Keynote Speaker Opening Session
Michele Gay is the co-founder and executive director of Safe and Sound Schools. Following the tragic loss of her daughter, Josephine, in the Sandy Hook School tragedy, Gay joined fellow Sandy Hook mother Alissa Parker to establish Safe and Sound Schools as a national resource for school safety. She travels across the country sharing her message of inspiration, recovery and school safety education and advocacy. She conducts school safety workshops and seminars, presenting Safe and Sound’s school safety model and resources, and facilitating school safety development in communities across the country.
Since launching the foundation, Gay has spoken before numerous national audiences, including the National Association of School Resource Officers, Georgia Education Leadership Association, Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency’s School Safety Conference, and at the Great Lakes Homeland Security Conference. Recently, she was honored with the Champion of Life Award by the BFG Community Foundation of Baltimore, Maryland, for her work as a school safety advocate with Safe and Sound and the Shining Star award by the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for establishing Joey’s Fund with her husband for families with autism.
Prior to founding Safe and Sound Schools, Gay taught in the Maryland and Virginia public schools, where she served as both a mentor teacher and peer coach, and was awarded Exemplary Teacher recognition in the Fairfax County public schools. Gay holds a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from Towson University and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from McDaniel College. Her education and professional and personal experiences have uniquely positioned her to advocate on the national level for safer schools.
Paul F. Benne, PSP, CPOI
Facilitator General Session
More than 30 years ago, Paul Benne began his career in protective services. As far back as he can remember, he has had a passion for securing people and property. Benne’s entire professional career has been dedicated to creating secure environments. As a natural progression in his career, he has earned several key industry board certifications, and is also certified to teach security and police science in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
As a dedicated security professional, Benne has had the opportunity to take a leading role in protecting some of the most significant events and buildings in the world. These experiences have allowed him to gain specific knowledge in multiple areas of security. Specializing in new concepts and innovative ideas, Benne solves complex security issues and develops reliable cost appropriate solutions.