Keynote Speakers

March 29, 2017


Robert Ricigliano, Systems & Complexity Coach, The Omidyar Group

rob-headshot-copyRobert Ricigliano is a systems and complexity coach at The Omidyar Group where he supports and guides teams within organizations and initiatives in efforts to better understand and effectively engage with dynamic systems. The systems practice at The Omidyar Group is built on Robert’s pioneering work using systems and complexity tools in peacebuilding and social change. This foundational work is captured in his book, Making Peace Last: a systemic approach to sustainable peacebuilding (2012).

Prior to joining The Omidyar Group, Robert served as an adjunct professor and co-director of the master of sustainable peacebuilding degree program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), a non-resident fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University, and consulted on peacebuilding in complex environments. He has worked with the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Department of Defense, and the Department of State, as well as with non-governmental organizations, foundations, leaders of armed groups, and political parties in the U.S. and in conflict zones around the world.

He serves as an Emeritus Board Member for the Alliance for Peacebuilding.


Deanna Singh, Chief Change Agent and Founder of Flying Elephant

flying-elephants-headshotDeanna Singh is recognized as a leading authority in building innovative opportunities within underserved communities.  As Chief Change Agent and Founder of Flying Elephant, she is a highly respected thought leader who has spent almost 20 years researching, designing and building asset based solutions to complex social challenges.  Today she travels the world inspiring and educating audiences.

A gifted communicator, Deanna’s interactive style combines personal stories with authenticity, vulnerability and humor that takes the audience on a journey of self-discovery.

An entrepreneurial businesswoman and trailblazer, Deanna serves as the President of the Dohmen Company Foundation. Her 15 years of education administration, social entrepreneurship and advocacy experience also included leadership positions with the Burke Foundation, Robert W. Baird Foundation, Milwaukee Renaissance Academy, Legal Action of Wisconsin and The Milwaukee Street Law Project. Singh is an adjunct professor at Marquette University teaching Social Justice and Social Movements.  She recently completed her first children’s book, I Am A Boy of Color.

Singh was recognized by the Milwaukee Business Journal as one of the community’s most influential 40 under 40 leaders.  She is also the recipient of the United Way’s Philanthropic Five Award, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Leadership Development Hero Award and was a White House Fellowship Regional Finalist.

She currently serves on the boards of LIFT, and The Milwaukee Public Schools Foundation and is a member of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund Speakers Bureau.  Past board roles include but are not limited to Marquette University’s College of Professional Studies Advisory Board and the Wisconsin Bar Association’s Diversity Committee.

A native of Milwaukee, Singh earned her Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies from Fordham University, a Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University, and a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.


Workshop Facilitators

March 29-31, 2017

Joost Allard, Co-founder, Learn Deep


For the past several years, Joost has chosen to apply his 25+ years of experience to the intersection of technology, innovation and education. His breadth of experience includes starting and advising startups, designing and coaching growing companies on how to develop partnerships successfully, as well as managing IT development projects at a variety of companies.

Joost has served in leadership roles in charitable and professional associations throughout his career in the Netherlands, Germany and the U.S.

Joost has a graduate degree in business from the University of St. Thomas (MN), a combined business and technology management degree from the City College of Frankfurt and a BA education (TOEFL and Dutch) degree from teacher training college in the Netherlands.


Tracy Benson, President, Waters Foundation


As a leader, author and innovator in the fields of systems thinking and organizational learning, Tracy Benson, Ed.D. brings extensive practitioner experience to her organization’s education and corporate work. As an educator, she has taught at elementary and secondary levels and has been a school principal and district level instructional coach and evaluator.  In addition to K-12 experience, Tracy has served as an adjunct professor in both undergraduate and graduate university programs for teachers and administrators.  She has been a contributing author to several books and most recently is co-author of the Habit-forming Guide to Becoming a Systems Thinker.

Tracy leads a national team of exceptional educators who skillfully make systems thinking concepts and tools accessible to real-world, practical applications.  From the classroom to the boardroom, her capacity building and coaching sessions engage, motivate and inspire people wanting to make positive differences in their thinking, learning and leading.


Katheryn Cubberley, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee


Katie earned a Master of Sustainable Peacebuilding from UW-Milwaukee in 2016 and a BS in Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics with an emphasis in Spanish Education from Indiana State University in 2009. Prior to joining the MSP, she taught K-12 Spanish and translated for Physicians for Peace in Ecuador.

Katie’s masters research and fieldwork focused on capacity building within communities and giving an equal voice to all involved through a systems thinking lens. Katie plans to continue working to bridge communication gaps not only between languages and cultures internationally, but languages and cultural differences among professional silos. Katie is among the first students to graduate with a MSP from UWM, and is currently assisting the program with community projects.


Tim Elhinger, Director and Co-founder of the Master of Sustainable Peacebuilding, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee


Tim is the Director and Co-founder of the Master of Sustainable Peacebuilding at UW-Milwaukee and professor of Systems Ecology in the Center for Global Health Equity in the College of Nursing. He is an evolutionary ecologist, receiving his PhD from the Kellogg Biological Station of Michigan State University where his research explored the complex ways that individuals, populations and communities adapt to disturbance and changing environments. Since arriving at UWM, he and his students have carried out numerous projects in aquatic restoration ecology, using the principles of social-ecological resilience theory to engage communities in holistic planning, strategic design, project implementation and adaptive management.  He has worked in Wisconsin, Costa Rica, Romania and the Balkans/Black Sea region, and more recently with MSP Partners in Kenya, Guatemala and Ecuador. His published research spans topics including adaptive learning, risk management, stressor-response relationships, community engagement, environmental governance, and implications of policy interventions on ecosystem services, conflict transformation and environmental health.


Beth Fetterley Heller, Senior Director of Education and Strategic Planning, Urban Ecology Center


Beth Fetterley Heller, Senior Director of Education and Strategic Planning at the Urban Ecology Center, has dedicated the past 17 of her 22 years in education to the growth of urban environmental education programs in Milwaukee, WI. Starting from a single classroom in a double-wide trailer, hosting 6000 nature-based field trips annually, she now directs education and activities at the Urban Ecology Center’s three branches and two state-of-the-art green buildings that provide more than 200,000 learning opportunities for people of all ages each year. Programs created and run by Beth include the Neighborhood Environmental Education Project for 63 urban schools, a job training program for high school students, and an intergenerational research program where adults and children participate in undergraduate and graduate field research projects led by over 20 colleges, universities and institutions. Immediately after achieving her bachelor degree in biology and education, she taught high school biology. She then went on to lead Elderhostel environmental education programs in New York, rehabilitate wildlife and open a day care center in New Mexico, all before returning to her hometown of Milwaukee. While at the Urban Ecology Center, Beth received her MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, was awarded the 2009 Business Journal 40 under 40 Award for community leadership in Milwaukee, the 2008 Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History Award, the Blanch Hornbeck Award for Nature Education and the 2004 Educator of the Year from Wisconsin’s Conservation Congress.


Sheri Marlin, Chief Learning Officer, Waters Foundation

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Sheri Marlin, M.Ed. writes, speaks and collaborates with others to apply systems thinking in real-world contexts. She has taught preschool through graduate school and has worked as a building principal and district curriculum specialist. Sheri finds tremendous satisfaction in facilitating teams of people as they develop shared vision and achieve desired results. By providing resources and sparking curiosity, Sheri keeps learning at the center of everything she does. She believes that when people understand and apply the tools and habits of systems thinking, they are more likely to engage in meaningful, life-long learning and innovation. Sheri is co-author of the Habit-forming Guide to Becoming a Systems Thinker.


Mary Quinnan, Facilitator and Coach, Waters Foundation


Mary Quinnan, M.Ed. builds on her experience as former Director of Elementary/K-8 Leadership for Tucson Unified School District to facilitate and coach district and school leaders, including teachers, in the tools and strategies of systems thinking and deeper learning.  Mary has an extensive administrative background working with schools in improvement in high minority, high poverty communities to ensure equity and access to quality, research-based best practices.  She believes that building professional capacity in the application of systems thinking with educational leaders, and addressing the cultural impact of our work, allows the education system to foster an engaging, effective, student-centered learning environment for every child.


Pete Reynolds, Co-founder, Learn Deep


Pete has spent much of the past 25 years managing cross-functional teams in the development and implementation of new technologies for new and rapidly growing companies. That brought with it a need for immersion in the methodologies of Design Thinking, Agile Software Development, User Experience Design, and the Lean Business Canvas — tools and processes designed to foster the rapid understanding of a problem from the customer’s perspective and iterate quickly to arrive at a sustainable solution.

Pete holds Master’s degrees in Architecture and Urban Planning from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a BS in Urban and Regional Studies from Cornell University.


Susan Russell, Teacher, Story School, Milwaukee Public Schools

Susan has been a special education teacher with Milwaukee Public Schools for 24 years.  She is also a supervisor and academic coordinator for the SSP after school program as well as a freelance writer for various education websites.  Susan has been implementing systems thinking habits, tools and strategies into her classroom for over three years.


Mary Scheetz, Former Director, Waters Foundation Systems Thinking In Education


Mary Scheetz, M.Ed. has over 40 years experience as an innovative teacher, administrator, project director and consultant. As a middle school principal, she created the first Waters Foundation K-12 Systems Thinking in Education site project, and from 1989 to 2007, as Director of Waters Foundation projects, Mary facilitated national expansion of the Waters Foundation’s K-12 work

Mary has presented systems thinking work in numerous national and international education conferences and facilitated related workshops. As an assistant superintendent, she implemented strategies for the integration of systems thinking in school improvement and into classroom instruction across the district.  Mary also developed the inaugural Systems Thinking Institute, involving participants from multiple school districts and universities in the hosting region.  Her years of work with systems thinking in education are rooted in Mary’s belief that all students are capable of the deeper critical thinking levels that systems thinking habits and tools produce and her desire to see all students have access to systems thinking.


Judy Stevenson, Teacher, Story School, Milwaukee Public Schools

Judy has been a teacher with Milwaukee Public Schools for 25 years.  She has taught the 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 7th grade and has been a special education teacher for 10 years.  Judy has been implementing systems thinking habits, tools and strategies into her classroom for over three years.


Joan Yates, Vice President, Waters Foundation


Joan Yates spent the first 15 years of her educational career teaching middle level English and mathematics and serving as a middle school administrator. Since then, Joan has been devoted to bringing the concepts and strategies of systems thinking to young people by building the capacity of the adults who work with them. For 17 years, she did that by serving as Director of the Systems Thinking Project in Tucson, Arizona’s Catalina Foothills School District. Now she facilitates professional development and follow-up coaching sessions nationally and internationally, believing that systems thinking provides powerful habits and visual tools that can enhance everyone’s critical thinking and questioning skills. Joan also derives great pleasure from working closely with many of the Waters Foundation Associates, assisting them throughout their certification process and continuing as a resource to them once they become facilitators.