De Facto Leaders

Helping families feel involved in their children’s education goes beyond checking the boxes to make sure you’re following legal guidelines.

That’s why I invited Dr. Kristin Vogel-Campbell to De Facto Leaders to talk about how school teams can make the IEP process more welcoming to families, especially those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. 

Dr. Kristin Vogel-Campbell (she/her/hers) is a veteran Special Educator with over 20 years in the field. She has served in various roles from paraeducator to Director of Student Services and Special Education. She was a classroom teacher for a decade in the San Francisco Bay Area, working with students from Kindergarten through 8th grade. She is a systems-focused educator, working at the district level with school teams to ensure that students with disabilities are provided high-quality, research-based instruction and that all students are treated with dignity and respect in the Least Restrictive Environment. In addition, she has supported new site leaders in deepening their understanding of Special Education, including laws and protections for students and families. 

Kristin is a practitioner-researcher, working with families to share their experiences and perspectives. Informed with this familial knowledge, teams can make practical shifts needed to move to a collaborative partnership with culturally affirming, sustainable, and equitable families. She has presented at AERA (American Educational Research Association), NAME (National Association of Multicultural Education), and ACSA (Association of California School Administrators, among others. Articles have appeared in Leadership (ACSA magazine), The Journal of Leadership, Equity, and Research, and the KQED Education blog. Her book “Partnering with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Families in Special Education” was published in December 2023 by Rowman & Littlefield.

In this conversation, we discuss:

✅You’ve provided the “procedural safeguards”, but do families really understand their rights? 

✅What’s going on when parents don’t show up for parent-teacher conferences and IEP meetings?

✅Why environmental set-up matters during IEP meetings; including seating arrangements and how/when the team enters the room. 

✅Navigating language barriers, transportation issues, and logistical constraints. 

✅Finding the balance between family schedules and staff contractual time when setting up IEP meetings.

✅Tips for managing nerves during IEP meetings so you can make your report feel conversational (and less technical).

You can connect with Dr. Vogel-Campbell on LinkedIn here (, and on Instagram here (
Be sure to check out her book “Partnering with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Families in Special Education” here (

Be sure to check out these other episodes of De Facto Leaders where I talked about how to improve community and family engagement:

EP 113: Making literacy accessible and equitable (with Cassandra Williams) 
Link here:

EP 118: Coaching aspiring leaders in school turn-around and community outreach (with Edward Gordon II) Link here:

EP 96: Supporting bilingualism in K-12 kids (with Briana Wagner) 
Link here:

EP 143: Developing a cultural competemility mindset (with Melanie Evans) 
Link here:

I also mentioned The School of Clinical Leadership, my program that helps related service providers guide their teams to support students’ executive functioning across the day. 
This program will help you plan direct therapy, but will also help you lead change management on your team, no matter your job title. You can learn more about the School of Clinical Leadership here:

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What is De Facto Leaders?

On the De Facto Leaders podcast, host Dr. Karen Dudek-Brannan helps pediatric therapists and educators become better leaders, so they can make a bigger impact with their services. With over 15 years of experience supporting school-age kids with diverse learning needs, Dr. Karen shares up-to-date evidence-based practices, her own experiences and guest interviews designed to help clinicians, teachers, and aspiring school leaders feel more confident in the way they serve their students and clients. She’ll cover a range of topics designed to help you support students' emotional and academic growth and set kids up for success in adulthood, including how to support language, literacy, executive functioning, and how to help IEP teams working together to support kids across the day. Whether you want to learn more effective strategies for your therapy session or classroom, be a more influential leader on your team, or find creative ways to use your skills to advance in your career, Dr. Karen has you covered.