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Yoga in the Schools Symposium

Program Committee | Program Presenters

Program Committee

Traci ChildressTraci Childress, an educator, organizer and visionary, has been supporting the fields of yoga and mindfulness since 2000. She is co-editor of the Yoga Service Council’s White Book, Transforming Education Through Yoga. As co-founder and executive director of the Children’s Community School in Philadelphia, she supports the integration of mindfulness into classroom curriculum and school culture. As founder of the Mindful Reflection Project, she supports schools, mission-based organizations, families, teachers, and individuals to create space for authentic relationships, sustainable work, and more socially just community.

Joanne SpenceJoanne Spence is the director of Yoga on the Square, an all-inclusive, eco-friendly yoga studio in Pittsburgh’s East End, and the founder and executive director of Yoga in Schools. Since 2005, Yoga in Schools has exposed approximately 18,000 K–12 students to yoga programs, and 1,000 teachers to varying levels of Tools for Teachers trainings and Yoga Ed curriculum. She brings 20 years of social work experience to her work, and is also a yoga therapist and staff developer for the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic.

Michelle Kelsey MitchellMichelle Kelsey Mitchell is the co-founder and executive director of YoKid…Stretch Your Limits, a nonprofit organization bringing the benefits of yoga to underserved youth. Michelle has has a master’s in counseling & human services, and has spent more than 10 years working in the public school systems of northern Virginia and Buffalo, New York. Her work with students has made her aware of the deep need for early cultivation of self-awareness in our society.

Carla TantilloCarla Tantillo is the founder of Mindful Practices, offering yoga and wellness programs for school districts. A certified yoga teacher with a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, Carla was a founding teacher and curriculum director of a high-poverty school in Chicago, and has taught at both the secondary and elementary levels. She is the cocreator of Hip-HopYoga™ and provides professional development to schools across the country. An international presenter, consultant, and author, Carla is dedicated to putting yoga and wellness strategies into the hands of students and teachers everywhere.


John J. RateyJohn J. Ratey, MD, clinical psychiatrist, research synthesizer, speaker, and associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, has lectured throughout the world and published 60 peer-reviewed articles on the topics of aggression, autism, ADHD, and other issues in neuropsychiatry. Author of A User’s Guide to the Brain, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, and Go Wild, Dr. Ratey has been voted one of the Best Doctors in America every year since 1995. He has made it his mission to broadcast life-changing science and establish best practice policies in schools and other organizations to reclaim human health.

Sat Bir S. KhalsaSat Bir S. Khalsa, PhD, is an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in the department of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He also directs research for Kripalu’s Institute for Extraordinary Living. His projects have focused on the therapeutic applications of yoga in a number of settings, including public schools, and for several conditions, including insomnia, performance anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. He is one of the most active and experienced researchers in the yoga world today. Read more about Sat Bir.

Jennifer Cohen Harper Jennifer Cohen Harper, MA, E-RYT, RCYT, is a leading voice in the children’s yoga and mindfulness community, and the author of Little Flower Yoga for Kids: A Yoga and Mindfulness Program to Help Your Child Improve Attention and Emotional Balance. She is the founder and director of Little Flower Yoga, a national organization based in New York, and the School Yoga Project, which brings yoga and mindfulness to schools nationwide. Jennifer is the vice president of the Yoga Service Council and an active member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists. She leads a well-respected children’s yoga and mindfulness teacher certification program, offers continuing education seminars for allied professionals, and provides therapeutic yoga classes to children and families. Her work has been featured in prominent publications, including the New York Times, Yoga Journal, and the International Journal of Yoga Therapy.

Edi PasalisEdi Pasalis, MBA, MTS, Director of the Institute for Extraordinary Living, champions the use of yoga throughout society, particularly in the education and health-care sectors. She brings more than two decades of corporate and entrepreneurial experience and a deep study of yoga to this work. Edi’s academic background includes an MBA from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and a master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School, where she explored the impact of yoga on spiritual life. Edi is also a 500-Hour certified Kripalu Yoga teacher.

Janna DelgadoJanna Delgado, BFA, E-RYT 500, is Program Leader for Kripalu Yoga in the Schools. Janna combines her training as a Kripalu Yoga teacher, Integrative Yoga Therapist, Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultant, and AFAA-certified fitness instructor with her background in acting to create playful, collective yoga experiences. She uses the insight gained through her 15 years as a yoga teacher and her experience leading outdoor education programs for adolescents to make yoga accessible and meaningful to teenagers. Read more about Kripalu Yoga in the Schools.

Iona M. SmithIona M. Smith, MEd, CYT 500, is Program Leader for Kripalu Yoga in the Schools. She cocreated the KYIS curriculum, co-facilitates the KYIS Teacher Training, and serves as a Yoga Educator for KYIS research studies. Iona holds a master’s degree in education from Harvard University and a 500-hour yoga teacher certification from the Nosara Yoga Institute in Costa Rica. Read more about Kripalu Yoga in the Schools.