LifeWays National Conference ~ Presenters

Keynote Speakers

Keynote Speaker:  Cynthia Aldinger

Cynthia founded LifeWays North America in 2001.  Co-author of the book Home Away From Home: LifeWays Care of Children and Families, Cynthia has lectured and presented internationally, directs trainings and seminars across the United States, and is an Adjunct Faculty member at Rudolf Steiner College in California.  She served fourteen years on the board of the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America, is a member of the National Association for Family Child Care and a supporter of the Alliance for Childhood.  A former Waldorf Kindergarten teacher, Cynthia received her Waldorf teaching certificate at Emerson College in Sussex, England.  A mother and grandmother, Cynthia’s passion is the preservation of the playful spirit of childhood and helping to create home-like environments that provide the comfort, security and activities found in a healthy home.

Keynote Speaker:  Faith Baldwin Collins

Faith is founder/owner of Joyful Toddlers.  She firmly believes that we can increase our enjoyment of young children dramatically through concrete actions and by changing the lens through which we view them. She finished the LifeWays Early Childhood and Human Development training in 2003 and has been working with young children, families, and daycare providers ever since.

After teaching the toddler class for several years at Boulder Waldorf Kindergarten in Colorado, Faith teamed up with her mother, Rahima Baldwin Dancy (author of You Are Your Child’s First Teacher) to open the Rainbow Bridge LifeWays Program for children ages 1-5, in 2007.  She moved to London, England in 2011 with her husband, although she still returns regularly to Colorado to teach and do coaching visits.  In addition to coaching, consulting and teaching classes through Joyful Toddlers, Faith also teaches at the LifeWays trainings in the Rocky Mountain region.

Keynote Speaker:  Suzanne Down

Suzanne Down is Director of the Boulder based Lifeways Training in Colorado.  She has been involved with the early childhood Waldorf movement for 30 years in different capacities - Teaching in early childhood in Waldorf schools, owner of her own home preschool, as Director of Juniper Tree School of Story and Puppetry Arts, as international ece conference speaker and presenter, and early childhood therapeutic puppetry pioneer.  She mentors early childhood teachers in schools and is resident puppetry teacher at the Boulder Waldorf Kindergarten.  She has been teaching language development/story/puppetry in all of the Lifeways training centers for years, and will continue doing that as well as develop and direct the training in Boulder.  Her passions are creativity in the fiber arts, especially all aspects of felting, writing and presenting stories for children, and teaching adults, which has been her specialty for a long time!


Additional Workshop Leaders

Steve Spitalny 

Early childhood consultant and author Steve Spitalny has been a kindergarten teacher at the Santa Cruz (California) Waldorf School for 24 years. Steve has given workshops, lectures and courses on many themes and is on the faculty of WISC (Waldorf Institute of Southern California). For the past decade, Steve's mixed-age kindergarten has included children from 3-years-old until they are ready for first grade. He is a former Board member of WECAN (Waldorf Early Childhood Asociation of North America) as well as former editor of Gateways, the bi-annual newsletter of WECAN. His many articles have been published in Gateways, and various other publications. Steve's first book, Connecting With Young Children: Educating the Will was published in 2011. Visit his website at

Joya Birns & Cindy Brooks

Joya Birns, Waldorf Educator, and Cindy Brooks, MFT, are co-authors of Parenting with Spirit, a guide to family discipline inspired by insights from the Waldorf world and from the fields of psychology and neuroscience.  They have been co-leading parent circles and parenting workshops in northern California since 2004.  For more information see

Thea Blair

Thea Blair is a mother of a 17-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl, a Waldorf teacher, and a Pediatric Massage Therapist. She operated a successful pre-school out of her home where she observed the amazing results of touch in resolving children's emotional stress. She now teaches for LifeWays and Rudolf Steiner College, mentors teachers and parents, conducts workshops, and campaigns tirelessly for the return of healthy touch to our culture. She lives in an intentional community on a small farm in Nevada City, California.

Rosario Villasana

Rosario Villasana, M.A., is Faculty at City College of San Francisco at the Mission Campus Child Development Center, Adjunct Professor at San Francisco State University and Early Childhood Consultant. She is Community Programs Coordinator for Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, CA and directs the LifeWays en Español caregiver training program focusing on development of curriculum materials in Spanish and community programs and outreach.  Rosario is a member of the Board of Directors of LifeWays NorthAmerica and President of the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Childhood.  She has conducted training and staff development in Rudolf Steiner based education in China and Mexico as well as throughout the United States.  Rosario is the happy mother of two Waldorf graduates; a son, Eduardo and daughter, Lucia.


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