Communication Across Barriers Speakers

Donna Beegle

Donna Beegle

Dr. Donna M. Beegle, is an authentic voice who speaks, writes and trains across the nation to break the iron cage of poverty. She is the author of “See Poverty, Be The Difference,” and “An Action Approach to Educating Students Who Live in the Crisis of Poverty.” Donna’s inspiring story and work have been featured in newspapers around the nation, on local TV and on National programs such as PBS. For 25 years, Donna has worked with educators, justice professionals, health care providers, social service agencies, and other organizations who want to make a difference for those living in the crisis of poverty. She was selected 2008 National Speaker of the Year by the New Mexico State Bar Foundation. In 2010, Portland State University's School of Social Work dedicated the Donna M. Beegle Community Classrooms in her honor. In 2011, she won the Oregon Ethics in Business award.

Donna is the only member of her family who has not been incarcerated. After growing up in generational migrant labor poverty, leaving school for marriage at 15, having two children and continuing to cope with poverty, she found herself, at 25, with no husband, little education, and no job skills. What followed were: self-confidence, a G.E.D., an A.A. in Journalism, a B.A. (with honors) in Communications, a Master’s Degree in Communication with a minor in Gender Studies (with honors), and completion of a Doctorate Degree in Educational Leadership. Donna co-founded Communication Across Barriers with her mentor, Dr. Bob Fulford in 1989. She currently serves as President.

Donna lives in Tigard Oregon with her husband and three children. Something you would not know about Donna: When life gets to be a bit much, she escapes to a hot bath, dark chocolate, a glass of red wine and Donny Osmond music.

Lynda Coates

Lynda Coates

Lynda grew up without a home. Her Mom could not read or write and her Dad was functionally literate. Lynda and her five siblings lived in cars and campers and rarely attended school. Through the support of mentors, such as her cousin Dr. Donna Beegle, and others, she was the first person in three generations of her family to graduate from high school. Lynda went on to earn her BA and MA in Communication -- all while expanding her social network, studying abroad, and learning how to fit into the middle-class world.

Lynda has worked with Dr. Donna Beegle as curriculum developer, researcher and writer for more then 10 years. She has also worked extensively with the GEAR UP program for helping students in poverty to achieve a college education. Lynda has over seven years of experience speaking and training professionals in education, healthcare, social work, and has a passion for working with programs that support first generation high school and college students. Lynda became CAB's first certified Gold Start speaker in 2011.

Lynda lives in Portland Oregon with her son, Kazdyn.

Something you would not know about Lynda: She has a way of making her entire audience feel like she is personally talking with them.

Elia Moreno

Elia Moreno

Elia Moreno lives in Canyon, Texas and currently serves as the Community Engagement Manager for Cal Farley’s, one of America's largest privately-funded child and family service providers specializing in both residential and community-based services. Elia attended West Texas A&M University and currently attends Wayland Baptist University where she is pursuing a bachelors in Christian Ministry.

In addition, Elia is the National Program Director for Communication Across Barriers and holds the position, Director of Global Outreach for No Excuses University. Elia serves on many boards and committees including a state board, Texas Christian Community Development Board.

She is a bilingual master at assisting organizations and individuals to gain fresh new ways to connect with those living in poverty. She has the gift of providing a different filter for her audience members to address poverty; A filter without blame or judgment that allows professionals to impact people living in the war zone of poverty.

Elia and her husband, Jacob, reside in Canyon, Texas, and have four children.

Something you would not know about Elia: She never spends more than $5 on an outfit and always looks as if she stepped out of the pages of a fashion magazine.

Anette Carlisle

Anette Carlisle

Anette Carlisle has a long history of involvement in education, in governance, and in working to make a better Texas. A visionary community leader with a scientific approach to solutions, Anette is a social entrepreneur. She addresses root causes of systemic problems by using data analysis, integrating existing resources, and building diverse teams to drive community change. Anette is well-known for her persistence in recruiting participation for community change.

First elected to the Amarillo ISD Board of Trustees in 1996, Anette has served as President for five years and as chair of its Legislative Committee for much of her service. Recognizing the need for increased collaboration to address the challenges facing the community, Anette worked with other community leadership to create Panhandle Twenty/20, an organization whose mission is to create positive change.

Now as Director of Panhandle Twenty/20, Anette works to engage the community to solve its own challenges. She led the first community study for Panhandle Twenty/20 focused on improving educational attainment in the region. This work by Panhandle Twenty/20 played a critical role in the Amarillo Area Foundation receiving the Partners for Postsecondary Success Grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The result of this work has become the No Limits No Excuses community project.

Poverty being one of the major barriers to educational success and a living wage job, Panhandle Twenty/20 then focused on helping create systems to move people out of poverty. Embracing the work of Dr. Donna Beegle and working with the Amarillo community, Anette brought the innovative Navigator Program to the area with the community’s first Opportunity Conference in 2010. The second Opportunity Conference was held in April of 2012. As a Poverty Coach, Anette works with organizations and churches to connect volunteer mentors to low-income families and help them navigate their way out of poverty. The Amarillo Navigator program has been embraced by churches, civic and nonprofit groups, and the community at large.

Anette is also cofounder of Trustees for Texas, which is focused on creating a common vision and a unified voice for public education in Texas. As challenges facing public education grow, the need for a common vision, focus, and direction increases exponentially. Anette is a passionate advocate for building a stronger Texas through a transformed and invigorated public education system.

A native of Borger, Texas, Anette is a graduate of Texas Tech University with both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s of Science in Zoology. Anette is a graduate of Leadership Texas, is a Texas Fellow with the Center for the Reform of School Systems, and is a certified Poverty Coach and Gold Star Presenter with Communication Across Barriers. Anette received the 2007 Amarillo Globe News Headliner of the Year Award and the 2008 Amarillo Women’s Forum Distinguished Service Award.

Anette is married to Taylor Carlisle, an infectious disease doctor at the Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic who is a patient and enthusiastic supporter of her endeavors. All three of their creative boys attended Amarillo public schools.

Jeremiah Snidar

Jeremiah Snidar

Jeremiah grew up in Denver, Colorado. As a child, he did not have stable housing and attended ten schools before dropping out of high school. After struggling to provide for himself, Jeremiah earned his GED and then graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2008 with a degree in Behavioral Science.

His experiences as a child, his work with youth living in poverty and his dedication to helping others overcome the barriers of escaping poverty brought Jeremiah into urban education. He previously worked as a Youth Advocate in Mi Casa Resource Center’s Student Services program, working with middle school youth living in high poverty neighborhoods who are at-risk for dropping out of high school. In addition to his current work with Communication Across Barriers, Jeremiah teaches fourth grade at Sabin World School. He is also working toward his M.A. in Urban Education through the Denver Teacher Residency program at the University of Denver.

Jeremiah’s draws from the perspectives and resources he gained through his personal and professional experience to enrich his speaking engagements and workshops. He has led several school-wide trainings on serving people living in poverty, serving gang-involved youth and understanding the implications of neighborhood demographics for service delivery. He has also led CAB Youth Opportunity Conferences in New York and Texas. Jeremiah creatively blends his personal story, professional experiences and knowledge of best practices into a highly engaging and interactive experience that leaves attendees optimistic, energized and empowered to make a difference in their communities!

Michele Jersak

Michele Jersak

Michele Jersak is a counselor at Century College and has worked in the Minnesota State Colleges and University system for close to 20 years. In addition to meeting with students one-on-one, she has taught classes in career development, leadership development and first year experience. She is the lead project developer of the GPS LifePlan project, a holistic, open-access on-line planning tool for students seeking to navigate the college experience and find the career that will help them affirm their values and utilize their talents.

While most of her siblings entered the military, Michele opted for college, taking advantage of an early enrollment program to attend while still in high school. Michele is a graduate of North-Hennepin Community College, earned her B.A. degree in psychology at the University of Minnesota, where she also completed her M.A degree in Educational Psychology: Counseling and Student Personnel Psychology. Her professional interests include using technology through online learning, supplemental support, and expanding flexible options to access services and resources for students and others seeking career and life planning opportunities.

Michele’s mixed ethnic family continues to inspire her interests in open-access education, economic equity and social justice. Her father worked the family farm, trained in electronics through the US Army, and worked with computers beginning in the 1960's, while her mother grew up in El Paso, Texas and worked in a warehouse while raising the family. Michele grew up in a stable working class community, but realized the many challenges that faced her siblings and members of her community at an early age. Through her work at Century College she helps students develop their futures through counseling appointments, career mentoring support and engaged classroom teaching. In 2014 Michele joined Communication Across
Barriers as their event coordinator for the state of Minnesota. Michele was trained in 2013 as a Poverty Coach through Communication Across Barriers and desires to help our institutions to better serve students who live in the crisis of poverty.