2020 Independent School Counselors Conference
Sheri Burkeen
Director of Professional Development

Sheri is currently the director of professional development with SAIS. She has more than 20 years' experience in education. Sheri has been a lower school classroom teacher in both public and private schools. She has also served as a technology coordinator and curriculum director in coed and single sex schools. She holds a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in educational psychology.
Melodie Frick
Counseling Program Director
Western Carolina University

Melodie Frick joined the counseling faculty at Western Carolina University in 2012. Frick has practiced in the field of clinical mental health counseling since 1997, is a Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor, National Certified Counselor, and an Approved Clinical Supervisor. She has a Ph.D. in counselor education from the University of Virginia.
Tamara Hamilton
School Counselor
Cliff Valley School

Tamara Hamilton is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with more than 20 years of experience in behavioral health. She currently serves as a school counselor and director of the Cliff Valley Institute at the Cliff Valley School in Atlanta. Hamilton earned her masters degree from the Indiana University School of Social Work. Over the past decade she has focused her work on issues impacting children, adolescents, and families. As a counselor, she has helped children and their parents with a variety of issues including behavioral problems, emotional problems, ADHD, anxiety, substance abuse, academic problems, and other developmental concerns.
Nina Kumar
Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer
Authentic Connections

Nina Kumar is co-founder and chief executive officer of Authentic Connections, an organization aimed at maximizing well-being in school communities through data and insights. Prior to Authentic Connections, Kumar was a product manager at IBM Watson Health. Kumar graduated from Williams College with a B.A. in computer science and psychology and a concentration with honors in cognitive science.
Rachel Lee
School Counselor
Frederica Academy

Rachael Lee is certified by the National Board of Certified Counselors and is licensed in Georgia as a professional counselor (LPC). She received her master’s degree in clinical psychology from Argosy University and is a trained specialist in treating trauma. She is a specialist who works cooperatively with the educational staff, parents, students, and community bridging the gap between academic performance and social and emotional intelligence. Lee currently serves as the lower and middle school counselor at Frederica Academy in St. Simons Island, Georgia.
Suniya Luthar
Co-Founder & Chief Research Officer
Authentic Connections

Suniya Luthar is professor emerita at Columbia University’s Teachers College and co-founder and chief research officer of Authentic Connections, a science-based organization committed to maximizing well-being in school communities. Her research involves vulnerability and resilience among various populations including youth in poverty, teens in upper-middle class families, and parents (especially mothers) in high-achieving, stressful communities.
Kathryn Sohne
Middle School Health & Wellness Counselor
Fort Worth Country Day School

Kathryn Sohne, LMSW, has served as the middle school health and wellness counselor at Fort Worth Country Day since 2015. A graduate of Ouachita Baptist University with a B.A. in sociology and a minor in ministry, Sohne was inspired to pursue a M.S. in social work at the University of Texas at Arlington after a guest presenter provided an overview of his experiences as a school social worker. Sohne also served as a prevention education specialist in the Fort Worth ISD, teaching life skills and providing drug and alcohol, violence, and suicide prevention programming.
Debra Wilson

Debra Wilson joined the SAIS staff in July 2019. She received her B.A. in English from Sewanee, The University of the South, and her J.D. from the University of South Carolina at Columbia. She previously served as general counsel for NAIS for 19 years. In addition to her role as chief legal officer, she presented to school leaders around the country and fielded inquiries from schools facing legal or governance issues. Before joining the NAIS staff, Debra was a tax litigator at the Department of Justice.