|Welcome||First Lady Abby Cox, Governor Spencer J. Cox|
|Educator Advocacy Panel||Tabitha Pacheco, Rep. Karen Peterson, Neil Abercrombie, Sara Jones|
|Keynote Speaker||Kim Strobel|
|Live Q&A Session||Aleksandra Micic, LCSW, Chrissy Nichols|
|Wrap-up||First Lady Abby Cox|
As Utah’s first lady, Abby hopes to inspire Utahns to break down the barriers that separate people from treating one another as equals. She is an outspoken advocate for “getting proximate,” connecting through our differences, and combating the empathy crisis our country is facing.
Abby’s initiative is called “Show Up”, and she uses her platform to convene, contribute to, and champion projects related to emotional and mental wellness, statewide service, foster care awareness and sporting opportunities for children who live with physical or intellectual disabilities.
She and Governor Cox are the parents of four children.
A sixth-generation Utahn, Gov. Spencer J. Cox was born and raised in Fairview, a town of 1,247 residents located about two hours south of Salt Lake City. Cox is a vocal advocate for civility in politics, and he’s committed to improving education, strengthening the economy, bolstering Utah’s rural communities, supporting public health, and ensuring opportunity for all Utahns.
Tabitha Pacheco is a National Board Certified Teacher in Exceptional Needs. She has ten years of classroom experience in public, charter, and digital education settings as a Teacher, Instructional Coach, Mentor, Special Education Director, and Educational Consultant. Tabitha has served on many local and national committees as an advocate for teachers. She believes in large-scale, positive social impact through equitable access to education. Tabitha was a Hope Street Group National Teacher Fellow from 2015-17 before her role as the Utah Fellowship Director.
Karen Peterson was selected in a special election to represent House District 13 (Clearfield, Clinton, Sunset, and West Point) in December 2021. She has lived with her family in Clinton for 15 years and currently works as the Community Development Manager for Sunrise Engineering. Previously she worked as the Legislative Policy Director for Gov. Spencer Cox and as the Deputy Education Policy Advisor for Governor Gary Herbert.
As a two-term member of the Clinton City Council, Peterson has experience in local government and municipal policy as well as connections with many community and industry groups. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Utah State University, and a Master’s of Public Administration from Southern Utah University, where she has worked as adjunct faculty.
She and her husband, Eric, have three children and a very active Australian Shepherd.
Karen loves tacos, cookies, and good public policy.
Neil Abercrombie was vice president of government relations for Utah State Universityfrom 2016 to January of 2022, where he also served as director of government relations. Prior to that, he was public finance and policy analyst for the Utah League of Cities and Towns and an adjunct professor at the University of Utah.
He has both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from Utah State University and also studied public administration at the University of Utah.
Sara Jones, Ph.D. is the Director of Government Relations and Professional Programs at the Utah Education Association. At UEA she has worked to promote teaching excellence and advocate for effective education policy through work with the Utah legislature, the Utah Governor’s office, the Utah State Board of Education and the business and non-profit community. Before joining UEA, Sara taught for 15 years at the high school, community college and university levels, teaching economics at Dublin High School, American Government at Citrus College and World Politics at Morehead State University. Sara has also co-authored multiple education research articles as a Research Associate at the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute at the University of Southern California. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, San Diego and master’s degree and Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University.
Kim Strobel is an internationally-known motivational speaker for educators, school leaders, and organizations and travels the globe sharing the impact of happiness on well-being and student achievement.
As a former teacher and curriculum director, her goal is to inspire you by providing thought-provoking research, heartwarming stories, and simple action steps that get you life-changing results.
She’s also an avid animal rescuer, having rescued 171 dogs, a fierce runner, and a lover of life.
Aleks graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology. She then achieved her Master’s in Social Work. Aleks has been trained in EMDR, a trauma based therapy and is passionate about assisting in the healing process. Aleks has experience in working in the hospital setting as well as working with conduct disordered youth as an undergraduate. Aleks has great skills in connecting with the youth and has a very kind and compassionate approach. Personally Aleks loves being outdoors and enjoying various recreational activities with friends and family.
Chrissy Nichols is a life coach for teachers. After 23 years in the classroom and on the brink of burnout, Chrissy created powerful tools to reconnect to the joy of teaching. Today, she uses those same tools to help other teachers feel better in and out of the classroom. Chrissy helps teachers reconnect with themselves to realize, "There is nothing wrong with me" and to find the very best version of themselves. Chrissy is your guide to feeling better about being at school and being in your life.