Voices of 2e Profile:
Debbie Steinberg Kuntz, Virtual Conference Organizer

July, 2018

Conferences are a great way to get informed, make connections, and share ideas with others. But with the benefits of a conference often come the costs in time and money of travel — that is, unless the conference is a virtual one. Debbie Steinberg Kuntz decided that a good way to get out information to parents, teachers, and clinicians about the “bright and quirky” kids she works with was to do it online. In her practice as a licensed marriage and family therapist, called Positive Impact Family, Kuntz explains, “Our goal is to provide parents of 2e kids with the ideas, tools, and support to help their kids thrive socially, emotionally, academically, and behaviorally.”

So in April of this year, Kuntz presented a six-day virtual conference called the Bright & Quirky Child Online Summit. Over 15,000 people from 95 countries attended. Speakers included well-known names from the 2e, gifted, and learning disability communities, including 2e Editorial Advisory Board members and newsletter contributors Susan Baum, Dan Peters, Robin Shader, Temple Grandin, Julie Skolnick, Corin Goodwin, and Melanie Hayes. Not only did the virtual conference eliminate the need to travel, it was free.  

What motivated Kuntz to take on such a formidable task? She explains, “Being on the 2e parenting journey myself, I understand many of the thoughts, feelings, and sense of being overwhelmed that we parents experience. I’m endlessly curious about what ideas, tools, and strategies will help ease the struggle and help our kids self-actualize.” So she set about finding and recruiting experts who could address these major topics:

  • Helping your bright and quirky child thrive
  • Managing anger, intensity, and behavior
  • Navigating school and learning challenges
  • Strategies for motivation and organization
  • Ideas for anxiety and social awkwardness Balancing screens and video game use.

The conference would span six days, addressing one of these topics each day. For each topic, Kuntz found several experts to interview on camera.

The idea for the conference came from her experience of leading two support groups for parents of 2e kids last winter. Kuntz saw how useful participants found the experience and realized that she could bring this important information to a wider audience online.

To organize such an event, Kuntz identified the tasks ahead of her: identify the learning needs of the community, figure out the technical aspects of pulling off a virtual event of this size, find engaging speakers with relevant content, and hire a team of part-time helpers. “We did it all in less than 90 days,” she explains. Why so rushed?

It was early February and Kuntz realized that her window of opportunity would close after April. Then parents would get caught up in end-of-school and summertime activities. Even though time was tight, she figured she could draw on her own past experience in the field of high tech to figure out how to make it happen. Plus she knew she could count on the help of her husband, friends, and others to carry out the many tasks that had to be done.

When it came to recruiting the speakers. Kuntz says she found experts who “believed in our mission and joined us.” She continues, “I’m very grateful to be a part of this amazing community that’s willing to gather together to help ease the struggle for 2e families.”

Now, building on her experience, Kuntz is planning another Bright & Quirky summit in January of 2019. “We have barely scratched the surface in terms of getting our message out,” she explains. “There are bright kids all over the world who feel dumb, like square pegs in round holes, who are like caterpillars who have no idea they can become butterflies. Their parents often lay awake at night, with hearts aching over their kids’ struggles, wondering if they’re failing their children. Our journey has just begun, and we are working hard to gather the bright and quirky tribe globally to give them the ideas and support they need to propel them in a positive, healing direction.”

When asked what the greatest reward is for being one of the voices of 2e, Kuntz replies that it’s “the many messages we receive from around the world. Bringing hope to people who didn’t have any is a great feeling.”

For free recaps of the April summit, visit www.positiveimpactfamily.com/bright-quirky-summit-evergreen. Also available on that page is access to the entire summit for a membership fee. 

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