It is so much easier for children to learn when we are all welcome and feel whole. With community building and helping us be our best selves in mind to optimize learning, HSC is proud to announce our two 2020 Keynote speakers:
Elissa Berrol and Saira Siddiqui!
Elissa Berrol is an insightful, collaborative change agent who relentlessly pursues strategies and interactions that challenge old narratives and help people see and hold multiple perspectives. She works with individuals, teams, and leaders at all levels to (re)connect to their values, investigate the accuracy of their story, and choose actions from a place of integrity and authenticity. She comes from a rich organizational consulting and coaching background supporting corporate, nonprofit and individual clients.
Elissa creates a safe environment for honest dialogue and diversity of thought while employing humor and natural enthusiasm to break down barriers and create a safe space to experiment with new ways of seeing and being. While she has a down-to-earth grassroots approach, her quick mind and ability to cut through old narratives, without causing defensiveness, enables individual leaders and teams to move beyond old tapes and consider new possibilities and solutions. Elissa rolls up her sleeves and dives in to listen deeply, ask powerful questions to tap into the inherent wisdom of the individual and/or group.
Elissa’s scope of expertise includes leadership and team coaching and facilitation, leadership development, deep culture evolution, change leadership, and curriculum design and training. She is passionate about helping organizations increase their internal capacity to successfully navigate complex issues and challenges.
Elissa holds a Masters from Harvard University in Education, as well as a Masters from Sonoma State University in Organization Development. She is a credentialed ICF Coach through The Coaches Training Institute (CTI) and is certified in a variety of techniques and modalities including, but not limited to:
Integrative Enneagram Practitioner, Integrative Enneagram Solutions
Myers Briggs (MBTI)
The Leadership Profile 360 Assessment
Dare To Lead, Brene Brown
Graphic Facilitation, The Grove
Saira Siddiqui is a freelance writer/parent educator. She is a fierce advocate of critical thinking, anti-bias, self-directed education (unschooling), and stronger emotional health for parents and children. Thousands of families have benefitted from her teachings through courses, articles, and her blog, Confessions of a Muslim Mom. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in Social Education. Prior to having children, she taught for several years in the public and private sector. She has been featured in Parents Magazine, Forbes, NPR parents, and Yahoo parents. She currently lives in Chia, Colombia, where she and her husband are raising three, never-been-schooled, global citizens.
Please join us at the 2020 HSC conference to hear Elissa and Saira speak in person!
Check back, we will be adding more Featured Speakers soon!
Aaron Eden has been transforming education since way back when he hacked his own high school experience. He has been designing and facilitating novel learning experiences for and with others ever since. In addition to being a leading voice in equity-based, co-creative learning and parenting, Aaron is Executive Director at the Institute for Applied Tinkering, the parent organization of Brightworks which is consistently listed as one of the most innovative schools in the world. He is also founding partner at Eliad Group, a transformation design firm, where he works with schools and businesses around the world to shift from command-and-control to co-creation as the basis for purposeful, innovative endeavor. Aaron’s ultimate mission is to re-humanize how we work, learn, live, and lead.
Akilah S. Richards is a writer, an unschooling organizer and podcaster, and a founding board member of The Alliance for Self-Directed Education. She is the primary voice behind Raising Free People Network, a community-oriented project that uses various media and training to challenge and encourage social justice-minded people to explore privilege and power in their relationships with children. Akilah's focus is helping Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities utilize unschooling as a tool for decolonizing learning, and for liberating themselves from oppressive, exclusive systems.
Elana K Arnold
Elana K. Arnold is a National Book Award finalist and the author of the BAT trilogy, beginning with A Boy Called Bat, a 2018 Global Read Aloud selection. She holds a master’s degree in Creative Writing/Fiction from the University of California, Davis, and she is on the faculty of Hamline University’s Masters in Writing for Children Program. She lives in Huntington Beach, California, with her family and many pets.
Erika Davis-Pitre and her husband Michael have 4 children - one daughter (41) and three sons (37, 35 & 27). They also have two sons-in-law, two daughters-in-law and two grandsons (13 & 6). She and her husband have moved back to San Francisco full-time after living in Connecticut for more than a decade. They have been unschooling for many years and love it, so Erika is always looking for opportunities to share their unschooling joy with others.
Erika has spoken at many un/homeschooling conferences, led quite a few funshops/workshops and has hosted and participated in many round table discussions about unschooling all over the US and Canada. She especially enjoys talking about unschooling teens, sharing the joy of unschooling and celebrating diversity through unschooling. And last year, she agreed to become Co-President of HSC, adding her voice to an organization that is all about supporting all homeschoolers in California.
Lainie and MIro
Lainie Liberti, a mom and recovering branding expert (whose 18 year career once focused on creating campaigns for green – eco businesses, non-profits and conscious businesses) and her now 21-year-old son Miro Siegel, set out 11 years ago on what became a life changing journey. In 2008, California’s economy took a turn causing the closure of many local businesses. Lainie and then 9-year-old Miro decided to “be the change” instead of victims as the pair began the process of redesigning their lives, with the dream of spending stress-free quality time together. After closing her business, selling and giving away all of their possessions, Lainie and Miro hit the road for what was to be a one year adventure mid-2009.
Eleven years, and almost fifty countries (and countless personal changes) later, Lainie and Miro continue to slow travel around the globe, living an inspired possession-free-lifestyle, volunteering and learning naturally from the world around them.
Both Lainie and Miro have been forever changed, inspired by diverse cultures, histories, languages and traditions, often encouraging the pair to examine their own humanity and interconnectedness. Lainie and Miro have become advocates for life learning at any age, combined with travel. They call it “worldschooling."
In 2011, the mother and son duo co-founded Project World School in hopes of bringing this experience to others. Project World School was born from an inspired idea: co-create temporary learning communities around the world with teens and young adults, in order to collaborate in rich experiential and social learning. During the retreats, both natural and academic learning occurs through immersive cultural experiences while encouraging social learning, teamwork and leadership.
In addition to the teen retreats, Lainie and Miro also host two international family conferences a year called the Project World School Family Summits. To date, they's produced six summits, hosting hundreds of families and providing community for worldschoolers around the globe.
Rob Endres is an Investment Advisor for Stonebrook Capital Management and he is also an insurance agent, but more importantly, he’s an unschooling dad to two boys, Brady 27 and Jonathan 23. Rob and his wife Laura have unschooled for over 17 years and now have moved from the family farm in northern Illinois to sunny Los Angeles.
Samantha Matalone Cook
Samantha Matalone Cook, MAT, has almost three decades of experience in education, program development, and the arts and has worked with both small and large organizations to create educational programming that centers and connects the learner to concepts and skills. She has taught in classrooms and in private workshops, mentored other educators, and worked for and with many museums including the Smithsonian. Samantha home educated her own kids and is a vocal advocate for consensual, knowledge and skill rich, experiential education. To see her past and current projects, including her blog and her upcoming book on Project-Based Learning and History Odyssey curriculum, please visit
Wes Beach has 58 years' experience in education. He spent 32 years in public and private schools as a teacher in grades K-14 and as the director of alternative education programs. In 1993 he wised up and left the public schools. He is currently Director of Beach High School, a private high school consisting of a home office and an attitude that offers a wide variety of alternatives to traditional schooling. More than 1,500 people have graduated from BHS without a traditional high school education and have succeeded in a wide variety of endeavors, including but not limited to reaching the highest levels of formal education. Wes has served on the board of the HomeSchool Association of California (HSC) and is at present the Teen Adviser for both HSC and the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum (GHF). He is the author of "Forging Paths: Beyond Traditional Schooling" and "Self-Directed Learning: Documentation and Life Stories." Wes lives with his wife and two cats in Soquel, California, two miles from the waters of Monterey Bay.