Geoffrey Canada | President, Harlem Children’s Zone
Having worked with the Harlem Children’s Zone for more than 30 years, Geoffrey Canada is renowned around the world for his pioneering work helping children and families in Harlem and as a thought leader and passionate advocate for education reform.
From 1990 to 2014, Mr. Canada served as the President and Chief Executive Officer for the Harlem Children’s Zone, which The New York Times called “one of the most ambitious social-policy experiments of our time.” Mr. Canada was named in 2011 to the TIME 100 list of most influential people in the world and in 2014 as one of Fortune’s 50 greatest leaders in the world. As of July 1, 2014, Mr. Canada stepped down as CEO, handing the reins to then-COO Kwame Owusu-Kesse. He continues to serve as President of the HCZ and Promise Academy® Boards.
Under Geoffrey Canada’s visionary leadership, HCZ became a national model of place-based innovation and the subject of significant media attention. Mr. Canada and HCZ have been featured in the documentary Waiting for Superman, as well as on 60 Minutes, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Anderson Cooper 360°, Black in America 2, The Charlie Rose Show, This American Life, and in articles in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and The Associated Press. In 2008, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt published Whatever It Takes by Paul Tough, a detailed look at the work of Mr. Canada and HCZ.
Geoffrey Canada grew up in the South Bronx in a poor, sometimes violent neighborhood. Despite his troubled surroundings, he achieved great academic success, receiving a bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College and a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. After graduating, Mr. Canada began his life’s work helping children who, like himself, grew up in poor, distressed neighborhoods.
Mr. Canada has written two books: Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence in America(1995; reissued as a graphic novel in 2010) and Reaching Up for Manhood: Transforming the Lives of Boys in America (1998). A strong voice in public debates on education, he also has written for a number of publications, including op-eds for The New York Timesand New York Daily News; gave a TED Talk on our failing schools and the need for innovation that was broadcast on PBS; and has spoken to audiences around the world about what it takes to help children succeed, from evaluation to early childhood education and beyond.
In 2006, Mr. Canada was selected by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to serve as co-chair of the Commission on Economic Opportunity, which was responsible for formulating a plan to significantly reduce poverty. In 2011, he was appointed to the New York State Governor’s Council of Economic and Fiscal Advisors. He is also an advisor to and board member of several nonprofit organizations.
Sandra Magsamen | Author, Artist, Art Therapist
Sandra Magsamen has touched millions of people, one heart at a time. Her products have been warmly embraced for over 35 years. As an artist, art therapist, mom, and award-winning author, Sandra uses her own creativity and spirit to design gifts, books and collections that help people express themselves and connect with one other. Sandra reminds and teaches us to explore and experience each day with more heart, meaning, purpose and joy.
In 1987, Sandra began creating her own art in her kitchen to commemorate the varied experiences and inspirations embedded in everyday life. She created a collection of pottery for her newborn daughter as a gift of life lessons. This gift became the essence of her life work.
In response to a growing demand for her handmade originals, Sandra founded Table Tiles, Inc., her handmade gift company in 1991, which, in less than a decade, expanded into a multimillion dollar gift business.
Sandra’s reach has grown both in categories and partnerships over the years. In 1997, she began licensing her ideas. Since then, she has designed successful collections for national department stores, mid-tier, specialty and mass market through her national lifestyle brands From the Studio of Sandra Magsamen, Messages from the Heart, Wishes & Kisses and Treasured.
Beginning in 2013, Sandra began a partnership with online retailer 1-800-Flowers to design exclusive collections for their customers. Sandra has said of the collaboration, “1-800-Flowers wants to help connect people and so do I, so our partnership is one of deep understanding and shared commitment.”
Sandra is a best selling and award-winning author of over 60 adult and children’s books and has sold over 8 million copies to date. Her children’s books consistently rank as best-sellers at Barnes & Noble, Target, Amazon and Walmart and are additionally sold nationally at wholesale clubs, specialty markets, independent booksellers and online retailers.
Sandra’s work with publishers Scholastic and Sourcebooks have made her a household name by publishing some of her most cherished titles like, “Welcome Little One”, “You!” and “I Love You Honey Bunny”.
Sandra’s signature lifestyle book, Living Artfully, which was accompanied by the television special, “Living Artfully with Sandra Magsamen,” premiered on PBS stations nationwide in December 2006. Sandra has been featured on The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, Oprah Magazine, Woman’s Day, Woman’s World, In Touch, US Weekly, and Life & Style. She is a featured columnist on Oprah.com with 200+ articles.
Personalization has been a natural extension of Sandra’s work and in 2014, she announced partnerships with Walmart, Tys Toy Box, Put Me in the Story and 1-800 Flowers to bring personalized product for their customers.
Sandra has grown partnerships with greeting card companies such as Hallmark and Current. Today, you can find her successful greeting card program in over 10,000 U.S. Post Offices as well as Office Depot, Barnes & Noble, and various other outlets across the United States.
In 2015, Sandra began a partnership with Studio E Fabrics and, through this partnership, has created over 30 “sew your own” fabric book kits, which include some of Sandra’s best selling stories and most loved characters. Also in 2015, Sandra began working with Bamboozle Homewares to create a line of sustainable dinnerware for children made from 100% recycled bamboo fibers.
In 2018, Sandra extended her brand to the toy market by designing stuffed animals and plush blankets in partnership with Evergreen Enterprises. Sandra’s line of toys are designed in the likeness of some of her most beloved children’s book characters.
Sandra continues to create and collaborate with new partners. She shares her time between her home in Maryland, near where she grew up, and her studio in Vermont, where she is living artfully with her family.
Margaret Brennan | Moderator, Face the Nation | CBS News chief foreign affairs correspondent
Margaret Brennan is moderator of FACE THE NATION with MARGARET BRENNAN on CBS. She is also the Network’s chief foreign affairs correspondent based in Washington, D.C.
Brennan became moderator of FACE THE NATION in February 2018 and quickly became known for her tough but fair questioning of world leaders, politicians, and policy makers. She brings to her coverage of domestic politics a background in national security and financial news.
Brennan’s interviews with leaders, scientists, and newsmakers during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic earned FACE THE NATION two Emmy Award nominations: the first for outstanding news analysis, and the second nomination for coverage of the tension between the U.S. and Iran. World leaders including Presidents Joe Biden and Donald Trump, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron have been interviewed on the program by Brennan along with Republican and Democratic leaders including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
As the second woman to host the venerable CBS News broadcast, Brennan has continued FACE THE NATION’s legacy as America’s premier Sunday morning public affairs program and helped propel it to be the most watched in its category during the 2020-2021 television season. In 2021, Face the Nation won first place in the National Headliner Awards category for broadcast and cable coverage of a continuing news event for its pandemic coverage, with the judges noting “this coverage was exactly what the country needed at the time.” In 2020, Face the Nation also earned Wilbur Award from the Religion Communications Council for its 2019 feature on bipartisanship with Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) and Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE).
Brennan also won an Emmy for her 2018 FACE THE NATION interview with the father of a student killed in the Parkland high school shooting included in CBS News’ “39 Days” documentary that took viewers inside the creation of a movement as students turned grief into action.
She joined CBS News in 2012 and has held roles including State Department and White House Correspondent. While contributing across all CBS News broadcasts and platforms, Brennan has broken stories including the news that members of the Trump Cabinet were discussing invoking the 25th amendment following the January 6th siege of the U.S. Capitol. She has covered historic moments such as the landmark nuclear deal with Iran; restoration of diplomatic ties with Cuba; the standoff with North Korea; the conflict in Ukraine; and the accord to transfer control of Syria’s chemical weapons.
Brennan brings a wealth of reporting experience to the moderator chair on FACE THE NATION that sets her and the broadcast apart and provides nuanced coverage on pressing developments. Prior to joining CBS News, Brennan spent a decade covering the global financial markets. She anchored and reported for Bloomberg Television around the globe. Previously, she was a correspondent at CNBC with a focus on the consumer during the 2008 financial crisis and contributed to various NBC News programs. Brennan began her career as a producer for CNBC’s “Wall Street Week with Louis Rukeyser.”
Brennan is a member at the Council on Foreign Relations and sits on the advisory board for the University of Virginia School of Politics and the Smurfit School of Business. She is also a member of the Gridiron Club.
Brennan graduated with highest distinction from the University of Virginia in 2002, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in foreign affairs and Middle East studies with a minor in Arabic. As a Fulbright-Hays Scholar, she studied Arabic at Yarmouk University in Irbid, Jordan. She is also the recipient of an honorary doctor of letters degree from Niagara University.
Brennan resides in Washington DC with her husband Yado Yakub and their two sons.
Jon Fortt | Anchor, CNBC | Owner, Fortt Media | NSLA Board Member
Jon Fortt is co-anchor of CNBC’s bi-coastal tech-focused program “TechCheck” (M-F, 11AM-12PM ET/8AM-9AM PT). Previously, he co-anchored CNBC’s “Squawk Alley” and prior served as an on-air editor based at CNBC’s global headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J. Fortt joined CNBC as technology correspondent in July 2010, working from CNBC’s Silicon Valley bureau where he covered the companies, start-ups and trends that are driving innovation in the industry.
Fortt is the creator of Fortt Knox, a digital show he launched in 2016 that features in-depth 1:1 interviews with founders, CEOs and innovators. In 2020, he created The Black Experience in America: The Course, an online resource for exploring history and culture.
Fortt came to CNBC from Fortune magazine, where as a senior writer he covered both large technology companies— such as Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, and Microsoft—and trends, including cloud computing and the smartphone revolution. Before joining Fortune in 2007, Fortt was a senior editor at Business 2.0 magazine where he produced the “What Works” section. From 1999 to 2006, Fortt wrote and edited at the San Jose Mercury News, Silicon Valley’s hometown newspaper. There he contributed to several efforts that won awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.
Gigi Antoni | Director, Learning and Enrichment, The Wallace Foundation
Giselle (Gigi) Antoni joined The Wallace Foundation in June 2017 as director of learning and enrichment. She leads the team responsible for the strategy and implementation of the foundation’s work in areas including social and emotional learning, summer learning and after-school system building.
Before joining Wallace, Antoni served for 21 years as president and CEO of Big Thought, a nonprofit that focuses on closing the opportunity gap for children living in poverty in Dallas. She led the organization to deepen its impact and expand its services, so that today Big Thought serves 130,000 of Dallas’s most marginalized young people year-round, with school and community-based programming during the school day, after school and over the summer. Antoni also led in-depth, city wide research and planning processes that increased the breadth of arts and out-of-school-time programming in Dallas, as well as children’s and teens’ access to these programs.
Antoni is a graduate of the Drama Studio London at Berkeley and studied theater at Stephen F. Austin State University and social work at the University of Texas at Arlington. She is the co-author of Collaboration & Sustainability in Arts Education and has written numerous op-eds, essays and white papers.
In 2011, President Barack Obama named Antoni a Champion of Change for Arts Education.
Christopher Caruso | Managing Director, School-Age Children, Robin Hood Foundation
Christopher Caruso has spent his career at the intersection of schools and communities in both the public and non-profit sectors, dedicated to advancing equity and improving educational outcomes for young people. He is currently the Managing Director for School Age at Robin Hood, leading the team responsible for the strategy and implementation of the foundation’s work in K-12 education, youth development and social and emotional learning. Prior to joining Robin Hood, Caruso was the founding Senior Executive Director of the NYC Department of Education’s (DOE) Office of Community Schools.
In this role, he built a city-wide system of 300 community schools that integrate academics, health, and social services to better serve the needs of more than 130,000 students and their families and he oversaw City-wide strategies for students experiencing homelessness and attendance policy. An independent evaluation by the RAND Corporation found that these schools successfully increased graduation rates, academic achievement, and decreased chronic absenteeism and disciplinary incidents.
Prior to joining the DOE, Chris was the Senior Vice President of ExpandED Schools at The After-School Corporation where he helped schools in Baltimore, New Orleans, and NYC provide more learning and enrichment opportunities by expanding the school day with 35% more time. Earlier in his career, Caruso was the first Assistant Commissioner for Out-of-School Time Programs at the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development and was a Program Director at one of Children’s Aid’s nationally recognized community schools. Chris has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Providence College, and Master in Public Administration/Policy degree from Columbia University and is an alumnus of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Children and Families Fellowship.
Dr. Monique M. Chism | Senior Leadership Team Under Secretary for Education, Smithsonian
Monique Chism is the Smithsonian’s Under Secretary for Education. As Under Secretary for Education, Chism is responsible for defining the Institution’s educational priorities. She oversees the Smithsonian’s collective initiatives, communication strategies and funding for programs that benefit learners of all ages.
Previously, Chism was the vice president for education policy and strategic initiatives at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). Beginning in 2017, her leadership helped bridge the divide between education research and practice at the local, state and federal levels. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Chism created a 35-state coalition to respond to educators’ distance learning needs and strategize school reopenings.
Before AIR, Chism worked at the U.S. Department of Education from 2013 to 2017. Her positions spanned the Office of Student Achievement and School Accountability Programs, the Office of State Support, and the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. At each level, Chism advised on the expansion of academic access, equity and development. As a member of the Senior Executive Service, she managed a $22 billion grant portfolio and led teams focused on promoting academic excellence and enhancing educational opportunities for all U.S. children and families.
Chism holds a bachelor’s degree from Ohio University and a master’s degree from Central Michigan University, both in interpersonal and public communication, and a doctorate from Michigan State University in American studies.
Chism succeeds Ruki Neuhold-Ravikumar, who has served as acting Under Secretary for Education since November 2019.
Aaron Philip Dworkin | Chief Executive Officer, National Summer Learning Association (NSLA)
Aaron joined the National Summer Learning Association as Chief Executive Officer on June 3, 2019 having most recently served as President of the After-School All-Stars National Network – a non-profit organization providing free afterschool and summer programs to 90,000 low income students in more than 450 Title I schools in 20 major cities across the United States.
Aaron is a graduate of Tufts University and holds master’s degrees from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, and Harvard University Graduate School of Education.
Denise Forte | Interim CEO, The Education Trust
Denise Forte is the interim CEO at The Education Trust. With more than two decades of experience in the federal legislative and executive branches advancing progressive education and family policy, Denise brings strategic leadership to the organization’s efforts to engage policymakers and diverse coalitions of advocates in demanding and securing equity-advancing policy change at the national and state levels. She also will lead Ed Trust’s legislative efforts and, as a member of the Senior Leadership Team, coordinate an organization-wide advocacy agenda and strategy.
Prior to Ed Trust, Denise was a senior fellow and director of public affairs for The Century Foundation, a progressive think tank. She also spent 20 years in progressively senior congressional staff roles, most recently as the staff director for the House Committee on Education and the Workforce (Minority), providing strategic advice and counsel to the Ranking Member, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), managing and directing the legislative and policy agenda for Committee Democrats and as Education Policy Director for Chairman George Miller. Denise also served in the Obama administration at the U.S. Department of Education, where she held the positions of Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary in the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, providing direction and management of the office that oversees policy and budget development for the agency. Forte also has worked in the nonprofit leadership development space as the vice president for policy leadership at Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE), an organization supporting current and former teachers in public leadership.
In each of these roles, Denise has worked to promote and advance policies that prioritize educational equity for those children who are historically underserved. Denise enjoys her role as a policy leader and welcomes the opportunity to mentor young and diverse professionals who wish to enter into public service.
Denise has a B.S. in Computer Science from Duke University, and a M.A. in Women’s Studies from the George Washington University. She resides in Washington, D.C. with her family.
Jodi Grant | Executive Director, Afterschool Alliance
Since 2005, Jodi Grant has been Executive Director of the Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit public awareness and advocacy organization working to ensure that all children and youth have access to quality, affordable afterschool programs. As Executive Director, she oversees federal policy efforts, works with the field to help programs tap into federal funding streams, and supervises research to help national, state and local afterschool advocates and providers support, create and expand quality afterschool programs.
Prior to joining the Afterschool Alliance, Grant served as Director of Work and Family Programs for the National Partnership for Women & Families, where she worked to protect and expand the Family & Medical Leave Act and was a member of the team that successfully defended the law before the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to that, she worked on Capitol Hill as General Counsel to the Senate Budget Committee and as Staff Director for a Senate Committee. Her legislative accomplishments include expanded support for the child tax credit, the Child Health Insurance Program, and class size reduction. She also served as liaison to the National Governors’ Association, where she worked closely with Republican and Democratic governors.
Grant graduated from Yale University with honors in 1990 and was elected senior class president. She received her law degree from Harvard University, where she was elected class president (first marshall). As a student, she volunteered at an afterschool program. She currently serves as a Board Member of the Search Institute, on the Coalition for Community Schools Steering Committee and is as a Trustee of the America’s Promise Alliance. Grant, her husband and two children live in Washington, D.C.
Lisa M. Hamilton | President and Chief Executive Officer, The Annie E. Casey Foundation
Lisa Hamilton is the president and chief executive officer of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a private philanthropy dedicated to building a brighter future for children, families and communities in the United States.
Prior to becoming president and CEO, Hamilton was the Foundation’s executive vice president and chief program officer, overseeing investments to promote community change, economic opportunity for families and public system reform. She also guided efforts to strengthen the social sector and encourage the take-up of effective strategies. Hamilton previously served as vice president of external affairs, leading Casey’s efforts to provide data, analysis, research and policy solutions to help all children realize their potential.
Before joining the Foundation, Hamilton worked at UPS for 14 years in various roles, including president of the UPS Foundation and vice president of corporate public relations.
Hamilton serves on the boards of the Baltimore Community Foundation, Baltimore’s Promise, East Baltimore Development Inc., Living Cities and StriveTogether. An Atlanta native, she earned a law degree from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree in commerce from the University of Virginia.
Philip Li | President & CEO, Robert Sterling Clark Foundation
Philip Li is the President & CEO of the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation which is working to create a more vibrant and equitable New York City by investing in her people, the organizations that develop them, and the networks of which they are a part.
Prior to joining the foundation, Phil served as the Chief Operating Officer at The Century Foundation, a public policy think tank, and at the Brooklyn Community Foundation, where he helped the organization convert from a private foundation to a public charity. For four years he led the philanthropic practice at Changing Our World, a nonprofit consultancy and prior to that he worked with the Annie E. Casey Foundation on two of its leadership development initiatives. Phil served as the Executive Director of the Coro New York Leadership Center, a nonprofit that trains and develops individuals interested in public affairs for four years. He was introduced to Coro as a participant in its Leadership New York program, which prompted him to jump to the nonprofit sector from Wall Street. He started his financial career at Merrill Lynch and finished it rating junk bonds at Moody’s Investors Service.
Phil is a Co-Chair of the Leadership Funders Group and a Steering Committee member of the Trust-Based Philanthropy Project. He also serves as the boards of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations and the United Philanthropy Forum, and is a past chair of Philanthropy New York, the regional association of grantmakers in New York City. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Phil has a BA in Economics and Biology and an MBA from The Wharton School in Finance and Strategic Planning.
Jennifer Sloan McCombs | Director, Behavioral and Policy Sciences Department; Senior Policy Researcher at RAND Corporation
Jennifer McCombs is a senior policy researcher and director of the Behavioral and Policy Sciences Department at the RAND Corporation. Her research focuses on evaluating the extent to which public policies and programs improve outcomes for children and youth facing disadvantage. Her studies combine implementation and outcome data to provide practitioners and policymakers guidance on how to improve programs and promote positive outcomes.
McCombs has extensive experience leading complex, multi-site evaluations that involve substantial stakeholder engagement and district-community partnerships. She is currently leading a studying examining how intermediary organizations design and implement DEI-focused school improvement networks focused on creating equitable outcomes for students who are Black, Latinx, or from families with low incomes. She is completing a longitudinal study of five urban districts’ summer learning programs. The study included a randomized controlled trial, extensive implementation data collection and analyses, and formative guidance to districts and their community partners. Over the course of her career, she has studied how to improve teacher effectiveness (through professional development, teacher training, and incentives); whether literacy coaching improves student reading outcomes; the development of systems for out-of-school-time programs; the implementation and impact of test-based promotion policies; and the effects of federal accountability policies on schools, classrooms, and students. McCombs is a frequently advisor on summer and after school and served as a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Committee on Summertime Experiences and Child and Adolescent Education, Health, and Safety; the National Center on Afterschool and Summer Enrichment (NCASE) Technical Work Group; the National Summer Learning Association Research Advisory Committee; and Horizon’s National Research Advisory Group. As director of the Behavioral and Policy Sciences Department, she is responsible for the hiring, professional growth, and support of over 200 professional researchers located in four major offices and in offsite locations. McCombs holds a Ph.D. in public policy from The George Washington University.
Ellie Mitchell | Executive Director, MOST Network (Maryland Out of School Time Network)
Ellie Mitchell is dedicated to increasing the quantity and quality of afterschool and summer programs for all young people in Maryland. She received her M.S. in Psychology from the University of Baltimore and B.A. in Theatre from Knox College. In her ten years serving as Maryland’s statewide afterschool network lead, Mitchell has overseen the launch of new initiatives focused on Inclusion, STEM, and Community Schools. Ellie has also served as Afterschool Strategy Project Manager for Baltimore’s Safe and Sound Campaign, Director of Theater for A New Generation at Baltimore’s CenterStage and the Associate Director of the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance.
Jennifer Peck | President and CEO, Partnership for Children & Youth
Jennifer Peck has led Partnership for Children & Youth since its founding in 2001. During her tenure she has developed and implemented initiatives to build high-quality afterschool and summer learning programs, access to meals and health care for students, and integration of social and emotional learning in the education system across the state. Prior to forming PCY, Jennifer spent eight years as an appointee of President Bill Clinton at the United States Department of Education, where she supported implementation of initiatives including student loan reform, School-to-Work, and 21st Century Community Learning Centers. Jennifer has a B.A. in Sociology and Women’s Studies from Colgate University and is the proud mother of Emilia, a junior at El Cerrito High School.
Karen Pittman | Co-Founder and Senior Fellow, The Forum for Youth Investment
Karen Pittman served as the President & CEO of the Forum for Youth Investment until February 2021, then transitioned to a senior fellow role to dedicate more of her time and energy to thought leadership.
Karen has made a career of starting organizations and initiatives that promote youth development – including the Forum for Youth Investment, which she co-founded with Merita Irby in 1998.
A sociologist and recognized leader in youth development, Karen started her career at the Urban Institute, conducting studies on social services for children and families. She later moved to the Children’s Defense Fund, launching its adolescent pregnancy prevention initiatives and helping to create its adolescent policy agenda. In 1990 she became a vice president at the Academy for Educational Development, where she founded and directed the Center for Youth Development and Policy Research and its spin-off, the National Training Institute for Community Youth Work.
In 1995 Karen joined the Clinton administration as director of the President’s Crime Prevention Council, where she worked with 13 cabinet secretaries to create a coordinated prevention agenda. From there she moved to the executive team of the International Youth Foundation (IYF), charged with helping the organization strengthen its program content and develop an evaluation strategy. In 1998 she and Rick Little, head of the foundation, took a leave of absence to work with ret. Gen. Colin Powell to create America’s Promise. Upon her return, she and Irby launched the Forum, which later became an entity separate from IYF.
Under their leadership, the Forum has established deep roots as a national nonprofit, nonpartisan “action tank” – combining thought leadership on youth development, youth policy, cross-system/cross-sector partnerships and developmental youth practice with on-the-ground training, technical assistance and supports – fully committed to changing the odds that all children and youth are ready for college, work and life. It provides ideas, services, and networks that leaders need in order to make more intentional decisions that are good for young people. The Forum helps leaders increase their capacity to more effectively make the case for and manage the collaborative efforts that are needed to change the odds for youth; improve the alignment and appropriateness of child and youth policy agendas and investments; and strengthen programs’ and practitioners’ capacity to create environments in which youth thrive, across all the systems and settings where young people spend time. The Forum is the home of many named centers and initiatives, including the David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality, Big Picture Approach Training & Consulting, and SparkAction, to name a few.
Karen has written three books and dozens of articles on youth issues, and was a regular columnist in the youth development newspaper, Youth Today. She is also a respected public speaker and has served on numerous boards and panels, including those of the Kauffman Foundation, the Educational Testing Service, YouthBuild and the National Center for Children in Poverty. She currently sits on the Turnaround for Children board. Karen also served on The Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development, a national effort to unite leaders to re-envision what constitutes success in our schools.
Karen has been honored with the National Commission for African American Education Augustus F. Hawkins Service Award (2002), the American Youth Policy Forum Decade of Service Award for Sustained Visionary Leadership in Advancing Youth Policy (2003), the Healthy Teen Network Sprit of Service Award (2007), The Non Profit Times’ Power & Influence Top 50 (2009) and was named one of the 25 most influential leaders in Afterschool by the National Afterschool Association. She also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Partners for Livable Cities, joining previous awardees such as President William Clinton and Lady Bird Johnson.
Christian Rhodes | Chief of Staff, U.S. Department of Education
Christian Rhodes currently serves as Chief of Staff for the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education at the Department of Education. Prior to this political appointment, he served as Chief of Staff for Prince George’s County Public Schools. In this role, Rhodes supports the Chief Executive Officer through management of specific business functions of the school system. As an adviser, Mr. Rhodes provides communication, counsel and support to the Chief Executive Officer, Board of Education and other members of executive leadership to effectively communicate strategies, objectives and performance to external and internal audiences. He began his career as a political organizer for the Maryland State Teachers Association, a state affiliate of the National Education Association, and education advisor Office of the Prince George’s County Executive. Rhodes has a Master of Public Administration degree from the American University in Washington, D.C. and a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Tom Rosenberg | President/Chief Executive Officer, American Camp Association
As President and CEO of the American Camp Association (ACA), Tom Rosenberg is a leading voice for young people today, advancing the public’s understanding of the value of camp for everyone as an essential developmental and educational experience. Tom is actively advancing the collective field of camp in its battle against the prevalent tide of depression, anxiety, and social disconnection affecting today’s youth, while teaching the mindsets, skills, and dispositions everyone needs to thrive in school, work, and life.
Through Tom’s leadership, ACA has adopted a bold and ambitious strategic plan to accelerate ACA’s organizational growth and sustainability by: expanding its reach, relevance, and equitable accessibility; championing quality; and amplifying the value of camp experiences in youth education and development. Prior to serving as President/CEO of ACA, Tom had a distinguished 27-year career leading nonprofit and for-profit camps.
As a volunteer, Tom served in diverse leadership capacities at ACA, including national board treasurer. Tom graduated with distinction from the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California with an MBA and from the AB Freeman School of Business at Tulane University with a BS in Management. Tom melds his experience in the camp profession with business expertise, inspirational vision, successful fundraising experience, professional agility, organizational skills, and strategic focus. Tom and his wife, Pam Sugarman, and their son Daniel live in Atlanta, Georgia.
Dax-Devlon Ross | Author and Social Impact Consultant
Dax-Devlon Ross is the author of six books and his journalism has been featured in Time, The Guardian, The New York Times, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Washington Post Magazine and other national publications. He won the National Association of Black Journalists’ Investigative Reporting Award for his coverage of jury exclusion in North Carolina courts and is currently a Puffin Writing Fellow at Type Media Center.
His most recent book Letters to My White Male Friends, published by St. Martin’s Press in June 2021, is a call to action and a reflection on race. Dax details how racism has harmed Black people for generations but has also hurt white people by robbing their lives of fullness and meaningful relationships.
A New York City teaching fellow turned non-profit executive, Dax is now a principal at the social impact consultancies, Dax-Dev and Third Settlements, both of which focus on designing disruptive strategies to generate equity in workplaces and education spaces alike. Dax received his Juris Doctor from George Washington University. He currently resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Alana, and their young children.
Dr. Jacqueline L. Sanderlin | Senior Executive Consultant, Scholastic
Jacqueline L. Sanderlin, Ed.D., is an accomplished school principal, lecturer, and speaker whose “Why Not?” attitude has led to dramatic improvements in some of Southern California’s most under-resources schools. Her innovative and visionary style has taken this simple question and turned it into a movement that has inspired educators and community-focused organizations across the country and led to partnerships with national and international organizations.
Dr. Sanderlin has trained numerous educators, corporate leaders, and teams to replicate best practices for building community. She specializes in cultivating community partnerships, organizational leadership, and empowerment. She is known for her experience in community-building, pedagogical knowledge, and authentic leadership.
Dr. Sanderlin has served for more than 30 years as a special education teacher, curriculum specialist, assistant principal, principal, after-school administrator, program coordinator, district administrator, and executive director of school and community engagement. She serves as an executive board member of the Goldie Hawn Foundation (MindUP) and a steering committee member of SEL4CA. She is the founder of the Why Not Incubator and the author of The “Why Not?” Challenge: Say “Yes!” to Success with School-Community Partnerships.
Dr. Sanderlin offers virtual and in-person interactive sessions on building and sustaining community partnerships, school-community wellness, empowering student youth, race and equity, and how to support teachers and students in an online setting. The results have been increased student achievement, educator effectiveness, community engagement, career advancement, and philanthropic support.
Carlos Santini | CEO, Mizzen by Mott
As CEO of Mizzen by Mott, Carlos Santini leads and helps grow the Mizzen app as a key resource in elevating the quality of afterschool programs for young people across the United States.
For nearly two decades, Santini has worked closely with school districts, foundations, corporations, and local, state and national leaders to expand the scope and improve the quality of afterschool programming for young people. He previously served as executive vice president of programs for After-School All-Stars, a national nonprofit offering comprehensive afterschool programs for middle school youth in 19cities across the country. Prior to that, Santini was the associate executive director for After-School All-Stars, Los Angeles, one of California’s most influential expanded learning programs. He serves on the board of the National Afterschool Association and is a featured presenter at national conferences, showcasing best practices in the expanded learning field.
Santini also has had a successful career in marketing and public relations, placing high-tech corporate clients in top-tier media outlets, including Time, Fortune and The Wall Street Journal.
Carlos Santini immigrated to the U.S. from Honduras at age7and credits his experience as an English language learner for paving his path towards a career in education. He attended the University of California, Los Angeles, where he first began his work in youth development with UCLA UniCamp. He is married and has two daughters. His wife, Alejandra, has been an elementary school teacher for over 25years and is a former nonprofit executive leader.
Andy Shallal | Founder and CEO, Busboys and Poets
Anas “Andy” Shallal is an artist and social entrepreneur. He is the founder and CEO of Busboys and Poets, a group of restaurants in the Washington Metropolitan area where art, culture and politics intentionally collide over mindfully sourced food, drinks and programming that feeds the mind body and soul. With 7 locations in and around DC, including the latest location in Anacostia, Busboys and Poets has become home for progressives, artists and intellectuals including such notables as the late Howard Zinn, Cornel West, Alice Walker and Nikki Giovanni to name a few.
Busboys and Poets is a member of the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) focusing on sustainable business and employment practices. Busboys and Poets has also been at the forefront of environmental stewardship being one of the first businesses in Washington DC to be 100% wind powered and are at the cutting edge of the local/sustainable food movement winning many awards and recognitions locally and nationally for its innovative, conscious cuisine. Shallal has received numerous awards including the Mayor’s Arts Award, Employer of the Year from the Employment Justice Center, the Mayor’s Environmental Award, Washingtonian of the Year (Washingtonian Magazine) and DC Hall of Fame among others. More recently he was tapped to be a member of the re-open DC task force during the coronavirus pandemic.
Shallal has founded and co-founded several peace and justice organizations and holds leadership positions in numerous others. He is on the board of trustees for the Institute for Policy Studies, the Anacostia Coordinating Council, The Anacostia Park Foundation, The DC Fiscal Policy Institute and a founding member of Think Local First DC, a local business association and has served in advisory and leadership roles to advance progressive business and labor practices including recently chairing the Workforce Investment Council of DC. Most recently, during the COVID19 lockdown, Shallal initiated a #PaintTheStorefronts effort where he hired artists to paint shuttered storefronts with inspirational and uplifting messages. This initiative quickly went viral spreading to communities around the US and the world.
He holds an MBA from the Smith School of Business at The University of Maryland. Shallal continues to strive to make his hometown of Washington DC a more livable community.
Fatima Shama | Executive Director, The Fresh Air Fund
Fatima Shama is the executive director of The Fresh Air Fund, the over 140 year-old nonprofit agency that provides free summer experiences for New York City children from low-income communities through summer camps and a host families program in rural and suburban communities across 13 state, and provides year-round academic enrichment and support both at camp in New York City.
Ms. Shama served in Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s administration as the commissioner of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs from 2009 through 2013. From 2007 through 2009, she served as Mayor’s senior education policy advisor, and in 2006 when Ms. Shama joined Mayor Bloomberg’s office she worked on a special initiative on the intersection between health care, language access and literacy. Immediately after the administration and prior to joining FAF, Ms. Shama served on the senior team at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York overseeing their External Affairs department and special projects.
Ms. Shama serves as a Trustee on the boards on the New York Foundation, the Pinkerton Foundation, the New York Immigration Coalition, and Coro Leadership New York. Born and raised in the Bronx, Ms. Shama is the daughter of a Brazilian mother and a Palestinian father, and speaks several languages.
David Shapiro | CEO, MENTOR
David Shapiro is the CEO of MENTOR, the unifying national champion for expanding quality mentoring relationships for young people. For more than 25 years, MENTOR has helped build and serve the mentoring field by providing a public voice; developing and delivering resources to mentoring programs nationwide; and promoting quality for mentoring through evidence-based standards, innovative research and essential tools.
Under Shapiro’s leadership, MENTOR’s efforts to build capacity and scale innovation within the mentoring movement have been highlighted by the Social Impact Exchange, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, and Grantmakers for Effective Organizations. During his tenure, MENTOR launched In Real Life, a national mentoring public awareness campaign, with the support of the NBA and has worked extensively with the Obama Administration on the mentoring component of My Brother’s Keeper. In addition, the U.S Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention selected MENTOR to establish and lead the National Mentoring Resource Center. MENTOR’s 2014 report The Mentoring Effect found that 1 in 3 young people are reaching adulthood without the benefit of a mentor. With the vision that every young person must have the supportive relationships they need to grow and develop into thriving, productive, and engaged adults, MENTOR’s mission is to fuel the quality and quantity of mentoring relationships and ultimately close that gap. In collaboration with its mentoring Affiliates and more than 5,000 mentoring programs and volunteer centers in all 50 states, MENTOR incorporates advocacy, raises public awareness, mobilizes grassroots supporters, provides training, and bridges research to practice while working across the private, public and nonprofit sectors to ensure that young people have the support they need through mentoring relationships. Shapiro was previously the CEO of MENTOR’s Massachusetts Affiliate, Mass Mentoring Partnership (MMP). During his tenure, MMP launched Champions of Mentoring at Fenway Park, Highland Street AmeriCorps Ambassadors of Mentoring, Mass Mentoring Counts and the Bill Russell Mentoring Grants Program. MMP grew by 400 percent, increased state funding for mentoring, attracted federal funding and distributed almost $1 million in financial assistance, capacity building, and match activities to mentoring programs. The number of young people matched increased by almost 50 percent during Shapiro’s seven years at MMP. Shapiro’s experience includes leadership positions with the U.S. Golf Association Foundation’s 10-year, $50 million grant-making initiative and the American Red Cross of Massachusetts Bay. He chairs the board of the Mass Nonprofit Network and serves as a volunteer leader with a variety of nonprofits, including America’s Promise Alliance, Common Impact, and the Institute for Non-Profit Practice. He was selected for the Barr Foundation Fellowship. Shapiro is a husband, father of two sons, and mentor.
Gina Warner | President & CEO, National AfterSchool Association
Growing up in rural Alabama I was fortunate to have been a part of 4-H through most of my junior high and high school years. I still remember vividly the absolute terror I felt in the minutes leading up to my first public speaking event! Thank goodness for those adults who worked with me, mentored me and helped me grow – not just as a speaker, but as a leader. Those afterschool experiences certainly helped make me the person I am today.
I was named President and CEO of the National AfterSchool Association in June 2012. NAA – the voice of the afterschool profession – has over 20,000 members across the country and hosts the most comprehensive program of professional development opportunities for afterschool professionals anywhere in the United States. In this role I am tasked with reinvigorating a thirty year old organization to meet the needs of both emerging and experienced afterschool professionals through enhanced training and development as well as increased communication, outreach and membership engagement. I am proud of the number of innovations that I’ve helped develop at NAA, including the first national e-learning platform for afterschool, the first nationally-recognized STEM Credential for afterschool professionals and an Early Reading Literacy Initiative that will be launched in late 2016. I’ve also worked hard to broaden and expand the reach of NAA, diversifying its partnerships through the creation of a Corporate Advisory Board and the International Learning Exchange Program.
In 2014 I was honored to be selected as one of the inaugural members of the Presidential Leadership Scholars program, an initiative operated by the combined presidential libraries of George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Lyndon Johnson. During my time as a scholar I focused on the creation of a Leadership Initiative for the afterschool field.
Before joining NAA I served as the Executive Director of the Partnership for Youth Development in New Orleans, Louisiana, where I helped existing and new after school programs as they sought to serve children and families in post-Katrina New Orleans. In this role, I worked diligently to drive investment to the after school field in the city, securing nearly $8M in public and private donations to the organization. I am also a former public school teacher and U.S. Senate staffer.
I graduated from University of South Alabama in 1990 and Loyola Law School in 1995. I certainly couldn’t do what I do without the help and support of my husband, Dan, and my daughter, Kieran.