Professional Development

Plenary Speaker and Panel Facilitator


Dr. Colleen Sears is an Associate Professor and the Coordinator of Music Education at The College of New Jersey where she founded the Institute for Social Justice in the Arts. Her research focuses on issues of equity and access in music education. She recently authored a book chapter entitled, “Put Your Big Girl Panties On: A Female Band Director’s Career in a Culture of Masculinity” which appears in Marginalized Voices in Music Education. Her current projects challenge students and educators in collegiate and K-12 settings to engage with issues of social justice through music performance and interdisciplinary aesthetic experiences. She holds a Bachelor of Music from The College of New Jersey, a Master of Arts from the Eastman School of Music and a Doctor of Education in music education from Teachers College, Columbia University.



Kim Pearson is an associate professor of journalism at The College of New Jersey and a board member of To Be Fair, Inc., a nonprofit organization developing the Tarbell solutions journalism platform. Her work focuses on broadening participation in computational journalism and building civic media platforms. Her research has attracted support from Microsoft Research, the National Science Foundation and the New Jersey Council of the Humanities. In 2,000, she was selected as New Jersey Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support for Education. Her current project is Trenton Makes Music ( , which documents the out-sized contributions of artists from New Jersey's capital city to the nation's popular music history. She is a member of the Online News Association, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History and the National Association of Black Journalists. 


Dr. Nicholas McBride maintains an active career as a teacher educator, researcher and conductor. He is Assistant Professor of Music Education at The College of New Jersey where he teaches various courses in music education and conducts the TCNJ College Choir. McBride is a contributing author to the texts Teaching Music through Performance in Middle School Choir and Planning Instruction in Music, both by GIA Chicago, and has published scholarly articles in the Music Educators Journal and the Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education. His research agenda focuses on teacher education, music teacher identity, LGBTQ issues in music education, and gender in the music classroom. He earned a Doctorate and Masters in Music & Music Education from Columbia University – Teachers College, a dual Masters with honors in both Choral Conducting and Music Education from Northwestern University, and a Bachelors in Music Education magna cum laude from Westminster Choir College.


Liliana Attar is originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is the founder and director of Creative Bridges Institute a "New Jersey State Winner of a National Civic Star Award Program".  Liliana has worked with numerous organizations and school districts, providing carefully crafted programs that value the students’ culture(s), encourage awareness, appreciation and respect for different cultures and backgrounds. She uses performing arts as a potent instrument for Cultural Competency and Language Instruction. This is Liliana’s fifth year as a mentor & coach for the New Jersey Cultural Competency and English Language Learner Learning Institute/Mentoring Program at Thomas Edison State University. Liliana was educated in Buenos Aires, Argentina and has over 38 years of experience working with children, teachers and families. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education and a Bachelor of Arts in Arts Education. In 2014, Liliana received the Young Audiences’ Artist of the Year Award and in 2016 the New Jersey Governor’s Award in Arts Education Distinguished Service Award.


Mark Wong, also known as Metal, is a Hip Hop dance educator and teaching artist from Philadelphia and co-founder of Hip Hop Fundamentals. He has facilitated dancing in many varying demographics across the United States including numerous professional development sessions for Educators and administrators. He believes that true Hip Hop is inclusive and open to all.