Speakers

Our diverse lineup of speakers provide a unique opportunity for attendees to learn key insights from a broad spectrum of experts and colleagues from around the country.

2019 Atlanta

Dr. Christopher Emdin

Professor of Science Education, Author of For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood

Dr. Christopher Emdin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology at Columbia University; where he also serves as Director of the Science Education program and Associate Director of the Institute for Urban and Minority Education.  He is an alumni fellow at the Hutchins Center at Harvard University and served as STEAM Ambassador for the U.S. Department of State and Minorities in Energy Ambassador for the U.S. Department of Energy.

Dr. Emdin is a social critic, public intellectual and science advocate whose commentary on issues of race, culture, inequality and education have appeared in dozens of influential periodicals including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. He is the creator of the #HipHopEd movement, and an advisor to numerous international organizations, school districts and schools.  He is the author of the award-winning book, Urban Science Education for the Hip-hop Generation and The New York Times bestseller For White Folks Who Teach In the Hood and the Rest of Ya’ll Too.

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Steph Jensen

International Speaker, Award-Winning Author & Consultant

Steph Jensen, MS, LPC is an award-winning author and international speaker recognized for her insight and understanding of relational aggression. She combines 15 years of practice in the fields of education and counseling with research, practical strategies and humor to address challenging behaviors and build positive relationships with kids. She has held positions as classroom teacher, education consultant and international speaker. She holds a master’s degree in clinical counseling, focusing her efforts on adolescent and family issues.
In recent years, Stephanie has applied her passion for adolescents to focus on the dynamics of relational aggression, social-emotional learning, and positive behavior interventions. She is the author of Thrive in the Hive: Surviving the Girl’s World of Good and Bad Relationship Bee-haviors, Mom’s Choice Award-winning Princess Priscilla and the Bully-Bee Day, Princess Priscilla and the Mood Ring Rainbow and her latest Princess Priscilla and the Great Beezilla!

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Robert Jackson

Author, Cultural Awareness & Male Engagement Expert

Robert Jackson, author of The No More Excuses Curriculumfeaturing the following books, No More Excuses: Black Men Stand Up!, No More Excuses: The WorkbookNo More Excuses: Solutions to Educating Black and Latino Males, and No More Excuses: Put a Stop to Bullying, is a national speaker, consultant, trainer, and owner of Lavelle Publishing and Nova Concepts Speakers. Robert received his BS, Industrial Technology degree from Western Kentucky University where he lettered four years in both football and track. After being cut from the NFL Minnesota Vikings during training camp, Robert has remained deeply rooted in his commitment to serve his community as a mentor and leader especially on issues facing African American Students. He mentors young men and presents workshops, seminars and speeches nationwide to youth and adults. As a consultant and speaker, Robert works to reverse the drop out rates of black and latino males and to create positive change in school systems across the country and abroad to bridge the gap between parents, teachers, administrators and students. He has been invited to do just that in Nova Scotia Halifax, Canada and at Harvard University Graduate School.

He has also spoken at the National Council on Educating Black Children (NCEBC), Texas Alliance of Black School Educators (TABSE), The National School Board Association (NSBA), The Black and Brown Conference at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Florida, Urban Education Conference at Central State University, The Indiana University Men and Women of Color Conference, Norfolk State University Men of Valor, Broward College, The Southern Black Student Leadership Conference (SBSLC), The National Alliance of Black School Educators National Conference (NASBE), Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB) Regional and National Conferences and The 100 Year Centennial Celebration of Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity, Inc. to name a few. Robert was awarded the Key to the City in Miami, Florida by the Mayor after his keynote address at the 5000 Role Models Scholarship Program where 45 black and latino males received both a full scholarship to any school in Florida and laptops. Mr. Jackson has also been a national speaker at the 100 Black Men of America National Conference.

Robert Jackson is an active Life Member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and 100 Black Men of Indianapolis. He serves on the Board with Wheelers Boys/Girls Club of Indianapolis, Indiana where he was a former member and mentors young men nationally.

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Dr. Yong Zhao

Expert on Globalization & Education, Author of World Class Learners

Yong Zhao currently serves as a Foundations Distinguished Professor at the University of Kansas and was previously the Presidential Chair and Director of the Institute for Global and Online Education in the College of Education, University of Oregon, where he is also a Professor in the Department of Educational Measurement, Policy, and Leadership. He is also a professorial fellow at the Mitchell Institute for Health and Education Policy, Victoria University. His works focus on the implications of globalization and technology on education. He has published over 100 articles and 20 books, including Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon: Why China has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World, Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization and World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students. He is a recipient of the Early Career Award from the American Educational Research Association and was named one of the 2012 10 most influential people in educational technology by the Tech & Learn Magazine. He is an elected fellow of the International Academy for Education. His latest book World Class Learners has won several awards including the Society of Professors of Education Book Award (2013), Association of Education Publishers’ (AEP) Judges’ Award and Distinguished Achievement Award in Education Leadership (2013).


Until December 2010, Yong Zhao was University Distinguished Professor at the College of Education, Michigan State University, where he also served as the founding director of the Center for Teaching and Technology, executive director of the Confucius Institute, as well as the US-China Center for Research on Educational Excellence.


Zhao was born in China’s Sichuan Province. He received his B.A. in English Language Education from Sichuan Institute of Foreign Languages in Chongqing, China in 1986. After teaching English in China for six years, he came to Linfield College as a visiting scholar in 1992. He then began his graduate studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1993. He received his A.M. in Education in 1994 and Ph.D. in 1996. He joined the faculty at MSU in 1996 after working as the Language Center Coordinator at Willamette University and a language specialist at Hamilton College.

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Brian Mendler

Co-Author Discipline with Dignity, Expert on Working With Disruptive Students

Brian Mendler trains tens of thousands of educators a year and is a highly regarded dynamic speaker. Through his affiliation with Teacher Learning Center, he provides staff development training for K-12 educators and youth service workers throughout the world with a focus on how to be successful with even the most difficult students.

Brian is a certified K-12 and special education teacher with extensive experience working with challenging students in general ed, self-contained, and inclusion settings.  In his training sessions and books, he draws on his own experience as a very disruptive student with severe undiagnosed ADHD and reading difficulties.

Brian is the author of several books including That One Kidand The Taming of the Crew.  He has also co-authored Strategies for Successful Classroom Management, Power Struggles2nd Edition, and the bestseller Discipline With Dignity 3rd Edition: New Challenges, New Solutions.

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Dave Burgess

Dave Burgess is the New York Times Best-Selling author of Teach Like a PIRATE, co-author of P is for PIRATE, and the president of Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc. which delivers powerful, inspirational, and innovative books, keynotes, and professional development.

He specializes in teaching hard-to-reach, hard-to-motivate students with techniques that incorporate showmanship and creativity.  At a recent ceremony in Washington, D.C., he was awarded the BAMMY for Secondary School Teacher of the Year by the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences.

As a teacher in San Diego, California, he was a 2001 and 2012 Golden Apple winner in the Grossmont Union High School District and the 2007-2008 Teacher of the Year at West Hills High School. He was voted a faculty standout for 17 consecutive years in categories such as Most Entertaining, Most Energetic, and Most Dramatic.

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