secondary, and online, or digital, environments.


Ph.D. in Education, Washington State University, Pullman, WA

MAT in Education, Goucher College, Baltimore, MD

BA in Speech Communication, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Joni Degner, CAST Professional Learning UDL Cadre Member

Joni Degner

Joni Degner is a member of the CAST Professional Learning Cadre and a full time UDL facilitator for Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation (BCSC) in Columbus, Indiana, a district on the national stage for UDL practices and implementation. Prior to becoming a UDL facilitator, Joni was a high school English teacher for BCSC. In her role as a UDL facilitator, she designs professional development in Universal Design for Learning and Cultural Responsiveness for teachers and leadership in BCSC and works shoulder-to-shoulder with teachers to deepen their UDL knowledge and implementation. Joni has facilitated Universal Design for Learning conferences and workshops for other secondary and post-secondary schools in both Indiana and Texas. She has been a presenter for the BCSC UDL Institute, the CAST UDL Symposium, and the Indiana Department of Education’s State Development Network. Joni is beginning her masters work in Educational Psychology, and she enjoys being an avid reader, runner, and hockey mom.


B.S., English Secondary Education, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana

B.S., Professional Writing, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana

CAST Professional Learning UDL Cadre member, Adam Deleidi

Adam Deleidi

Adam is the principal of the William A Berkowitz Elementary School in Chelsea, MA. He has been an assistant principal, instructional coach, and teacher in Revere, MA as well as an adjunct faculty member at Lesley University. He is also a member of CAST’s professional learning cadre. He believes that Universal Design for Learning provides a framework for educators to leverage the variability that exists in classrooms.

Kasia Derbiszewska, CAST Professional Learning UDL Cadre Member

Kasia Derbiszewska

Kasia M. Derbiszewska (pronounced Kah-shah Der-bih-sheh-ska) is recognized both nationally and internationally as an expert in Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Kasia collaborates with schools, districts, states, and other organizations to scale education reform. She holds a master’s in Mind, Brain, and Education from Harvard University where she researched conceptual change and how to facilitate effective professional development. Her most recent publication Supercharge Your Professional Learning highlights concrete strategies that help instructional leaders design professional development sessions that are compelling, convincing, and sustainable using the Universal Design for Learning framework. In the past Kasia served as a project manager and researcher at the Causal Learning in a Complex World Research Lab at Harvard University’s Project Zero research organization. Prior to this work, Kasia was a high school English teacher.


Ed.M, Mind, Brain and Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA

B.S. Secondary English Education and Slavic Languages and Literature Certificate, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN


Derbiszewska, K.M., Solis, S.L., Gramling, M.D., & Grotzer, T.A. (2014, March). Fourth and Sixth Graders Conceptions of Distributed Causality. National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST), Pittsburgh, PA., March 31, 2014.

Solis, S.L., Derbiszewska, K.M., & Grotzer, T.A. (2014, March). A Microgenetic Study of Students’ Default Explanations of Action at an Attentional Distance. National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST), Pittsburgh, PA., March 31, 2014.

Grotzer, T.A., Kamarainen, A.M., Derbiszewska, K.M., Powell, M., Courter, C.J. Tutwiler, M.S., Metcalf, S.J., & Dede, C.J. (2014, April).Using virtual worlds and augmented reality to teach causality across time and distance in ecosystems. American Educational Research Association Conference, Philadelphia, PA. April 4, 2014. 

Don Glass

Don Glass

Don Glass is a DC-based visual artist, learning designer, and developmental evaluator. His work focuses on the integration of inclusive curriculum design and developmental evaluation into the ongoing professional development of educators in and outside of schools. As a learning design coach, Dr. Glass frequently conducts UDL reviews and has taught workshops, and both blended and online graduate-level courses on UDL. Dr. Glass has held positions at the Philadelphia Education Fund, the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future. He was an OSEP-funded UDL Leadership Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Boston College/CAST, and has published about arts learning options and UDL with Harvard Education Publishing and Guilford Press.


Ph.D., University of the Witwatersrand, School of Education, Johannesburg, South Africa

Ed.M., Temple University, Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, PA

B.F.A. University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA


Christine Gray

Christine Gray

Christine Gray is currently a Middle School Literacy Coach in Revere, MA, where she taught ELA in grades 6-8 for 11 years. She has presented at the National Council of Teachers of English Conference and is the co-author of Grade 6 Test Practice for Common Core (Barron’s Publishing, 2015). In 2014, Christine’s classroom was filmed as part of the Cengage Educational Media Library series on Special Education and Universal Design for Learning in the classroom. Since 2012, Christine has played an integral role in implementing Universal Design in the classroom, in her school, and throughout the district. Christine enjoys connecting with other UDL enthusiasts and is a facilitator at the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s UDL Summer Institute as well as a member of the CAST cadre. In her spare time, Christine enjoys reading and spending time with children and family.


C.A.G.S., Reading Specialist, Fitchburg State University, Fitchburg, MA

M.Ed., Fitchburg State University, Fitchburg, MA

BA English, UMass Boston, Boston, MA


Cynthia Gutierrez, CAST Professional Learning UDL Cadre Member

Cynthia Gutierrez

Cynthia Gutierrez is a member of the CAST Professional Learning Cadre and an Independent Education Specialist. She worked as a general education and special education teacher for Southern California’s Riverside Unified School District and Victor Elementary School District.  Additionally, Cynthia provided professional development in curriculum instruction and intervention to a consortium of districts and charter schools as a program specialist for  California’s San Bernardino County Superintendent of School’s Desert Mountain SELPA. She currently provides Universal Design for Learning professional development trainings and workshops throughout Southern California and across the country.


 M.A.Ed, California State University, San Bernardino

B.A., California Baptist University, Riverside

Elizabeth Hartmann, CAST Professional Learning UDL Cadre Member

Elizabeth Hartmann

Elizabeth Hartmann is an Assistant Professor of Education at Lasell College and was a UDL Postdoctoral Fellow at CAST and Boston College. She enjoys teaching about UDL by modeling it in her practice. Her research explores how pre-service teachers understand and implement the UDL framework. She is also a licensed special educator and teacher of children with visual impairments and deaf-blindness.


PhD, Special Education, The University of California, Berkeley, with San Francisco State University, CA

MEd, Special Education, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA


Garron Hillaire, CAST Professional Learning UDL Cadre Member

Garron Hillaire

Garron Hillaire is a full-time PhD student in Open World Learning at the Institute for Educational Technology at The Open University in Milton Keynes, UK.  The award wining Open World Learning research project is seeking an understanding as to why those who stand to benefit most from free online education do not appear to be the same as the population that is taking advantage of the new landscape of options for free online education.  His contribution to this initiative is examining the role that emotions play in learning. Given the global context of free online learning he is seeking a universal understanding of how to measure emotions in online learning and communicate that back to students for the purpose of improving learning outcomes.


PhD Candidate (2018 Expected) Open World Learning, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK

Ed.M. Technology Innovation Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA

B.A. Mathematics Philosophy Option. University of Washington, Seattle, WA

A.A.S. Bellevue College, Bellevue, WA

Alisa Lowrey, CAST UDL Cadre member

Alisa Lowrey

Dr. Lowrey is a special educator with more than 29 years of experience working with individuals with developmental disabilities, focusing specifically on individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism, in inclusive placements.  Her research includes (a) teacher education, professional development and evaluation, (b) inclusive educational practices including postsecondary practices for students with developmental disabilities and the application of Universal Design for Learning, and (c) designing quality, individualized curricula. Dr. Lowrey currently serves as the co-Editor of Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities.  She also serves on the Universal Design for Learning Implementation and Research Network Advisory Board. 

Lisa Katz, a CAST Professional Learning UDL Cadre Member

Lisa Katz

Lisa is currently a member of the Professional Learning Cadre for UDL at CAST. Lisa holds a BA in History Education from the University of Delaware and a MLS from University of Maryland, College Park.  She is currently an instructional technology specialist for Howard County Public Schools where she works with teachers and curriculum specialists to redesign curriculum for digital delivery, online instructional design, and infusing UDL and technology into professional development opportunities and curricular materials.  In addition to her work in the state of Maryland, Lisa has worked closely with members of CAST’s Professional Learning Division and through CAST she has worked with districts throughout the U.S. promoting and facilitating workshops on UDL.

Jeff McCormick

Jeff McCormick

Jeff McCormick is the Program Director for the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Center at OCALI. He has been a teacher in public and alternative schools and has managed state projects and grants in assistive and educational technology at the center for over twenty years. He presents at schools, universities, state, national, and international conferences on topics, including UDL, assistive technology integration, and educational project deployment at state levels. He recently launched State Leaders of Universal Design for Learning Organization. The mission of the community is to design, develop and share resources among participating states in an effort to capitalize on common interests and initiatives that are deployed at a state level.


M.Ed., Educational Administration, University of Dayton, Dayton, OH

B.A., Special/Physical-Health Education, Capital University, Bexley, OH 


Jon Mundorf, CAST Professional Learning UDL Cadre Member

Jon Mundorf

Jon Mundorf is an award-winning National Board Certified Teacher. He teaches 7th grade English & Language Arts at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School at the University of Florida, a public school given the responsibility to develop innovative solutions to educational concerns and to disseminate successful instructional programs to other school districts. Prior to working at the University of Florida, Dr. Mundorf taught 4th and 5th grade in the Collier County (FL) Public Schools, which included a year working on special assignment in the Office of Continuous Improvement Initiatives as a MTSS & School Improvement Specialist.

Dr. Mundorf enjoys sharing his experiences with others and has done so at conferences and workshops around the world. He consults with schools, school districts, universities, and other organizations on topics such as inclusive teacher pedagogy, accessibility, technology integration, practitioner research, school improvement, and Universal Design for Learning (UDL). He is a member of the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Programs in Professional Education faculty and the CAST UDL faculty cadre.


Ed.D., Curriculum and Instruction, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

M.Ed., Curriculum and Instruction, Florida Gulf Coast University, Ft. Myers, FL

B.S., Elementary Education, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH


Loui Lord Nelson, CAST Professional Learning UDL Cadre member

Loui Lord Nelson

Loui Lord Nelson, author of Design and Deliver: Planning and Teaching Using Universal Design for Learning (Paul H. Brookes Publishing, 2014), has a life full of UDL. Part of her time is spent as the UDL Specialist for the SWIFT Project (School Wide Integrated Framework for Transformation) at the University of Kansas and the rest of her time is spent providing guidance to K-21 educators and administrators around the world about the implementation of UDL. In August of 2014, Loui completed her post-doctoral work at CAST and Boston College where she worked directly with the CAST Professional Learning team. Loui loves to be outdoors, participates in road races, and particularly enjoys any opportunity to run a bulldozer or an excavator.


Ph.D., Beach Center on Families and Disability, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS

M.S., Special Education, Butler University, Indianapolis, IN

B.S., Elementary Education, Wittenberg University, Springfield, OH


Katie Novak, CAST UDL Cadre member

Katie Novak

An internationally recognized leader in UDL implementation, Katie Novak is currently a CAST Professional Cadre member and the Assistant Superintendent of the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District in Massachusetts. With 14 years of experience in teaching and administration, and an earned doctorate in curriculum and teaching from Boston University, Katie presents both nationally and internationally on Universal Design for Learning (UDL) implementation, multi-tiered systems of support, and universally designed leadership. Katie is also the author of best-selling book on inclusive education: UDL Now!: A Teacher’s Guide to Applying Universal Design for Learning in Today’s Classrooms 2nd Edition, as well as UDL in the Cloud: How to Deliver Online Education Using Universal Design for Learning, and Universally Designed Leadership: Applying UDL to Systems and Schools, all published by CAST Professional Publishing.

Kavita Rao, CAST Professional Learning UDL Cadre member

Kavita Rao

Kavita Rao is an associate professor at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa  College of Education. She conducts teacher professional development and research on UDL in K-12 and higher education environments. Kavita has developed curriculum resources and published articles and book chapters on the potential of instructional technologies and UDL to create inclusive environments for teaching and learning.


Ph.D, Education – University of Hawai’i at Mānoa

M.A. – University of Hawai’i at Mānoa

B.A – University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


Alexis Reid, CAST UDL Cadre member

Alexis Reid

Trained at Loyola University in Baltimore, MD and Boston College, Alexis has worked in many different educational settings for well over a decade. Most recently she taught in the Boston area for the past six years. She is now an educational therapist with a focus on improving executive functions and closing academic gaps while coordinating educational programs and services for learners, their parents, and teachers at the Boston Child Study Center in Boston, MA.

Alexis has been fortunate to serve as an instructional coach to consult and present workshops at schools near and far. As a CAST Professional Learning UDL Cadre member, Alexis strives to promote the integration of Universal Design for Learning into the educational landscape. She is particularly passionate about fostering engagement in learning across contexts and works to foster expert learning through the creation of optimal learning environments for all learners to thrive. Alexis is a consummate learner who seeks to integrate research and literature related to learner variability, mindfulness, mindset, executive functions, and positive youth development by sharing and working with other passionate individuals in the field.

Fran Smith, CAST Professional Learning UDL Cadre member

Frances (Fran) G. Smith, Ed.D., CVE

As an independent educator/consultant, Dr. Smith teaches, consults, researches and provides training in various areas of universal design for learning. She is an adjunct professor for the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at GW University and has taught a blended and online course in UDL since 2003. Dr. Smith has consulted and presented nationally and internationally on UDL often focusing on application in classrooms and higher education settings. She was a 2011-12 UDL Fellow at CAST and Boston College Lynch School of Education where she was a member of the Boston College UDL Taskforce. She represents the Vocational Evaluation and Career Assessment Professionals Association  on the National UDL Taskforce. Fran is an avid photographer, foodie and traveler.


Ed.D., Higher Education Administration, GW University, Washington, DC

Ed.S., Transition Special Education, GW University, Washington, DC

M.A., Collaborative Vocational Evaluation Training, GW University, Washington, DC

Zach Smith, CAST UDL Cadre member

Zach Smith

Zach Smith is a District Instructional Specialist within Sanger Unified School District, a small rural district in the Central Valley of California. He spends most of his day as a key figure facilitating the district-wide roll-out of Universal Design for Learning. Prior to his working with teachers, he worked as a special day class teacher at an elementary school in Sanger and as part-time faculty with Fresno State University teaching future special education teachers. Zach loves dreaming, presenting, and coaching around Universal Design for Learning and the implications of UDL in the world of education. When not thinking about and implementing UDL, Zach enjoys spending time with his wife, Dorothy, and their three daughters, Grace, Amy, and Isabella. On some random and highly rare days he can also be found standing in some obscure river pretending to know how to fly fish.


M.A. Fresno State University, Fresno, CA

B.A. Fresno State University, Fresno, CA

Cynde Snider, CAST Professional Learning UDL Cadre member

Cynde Snider

After 30+ years of working in education as a teacher, administrator, university instructor, and state agency employee, Cynde Snider currently provides consulting services related to all aspects of instruction for both public and private education entities.  While at the GA Department of Education, Cynde was instrumental in bringing CAST staff to Georgia, and she continues to provide professional learning on Universal Design for Learning for local schools/districts.  Cynde, her husband, Rick, and their well-traveled dog and cat split their time between Atlanta, GA, and Lubec, ME.


B.A., English, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

M.A., Communication, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

Ph.D., English, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA

Elizabeth Stein, CAST UDL Cadre member

Elizabeth Stein

Elizabeth Stein’s career includes experiences spanning early intervention, grades K-12, and undergraduate and graduate level education courses. She is a special education teacher and UDL coach in Long Island’s Smithtown Central School District. She is a contributing writer to Education Week and the author of a popular blog, Two Teachers in the Room at MiddleWeb, LLC. She is the author of Comprehension Lessons for RTI: Grades 3-5: Assessments, Intervention Lessons, and Management Tips to Help You Reach and Teach Tier 2 Students (Scholastic, 2013) and Elevating Co-Teaching through UDL (CAST Professional Publishing, 2016). Raising awareness and a shared vision about UDL is an ongoing mission and significant passion throughout her daily work with districts near and far. Read more about her thoughts on embracing and naturally embedding the view of learner variability at “A Conversation in Multi Media.”  Elizabeth earned her National Board Certification in Literacy and is a doctoral student at Molloy College’s Educational Leadership for Diverse Learning Communities program. Follow her on Twitter @ElizabethLStein.

Nicole Tucker-Smith, CAST Professional Learning, UDL Cadre member

Nicole Tucker-Smith

Nicole Tucker-Smith is founder and CEO of, which provides professional learning tools for schools, districts, and teacher preparation programs.

She has also served as a teacher, assistant principal, and systemwide coordinator of professional development for Baltimore County Public Schools. Nicole believes the future of student learning depends on our ability to merge innovative best practices with classroom realities, and she publishes via her blog,


Graduate Certificate in School Administration and Supervision, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD

Master of Teaching/Bachelor of Arts, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA   

George Van Horn, CAST UDL Cadre member

George Van Horn

Dr. George Van Horn completed both his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees at the University of Dayton.  He received his Doctor of Education degree from Indiana University with a concentration in the areas of school administration and special education.

Dr. Van Horn has been a regular education teacher and a teacher of students with emotional disabilities.  Additionally, he has served as a principal, school superintendent and director of special education.  George has also been an adjunct assistant professor at Manhattan College in New York and an adjunct faculty member with Northern Illinois University and Indiana University Purdue University Columbus (IUPUC).

Dr. Van Horn has been a keynote speaker and co-led UDL district trainings as a member of the CAST UDL Cadre.  In addition, he has led the development and implementation of a district plan for Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation to adopt Universal Design for Learning as the framework for curriculum and instruction for all students.

Dr. Van Horn is currently the director of special education for the Bartholomew Special Services Cooperative in Columbus, Indiana.  In his spare time, he is an ice hockey referee and enjoys running and attending music festivals.

Kavita Venkatesh, CAST UDL Cadre member

Kavita Venkatesh

Kavita Venkatesh is the Director of Residency and Alternative Pathway Programs at the National College of Education at National Louis University. In this role she oversees residency programs across the state of Illinois, works with districts to develop and support pre- and in- service teachers, and teachers graduate level courses. Prior to joining the university, Dr. Venkatesh was the Director of Professional Learning and School Design at ThinkCERCA, an ed-tech resource that supports educators as they teach critical thinking through argumentative writing across subjects. Her work at ThinkCERCA and as a consultant focuses on the integration of strategies and resources for all students. As a member of the CAST National Faculty since 2013, she has taught online courses and facilitated professional learning at districts and universities. Dr. Venkatesh was an ESL and special education teacher, school leader, and district administrator in the Boston Public Schools. She completed her doctoral work at Boston College where she focused on teacher preparation with a focus on UDL as a framework for social justice.


Ph.D., Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA

M.Ed., Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA

B.A., The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

Lee Yonika, CAST UDL Cadre member

Lee Yonika

Lee Yonika has been an educator for the Worcester Public Schools in Massachusetts for the past thirty three years. She has had many wonderful opportunities working within the district. She was a teacher of the Deaf, an ESL teacher, a Title III Implementation Coach as well as UDL Coach. Currently, she is the ESL/Special education teacher for the city. Lee has had the honor and pleasure to work alongside CAST as the district began their UDL implementation. She immediately recognized the power behind the theory and practice and has been a strong advocate to continue to spread this work throughout the district. She was a facilitator at Harvard Graduate School of Education’s UDL Summer Institute.


M.ED., Deaf Education, Boston University

B.S., Elementary Education, Boston University