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Mia Birdsong


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Laphonza Butler

Laphonza Butler is the President of SEIU Local 2015 – the recently formed statewide long term care union that has united the voices of more than 325,000 SEIU nursing home and home care workers throughout California. SEIU Local 2015 is the largest union in California and the largest
long term care local in the country.

Since the formation of Local 2015 on June 2, 2015, its members have celebrated historic victories at the local, state, and federal levels - including the passage of the nation’s first $15 statewide minimum wage – a victory that will improve the lives of over 6 million Californians and for which Butler’s leadership was honored by the White House. 

Prior to leading SEIU Local 2015, Butler served for seven years as President of SEIU United Long Term Care Workers (ULTCW), a local that successfully improved the lives of its 180,000 long term care workers and those they care for by fighting for better wages and benefits, protecting funding for long term care programs, and passing legislation that restored vital hours of care to seniors and people with disabilities and brought dignity to the work of caregivers.

Butler has also served as SEIU’s Property Services Division Director in which she was responsible for the strategic direction of the more than 250,000 janitors, security officers, window cleaners, and food service workers across the country. She was instrumental in
reaching collective bargaining agreements on behalf of 20,000 security officers in nine major cities across the United States and played a key role in the uniting of 25,000 foodservice workers in a virtually non-union industry. Through these positions, Butler has acquired years of experience in working to improve the lives of working families by successfully running strategic organizing campaigns, forming alliances with community and political allies, and partnering with other unions to build worker strength. 

In addition to her role as President of SEIU Local 2015, Butler serves as an SEIU International Vice President and President of the SEIU California State Council. Other committees and commissions include Chair of the University of California African American Advisory Council; Board Member for the National Children’s Defense Fund, Board Member for the New World Foundation, Fellow for the MIT Community Innovators Lab, Young Leader Fellow for the French American Foundation, Board Member for the Fair Shake Commission, and Member of LA24 – the Olympic Organizing Committee for the City of Los Angeles. She has also served as a Director for the Board of Governors of the Los Angeles branch of the Federal Reserve System and was appointed by Senator Harry Reid to President Obama’s Long Term Care Commission. 

A proud native of the south, Butler is a graduate of Jackson State University, in Jackson, MS.

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Ángel Cabrera

Ángel Cabrera is the president of George Mason University, Virginia’s largest public research university. Established in Fairfax in 1972, Mason today operates several campuses across the Washington, D.C., metropolitan region and in Incheon, South Korea. Since 2016, Mason is one of the 115 universities in the United States selected for the highest research category of the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

Before becoming Mason’s president in 2012, Cabrera led IE Business School in Madrid, and Thunderbird School of Global Management, now affiliated with Arizona State University. Cabrera is the first native of Spain to have served as president of an American university.

As a business educator, Cabrera played a key role in advancing professional ethics, internationalization, and corporate social responsibility. As a senior advisor to the United Nations Global Compact, he was the lead author of the Principles of Responsible Management Education, now adopted by more than 500 business schools around the world. In partnership with the World Economic Forum and leading Harvard Business School faculty, he co-founded The Oath Project, an international initiative to establish a code of conduct for business leaders. In 2004, Businessweek named him one of 25 “Stars of Europe” and the Financial Times in 2011 recognized him as one of the top 20 business school leaders in the world.

The World Economic Forum named Cabrera a “Global Leader for Tomorrow” in 2002, a “Young Global Leader” in 2005, and chair of the Global Agenda Council for entrepreneurship in 2008. He was an Aspen Institute Henry Crown Fellow in 2008 and a Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting topic leader in 2010.

Cabrera chairs the Commission on International Initiatives for the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and serves on the advisory boards of the National Science Foundation (Education and Human Resources Directorate), the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars (Fulbright Program), Georgia Institute of Technology, and ITESM in Monterrey, Mexico. He serves on the boards of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, the Bankinter Foundation of Innovation in Madrid, and other civic organizations. He has served on the corporate boards of three public companies: eFunds, PetSmart and, currently, Inovio Pharmaceuticals.

Cabrera has written numerous papers in leading academic journals. His papers in knowledge sharing have been cited more than 2,500 times. His most recent book, Being Global: How to Think, Act, and Lead in a Transformed World, was published by Harvard Business Review in 2012. His views on global leadership, higher education, and corporate citizenship have been quoted by leading global media, including The Economist, BBC, CNN, CNBC, El País, Forbes, the International Herald Tribune, the Washington Post, and the New York Times.

Cabrera holds BS and MS degrees in engineering from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and MS and PhD degrees in psychology and cognitive science from Georgia Tech, which he attended as a Fulbright Scholar.

Michelle Cooper


Virginia Eubanks


Darrick Hamilton


Patricia Keller


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J.D. LaRock

Dr. J.D. LaRock is President and CEO of the Commonwealth Corporation, Massachusetts' public-private corporation dedicated to workforce development, economic development, and youth development. A $55 million organization with employees across the state, Commonwealth Corporation advances Massachusetts' economic leadership through signature partnerships with employers, educational institutions, government agencies, and community-based organizations. 

Previously, J.D. was a member of Northeastern University's senior leadership team, where he was chief of staff to the university's president, among other executive roles. A scholar of education policy, higher education, and the future of work, J.D. is a Professor of the Practice of Law and Policy at Northeastern and a Fellow with the Aspen Institute's Economic Opportunities Program. 

Prior to his academic and university management career, J.D. was senior education adviser to the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, education policy director for Governor Deval L. Patrick of Massachusetts, a senior manager at the Economic Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) in Paris, and a television reporter in New York City. He is the co-editor of Special Education for a New Century (Harvard Education Press, 2005) and editor of the OECD publication Education at a Glance (2012). 

J.D. is a member of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education and Chair of the Board of Trustees at North Shore Community College. He holds three degrees from Harvard, including a doctorate in education administration, policy, and social planning, and a law degree from Georgetown.

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Annie Lowrey

Annie Lowrey is a contributing editor at The Atlantic and the author of a book on universal basic incomes, to be published by Crown in July.  

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Alondra Nelson

Alondra Nelson is President of the Social Science Research Council and Professor of Sociology at Columbia University, where she served as the inaugural Dean of Social Science. Nelson has published award-winning and widely acclaimed books and articles exploring the junction of science, medicine, and social inequality. She is author most recently of The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome. She has contributed to national policy discussions on inequality and about the social implications of new technologies, including artificial intelligencebig data, and human gene-editing. Nelson serves on the board of directors of the Data & Society Research Institute, on the board for African-American Programs at Monticello, and on the steering committee of the Eric H. Holder Institute for Civil and Political Rights. Her essays, reviews, and commentary have appeared in the Washington Post, Science, the Boston Globe, and on National Public Radio, among other venues. She has served as a member of the World Economic Forum Network on AI, the Internet of Things, and Trust as well as the NSF-sponosred Council on Big Data, Ethics, and Society. Raised in Southern California, Nelson is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of California at San Diego. She earned her PhD from New York University.

Eduardo Porter


Amanda Ripley

Amanda Ripley writes books and feature stories for The Atlantic, The New York Times and other outlets. She is the author, most recently, of The Smartest Kids in the World--and How They Got That Way, a New York Times bestseller. Her first book, The Unthinkable, was published in 15 countries and turned into a PBS documentary.

In her writing, Amanda explores the gap between public policy and actual human behavior. For Time and The Atlantic, she has written cover stories on the primacy of sports in American high schools, the college of the future and the science of motivating children. She has visited schools on four continents and interviewed hundreds of kids, teachers and parents. Her work has helped Time win two National Magazine Awards. To discuss her writing, Amanda has appeared on ABC, NBC, CNN, FOX News and NPR.

Lara Shock


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Karen Stout

Dr. Karen A. Stout became president and CEO of Achieving the Dream, Inc., (ATD) in 2015. With her leadership, ATD’s network is growing and innovating with new efforts around scaling advising redesign (iPASS), developing zero textbook degree using open education resources (OER), designing non-cognitive wrap around support systems (Working Student Success Network), and placing teaching and learning at the center of institutional change efforts. Dr. Stout has received national recognition for her accomplishments, including American Association for Women in Community College’s 2017 Woman of the Year, and Washington Monthly’s 16 most innovative higher education leaders (2016).

Karen joined ATD following a more than 14-year tenure as president of Montgomery County Community College (PA). During her tenure, the college distinguished itself as an ATD Leader College, earned the prestigious Leah Meyer Austin Award in 2014 for its college-wide approach to student success, and garnered numerous national awards for innovation in work with Veterans, the development of leading edge academic programs, applications of digital technology, and advancing sustainability.

Karen serves as a member of the College Promise National Advisory Board, the Board of Directors of Campus Compact, and the President’s Advisory Board to the Community College Research Center. She has also served as a Commissioner with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education serving on the Executive Committee (2011-2016), the Board of Directors of the American Association of Community Colleges (2011-2014), and Implementation Steering Committee co-chair of the American Association of Community Colleges’ 21st-Century Commission (2014), working with more than 100 leaders from across the country to develop a framework for the redesign of America’s community colleges.

A frequent speaker and writer, Karen focuses on strategies for enhancing student success and completion, accelerating and scaling innovation, and on launching a new era of community college fundraising.

She holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Delaware, a master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Baltimore, and a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Delaware.

Photo credit: Anna Carson DeWitt

Photo credit: Anna Carson DeWitt

Margaret Talbot

Margaret Talbot has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2003. She has been a Contributing Writer at The New York Times magazine and executive editor of The New Republic, and her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Slate, and The National Geographic. Her article "The Addicts Next Door" about the opioid crisis in a West Virginia town, was published in The New Yorker in June, 2017.

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Liz Theoharis

The Reverend Dr. Liz Theoharis is Co-Chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival with the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II. She is the Co-Director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice and a Founder and the Coordinator of the Poverty Initiative. She is the author of Always with Us?: What Jesus Really Said about the Poor (Eerdmans, 2017). Liz is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA). She has spent nearly 25 years organizing among the poor and homeless in the United States. 

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Antwan Wilson

Antwan Wilson became Chancellor of DC Public Schools (DCPS) in February 2017, assuming leadership of the fastest-improving urban school district in the country. Chancellor Wilson was selected to lead DCPS following a national search led by DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and was unanimously confirmed by the DC City Council in December 2016. He looks forward to getting to know the DCPS community and listening to stakeholder ideas about how to provide a world-class education for every student.

Chancellor Wilson has devoted his life to improving educational opportunities, particularly for underserved children, and credits dedicated public school teachers with his own rise from a challenging childhood. He is an experienced leader who has achieved significant results throughout his career, which spans over two decades in education.
Prior to joining DCPS, Chancellor Wilson was Superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD). During his tenure, OUSD saw increased graduation rates, decreases in out-of-school discipline, a decade-high investment in teacher pay, and historic improvements in district operations. His commitment to collaborating with partners across the city earned OUSD national recognition for work on the Oakland Promise, a cradle-to-career initiative aimed at tripling the number of college graduates from Oakland, and the Equity Pledge, an emerging partnership between district and charter leaders to create a more equitable school experience for all Oakland children.

Until 2014, Chancellor Wilson served as Assistant Superintendent for Post Secondary Readiness in the Denver Public Schools (DPS), where he was responsible for middle schools, high schools, and alternative schools. During his tenure, DPS experienced significant improvements in graduation rates, college enrollment rates, and AP course participation and performance. He led the development of the district’s Intensive Pathways options, which provide additional supports for struggling students to set them up for success in college and career.

Chancellor Wilson brings extensive school-level experience to his work. He began his career as a middle and high school teacher in Kansas, Nebraska, and North Carolina, before leading schools as a high school and middle school principal in Denver and Wichita. He graduated with distinction from Nebraska Wesleyan University with a degree in History-Social Science Education and minors in Women’s Studies and Minority Studies. He holds an advanced degree in School Leadership from Friends University and is a graduate of The Broad Academy for urban school system leaders. Chancellor Wilson and his wife, who is a career educator, have three children who look forward to attending DC Public Schools.