TKCCC Seventh Annual Counselor Conference

2024 Keynote Speaker and Session Presenters

Liz Huntley


Elizabeth "Liz" HuntleyKeynote Speaker

Elizabeth “Liz” Huntley is an accomplished litigation attorney, dedicated child advocate, author, and lecturer. Liz is the President and Co-Founder of the Hope Institute which is an organization in Alabama that helps schools build a culture of character for their students. She practices law at Lightfoot, Franklin & White, LLC in Birmingham, Alabama.

Liz serves on multiple civic boards, commissions, and task forces throughout Alabama and the country. She regularly speaks to groups throughout the U.S., often referencing her own journey, as described in her published memoir, More Than A Bird.

Liz earned her law degree from the University of Alabama School of Law, where she now serves on the Law School Foundation Board of Governors. She received her undergraduate degree from Auburn University, where she is now a member of the Auburn University Board of Trustees.

Liz and her husband, Tony, live in Alabama and have three children.

Danielle Aguilar

Danielle Aguilar, M.A., Counselor
Summit Collegiate High School, Burton School District

Danielle Aguilar is a counselor at Summit Collegiate High School. She has been in education for over 15 years and is now in her 10th year working for Burton School District (BSD). After growing up going to schools in BSD, she loves being able to work in the district that helped her become who she is. Prior to working for Burton, Danielle worked for the Tulare County Office of Education as a Behavior Specialist and a School Psychologist. Her focus has always been on ensuring students are set up for success. As a high school counselor, Danielle wants to ensure students transition out of the district and into the world prepared and confident.

Adrianne Ashford

Adrianne Ashford, College & Career Counselor
Dinuba Unified School District

Adrianne Ashford is a dedicated district College & Career counselor with Dinuba Unified School District. She has been in education for 23 years as a school counselor and site administrator at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. With an unyielding passion for empowering young individuals, Adrianne has made it her mission to inspire children to discover their purpose and explore their career interests. 

In her role as a District College and Career Counselor, Adrianne is committed to positively influencing and shaping the lives of young students, fostering a sense of purpose, and igniting their journey toward a fulfilling and successful future.

Crystal Avila

Crystal Avila, School Counselor
Royal Oaks Elementary, Visalia Unified School District

Crystal Avila is a current elementary School Counselor for the Visalia Unified School District. She earned a master's degree in school social work and a PPS in school counseling from California State University, Fresno in 2004. As a commitment to lifelong learning, Crystal also attended Fresno Pacific University in 2010 and obtained her master's degree in educational leadership and a preliminary administrative credential. She has 16 years of education experience in elementary and middle school.

Prior to getting into the field of education, she worked in law enforcement for the Fresno County Juvenile Justice System. Working with incarcerated youth was what prompted her decision to work with youth in a different capacity and take a proactive approach that would better set them up for success. Hence her move into education. The transition was not as seamless as she anticipated, and she openly shares her struggle in moving from an adapted punitive practice to a restorative one. A mentor in education enhanced her perspective that restoration is the real game changer. It was a true paradigm shift for her. When Crystal was presented with the opportunity to be a trainer for restorative practices, she took it as fate. She strives to spread the concepts and strategies that are proven to work with all students and staff.

Kyle Castleman

Kyle Castleman, Education Programs Consultant
CA Department of Education, Career and College Transition Division

Kyle Castleman is an education programs consultant in the career and college transition division of the California Department of Education (CDE), supporting the California Career Resource Network and California Educators Together platforms. Prior to joining the CDE, he was a vocational high school campus principal and has also served in the roles of vice principal, curriculum specialist, educational technology lead, and teacher. When not working, Kyle loves exploring the outdoors with his wife and three-year-old daughter.

Jessica Chacon

Jessica Chacon, School Counselor
Minarets High School, Chawanakee Unified School District

Jessica Chacon is a school counselor at Minarets High School for Chawanakee Unified School District in the mountain community of O’Neals, California. This is her seventh year as a school counselor, where she supports grades 9-12 while also serving as the middle school liaison, helping seventh and eighth graders transition to high school. She received her PPS Credential from California State University, Fresno and her master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Chadron State College in Nebraska, where she played collegiate volleyball. In her free time, she enjoys Disneyland and spending time with her husband and soon-to-be three kids. 

Heather Elias

Heather Elias, College & Career Engagement Specialist
Tulare County Office of Education

Heather holds a Master's degree in School Counseling as well as a PPS credential. She works within the College & Career Readiness Department at the Tulare County Office of Education, and a large part of her role revolves around the creation of data visuals. In her work, she focuses on the storytelling aspect of data visualization, as well as the visual appeal because she knows that an eye-catching and easily understandable display is much more likely to translate into something actionable. One of the most enjoyable parts of her job is processing student surveys and empathy interview data because she gets to see what the kids have to say, in their own words. It has become her new crusade to encourage educators to incorporate student voice into their work as much as possible.

Selma Gonzalez

Selma Gonzalez, Director, Engagement & Implementation
CA College Guidance Initiative (CCGI)

Selma Gonzalez serves as the Director of Engagement & Implementation for the Central Valley region, driving efforts to close equity gaps by building partnerships with school districts and communities to ensure work is centered on the needs and experiences of students, families, and educators. Before joining CCGI, Selma worked in education for over 20 years in roles that supported equitable opportunities for students to have the widest array of postsecondary options, including 11 years as a high school counselor and head counselor, and 10 years in district leadership roles. She has supported both Fresno Unified and Madera Unified School Districts in standardizing counseling services and programs to ensure that all students, regardless of the school they attend, receive high-quality counseling services. Selma earned her bachelor’s degree in health science with a focus on community health, as well as her Master of Arts degree in education counseling and student services from California State University, Fresno.

Brandon Gridiron

Brandon Gridiron, Administrator, Equity and Student Services and Interim Principal
Redwood High School, Visalia Unified School District

Brandon Gridiron currently serves as the Administrator of Equity & Student Services for Visalia Unified School District and Interim Principal at Redwood High School. He is responsible for ensuring ALL students of Visalia Unified receive the necessary support to reach their full academic and social potential and are successfully prepared for college, career, and life success. Dr. Gridiron earned his doctorate in Educational Leadership, his master's degree in counseling student services and his administrative credential in educational leadership from California State University, Fresno.

Tina Gutierrez

Tina Gutierrez, District Counselor
Visalia Unified School District

Tina is a School Counselor and has been with Visalia Unified for 8.5 years. Tina began working in education as a college counselor in 2009. In 2015, she began working with Visalia Unified as an education specialist. In 2021, she stepped into a role as a school counselor, and then in 2022, as a district counselor. She believes that being intentional with all students is one of the most important factors of being an impactful educator. 

She earned her Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies/psychology and Master of Arts Education with her PPS and education specialist credentials from Fresno Pacific University. Since 2011, she has been a professor who teaches undergraduate and graduate-level courses. 

Shelsy Hutchison

Shelsy Hutchison, College & Career Engagement Specialist
Tulare County Office of Education, Tulare Kings College + Career Collaborative (TKCCC)

Shelsy Hutchison has worked in education for over 12 years and is currently the College and Career Engagement Specialist at Tulare County Office of Education. She has a BA in psychology from Chapman University, an MBA from Brandman University, and two CTE credentials: Business and Finance as well as Marketing, Sales and Service. Throughout her career she has worked in many different industries including Sales, Marketing, Education and Entrepreneurship. Before TCOE she spent seven years as a high school business teacher leading a Linked Learning Business Finance Academy. She is an advocate for change and a champion for all CTE.

Virginia Long

Virginia Long, M.A., PPS, Elementary School Counselor
Rocky Hill Elementary School, Exeter Unified School District

Through 24 years of dedicated service in the field of education, Virginia's professional growth has been enriched through serving students as a behavior specialist/counselor, counselor technician, rehabilitation specialist, client advocate, and preschool teacher to a group facilitator. 

Virginia's diverse background has uniquely positioned her to connect with the students she serves, allowing her to play a significant role in providing all students the highest level of academic, behavioral, and social-emotional support. Her passion is deeply rooted in working with students and actively contributing to their success. She firmly believes that cultivating trustworthy relationships with students is pivotal in creating positive and impactful learning experiences that empower students to thrive, learn, succeed, and discover their inherent worth and unrealized potential.

Jared Marr

Jared Marr, Staff Development and Curriculum Specialist-STEM
Tulare County Office of Education, Educational Resource Services (ERS)

Jared is passionate about education. From his time as a classroom teacher where his goal was to provide a safe and enriching experience for his students, to his current role with the Tulare County Office of Education where he supports teachers and administrators to improve teaching (and systems).

John Merris Coots

John Merris-Coots, Education Programs Consultant
California Department of Education, CalCRN

John Merris-Coots served as the coordinator of the California Career Resource Network (CalCRN) program at the California Department of Education (CDE) since May 2008. He has been an Education Programs Consultant at the CDE and supported the development of CalCRN’s career development resources since 1998. Under John’s leadership, the CalCRN has developed new web and mobile resources including the newest, Career Surfer Desktop app. 

Melissa Montes

Melissa Montes, M.A., PPS, School Counselor
Exeter Union High School, Exeter Unified School District

Melissa is in her 11th year at Exeter Union High School as a counselor. Prior to that, she was a teacher at Lindsay Unified School District. She lives in Exeter with her husband and two children. She has a passion for helping high school-age students navigate the many hurdles of adolescence and find their path to young adulthood. 

Whitney Moorhead

Whitney Moorhead, School Counselor
Burton School District

Whitney has been a school counselor for seven years with Burton School District. She grew up in Porterville, California, and received her bachelor's degree from California State University, Fresno, followed by her master's degree from National University. In her years as a counselor, she's had the privilege to work with students at the middle school and high school level. Helping students grow and succeed academically and personally is what she strives for as a school counselor. It is important to her that her students feel supported and are provided a safe environment in the school setting. She has the opportunity to provide students with academic counseling as well as social-emotional support, and also provides students with college and career learning that will help them prepare for their future.

Ryleigh Morrison

Ryleigh Morrison, M.A., PPS, CTE & School Counselor
Exeter Unified School District

Inspired by the dedication of her high school counselor, Ryleigh found a passion within herself for helping young adults identify their passions and drive for success. She received her B.S. in Psychology from California State University, Fresno, and continued her education at Fresno Pacific University, receiving her Master in School Counseling and PPS Credential. Currently, in her first year as a school counselor, Ryleigh is excited about the growth potential this new position has opened for the district. She lives by the phrase “life-long learner”, as she continuously strives for more knowledge and resources to properly equip our students for post secondary success. 

Grecia Pacheco

Grecia Pacheco, K12 Pathway Coordinator
Tulare County Office of Education/College of the Sequoias

Grecia has a strong commitment to promoting equity and inclusion in education. She is dedicated to removing educational barriers and granting access and opportunities for marginalized young adults to achieve their academic and professional aspirations. As K12 Pathway Coordinator, Grecia is in a unique role. She helps to bridge the gap between K-12, higher education, and the broader educational landscape within the county.

Lisa Parkin

Lisa Parkin, M.A., PPS, School Counselor
Exeter Union High School, Exeter Unified School District

Connecting with young people and supporting them has been a passion of Lisa's since high school. As an Exeter Union High School alumni, she is proud to be back at her alma mater, where her journey to becoming a school counselor began. She graduated from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo with a B.S. in Sociology and went on to receive her masters in counseling psychology and PPS credential from the University of San Francisco.  

Over the past 15 years, Lisa has dedicated her life to youth development through the California Friday Night Live Partnership as a prevention specialist, San Luis Obispo County behavioral health student support counselor, middle school counselor, and now a high school counselor. Through her experiences in working with young people, families, and communities, she is a strong advocate for empowering young people to reach their full potential and be the best version of themselves.  Through providing a comprehensive school counseling program, ALL students have access to academic, social-emotional, and college/career support. Through EUHS’ school counseling program, students will enhance their attitudes, skills, knowledge, and dispositions needed in preparation for post-secondary education, career development, and becoming a productive citizen of our community.  

Forever A Monarch! Empowering Lives Through Learning!

Carmita Pena

Carmita Pena, Coordinator of College & Careers
Woodlake High School

Mrs. Carmita Peña is the Coordinator of College & Careers at Woodlake High School (WHS). As a WHS alumni, she takes pride in coming back to her roots to guide and educate students in the small rural community of Woodlake. After high school, Mrs. Peña completed her Bachelor’s degree in psychology, followed by a Master in Science in counseling and student services, and a Pupil Personal Services Credential (PPS) all through California State University, Fresno. She started her counseling career in 2004 as a counselor at WHS. Mrs. Peña then returned to school to earn her Administrative Services Credential, and after two years, she became the Dean/Head Counselor for 10 years. She is going on her ninth year as the coordinator of college & careers and still enjoys every minute of it. 

Favorite Quote:
“Attitude is the little thing that makes a big difference.” 
Winston Churchill 

Darcy Phillips

Darcy Phillips, CTE High School Liaison
College of the Sequoias

Darcy Phillips is passionate about her role as the CTE High School Liaison at College of the Sequoias. The position allows her to use her educational and industry engagement experience to assist students in finding a fulfilling career that will provide financial security for their future. 

Rose Rodriguez

Roselia Rodriguez, Career Services Coordinator
College of the Sequoias

Roselia Rodriguez is a Career Services Coordinator at College of the Sequoias (COS), where she supports students in all things career-related, including resumes, cover letters, mock interviews, networking and hiring events, and more! She also supports employers who are seeking to hire COS students. In her free time Roselia enjoys playing basketball and spoiling her dog, Tito! 

Greg Salcedo

Greg Salcedo, Mental Health Professional
Tulare County Office of Education

Greg Salcedo is a Mental Health Professional for the Tulare County Office of Education Behavioral Health Services. Greg has been with Behavioral Health Services for over 10 years working on behaviors and mental health. He is currently providing a variety of trainings that include mental health, suicide intervention, and behaviors. Greg is currently placed in the school setting and provides students, families, and staff with mental health support. Greg provides students with coping strategies to manage their life stressors. Greg works collaboratively with other services providers to ensure the needs of students and families are met.

Jonna Schengel

Jonna Schengel, PT, MA, Ed.D., Dean of CTE, Workforce Development, Nursing and Allied Health
College of the Sequoias

Dr. Schengel comes to her role in higher education from the lens of an employer. She graduated from UCSF and has worked in a variety of clinical settings as a physical therapist. She owned and managed a private practice and understands the needs of employers in building a skilled workforce. Her education also includes a Master's in Education from San Francisco State University and a Doctorate of Education Leadership from the University of the Pacific. 

As a program director and the CTE Dean, Dr. Schengel understands the role of California community colleges and their vital role in workforce development, especially in our region, where many of the jobs require technical training. She has a passion for helping students make the transition successfully from college to employment. As the CTE Dean she has learned true workforce development has not occurred unless students transition to a job in their area of study.

Dr. Schengel and her team at COS partner with TCOE/TKCCC to ensure students from K-12 understand the GIANT Pathways and programs at COS to increase the number of students who make the transition to post-secondary education. 

Ashley Shaffer

Ashley Shaffer, Engagement & Implementation Training Manager
CA College Guidance Initiative (CCGI)

As Training Manager on the Engagement & Implementation team, Ashley Shaffer promotes educators’ successful utilization of planning and application tools through high-quality, individualized support to educators and year-round virtual training. Before joining CCGI, she served as a school counselor with Monterey Peninsula Unified School District. Ashley earned her BA in English, MEd degree, and Single-Subject Teaching Credential at Mills College, and MC degree at Adams State University.

Amanda Southard

Amanda Southard, Associate Clinical Social Worker (ACSW)
Tulare County Office of Education

Amanda Southard is an Associate Clinical Social Worker (ACSW) and Trainer for Tulare County Office of Education Behavioral Health Services. Amanda has experience working with victims of human trafficking, foster youth, and both children and adults with mental health disorders. In addition, she has experience working within the school setting to provide mental health services to students through therapeutic interventions. Amanda focuses on providing support to those in need by collaborating with community agencies, school staff, and families.

Laura Walls

Laura Walls, Coordinator, CA Career Resource Network
California Department of Education

Laura Walls is the coordinator for the California Career Resource Network program at the California Department of Education. Laura previously worked on the development of the California Science Test, the California Alternate Assessment for Science, and Smarter Tools for Teachers. Laura has 20 years of experience in science and career education.

Sarah White

Sarah White, Counselor on Special Assignment
Madera Unified School District

Sarah has been a counselor with Madera Unified School District for 17 years. She served as head counselor and the master schedule lead at Madera South High School for nine years. She is currently working at the district level as the Counselor on Special Assignment, supporting all secondary counselors in the district and working on the master schedule development for all middle schools and high schools.  

January 31, 2024

8:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Tulare County Office of Education
6200 S. Mooney Blvd.
Visalia, CA 93277

Coffee & Pastries

Registration is closed.