Pedro A. Noguera is the
Distinguished Professor of Education at the Graduate School of
Education and Information Studies and Faculty Director for the
Center for the Transformation of Schools at UCLA. He is a
critically acclaimed scholar, a dynamic speaker and a committed
Prior to joining the faculty at UCLA, Noguera served as a tenured
professor and holder of endowed chairs at New York University
(2003 – 2015), Harvard University (2000 – 2003) and the
University of California, Berkeley (1990 – 2000).
Anna Nixon, co-founder of STEM4Girls, a nonprofit dedicated to
inspiring young people to pursue opportunities and learning in
STEM fields, is an award-winning roboticist, speaker, teacher and
leader. In her public talks, Nixon discusses the importance of
technical education, technology trends, encouraging girls to
pursue STEM, and generational changes caused by technology and
Marck Abraham is the principal of
McKinley High School as well as the founder and CEO of MEA
Consultants, LLC, designed to help poorly performing
schools and organizations increase achievement for all
students, especially young men of color.
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 article, “Culturally Proficient Leadership: Improving the
High School Graduation Rate for Black Males,” appeared in the
February issue of Principal Leadership.
Robert Balfanz is a research professor at the Center for the
Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University School
of Education, where he is co-director of the Talent Development
Secondary reform model and director of the Everyone Graduates
Balfanz published widely on secondary school reform, high school
dropouts, early warning systems, chronic absenteeism, school
climate and instructional interventions in high-poverty schools.
Motivational speaker, author and mentor Craig Boykin offers an
inspiring message of hope to educators and the at-risk students
they serve. Boykin’s highly regarded speeches, seminars and
workshops focus on helping educators engage, support and motivate
young people who struggle with the effects of poverty and trauma.
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.
Cheri Dedmon, Teaching Channel Account Manager, provides
solutions to challenges faced by both large and small educational
organizations throughout the Southeast and Midwest.
Dedmon has been an active member of the education community for
over 43 years, having served in the role of classroom teacher,
high school principal, district staff and member of the National
School Reform Faculty.
Phyllis Donatto, Leadership Development Strategist for Flippen
Group, provides districts with professional development training
focused on improving instructional practices and curriculum
alignment. Drawing on her extensive experience as a secondary and
postsecondary educator and administrator, she has presented at
the international, national and state level on topics ranging
from effective course design to teacher effectiveness.
Rodney Flowers, founder and president of Inspirational Endeavors,
LLC, inspires, motivates and encourages individuals to reach for
their hopes and dreams with earnest expectations regardless of
their limitations or challenges.
After a traumatic high school football injury, Flowers was
paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. Despite an unfavorable
prognosis for recovery, he spent the next 18 years regaining his
ability to walk and making a positive impact on the world.
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.
Catherine Guimarães, Regional Director for Teaching Channel since
2015, supports districts in using Teaching Channel Plus – a
video-enabled learning management system – and adopting
personalized professional learning. She believes educators are
powerful influencers and leaders in making a better
Prior to her work with Tch, Guimarães led a team in designing
online learning courses, served as an assistant principal at
Girls Prep Middle School, led educators across New York City in
the transition to the Common Core, and taught in middle schools
in Boston and Washington, D.C.
Kari Hankins is one of the co-founders of B
Curriculum, LLC, and the Truth, Facts & Lies education program, a
seven-session, evidence-based, social emotional learning
curriculum for middle grades and high school students that
addresses human trafficking, online solicitation, bullying,
social media safety, relationship abuse and addiction.
Kristen Cassidy, co-creator of the Truth, Facts
& Lies education program, is a licensed professional
counselor-supervisor and a national certified counselor. She also
has a private practice in Jennings, Louisiana, where she provides
counseling to adults and children in both individual and family
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 trained and
formerly licensed foster/adoptive parent and an advocate for
professionals working with children of trauma.
Robert Jackson began his teaching career over 20 years ago in
Indianapolis Public Schools with a “no more excuses” teaching
approach that set high expectations for his students and
challenged them to not let their personal circumstances define
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.
A highly-regarded urban educator in New Jersey for over 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 he was a finalist for New Jersey State Teacher of
Zackory Kirk, former director of curriculum and instruction for
Atlanta Public Schools and K-12 ELA coordinator for Henry County
Schools, has served as a teacher and educator for more than 16
years. Kirk inspires teachers and leaders to adopt a continuous
improvement mindset grounded in the responsibilities of teaching
and leadership as a profession of service.
Madeline Levine is the Senior Manager of Community Partnerships
and Outreach at Girls Who Code, an international nonprofit that
works to close the gender gap in technology and change the image
of what a programmer looks like and does.
As a passionate advocate of social justice, Levine works to
foster strong community partnerships with school districts,
library networks, and community-based organizations so that every
girl has the opportunity to gain the confidence and skills they
need to succeed in the 21st century.
Doug Major is superintendent and
CEO of Meridian Technology Center in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and
the president-elect of ACTE, the Association for Career and
Technical Education, the member association of CTE educators in
the United States.
Major began his career as an agriculture education student in
Kingfisher, Oklahoma. Through his membership in FFA, he had the
opportunity to serve both as a local and state officer, which
helped shape his decision to enter the teaching profession.
Aaryn Schmuhl is Vice President for Program Development &
Innovation at GLISI (the Georgia Leadership Institute for School
Schmuhl began his career teaching and coaching middle school in
Henry County Schools in McDonough, Georgia. He helped open Luella
Elementary School in 2005 as its assistant principal and served
as principal of Luella Middle School from 2005-2011. He accepted
the position of Assistant Superintendent for Learning and
Leadership Services in Henry County in 2011 and led the
district’s 2020 Vision for Personalized Learning in 50 schools.
The district reorganized in 2017 and he stepped into the role of
Chief Leadership Officer.
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.
Joseph Valerio is Program Director for the AVIXA Foundation,
charitable arm of AVIXA, the international trade association
representing the audiovisual industry. He oversees all efforts
devoted to creating opportunities for tomorrow’s AV
Valerio manages the Foundation’s workforce development programs
and partnerships with schools and allied organizations. He also
spearheads the many annual scholarship and grants awarded to
students and community groups striving for success in the
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.
A self-taught programmer, he started college as a computer
science major but quickly got bored. Much to his parent’s
chagrin, he changed his major to psychology to pursue a
fascination with the human mind and understand why he couldn’t
retain information like his peers. This unlocked his perspective
on combining the logic of programming with the chaotic nature of
After graduating, Nai created KP Education Systems with the dream
of combining his passion for video gaming with education. He
created the world’s first fully multimedia-driven Culinary Arts
curriculum and started applying gamification themes to his
products. Later, he invented a formative mastery assessment
system that allows students to “level up” their knowledge.
Students loved it.
Today Nai is working on a new project to help at-risk youth use
all the tricks of gamification without creating a video game.
This new methodology gets students to practice math in an
unprecedented volume, making it feel like Fortnite. He hopes that
the Math Fluency Project
will help kids who are disinterested in school build their
confidence, lift their emotional spirits and bring them into “the
Zone of Proximal Development.”
Frederick Yeakey is Interim President at Providence Cristo Rey
High School in Indianapolis, as well as an educational consultant
and speaker who has delivered keynotes and workshops on culture,
diversity, mentorship, character development, purpose and equity
to educators, administrators, parents and students.