Keynote Speakers

Shawn Hurt

Shawn Hurt is an educational consultant and School Turnaround Principal. He has been a Turnaround Specialist since 2011, and have impacted the education of over 5,200 students during his career. ...

Donna Y. Ford, PhD

Donna Y. Ford, PhD,  is a Distinguished Professor in the College of Education and Human Ecology the Ohio State University.  She is also a Faculty Affiliate with the Kirwan Institute...

Kathy Hoffman, MS, CCC-SLP

Superintendent Kathy Hoffman has spent her entire career working in public education, first as a pre-school teacher and then as a speech therapist in Arizona’s public schools. She began her...

Geneva A. Stark, Ph.D., CDP


Michael Atkins, Principal

The Foundation of Change: Why I choose this Journey People see me today, and they probably wonder to themselves, "Ah, there's the picture of black success, the exception to the...

Dr. Ramona Bishop

Dr. Bishop graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in Richmond and received her Bachelor of Arts, in English, from the University of California, Berkeley. She earned her teaching credential...

Masters of Ceremonies

Devin Jones Del Palacio

Devin Jones Del Palacio is the Vice President of the Governing Board of the Tolleson Union High School District, covering the cities of Tolleson, Avondale, and Phoenix, Arizona. Tolleson Union...

Lloyd Hopkins

Lloyd Hopkins is an organizational leader with extensive experience in community and nonprofit work.  He has worked in and around education for 18 years.  He graduated from Arizona State University...

Breakout Sessions

Latonja Stephens, M.A.
(Read Bio)

You Know You Are Good but Are You Excellent? 

Teachers have to do so much these days and wear so many hats.  Knowing that we are always busy and working hard usually leaves us with the impression that we are good at what we do but how do we know if we are excellent?  Furthermore, are we really striving for excellence?  If being an excellent educator is what we really choose to be, for the sake of our students who are depending on us to help them get ready for the world, then there are a few measures that we can use to help us determine if we are already excellent at what we do or if we need to tweak some things to reach the excellence that we strive for.  Please join me in a discussion that highlights key questions a teacher can ask themselves when wondering whether or not they are excellent educators.

Mr. Shawn Hurt
(Read Bio)

How to use data at your school to increase student achievement and close the achievement gap.

School leaders are charged with the difficult task to meet state and local mandates, increase scores on state assessments, engage families and community partners all while successfully operating the school. The reality of most inner city schools include, a high-poverty population of students entering school two or three years behind grade level. The added weight of teachers struggling to deliver culturally relevant teachers makes the role of school leader seem impossible. In this session the presenter will share strategies and best practices that school leadership teams are currently using in their schools to close the achievement gap and experience high test scores.  Participants will gain an understanding of the leadership actions and instructional strategies that will turn a failing school into a high achieving school. Participants will be able to -assess Leadership Team on readiness of data dialogues. -create a data dialogue calendar and plan to continuously progress monitor. - understand steps to form partnerships with the focus of impact. - assess professional development needed to build capacity in their Leadership Team.

Sidney Gaskins, LPC
(Read Bio)

Leadership in the Teacher’s Lounge: The Importance of Diversity Climate and Culture

Abstract: Organizations discuss diversity, inclusion, and equity and should pay attention to diversity climate and culture to support DEI efforts. Climate and culture in organizations are associated with job satisfaction and organizational commitment. In schools, developing a positive diversity climate and culture for educators is a component of creating a safe environment that has multiple results for employees as well as students. In this session, you will define diversity climate and culture, identify characteristics of stable diversity climate and culture, explore results of diversity climate and culture, and learn steps to support a diversity climate and culture.

Dr. Mechele A. Newell
(Read Bio)

Black Educator Matters

Presentation Abstract: There are approximately 8 billion black children in the American school system today. These 8 billion account for 80% of the children receiving free/public education in America. While black children make up 80% of the public school student body, 80% of their teachers are middle-aged white women. As we consider the current state of education in this country, we recognize the battle we face for our children. This battle remains, at its core, the same as it has always been. Our children deserve a good education. Our children deserve the same level of access to education as their non-black counterparts, such as access to quality teachers, curriculum, school campuses with state of the art resources, healthy food choices, safe buildings and classrooms where their character and physical makeup are not constantly in question, quality after-school programs, and quality early childhood education programs. As black educators, we have a unique set of responsibilities to these 8 billion black children. This presentation will allow for a discussion of BLACK EDUCATOR MATTERS. There will be a brief look at our current situation, a stroll down memory lane to see what we can glean from our past, and a commitment to the future of black education

Clottee A. Hammons
(Read Bio)

The Great Migration – Indiscernibles in Arizona: Acknowledging Blacks in the Historical Narrative of Arizona

The impact of The Great Migration in Arizona has had little acknowledgement; with African American residents locked into an indiscernible status. This has resulted in a gaping void in the historical narrative of the state. As a result, systemic racism is frequently rationalized by the dismissive tone that emphasizes the small demographic percentage of Blacks that live (or stay) in the state, as compared to whites and Hispanics which further serves to relegate Blacks to the fringes. This Indiscernible-fringe existence has been strongly experienced in all areas of economic, social, civic and educational engagements. This faceted project examines the impact of Black Indiscerniblility in Arizona through an array of multidisciplinary, multigeneration ongoing engagements. One of the outcomes of this project has been a traveling exhibition, that addresses the major questions of How Black People Came to Arizona and Why We Stay. From this exhibition a Companion Guide for Teachers, Home School Educators and others, interested in a more comprehensive telling Arizona history has been created, which I will share in my presentation.

Colin Seale
(Read Bio)

From Closing Achieving Gaps to Shattering Achievement Ceilings: Black Excellence as An Equity Strategy

Is it unacceptable that the brilliance of overlooked and underestimated Black and Brown children is still left on the table? Are you done with hashtags like #BlackGirlMagic since it should not require magic for brilliant Black women to fulfill their inherent potential for excellence? Or are you a Black educator tired of facing glass ceilings of disciplinary or social-emotional leadership because your instructional expertise is not identified, developed and valued? Join Colin Seale, Founder and CEO of thinkLaw, and author of Thinking Like a Lawyer: A Practical Framework for Teaching Critical Thinking to All Students, for this powerful, yet practical session on revolutionizing and normalizing academic excellence for Black students, families, and educators.

Shehara L. Wooten
(Read Bio)

From Singles to Stacks: Crafting Your Financial Success Story


Teachers are focused on making a difference in the world. They are heart centered and compassionate. Oftentimes, teachers devote themselves to others all the while neglecting the things they desire so that they can live their personal definition of financial freedom and success. In this session, you will explore your first memory about money, understand how to create financial goals connected to your why, understand the importance of net worth, and the power of accountability and community when it comes to financial freedom.  The prediction is that Black wealth will fall to zero by 2053, which is astounding. Black spending power is about $1.4 Trillion. If we collectively focus on transferring some of our spending power to investing power we can help to ensure this prediction never comes true. “From Singles to Stacks” will expose you to some of the tools needed to own your financial narrative and determine financial success for yourself.

Dr. Mina Bhagdev
(Read Bio)

The Impact of Broken Promises

It is well recognized that there is a discrepancy in opportunities for academic success for students of color. One of the factors identified for this lack of opportunity is that students of color do not see representations of themselves or their lives in the classroom. A possible solution for this lack of representation is to increase the diversity of teachers that our students come into contact with while at school. Thus, it is important to understand why Teachers of Color leave the profession 25% faster than White teachers. The purpose of my study was to investigate whether the emotional response to perceived broken promises influence the relationship between the diversity climate and turnover intention for Black and White K-12 teachers in the United States. In this session we will discuss the results of my study and how the findings can inform the recruitment and retention of teachers in the United States.

LaKenya Logan
(Read Bio)

The "Unsung" Heroes of My Favorite Five

When I was a new teacher, I wished somebody would have parted wisdom on navigating as a black special education educator on a school campus. All education isn't found in a book or a curriculum. Over the years, when I begin a new job on a new campus, I learned that I needed to search for these 5 favorite departments/individuals to help make my school year go as smooth as possible. I always refer to the African proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child." As a black educator, I know I cannot do it alone. I need all the help I can receive to assist my students with accessing the general curriculum and building a positive learning environment in the classroom. These five individuals/departments are housekeeper/maintenance, the cafeteria workers, administrative assistants, the technology department, and the librarian. When my students observe the positive interaction with the school staff, my goal is for students to be proactive in accepting and welcoming people and ideas different from their own. Participants will understand that when students see the relationships their teacher has built with the five unsung heroes; the teacher creates a positive climate in which students feel connected to their school community.

Geneva Stark
(Read Bio)

COVID-19 Call to ACTION: Why Educational Institutions Need A Racial Equity Policy? Unapologetically!

Educational Institutions across the country are focusing on the glaring racial disparities that continue to challenge students of color in K-12 and higher education.   Jefferson County Public School District’s Department of Diversity, Equity, and Poverty (DEP) has utilized data from faculty and staff, student performance and placement, and employment data to highlight and address a continuing pattern of racial inequities. The Jefferson County Board of Education took bold steps in 2018 to embrace and approve a Racial Equity policy to ensure that race is a guiding factor in all decision making. The session will provide the why and what that led to the creation of the JCPS’s Racial Equity Policy. The session will focus on the components of the policy, implementation guidelines, accountability measures, strategies for gathering support from the community, and strategies for addressing the challenges from those who resist using race to highlight inequities. This session will share the Racial Equity Policy. This session will also discuss the need for a policy and accountability measures in higher education.

Dr. Tamika Sanders
(Read Bio)

Social Movements: Engaging Students

Our country has a long history of youth-led movements that brought about significant social change. Young people have advocated for child labor laws, voting rights, civil rights, school desegregation, immigration reform and LGBTQ rights are just a few examples. Through their actions, the world has changed. Because young people often have the desire, energy and idealism to do something about the injustice they see in the world, they are powerful agents for change. Dr. Tamika Sanders will lead an interactive discussion on how students’ feelings of anger, sadness and hopelessness can be transformed into concrete actions that can make the world more equitable.

Scroll to Top