Staff and Contributors

Since 1985 the Distance Teaching & Learning Conference has provided a transformative professional development experience for individuals working in the field of distance and online education–from teachers to instructional designers to administrators (and everything in between). The challenge is to address this rapidly changing landscape with the most current topics, technologies, and innovations to inform best practices. The Distance Teaching & Learning team collaborates with more than two dozen advisors and committee members from campus and around North America who help shape the conference program every year. Below is the 2021 list of contributors:

UW-Madison DT&L Conference: staff and contributors

Learning Design, Development, & Innovation (LDDI), Continuing Studies, UW-Madison

Wendy Fritz

Director of Learning Design, Development and Innovation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She oversees the entirety of the event: executive and other sponsorship, funding, board and committees, planning, marketing, quality, programming, logistics and sustainability in collaboration with, (and in deep appreciation for) the amazing DT&L staff, volunteers, advisors, committee members and distance education enthusiasts.

Thomas Tobin

Thomas Tobin

Thomas is the Program Area Director for the Learning Design, Development and Innovation (LDDI) team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he identifies trends and themes in the field of distance education; shapes the scope and focus of each year’s conference in collaboration with its advisory board and staff; finds the keynote, spotlight, and featured speakers for the conference.

Bridget Powell

Bridget Powell

Bridget is our Conference manager, and her military background in planning the occasional Military Air Show is bound to come in handy. While following in the footsteps of the indefatigable Kimary Peterson will be a huge job, Bridget feels up to the challenge. She vows to curb her acronym usage but can’t promise she’ll stop telling bad jokes. When you see her at the Conference, give her a smile, tell her she’s doing a great job, and tell her to take a deep breath!

Janet Staker Woerner

Janet Staker Woerner

Janet is a faculty associate/program manager for Learning Design, Development, and Innovation (LDDI). She provides excellent instruction for our Fundamentals of Online Teaching conference certificate. She is also responsible for digital credentialing for our certificate programs. Her research areas are social media, competency-based education, and artificial intelligence. Janet enjoys interacting with all her learners and creating a community of connection for all. When not spending time in the online space, she loves the outdoors with hiking and curling.

Karin A. Spader

Karin is a faculty associate for Learning Design, Development, and Innovation (LDDI). She supports the DT&L conference by organizing the Call for Proposals process, the selection of our amazing presenters, and by leading presenter training opportunities. Having taught online since 2008, Karin finds great joy in bringing her passion for online teaching to both new and experienced faculty. Karin’s research focuses on identifying strategies for designing online courses as participatory learning environments.

 Daniel Getzen

Dan Getzen

Dan is our conference project manager extraordinaire, contract guru, and our digital social B1 bomber. He keeps us on time and on task, keeps us smiling, and plans lots of fun and engaging activities for our attendees. Dan also ensures our sponsors have a great conference experience. UW-Madison is Dan’s alma mater, and he is an incredible ambassador for the Wisconsin Idea.

Liz Nagel headshot

Liz Nagel

Liz manages the enormous entirety of our back-end processes that run the event. She ensures all of our stakeholders are connected, provides incredible service to our community members when they need help, and makes sure our communication to the world is timely and on point. Without her, we simply could not function.

Conference Committee

  • Leslie Dinauer, Professor and Doctorate of Management Program Chair, University of Maryland University College
  • Ollie DreonAssociate Professor, Millersville University
  • Julie Hewitt, Faculty Development, Distance Learning Center, University of Wisconsin-Platteville
  • Jana Hitchcock, Instructional Designer, Penn State World Campus
  • Colin Holden, Curriculum Manager, College of Letters and Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Tim Lombardo, Instructional Designer, Lecturer, and Instructor, The Ohio State University
  • Mark Millard, Director of Learning Design and Technologies, Engineering Professional Development, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • James Moore, Director of Online Learning, DePaul University
  • Penny Ralston-Berg, Instructional Designer, Penn State World Campus
  • Terry Tao, Instructional Design Team Lead, Division of Continuing Education, Outreach, and E-Learning University of Wisconsin-Extension

Advisors and Contributors

  • Ryan Anderson, Director of Instructional Design and Development, Division of Continuing Education, Outreach, and E-Learning, University of Wisconsin-Extension
  • Thomas Arendalkowski, Learning Designer, Central Information Technology Services, University of Wisconsin Colleges/University of Wisconsin Extension
  • William Diehl, Assistant Professor of Education and Coordinator of Online Graduate Programs, Pennsylvania State University
  • Hilda Glazer, Faculty Chair/Ed. Psych. and Director, Center for the Study of Play Therapy, Capella University
  • Darcy Hardy, Associate Vice President, Enterprise Consulting, Blackboard Inc
  • John Orlando, Associate Director, Faculty Support, Northcentral University
  • Ray Schroeder, Associate Vice Chancellor for Online Learning, Center for Online Learning, Research, and Service and Professor Emeritus of Communication, University of Illinois-Springfield
  • Vincent Spezzo, Learning and Technology Specialist, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • David Stein, Associate Professor, The Ohio State University
  • Olena Zhadko, Director ,of Online Education, Lehman College, CUNY


  • Tanya Joosten, Director, eLearning Research and Development, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • Janice Mertes, Assistant Director, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
  • Carlos Morales, President, TCC Connect, Tarrant County College District
  • Rick Shearer, Director of LMS Conversion, World Campus Learning Design, Pennsylvania State University
  • Thomas Smith, Emeritus Director, Engineering Telecommunications Programs, University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension

Executive Sponsor Committee

  • Jeffrey Russell, Vice Provost for Lifelong Learning and Dean of Continuing Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison