Annual Conference 2017: Keynote Speakers and Panelists

Annual Conference 2017: Keynote Speakers and Panelists
Keynote Speakers

David Coleman is president and CEO of the College Board. Coleman helped found the Grow Network and cofounded Student Achievement Partners, which played a leading role in developing the Common Core State Standards. Coleman was named to TIME’s 100 most influential people in 2013, the Politico 50 in 2014, TIME Magazine’s 11 Education Activists for 2011, and one of the NewSchools’ Venture Fund Change Agents of the Year for 2012.



Salman “Sal” Khan is founder and CEO of Khan Academy. Today, more than 52 million registered users access Khan Academy in dozens of languages across 190 countries. Khan is a former Teacher of the Year at Princeton Review, where he taught physics, biology, and chemistry to MCAT students. He has been profiled by 60 Minutes, featured on the cover of Forbes, and recognized as one of TIME’s 100 most influential people. He is the author of The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined.



Dr. Pedro Noguera is the Distinguished Professor of Education at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA. His research focuses on the ways in which schools are influenced by social and economic conditions, as well as by demographic trends in local, regional, and global contexts. Previously, he was a tenured professor and held endowed chairs at New York University, Harvard, and the University of California, Berkeley. Noguera recently received awards from the Center for the Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and the McSilver Institute at NYU for his research and advocacy.




Dakarai I. Aarons is vice president of strategic communications for the Data Quality Campaign. Aarons has directed award-winning media and publicity campaigns for national and international organizations and written award-winning journalism on education policy and practice issues. Aarons also was director of education outreach and policy for CommunicationWorks, a leading national education public affairs firm. He was also a reporter for Education Week and The Commercial Appeal (Memphis).


Jonathan Amaya is a freshman at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where he was awarded the prestigious Centennial Scholarship for first-generation college students. In high school, he completed the International Baccalaureate full diploma. He is a proud member of the Marching Royal Dukes and an avid soccer fan.


Kristen Amundson, NASBE’s president and CEO, brings more than two decades of experience as a policymaker to NASBE. She represented the 44th District in the Virginia General Assembly from 1999 to 2009. During that time, she was a member of Virginia’s P–16 Council and the Southern Regional Education Board. Amundson—a former teacher—served for nearly a decade on the Fairfax County, Va., School Board, including two years as its chairwoman, and she was senior vice president for external affairs at Education Sector. In 2017, she was appointed by Governor McAuliffe to serve as one of Virginia’s commissioners on the Education Commission of the States. 


Jay Barth is chair of the Arkansas State Board of Education and chair of NASBE’s Board of Directors. He is the M.E. and Ima Graves Peace professor and Bill and Connie Bowen Odyssey professor of politics and director of civic engagement projects at Hendrix College. He served on the Governor’s Task Force on Best Practices in After-School and Summer Programs, was named Arkansas Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and received the Steiger Congressional Fellowship from the American Political Science Association. He previously served on the staff of the late U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone.


Courtlandt Butts is Pacific Educational Group’s equity program manager of government and NGO partnerships. He was an assistant professor in the education department at Spelman College and a district administrator in suburban Minneapolis. Butts had a leadership role in the first global webcast for the International Institute for Peace through Tourism held in Amman, Jordan. This conference involved educators, dignitaries, and government ministers from over 60 countries. Butts also worked at the Gretchen Everhart School for Exceptional Children and served as president of the Minority Graduate Student Association at the University of Northern Iowa.


Erica Champagne is director of the Office of Effective Practices in Turnaround at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, where she directs efforts to evaluate and share best practices in school turnaround, oversees the accountability and monitoring functions for turnaround schools, manages the state’s implementation of the federal School Improvement Grants program, and leads projects on principal development and cultural proficiency. Champagne also served as a research associate with the Center of Criminal Justice Policy Research and the Institute on Race and Justice at Northeastern University.


Kimberly Charis is director of school climate, discipline, and equity. She provides strategic direction for NASBE’s work to ensure that all students receive equal educational opportunities. This includes designing initiatives that strengthen the capacity of state boards to promote student achievement, providing technical assistance to groups on how to leverage state policy to support local education initiatives, and building collaborative partnerships to improve policy and practice on promoting equity.


Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond is the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education Emeritus at Stanford University and president of the Learning Policy Institute. She has conducted extensive research on educator supply, demand, and quality. Among her award-winning publications are What Matters Most: Teaching for America’s FutureTeaching as the Learning Profession, and Preparing Teachers for a Changing World: What Teachers Should Learn and Be Able to Do. She was executive director of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future and director of RAND Corporation’s education program. Darling-Hammond began her career as a public school teacher.


Ann Duffy is senior consultant at Education First. Duffy is an expert in P-20 transitions and systems, educator development, social and emotional learning, and state education advocacy. Duffy has worked with state leaders and advocates through the U.S. Department of Education’s Reform Support Network and High Quality Assessment Project, Race to the Top–District program, and with district leaders through NoVo’s Collaborating Districts Initiative. Previously, Duffy worked in Mississippi and Louisiana as Teach For America staff. She was a community organizer with Parents for Public Schools in Mississippi and an executive in state education agencies in Massachusetts and Georgia.


Dr. Byron Ernest was Indiana Teacher of the Year in 2010 and is head of schools for Hoosier Academies. Previously, he was principal at Emmerich Manual High School in Indianapolis after Indiana took it over for receiving seven consecutive failing annual performance grades. The state removed Manual off the F list under Dr. Ernest’s leadership, and it holds the distinction of being the only takeover school in Indiana to be removed from the failing category. He was department head for agriculture and FFA at Lebanon Community School Corporation. Dr. Ernest serves as secretary to the Indiana State Board of Education.


Adam Ezring is the director of policy at the Collaborative for Student Success. Ezring previously was a content development director for NBC News’s fourth annual Education Nation program. He was senior advocacy associate for the Council of Chief State School Officers, where he served as a link between CCSSO, Congress, and the administration and educated federal policymakers on the education policy needs of states. Ezring also worked as a legislative analyst for the House Committee on Education and Labor and a Schedule C presidential appointee in the secretary’s office of the U.S. Department of Education. 


Connie Fletcher has served on the Washington State Board of Education since 2009. Previously, she served on the Issaquah School Board for 16 years and as Washington State School Directors Association president. She was honored as WSPTA Educator of the Year, with the Issaquah Schools Foundation Golden Apple, and by the Issaquah community as Community Volunteer of the Year. She has been a consultant to nonprofits, municipalities, and school districts in governance, planning, and major gifts fundraising. Fletcher serves as Western area director on NASBE’s Board of Directors.


Floyd Fort is superintendent of Pelham City Schools in Georgia. Fort has partnered with two other southwest Georgia districts and Albany State University in a University Principal Preparation Initiative sponsored by The Wallace Foundation. He has sought to build a cadre of leadership candidates within the district, and the last four leadership openings in his district have been filled from within the system.


Jack Griffin, originally from Duluth, Georgia, is the founder of FoodFinder, a registered nonprofit that uses a website and smartphone app to make it easy to find food pantries, churches, and co-ops and connect them with food-insecure children and their families. Griffin is a junior at the University of Michigan, where he is pursuing a bachelor’s of business administration from the Ross School of Business and a minor in community action and social change.


Mike Griffith is school finance strategist at Education Commission of the States, where he has worked on school finance policy issues for the past 20 years. His research focuses on state budgets, the adequacy and equity of state finance formulas, and promising practices in funding programs for high-need students.


Gretchen Guffy is director of policy at ACT. Guffy oversees development of the ACT’s education and workforce policy agendas and recommendations. She also coordinates support for states working to meet federal accountability requirements related to ACT assessments. Previously, Guffy was vice president of policy and research at 50CAN. In her role as strategic data fellow through the Center for Education and Policy Research at Harvard, she also directed the District of Columbia’s state education data warehouse.


Glen Harvey is CEO of WestEd, which has been recognized as among the best in its class in research, development, and service. Harvey emphasizes a cross-disciplinary approach to improving education and fostering human development. To meet the diverse needs of clients and communities, she has launched high-profile projects, published rigorous research, and provided technical assistance and professional learning. Harvey previously served as executive director of Learning Innovations and of The Regional Laboratory for Educational Improvement of the Northeast & Islands, both based in New England.


Bibb Hubbard, founder and president of Learning Heroes, has dedicated her career to helping ensure all students are prepared for life after high school. Hubbard previously held leadership positions at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Widmeyer Communications, and Scholastic. Her public-sector experience includes positions at the White House and the U.S. Labor Department. Hubbard served on the Board of City Year New York, and she is an active board member with the New York City Leadership Academy and the Boys & Girls Club of Alexandria, Virginia.


Robert Hull, NASBE’s executive vice president, leads its work on teaching, leading, learning, and governance after a 40-year career as an elementary teacher, principal, and assistant superintendent. Previously, Hull was assistant superintendent of schools in the division of teaching and learning and associate state superintendent at the West Virginia Department of Education.


Dr. Jacqueline Jodl is director of the Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. She began her career at Unilever PLC in marketing management, where she led established brands and new product innovation. Dr. Jodl transitioned to a consulting role, advising clients on a range of marketing, strategic, and operating challenges. Most recently, she was an analyst at the National Governors Association supporting work on education technology, postsecondary education, and the connection between education and workforce development. In 2016, she was selected as a Presidential Management Fellow.


Donna Johnson is executive director to the Delaware State Board of Education, where she has led development of the Charter School Performance Framework, which established statewide standards for performance in academics, economic viability, and operations and governance. She has led statewide educational professional associations in Maryland and Delaware and participated in national educational advocacy groups. She serves as the leader of the Public Education Advisory Committee on the Governor’s STEM Council and is president-elect of the National Council of State Boards of Education Executives.


Guy Johnson is senior program director with Partners for Each and Every Child. Previously, Johnson worked to enforce civil rights laws at the state, district, and school levels for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. He also was staff director for the Equity and Excellence Commission, a senior policy adviser on education and workforce issues in the Domestic Policy Council of the White House, and an attorney for low-income tenants and undocumented immigrants at Casa de Maryland.


Michael Jones was appointed to the Missouri State Board of Education in March 2011. Jones has more than 30 years of experience in public policy development and implementation. He has been a senior executive serving both the mayor of St. Louis and the St. Louis County executive.


Dr. John Kelly is a member of Mississippi’s State Board of Education and served a two-year term as its chair, and he is chair-elect of NASBE’s Board of Directors. He has been Gulfport’s chief administrative officer since 2007. Kelly was regional director for community and family support with Navy Region Southeast in Jacksonville, Florida, and managed his own consulting firm, Resources Management Inc. Kelly was an adjunct professor at the University of Southern Mississippi–Gulf Park Campus,  chairman of the National Board of Directors for the American Cancer Society, and president and chief volunteer officer for South Mississippi’s United Way.


Carlas McCauley is director for WestEd’s Center on School Turnaround. Previously, McCauley worked at the U.S. Department of Education, where he oversaw administration of the approximately $5 billion School Improvement Grants (SIG) program. McCauley is nationally recognized for his work developing, supporting, and monitoring SIG and other education improvement initiatives at ED.


Dr. Candice McQueen is Tennessee’s commissioner of education. Previously, Dr. McQueen was senior vice president and dean of the College of Education at Lipscomb University. She received multiple awards for teaching and curriculum design of a new magnet school. She began her career as a teacher in public and private elementary and middle schools. She serves on the Board of Trustees of the University of Tennessee and the Tennessee Board of Regents and was recently appointed to the national board for the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation and as a commissioner for Education Commission of the States.


Glenn Pethel is assistant superintendent of leadership development for Gwinnett County Public Schools. He previously was the chief human resources officer for Gwinnett and the executive director of human resources for the St. Johns County School District in St. Augustine, Florida. He has worked as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal. He also has served as an adjunct professor for Emory University, the University of Georgia, and Georgia State University. Pethel currently directs the activities of the Quality-Plus Leader Academy for Gwinnett County Public Schools and The Wallace Foundation’s Principal Pipeline Initiative in Gwinnett.


Mike Petrilli is president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, executive editor of Education Next, and a distinguished senior fellow for Education Commission of the States. An award-winning writer, he is the author of The Diverse Schools Dilemma and editor of Education for Upward Mobility. Petrilli helped create the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement and the Policy Innovators in Education Network.  


Jim Porter is chair of the Kansas State Board of Education. Porter has worked in public education for 47 years, including 34 as superintendent of schools. He has experience as a building principal and music teacher for kindergarten through high school students. Porter served as an adjunct education instructor for undergraduate and graduate programs and was administrator in a professional development center. He serves on the Professional Standards Board, NASBE Governmental Affairs Committee, Kansas State High School Activities Association Board of Directors, Extraordinary Need State Aid Review Committee, and Kansas Alliance for Educational Advocacy.


Dr. Angela Pringle is superintendent of the Richmond County School System. Previously, she held leadership positions in Virginia, Gwinnett, and DeKalb Counties, serving as a region superintendent and principal at all grade levels. Dr. Pringle received the Katie Hall Education community award, which recognizes educators for vision and leadership, and the University of Georgia’s Excellence in Educational Leadership award. She serves on local boards, including the Chamber of Commerce, Ronald McDonald House, The Augusta History Museum, and The Augusta Partnership.


Dr. Aisha Ray is professor emeritus at the Erikson Institute. She has taught at the Institute for 17 years and was named senior vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty in 2009. Her research encompasses cultural and situational contexts of child development, early childhood professional development, father-child relationships in urban communities, and early childhood services for immigrant children and families. She is a senior research associate at the University of Pennsylvania’s National Center on Fathers and Families and previously taught at DePaul University’s School of Education.


Margaret “Macke” Raymond is founding director of Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes, where she has worked on education reform, researches development of competitive markets and creation of reliable data on program performance, and leads investigation on public charter school effectiveness. Previously, she was faculty in political science and economics at the University of Rochester, worked in telecommunications, and was president of Raymond Associates, a private consulting company.


Mike Royal is chairman of the Georgia State Board of Education, where he also served as chairman of budget and vice chairman. He has held several other leadership positions on a local, state, and federal level. Royal has over 20 years in the insurance and risk management industry. In 2012, he established Partners Risk Services, one of the fastest growing insurance and risk management firms in the Southeast. Royal also serves on the board of, which helps hungry children find food resources.


Marguerite Roza is director of the Edunomics Lab and research professor at Georgetown University. Her recent research traces the effects of federal, state, and district fiscal policies on resources at school and classroom levels. She led finance and productivity initiatives at the Center on Reinventing Public Education and the Building State Capacity & Productivity Center, was senior economic advisor to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and wrote Educational Economics: Where Do School Funds Go?


Dr. Timothy Shriver is the chairman of the board of directors for Special Olympics International. Shriver co-founded and chairs the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). He is co-chair of the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development, president of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, member of the board of directors for the WPP Group, LLC, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a co-founder of Lovin’ Scoopful Ice Cream Company. He has produced four films and is the author of the New York Timesbest-selling book Fully Alive—Discovering What Matters Most.


Nelson Smith is senior advisor to the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. He was the first president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, executive director of the District of Columbia Public Charter School Board, vice president for education and workforce development at the New York City Partnership, and director of programs for the improvement of practice at the U.S. Department of Education. He taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, received a Career Achievement Award from New Schools Venture Fund, and was inducted into the National Charter Schools Hall of Fame.


Allison Rose Socol is assistant director of P-12 policy at The Education Trust, where she supports the development of Ed Trust’s policy agenda on issues critical to promoting equity in opportunity and achievement in the education system. Previously, Socol was a research assistant at the Center for Scaling Up Effective Schools. She also worked as a literacy coach to teachers in rural schools in North Carolina and taught for three years at a public charter school in Washington, D.C.


Amy Starzynski is a founder and partner at Foresight Law + Policy. As a former congressional staff member, state-based policy institute executive, and senior member of a leading education law and policy practice, Starzynski worked on statewide systems of assessment and accountability, student-centered approaches to learning, educator support and growth, school and district improvement, and capacity building. She practiced law with a Big 4 audit firm in Europe, served as chief operating officer of the Georgia Department of Education, and was a senior advisor to Senator Johnny Isakson during his tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives.


Dan Thatcher has tracked education finance policy for over 10 years at the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures. He added common standards and assessments to his portfolio in 2011. Thatcher has worked directly with state legislators from all 50 states in a variety of capacities for over 15 years. His analysis of state education finance, standards, and assessment policies has been cited by researchers and national and regional news organizations.


Susan Bowles Therriault is a managing researcher at the American Institutes for Research and directs the federally funded College and Career Readiness and Success Center. For over 20 years, she has led and conducted research on state and federal efforts to build the capacity of high-need districts and schools to improve outcomes and increase opportunity for students. She is a member of the Massachusetts Conditions of Education Task Force. She also served as a member-at-large of the Massachusetts School and District Accountability and Support Advisory Board and on her local school board.


Sivan Tuchman is a research analyst at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, where she studies how educators and families experience the implementation of innovative policies and programs in K-12 schools and the systems that support them. Her work spans school choice policies as well as outcomes for students in special education. Tuchman has taught special education in private, charter, and traditional public schools, as well as coaching general education teachers in supporting students with disabilities in inclusive settings.


Ash Vasudeva is vice president of strategic initiatives at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Previously, Vasudeva was a senior program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he focused on helping school systems implement college- and career-ready standards and strengthen educator effectiveness systems. Vasudeva was co-executive director of Stanford University’s School Redesign Network, where he developed the LEADS network (Leadership for Equity and Accountability in Districts and Schools), which enabled superintendents and their cabinets to collaborate on systems reforms with faculty from Stanford’s School of Education, School of Business, and School of Design.


J. Alvin Wilbanks is CEO and superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools. Previously, he was the district’s assistant superintendent of human resources and continuous improvement and president of Gwinnett Technical College, which he opened as its president in 1984. Under his leadership, Gwinnett County Public Schools has been a three-time finalist and two-time winner of the Broad Prize for Urban Education. In 2005, Wilbanks was named Georgia Superintendent of the Year and one of four finalists for National Superintendent of the Year. He also received the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year award, the Boy Scouts of America’s Distinguished Citizen Award, and Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful’s Environmental Legacy Award.


Gene Wilhoit is CEO of the Center for Innovation in Education at the University of Kentucky. Wilhoit previously was executive director of the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Wilhoit led two state education agencies, as director of the Arkansas Department of Education and commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Education. He also served as a program director in the Indiana Department of Education, an administrator in Kanawha County, West Virginia, and a special assistant in the U.S. Department of Education.


Dr. Sheneka M. Williams is associate professor and doctoral adviser in the program of educational administration and policy at the University of Georgia. Dr. Williams is an active member of the University Council for Educational Administration, where she served as faculty mentor on a review of 51 ESSA plans, and the American Educational Research Association. Her research focuses on students’ access to educational opportunity, student assignment policies in urban and rural contexts, school governance, and school-community relations. She is co-editor of Educational Opportunity in Rural Contexts: The Politics of Place.


Dr. Rachel Wise serves on the Nebraska State Board of Education. She is a retired educator with teaching and administrative experience in Nebraska school districts and an educational service unit. Dr. Wise is an active member of her church, Rotary, Delta Kappa Gamma and serves as a TeamMates mentor. She resides on a farm east of Oakland, Nebraska, with her husband Gordon Nelson.


Christy Wolfe is senior policy adviser for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. She has more than 18 years of experience working on federal education policy, most recently as an independent consultant for national education reform organizations and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Previously, Wolfe was associate deputy secretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Education, where she managed policy development and implemented regulations for elementary, secondary, and special education programs, and was staff for the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.


Stephanie Wood-Garnett is president of the Institute for Student Achievement, a division of the Educational Testing Service focused on transforming underperforming high schools. Previously, she was vice president of policy to practice at the Alliance for Excellent Education, where she led technical coaching, advanced deeper learning, and co-chaired diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. She served as assistant commissioner of the Office of Higher Education for New York’s Education Department, where she led initiatives aimed at transforming educator preparation and strengthening P-20 collaboration. She began her education career in the Office of Special Education of the District of Columbia Public Schools.


Richard Woods is Georgia’s state school superintendent with over 22 years of pre-K through 12th grade experience in public education. He was a high school teacher, assistant principal, principal, curriculum director, testing coordinator, pre-K director, and alternative school director. Woods also was a purchasing agent for a laser company and a small-business owner.


Dr. Carey M. Wright is state superintendent of education for Mississippi. She previously was chief academic officer and deputy chief for the Office of Teaching and Learning for the District of Columbia Public Schools and associate superintendent for the Office of Special Education and Student Services for the Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland. A former teacher and principal, Dr. Wright has been recognized as an outstanding educator by the National Center for Culturally Responsive Systems, nominated twice for The Washington Post Outstanding Principal Award, and named the Howard County Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Educator of the Year. Dr. Wright is president-elect of the board of directors of the Council of Chief State School Officers and is a member of Chiefs for Change.


Margie Yeager is director of policy at Chiefs for Change. Previously, she was the chief of staff to the DC Deputy Mayor for Education. Yeager also was a senior policy advisor at Education Counsel, an affiliate of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough. She was special assistant to the chancellor at DC Public Schools and completed a Presidential Management Fellowship at the U.S. Department of Education. She began her career as a second grade teacher in Washington, DC, with Teach For America.

Navigate Our News & Info

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up today to receive NASBE news in your email inbox. Enter your email address below.