Officers Board Members Liaison Members
Susan Wouters, President Kelly Bazan Laurie Croft, PhD, Belin-Blank Center, UI
Brooke Gevock, PhD, Secretary Catherine Blando Rosanne Malek, Iowa Dept. of Education
Chris Schultz, Treasurer Carol Boyce
Doreen Underwood, Past-President Brea Burrack
Lora (Lori) Duffy Danker
Bonnie Hilger
Michelle Kavars
Deb Mishak, PhD
Brett Monnard
Sara St. John
Nicole Umland



President Susan Wouters has been an educator with the Waukee Community School District for 22 years, working with gifted children and their families for the last 19 years as an Extended Learning Program (ELP) teacher. She has taught and facilitated gifted and talented programming at both the elementary and secondary levels, planned and implemented professional development pertaining to gifted education for K-9 staff and has served as ELP Coordinator for the district. Susan co-founded and led Waukee Academic Boosters, has presented at ITAG conferences, is a trained SENG facilitator, and teaches TAG Endorsement courses for Drake University as an adjunct instructor.  She has served on the ITAG Board of Directors since 2010, co-chaired the 2012 ITAG conference, and has served on Membership, Awards, and Educator Outreach committees.  Susan received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education from Graceland University, TAG endorsement from University of Iowa, and Masters of Science in Education, Curriculum Leadership, from Drake University. You may contact Susan at

Secretary Brooke Gevock, PhD is the current Talented and Gifted teacher at Ottumwa High School.  She is in her 4th year of teaching gifted education and her 13th year overall.  Prior to teaching talented and gifted students, Brooke taught elementary vocal music and middle school choir for the Harmony, Fairfield, and Ottumwa school districts.  Brooke holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Iowa Wesleyan University, a Master of Arts in Teaching from Morningside College, and a PK-12 Administrative License from the University of Iowa.  She was a recipient of the 2015 ITAG Research Award Grant in the Advanced Division for her research on the underrepresentation of English Language Learners for Talented and Gifted programs.  Currently, Brooke is writing her doctoral dissertation on this same topic.  As former gifted student herself, Brooke’s other passion is advocating for more adequate instruction for gifted students in regular education classes.  She can be reached at

Treasurer Christine Brunko Schultz is retired after working with bright students with math issues as a Senior Lecturer at Iowa State University and completing her 44th year in public education. Formerly she was the Talented and Gifted Strategist at Abraham Lincoln High School in Council Bluffs, Iowa. She developed and facilitated Challenge Math for elementary students. Her experience also includes both fifth and eighth grade classrooms. Her local, state, and national level presentations are numerous and have been on any and all aspects of Challenge Center Math, technology, problem solving strategies, and the appropriate programming for K-16 gifted students. She developed two of the online classes for Drake University’s online gifted endorsement and was their instructor for many years. She has also been an Instructor for the Belin-Blank Center’s Challenge Math Saturdays. Chris has served with the STEM network for NAGC (National Association for Gifted Children) for 9 years and was formerly their newsletter editor. She is the co-author of “Secondary Mathematics for High-Ability Students” a chapter in The Handbook of Secondary Gifted Education, second edition. Dixon & Moon. (2015) Prufrock Press. Waco, Texas   In 2006 she earned her Professional Achievement Certificate from NAGC exploring how to best identify and serve high ability English Language Learners at the high school level. In 1996 she was the state level awardee for The Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching at the elementary mathematics level. This award is given through the National Science Foundation with the assistance of NSTA and NCTM. Chris has also served the gifted community at the state level as a part of the board of Iowa Talented and Gifted for ten years including three years as president. She was recently appointed to the position of Treasurer and is now back serving with the Board. In 2008 she was honored by the University of Northern Iowa’s Upward Bound Math & Science Program with a Lifetime Mentoring Award. Chris is mom to 3 adult children and Nana to 3 terrific grandchildren. You may contact Chris at

Past-President Doreen Underwood has held both elementary and secondary TAG positions with the Anamosa Community Schools, the Davenport Community Schools, and the Keokuk Community School District. She currently works as a Consultant for Diverse Learners, Teacher Leadership, and School Improvement for Great Prairie AEA. Doreen received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education from the University of Northern Iowa (1994) and received her TAG Endorsement from the University of Iowa (2001). She received her Master of Arts degree in School Counseling with a gifted emphasis from the University of Iowa (2010). During her time on the ITAG board she has served as the editor and assistant editor of the ITAG News, produced the monthly ITAG Spotlight, and chaired the Governance Committee. Doreen has presented at the 2004, 2010, 2011, and 2013 ITAG Conference. In December 2007, she had an article she co-authored published in the 2e Newsletter on Meeting the Affective and Academic Needs of Gifted Students with Asperger’s Syndrome. In 2009 she served on a panel discussion for Twice Exceptional Students at the Wallace Symposium.  You may contact Doreen at

Board Members

Kelly Bazan currently serves as a Gifted and Talented Consultant for the Des Moines Public School District. She is passionate about differentiation and meeting the needs of all students in the classroom. Over the past twenty years, her experiences have ranged from being a preschool consultant to an upper elementary and middle school teacher. She has also partnered with Simpson College supervising student teachers preparing to join the field of education. Kelly earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education from Iowa State University and a Master of Arts Degree from Viterbo University. Her endorsements include: Reading, Middle School Generalist, English/Language Arts and Gifted Education. She is a trained SENG Parent Group Facilitator and thrives working with others to meet the needs of gifted students! Personally, Kelly is married and has two children that have grown up in Waukee, Iowa. She loves to shop, travel and spend time with her family!

Most recently, Catherine Blando has worked as a college supervisor for student teaching for Iowa Wesleyan University. She is lead consultant with Blando & Associates Consulting, LLC. From 2003-2012, she was Program Administrator for Curriculum and for Academic Talent Search at the Belin-Blank Center, College of Education, The University of Iowa. Her background includes teaching in Illinois, some of that time spent as a Resource Teacher and Coordinator for Gifted Education. For many years she was employed by Grant Wood Area Education Agency (AEA 10/Cedar Rapids) as Consultant for Gifted Education. As an AEA consultant she worked with school district personnel across Iowa and beyond as they developed, delivered, and evaluated their gifted education programs. She regularly provided professional development training. She is founder and for 17 years was Director of a highly successful College for Kids Program (Cornell College, Coe College), a program which continues to this day. She often presents at regional, state, national, and international meetings. She is co-author of numerous publications on general education, gifted education, thinking skills, and inventiveness. She is a member of the Board of Directors, Iowa Talented and Gifted Association (ITAG).  She was president of ITAG for two years. She was editor of the ITAG Newsmagazine for eleven years. In 2002, Catherine received ITAG’s Distinguished Service Award. She is serving her third term on the Legislative Committee for the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) and in November of 2016 in Orlando she received the NAGC David W. Belin Advocacy Award.  She has served on the boards of Waypoint and Young Parents Network in Cedar Rapids, IA. She is a licensed strategic planner, a certified Seven Habits trainer, and she works with groups using storyboards to do compression/creative action planning. Most recently, Catherine became co-leader of Mercy Medical Center’s Hospital Auxiliary.

Carol Boyce is a retired teacher of the gifted in Waterloo, Iowa. Carol is a member of ITAG, NAGC, and the Iowa Academy of Science. She is a trained SENG facilitator and has published articles on topics related to gifted children in Instructor magazine, G/C/T magazine, and Learning Today magazine. Carol has attended state, national and international gifted conferences and has been a presenter at several. She believes in supporting gifted educators, especially teachers new to the field, both in urban and rural districts. Serving on the ITAG Board has provided an opportunity to share her several years of experience as a gifted education teacher in ways that will assist in furthering the goals of the Iowa Talented and Gifted Association. You may contact Carol at

Brea Burrack received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education from University of Iowa, TAG endorsement from University of Iowa, and Masters of Science in Education from Viterbo University. Brea has worked 18 years for Waukee Community School District. Her career with Waukee started as a third grade teacher where she taught for seven years and was then hired as K-5 Extended Learning Program (ELP) teacher. Currently, Brea is the 8th/9th ELP teacher at Timberline and Prairieview Schools in Waukee. Brea works collaboratively with general education teachers, AEA staff, administration, and parents to facilitate communication as well as ensure gifted students’ needs and supports are understood and implemented.  She has taught and facilitated gifted and talented adult and student summer classes, has presented at past ITAG conference break-out sessions, and has planned and implemented professional development to K-5 staff on social/emotional, twice exceptionality, and intellectual needs of gifted students.

Lori Danker begins her 35th year as an educator, most of which have focused on gifted education. She serves as a secondary gifted and talented specialist for College Community (Prairie) in Cedar Rapids. Lori’s roles include serving as the IOAPA Site Coordinator and the district representative on Iowa Cyber Alliance. Lori holds a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary English Education from The University of Iowa; a Masters Degree as a Reading Specialist from the former Marycrest College; a Gifted Endorsement through the Belin-Blank Center at The University of Iowa; and a Master of Science in Education Leadership from Drake University. Lori has served as an adjunct instructor for the Belin-Blank Center. She has served one term on the ITAG Board of Directors with roles as a co-editor of the ITAG newsletter and the Finance Committee Chair. Lori can be reached at

Bonnie Hilger is a parent of highly gifted children in the Fairfield Community School District. She founded and leads TAG Friends, a parent group whose goals include parental networking, creating and sharing enriching opportunities, and creating a collective voice for gifted advocacy. In order to ensure the needs of all high ability students (pre-K and above) are being met, she is working closely with the district to define TAG identification policies, to create a 6-year college bound graduation plan, to create professional development for gifted classroom differentiation, and to advocate for Gifted Personalized Education Plans (PEPs), preschool-2nd grade identification policy, and increased options for subject acceleration. To better understand the issues and needs of the gifted, she has attended multi-state and national TAG conferences. Bonnie has a double major in Biology and in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and a Masters of Community and Regional Planning from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She has received three Presidential Volunteer Service Awards because of her commitment to the community. She coaches a FTC robotics team, leads a 4H club, is chair of missions at church, manages an online site for gifted education, homeschools her youngest daughter, and is a stay at home mom of two other exceptionally gifted children. You may contact Bonnie at

Michelle Kavars considers herself a grown up gifted kid, and parent to three gifted (and intense) teenagers. She is a veteran teacher who began teaching in Council Bluffs Community Schools, building a strong foundation in middle school philosophy and literacy education. She became deeply aware of the connection between unmet learning needs and students becoming at-risk. She moved to St. Albert Catholic, where she refined her passion for gifted education. She served K-12 students, developed a two-year curriculum for gifted middle school readers and writers in a workshop setting, revamped the identification process to include multiple sources of data and entry points, and helped create a comprehensive math acceleration policy. She introduced the IOAPA resources, and piloted Google Classroom and other techie tools to bring challenge to students. She also headed a K-12 initiative to prevent bullying with positive school culture, and stepped out of her comfort zone to coach a First Lego League team and grant fund and organize numerous FLL and First Tech teams for passionate STEM students. Michelle recently moved to Lewis Central Community School District as the secondary TAG Coordinator for students in middle and high school. She joins a community of teachers with experience meeting the needs of gifted students using acceleration, cluster grouping, and collaborative planning. Michelle is concerned that many Iowa teachers of the gifted are working in isolation or without mentors and would love to see ITAG foster community. Outside of school, she is usually reading, knitting, or cheering on her teenagers. Michelle holds a BA in English from the University of Northern Iowa, a K-12 TAG endorsement from Morningside College, and is taking courses toward a Master’s degree from Morningside, with a focus on gifted education and teacher leadership.

Debra Mishak, PhD is a professor of teacher education at Winona State University, and runs a private consulting/coaching practice for gifted, talented and creative teens and adults in Central Iowa.  Previously Debra served the gifted community for thirty years as a supervisor of gifted education for the Des Moines Public Schools, a clinical professor of counselor education and gifted educational administrator at The University of Iowa and the Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development, a K-12 professional school counselor, and a secondary choral director.  Debra consults regionally, nationally and internationally on the social and emotional challenges of the gifted, career development for gifted teens and adults, talent development of indigenous, refugee and immigrant children, and educator well-being.  Debra loves traveling, cooking, singing in a semi-professional choir and gardening.  You may contact her at

Brett Monnard is currently an Elementary and Middle School Gifted and Talented Coordinator in the Davenport School District.  As a student, he was involved in his district’s TAG program from elementary through high school.  He received his BA in History and Secondary Education from Wartburg College and his Gifted Endorsement from University of Northern Iowa.    He has spent the past six years serving gifted students in the middle grades and began also working with elementary students during the 2015-16 school year.  Brett presented a session at the 2012 ITAG conference on the affective programming Davenport offers its 6th Grade TAG students, and he will be presenting three sessions this year.  He has taught multiple classes at the summer College 4 Kids programs at multiple sites in the Quad Cities.  To share his passion for students’ creativity, Brett has been involved in Destination Imagination as a volunteer appraiser, a team manager and trainer.  He maintains membership in both ITAG and NAGC.

Sara St. John teaches English at Winterset High School.  She has also coordinated talented and gifted programs at the secondary level in Madrid, Keokuk, and Burlington.  She is in her fifteenth year of teaching. After graduating from the University of Northern Iowa in 2003, Sara taught English at both the middle and high school levels for eight years until a prodigious writing student inspired her to pursue additional training in talented and gifted education. She was a member of the inaugural Viterbo University Gifted Education cohort in Iowa. She is a member of ITAG and NAGC. Sara presented at the 2011 and 2015 ITAG conferences and was a member of the 2011 conference planning committee. Sara is passionate about supporting teachers to better serve their gifted students in the regular classroom and empowering gifted students to pursue their intellectual passions through independent research and project-based learning. She is chair of the ITAG communication committee and edits ITAG newsletter. Personally, Sara is married to a fellow education nerd, Corey St. John, and mother to two very active little girls. In her bits of spare time, she likes to refurbish furniture, try new recipes, listen to NPR, and chase her busy children. You may contact Sara at

Nicole Umland has been teaching talented and gifted students in the Sioux City Community School District for the last fourteen years. Her passion has always been working with children who weren’t experiencing success in the traditional classroom setting. Nicole realized after accepting this position that her definition of special education had to be redefined. Gifted children ALSO had special needs that weren’t being met in the traditional classroom. She was frustrated so little attention and instruction was given to supporting high ability learners during her undergraduate coursework. Nicole pursued further education and received her TAG endorsement in 2006 and master’s degree in 2008, both from Morningside College. In 2013, Nicole received national board certification in the area of Exceptional Needs Specialist. In addition, Nicole has facilitated and presented at numerous professional development sessions on differentiation and how to support high ability learners in the classroom.  Nicole is particularly interested in addressing the social/emotional needs of high ability learners. She co-facilitated a SENG parent support group which resulted in a parent advocacy group in community. Most recently, Nicole helped create a social emotional curriculum for grades 3-12 for the SCCSD. She thoroughly enjoys collaborating with her colleagues and administration on how to best identify and serve high ability learners. You may contact Nicole at

Liaison Members

Laurie Croft, PhD, is the Associate Director for Professional Development at the Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank International Center in Gifted Education and Talent Development, a part of the College of Education at the University of Iowa. She received her Bachelor of Arts (Honors) and Master of Arts degrees, both in History, from Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma, respectively. She earned her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership at the University of Tulsa, emphasizing gifted programming. Research interests include the conceptual foundations of gifted education and professional development for teachers of the gifted. Croft has made presentations at various state, national, and international conferences, and to parent groups, teachers, and school boards. As well, she has experience facilitating professional development in gifted education for educators from around the world. At the Belin-Blank Center, Croft is responsible for coordinating the comprehensive program of classes and workshops in gifted education that enable educators to earn an endorsement in gifted education and supervises practicum experiences for teachers of the gifted. A clinical professor in Teaching and Learning, she develops new professional educational opportunities for teachers and has designed new courses in curriculum concepts and in program models in gifted education. Croft serves as the Honors Advisor for the College of Education Honors Opportunity Program, and she encourages undergraduates in the Teacher Education Program to complete coursework in gifted education, a shortage area in Iowa, as well as other states. You may contact Laurie at

Rosanne Malek is the Education Program Consultant for K-12 Gifted/Talented Programming at the Iowa Department of Education. Rosanne’s duties at the Iowa Department of Education include supervising K-12 gifted and talented programming, administrating federal grants, and providing professional development opportunities for educators. Rosanne has presented numerous times at the Iowa Talented and Gifted State Conference and the National Association for Gifted Children National Conference. She participates as an advisory board member to the Iowa Talented and Gifted Association and she represents the Iowa Department of Education on the national Council of State Directors of Programs for the Gifted.  Rosanne served as president and as an executive board member of the Council of State Directors of Programs for the Gifted from 2006-2012. Rosanne has Administration Certification in Educational Leadership from Colorado University, a Master of Music Education degree from Johns Hopkins University/Peabody Conservatory of Music, and Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Wyoming. Prior to working in administration, Rosanne taught performing arts at the middle school and high school levels in Iowa, Wyoming, Maryland, and Colorado, the longest tenure at the Air Force Academy School District in Colorado Springs, CO. Her most recent international piano performance was in Prague, Czech Republic, in 2009. Rosanne is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Iowa.