Keynote Address: “Creating a Culture of Thinking Right From the
Start: 10 Things to Say Every Day to Your Students … and Why They
Ron Ritchhart is a world-renowned educator, researcher and
author. For over 25 years, Ritchhart served as a Senior Research
Associate and Principal Investigator at Project Zero at the
Harvard Graduate School of Education where his research focused
on understanding how to develop, nurture and sustain thoughtful
learning environments for both students and teachers. Ritchhart’s
interest in creating cultures of
thinking has led him to conduct research in such
areas as intellectual character, mindfulness, thinking
dispositions, teaching for understanding, creativity in
teaching, how teachers’ beliefs and values shape their practice,
and the development of communities of practice. He believes that
teaching is a complex art and science that must be understood in
context. Consequently, a strong theme of learning from best
practice runs throughout all of Ritchhart’s research and writing.
As chief education officer at the National Geographic Society, Vicki Phillips oversees the Society’s education strategy and programs focused on transforming the classroom experience for millions of students and educators to inspire the next generation of planetary stewards.
Keynote Address: “Just One Educator Can Completely Alter the
Trajectory of a Child”
A highly-regarded urban educator in New Jersey for more than 20
years, Principal Baruti Kafele distinguished himself as a master
teacher and a transformational school leader. As an elementary
school teacher in East Orange, New Jersey, he was selected as the
East Orange School District and Essex County Public Schools
Teacher of the Year and was a finalist for New Jersey State
Teacher of the Year and recipient of the New Jersey Education
Association Award of Excellence.
Marck Abraham is the founder and
CEO of MEA Consultants, LLC, a fast-growing consultancy he
designed to help poorly performing schools and organizations
increase achievement for all students, especially young men of
As a thought leader for men of color, author and motivational
speaker, Abraham has presented to various education audiences and
school districts in New York and across the country. His most
recent book, What Success Looks Like: Increasing High School
Graduation Rates Among Males of Color, provides school
leaders with practical steps to increase student performance for
one of the country’s most marginalized student groups. Abraham
has also published several articles in the National Association
of Secondary School Principals magazine.
Educational consultant and author Craig Boykin is known as one of
the top minds on systemic poverty and trauma in America. A
seven-time author and former decorated Army veteran, Boykin’s
self-made success comes from his hustle, his grit and his
relentless desire to never give up.
Leslie Hazle Bussey is CEO and Executive Director of GLISI (the
Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement), a nonprofit
serving and growing over 1,500 school leaders annually in 50+
districts across Georgia.
Now in her 10th year at GLISI, Bussey leads a team of skilled
facilitators, designers, and researchers of adult development
experiences to bring to life GLISI’s mission, which is also their
theory of action: Uplift school leaders, transform mindsets
and action, create vibrant cultures of innovation and build
excellent and equitable schools.
Self-described “Brand Sherpa” and leader of DK Brand Strategy, Pam Daly was
instrumental to the success of the Academies of Nashville
initiative, which now enjoys world-wide recognition. Based on
Daly’s work, Nashville was designated a “Best in Practice”
example of urban school reform branding and marketing by the U.S.
Department of Education.
Phyllis Donatto is the founder and
CEO of FTH Dimension Solutions, LLC, an executive leadership
coaching and consulting firm specializing in empowerment
solutions for team and personal growth. Her life’s work is to
equip and empower leaders to lead by building cohesive teams
while cultivating a thriving culture that impacts and inspires
others to be their best selves.
Mona Elleithee, an award-winning National Board Certified Teacher leader and diversity trainer, is the founder and school equity strategist for Renewed Harmony, an organization committed to helping school leaders concerned with student disparities, school climate and teacher attrition learn how to retain, empower and revitalize their teachers by confidently facilitating the teacher-led implementation of equitable strategies.
Allison Krache Giddens worked for
small business manufacturer Win-Tech, an aerospace precision
machine shop, for 14 years before buying the company with her
business partner, John Hudson, in 2020. She now leads as
President for business operations.
In April 2020, Giddens founded and hosted the first Advanced
Manufacturing Virtual Internship, created as a response to the
pandemic and the inability to bring students on-site. In January
2021, she partnered with Parallel, Inc., and industry colleagues
to bring AMVI to the neurodiverse community.
Thomas Glanton, Jr., is president
and lead consultant for The Education Company, a national
educational consulting company specializing in school improvement
and the art of school leadership. Under his leadership, the
company has served over 200,000 teachers and administrators in
public, private, and charter schools across the U.S.
Glanton works directly with school and district leaders to
develop their capacity to create school climates that are
conducive to student success by focusing on operations,
instructional leadership, data analysis and school performance.
Mary Hemphill is North Carolina’s first state director of K-12
Computer Science and Technology Education. With over 15 years of
professional experience as a teacher, administrator, state
director and university professor, Hemphill understands the
importance of fusing education, empowerment and leadership as she
works with communities as a leadership expert and coach and
inspirational speaker. She has reached over 25,000 individuals
with a message of transformation and innovation, self-empowerment
Joe Hendershott, co-founder of Hope 4 The
Wounded, LLC, has an extensive background working with at-risk
and wounded youth as a teacher, coach and administrator in
traditional, alternative and correctional education settings.
Along with her administrative role as co-founder of Hope 4 The
Wounded, LLC, Dardi Hendershott is a certified
health and wellness coach, a trained and formerly licensed
therapeutic foster/adoptive parent, and an advocate for
professionals working with children of trauma.
Robert Jackson began his teaching career almost 25 years ago in
Indianapolis Public Schools after being cut from the NFL’s
Minnesota Vikings with a “no more excuses” teaching approach that
set high expectations for his students and challenged them to not
let their personal circumstances define their futures.
Jackson’s goal is to teach educators and administrators how to
use their power more effectively to educate, activate and
motivate all students to be successful. His own students have
gone on to become successful pastors, lawyers, school
administrators, teachers, sales reps, business owners, pro
athletes, entertainers and more.
Chris Madrid, lead program manager
at The Institute for Performance Improvement, manages pilots of
TIFPI’s innovative programs, supports agile product, program and
partnership development, and scales up programs by
leveraging partnerships and collaborations.
Madrid’s professional experiences include go-to-market strategy
development and execution, agile marketing, sales channel
activation, product realization, project and program management,
and cross-functional leadership in both the
telecommunications/wireless and nonprofit sectors.
Douglas Major began his career as
an agriculture education student in Kingfisher, Oklahoma. Through
his membership in FFA, Major had the opportunity to serve both as
a local and state officer, which helped shape his decision to
enter the teaching profession.
After earning his bachelor’s in agriculture education at Oklahoma
State University, Major taught for two years at Anadarko High
School. In 1987, Major had the opportunity to join the CareerTech
system as an administrative intern at Meridian Technology Center
and worked there 13 years in various administrative capacities.
During his tenure at Meridian, he also completed both his
master’s and doctoral degrees from OSU. In 2000, Major was
selected as the Superintendent/CEO of Pioneer Technology Center.
He held this position before returning to Meridian Technology
Center in November 2008 as Superintendent/CEO.
Christian Moore is an internationally-renowned speaker, licensed
clinical social worker and advocate for youth. He is also the
author of The Resilience Breakthrough: 27 Tools for Turning
Adversity into Action.
Moore found his passion in social work and created the WhyTry
Program, a social-emotional learning program that delivers tools
and training to help educators change students from unmotivated
to engaged, from failing to graduates, and from hopeless to
resilient. WhyTry has been implemented in over 25,000
LaQuanta M. Nelson has served in
education as a mentor, motivational speaker, teacher, assistant
principal and principal over the last 17 years. She currently
serves as Principal of Magnolia Middle School in Moss Point,
Mississippi. Nelson believes in empowering scholars and all
educators on their journey to greatness.
Deb Page is president of the International Society for
Performance Improvement and founder of The Institute for
Performance Improvement, which trains and certifies school
improvement facilitators, including school and district leaders,
academic coaches and state and regional education agency staff.
Founded in 2012, The Institute for Performance Improvement works
in collaboration with the International Society for
Performance Improvement to train and certify performance
improvement facilitators from across all sectors to neutrally
guide collaborative coalitions for performance improvement and
Dave Shepard manages his own educational consulting firm, The
Middle Matters and More, in Lexington, Kentucky. As a former
teacher, coach, curriculum and program designer, and
administrator, Shepard has worked with middle grades and high
school students for more than 40 years.
Meaghan Timko is the founder of
Parallel, an international consulting agency that focuses on
strategic transition planning and neurodiverse workforce
development. Timko is an innovator who works directly with
families, schools, communities and businesses to build
sustainable solutions that address the complex societal problem
of neurodiverse unemployment.
Nai Wang is
founder and president of KP Education Systems.
As a child, Nai struggled in public education, even failing a
math class. Growing up in an immigrant family that ran a
restaurant, Nai and his family couldn’t afford medical treatment
for his ADHD. That’s when he fell in love with video games, a
medium that stimulated his mind at the pace he needed.