Safety Summit Presenter Biographies
Stephanie Kaczor, Superintendent of Riverside Public Schools, is from Chambers, NE. She earned her Bachelor’s degree at Mount Marty College in Yankton, SD. Her first teaching job was at Wheeler Central High School where she taught and coached basketball for five years. She continued her career at Spalding Public School where she was the PK-12 principal, athletic director, and coach of various men’s and women’s sports for five years before moving into a Superintendent role. Stephanie has been the Superintendent of Riverside Public School (formerly Spalding Public School) for six years. She has received her Master of Arts in Educational Administration and an Education Specialists Degree from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Stephanie has a passion for education and believes in building strong leaders in students, staff, and communities.
Susan Payne is the founder and former Executive Director of the Safe2Tell non-profit prevention initiative, developed as a response to the Columbine tragedy in Colorado. Susan, a 28-year law enforcement veteran, served in this role as a Detective with the Colorado Springs Police Department; the first Special Agent with the Colorado Department of Public Safety, Homeland Security and she served as the Director of Safe Schools at the Colorado Attorney General’s Office directing the Safe2Tell Colorado prevention initiative. She has assisted many states in establishing best practice intelligence gathering and information sharing initiatives to focus on prevention and early intervention. Currently, she is an advisor and speaker for Safe and Sound Schools, trains on digital threat assessment for Safer Schools Together, and serves on the National School Safety Consortium. The U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Education have recognized Susan as a subject matter expert in school safety, response, recovery and prevention strategies, and she is often sought out by media, schools, and law enforcement for her expertise. Susan has been invited to speak at the White House on several occasions, but specifically after Columbine, Sandy Hook, and most recently after the tragedy in Parkland. Most recently, Ms. Payne was requested to speak to the Federal School Safety Commission at the White House and to keynote at the Department of Homeland Security Safety Round Tables in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Denise Bulling is a Senior Research Director in the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center, a Certified Threat Manager, and Licensed Independent Professional Counselor. Her interest is in translating research into practice in behavioral health, disaster planning, threat assessment, and suicide prevention.
As the Manager of Safe2HelpNE at the Boys Town National Hotline, Diana Schmidt serves as the liaison between schools, local law enforcement and the Hotline. She currently oversees all operations of the anonymous tip reporting line and the Crisis Counselors that receive those reports. This is Diana’s 23rd year at the Boys Town National Hotline. In her spare time, she can be found perfecting her goal swing on the driving range.
Scott Stemper is a U.S. Army veteran turned Chief Deputy in Nuckolls County, NE, where he served for 25 years. Scott taught the D.A.R.E. program for 21 years and was on the Nebraska’s D.A.R.E. training staff before moving into prevention work as Executive Director of the Area Substance & Alcohol Abuse Prevention Coalition and then Prevention Specialist at the Region V Systems in Nebraska, where he became certified as a Youth and Adult Mental Health First Aid Instructor. Scott worked with communities and schools in the prevention of risky behaviors, substance abuse, mental health concerns, and suicide prevention. Now, as the Emergency Operations Planning Specialist for the Nebraska Department of Education, Scott works with the 244 public and 110 nonpublic school districts in Nebraska to create, modify or update their Emergency Operations Plan (safety plan). As part of this mission, Scott bridges the schools’ discussions with their local Emergency Manager, Law Enforcement, and Fire/Rescue personnel.
A 31-year veteran and former Community Service Officer with the Nebraska State Patrol, Carolyn O’Brien has been involved in providing schools with safety measures for many years. She has also been involved with developing and implementing the current safety assessment process for Nebraska’s schools and is always excited to share SRP information to assist them in promoting a safe environment for their students.
With 47 years of experience in education working in school districts of all sizes across the state, Sally Carlson has worked as an elementary teacher, school psychologist, counselor, administrator, PBiS facilitator, and adjunct college instructor before beginning to work with NDE School Safety as an independent contractor providing training to Nebraska schools in Psychological First Aid and Suicide Prevention.
Cesar Torres is a fourth-year doctoral student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His research interests range in the areas of school environment, coping, and resilience with a focus on mental health. Cesar is also a research intern at the Nebraska Department of Education working with the School Safety team. He looks for and identifies evidence-based interventions for bullying and cyberbullying. He provides these resources on the NDE School Safety website for schools, parents, and students.