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Connecticut Association of Boards of Education

General Session Speakers

Friday Morning Speaker

Photo of Dr. Nii Addy

While growing up, Dr. Addy knew one thing for sure: He was never going to choose his father’s profession of psychiatry. Fortunately for all of us, he changed his mind. Dr. Addy did, indeed, choose a similar path as his dad. And today, he is an influential neuroscientist and mental health advocate at one of the nation’s premier universities.

Dr. Addy is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and of Cellular and Molecular Physiology at Yale University. At the Yale School of Medicine, he directs a federally funded research program investigating the neurobiological bases of depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders. Dr. Addy’s team also studies the ability of tobacco product flavor additives to alter nicotine use behavior and addiction.

As the creator and host of powerful town hall events, he has also built unique partnerships between scientists, clinicians, educators, faith leaders, entertainers, professional athletes, and community and mental health advocacy groups. In these engaging town hall conversations, panelists discuss topics at the intersection of neuroscience, mental health, faith, culture and social justice.

Dr. Addy also hosts the Addy Hour podcast, where he explores the same subjects with community leaders, scientists, professional athletes, entertainers, faith leaders and mental health experts.

His research and community work has garnered national media attention, including coverage by National Public Radio (NPR), Newsday, the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), The Source Magazine, Chuck Norris, STAT, Relevant Magazine and others.

In his groundbreaking initiatives, Dr. Addy has collaborated with Lecrae (Grammy Award winning artist and NY Times Best Selling Author), Allan Houston (former NBA All-Star, NY Knicks/FISLL Project), Doug Middleton (Jacksonville Jaguars/Dream the Impossible Initiative), the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT), the Yale University Chaplain's Office, Yale Well, the Salvation Army, and a number of others.

We look forward to hearing from Dr. Addy as we continue to provide leadership in our school districts in these challenging times.

Friday Lunch Student Panel 

Photo of Melinda Lu
Photo of Kruti Dharsandiya

The CABE/CAPSS Convention Committee is delighted to share that a panel of students will present at the Friday lunch General Session. We will be joined by high school seniors Melinda Lu, Amity Regional High School and Kruti Dharsandya, Windsor High School.

Melinda joined CAS-CIAC’s Student Equity Advisory Board (SEAB) in 2019. Along with activities with SEAB, she has spoken at many conferences, such as past Education Equity Summits and State Education Resource Center (SERC) Conferences. Through these opportunities, she has focused on making student’s voices heard and promotes a stronger communication link between students and administrators. At her own school, Melinda is the co-founder of Amity Asian Activism, a student organization that provides a platform for Asian American students to voice their opinions. She has worked with her school’s administration in coordinating their Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging curriculum audit and has collaborated with members of the #MakeUsVisible CT Campaign, AAPI New Haven, and Yale-China on different outreach projects. Outside of supporting the diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative, she is an avid science lover and competitive dancer. 

Kruti is involved in numerous extracurricular activities related to leadership, business, and her community. She expresses her strong leadership skills through the roles she holds as the youngest Co-Chair of the Million Women Mentors Connecticut Chapter, President of Future Business Leaders of America and the Class of 2023, SEL Advocate and Student Representative for the State, a member of the CAS-CIAC Advisory boards, to name a few. But most importantly, Kruti is constantly giving back to her community because she values living generously. She is a member of numerous town boards, such as the Student Representative Governance Council and the Greater Hartford Grant Foundation, of which she is Chair.

Topics they will address include Post-COVID-19 Transition and Structures, Mental Health, Diversity in the School Curriculum, Communication with Students/Teachers/Administrators, and Technology in Education.

We look forward to Melina and Kruti sharing their valuable insights with us.

Saturday Morning Speaker

Photo Hlavac Craig

Craig Hlavac is the Associate Dean of the Liberal Arts (Arts, Humanities, Social & Behavioral Sciences) at Southern Connecticut State University. Previously, he served as Associate Professor and Chair of the Music Department at Southern. For the past 15 years, Dr. Hlavac has also been the director of the University Band at SCSU. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Music and Bachelor of Science in Music Education from the University of Connecticut, a Master of Music from Yale University, and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of Hartford. An active orchestral trumpeter and freelance musician, Dr. Hlavac has performed with the New Haven Symphony, the Bridgeport Symphony, the Wallingford Symphony, the Hartford Pops Band, the Hartford Brass Ensemble, the New Haven Brass Ensemble, and alongside the Yale Glee Club, the Yale Camerata, the Connecticut Chamber Choir, the Cape Cod Chamber Music Society, and many others. A frequent educational leadership clinician and presenter, Dr. Hlavac has delivered presentations throughout the country. He is also an advisory board member for The Department Chair, the premier academic department chair journal. Dr. Hlavac’s research interests focus on the use of organizational and departmental missions to prioritize decision-making and the utility of mission-based management in the administration of the contemporary university.