2019 Keynote Presenters
International Bullying Prevention Conference Chicago

2019 Keynote Presenters


      Maya Enista Smith, Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation


Maya Smith is the Executive Director of Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the wellness of young people and working with them to build a kinder and braver world.


 Cultivating Kindness To Support Mental Health

 As Executive Director of Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation, Maya Smith shares what she and the organization have learned about the transformational power of kindness to support the wellbeing of individuals and to help communities to thrive. Join Maya as she explores the factors that contribute to the creation of kind environments, how we can use kindness as a tool to foster our mental and emotional wellbeing, and how we can better equip young people with the resources they need to support themselves and one another.

       Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, Sesame Street in Communities

Dr. Betancourt is the Senior Vice President for U.S. Social Impact at Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street. She directs the development and implementation of community and family engagement initiatives making a difference in the lives of vulnerable children and their families. These research-based initiatives are designed to impact children’s early learning, health and well-being, and provide strategies and resources to counteract the effects of trauma while fostering the critical connections that adults have on children’s lives. Prior to joining Sesame Workshop, Dr. Betancourt created programs in adult learning and early childhood education at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is a licensed bilingual speech and language pathologist and educational therapist. She participates on several national and local boards and has contributed to the start of charter schools. Dr. Betancourt has a BA and MA in Speech and Language Pathology, an MS in Bilingual Reading/Special Education, and an Ed.D. in Special Education. 

Bringing Help, Hope, and Healing to Our Most Vulnerable Children and Families

Join us for an inside look at how Sesame Street in Communities (SSIC) uses research-based strategies and materials to cultivate young children’s development and well-being while engaging the important adults in their lives. Building on Sesame Street’s 50-year commitment to addressing children’s developmental, physical, and emotional needs, SSIC offers resources to engage children and adults in everyday moments and daily routines – from teaching early math and literacy concepts, to learning how to manage emotions, to building resilience in the face of traumatic experiences. We know that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) can have long-term negative effects on a child’s brain development and future wellbeing, especially when confronted with repeated traumatic experiences, such as bullying. But we also know that children are remarkably resilient, and one of the best ways in which we can counteract the effects of traumatic experiences is by fostering nurturing connections between children and the grownups in their lives, including parents, caregivers, educators, and community service providers. With the help of our loveable Muppet friends, SSIC is connecting and empowering these important grownups to build a “circle of care” to help children – especially the most vulnerable – get off to a strong and healthy start.