Yunasa Fellows | Programs | Institute for Educational Advancement

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


Patricia Gatto-Walden, Ph.D.

Patricia Gatto-Walden, Ph.D, is a nationally recognized psychologist, who has worked therapeutically with gifted, highly and profoundly gifted children, adolescents and adults for over three decades. In her consulting practice, she aids individuals to embrace their whole self, which promotes contentment, health and well-being. Her foundational book, “Embracing the Whole Gifted Self,” personifies giftedness. She is a featured speaker at international, national and state gifted conferences and teacher trainings. She is a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Educational Advancement and has received two national awards: Anne Marie Roeper’s 2014 Service to Gifted Youth, and SENG’s 2016 Clinician of the Year.


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, Ph.D, 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 Ph.D 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. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin.


Stephanie Tolan, M.A.

Stephanie Tolan, M.A. is author of 28 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 “Out of Sync: Essays on Giftedness”. Additional writings include, an article about highly gifted children that has been translated into more than 40 languages, “Is It a Cheetah?,” and a chapter titled “Profoundly Gifted: Outliers Among the Outliers”–in the “SAGE Handbook on Gifted and Talented Education”. 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 Associate Professor 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.