Elysian Trust is proud to introduce our Academic Advisory Board – a distinguished assembly of educational experts from diverse fields and backgrounds. This prestigious group shares our commitment to fostering extraordinary minds and supporting neurodiverse individuals to realize their full potential.
With years of expertise in special education, gifted and talented programs, neurodivergent education, curriculum development, and education policy, our board members bring an invaluable wealth of knowledge to Elysian. They work closely with our academic consulting team, providing guidance, insights, and strategic direction to shape effective programs tailored to the unique needs of our communities.
At Elysian, we understand that supporting the neurodiverse requires an in-depth understanding of their unique educational needs. Our Academic Advisory Board is key to ensuring we remain at the forefront of academic best practices and innovation.
Joy Lawson Davis
Dr. Joy Lawson Davis, a career educator with over 40 years of experience, previously served as Elysian’s Education Officer. Now, as we transition into a social enterprise, she co-leads our educational advisory board alongside Joi Lin. Boasting an illustrious career as a scholar, author, and consultant, Dr. Davis’s experience includes a five-year tenure as the Virginia State Specialist for K-12 Gifted services.
A distinguished graduate of the College of William & Mary, she holds both master’s and doctorate degrees in Gifted Education. Her areas of special expertise are Gifted and Diversity Education, making her an invaluable asset to organizations across the globe. From conducting workshops and delivering keynote addresses in the United States, South Africa, the Caribbean, Dubai UAE, and Turkey, Dr. Davis is recognized for her transformative influence in the field of education.
Dr. Davis’s contributions extend to various publications and boards. She served on the Board of Directors of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) for five years and currently pens the Special Populations column for NAGC’s Teaching for High Potential. Author of the award-winning book, “Bright, Talented & Black: a Guide for Families of African American Gifted Learners,” Dr. Davis was recently honored with the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted organization (SENG). Her belief in Elysian’s mission, especially our innovative research and programs in education, affirms our dedication to benefiting diverse demographics and fostering a brighter future for all.
Flora Huang, a seasoned advocate for gifted programs and schools reform, draws on her unique blend of professional and personal experiences to enact meaningful change. Her work as a biology teacher at Stuyvesant High School, a NYC Specialized High School, and her role as a parent to a child attending both a citywide gifted public school (K-8) and a NYC Specialized High School, informs her perspective. She is known for her innovative programs at Stuyvesant High School that empowered middle school students from under-represented communities to prepare for the Specialized High School Admissions Test.
Flora’s mission extends beyond academia. She is dedicated to changing public perceptions of giftedness and asynchronous development, advocating for comprehensive support that caters to the unique social-emotional needs of gifted children. Her work is particularly important for Twice Exceptional, Twyce Exceptional, and Thrice Exceptional students, as she strives to bring about equity and inclusion in gifted programs.
In 2019, Flora founded Stronger Families and Communities, an initiative combining her roles as an educator and social service program manager. She holds an MPH in Community Health Education from Hunter College and a BA in Biological Sciences from Rutgers University. As a valued member of Elysian, Flora now lends her expertise to our educational advisory board, where she continues to help Elysian accelerate our mission and vision.
Dr. Beatrice Kondo, a long-standing member of the Elysian family, has served our organization in various capacities. Beginning her Elysian journey as an administrator and moderator for our Volant Group, she later took on the role of Vice President during our non-profit era, and now, as we transition into a for-profit model, she proudly sits on our academic advisory board.
Growing up in a biracial and multicultural household, she studied aikido and judo, as well as music and equestrian arts, and was somewhat underchallenged scholastically, as often happens with academically gifted children. In pursuit of greater learning challenges, Dr. Kondo’s academic journey commenced at age 15 with undergraduate studies in mathematics and German language & Literature at Loyola University. Her early career saw her as a software testing engineer, testing management & control software for the Hubble Space Telescope. However, her intellectual curiosity led her to the biological sciences, where she earned her PhD from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, contributing publications in the field of molecular phylogenetics and evolution.
Passionate about teaching, Dr. Kondo made a strategic transition from researcher to educator, completing a teaching post-doctorate at Cornell College in Iowa. She spent several fruitful years at Johns Hopkins University first teaching undergraduates, and later graduate students, in cell and molecular biology and bioinformatics topics.
At Elysian, Dr. Kondo’s dedication to diverse and imaginative thinking in STEM resonates deeply with our mission. Her feeling is that “It’s important for there to be new talent in these [STEM] fields that think new thoughts…we want people…lots of different people with different imaginations to put the possibilities out there for us.”
Today Dr. Kondo is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Maryland, where she instructs majors in the Bioengineering department. Her course offerings include Tissue Engineering, Synthetic Biology, Biostatistics, and Research Methods in Bioengineering, and she provides advising and mentoring to her students. She also serves on the Engineering Council. Her commitment to enriching the academic journey of students embodies the essence of Elysian’s vision.
Joi Lin, a multiracial and multicultural woman of exceptional talent, brings her passion for supporting gifted and neurodiverse individuals to her role at Elysian. As an educator and career development advocate, Joi focuses on the well-being of gifted, talented, and twice-exceptional populations.
Co-heading Elysian’s educational advisory board alongside Dr. Joy Lawson-Davis, Joi is deeply engaged in our mission. Concurrently, she is a PhD student specializing in Gifted Education Leadership at the Morgridge College of Education, University of Denver, bringing her academic insights directly into her advisory role at Elysian. She holds a BS in Mathematics and Secondary Education, and an MS in Industrial and Organizational Psychology.
Joi wears multiple professional hats: she serves as an Adjunct Professor of Gifted Education courses for the Teacher Education Program at the University of Denver and as the Director of Professional Education at the Gifted Development Center.
A dedicated long-time member of Elysian, Mensa, and the Triple Nine Society, Joi fervently believes in amplifying the abilities and talents of neurodiverse individuals, specifically those who identify as highly and profoundly gifted. Her commitment and passion are instrumental in advancing Elysian’s mission to support and uplift neurodiverse individuals.
Dr. Michael Postma is a fervent advocate for the gifted and twice-exceptional (2e) community, dedicating his career to their holistic development. With over two decades of experience, he has served as a gifted teacher, an administrator, and a leader in both public and charter gifted schools across multiple states. Notably, he was the architect of the Minnetonka Navigator Program in Minnesota, a magnet school designed specifically to meet the needs of highly gifted and twice-exceptional students.
In addition to his advisory role at Elysian, Dr. Postma is the President and co-founder of Gifted and Thriving, LLC, and the Programming Director for SENG (Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted), a non-profit organization. He also serves on the boards of the Northwest Gifted Child Association (NWGCA) and GHF Learners organizations.
Dr. Postma brings a strong academic foundation to his work. He holds a B.A. from McMaster University, a M.A. in Gifted, Talented, and Creative Education from the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, MN, and an EdD in Educational Leadership (Critical Pedagogy) from the same institution.
Fully aligning with Elysian’s mission and vision, Dr. Postma brings a wealth of experience and understanding to our academic advisory board. We are delighted to have him as part of our team!
Leigh Purnell, a dedicated educator and lifelong resident of Philadelphia, has been serving her community since 2004. Starting her career as an elementary school teacher before transitioning into high school and elementary school administration roles, Leigh’s passion for education was sparked during her tenure as a social service worker.
After graduating from Howard University, Leigh discovered a systemic issue at the heart of children’s truancy and other educational challenges while working as a social worker. Experiencing firsthand the diverse struggles families face, including unstable housing, health concerns, and substance abuse, Leigh began to advocate for these families and their schools.
Recognizing that these root issues often hinder children’s access to education, Leigh decided to leverage her experience and knowledge to effect change from within the educational system itself. Her unique background and commitment to understanding and addressing these foundational problems have allowed her to provide meaningful support for both children and their families. In her current role, she continues her work to rectify systemic issues that affect student access to quality education.witnessed in schools, particularly in her hometown of Philadelphia, launching her transition into education.
A member of Elysian and Mensa, Leigh’s final teaching role was to create a much-needed gifted & talented program for sixth graders. From there, she eventually undertook the task of serving another underserved group of learners, students in Southwest Philadelphia. She has served as the Principal and now the CEO of Southwest Leadership Academy Charter School since 2017.
Leigh holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s degree in elementary education, and certification in K-12 administration.
Filip Salomon Rojas Rosenqvist
Filip Rosenqvist, a recent addition to Elysian’s team, brings a fresh perspective through his success in teaching foreign languages to those who believed it beyond their capability. His alignment with Elysian’s mission of transforming pedagogy and valuing neurodivergences and academic giftedness as valuable resources, made him an ideal fit for our academic advisory board.
As a self-taught polyglot fluent in four languages and conversational in three others, Filip showcases his accelerated learning prowess. A member of both Elysian and the Triple Nine Society, he demonstrates a unique flair for teaching not only conventional learners but also those who think nonlinearly.
Filip’s absence of traditional college degrees actually amplifies his value to our board. Too often, academia overlooks high-potential learners, either due to lack of resources or inadequate identification mechanisms, especially for gifted, neurodivergent, and twice-exceptional learners. The feedback from students who found traditional schooling unsatisfactory is seldom sought, and this is a misstep our board refuses to replicate.
We’re grateful that Filip’s potential was not wasted, but instead, he successfully charted his own educational path. Yet many students’ abilities remain untapped as they slip through the cracks in our educational system. Elysian, with the help of forward-thinkers like Filip, is committed to rectifying ways our educational system comes up short with neurodiverse and gifted students.
Many students’ abilities remain untapped without Filip’s, Elysian’s, and others’ advocacy and we are pleased to welcome Filip to our Academic Advisory Board.