Thought Leaders

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Thought Leaders
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Get inspired by thought leaders from all walks of life––celebrities, policy makers, educators, and activists––sharing their thoughts on the “what is” and “what ifs” of education.

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Superintendent of Miami-Dade County Schools
Alberto Carvalho
The superintendent of America’s fourth-largest school district discusses why our nation’s diversity is a strength and his optimism on delivering on the American Dream for all students.
Managing Partner, Emerson Collective
Arne Duncan
The former secretary of education talks about the need for education to rethink its 100-year-old model and actively engage with and challenge students in their learning.
CEO, Hope Enterprise Corporation and Hope Credit Union
Bill Bynum
The chief executive officer of Hope Enterprise Corporation and Hope Credit Union helps improve the quality of life for citizens in the high-poverty Mississippi Delta with comprehensive solutions like community investment, banking, housing, education, and healthcare.
Dr. Skateboard
Bill Robertson
A skateboarder and professor at the University of Texas El Paso explains why educators should teach real-world skills and problem-solving through student interests, like skateboarding.
Senior Supervising Attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center
Christine Bischoff
An education attorney who advocates for students when school districts violate their rights argues that we must work harder to deliver on our nation’s promise to make education the “great equalizer.”
Hip-Hop Artist, Activist
Common
A Grammy award-winning artist talks about why education should evolve and work to bridge the gap between students and educators through deep relationships.
Director of Artist Management and Development, FarFetched; Author
Darian Wigfall
An author discusses the importance of diverse representation and seeing one’s self in literature, particularly children’s books.
CEO, TigerMountain Foundation
Darren Chapman
A community activist describes the value in understanding one another through cultural diversity and cultural competence in education.
Former CEO, The Supercomputing Challenge
David Kratzer
A computer scientist combats the low number of females involved in high school STEM by pushing back against stereotypes and offering STEM programs to girls in middle and elementary school.
General Manager of EAT Café
Donnell Jones-Craven
A restaurant general manager and head chef discusses the importance of combating food insecurity, providing strong nutrition in schools to nourish students’ minds and bodies, and using food as a lever for learning.
Political Pollster, Communications Consultant
Frank Luntz
Celebrated pollster Frank Lutz’s life was changed by a special teacher; he discusses our national responsibility to deliver quality education and the urgency we should all feel in helping students realize their dreams.
Founder, Harlem Children’s Zone | Board Member, XQ Institute
Geoffrey Canada
The founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone talks about how to motivate and “hook” our young people on learning through their passions.
Actor, Author, Activist
Hill Harper
An actor, author, and social justice warrior reflects on the “real goal” of education: to expand options, not limit them.
VP of Leather, Shinola
Jennifer Guarino
A CEO of a leather goods brand discusses the value of hands-on learning and exposing students to diverse options and passions.
Executive Chef for Levy Restaurants at Ford Field: Home of the Detroit Lions
Joe Nader
A chef and food justice enthusiast talks about how to better connect high school learning with real-world careers and problem-solving, for example, connecting math and science with culinary paths.
Record Producer
Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell
The owner of Royal Records describes the importance of music education and why music connects to everything.
Founder, Pathways2Teaching
Margarita Bianco
An associate professor of education who started a dual-enrollment program for high school students interested in becoming teachers discusses the need for educators to be culturally competent and representative of the students they teach, as well as believe in the potential of all students.
Dean of Teachers College, Arizona State University
Mari Koerner
The dean at ASU Teachers College encourages our nation to rethink how we’ve always done education to make it more responsive to how young people actually learn.
Principal, Mendez High School
Mauro Bautista
Principal Bautista leads a school named for a civil rights activist who fought against educational discrimination and he continues that work of educational equity today.
Executive Director of MIKVA Challenge
Michelle Morales
A Puerto Rican youth development leader talks about the lasting damage a teacher caused her by denying her culture and history and the importance of valuing student identities, voices, and ideas.
Assistant Professor of Education, Washington University in St. Louis
Michelle Purdy
An associate professor of education discusses why schools must recognize the needs of students beyond the classroom walls, such as housing and healthcare, in order to provide educational equity.
Colorado State Senator
Mike Johnston
A state senator and former teacher describes his journey to help deliver college access to undocumented students in Colorado through policy change.
Director of Engineering and Technology Education, St. Louis Science Center
Paul Freiling
A scientist talks about the power of collaborative, problem-based education to solve real problems and foster true learning.
President and CEO, Expect More Arizona
Pearl Esau
The chief executive officer of a nonprofit advocacy organization discusses the importance of providing high-quality education to every child regardless of background and its impact on the economy.
Musician
Renée Fleming
A celebrated singer talks about the need for artists in our society, how the arts spark creativity, and why we should fund the arts in schools.
Journalist, Media CEO
Roland Martin
A media CEO challenges all of us to be bold and courageous enough to completely rethink how we do education.
Founder, The Social Club Grooming Company
Sebastian Jackson
A Detroit social club owner laments the ongoing segregation of the places where “information is exchanged”—like churches, barbershops, and schools—and encourages our society to create more opportunities for diverse collaborations and the “collision” of communities.
Broadcast Journalist, CEO, Starfish Media Group
Soledad O’Brien
A well-known broadcast journalist explains why real learning goes far beyond memorization and requires synthesizing information, connecting the dots, and implementing higher-order thinking.
Director of Advocacy, Teacher Town Memphis
Tosha Downey
A non-profit director of advocacy discusses the importance of approaching all students as individuals with high levels of potential and recognizing that education’s role is to ignite and support that potential.
Assistant Professor at University of California, Berkeley
Travis Bristol
An assistant professor discusses his experience in a status quo school growing up and the need to reimagine education and push learning beyond school walls.
Award Winning Cellist, Board Member, XQ Institute
Yo-Yo Ma
A renowned cellist describes the value of deep relationships and collaborative learning in education, and the power of music to build community, empathy, and imagination.

Resources

High School and the Future of Work: A Guide for State Policymakers

Transformative change happens only with dynamic leadership from state policymakers like you. That’s what this guide is all about.

That’s a School Board Thing

“That’s a School Board Thing” demystifies the work of local school boards so you can get involved, run to serve, and serve for change.

Expert Series

Listen to conversations with transformational leaders in education.