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Innovators’ Panel:

The Innovators' Panel is back by popular demand! Join us for an energizing, engaging session featuring TED Talk-style presentations by three high-impact leaders in our field. Each innovator will share their story in hopes of inspiring us all to think big and break the mold in our work with experiential learning. During the session, audience members will be invited  to  actively engage  in  the  panel  through  a  live, back-channel question and commenting system. Use your phone to send your reactions via text message, and they will appear on a screen, in real-time,  during the talks. After  all  panelists  have  presented, the moderator will lead a discussion among panelists and audience members using the feedback generated in the live back-channel discussion. Just like last year, the Innovators’ Panel will feature  active  learning,  experiential  pedagogies,  and  innovation  in  both  content and form. Bring your phone (or other device) with you to this panel. Don’t miss it!

The speakers for the Innovators’ Panel are:

Urszula Zalewski


   Urszula Zalewski
   Director, Experiential Education
   Stony Brook University

    Presentation Slides 


Urszula Zalewski is actively involved in developing high-quality experiential opportunities meeting the needs of a diverse student population. She oversees experiential programs including successful implementation of internships, co-ops, student employment initiatives and community outreach programs that create conditions for professional and personal success of each and every student. Her expertise in career development, employer relations, recruitment, grant management, state/federal regulatory procedures, assessment and evaluation in the last 13 years brought great accomplishments to Stony Brook University including numerous awards and grants close to $1M. Urszula has an outstanding record of professional contributions to the field of experiential education through strong collaborations with on and off campus stakeholders, exceptional recruitment practices, program awards and leading capacity building efforts by increasing experiential opportunities for Stony Brook University students.


   Karen Velasquez
   Director of Experiential Learning
   University of Dayton

     Presentation Slides

Biography:  Karen Velasquez holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology and Education and a M.Ed in International Education Development from Columbia University, Teachers College in New York City. Karen is interested in how people learn through experience in diverse social contexts, and her work highlights the transformative impact of experiential learning on students’ lives. At UD she collaborates with faculty and staff who integrate innovative experiential pedagogies in their courses and programs, and she showcases students’ reflections on experiential learning through digital storytelling in her Experiential Learning Lab workshop. She is originally a Queens, New York City native of Colombian descent.

Emily Carpenter


   Emily Carpenter
   Executive Director, Center for Life's Work
   Nazareth College

  Presentation Slides


Emily Carpenter leads the Center for Life’s Work at Nazareth College.  The Center for Life’s Work includes career coaches (former Career Services office), the academic internship program, and the Center for Civic Engagement. Prior to this role, she was the director of Nazareth’s college-wide internship program and an assistant professor in the School of Management. Before joining Nazareth in January 2012, Emily was the Director of Business and Finance Programs and Senior Associate Director in the Career and Internship Center at the University of Rochester. She has been serving in career counseling, teaching, and related roles in higher education for the past eighteen years. She earned a B.S. in Business Management from SUNY Geneseo, an MSEd in Counselor Education from SUNY Brockport, and holds National Certified Counselor (NCC) and Master Career Counselor (MCC) credentials.  Emily is a blogger for the National Association of Colleges and Employers on topics related to experiential education. Outside of work, she is the mom of two boys, enjoys singing loudly in cars, going on new adventures, and eating outside when the Rochester weather cooperates.  

Moderator is: 

Todd Peterson


   Todd Petersen
   Director of Project Based Learning
   Southern Utah University 



Biography:  Dr. Todd Petersen is a professor of English and the Executive Director of Experiential Learning at Southern Utah University. He oversees the university's experiential learning requirement and directs the university's EDGE Project-Based Learning Program. Before his academic life, Petersen was an environmental educator and assistant program director for the YMCA of Greater Seattle. He is also a novelist with a new book out this year called IT NEEDS TO LOOK LIKE WE TRIED and another in the works called PICNIC IN THE RUINS, which is a crime comedy set in a newly-formed National Monument located somewhere in the desert Southwest.