SCHOOL TALK STAFF

Leila Peterson  |  Executive Director

Leila Peterson has provided conflict resolution, change management, and leadership development services to both governmental and private clients for more than seventeen years. Her practice focuses on public and community conflict, specializing in processes that allow government, private, and community stakeholders to tackle difficult issues together. Leila also teaches as an adjunct professor in the George Mason University Conflict Analysis and Resolution program. Courses taught include Dialogue and Difference (CONF 202) and Conflict Resolution Techniques and Practices (CONF 300). Leila received a Master of Science degree in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University in 1998 and a Bachelor of Arts in Politics from Earlham College in 1993. She is an Associate Member of the Association for Conflict Resolution, the National Youth Transition Center Leadership Council, and the Mid-Atlantic ADA Leadership Network.

 

Sarah Grime  |  Program Director

Sarah Grime serves as a Conflict Resolution Specialist & Program Director for SchoolTalk, a non-profit focused on special education dispute resolution in DC. She has been with SchoolTalk since 2011. Ms. Grime is responsible for youth engagement initiatives and youth leadership programming at SchoolTalk. She is focused on working with DC youth to increase youth leadership in the District.  She has been involved in implementing a Student-led Individualized Education Program (IEP) process in DC and has been supporting its expansion. She coordinates the Annual Voices of Change Conference and co-convenes, with youth, the DC Youth Leaders Peer Network.  Ms. Grime directs the participation of youth leaders/fellows in SchoolTalk projects and supervises youth leadership internships. She is a member of the Mid-Atlantic ADA Leadership Network.

Sarah Grime received her Master of Arts in International Policy Studies, specializing in Human Rights and Conflict Resolution from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in 2010 and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish and International Affairs from Skidmore College in 2008. Ms. Grime has expertise in conflict resolution and children’s rights.  She has worked for the Latino Community Advocacy Program where she served as the outreach coordinator and worked to connect members of the Latino community to service providers. She most recently worked for the International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour with the technical specialist on child labour in armed conflict zones in Geneva, Switzerland. While working with IPEC she helped develop a module on child labour in conflict zones that used education, the arts, and media to support children’s rights and teach them conflict resolution skills.

 

Juanita Huff |  Secondary Transition Specialist

Juanita Huff has served as a Secondary Transition Specialist for SchoolTalk, Inc. since 2013. Her experiences as a post-secondary student with moderate hemiplegic and spastic diplegic cerebral palsy give her unique insight into the transitional challenges that many young people with disabilities face. She is passionately committed to improving the ability of youth with disabilities to successfully transition into education, employment, and independence.

Juanita currently manages the DC Partners in Transition website (dctransition.org) developed and maintained by SchoolTalk and the Inclusion Research Institute with support from the Rehabilitative Service Administration and in collaboration with DC Partners in Transition. She also publishes the DC Partners in Transition Newsletter and has been involved in the “Welcoming Millennials with Disabilities into the Workplace” dialogue series developed in partnership with the National Youth Transitions Center and the Youth Transitions Collaborative (research assistant/participant), the Annual Voices of Change Conference (workshop facilitator), the Rehabilitative Services Administration’s “Explore the World of Work: Discover Your Career” Guide (editor/consultant), and the DC Alliance of Youth Advocates’ “School Climate” blog series (guest blogger). Juanita received her Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Languages in 2013 from George Mason University, where she was a member of both Golden Key International Honour Society and Phi Kappa Phi.

 

Emily Lehman  |  Senior Program Director

Emily Lehman serves as SchoolTalk’s Senior Program Director for Secondary Transition. She came to the field of secondary transition, after a decade working as an educator in the District of Columbia and Boston public school systems. Her work as a special education teacher and school-based administrator highlighted the personal and professional struggles that many students experience as they transition from high school to young adult life. Emily’s work at SchoolTalk, in conjunction with her current research, focuses on the development and implementation of secondary transition programming that effectively identifies and meets the interests, preferences, strengths, and areas of need for all students through the dynamic collaboration between students, families, schools, government agencies, and community organizations.

In addition to her research and program development activities, Emily works as an adjunct professor in The George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development’s Special Education and Disability Studies department. Courses taught include an undergraduate service learning course, Autism and Related Disabilities in the Real World (HSSJ 4198, SPED 6100), and a graduate course for secondary educators, Introduction to Career and Career-Technical Education andTransition Services (SPED 6236).

Emily received a Master of Education degree in Secondary Education from The George Washington University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Ithaca College. She is currently a doctoral candidate of Special Education and Disabilities at The George Washington University.

 

Melina Mora  |  Restorative Justice Specialist 

Melina Mora is the Restorative Justice Specialist for Restorative DC, a project of SchoolTalk that focuses on alternative disciplinary practices to help youth be active and accountable members of their communities. Ms. Mora collaborates with school staff to develop and implement restorative justice action plans. In addition, Ms. Mora is continually working on youth and family engagement activities and devotes her time to coaching and training students and staff on restorative justice practices.

Previously, Ms. Mora worked for Arlington Public Schools in the School and Community Relations Department assisting to provide information about the school system to a diverse community of parents and citizens. Ms. Mora also assisted students with disabilities at the primary school level as a special education assistant. She was also a key member of the Arlington Community Federal Credit Union, as part of the Business Development and Marketing Department, creating marketing campaigns, supervising in-school branches, and coordinating events for the community.

Ms. Mora graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Criminology, Law, and Society with a double minor in Conflict Analysis Resolution and Intelligence Analysis in May 2016 from George Mason University. She is currently attending the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth to pursue a Master of Public Policy in Education.

 

Susan Oetgen  |  Senior Arts & Conflict Resolution Specialist

As Senior Arts & Conflict Resolution Specialist, Susan leads SchoolTalk’s efforts to integrate the arts into a variety of programming areas, including youth leadership, secondary transition initiatives and conflict resolution trainings.  She manages SchoolTalk’s contracts with VSA Kennedy Center and advises on the development and testing of SchoolTalk’s Great Job! Creative Conflict Resolution for the Workplace curriculum.  Additionally, Susan has managed secondary transition initiatives related to student-led IEPs and workforce development in collaboration with OSSE, RSA and other DC Secondary Transition Community of Practice partners.  Susan is the founder and director of ArtsAspire Consulting.  She also consults with the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies to coordinate and facilitate the professional development activities of state arts agency arts education managers. Prior 2014, Susan lived in Brooklyn, New York, where she was an artist, teaching artist, manager, facilitator and coach with a variety of performing arts and arts education organizations, including Everyday Arts for Special Education (E.A.S.E.) and The Field.  Born and raised in the Washington, D.C., area, Susan holds a B.A. in theology from Georgetown University, an M.M. in classical vocal performance from the Catholic University of America, and a conflict analysis and resolution certificate from George Mason University.  Susan is a Fieldwork facilitator and peer artist with The Field/DC, and a member of the International Interdisciplinary Artists Consortium.  She enjoys creating multi-disciplinary art work, and is currently exploring watercolor painting, contemporary dance, and guitar.