The 2018 Rendezvous

From Here to Anywhere: Innovation, Opportunity, and Action


  • Welcome Letter

George O'Clair

  • President CAEPA President

Welcome to the 2018 CAEPA Conference! Thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to learn, refresh, and connect with colleagues.

I would like to describe an Adult Basic Education (ABE), Adult Secondary Education ASE), and High School Equivalency education (HSE) teacher and learner as being persistent, challenged, overwhelmed, and hopeful. In these shifting times of funding concerns, new partnerships, and direction of occupations, Adult Education does matter and can make a difference. The Adult Education students who are in the classroom today, will be making up the workforce demand tomorrow. We as Adult Educators are constantly challenged by multiple constraints including from your learners themselves. We may feel overwhelmed by the amount of work to be done and the effort it takes to keep going, nonetheless, we can see the long-term benefits by the stories of success. Finally, I ask you to remain hopeful in knowing that the steps you are taking along with your learners will make an impact in all our communities.

We are in a changing time in adult education that may make many wonder about our direction and purpose. I ask you to be brave, patient, and connected as we work together making changes we know will benefit our learners and all who come in contact with them.

You make the difference.

Thank you. George O’Clair

  • Tuesday, October 23, 2018 from 8:15 - 9:30

Phil Covarrubias

  • State Representative Colorado House of Representatives

I was born and raised in Arvada, CO. My father worked his way up from a field picker to a construction worker, having worked on building the Eisenhower tunnel and the mines in Idaho Springs. He eventually made his way to the Front Range where he worked in an electrical distribution plant. He taught me that I could achieve anything with hard-work and integrity - the same values that make the United States of America the greatest country in the world. I applied our American values to every aspect of my life. After graduating Arvada High School, I decided to defend our values and our Constitution by joining the Marine Corps. While in the Marines, I served as a combat engineer in South America. I earned the great honor of being a marksmanship instructor for all ranks of soldiers from new recruits to battalion commanders. Serving my country enabled me to see the needs and importance of all people, no matter their class, color or creed. I developed empathy and a desire to be a public servant when I witnessed the lack of rights and freedoms other countries struggled with firsthand. This made me appreciate how grateful I am for being born in the United States. After being honorably discharged from the Marines in 1990, I helped my father build his construction company, CCSI, which now competes for major projects across the Front Range. As a project manager and foreman, I spent many long hours on job sites from DIA to Rocky Flats and Peterson Airfield; putting the engineering and leadership skills I learned in the Marines to use. Life lead me to Xcel Energy, where I currently work as a foreman. Along with my role at Xcel I spend a lot of time giving back. I act as a veteran’s facilitator for newly discharged veterans. I help them acclimate from combat life to their professional lives. I also volunteer for Junior Achievement and am a part of the Xcel Energy Path to Leadership, which is a yearlong program that teaches upcoming leaders about the energy industry. I currently live in Brighton, Colorado with my two children, Nicholas, 13, and Erik, 11, where I served as a Commissioner on the Planning Commission since 2014. As I got older, I noticed that our country was losing the values of integrity and hard-work. Once the Democrats at the State Capitol slammed Bloomberg-sponsored gun laws and rural energy laws down Coloradans throats in 2013, I decided to get involved. I wanted my children to live in the America I once knew. In 2014, I joined the fight by working on former Congressman Tom Tancredo’s gubernatorial campaign. I helped connect Congressman Tancredo’s message of freedom and the American Dream to the Hispanic community. I am not a member of the political elite. I fought for liberty and the Constitution as a Marine, and my experience on the Tancredo campaign made me believe that I could do it again. I am representing Colorado House District 56 because I want my children to have the same opportunities America provided me. I believe in a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. My next work as a public servant will be to work for our community as your Representative. The best type of leader is the one who is willing to pick up a shovel alongside his employees to get the job done. I can be that leader. I will do everything in my power to restore integrity, hard work, and the American Dream..

  • Tuesday, October 23, 2018 from 8:15 - 9:30

Retired Colonel Baerbel Merrill

  • MS, BSN, RN.C, CIC

Baerbel Merrill was born in Germany. She grew up in Berlin, a divided city. Her first exposure to a foreign language was in fifth grade, when the school taught English. In seventh grade, she learned French, and then she chose to learn Latin in ninth grade. English and French were mandatory. When Merrill immigrated to the United States, her English was very British English. Once in the U.S. Merrill had the opportunity to take an English course taught by a retired school teacher in her home. Merrill attended class two evenings every week for six months.

In the late 1960’s a vocational/technical junior college was built in her town. Meanwhile, Merrill had different jobs. One was working the night shift at Sylvania on an assembly line making “diodes”. Another was sewing labels on clothing at the Woven Label Company. She wanted a better job, so she would visit the local employment office to see if anything else was available. One day Ted, from the local employment office, said to her, “Have I got a deal for you! How would you like to go to the junior college to become a licensed practical nurse?” The program would pay for everything, including schooling, housing, and food. This was important because Merrill was raising four children on her own. That was the start of her nursing career. Merrill loved school and learning new things. Even though her English was adequate, she continued to take English classes throughout nursing school.

  • Tuesday, October 23, 2018 from 11:45 - 1:00

Rachel Brownlee

  • Director - Human Resources Cargill

Rachel Brownlee began her career in Human Resources with Cargill immediately after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. She has held multiple positions in Human Resources and recently moved into Continuous Improvement in which she works to drive results from the business’s strategic initiatives. Rachel has a passion around developing talent at work and making the communities in which she lives and works a better place to live. In her time with Cargill, she has had the unique opportunity to work with a diverse range of individuals that make Morgan County great through education, communication and partnerships. She believes that each community member has a responsibility to make Morgan County better not only for current residents but for future generations. Rachel and her husband Dustin enjoy spending time with their new daughter Kennady and exploring all that the state of Colorado has to offer such as hiking, skiing and running.

  • Wednesday, October 24, 2018 from 8:30 - 9:45

Danielle Ongart

  • Director Adult Education Initiatives Colorado Department of Education

Danielle Ongart is the Director of the Office of Adult Education Initiatives at the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). The office oversees federal and state grants to more than 25 programs around the state, providing technical assistance and data reporting. As a key partner in the implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, the office collaborates with various state agencies to improve adult educational attainment that will lead to meaningful employment. Prior to CDE, Danielle was an Obama Administration political appointee at the US Department of Education where she developed guidance and regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act and administered the distribution of $1 billion in federal funds. Danielle also worked in Denver Public Schools as the Associate Director of Professional Learning Implementation, where she wrote the observation and professionalism framewo work that is part of the teacher growth and performance system for 5,000 educators. Danielle began her wo wo rk in education as an elementary and middle school teacher in the Washington Heights and Harlem neighborhoods of New York City, and was a proud founding teacher at New Heights Academy Charter School. Danielle holds a B.A. in Radio / TV / Film from Northwestern University and an M.S. in Teaching from Pace University.

  • Wednesday, October 24, 2018 from 8:30 - 9:45

Dr. Misty Stroud

  • Dean of Instruction Morgan Community College

Dr. Misty Stroud serves as the Dean of Instruction at Morgan Community College where she provides leadership and support to faculty so they can focus on what is most important – helping students achieve their goals. After dropping out of high school, Misty obtained her GED and started her academic career at a small, rural community college. She has since earned her B.S., M.S., and Ph.D., all while raising two children as a single mother. Due to her experience as a non-traditional student, Misty was inspired to teach in a community college and help other non-traditional students enrich their lives through education. Her passion for education has resulted in multiple awards for teaching and innovation, including the 2016 National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) Excellence Award.

“The benchmark of a great society is not only its emphasis on education, but its commitment to providing educational opportunity to all of its members.” - Dr. Misty Stroud

  • Wednesday, October 24, 2018 from 11:45 - 1:00

Kathryn Wisner

  • Director - Pre-College and Transitional Studies Morgan Community College

Kathryn Wisner is currently the Director of the Pre-College and Transitional Studies program at Morgan Community College. She works with anyone who’s interested in a career or college but needs a little help to get there.

Kathryn is a passionate believer in the fact that education is a catalyst that transforms lives and communities. Kathryn’s work has always focused around working with those who don’t fit within the traditional educational framework from teaching special education kindergarteners to foreign attorneys in professional English classes her experiences with education run the gamut but one thing they’ve never been is typical.

Kathryn holds a Juris Doctorate with a focus and disability and education law as well as a Master’s degree focused in culturally diverse leadership from Syracuse University.Keynote Speakers Kathryn Wisner