Yunasa Fellows | Programs | Institute for Educational Advancement

Yunasa Fellows

Meet Yunasa’s esteemed faculty members, who have years of experience working with gifted youth and shaping gifted discourse.


Patricia Gatto-Walden, Ph.D.

Dr. Gatto-Walden is a licensed clinical psychologist with a holistic orientation who has worked with gifted individuals of all ages for more than 35 years. 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 the Newbery Honor Award-winning novel Surviving the Applewhites.She is a well-known lecturer and advocate for highly gifted young people. She has also written Listen!, Flight of the Raven, Welcome to the Ark, and Ordinary Miracles and is co-author of Guiding the Gifted Child.



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.