2021 ECOC Summit

Save the Date 

The 14th Annual ECOC Summit will be held on

January 16, 2021 at

Colorado College in Colorado Springs, CO

Below are some of the 2020 presenters.


Suavé -2020 Presenter

 Suavé is the Founder of the Hip Hop ConnXion Family Nationwide which includes branches in Indiana, Michigan and it’s Headquarters in Chicago. Hip Hop ConnXion has taken 1st in the USA and 2nd in the World at the Hip Hop International Championships in previous years and is to date the only Illinois based dance company to have been awarded medals at the event.

He has appeared in various music videos and movies such as, Walt Disney’s ‘Just Visited’ with Christina Applegate, and as a specialist dancer in the hit movie, ‘Save the Last Dance’. He was a choreographer and dance coordinator for the movie ‘Dreams’ and played a cameo role as a dancer and teacher for the movie working beside Dave Scott whose credits include ‘U Got Served’, ‘Stomp The Yard’ and ‘Step Up 3’ 


Evelina Gaina and Dr. Raymond Merritt, Jr. - 2020 Presenters

 A woman of many talents, Evelina Gaina is an actress, an entrepreneur, an event planner.
 Romanian born, American raised, Evelina first broke into the acting scene at DeafWest Theatre and got into onstage acting for several local productions before landing her first television role in CBS’s “Cold Case” in 2008, and then appearing in “Night Sky” in 2009. She is a storyteller, a teacher, a director. and the star of her one-woman show. In 2019, she co-founded No Name Yet Inc with Dr. Raymond Merritt, Jr. that focuses on entertainment and printing garments. 

Dr. Raymond Merritt, Jr., a former biology professor and currently an entrepreneur, co-founded No Name Yet Inc on April 29, 2019 and has been working on business startups since 2015. He received his B.A. in Biology, his M.S. in Genetics, and his Ph.D. in Neuroscience and was a biology professor for 12 years at Gallaudet University. Making a shift in career, Dr. Merritt is now an entrepreneur with solid experience in marketing, networking, and managing businesses.  


Joe Hendershott- 2020 Presenter

Joe Hendershott is a sought-after speaker about the effects of trauma on learning, behaviors, & relationships & working with wounded students™.  His ongoing research along with his practical experiences as an educator paired with his personal experiences as an adoptive father give him a unique perspective that is engaging, thought-provoking, and inspiring. Joe has an extensive background working with at-risk and wounded youth as a teacher, coach, and administrator in traditional, alternative, and correctional education settings. He has been a high school assistant principal, head principal, alternative school principal, and principal at a residential facility as well as an administrator in higher education.

In 2006, he co-founded Hope 4 The Wounded, LLC, with his wife, Dardi, Joe has been a keynote/featured presenter at international and national conferences. He has conducted staff training/professional development on understanding and working with wounded students™, the effects of trauma on learning and behavior, emotional literacy, leadership, empathy, esteem, inclusive communities, combating compassion fatigue, and other topics relevant to today’s educational climate across the United States and in Australia. Additionally, he has been providing multi-day training/consulting with school districts and communities to create a cultural change that benefits not only youth, but those who serve them. Joe has authored two books: Reaching the Wounded Student (Eye on Education, 2008) and 7 Ways to Transform the Lives of Wounded Students (Routledge/Taylor & Francis, 2016). Joe & Dardi are co-authoring a book about supporting wounded educators due to be released in late 2019.


Mahogany Angelina Christopher- 2020 Presenter

 Mahogany Angelina Christopher was born on November 6, 2000 in Charleston, South Carolina. As a child, Mahogany found her passion for drawing, which eventually lead her to becoming a students at Charleston County School of the Arts (SOA). The recipient of many awards, Ms. Christopher finds her inspiration in music, family, friends and African American heritage. She graduated from SOA in 2019 and is a freshman at Clemson University, studying architecture with a minor in management.  


Dr. Brian Dinkins- 2020 Presenter

Education Equals Empowerment

In the mid 1990's I was told that I would not be graduating from high school unless I turned things around. In fact, if I didn't complete my entire senior year with straight A's, I would remain in the impoverished community without an education but more importantly without hope!  I was raised by a single mother in the inner city of Indianapolis and attended high poverty schools all my life.  I didn't achieve academically as a student in school,  but I'm happy to report that with the help of several teachers, counselors, and administrators that held me accountable and loved me, I was able to graduate on time and attend Purdue University were I played college football in the Big Ten. 

Unfortunately, because my mindset never shifted from athletics to education, after playing college ball and trying out for professional teams, I returned home to the same poor community from which I had left. After being homeless and jobless for a time, I decided to substitute teach in the Indianapolis Public Schools and fell in love with education, and the rest is history. I returned to school to pursue my masters degree in teaching, masters in administration, superintendency (Ed. S.), and I'm months from completing my doctorate in Educational leadership.

I had no idea I could achieve so much after beginning with such little success. Education has empowered me to serve some of the most challenging schools in the inner city of indianapolis and provide love, hope, and quality education to those most in need. I've committed my life to the advancement of those students and families most in need but it takes the commitment and educational excellence of every teachers, counselors, parent and administrators to ensure that all students succeed. Education is truly the doorway to providing all students personal and professional  empowerment! 


Julissa Soto- 2020 Presenter

 Julissa is considered one of the visionary and trailblazing leaders in public health in the State of Colorado and has served in significant leadership roles across the state. A pioneer in programming serving Spanish-speaking new immigrants, Julissa has more than two decades of nonprofit experience and innovative insight. She has defied the expectations of a woman from Mexico, becoming one of the few immigrants in Colorado to be recognized for her significant contributions to the Latino community in an exceptional way. Under her dynamic leadership, over 90,000 Latinos received culturally competent, linguistically appropriate health promotion and disease prevention services in 2017. 


Michael Sheyahshe- 2020 Presenter

Michael Sheyahshe is an enrolled member of the Caddo Nation and has been published in numerous journals and magazines: Illusions, Trauma Magazine, Native Peoples Magazine, Games for Windows: The Official Magazine, New Plains Review, First American Art Magazine, etc. His published book, Native Americans in Comic Books: A Critical Study, from McFarland publications, takes an in-depth look at the world of comic books through the eyes of a Native American reader and offers frank commentary on the medium’s cultural representation of the Native American people.

Michael received two separate Bachelor degrees, both cum laude, from the University of Oklahoma: one in Native American Studies and another in Film – and earned a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in 3D Modeling from the Academy of Art University. Michael achieved the rank of Shodan (1st degree Black Belt) in Okinawan Karate in 2011 and was awarded the rank of Nidan (2nd degree black belt) in 2013.

Michael is formerly both a Gates Millennium Scholar and a Ronald E. McNair Scholar. Michael was awarded the Smithsonian Institution’s Native American Award and appointed as an intern at the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC, previously served as appointed Tax Commissioner for the Caddo Nation, and held a seat on the Board of Trustees for the Caddo Heritage Museum.

In addition to his book, Michael has been awarded US Federal Contracts to create comic book illustrations in various museum displays for the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian and prominently featured in AH Comics’ Kickstarter-funded, MOONSHOT: The Indigenous Comic Collection, volumes 1, 2, and 3. For volume 1, Michael wrote the volume's introduction as well as the story "Strike & Bolt", illustrated by George Freeman (Captain Canuck). In volume 2, Michael wrote the introduction as well as, "Do Wild Turkeys Dream of Electric Drums?," illustrated by Kim Hunter. For the the upcoming volume 3, Michael is co-editing along with Elizabeth LaPensée (Anishinaabe, Métis, and settler-Irish) and contributing the story, "Xenesi: The Traveler," illustrated by Roy Boney (Cherokee). 


Nicole "Dr. Nic" Rankine- 2020 Presenter

 Nicole “Dr. Nic” Rankine, PhD is a certified international empowerment speaker, teacher, and coach with the John Maxwell Team. Dr. Nic uses her experience and passion to equip, inspire and empower those she serves.

With over 20 years of professional experience in helping people, Dr. Nic has a story of great achievement. She struggled with reading comprehension in her younger years but overcame the associated challenges to work in academia and government agencies as a Health Scientist. She has traveled internationally to devote over 15 years of her time to youth development and youth ministries and she also serves as an Adjunct College Professor in public health. She holds a Bachelors and Masters of Science Degree in Biology, from the University of Georgia and Georgia State, respectively, and has a Masters and Ph.D. in Public Health from Walden University.  http://www.drnicolerankine.com/index.html


Franklin Schargel- 2020 Presenter

 Franklin Schargel’s career spans thirty-three years of high school classroom teaching, school counseling and eight years of school supervision and administration. In addition, Franklin is a Huffington Post blogger and can be seen on YouTube.

Franklin’s success in dramatically enhancing the learning process in his inner-city (NYC) high school, expanding parental involvement, increasing post-secondary school attendance and significantly lowering the students’ dropout rate, has been documented in 25 books, 77 newspaper and magazine articles and five internationally released videos. The 15 strategies developed by the National Dropout Prevention Center at Clemson University in association with Mr. Schargel have been recognized by the National Education Goals Panel and the United States Department of Education as “the most effective strategies to help solve our school dropout problem.”

The United States Department of Education, Fortune Magazine, Business Week, National Public Radio, Public Broadcasting System and the New York Times have recognized his work.  He has received awards from the National Dropout Prevention Center, the International Association for Truancy and Dropout Prevention.