Message from the President

It is a true honor to begin my term as President of HECSE.  I have spent my career in higher education at the University of Georgia, and our department has been a HECSE member for over 30 years. As our representative and active member for many years, I can attest to the value and importance of our organization.  HECSE has benefitted from strong and steady leadership over the past decade with the wise guidance of Jane West.  I hope to continue this trend with the support of our committed Executive Board.

Under the leadership of Dr. Lisa Monda-Amaya, we weathered the COVID storm last year. Our HECSE Winter Summit was held virtually and we provided extra professional development events for our members and doctoral students.  Moving forward, we have a TED/HECSE panel on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion planned for the TED conference to be held in November. While we hoped to have an in-person Winter Summit this year, given the new surge in COVID- 19 infections with the Delta variant, our board has made the tough decision to once again hold virtual summit sessions in 2022. While the past year was challenging for everyone, we learned to move forward through the use of new tools and platforms. As an organization, we will be intentional as we plan events to include virtual visits with policy makers and legislators, doctoral student-focused events, and meetings with our OSEP and IES agency colleagues.

HECSE will continue to foster the growth and development needed to recruit support and retain doctoral students and faculty of color. We will move forward in recruiting HECSE Affiliate Members with the help of our Membership Committee. We will work to increase our visibility and support for doctoral students in our programs.  Finally, with your help, we will continue to use our collective voices to advocate for policies and funding needed to develop and maintain high quality doctoral programs to prepare our future leaders in special education. For additional information about HECSE, please contact me at

Photo of Cynthia Vail

Cynthia O. Vail

HECSE President
University of Georgia