Leadership | About IEA | Institute for Educational Advancement


IEA’s officers,
senior fellows and
advisors have
dedicated their
professional lives
to addressing
the needs of and
supporting gifted
young people.


Elizabeth D. Jones, President & Co-Founder

Ms. Jones has been an educator, researcher and administrator of educational programs for over 30 years. She holds a master’s degree in special education from the University of Southern California and has completed doctoral work in the field of educational policy and learning theory. Ms. Jones served as the Associate Director of Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth and the Director of the Western Region for ten years prior to founding the Institute for Educational Advancement in 1998. While at CTY, Elizabeth served as Co-Principal Investigator with Dr. Sally Ride and Dr. JoBea Way for a NASA and NSF sponsored educational initiative called KidSat. She received recognition from the National Diffusion Network for the creation and implementation of exemplary programs for underserved gifted students and specialized in the intellectual, social and emotional needs of students.  She created and implemented the SDB teacher recognition program and expanded the scope of services at CTY. As President of IEA she was contracted to assist in the creation and implementation of the Davidson Young Scholars program.  She went on to lead in the creation and implementation of the Award-winning Yunasa summer camp for the gifted and the Caroline D. Bradley Scholarship program.


James W. Davis, Co-Founder

Mr. Davis has over 30 years of experience in education. He serves as a speaker and consultant to organizations on a variety of educational issues. He is the founder and President of The Davis Group, Ltd., an international educational consulting firm.

Senior Fellows


Patricia Gatto-Walden, Ph.D.

Dr. Gatto-Walden is a licensed psychologist who has worked holistically with thousands of gifted and profoundly gifted children, adolescents, and adults for more than 35 years. In her adjunct educational consulting practice, she has helped parents, educators, and administrators understand and accept the multifaceted inner world and needs of gifted individuals. Dr. Gatto-Walden additionally provides two-day comprehensive family retreats, entitled “educational consulting and family renewal,” which blend counseling and consulting services. She is a featured speaker at gifted conferences and educational workshops throughout the nation.


Elizabeth Meckstroth, M.S.W. Emeritus

Ms. Meckstroth earned a master’s in education and a master’s in social work. She has worked in the field of gifted education since 1979, serving families and their social/emotional and educational issues. She has published numerous articles and is a co-author of Teaching Young Gifted Children in the Regular Classroom and Guiding the Gifted Child. Her work focuses primarily on self-development and the highly gifted.

Michael M. Piechowski, Ph.D.

Michael M. Piechowski is the author of Mellow Out, They Say. If I Only Could: Intensities and Sensitivities of the Young and Bright and Living with Intensity (with S. Daniels). Earning a PhD first in Molecular Biology and later in Counseling Psychology, he served as a faculty member at three universities and one small college. He has published extensively in the areas of emotional development, developmental potential of the gifted, and emotional and spiritual giftedness. He is one of the original designers of Yunasa. In 2016 he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by SENG and the NAGC Global Awareness Network Annemarie Roeper Award.


Stephanie Tolan, M.A.

Ms. Tolan is author of 27 books of fiction for children and young adults, including the Newbery Honor Award-winning novel Surviving the Applewhites, and Applewhites at Wit’s End, Listen!, Welcome to the Ark, Flight of the Raven, and Ordinary Miracles. Her non-fiction writing includes Guiding the Gifted Child (co-author), Change Your Story, Change Your Life, and an article about highly gifted children that has been translated into more than 40 languages, “Is It a Cheetah?” She is a well-known lecturer and advocate for highly gifted young people.



James Delisle, Ph.D.

Dr. James (Jim) Delisle has taught gifted children and those who work on their behalf for more than 35 years. Jim retired from Kent State University in 2008 after 25 years of service there as a professor of special education. Throughout his career, Jim has taken time away from college teaching to return to his “classroom roots”, volunteering as a teacher as well as teaching gifted middle school students one day a week. Currently, Jim works part-time with highly-gifted 9th and 10th graders. The author of more than 250 articles and 19 books, Jim’s work has been translated into multiple languages and has been featured in both professional journals and in popular media, such as The New York Times, People Magazine, and on Oprah!

Amy Gaesser, Ph.D.

Dr. Gaesser is currently an Assistant Professor of Counselor Education at The College at Brockport, State University of New York. She received her PhD in Counselor Education with a concentration in Gifted Education from the University of Connecticut, her Masters in Counselor Education from SUNY Brockport, and her Bachelor of Science in Social Work with a minor in Religious Studies from Nazareth College of Rochester. She is a certified New York State School Counselor and a Nationally Certified Counselor with more than 20 years of experience in mental health and academia, specializing in school-based interventions to assist gifted students with a variety of developmental, social, and emotional concerns. Her research interests include the social and emotional well-being of gifted students and interventions blending Eastern, Western, and Energy Psychology to assist students in overcoming challenges and reaching their greatest potentials. Her present research examines anxiety experienced by gifted students and the efficacy of therapies incorporating acupoint stimulation, such as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), to reduce anxiety.


Shelagh Gallagher, Ph.D.

Ms. Gallagher received her Ph.D. in Special Education with an emphasis in gifted education at the University of North Carolina. Prior to her current job working as an independent consultant in gifted education, she served for 10 years as Associate Professor in UNC Charlotte’s Department of Special Education and Child Development. She has served two terms on the NAGC Board of Directors. She and her father co-authored Teaching the Gifted Child.


Dan Tichenor, M.A.

Mr. Tichenor is a journalist, editor, storyteller, and teacher of gifted and special needs students. He is also the father of six gifted (now adult) kids and has been active in summer programs for gifted kids in the college and private school sector. Mr. Tichenor is a firm believer in the notion of “taking it outside” and his activities are firmly rooted in being outdoors and in learning from the environment. He received his bachelor’s degree in journalism and has two master’s degrees from Northeastern Illinois University.