Founded in 1961, the California Association for the Gifted (CAG) is an organization of educators, parents, and community members who believe that giftedness is defined by diverse academic, social, and emotional traits and abilities. Giftedness is also identified within the diverse Preschool – 12th grade student populations in our schools. The organization provides the resources to support understanding of appropriate developmental and differentiated identification and curriculum practices. By focusing on the gifts, talents, and potential of diverse students, CAG’s philosophy and practices enrich the education of all students.
CAG is involved at the local, state, national, and international levels, implementing research-based training in differentiation and advocating to help ensure that the academic and affective needs of gifted learners are met. Examples include:
- Annual CAG Conference
- CAG Summer Institute
- CAG Access Webinars
- CAG Regional Events and Symposiums
Executives & Charipersons
Krista Landgraf, President
Krista Landgraf serves as President for the California Association for the Gifted. Krista Landgraf has had several roles for the California Association for the Gifted including Joshua Tree Educator Representative, Education Chair, and Parent Chair. Krista has been an elementary GATE teacher for 20 years and has received the Sarah D Barder-Johns Hopkins University Lifetime Fellowship Award, CAG Distinguished Service Award and Teacher of the Year for Chino, California from the State Assembly. Krista is a speaker throughout the state on gifted education and serves as an adjunct instructor for the UC Riverside GATE Certification Program.
Dr. Julia Nyberg, Executive Director
Dr. Julia Nyberg serves as the Executive Director for the California Association for the Gifted. Dr. Nyberg is a leading K-12, gifted, and curriculum development expert with professional experience in North America and Asia. Dr. Nyberg has taught, delivered demonstration lessons, and provided professional development for grades K-12 at various school districts. Dr. Nyberg serves as a faculty member in the School of Education at Purdue University Global. As a graduate of the University of Southern California (USC), she holds a doctorate with an emphasis in Teacher Education. Dr. Nyberg’s research and practice focus on differentiated curriculum and instruction for diverse gifted and talented students.
Ann Smith, Past President
Ann Smith serves as Past President for the California Association for the Gifted. Ann is Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Gifted Support Center in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Gifted Support Center provides support to families of gifted children, offering assessments, consultations, parent groups, and resources, and works with underserved schools in the Bay Area providing a music and arts integrated language arts curriculum that is aligned with the Common Core and Visual and Performing Arts standards. Ann serves on the advisory board for the Belin-Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development, on the Blue Ribbon Advisory Committee for USC/US Department of Education Jacob Javits Grant Project CHANGE, on the Editorial Board for the Gifted Education Communicator, on a public policy committee for the Institute for Educational Advancement, and as an advisor to UPP, the Untapped Potential Project.
Paula Simka, Secretary
Paula Simka embarked on her journey into gifted education in 2010 as a result of her volunteering work at her children’s school. Witnessing how gifted children often go through school without having their academic needs met has led her to switch gears, leaving her industrial engineering background and entering the world of gifted education. As a passionate and tireless advocate for gifted children, Paula has successfully worked with the school administrators and staff to build a gifted program. Having graduated from the Three Summers Program in Gifted Education at the University of Connecticut, she currently serves as the Gifted Coordinator for Discovery Charter Schools in San Jose, working with gifted students, providing advanced resources for teachers, and supporting parents of gifted children. Paula has served as the Santa Lucia Region Parent Representative since 2016, and now as the Secretary on the Executive Board.
Krisa Muller, President-Elect
Krisa Muller recently became the GATE program specialist for Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District. Prior to that, Krisa was a cluster model and magnet school teacher in the GATE program for Placentia-Yorba Linda School District. Krisa received her MA in Gifted Education from the University of Connecticut. Krisa has served as the Orange Region Educator representative, Secretary, and now serves as President-Elect on the Executive Board.
Paul Bailey, Treasurer
Paul Bailey has served as a teacher and administrator in California for the past twenty years. He currently serves as the Executive Director of the nationally recognized Western Center Academy in the Hemet Unified School District. The school focuses on STEM education and serving the unique needs of high achieving students. He has worked with his team to develop an innovative program that combines a variety of pathways through science exploration, Advanced Placement courses, and college coursework. Paul also serves on the California STEAM Symposium Steering Committee working to bring unique educational experiences to educators throughout the state. He earned his Master of Business Administration from the University of Redlands with a focus on Knowledge Management and Marketing and is an active member of the California Association of School Business Officials. Paul looks forward to continuing to build on the culture of success that CAG has developed over the past 50 years working to support students, parents, and educators throughout California.
Sue Ann Bussey, Educator Representative Chair
Sue Ann Bussey is an energetic advocate for gifted students as well as the educators and families who support them. For over twenty-five years, Sue Ann has worked in the field of gifted education in myriad capacities. Throughout her career, she has served as a classroom teacher, district-wide GATE mentor teacher; a member of a district committee to develop a portfolio GATE identification system; a CAG Board Educator Representative; and an organizer of the CAG/Oceanside Unified Summer Demonstration School for the past five years. In the arena of professional learning, Sue Ann empowers educators and parents through trainings in literacy, differentiation, GATE, inquiry, and design thinking. When Sue Ann is not helping GATE students to achieve their potential, she is inventing new recipes, enjoying time with her family, playing with her Australian Shepherd, and traveling to historical sites.
Julie Hull, Parent Representative Chair
Julie Hull has worked in the field of education for over twenty years in various capacities. As a secondary classroom teacher, Julie taught GATE and Advanced Placement classes, as a master and mentor teacher, Julie worked with credential candidates and new teachers in classroom management and pedagogy, and as a site GATE coordinator, she assisted in identification and GATE program development. Julie currently works at the Orange County Department of Education and serves on the board of two educational non-profits which gives her the opportunity to advocate for gifted education in Orange County through professional development and parent education events. Additionally, Julie is the parent of three children who are gifted.
Dr. Sandra Kaplan, Education Chair
Dr. Sandra Kaplan is the editor of the Gifted Education Communicator, past President of the California Association for the Gifted and chair of both the Blue Ribbon Committee and Education Committee for the organization. Dr. Kaplan’s research focuses on non-traditional identification instruments to recognize underrepresented students as gifted. Dr. Kaplan has been recognized for her work, receiving the Award for Excellence from the Council of Exceptional Children, Service and Achievement awards from the National Association for Gifted Children, and the Research Award from the California Association for the Gifted.
Kari Lofing, Legislation Chair
Kari Lofing is a tireless advocate for advanced learners. Eminently qualified, she has more than fifteen years of experience working in gifted education. Kari holds a master’s degree in Educational Psychology, Gifted and Talented Education from the Three Summers program within the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut. While there, Kari studied with Dr. Joseph Renzulli and Dr. Sally Reis, authors of the Enrichment Triad Model, and the Schoolwide Enrichment Model. Kari’s breadth of expertise includes GATE program design, talent development, differentiating instruction at the K-8 level, the social and emotional needs of gifted individuals, working with students from diverse populations, and gifted education theory. In addition to serving on the CAG Board as the Capitol Region Education Representative and Legislation Chair, she is the Coordinator for GATE and AP Programs at Sacramento City Unified School District. Kari has also worked as a GATE Resource Teacher and as a classroom teacher. Kari is passionately dedicated to urban gifted education and advocating for the academic and emotional needs of gifted and high ability learners in public school systems.
Dana Reupert, Public Relations/ Membership Chair
Dana Reupert is a former GATE Teacher, K-12 GATE Coordinator. and Principal in Riverside Unified School District. Dana has served twice as CAG President and twice as CAG Secretary, in addition to being the Joshua Tree Education Representative. Dana is presently a CAG Board Member, UC Riverside Extension Instructor for the GATE Certificate Program, a member of Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce Business/Education Council, and Chair of the Annual Riverside College and Career Fair. Dana presents at the California Association for the Gifted, National Association for Gifted Children, and World Council for Gifted Education conferences.
Karen Anderson, At-Large Representative
Karen Anderson is the Arts & Enrichment Coordinator for the Pasadena Unified School District. She graduated from Northwestern University and received her Master’s degree in education from USC. Karen has worked in public, private, and charter schools in dual language environments as a teacher, administrator, and coach. She has collaborated extensively in gifted and talented education for over ten years with the California Association for the Gifted and is an Adjunct Professor in the MAT program at USC.
Patricia Chiles, At-Large Representative
Patricia Chiles is the GATE Coordinator for the Fullerton School District, working with teachers, students and parents to provide resources and strategies to support students’ diverse and varied needs with a focus on equity. Most recently she added a GATE Artistic Talent designation and programming for the district. Patricia is also the proud mom to three (very different!) gifted teens, giving her a unique perspective on the strengths and struggles of gifted students.
Dr. Monita Leavitt, At-Large Representative
Dr. Monita Leavitt is an international gifted education specialist, author, and online instructor for Athena’s Advanced Academy (CA). A teacher for over 35 years, including 25 in gifted education, Monita consults to provide staff development on giftedness both nationally and internationally. A member of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children (WCGTC), European Council for High Ability Children (ECHA), and California Association for the Gifted (CAG), she serves on several international Boards for Giftedness.
Derek David Rouch, Web Developer
Derek David Rouch is committed to helping students become all they were born to be. He lives and breathes education, and has a particular interest in technology’s potential to serve underprivileged communities. Over the last 13 years, he has worked in the capacities of paraeducator, secondary math teacher, and school board member—as well as engagement strategist at a large tech startup. He is currently the Educational Technology Administrator for Hemet Unified School District.
Derek began his postsecondary journey studying petroleum engineering at the Colorado School of Mines. He later received his master’s degree in digital teaching and learning from Azusa Pacific University. He will graduate in May 2021 with his doctorate from Vanderbilt University, where he focuses on leadership and learning within organizations.
Jobs & Representation
The California Association for the Gifted does not have any employment opportunities at this time.