Speakers 2020

Nicole Anderson

Nicole Anderson

Nicole Anderson Consulting

Unconscious and Implicit Bias

This support service is designed to foster a safe space for collaboration, learning, and strategic planning for educational equity with a systemic lens. Support includes 90 minute sessions to include Q & A and breakout room sessions to build capacity of individual and collective equity leadership across the region.


  • Understand the purpose and impact of historical events on public education
  • Define equity through data and student stories
  • Recognize the barriers to equity across the region
  • Reflect on the role of the educators in perpetuating or ending educational gaps
  • Understand a system’s approach to interrupting patterns of inequities within the region


  • Develop an equity statement for the Southern California Equity Collaborative
  • Identify equity gaps and their root causes for target student groups
  • Strategically develop an equity impact action plan to effectively collaborate and implement a collective movement across the region to replicate and sustain best practices
  • Develop a blueprint for equity leadership across the region

BIO: Nicole Anderson has served in varying roles in education for more than 20 years around the state and nation. She is a highly qualified developer and facilitator of professional learning services as well as a dedicated advocate for educational equity work. After serving as a school district teacher and administrator at various levels, she led and facilitated ACSA’s and CSBA’s state-wide equity work as well as a cadre of networks for administrators of diverse backgrounds. Mrs. Anderson’s current work is supported by a team of experts in the field, practitioners, as well as researchers who provide unique services to school boards, Superintendent search firms, as well as county, district, and school leaders. Inspired by her grandfather, Jesse M. Bethel, she continues to inspire educational leaders around the state and nation who have locked arms on the journey to close educational equity gaps through a systems approach.

Principal Baruti Kafele

Baruti Kafele

Principal Kafele
Consulting, LLC.


SESSION ONE | Does Instruction Thrive Under My Leadership? A Discussion on Effective Instructional Leadership (Administrators)

To reinforce for school leaders that instruction leadership must be at the core of all of their responsibilities. Principal Kafele will provide school leaders with strategies toward maintaining a focus on the instructional side of their leadership toward increasing the probability that achievement will soar.

SESSION TWO | Is My School a Better School Because I Lead It? (Educators, Counselor, and Community Stakeholders)

The purpose of this workshop is to challenge educators to look at the underachievement of their at-risk students differently, while simultaneously looking deeper within themselves for the answers to the question, “Why does underachievement exist in my classroom?” In this workshop, Principal Kafele will provide educators with strategies for closing the “attitude gap” toward the elimination of underachievement through his Framework for Closing the Attitude Gap.

SESSION THREE | Closing the Attitude Gap: A Classroom Equity Framework – Climate & Culture are a Reflection of my Leadership

The purpose of this workshop is to demonstrate to school leaders that the climate and culture of their schools is a direct reflection of their leadership. Principal Kafele will make the case that despite home and neighborhood challenges that might accompany students into a school, school leaders can nevertheless command a powerful influence over the climate and culture of their schools. He contends that despite the challenges of the work, the climate and culture of the school are a direct reflection of the school’s leadership.

SESSION FOUR | “Just Level the Playing Field and Watch Me Excel!” Ensuring a Commitment to Equity in All Classrooms for All Learners

The purpose of this workshop is to challenge educators to look at the underachievement of their at-risk students differently, while simultaneously looking deeper within themselves for the answers to the question, “Why does underachievement exist in my classroom?” In this workshop, Principal Kafele will provide educators with strategies for closing the “attitude gap” toward the elimination of underachievement through his Framework for Closing the Attitude Gap.

BIO: A highly-regarded urban educator in New Jersey for over twenty years, Principal Baruti Kafele distinguished himself as a master teacher and a transformational school leader. As an elementary school teacher in East Orange, NJ, he was selected as the East Orange School District and Essex County Public Schools Teacher of the Year, he was a New Jersey State Teacher of the Year finalist, and a recipient of the New Jersey Education Association Award of Excellence.

As a middle and high school principal, Principal Kafele led the transformation of four different New Jersey urban schools, including “The Mighty” Newark Tech, which went from a low-performing school in need of improvement to national recognition, which included U.S. News and World Report Magazine recognizing it three times as one of America’s best high schools.

One of the most sought-after education speakers in America, Principal Kafele is impacting America’s schools! He has delivered more than one thousand conference keynotes and professional development workshops over the past seven years since leaving his principalship in 2011. An expert in the area of “attitude transformation,” Principal Kafele is the leading authority for providing effective classroom and school leadership strategies toward closing what he coined, the “Attitude Gap.” He is also the author of eight books which include his national best-sellers, Closing the Attitude Gap, Motivating Black Males, The Principal 50 and The Teacher 50. His 9th book, Is Your School Better BECAUSE You Lead It? is forthcoming.

Principal Kafele is the recipient of over 150 educational, professional and community awards which include the prestigious Milken National Educator Award, the National Alliance of Black School Educators Hall of Fame Award, induction into the East Orange, New Jersey Hall of Fame, and the City of Dickinson, Texas proclaiming February 8, 1998 as Baruti Kafele Day.

Kathy Obear, Ed.D.

Kathy Obear, Ed.D.

President, Center for Transformation & Change

Shifting the Dynamics of Race and Racism in Our School Systems: Our Role as White Allies and Change Agents – Session 1

White superintendents and Board members have a critical responsibility to interrupt racist dynamics and create racially inclusive districts and schools. In this engaging session, participants will engage in authentic conversations to deepen their capacity to interrupt racist dynamics and effectively partner with others to create greater racial equity in policies, practices, and services.

Shifting the Dynamics of Race and Racism in Our School Systems: Our Role as White Allies and Change Agents – Session 2

White teachers and staff have a critical responsibility to show up as effective allies to recognize and interrupt racist dynamics in the classroom, in meetings and in social interactions. In this engaging session, participants will experience a variety of skills to create greater racial equity in classrooms and other school environments.
BIO: Currently president of the Center for Transformation and Change, www.drkathyobear.com, Dr. Kathy Obear is nationally recognized as an expert in helping leaders, change agents, and facilitators develop the capacity to create equitable, inclusive, and racially/socially just organizations. Kathy is a Co-founder of the Social Justice Training Institute, www.sjti.org, an intensive professional development experience to deepen capacity to dismantle dynamics of racism and white supremacy in ourselves and in our organizations.

Kathy works with leaders and change agents to deepen their capacity to recognize and interrupt racist and white supremist attitudes before they do harm, acknowledge the devastating impact of past racist behaviors, shift current racist behaviors and practices, and develop strategies to truly partner with colleagues of color to eradicate racism and white supremacy culture in their spheres of influence to create true racial equity and justice in everything they do.

Donyall Dickey, Ed.D.

Donyall Dickey, Ed.D.

Chief Executive Officer,
Educational Epiphany
& Lead Author
Scholastic Literacy


Transforming Student Achievement Through a District-Wide Approach to Common Instructional Knowledge, Language, and Tools

This dynamic speech will expose participants to a finite set of high-yield actionable, measurable, and replicable practices that have expeditiously transformed student achievement in urban, suburban, and rural school/districts from coast to coast. Balanced by theory and practicality, Dr. Dickey delineates processes for aligning daily instruction with the nuanced expectations of the state standards and high-stakes summative assessments necessary to drive and sustain academic achievement in the core content areas.

BIO: Donyall D. Dickey, Ed.D. is a nationally recognized authority on curriculum, instruction, organizational development, and administration of schools. Unparalleled levels of student achievement and school improvement distinguish Dr. Dickey’s 17-year career as an educational leader. A native of Texas City, Texas – Dickey is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Loyola University – Maryland, and George Washington University – D.C., where he earned a doctorate in Educational Leadership & Policy and wrote a ground-breaking dissertation on resilience and African American males.

Dickey began his career as a third grade teacher in the Baltimore City Schools before becoming a high school English literature/SAT prep teacher and assistant principal in the Baltimore County Public School System. After four years as an assistant principal, Donyall served as a principal in the Baltimore City Public School System before his 6-year tenure as a principal in the Howard County Public School System. Unparalleled levels of student achievement and school improvement characterized his career as a site-based, instructional leader, including having led the lowest performing middle school in Howard County to the most significant gains on the Maryland School Assessment, outgaining more than 3,000 schools.

Through strategic planning; his knowledge of curriculum and instruction; and attention to the professional development delivery model, Dr. Dickey replicated significant gains on a larger scale as a Regional Superintendent of Schools in Philadelphia, where he managed a diverse network of 33 schools. In the role of Regional Superintendent of Schools, Dickey led the cohort of elementary, K-8, and neighborhood high schools to the most significant gains in English/reading and Mathematics on the Pennsylvania State Assessments in the city of Philadelphia.

Dr. Dickey also served as the Chief Academic Officer of the School District of Philadelphia, where he was responsible for academic programming for 220 schools and 160,000 students. He also managed nine major district-wide departments, including Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment; Special Education; Multi-lingual Curriculum & Programs; School Improvement & Data Support; Career & Technology Education; Early Childhood Education; School Scheduling and Organization; College Readiness; and Academic Enrichment.

Later, Dr. Dickey served students and families in Atlanta as the Chief Schools Officer and Chief Academic Officer of the Atlanta Public Schools where he managed a team of seven Associate & Assistant Superintendents as well as the offices of Teaching & Learning, Curriculum & Instruction, Early Childhood Education, Student Services, Organizational & Professional Learning, Federal Grants, Student Discipline, College & Career Readiness, School Support; Summer & After School Programs and a $450M budget.

All while improving student and organizational outcomes as a prek-12 leader, Dr. Dickey has been building a successful publishing and professional development firm – Educational Epiphany. As the Chief Executive Officer and lead consultant for Educational Epiphany, Dr. Dickey has authored and published 33 books, including 22 teacher resource books on the internationally benchmarked Common Core State Standards for English/Reading, Social Studies, Science, the Technical Subjects, & Mathematics and 11 teacher resource books on the Texas Essential Knowledge & Skills.

Dr. Dickey’s ideas for school improvement and organizational effectiveness are used to improve the lived schooling experience for children across the nation. As the Chief Executive Officer and Lead Consultant for Educational Epiphany, Dr. Dickey’s and his national consulting team is currently partnering with urban, suburban, and rural school districts as a provider of standards-based instructional materials for the core content areas and turnaround professional development for teachers, school leaders, central office personnel, state departments of education, colleges & universities, and professional organizations.

Dr. Janine de Novais

Dr. Janine de Novais

Assistant Professor College,
Education and Human Development,
University of Delaware


Abdul-Malik Muhammad, Ed.D.

Abdul-Malik Muhammad, Ed.D.

President and
Founding Team Leader,
Akoben LLC.


Brave Communities Part 1

Brave Community is a pedagogical approach to teaching about race in ways that support people to unlearn racism. It is drawn from research on teaching and learning about race, classroom experiences, and work directly with practitioners. This interactive workshop is designed to strengthen understanding with an accessible and adaptive approach to create learning communities where we each become braver in our learning and more empathetic with each other. During part one, we will overview Brave Community, its research-based origins, and its classroom-tested strategies. Day one will focus on offering opportunities to deepen understanding of the approach through discussions of real-life classroom scenarios in small groups.

Brave Communities Part 2

During part two we will focus on determining how the Brave Community approach can support participants’ work in their specific contexts. Participants will be grouped according to the racial justice lens and/or goals that they want to focus on in their work and co-construct how Brave Community can serve that work. We will leave with food for thought, tools for the work ahead, and a foundational approach for what we know is a lifelong process of unlearning racism.

BIO: Dr. Janine de Novais is an assistant professor in the School of Education at the University of Delaware. She is a sociologist who works at the intersection of race, culture, democracy and education. In her recent work, de Novais introduces Brave Community, a theory about the relationship between classroom dynamics and meaningful learning about race and culture. She has also developed Brave Community as a pedagogical approach and intervention for practitioners. Dr. de Novais has experience teaching about issues of cultural diversity and education across undergraduate, graduate and professional education programs. Before that, she served as the Associate Director of Columbia University’s Center for the Core Curriculum.

BIO: Dr. Abdul-Malik Muhammad has over 25 years serving both youth and adults as an educator, transformational leader, entrepreneur and author. Always working with the underserved in urban and rural areas, he has focused on the development of boys to men, establishing a pedagogy for oppressed youth, and building progressive organizations. He is currently the founder and CEO of several educational, mental health, and human services operations, including Akoben LLC and Transforming Lives Inc. Through this work, he is continuing to diligently “transform lives, one community at a time.” His first book, released in March 2019, entitled The Restorative Journey – Book One: The Theory and Application of Restorative Practices, inspires us to think and act differently in leadership, relationships and service to others.

He has a BA in International Affairs from Franklin & Marshall College, an MA in Educational Leadership from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, and an Ed.D in Educational Leadership from the University of Delaware. He lives in Delaware with his wife, children and father.

Kimberli K. Breen, MS, CAS, MA

Kimberli K. Breen, MS, CAS, MA

President and
National Behavior
Change Agent


All About Student Voice: Creating Equitable Multi-Tiered Systems of Support in Secondary Schools (Administrators)

Creating a Multi-Tiered System of Support can improve your school’s effectiveness and efficiency. When the system includes regular input from staff and students, it can be transformative. This session will provide tangible strategies that can be quickly adopted to help expedite MTSS implementation, outcomes and stakeholder investment.

Improving Student Achievement for All Through Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports

We invest in behavioral systems and practices because they work. Behavioral strategies are used to improve attendance, time on task, academic engagement, and overall quality of life for staff, students and families. Join this session to renew your enthusiasm and leave with strategies to help colleagues understand that PBIS is about more than reducing office referrals.

BIO: Kimberli Breen, MS, CAS, MA is a Regional Facilitator Director with the University of Kansas SWIFT Center, a national K-8 school improvement center. She supports school, district and state teams with system-wide implementation efforts. Prior to joining the SWIFT team, Kim supported state, district and school-wide improvement with lead roles within the IL PBIS and IL MTSS Networks. As the first NY Statewide PBIS Coordinator, Kimberli helped to build local implementation capacity within county, family and community-based organizations. She has also driven school reform as a School Counselor, School Psychologist, District PBIS Coach and Educational Consultant in a variety of settings throughout the country. As a co-chair of the Association of Positive Behavior Support board Family Workgroup and the parent of a child with special needs, she works to incorporate genuine partnerships between home, school and community. She has several publications on family-driven, targeted (Tier 2), intensive (Tier 3), and system-wide implementation.

Tyrone Howard

Tyrone Howard

The Howard Group Inc.
Professor in the Graduate School
of Education & Information
Studies at UCLA


Culturally Responsive Relationships


BIO: Tyrone C. Howard is a professor in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies’ at UCLA. Dr. Howard is also the inaugural director of the UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families, which is a transdisciplinary consortium of experts who examine academic, mental health, and social emotional experiences and challenges for the California’s most vulnerable youth populations. He is also the director of the UCLA Transformation of Schools which serves as a thought partner for districts, counties, and states to pursue whole child, whole community approaches to school systems improvement.

Professor Howard has published over 85 peer reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and technical reports. He has published several bestselling books, among them, Why Race & Culture Matters in Schools and Black Male(d): Peril and promise in the education of African American males. His two most recent books, No More Teaching Without Positive Relationships, and All Students Must Thrive: Transforming Schools To Combat Toxic Stressors And Cultivate Critical Wellness have become must reads for all educators.

Dr. Howard is considered one of the premier experts on educational equity and access in the country. Dr. Howard is also the Director and Founder of the Black Male Institute at UCLA, which is an interdisciplinary cadre of scholars, practitioners, community members, and policy makers dedicated to examining the nexus of race, class, and gender of school age youth.

A native and former classroom teacher of Compton, California, Dr. Howard was named the recipient of the 2015 UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award, which is the campuses highest honor for teaching excellence, and was named an American Educational Research Association (AERA) Fellow in 2017 for his exemplary research on race and equity. During the last five years, Dr. Howard has been listed by Education Week as one of the 60 most influential scholars in the nation informing educational policy, practice and reform.

Vincent “Vinnie” Pompei, Ed.D.

Vincent “Vinnie” Pompei, Ed.D.

Director, Youth Well-Being Project
at the Human Rights
Campaign Foundation


Creating Safe Inclusive Learning for LGBTQ Students

When students feel safe and connected at school, they are more likely to learn and thrive. Students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) experience disproportionate rates of bullying in schools, a lack of support from educators, and rejection from parents/guardians.

The impact of unsafe and unsupportive school climates and high rates of family rejection negatively impact attendance, achievement and overall well-being.

  • Understand the purpose and impact of historical events on public education
  • Only 26% of LGBTQ youth say they always feel safe in their school classrooms
  • 73% of LGBTQ youth have experienced verbal threats because of their actual or perceived LGBTQ identity
  • 77% of LGBTQ youth report feeling depressed or down over the past week
  • More than 70% of LGBTQ youth report feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness in the past week
  • 77% of LGBTQ youth report that they’ve heard family members make negative comments about LGBTQ people
  • Up to 40% of the homeless youth population identify as LGBTQ primarily due to family rejection

Training for K-12 educators is an essential starting point to help build cultural competency, gain an understanding of state legal obligations, and identify the latest resources and best practices that improve safety and inclusion for LGBTQ students.

BIO: Dr. Vincent Pompei is nationally recognized expert on safety and inclusion for LGBTQ students. He currently works as an education consultant and directs the Youth Well-Being Project for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest civil rights organization dedicated to LGBTQ equality. Pompei was previously a teacher and school counselor, served as board president for the California Association of School Counselors and was a national trainer for the National Education Association.

Katie Novak

Katie Novak

Founder & Executive Director

Equity, Equality, Expert Learning, and Making Cookies

As educators, we are called to create equitable systems where all students have equal access to opportunities to learn at high levels. To do this, we have to honor our learners and provide them with space to recognize and reclaim their power as learners. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework that honors students and gives them the power to personalize their education so that it is accessible, engaging, culturally sustaining, sensory sensitive, and linguistically appropriate. In this keynote, Dr. Katie Novak will challenge audience members to understand critical differences among equality, equity, and expert learning and will provide concrete strategies to begin to deconstruct exclusionary systems and provide learners with the education they deserve. Oh, and there will be cookies.

BIO: Katie Novak, Ed.D. is an internationally renowned education consultant, a practicing leader in education, and author of 8 books on inclusive practices. Katie designs and presents workshops both nationally and internationally focusing on implementation of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), MTSS, inclusive practices, equity in education, and universally designed leadership.


Immigrant Rising


Back in 2006, undocumented students had little information, resources, and support to help them pursue higher education. As teachers and mentors, Carrie Evans and Katharine Gin found out that undocumented students were excluded from most opportunities available to their native-born classmates, such as government financial aid, loans, and most private scholarships. Carrie and Kathy started Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC) to support undocumented students, at the same time as undocumented students were advocating for opportunities to learn and improve their own lives.

For more than a decade, their San Francisco-based organization has transformed individuals and fueled broader changes around the country. With their resources and support, undocumented people are able to get an education, pursue careers, and build a brighter future for themselves and their communities.

In 2018, they changed their name to Immigrants Rising to better reflect who they are, what they represent, and where they are headed. Their collective power is helping our nation edge closer to fulfilling its ideal as a land of opportunity and access for all.

Immigrant Rising is a fiscally-sponsored project of Community Initiatives.

SESSION A | Best practices for increasing support for undocumented students (For Administrators)

Undocumented students face many barriers to academic success, but there are proven strategies that can help make schools and districts be more welcoming and supportive. This presentation will introduce you to resources and strategies you can implement to develop institutional practices that increase enrollment and graduation rates for undocumented students.

Estefania Hermosillo

Estefania Hermosillo

Community Education Lead
Immigrants Rising
Maria Barragan

Maria Barragan

Undocumented Student Success Center Coordinator
California State University, San Bernardino
Deedy Camarena

Deedy Camarena

English Language Development (ELD) Coordinator
Dual and World Languages,
Santa Clara County Office of Education

SESSION B | Best practices for positively impacting the lives of undocumented students. (For Educators, counselors, or community stakeholders)

Educators are critical in helping undocumented students realize their full potential! This presentation includes best practices about how to motivate students to go college, establishing a support system at your school, helping students pay for college, and understanding the rights of undocumented students and families.

Estefania Hermosillo

Estefania Hermosillo

Community Education Lead
Immigrants Rising
Rocio Preciado

Rocio Preciado

Community Education & High School Engagement Manager
Immigrants Rising
Yuri Nava, Ed.D.

Yuri Nava, Ed.D.

School Counselor
Riverside Unified School District