Close

SPEAKERS

Come meet this amazing lineup of speakers at EdSurge Fusion

Dr. Rob Abel CEO, IMS Global

Dr. Rob Abel is the Chief Executive Officer of the IMS Global Learning Consortium, a nonprofit collaboration of the world's leading universities, school districts, government organizations, content providers, and technology suppliers, cooperating to accelerate learning technology interoperability, adoption, and impact. Rob has been the CEO of IMS since February of 2006.

Implementation Workshop Session: Get on the Fast Track to Go Digital on Day One of Learning

Farhat Ahmad Alternative Education Teacher, City of Marietta School District @FarhatAhmad1

Farhat Ahmad had a first career as a Sherriff’s Deputy in Madison, Wisconsin and in 2006 he moved to the Atlanta Metropolitan area and took a position as a special education teacher. He spent the entirety of his 10+ year career with at-risk youth, and in 2012 moved over to the general education side of things as an ELA teacher. In 2015 he won the Georgia Governor’s award for innovative education which included a grant funded by the Bill and Melina Gates foundation. In 2017 he was awarded another grant from the Governor’s office and was the recipient of the Atlanta Journal Constitutions 2017 Inaugural Top Teacher Award. He also runs an afterschool jiu jitsu program for his students in conjunction with a local gym and is actively involved coaching and mentoring at-risk youths in combat sports.

Vision Track Spotlight Talk Session: [ Student Journey ] The Whole Student and Equity

Dylan Arena Co-founder and Chief Learning Scientist, Kidaptive @DylanAArena

Dylan is Co-founder and Chief Learning Scientist at Kidaptive, which creates educational apps for kids built on top of a comprehensive early-learning curriculum and assessment framework. Dylan's background is in cognitive science, software, philosophy and statistics. During his doctoral studies at Stanford, Dylan worked on both game-based learning and next-generation assessment. He has been a MacArthur Emerging Scholar in Digital Media and Learning, a Gordon Commission Science and Technology Fellow, a Stanford Graduate Fellow in Science and Engineering, a Gerald J. Lieberman Fellow, a FrameWorks Fellow, and a United States Presidential Scholar.

Research & Evidence Track Spotlight Talk Session: Teaching to the Test is Fantastic (if You Have a Great Test and Keep the Stakes Low)

Pam Cantor, M.D. Founder and Senior Science Advisor, Turnaround for Children @DrPamelaCantor @Turnaround

Pamela Cantor, M.D. is President and CEO of Turnaround for Children, a nonprofit organization that connects the dots between science, adversity and school performance. Dr. Cantor practiced child psychiatry for nearly two decades, specializing in trauma. She founded Turnaround in 2002 after leading a study on the impact of the 9/11 attacks on schoolchildren. Today, Dr. Cantor’s organization applies tools and strategies, grounded in science, to equip a diverse set of educators – from teachers and principals working in high-poverty schools, to district, charter and state leaders. In 2016, Turnaround published “Building Blocks for Learning,” a framework for comprehensive student development. In 2018, Applied Developmental Science simultaneously issued two papers Dr. Cantor co-authored, “Malleability, Plasticity, and Individuality: How Children Learn and Develop in Context” and “Drivers of Human Development: How Relationships and Context Shape Learning and Development.” Dr. Cantor is a Visiting Scholar in Education at Harvard University, a member of the Council of Distinguished Scientists for the National Commission on Social, Emotional & Academic Development and a leader of the Science of Learning and Development Initiative.

General Session: Opening Keynote: Getting Ready! What’s in Store for Us.

Karen Cantor CEO, Digital Promise @kcator

Karen Cator is President and CEO of Digital Promise and a leading voice for transforming American education through technology, innovation and research. From 2009-2013, Karen was Director of the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education, where she led the development of the 2010 National Education Technology Plan and focused the Office’s efforts on teacher and leader support. Prior to joining the department, Cator directed Apple’s leadership and advocacy efforts in education. In this role, she focused on the intersection of education policy and research, emerging technologies, and the reality faced by teachers, students and administrators. She began her education career in Alaska as a teacher, ultimately leading technology planning and implementation. She also served as Special Assistant for Telecommunications for the Governor of Alaska. Cator holds a master’s in school administration from the University of Oregon and received the 2014 College of Education Distinguished Alumni award. The American Association of Publishers has awarded Cator with the 2014 Visionary Award. She received her bachelor’s in early childhood education from Springfield College and received the 2015 Distinguished Alumna award. She is an Aspen Pahara Fellow, the past chair for the Partnership for 21st Century Skills and has served on boards including the Software & Information Industry Association- Education.

General Session: Ignite Talks: Going the Extra Mile in 5 Minutes

Larry Corio Educator, Designer, Learning & Impact, IDEO @CorioLarry

Larry Corio serves as Learning & Impact Specialist for The Teachers Guild, a professional learning network that catalyzes teachers’ creative leadership. A former high school teacher and education researcher, he is inspired by the use of data to tell compelling stories about classrooms and schools. At The Guild, Larry oversees internal program evaluation and supports teachers to become better assessors of their own impact. Previously, he worked for the University of California, managing UC’s K-12 educator preparation programs. Larry is a graduate of Columbia University’s Teachers College, Loyola Marymount University, and Boston College.

Research & Evidence Track Spotlight Talk Session: Thinking and Acting Like a Designer: Assessing Creative Practices in Classrooms and Schools

Betsy Corcoran Co-Founder & CEO, EdSurge @betsy_

Betsy is co-founder and CEO of EdSurge. Before starting EdSurge, she received national recognition for her work as a writer and editor at publications including Scientific American, Forbes and The Washington Post. She has been a fellow in MIT’s Knight Science Journalism program and is a Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow.

General Session: Welcome Address: The Anatomy of the Whole Learner

Dr. Kevin Cuppett Director, Curriculum & Instruction, Frederick County @DrKevinCuppett

Dr. Kevin Cuppett is the Executive Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Innovation for Frederick County Public Schools in Maryland. FCPS serves 41,000+ students in 66 schools.

General Session: Educator Panel: Debate it, Then Do it

Dr. Caitlin Dooley, Deputy Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Georgia

Caitlin McMunn Dooley is the deputy superintendent for curriculum and instruction for Georgia’s public schools and an associate professor at Georgia State University. Her research on children’s and teachers’ learning, digital literacy development, and computational thinking has been published in more than 50 articles, chapters, and editorials. Caitlin’s latest National Science Foundation-funded project studies how to integrate computer science across the curriculum in Grades 3–5. Caitlin promotes the integration of computer science as an essential part of K–12 academic learning and of digital literacy development. Caitlin taught early childhood and elementary grades in Virginia before becoming a teacher educator, professor, mother, researcher, and school leader.

Implementation Spotlight Talk Session: Taming the Digital Conversion Tiger

Dr. Cederick Ellis, Sr., Ph.D. Superintendent, McComb SD @DrCederickEllis

Dr. Cederick L. Ellis, Sr. is superintendent of the McComb School District. Prior to his current position, he served as superintendent, director of schools, principal and teacher. Ellis was recently one of three Mississippians to receive the National School Leadership Coach credential from the National Institute for School Leaders (NISL). The credential provides him the opportunity to coach principals using an advanced credentialing system based in part on international benchmarking research conducted by NISL’s parent organization, the National Center on Education and the Economy. He was recognized by the National Association of School Superintendents as the 2015 Superintendent of the Year Runner-Up.


His primary goal is to develop a “World Class” school district: a school district that constantly strives for excellence in preparing its students to both meet and exceed state and national educational standards. Ellis launched Mississippi’s only Student-Centered Teaching and Learning school, focusing on personalizing learning for every student. By serving as a member of the American Association of School Administrators Personalized Learning Cohort and Certification program, he’s able to work with other visionary leaders who have started or already doing the work of personalizing learning.


He is proud of his life’s accomplishments including meeting and marrying his wife Carmelle, and producing the fruits of his love, daughter Caira and son Cederick II.

General Session: Educator Panel: Debate it, Then Do it

Dan Deguara Assistant Superintendent, Evergreen Elementary School District @DanDeguara

Experienced Assistant Superintendent with a long-standing commitment to continuous improvement and proven ability to develop and leverage high quality professional learning communities to support deeper learning for all learners – students and adults.

Implementation Track Spotlight Talk Session: Have Devices. Drivers Wanted.

Melissa Dodd CTO, SFUSD @MelissaPDodd

Melissa Dodd serves as the Chief Technology Officer for SFUSD. Ms. Dodd is charged with leading the district's technology vision and digital district plan, Building a Digital District, which articulates the district’s strategy to transform learning with technology, infusing technology into teaching, learning, and operations to realize the goals of Vision 2025 and the SFUSD graduate profile for college and career readiness in the 21st century.


Prior to joining SFUSD, Ms. Dodd worked in the Boston Public Schools for more than eleven years, serving as Chief of Staff and Chief Information Officer. Ms. Dodd sat on the Massachusetts Board of Education Digital Learning Advisory Council and plays an active role with the Council of Great City Schools, most notably in the development of IT Key Performance Indicators now used by the largest 66 school districts in the country.


Prior to joining BPS, she worked at Tufts and Harvard Universities managing academic programs and designing online communities of practice. Melissa has presented nationally on the role of technology in education and published on the use of digital simulations to teach problem-solving in the social sciences.


Fluent in Spanish, Melissa has worked and traveled globally, including Spain, Latin America, and South Africa. She earned a Bachelor of Science from Cornell University and master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

General Session: Educator Panel: Debate it, Then Do it

Aubrey Francisco Chief Research Officer, Digital Promise @aubreyfrancisco

Aubrey has more than six years of research and development experience spanning academic, industry, and government settings. Aubrey comes to this role from the biomedical research field, where she developed and evaluated novel materials for treating lower back pain. Aubrey has taught at the undergraduate and graduate level, and has served as a mentor for 8th-grade girls interested in math and science. She is also engaged in science outreach as a curator for +ScienceSunday, a STEM-focused social media outreach group that promotes and curates science content on Google+. Aubrey earned her Ph.D in Biomedical Engineering from Duke University and her B.S. from Syracuse University. You can reach Aubrey at: aubrey@digitalpromise.org.

Research & Evidence Workshop Session:  Demystifying Evidence-based Decisions

Paul France Educator, The Latin School of Chicago @paul_emerich

Paul Emerich France is a National Board Certified Teacher in Chicago, Illinois. He currently teaches 3rd grade at the Latin School of Chicago, serving as Academic Chair and Co-Director of Latin’s Assistant Teacher Program. Before Latin, Paul supported the opening of four personalized learning schools in San Francisco, California and Beijing, China. Paul regularly contributes to publications such as EdSurge, Edutopia, and Educational Leadership. On his blog, Paul writes about personalizing learning through humanized pedagogy, advocating for mindful technology integration, social justice, and relationship-based learning.

Implementation Track Spotlight Talk Session: The Paradox of Personalization

Akimi Gibson Vice President and Education Publisher, Sesame Workshop

Akimi Gibson is Vice President and Education Publisher, Sesame Learning, at Sesame Workshop, the media and education nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street. She leads the formal education initiatives, partnerships, and business for Sesame Workshop. Gibson is also a children's book author, a former program administrator and literacy coach. As a former classroom teacher, she has worked with infants and toddlers, to special needs second grade, to literacy tutoring for students in K-6th grade.

General Session: Keynote Address Why Social Emotional Learning Matters

Photo Courtesy of Sesame Workshop

Sierra Gibson Research Associate, Digital Promise @SierraGibson523

Prior to joining Digital Promise, Sierra was an applied behavior analysis instructor and curriculum coordinator for the Brooklyn Autism Center. While working on her Masters in Education Policy and Management from Harvard Graduate School of Education, she also served as project manager and policy analyst for NoticeAbility, an organization creating hybrid academic and SEL courses for students with Dyslexia. Sierra received her B.A. in Government with a minor in Human Rights and Genocide from Claremont McKenna College. You can reach Sierra at sierra@digitalpromise.org.

Research & Evidence Workshop Session:  Demystifying Evidence-based Decisions

Tom Gierke West Region Manager, Google for Education

Tom Gierke is Google’s K-12 education lead covering the west and central regions of North America. Focused on supporting meaningful and sustainable transformation, Tom’s team builds relationships with school leaders, edtech partners, and education communities to ensure that schools “Going Google” get the most out of their investment and help all learners thrive. Before his career in technology, Tom was a music teacher and received his performance degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Implementation Track Spotlight Talk Session: Carrying out a Personalized Learning Vision at Milpitas Unified

Virgel Hammonds Chief Learning OfficerKnowledgeWorks Foundation @VirgelHammonds

As the Chief Learning Officer of competency-based education work at KnowledgeWorks, Virgel Hammonds partners with national policymakers and local learning communities throughout the country to redesign learning structures to become more learner-centered and based on proficiency, rather than seat time. He also works with KnowledgeWorks staff to build out competency education tools and services to help districts implement this personalized learning model. Hammonds previously served as the superintendent of RSU 2 School district in Maine. There, he collaborated with five communities to develop and implement a curriculum designed to ensure mastery of standards by all students. Before serving as superintendent, Virgel was a high school principal at Lindsay Unified School District in California. With 4,100 K-12 students in the district, 100 percent qualify for free and reduced lunch. There, Hammonds helped implement a personalized learning model where “learners” don’t earn letter grades, but rather are awarded mastery for subjects in which they’ve proven to be proficient.

Vision Track Spotlight Talk Session: [ The Big Picture ] What the Future Education Leader Could Look Like

Brianna Hodges EdTech Coordinator, Eanes ISD, Texas Future Ready Advisor, Instructional Coaches Strand @eduTECHtastic

Energetic coach, change agent and learning enthusiast, Brianna serves as the EdTech Coordinator for Innovative and Digital Learning at Eanes *Innovative* School District (Austin, Texas). Recognized as Education Dive’s 2018 K12 Administrator to Watch and 2017 Texas EdTech of the Year, she serves as the National Advisor for Future Ready Instructional Coaches (futureready.org). Brianna believes that true learning experiences in every facet of life are amplified by innovation, connection and creativity. An experienced advocate, coach and speaker, Brianna seeks to leverage interests, connections and demonstrations as critical instructional design elements to achieve the highest levels of learning. Emphatically passionate that pedagogy is the true catalyst for empowered learning, Brianna partners with school districts across the country to redefine learning, coach for change, and achieve real and full implementation.

Vision Track Spotlight Talk Session: [Instructional Leadership/Professional Learning] Moving from Investment to INVESTED 

Jill Hobson  K-12 Program Manager, IMS Global Learning Consortium

Jill Hobson has more than 20 years of experience planning, implementing and evaluating software and hardware solutions in public education as well as in the private sector. Jill joined IMS Global after working in the private sector edtech software market developing learning objects for a well known interactive whiteboard solutions provider. Jill works closely with K-12 programs as well as facilitating some of the technical program groups.


For more than 15 years, she served as Director of Instructional Technology in Forsyth County Schools (GA). Jill provided leadership for several initiatives in school districts including a very successful Bring Your Own Technology Program, the revitalization of digital age media centers and the role of Media Specialists and one of the first online learning programs in the US.

Implementation Workshop Session: Get on the Fast Track to Go Digital on Day One of Learning

Kristen Howell Director of Growth and Partnerships, LEAP Innovations

Having been a teacher, coach and district leader in San Francisco's Unified School District, Kristen has helped advance innovative teaching and learning models. At LEAP, she now helps grow programs and partnerships with schools and districts.

Implementation Workshop Session: Three Keys to Implementing and Sustaining Your Personalized Learning Vision

Tony Hunter CTO for Broward County Schools

Mr. Hunter has more than thirty years of experience in Information & Technology. During his career, he has served in State Government as the Information System’s Chief for the Florida Legislature; in the private sector as the Director, Data Communications North America for Eka Chemicals and in education as the Executive Director, Information Technology for DeKalb County Public Schools just prior to joining Broward County Schools where he currently serves at the Chief Information Officer for the sixth largest school district in the country. Mr. Hunter holds a B.S. Degree in Information & Technology with a concentration in Data Communications as well as multiple industry certifications.

Implementation Workshop Session: Get on the Fast Track to Go Digital on Day One of Learning

Katie King Director of Strategic Foresight, KnowledgeWorks @katiebking

In her role, Katie manages externally facing strategic foresight projects and partnerships, co-designs and delivers workshops and contributes to KnowledgeWorks’ publications about the future of learning. Katie has previously served as a consulting futurist for various nonprofit organizations and taught middle school English in Texas and California.


Katie holds a bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Southern California and a master’s in foresight from the University of Houston. She is a member of the Association of Professional Futurists and co-author of The Futures Thinking Playbook.

General Session: Ignite Talk: Looking to the Future: Leading Toward New Definitions of Success

Phyllis Lockett CEO, LEAP Innovations @leapinchicago

Phyllis Lockett is CEO of LEAP Innovations. LEAP Innovations will create an education technology hub for the country that connects tech companies and educators to pilot and help scale the best teaching and learning tools to advance education – in and out of school.


Previously, Ms. Lockett was the founding President and CEO of New Schools for Chicago, a venture philanthropy organization that invests in the growth of top-performing charter schools and next-generation school models. Originally established as The Renaissance Schools Fund by Chicago’s business and civic leadership to launch 100 new public schools of exceptional quality in underserved communities, RSF raised $50 million, started 70 new public schools, helped create 13 charter networks and tripled the number of charter schools in Chicago. In April 2011, Ms. Lockett announced a new $60 million fund to open 50 additional top-performing charter schools in the next five years. The organization will also cultivate next-generation school models and drive a public information campaign so parents and communities can demand and obtain the best education for their children, as well as report on performance and advocate for accountability so only schools delivering results serve students.


Ms. Lockett is the former Executive Director of the Civic Consulting Alliance (CCA), a pro bono consulting firm for government agencies. She previously held marketing, sales and business development roles with Fortune 500 companies, including IBM, Kraft Foods and General Mills. Ms. Lockett earned a Master of Management degree from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University.

General Session: Opening Keynote: Getting Ready! What’s in Store for Us.

Christina Luke Director, Program and Product Evaluation, , Digital Promise

Before joining Digital Promise, Christina led program evaluations for federal and state initiatives and delivered professional development and technical assistance to school districts at Measurement Incorporated. Formerly a high school English teacher, Christina left the classroom to study education policy with a desire to improve student outcomes by offering a practitioner’s perspective to education research. For instance, in 2014, she researched the effect of state induction policies on novice teacher attrition. Christina earned a Ph.D. in education administration and policy from the State University of New York at Albany and a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and English from Boston College. You can reach Christina at: christina@digitalpromise.org.

Research & Evidence Workshop Session: Demystifying Evidence-based Decisions

Scott McCleod Associate Professor of Educational Leadership, University of Colorado Denver @mcleod

An Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Colorado Denver, Scott McLeod, J.D., Ph.D., is widely recognized as one of the nation’s leading experts on P-12 school technology leadership issues. He is the Founding Director of the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE), the nation’s only university center dedicated to the technology needs of school administrators, and is the co-creator of the wildly popular video series, Did You Know? (Shift Happens). Dr. McLeod has received the 2016 Award for Outstanding Leadership from the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). Dr. McLeod was one of the pivotal figures in Iowa’s grass roots 1:1 computing movement, which has resulted in over 220 school districts providing their students with powerful learning devices.

Vision Track Workshop Session: What Do Leaders of Innovative Schools Do Differently?

Dr. Pam Moran Former Superintendent. of Albemarle County Public Schools and Co Author, Timeless Learning @pammoran

Pam Moran served as a superintendent in Virginia for 13 years before retiring in June 2018. She was a 2016 top four finalist for AASA superintendent of the year and has recently authored Timeless Learning: How Imagination, Observation, and Zero-based Thinking Change Schools. When she isn’t observing  hummingbirds, she now serves as executive director of the Virginia School Consortium for Learning.

General Session: Deep Mapping Contemporary Learning Environments - 

What Enables Fundamental Change?

Tom Murray Director of Innovation, Future Ready @thomascmurray

Tom Murray joined the Alliance in May 2014 as the state and district digital learning policy and advocacy director, where he works alongside state education departments, corporations, and school districts across the country to implement digital learning and helps to oversee Project 24. Mr. Murray’s wealth of experience in K–12 digital leadership has been recognized at the national level, which includes implementing a 1:1 program, BYOD, blended learning, and a K–12 cyber school where he served as director of technology and cyber education in the Quakertown Community School District (QCSD) (Bucks County, PA).


A former school principal, Mr. Murray is passionate about proper technology infusion and personalized professional learning. He is a recipient of the Blended Schools Network Leadership Award; named one of the top 16 “forward thinking EdTech leaders in the country,” named one of the “top 100 influential voices in education,” and has been featured in Tech & Learning magazine’s Leadership Profile. Mr. Murray’s QCSD cyber and blended learning programs have been highlighted by Forbes.com, T.H.E. Journal, District Administration magazine, Project Red, Tech & Learning magazine, the Innosight Institute, iNACOL, and on Digital Learning Day 2013 and 2014, among others. He also serves on the advisory board for T.H.E. Journal.


Mr. Murray is also founder of #edtechchat, a weekly educational technology Twitter forum, through which hundreds of educators from around the world discuss digital learning. As a follow up, his weekly show #edtechchat radio on the BAM Radio Network is available on iTunes and regularly falls as one of the top downloaded education podcasts.


Mr. Murray holds a BA degree in psychology from Muhlenberg College and MEd degrees in educational leadership, educational development and strategies, and classroom technology from Wilkes University

Vision Workshop Session: Vision. Design. Implement. Creating Future Ready Schools

Dr. Barbara Nemko County Superintendent @barbnemko

Barbara Nemko has spent her storied career in education at the cutting edge of college and career readiness and technology integration. She taught elementary school in New York City, earned her PhD at Berkeley, worked for the University of California in educational evaluation, and provided curriculum development leadership. Here she chronicles her journey to more than five elected terms as the esteemed superintendent of Napa County Schools, which serves 21,000 students in five districts.

General Session: Educator Panel: Debate it, Then Do it

Dr. Rose Perez-Isiah Principal, Lucille Smith Elementary School @rosaIsiah

Rosa Isiah serves students as elementary school principal in California. Her experiences include 24 years in education. Rosa is passionate about equity in education and closing opportunity gaps for historically underserved students. She believes in the power of relationships and leading with purpose and passion.

Dr. Isiah is a connected educator and the founder of #WeLeadEd Twitter chat. She is also the host of Welead ED BAMradio show focused on Leadership through a Social Justice and Equity lens. Dr. Isiah is the coauthor of #FULLYCHARGED: 140 Battery Charging Maslow & Bloom Strategies for Students, Parents and Staff.

Dr. Isiah holds a B.A. in Sociology, an M.A. in Educational Leadership and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership for Social Justice.

General Session: Educator Panel: Debate it, Then Do it

Vision Track Spotlight Talk Session: [SEL Vision] Addressing the Equity Issues

Jonathan Raymond President, Stuart Foundation @jraym0

On one his first days on the job in 2009, Jonathan P. Raymond recalls a parent imploring him to “please take risks for kids.” He had just come on board as Superintendent of Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD), in the 1% of largest school districts in the country and one of the most impoverished and ethnically diverse. During his 4.5-year tenure, those were words he vowed to live by.


An outsider to education by trade (formerly a labor law attorney and non-profit leader) but a passionate advocate for equity and system-wide change, Raymond implemented bold initiatives to transform the school district around a vision that focused on supporting the whole child. Highlights included transforming some of the district’s poorest performing schools in the neediest neighborhoods to some of the highest performing, raising graduation rates, expanding early education, summer learning programs, dual-language programs, college and career pathways, and introducing salad bars and healthier meals, and social and emotional learning to the curriculum.  His journey in Sacramento was about changing the culture in the neediest schools and throughout the school district to one of excellence and demonstrating, in a time of great financial stress, that we can do something dramatic and bold when kids' futures are at stake.


Jonathan was a Fellow at the Broad Superintendents Academy and he completed the Executive Management Program at Harvard Business School. He holds a JD from the George Mason Law School in Arlington, VA and holds an MA from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, where he also earned his BA.

General Session: Keynote Address:  Advancing Whole Child Education

Derek Root CTO, Charlotte Mecklenburg SD @dasroot

General Session: Educator Panel: Debate it, Then Do it

Derek Root joined Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in 2017. He came to CMS from Washington County Public Schools in Maryland, where he was also CTO and was integral in the implementation of a comprehensive digital learning plan including the deployment of iPads to all students above the second grade. Prior to this position he served as the Director of Technology for Frederick County Public Schools in Maryland. FCPS services over 40,000 students in 65 schools. There he was responsible for the day to day operations and restructuring of the Technology Services group driven by a district desire to realign technology support capabilities with modern digital blended learning, 1:1 and Future Ready requirements. Previous to these assignments he served as a Program Manager for the Presidio Corporation, an international IT consulting firm where he managed the formation of the Security Compliance and Continuity of Operations centers at the Department of Homeland Security as well as supporting various Federal, educational and enterprise class commercial clients. Including the Department of Defense, Department of Transportation, The University of Maryland System and Northrop Grumman. He began his career in network, systems and security engineering with a focus on data center, VoIP and wide area communications.

Bror Saxberg Vice President, Learning Science, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Bror Saxberg is responsible for the research and development of innovative learning strategies, technologies and products across Kaplan's full range of educational services offerings. He also oversees future developments and adoptions of innovative learning technologies and maintains consistent academic standards for Kaplan's products and courses.


Saxberg most recently served as Senior Vice President and Chief Learning Officer at K12, Inc., where he was responsible for designing both online and off-line learning environments and developing new student products and services. Prior to joining K12, Inc., he was Vice President at Knowledge Universe, where he co-founded the testing and assessment division that became known as Knowledge Testing Enterprise (KTE). Saxberg began his career at McKinsey & Company, Inc. and later served as Vice President and General Manager for London-based DK Multimedia, part of DK Publishing, and education and reference publisher.


Saxberg holds a B.A. in Mathematics and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Washington. As a Rhodes Scholar, he received an M.A. in Mathematics from Oxford University. He also received a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from M.I.T. and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School.

General Session: Closing Keynote: What’s Next in this Adventure?

Ira Socol Public School Educational Technology and Innovation Director, Researcher, UDL, SpEd, History, Motivations, Edutopia @irasocol

Ira Socol is a former Chief Technology and Innovation Officer in Virginia public schools. He has been recognized by the Center for Digital Education for its annual award to the nation’s 2017 top 30 Technologists, Transformers and Trailblazers. He is the author of numerous journal articles in national education and school architectural journals. During doctoral studies at Michigan State, he became a leading national expert in the use of accessibility technology and Universal Design for Learning where he also developed Toolbelt Theory, an equity lens for all learners. He also co-authored the just released Timeless Learning with Pam Moran. Pam and Ira have keynoted and workshopped together at national and state conferences.

General Session: Deep Mapping Contemporary Learning Environments - 

What Enables Fundamental Change?

Implementation Track Spotlight Talk Session: Carrying out a Personalized Learning Vision at Milpitas Unified

Chin currently serves as the Director of Technology at Milpitas Unified School District, where he aligns the district’s learning objectives with technology solutions while developing and implementing innovative learning strategies that make learning effective, efficient, and engaging for students. A former teacher and teacher's union negotiator, Chin's passion is in leading systemic reform efforts to help enable students and staff to reach their potential.Chin brings successful education, non-profit, and corporate experience to LEEP having served as a teacher, board member, and an entrepreneur. Chin serves as an advisor to numerous school districts, charter organizations, early-stage & fortune 500 companies, as well as ministries of education worldwide. 

Chin Song Director of Technology, Milpitas Unified School District

Brooke Stafford-Brizard Director, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative @StaffordBrizard

Dr. Brooke Stafford-Brizard is a Director at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. She was formerly a Senior Advisor with Turnaround for Children, focusing on design to address key cognitive and social-emotional skills, which research demonstrates to be requisite for learning and negatively impacted by poverty-induced stress. She is also an independent consultant, supporting the integration of cognitive and social-emotional skills into school and district design through a connection between research, policy, and practice. Dr. Stafford-Brizard also focuses on the development of knowledge management systems to support effective design, implementation, and improvement.


Dr. Stafford-Brizard began her career as a teacher with Teach For America at an intermediate school in the Bronx. Following her doctoral work at Columbia University, Dr. Stafford-Brizard worked at the New York City Department of Education and co-founded the Young Women’s College Prep Charter School in Rochester, New York. She is a Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow and a member of the Aspen Institute’s Global Leadership Network.

General Session: Closing Keynote: What’s Next in this Adventure?

Katrina Stevens Director of Learning Science, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative @katrinastevens1

Katrina Stevens, the former Deputy Director of the Office of Educational Technology, has extensive experience in multiple roles in the ed tech ecosystem: teacher, administrator, startup cofounder, consultant, board member, advisor, angel investor, journalist, and community organizer. Throughout these roles, including 20 years as a teacher and administrator in K-12 schools, her focus has been on bringing together stakeholders from across the ed tech ecosystem for meaningful dialogue and action. As OET Deputy Director, Katrina led the work for rapid cycle tech evaluations, Future Ready, ed tech developer outreach, and education innovation clusters. Previous to working at the U.S. Department of Education, Stevens served as the EdSurge Summit Director and Founding Executive Director of EdTech Maryland. In both roles, Katrina fostered collaboration among educators, edtech startups, researchers, and community leaders.

Research and Evidence Track Spotlight Talk Session: Learner Variability: It’s a Design Challenge, Not a Student Problem

Dr. Melina Uncapher, Ph.D Ph.D., Director of Education Program - Neuroscape, Assistant Professor - Neurology @neuromelina

Melina is an Assistant Professor in the Dept of Neurology, and is Director of the Education Program at Neuroscape. The Education Program uses educational neuroscience to investigate how students learn in the classroom. Melina is a neuroscientist with 15 yrs of experience at the forefront of learning and memory research, with a focus on understanding how attention affects learning and memory (e.g., how we learn when we're distracted). More recently, she has turned her efforts to applying research to real-world problems. She leads research and outreach efforts in the fields of education, technology, and law.

Research and Evidence Workshop Session: Tackle Education Challenges with the Science of Learning

Vic Vuchic Chief Innovation Officer, Digital Promise @DigitalPromise

Vic is a seasoned thought leader in education technology and philanthropy. He is an expert in learning science, innovation, and scaling what works and has launched game-changing initiatives that have increased access to education and improved learning for tens of millions of learners in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa. Prior to Digital Promise Global, Vic consulted with a number of foundations and organizations on education technology, innovation and philanthropy. Prior to consulting, Vic developed strategies and managed over $100 million in technology-focused grants at the Hewlett Foundation to launch and grow the Open Educational Resources movement and create and advance the Deeper Learning strategy. Vic completed a master’s degree in education and technology at Stanford University and a bachelor’s degree in systems engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. Vic also received a scholarship and attended Berklee College of Music for a year. Previous experience includes working at startups in Silicon Valley for eight years with expertise in human-centric system design and innovation methodologies. You can reach Vic at: vic@digitalpromise.org.

Research and Evidence Track Spotlight Talk Session: Navigating Learner Variability to Personalize Learning

Troy Wheeler President, Ed-Fi Alliance @edfialliance

Troy Wheeler serves as the President of the Ed-Fi Alliance where he spearheads the adoption of data driven education at scale. He began his work with the organization in 2012 as the Vice President of Strategic Market Development, helping to evolve Ed-Fi from a nascent project to a widely-known standards and Ed tech organization. Troy joined Ed-Fi after five years serving as the Chief Information Officer for the Idaho Department of Education, where he was responsible for Idaho’s state education data management systems, including a $21M public-private partnership to implement statewide teacher data tools for personalized instruction. Under Troy’s leadership the Ed-Fi Data Standard has been adopted by 28 states and powers data interoperability for over two thousand school districts.

Implementation Workshop Session: Making Sense of Multiple Measures: A Better Way to Collect, Organize and Analyze Assessment Data

Bob Wise President, Alliance for Excellent Education @BobWise48

Former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise is president of the Alliance for Excellent Education (the Alliance), a nonprofit organization that has become a national leader for reforming the nation’s high schools so that all students graduate from high school prepared to succeed in college and a career.

General Session: Ignite Talks: Going the Extra Mile in 5 Minutes