Summit Agenda

Featured Speakers

Shavar Jeffries
President, Democrats for Education Reform

​Shavar Jeffries serves as President of Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) and is a partner in Lowenstein Sandler’s Litigation Department. Jeffries began his role at DFER in September 2015, and brings a personal commitment to ensuring that a child’s zip code does not define their destiny. From his efforts fighting for fair funding practices to get schools the resources they deserved to his service leading the New Jersey Attorney General’s Juvenile Justice and Civil Rights Departments, he has been a vocal advocate for social justice.

John B. King, Jr
President and CEO, The Education Trust

John B. King Jr. is the president and CEO of The Education Trust, a national nonprofit organization that seeks to identify and close opportunity and achievement gaps, from preschool through college. King served as the U.S. Secretary of Education from 2016 to 2017 as a member of President Barack Obama's administration. Before becoming education secretary and beginning in 2015, King carried out the duties of the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education, overseeing all policies and programs related to P-12 education, English learners, special education, and innovation. King began his career in education as a high school social studies teacher in Puerto Rico and Boston, Mass., and as a middle school principal.

Nina Rees
President and CEO, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

Nina Rees is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the charter school movement. Rees has over 20 years of experience in Washington, D.C., most recently as Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives for Knowledge Universe. Prior to her tenure at KU, she served as the first Deputy Under Secretary for Innovation and Improvement at the U.S. Department of Education and as Deputy Assistant for Domestic Policy to the Vice President at the White House. ​​

Gerard Robinson
Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute

Gerard Robinson is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he works on education policy issues including school choice, K-12 regulatory development and implementation, the role of for-profit institutions in education, prison education and reentry, rural education, and the role of community colleges and HBCUs in adult advancement. Before joining AEI, Robinson served as commissioner of education for the State of Florida and secretary of education for the Commonwealth of Virginia. He also served as president of the Black Alliance for Educational Options. Robinson started his career as a fifth-grade teacher.

Hanna Skandera
Secretary of Education, New Mexico Public Education Department

Hanna Skandera is leading the transformation of New Mexico public schools as Secretary of Education. With her leadership, graduation rates are at an all-time high, AP enrollment has doubled, the number of "A" and "B" schools has increased by one-third and 30,000 more students are in "A" and "B" schools. Prior to New Mexico, Skandera served Deputy Chief of Staff under U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, Undersecretary of Education under Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Deputy Commissioner under Governor Jeb Bush. Skandera has also taught education policy at Pepperdine University and has served as a Research Fellow for the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Diane Tavenner
Chief Executive Officer, Summit Public Schools

​​Diane Tavenner is the Co-Founder and CEO of Summit Public Schools (SPS), a leading charter management organization. The Summit Learning model leverages technology to connect students’ long-term goals to their daily actions and empowers them to own their learning. Summit’s graduates are completing four-year college degrees at twice the national average. Newsweek and US News & World Report have ranked Summit among the top public schools in the nation. In partnership with Facebook, Summit is currently working to scale personalized learning by making the Summit Learning Platform available to schools across the United States free through the Summit Learning Program.​

Detailed Schedule

EXPAND ALL SHRINK ALL

Tuesday, May 16

Community of Practice Day

8:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Programming by invitation only

8:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Welcome Reception

Wednesday, May 17

Summit

6:00 a.m. - 7:00 a.m.

Rise & Shine Workout

8:00 a.m. - 9:15 a.m.

Morning Plenary Session

Nancy Bernadino
Solar Prep

Born in Mexico and raised in east Dallas, Bernardino is the first in her family to earn a Bachelor’s Degree. She attended elementary and middle school in Dallas ISD and graduated high school from The Hockaday School, a private all-girls school in Dallas. Bernardino’s experience in a single-gender environment at The Hockaday School influenced her decision to start Solar Preparatory School for Girls. Bernardino earned a Master of Education from Texas A&M-Commerce, and Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. She is working toward a Doctorate in Education Leadership at SMU.​

Todd Dickson
Valor Collegiate Academies

Mr. Dickson attended Stanford for a Master’s in education and was an early teacher and leader at Summit Public Schools, including leading the flagship campus to a top 10 national ranking in Newsweek’s Transformational Schools. Mr. Dickson founded Valor Collegiate Academies in 2012.  In its inaugural year, Valor was the top academic school in Nashville, and it’s FRL scholars inverted the achievement gap, outpacing non-FRL scholars in Nashville and the State of TN. Mr. Dickson holds a Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering from the University of Denver and a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University. ​​

Don Shalvey
Gates Foundation

Don Shalvey is a Deputy Director for K-12 Education at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  Widely recognized as a leader in public school reform and the charter school movement, he was the founder and CEO of Aspire Public Schools and is a frequent advisor to policy makers, practitioners and authorizers of charter schools across the nation.  In 1992, as Superintendent of the San Carlos School District, Dr. Shalvey sponsored the first charter school in California. He earned an Ed.D in Ed Leadership/Administration from USC, an M.Ed in Counseling & Guidance from Gonzaga, and a B.A. from LaSalle College.

Derwin Sisnett
Maslow Development Inc.

Derwin Sisnett is the co-founder and managing partner of Maslow Development Inc. (Maslow), a real estate development company that co-designs and develops communities around high performing schools. Prior to founding Maslow, Derwin co-founded and served as the CEO of Gestalt Community Schools (GCS), a charter management organization that develops high-performing, community-based charter schools in Memphis, Tennessee. Maslow was established in order to extend the community development practices that are a core part of GCS’s mission to other high performing schools across the country.

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Speaker Resource Links

Diane Tavenner
Summit Public Schools

Diane Tavenner is the Co-Founder and CEO of Summit Public Schools (SPS), a leading charter management organization. The Summit Learning model leverages technology to connect students’ long-term goals to their daily actions and empowers them to own their learning.  Summit’s graduates are completing four-year college degrees at twice the national average. Newsweek and US News & World Report have ranked Summit among the top public schools in the nation. In partnership with Facebook, Summit is currently working to scale personalized learning by making the Summit Learning Platform available to schools across the United States free through the Summit Learning Program.​

Richard Whitmire

Whitmire, a former president of the National Education Writers Association, is the author of The Founders: Inside the revolution to invent (and re-invent) America’s Best Charter Schools. Previous books include: On the Rocketship: How High Performing Charter Schools are Pushing the Envelopeand The Bee Eater: Michelle Rhee Takes on the Nation’s Worst School District. Whitmire also wroteWhy Boys Fail: Saving Our Sons from an Education System That’s Leaving Them Behind and co-authoredThe Achievable Dream: College Board Lessons on Creating Great Schools.​

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Speaker Resource Links

9:35 a.m. - 10:50 a.m.

Morning Breakout Sessions I

Stacey Childress
NewSchools Venture Fund

​Stacey Childress is the CEO at NewSchools Venture Fund. Prior to joining NewSchools, Childress led the K-12 Next Generation Learning team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, investing in schools and technologies that support personalized learning. Previously, Childress was on the faculty of the Harvard Business School where she wrote and taught about entrepreneurial activity in U.S. public education. Before working in academia, Childress was a co-founder of an enterprise software company and also spent ten years in sales and general management. Early in her career, she taught in a Texas public high school. ​

Betheny Gross
Center for Reinventing Public Education

Betheny Gross is a Senior Research Analyst and Research Director at the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE). Dr. Gross has examined evidence and outcomes of district and state reform across the country.  She is currently leading CRPE’s national study of systemic efforts to support the implementation of personalized learning.​

Erin Mote
Brooklyn Lab Charter School

Erin Mote is the Executive Director of InnovateEDU and co-founder of Brooklyn Laboratory Charter School (LAB). She leads InnovateEDU’s major projects including the development of Cortex, work on data interoperability, an urban education Fellowship focused on teacher diversity, and supports LAB’s growth. She has spent much of her career focused on public service and expanding access to technology in both the US and abroad. Her work spans private sector collaborations with Cisco, Google, and Mozilla, as well as work with USAID, the US Department of State and the White House.

Oliver Sicat
Ednovate

Oliver was named the 2006 Teacher of the Year in the Boston Public Schools. Shortly after, he moved to Chicago to help start the expansion of the Noble Network of Charter Schools and founded UIC College Prep, the #1 non­-selective high school in Chicago. He was then appointed onto the executive cabinet as Chicago Public School’s first Chief Portfolio Officer where he led the city’s strategic efforts of opening new schools, closing low performing schools and converting the district to operate as a portfolio of schools. As Chief Executive Officer of Ednovate, Oliver is responsible for overall leadership of the organization and the continuous development of its student centered instructional model. ​

Kyle Smitley
Detroit Achievement Academy

Kyle Smitley is the Founder and Executive Director of Detroit Achievement Academy, a high performing, nonprofit charter school currently in its fourth school year in Detroit. Last year, DAA’s schoolwide NWEA MAP growth was in the 99th percentile nationally. DAA has been featured by Ellen DeGeneres, Rolling Stone, and all local major media. Smitley’s previous experience is in business, where Inc. Magazine named her among the 30 Coolest Entrepreneurs Under 30. Smitley’s second school, Detroit Prep, opened last fall as the only diverse school in the city of Detroit. ​

Anthony Heckman
Kapor Capital

​Anthony Heckman focuses on sourcing and evaluating early-stage investments in addition to helping portfolio companies grow intelligently. Anthony joined Kapor Capital in 2015 after spending 5 years on the startup and venture capital teams at Cooley and Fenwick and West. As an emerging growth companies attorney, Anthony advised startups and their investors with respect to operational matters, mergers and acquisitions, entity formation, and venture financings. Anthony holds a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a B.A. from the University of Southern California. ​

Carolina Huaranca
Kapor Capital

​Carolina Huaranca Mendoza joined Kapor Capital in 2016 and focuses on identifying and evaluating early stage investments, and partnering with entrepreneurs to grow their companies. Prior to becoming Principal, she was an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Kapor Center for Social Impact working on a teacher professional development tech platform. Carolina began her career as a Mergers & Acquisitions investment banker at Citi. She began her technology career in 2003 as a Sales & Marketing Manager at SchoolNet. In 2012, she founded Spriggle, a marketplace helping parents identify science and math inspired products for their children.

Lynzi Ziegenhagen
Schoolzilla

Lynzi founded the technology innovation team at Aspire Public Schools in 2008 to ensure that every Aspire teacher, principal, and leader had access to timely, accurate and actionable data. Five years later, she started Schoolzilla to realize an even bigger vision: sharing the same proven data tools with every school in America. Prior to Aspire, Lynzi ran her own business creating software for nonprofits, led product management at a start-up, and worked at Microsoft, Booz Allen and The Children’s Partnership. Lynzi graduated from Stanford and holds a master’s degree in Computer Science from the Naval Postgraduate School.

Mike Teng
Swing Education

Mike Teng is co-founder and CEO of Swing Education. Swing Education makes it easy for schools and districts to find high quality substitute teachers. Previously, Mike was the Director of Technology at Rocketship Education.  While there, he combined his love for innovation with his passion for improving education.  At various points, helped lead blended learning, tech/data infrastructure, and initiatives to leverage technology to scale back office operations. In his free time, Mike plays ice hockey, walks his dog Scout, and listens to podcasts at 1.8x.

Diana Castro Sanchez
RISE Colorado

Diana Castro is originally from Hidalgo, Mexico. She moved to the United States when she was 15 years old and graduated from Aurora Public Schools in Colorado. Diana is a wife, mother of two, and works full time. She first attended a RISE Colorado workshop in 2014 at her daughter’s Early Childhood Education Center and then began participating in community organizing coalitions to create equitable change in Aurora Public Schools. Since joining RISE, Diana has shown incredible leadership in her community, has presented at several conferences nationally and met with former Secretary of Education, John King.

Sipinga Fifita-Nau
RISE Colorado

Sipinga Fifita-Nau was born and raised in Aurora, Colorado, and is is of Polynesian decent, specifically from the islands of the Kingdom of Tonga & American Samoa. She is a wife and mother of three beautiful children. Sipinga has been a member of Rise Colorado since the Fall 2014 when she first attended a workshop showcasing the Parent Opportunity Gap. She was completely engaged by the data shared and connected those statistics to her experiences as a student in Aurora Public Schools. Sipinga is committed to being an informed and engaged parent and is the number one advocate for her children’s education.​

Matt Hammer
Innovate Public Schools

Matt is founder & CEO of Innovate Public Schools.  Before launching Innovate, Matt was Executive Director of People Acting In Community Together in San Jose. Under Matt’s leadership, PACT built one of the only large public school choice movements in the country driven by the people with the most at stake: low-income parents.  In the 1990s, Matt was a community organizer with Oakland Community Organizations, where he built the organization’s parent-led new schools campaign.  Matt first learned organizing with Southern Echo in Mississippi. He graduated summa cum laude from Duke University. 

Speaker Resource Links

Chappelle White
ACE of Nevada

Chappelle White is a mother of four children, ages 25, 17, 14, and 10 and an advocate for Education Savings Accounts in her home state of Nevada. Chappelle has worked in a number of student and family facing roles, including as a teacher, a director of family services, and a group supervisor at a youth correctional facility. Her children have attended a range of public and private schools. She has entered multiple charter school lotteries, but her children have never been selected for a spot. She believes that if the system isn’t working for parents, we must empower parents with more choices for their children.

Dr. Noel Anderson
New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development

​Noel S. Anderson is Clinical Professor of Educational Leadership and Director of the Educational Leadership Program at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development. For over 20 years, Noel has served in a variety of leadership positions. He has worked with large public school districts; charter school networks; private schools; national non-profit companies leading program and organizational development.

Speaker Resource Links

Kristin Cahill Garcia
H.E.R.O. High (Health, Education, and Research Occupations High School)

​Kristin Cahill is the founding principal of HERO High School in the South Bronx. HERO High a new kind of high school where students can earn college credits, graduate with an Associate degree in Nursing or Community Health and obtain employment on a career track. Cahill began her career in the Oakland Unified School District where she was an English Teacher, English Department Chair, and co-Director of a career academy. After returning to New York, she worked for the National Academy for Excellent Teaching at Teachers College. Previous experiences include management and supervisory positions in workforce development, and social policy research experience at MDRC. ​

Michael Collins
Jobs for the Future

Michael Lawrence Collins is a vice president at Jobs for the Future. He leads the Postsecondary State Policy team, developing and advocating for state policies on behalf of national initiatives, such as Achieving the Dream, Completion by Design, and the Student Success Center Network. He also leads Jobs for the Future’s Postsecondary State Policy Network, which provides access to the state lawmakers, faculty, and college leaders in almost 50 percent of the community colleges in the nation. Mr. Collins earned a Masters of Public Affairs from the The University of Texas at Austin.

Lisette Nieves
Lingo Ventures

Lisette Nieves is an experienced social entrepreneur and public sector leader.  She is a Founding Partner at Lingo Ventures, where she provides consulting services to the nonprofit and public sector on growth, talent, and change management. Previously, Lisette was the Belle Zeller Distinguished Visiting Professor in Public Policy at Brooklyn College. She was also the founding Executive Director of Year Up NY, an innovative workforce development program. Her government experience includes serving as the Chief of Staff at the NYC Dept. of Youth and Community Development and working at the Corporation for National Service, launching and administering the AmeriCorps program. ​

Social Media

11:10 a.m. - 12:25 p.m.

Morning Breakout Sessions II

Christina Braganza
Achievement First

Ms. Braganza leads Team Special Services, which builds and strengthens the continuum of special education services at Achievement First. Her team also focuses on Achievement First’s intervention programs (to prevent the disproportionate referral of students for special education services), supports the clinical supervision of the social work cohort, and leads extended learning. Prior to her work at Achievement First, Ms. Braganza taught special education, first as a teacher in Harlem and later helping to build a special education program at Rise Academy in Newark, N.J. She has spent multiple summers working as a School Director for Teach for America’s Summer Institute and has a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Chicago. ​​​

Steve Drummond
NPR

Steve Drummond is the Senior Education Editor for NPR News and runs the network’s education reporting project: NPR Ed. Launched in 2014, it’s a nine-member team exploring the science and practice of learning, working in partnership with member stations around the country. In his 17 years at NPR, Drummond has been the network’s national editor and the senior editor of All Things Considered. His work has been honored with many of broadcast journalism’s highest awards, including three Peabody Awards, two Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University awards, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and the Edward R. Murrow Award. Drummond is a former school teacher and newspaper reporter. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland.​

Renee Hill
Riverside Unified School District

​As Assistant Superintendent of Data, Innovation, Research and Technology, Renee Hill serves 42,000 students 60 miles east of Los Angeles. Her teams lead and provide the Inland Code Consortium (17 districts with nearly 370,000 students). She established Heritage which has cut the black-white college-entry-course opportunity gap in half and is serving as a model for Legacy, designed for English learners. During a break in her 32 year public school career, she was a project, co-authored a math textbook, and consulted. She is an unflagging advocate for equity and high levels of student learning.  Renee has a Master’s in Curriculum from UCRiverside and a Sloan MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business.​

Ben Marcovitz
Collegiate Academies

Benjamin Marcovitz is the founder and CEO of Collegiate Academies (CA), a charter school network in New Orleans. Beginning in 2007, CA has led the district in high school performance and won honors from the Oprah Winfrey Show and US News & World Report. Ben taught in New Orleans, Washington, DC, and Boston. His work at CA has earned him recognition from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, fellowships at the Charter Network Accelerator, the Pahara-Aspen Institute, and the Broad Academy, as well as the Ryan Award for transformational leadership.  He has served on the faculties of New Leaders and Leading Educators, and presents with Relay Graduate School of Education and Future Leaders in the UK, among others.​

Becky Crowe
Bellwether Education Partners

​Becky launched Bellwether’s Talent Advising practice in 2012 and has worked on a range of strategy and human capital projects focused on educational excellence and equity. Becky also served as Executive Director of Partners in School Innovation. Prior to joining Partners, Becky was responsible for leadership development of principals and district leaders at the Bay Area School Reform Collaborative and led a research team at Stanford University. She has undergraduate and graduate degrees from Stanford where she was an All-American and Co-Captain of the women’s swim team. She’s the proud mother of a fifth grader.​​​​

Frances Messano
NewSchools Venture Fund

Frances Messano is a Managing Partner at NewSchools Venture Fund where she co-leads the diverse leaders strategy. Previously, Frances served as VP of Strategy at Teach For America, where she led the organization in developing their three-year strategic plan. Before that, she was an Associate Partner at Monitor Institute, where she helped education organizations scale impact through strategy, organizational and leadership development. Frances is a first-generation college graduate and an alum of Prep for Prep, MLT and SEO, organizations that she credits with helping her gain access to educational and professional opportunity. ​

​Xiomara Padamsee
Bellwether Education Partners

​Xiomara Padamsee is a Partner with Bellwether Education Partners and leads the Talent Advising practice area, as well as Bellwether’s field-facing and internal DEI work. She has 20 years of experience in education reform and human capital work. Previously, Xiomara was a leader in Deloitte Consulting’s Human Capital group with a specialty in driving large-scale change in global retail companies. Earlier in her career, Xiomara worked as the Vice President of Staffing and Organizational Development at Teach For America where she built the organization’s first Human Assets team.​

Julie Swerdlow Albino
Springfield Empowerment Partnership Zone

Julie Swerdlow Albino is the Co-Executive Director of Strategy & Systems for the Springfield Empowerment Partnership Zone, an innovative non-profit in Springfield, Massachusetts that has assumed responsibility for 10 turnaround middle and high schools in the state’s second largest urban district.  Julie is the former Chief Redesign Officer of the Lawrence Public Schools Receivership, a mid-sized urban district of 30 schools which were placed under state control in 2011.  Over the course of Julie’s tenure, the district increased the number of “Level 1” schools from two (2) to ten (10).  Prior to her time in Lawrence, Julie worked as a management consultant for The Boston Consulting Group where she served clients across the public, non-profit and corporate sectors.​

Juan E. Cabrera
El Paso Independent School District

Juan Cabrera was appointed superintendent of the El Paso ISD in 2013. Along with the trustees, Cabrera is focused on equity, choice and “great schools” across the district.  He seeks to provide all students with an innovative, engaging, character-based education, focusing on the “whole-child”. Cabrera is a former elementary bilingual teacher and school-law attorney. He spent 20 years away from the classroom working as a corporate executive and an international general counsel living in South America and Europe.

Chris Gabrieli
Empower Schools

Chris Gabrieli is the CEO of Empower Schools, Chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, and a lecturer at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. Empower works with policymakers and both traditional educators and proven non-profit operators to re-engineer traditional school systems into diverse education ecosystems centered on empowered and accountable schools. Chris has also been at the forefront of movements to expand learning time for disadvantaged students and to expand the definition of student success to include non-cognitive skills.  He is a Partner Emeritus at Bessemer Venture Partners.

Lea Marquez Peterson
Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Lea Marquez Peterson is the President/CEO of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Lea has been an entrepreneur in Arizona for many years and has served as the President/ CEO of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber since 2009. The Tucson Hispanic Chamber serves the business community in the bilingual, bi-cultural region of the Arizona-Sonora border and was recognized as the Hispanic Chamber of the Year in 2013 by the U.S Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. She also co-chairs the Arizona Zanjeros, a business leadership group formed to ensure the state continues to flourish economically by driving business growth and promoting Arizona’s extraordinary assets. ​

Ventura Rodriguez
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Dr. Ventura Rodriguez is the Director of the Office of Strategic Transformation (OST) at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE).  Ventura manages and coordinates ESE’s support and assistance to the state’s portfolio of schools and districts under state receivership, which educate approximately 22,000 students. Prior to joining ESE, Ventura was the founder and Executive Director of St. HOPE Leadership Academy, a charter middle school in Harlem, and was on the founding team for Gateway Charter High School in San Francisco. Dr. Rodriguez is a graduate of the Doctor of Education Leadership program (Ed.L.D.) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. ​

Adrian Ruiz
Espiritu Schools

Mr. Ruiz currently serves as the Executive Director of Espiritu Community Development Corporation, a K-12 Charter School Operator in South Phoenix, and Espiritu Schools, a charter management organization. He co-led a turnaround of the organization, an underperforming local education agency (LEA) in 2007, and establishing it as one of only four “A” rated LEA’s in the South Phoenix community in 2014. Mr. Ruiz is also the Executive Director of Espiritu Schools, a charter management organization. Mr. Ruiz comes from a diverse business background having worked in finance and accounting, and has been involved in education over the last 8 years.​

David Adams
Urban Assembly

David is the Director of Social-Emotional Learning at The Urban Assembly. He previously served as the Social-Emotional Learning Coordinator for District 75 where he shaped the District’s approach to social-emotional learning for students with severe cognitive and behavioral challenges. He has created and evaluated programs of positive behavioral supports and Social-Emotional Learning as a research intern at Yale University’s Health, Emotion and Behavior Lab, and published multiple academic papers around the relationship of social-emotional competence, and student academic and behavioral outcomes. David holds an M.Ed in Educational Psychology from Fordham University.

Jacob Allen
pilotED Schools

A Los Angeles native and social justice junkie, Jacob Allen is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of pilotED Schools, an emerging social identity-centered charter school network in Indianapolis. Jacob’s passion for social justice and equity has routinely been at the center of both his educational and professional worlds—and it began when he served as the first Youth President of Wisconsin for the NAACP. Jacob is a graduate of the University of Washington and the Kellogg School of Management. Earlier this year he was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30. List and is currently a NewSchools Innovative School Fellow, Echoing Green Fellow, and a former Camelback Ventures Fellow.​

Orly Friedman
Khan Lab School

Orly Friedman began working in education while teaching at a one-of-a-kind boarding school for Untouchables in Southern India during college. After graduating from Yale with a degree in Urban Studies she joined Teach for America in Washington, DC. For five years, she taught Kindergarten – Third grade in DCPS. While in DC, she earned her MA in Early Childhood Education and began creating math content for Learn Zillion.  She moved to the west coast to get her MBA at Stanford and graduated in 2014, shortly before joining the Khan Lab School [KLS] founding team. Orly is currently Head of Lower School at KLS.​

Saskia Levy Thompson
Carnegie Corporation of New York

Saskia Levy Thompson serves as the Program Director of the New Designs to Advance Learning portfolio at the Carnegie Corporation of New York.  For the last fifteen years, she has worked at the intersection of practice, policy, and research.  Saskia has served as a member of the leadership team at the NYC Department of Education, including an appointment as Deputy Chancellor for Portfolio Planning; as Executive Director of the Urban Assembly, a nonprofit network of high schools serving high-poverty communities; and as a senior staff member at both the Research Alliance for NYC Schools and MDRC, the preeminent national think tank focused on building knowledge to improve social policy.​

Courtney Smith
Boston Collegiate Charter School

Courtney Smith has been serving as principal of Boston Collegiate’s Lower School campus for six years, and prior to that, she taught eighth grade Reading and Writing in the middle school for three years. She earned her Bachelor of Art degree in Creative Writing and Seconday Education from Bridgewater State College, and a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from Johns Hopkins University.  Her previous experience in schools began in 2004 with teaching ninth grade English on Cape Cod, and continued with teaching high school English in West Baltimore, MD, through Teach for America, in both alternative and city-wide exam schools for a number of years.

Amanda Aiken

Amanda Aiken is the Founder and CEO of A.Leigh Solutions, an educational consulting group provides solutions around school turnaround strategies, leadership development, CMO strategy, recruitment, and the implementation of trauma informed practices. Previously, Amanda served as the Senior Director of Schools for New Orleans College Prep Charter Schools. Before taking on this role, Amanda was the Principal of Lawrence D. Crocker College Prep. Amanda catapulted Crocker College Prep from being the lowest performing school in the city of New Orleans to the most improved school in the city. Crocker has also gained local and national recognition for its trauma informed and restorative justice practices, an initiative that Amanda started and led as Principal.

Eldridge Greer
Denver Public Schools

Eldridge Greer serves as the Associate Chief of Student Equity and Opportunity in Denver Public Schools. As such, he has focused on systemic change for DPS’ most vulnerable students. Dr. Greer joined DPS in 2007-08 as manager of the department of psychological services and was selected for his current role in 2016. He had served five years as a school psychologist in Adams 14 before joining DPS. Eldridge earned his bachelor’s degree from Cornell and his master’s degree in developmental psychology and doctorate in child clinical and developmental psychology from the University of Iowa.​

John B. King, Jr.
The Education Trust

​John B. King Jr. is the president and CEO of The Education Trust, a national nonprofit organization that seeks to identify and close opportunity and achievement gaps, from preschool through college. King served as the U.S. Secretary of Education from 2016 to 2017 as a member of President Barack Obama’s administration. Before becoming education secretary and beginning in 2015, King carried out the duties of the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education, overseeing all policies and programs related to P-12 education, English learners, special education, and innovation. King began his career in education as a high school social studies teacher in Puerto Rico and Boston, Mass., and as a middle school principal.

Anita Wadhwa
YES Prep

Dr. Anita Wadhwa is the Restorative Justice and Intervention Coordinator at YES Prep North Brook in Houston, TX. She is also a founder of the Restorative Justice Collaborative of Houston, the CEO of Restorative Empowerment for youth, which conducts trainings with young people who have been apprenticed in restorative justice, and the author of Restorative Justice in Urban Schools: Disrupting the School to Prison Pipeline. Dr. Wadhwa received her Ed.D after completing a study of restorative justice in two Boston high schools. Prior to this, Dr Wadhwa taught English for five years in Houston.

Ric Zappa
KIPP Bay Area

Ric Zappa has been an educator for over 35 years, teaching in elementary, middle, and high schools and community college. In his current role as Director of School Culture, Ric leads the KIPP Bay Area region’s initiative for social-emotional learning, character development, and restorative practices. Under his direction schools have seen dramatic decreases in suspension and expulsion rates, higher student achievement and teacher retention rates, lower student attrition, and school culture focused on respecting, nurturing, and learning for the entire school community.

Calvin Baker
Vail School District

Calvin Baker has been an educator for 44 years. He spent nine years as a principal in rural Alaska and is in his 29th year as the superintendent of the Vail School District. Cal has served as the president of Arizona’s administrator association and was honored as Arizona’s Superintendent of the Year. He also serves on the Arizona State Board of Education. Vail is known and recognized for innovations and highly rated schools and shares its academic success with a digitized “instructional playbook” called Beyond Textbooks. Over 100 school systems in seven states utilize the fee-based service.​

Joshua Jennings
Global Impact STEM Academy

Joshua Jennings is the Founding Director of the Global Impact STEM Academy (GISA) in Springfield, Ohio.  Josh’s previous experience in education includes an administrative role in Career and Technical education as well as an Ag Ed instructor.  He holds a BS in Agriculture and MA in Workforce Development & Education. GISA is the first STEM School of its kind, combining STEM principals with a workforce development need in the Ag Industry.  Content is made relevant in the areas of ag-bioscience, fuel, energy, environment, and food science. The school has partnered with higher education and industry to fill a void for qualified individuals in this technologically advanced field.

Nate McClennen
Teton Science Schools

Nate is the Vice-President of Education and Innovation at Teton Science Schools, where he focuses on how to scale the schools’ impact through technology, innovation, design learning, and school networks. Nate has been part of the leadership team at Teton Science Schools since 2011. Since 1993, he has taught science and math at the secondary level and science at university level. Nate received a Klingenstein Heads Fellowship in 2009 with Teachers College at Columbia University and taught as a field instructor for the graduate program in independent school leadership at Columbia University. Nate believes that schools must connect students to communities in meaningful ways as a way to increase the capacity of the next generation.​​

Terry Ryan
Bluum

Terry Ryan is the CEO of Bluum, an education nonprofit focused on cultivating great leaders and innovative schools in Idaho. He is also a member of the Rural Opportunities Consortium of Idaho (ROCI) task force. Before moving to Idaho in August of 2013, Terry served as Vice-President for Ohio Programs and Policy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute for twelve years. Terry began his career in education as a teacher in Poland and worked with the Polish Ministry of Education and the Foundation for Education for Democracy. In the 1990s, he served as research director for the UK-based 21st Century Learning Initiative, and is a member of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Policy Advisory Council. ​

12:45 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Lunch Plenary Session

Layla Avila
Education Leaders of Color

​Layla Avila is CEO of Education Leaders of Color. Kaya Henderson, Aimée Eubanks Davis, Sharhonda Bossier, Layla and 17 prominent Black and Latino education leaders formed EdLoC to expand the voices and emphases of education efforts. Previously Layla served as Executive VP at TNTP where she led efforts to broaden the organization’s impact, overseeing business development as well as teacher pipeline work. Layla was elected to the South Whittier School District Board in 2005. After earning a BA from Columbia and an MA in Public Policy from Harvard Kennedy School, she started her career teaching bilingual education in Compton, CA.​​

Stacey Childress
NewSchools Venture Fund

​Stacey Childress is the CEO at NewSchools Venture Fund. Prior to joining NewSchools, Childress led the K-12 Next Generation Learning team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, investing in schools and technologies that support personalized learning. Previously, Childress was on the faculty of the Harvard Business School where she wrote and taught about entrepreneurial activity in U.S. public education. Before working in academia, Childress was a co-founder of an enterprise software company and also spent ten years in sales and general management. Early in her career, she taught in a Texas public high school. ​

Shavar Jeffries
Democrats for Education Reform

Shavar Jeffries serves as President of Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) and is a partner in Lowenstein Sandler’s Litigation Department.  Jeffries began his role at DFER in September 2015, and brings a personal commitment to ensuring that a child’s zip code does not define their destiny. From his efforts fighting for fair funding practices to get schools the resources they deserved to his service leading the New Jersey Attorney General’s Juvenile Justice and Civil Rights Departments, he has been a vocal advocate for social justice.

Matt Ladner
Charles Koch Institute

Dr. Matthew Ladner is a Senior Research Fellow at the Charles Koch Institute. Previously, Dr. Ladner served as Senior Advisor for Policy at Excel in Ed and V.P. of Research at Goldwater Institute. Prior to Goldwater, Ladner was Director of State Projects at the Alliance for School Choice. He has provided invited testimony to Congress, several state legislatures, and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Ladner helped to create the nation’s first K-12 Education Savings Account program in 2011. Ladner is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and received both a master’s and a Ph.D. from the University of Houston. ​

Gerard Robinson
American Enterprise Institute

Gerard Robinson is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he works on education policy issues including school choice, K-12 regulatory development and implementation, the role of for-profit institutions in education, prison education and reentry, rural education, and the role of community colleges and HBCUs in adult advancement. Before joining AEI, Robinson served as commissioner of education for the State of Florida and secretary of education for the Commonwealth of Virginia. He also served as president of the Black Alliance for Educational Options. Robinson started his career as a fifth-grade teacher.

2:30 p.m. - 3:45 p.m.

Afternoon Breakout Sessions

Richard Barth
KIPP Foundation

As CEO of the KIPP foundation, Richard leads the growth of the KIPP network, which grew from 45 to 200 schools, from 8,000 to 80,000 students, and from 400 to over 12,000 alumni since 2005. Under Richard’s leadership, KIPP dramatically expanded KIPP’s leadership development programs, advocated for high performing charter schools on Capitol Hill, and secured partnerships with more than 80 colleges and universities. Richard came to KIPP from Edison Schools, where he served as President of District Partnerships. Prior to joining Edison, Barth was one of the founding staff members of Teach For America. Richard is an Aspen Institute-New Schools Fellow and was named a 2014 Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year. He lives in New York with his wife and children. ​

Kriste Dragon
Citizens of the World Charter Schools

Kriste Dragon is the CEO and Co-Founder of Citizens of the World Charter Schools, a national network of public charter schools that challenge students to realize their full potential and thrive in a diverse society.  Citizens of the World is committed to serving diverse communities throughout the U.S. with schools currently in Los Angeles, New York, and Kansas City. Kriste began her work in education as a middle school mathematics teacher in South Los Angeles.  She later served as Executive Director for Teach For America Los Angeles.  Kriste is currently a member of the Advisory Board for the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and the Board of Directors for the National Charter Collaborative. ​

Jo Ann Gama
IDEA Public Schools

In 1998, JoAnn Gama co-founded the IDEA Academy within the Donna Independent School District with fellow Teach For America corps member, Tom Torkelson. In August 2000, they opened the IDEA Academy Charter School with 150 students.

As co-founder, president and superintendent of schools, JoAnn has helped lead the replication efforts of the original school. Currently, IDEA Public Schools educates nearly 30,000 students in 52 schools across 3 regions in Texas.

JoAnn received the prestigious Peter Jennings Award for Civic Leadership in 2009 and was appointed to former President Barack Obama’s White House Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics in 2010.​

Marc Sternberg
Walton Family Foundation

Marc Sternberg is the director of the Walton Family Foundation’s K-12 Education Program where he leads initiatives to improve education. Previously, Marc was the Senior Deputy Chancellor at the NYC Department of Education and senior advisor to the chancellor and the mayor’s office on education policy and strategy. Marc taught as a Teach For America corps member, before serving as founding principal of the Bronx Lab School. He earned a B.A from Princeton University and joint MBA and Masters in Education from Harvard University.  Marc was named a 2009-2010 White House Fellow.

Eileen Murphy Buckley
ThinkCERCA

​Eileen taught English for 15 years and was the founding English Department Chair at Walter Payton College Prep as well as the author of 360 Degrees of Text (NCTE, 2011). As the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for over 100 of Chicago’s highest performing schools, she became passionate about the role technology could play in education in the 21st century and left CPS in 2012 to develop ThinkCERCA to help all students achieve career and college readiness.​

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Dr. Richard Charles
Cherry Creek Schools

Dr. Charles is an Applied Mathematician with over 15 years of experience in the field of education. He is currently serving as the Director of STEM & Innovation for Cherry Creek Schools in Greenwood Village, Colorado.  In this role, Dr. Charles was instrumental in the design and construction of a state-of-the-art STEM facility known as the Institute of Science & Technology.  He is also responsible for the design and development of STEM programs throughout the district. One such program developed by his team includes the Near-Space Balloon (NSB) launch.  Through their efforts, his elementary team is on pace to launch their 90th NSB within four years and will achieve this goal by the end of this academic year.  ​

Daniel Munda
The San Francisco School

Daniel is the elementary learning specialist at The San Francisco School, a private, independent school with students between Preschool and 8th grade. His teaching philosophy is one centered on teaching to multiple learning styles and modalities. He challenges students to justify their thinking and present their reasoning in multiple ways. Prior to his current role, he worked as a special education teacher in Berkeley for seven years. He also has experience working with youth, elementary through high school, with severe emotional needs, as both a counselor and teacher. Before his career in education, Daniel worked in the video game industry as well as in technology public relations and marketing.

Barbara Wade
Chicago Public Schools

Barbara Wade has served as a Learning Behavior Specialist, in Chicago Public Schools, the fourth largest district in the United States, since 2014. During her tenure, special education students have had an increase in district assessment scores leading to the highest school rating of level 1+.  As a staunch believer in teacher support, Barbara has created and led Chat ‘n Chew@Ashburn sessions where educators share their expertise in a risk free environment for personal improvement and that of their students. Barbara has received awards for teacher of the quarter, teacher of the year and perfect attendance. She has also been recognized for her work around ThinkCERCA through multiple classroom visits.​

Sunny Washington
Ardusat

Sunny has spent over 15 years working in the edtech industry, most recently coming from Instructure where she one of their early employees. During her time at Instructure she assisted in building the sales, business development, account management, and marketing teams. In August 2014, she founded Ardusat, a company with the mission to engage more students in STEM. Ardusat provides schools a complete STEM solution that includes an interactive data platform, curriculum, and hands-on kits to run experiments in the classroom and also in space through a partnership with Spire Global.​​

Cameron White
NewSchools Venture Fund

Cameron White is an Associate Partner at NewSchools Venture Fund, supporting ed tech entrepreneurs working to address the most pressing gaps in K-12 education. He was on the founding team at co.lab, an accelerator focused on game-based learning. Cameron began his career at E.L. Haynes Public Charter School in Washington, DC, where he helped to align out-of-school time programming with the school’s academic and social missions. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from Princeton University, and​ received a Master of Arts in Instructional Technology and Media from Teachers College of Columbia University, completing his master’s thesis on ed tech equity.​

Lewis Ferebee
Indianapolis Public Schools

Lewis Ferebee’s extensive experience in attenuating the impact of poverty on academic achievement boasts strategic turnaround for persistently under achieving urban schools. Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) – where Ferebee serves as superintendent – is a school district that was once designated as failing, but is on the rise. With the introduction of Innovation and Autonomous schools which have additional flexibilities in how they reorganize school-level resources for the maximum benefit to students, IPS is becoming more agile and more capable of quickly responding to schools’ specific needs. In his role, Ferebee has reduced the number of schools rated as failing by 56% and bargained one of the most innovative teacher contracts in the nation.  ​

Christina Kishimoto
Gilbert Public School District

Dr. Christina M. Kishimoto is the Superintendent of Gilbert Public Schools in Gilbert, Arizona. Gilbert Public Schools, a district of 39,000 students, is rated an “A” level district by the Arizona State Department of Education. Dr. Kishimoto is a student-centered, data-driven educational leader who believes in student and parent voice, and site-based empowerment for Principals and teachers. She is a passionate advocate for public school systems, student-centered educational policies, and strategic planning based on quality, standards-based goals.  Dr. Kishimoto is also the immediate Past President of the National Association for Latino Administrators and Superintendents and a Chief for Change.

Mike Magee
Chiefs for Change

Michael Magee, Ph.D., is the CEO of Chiefs for Change. Prior to working at Chiefs for Change, he co-founded and was CEO of the Rhode Island Mayoral Academies (RIMA). Before starting RIMA, Mike taught American literature and philosophy at Haverford College, Wheaton College, and the Rhode Island School of Design. He is a 2013 Pahara Aspen Education Fellow and fellowship moderator. Mike holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and English from the College of the Holy Cross.​

Pedro Martinez
San Antonio ISD

Pedro Martinez joined the San Antonio AISD as superintendent in June 2015, bringing to the District a laser focus on improving academic achievement so that many more students are performing at higher levels and are well-prepared for college and career. Before coming to SAISD, Martinez was Superintendent-in-Residence for the Nevada Department of Education and was responsible for advising the Governor’s office and the State Superintendent of Instruction on education policy decisions. Prior to that, he served as superintendent for the 64,000-student Washoe County School District, covering the Reno, Nevada area and as the CFO at Chicago Public Schools under the leadership of Arne Duncan.​

Hanna Skandera
New Mexico Public Education Department

Hanna Skandera is leading the transformation of New Mexico public schools as Secretary of Education. With her leadership, graduation rates are at an all-time high, AP enrollment has doubled, the number of “A” and “B” schools has increased by one-third and 30,000 more students are in “A” and “B” schools.

Prior to New Mexico, Skandera served Deputy Chief of Staff under U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, Undersecretary of Education under Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Deputy Commissioner under Governor Jeb Bush. Skandera has also taught education policy at Pepperdine University and has served as a Research Fellow for the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Jenn Charlot
Transcend

Jenn leads research and development at Transcend. She is responsible for helping school designers apply pertinent science and best in-field practices to innovative school models. Previously, Jenn served as the director of implementation at Character Lab, where she partnered with educators and researchers to develop strategies that support character development. Jenn has also worked for NYC Public Schools Alternative School District 79, Turnaround for Children, Newark Public Schools, and co-founded a nonprofit in Haiti. She has taught at Columbia School of Social Work and Harvard Graduate School of Education. ​

Eli Kramer
Hiawatha Academies

Before joining Hiawatha, Eli was a founding Dean of Curriculum and Instruction with Uncommon Schools in New York. Prior to that, he taught for six years in New York City at the elementary and middle school level. Eli was a 2003 Teach for America corps member in the Bronx, NY. He holds a B.A. in government from Harvard, a Master’s in Education from Bank Street College, and a Master’s in Educational Leadership from Brooklyn College.​

Cynthia Robinson-Rivers
Van Ness Elementary School

Cynthia Robinson-Rivers is the Principal at Van Ness Elementary School. Previously, she worked as an Assistant Principal for Literacy at Seaton Elementary, where she oversaw implementation of reading interventions and trained teachers on ELA instruction. Prior to Seaton, Cynthia was the director of teacher retention and recognition, director of the master educator program, and evaluated early childhood teachers across the district. She holds a B.A. from Stanford University and M.A. in Education from George Washington University, and she is an Aspen-Pahara Teacher Leaders Fellow.​

Aylon Samouha
Transcend

Prior to co-founding Transcend, Aylon provided strategy and design services to education organizations, schools, and foundations. Most recently, Aylon has been leading the “Greenfield” school model design for the Achievement First Network. Aylon served as Chief Schools Officer at Rocketship Education; designing the academic model and blended learning approach, and growing the network from 3 to 7 schools. Aylon also served as a SVP at TFA, leading corps member training and support. Aylon is a proud husband and father and an accomplished jazz guitarist with two released albums.​

Trabian Shorters
BMe Community

Trabian Shorters is co-author of New York Times bestseller “REACH: 40 Black Men Speak on Living, Leading and Succeeding” and founding CEO of BMe Community, a national network of all races and genders committed to a 21st-century narrative about America, it’s values, and Black men’s roles in them. Trabian developed the BMe Community and his approach called “Asset-Framing” while serving as Vice President of the Knight Foundation where he directed a $300-million grant portfolio. Trabian is a Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow, a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, and an Ashoka Global Fellow.​

Whitney Henderson
EdNavigator

A native of East St. Louis, IL, Whitney brings to her work 10 years of experience as an award-winning teacher, school principal and instructional expert. Her career in education began in New Orleans, where she moved after Hurricane Katrina to become a founding teacher and eventually 7th-9th grade principal at KIPP Central City Academy. Her extraordinary success with students earned her the 2011 Fishman Prize, a $25,000 award given annually to just four teachers nationwide. Whitney holds a BA in English and Modern Foreign Languages from Jackson State University, a MA in Organizational Leadership from Teacher’s College at Columbia University, and a Master’s in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She lives in New Orleans, LA. ​

Alex Johnston
Impact for Education

Alex Johnston is the President and founder of Impact for Education, a philanthropic advisory practice. A co-founder and former CEO of ConnCAN, he led this advocacy organization focused on closing Connecticut’s academic achievement gap for seven years. He serves on the boards of FaithACTS for Education and Policy Innovators in Education Network and advisory boards for the Center for Reinventing Public Education, Education Resource Strategies and Trust for Learning. A graduate of Harvard College, Alex received a D. Phil. in politics from Oxford University’s Lincoln College on a Rhodes Scholarship.​

Kevin Knight
The K Group

Kevin is a marketing research consultant, who, when he is not busy with his own company, is busy with his passions: trying to bring great educational opportunities to all children and trying to get people to listen to each other on a deeper level.  He spends much of his “non-work” time focused on those endeavors. Kevin is the President and founder of full service research company, the K Group LTD, specializing in qualitative research. Prior to that, Kevin worked at Proctor and Gamble  / Richardson Vicks for 9 years.

Maya Martin
Parents Amplifying Voices in Education

Maya Martin is a proud 5th generation Washingtonian. In November 2015, Maya became a NewSchools Venture Fund Entrepreneur-in-Residence as she worked to found Parents Amplifying Voices in Education (PAVE). In April 2016, she launched PAVE to empower parents to be partners and leaders in DC’s education system. Previously, Maya served as the Chief of Staff at Achievement Prep, Director of Policy and Special Programs at Center City PCS, Sr. Program Manager at SEO, and Asst. Director of Admissions at Dartmouth College. Maya graduated from Dartmouth College and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. ​

Nina Rees
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

Nina Rees is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the charter school movement. Rees has over 20 years of experience in Washington, D.C., most recently as Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives for Knowledge Universe. Prior to her tenure at KU, she served as the first Deputy Under Secretary for Innovation and Improvement at the U.S. Department of Education and as Deputy Assistant for Domestic Policy to the Vice President at the White House.  ​

Aida Rodriguez
Parent Revolution

Aida Rodriguez is the Organizing Director at Parent Revolution, a Los Angeles based non-profit organization dedicated to transforming underperforming public schools by empowering parents to advocate for what is good for children, not adults, through grassroots community organizing.  Aida joined the Parent Revolution team in 2012, and has served as an Organizer, Lead Organizer, and Deputy Organizing Director before taking on her current role. In addition to overseeing numerous school transformation campaigns, Aida has taken the lead on launching a Parent Power institute that provides leadership and advocacy training for families and spearheaded the organization’s lobbying and advocacy efforts in Sacramento​.

4:15 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Closing Plenary Session

5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Closing Reception