Featured Speakers and Panelists

Opening Keynote

Dr. Steve Perry

#1 Education Speaker and Daytime TV Host
PLENARY: Opening Keynote Address, Tuesday, October 22

Dr. Steve Perry is one of the most sought-after Nationwide Motivational Speaker in America. Widely respected by grassroots community members and internationally renowned leaders as an educator, social worker and public speaker, his charismatic and compelling voice is an inspiration.

He is the educator Oprah Winfrey, Sean “P-Diddy” Combs, Bishop TD Jakes and Steve Harvey call on to offer insight to parents and children. A diverse array of politicians and groups, from the Urban League to ALEC, have reached out to Dr. Perry to better understand what matters to parents.

Dr. Steve Perry opened his third school, helped Steve Harvey write his new book “Jump,” has spoken in over 79 communities and completed his sixth book “Transparanting” in the beginning of 2018 and for 2019 is working on his fourth school with Sean “Diddy” Combs as an investor pledging 1 million dollars to fund the school for local youth. His impact is profound and varied and showing no signs of slowing down.

Learn more about Dr. Perry

Closing Keynote

Dikembe Mutombo

Chairman and President, Dikembe Mutombo Foundation, Inc. and NBA Legend
PLENARY:  Wednesday, October 23

NBA Legend Dikembe Mutombo was born in the capital city of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Mutombo is the seventh of ten children born to Samuel and the late Biamba Marie Mutombo. He arrived in the United States in 1987 on an academic scholarship to attend Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. In his second year at Georgetown, Coach John Thompson invited the 7’2″ Mutombo to try out for the university’s renowned basketball team.

After joining the team, Mutombo re-directed his pre-med ambitions and graduated from Georgetown with dual degrees in Linguistics and Diplomacy. He is fluent in nine languages, including five African languages. He played professional basketball for 18 years before retiring from the Houston Rockets in 2009.

Giving back has always been a trademark of Mutombo ever since he entered the NBA in 1991. As a former spokesman for CARE, the international relief agency, Mutombo visited the Somali refugee camps in Northern Kenya in 1993 and traveled with NBA Commissioner David Stern and Georgetown colleagues Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning to Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Learn more about Dikembe and the Foundation

Featured Speakers and Panelists

Dr. Karl Alexander

John Dewey Professor Emeritus Sociology Academy Professor and NSLA Board Member

Dr. Alexander’s research tries to understand why some children, and some kinds of children, are more successful in school than others and how this affects them later in life. He is particularly interested in the role schools play in society’s system of stratification, and how youngsters perform in school is an important part of the picture.

Rich Berlin

Executive Director, DREAM and NSLA Board Member

Executive Director at DREAM since 1997, Richard Berlin is also a founding member of DREAM Charter School. Mr. Berlin began his connection with DREAM as a volunteer baseball coach in 1994. Under his leadership, DREAM has grown from a seasonal recreation program with one staff member to a thriving community-based organization recognized locally and nationally with numerous awards for programmatic and operational excellence. Rich holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and attended a Master’s Program in Political Theory at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Sara Brenner

President, Community Wealth Partners

Sara Brenner, President. As President of Community Wealth Partners, Sara Brenner guides the organization’s strategic direction to help communities solve social problems at the magnitude at which they exist and oversees the firm’s partnerships and consulting business. With more than 20 years of experience in consulting for nonprofits, for-profits and the government, Sara has worked extensively in the health, education and human services sector. Sara is most passionate about supporting leaders in effectively leading change and working with diverse community stakeholders to deepen their understanding of each other while aligning their views and actions to achieve results. Sara received her MBA from Georgetown University and her BA with Honors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

© Kat Goduco Photo

Andrea K. Carter

Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility, Atlanta Hawks

Andrea K. Carter, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility for the Atlanta Hawks, is a Spelman College graduate and daughter of author and social-justice advocate Patrice Gaines, an award-winning Washington Post reporter and author of the critically acclaimed memoir, “Laughing in the dark: From colored girl to woman of color – A journey from prison to power.” Andrea has built a career continuing her mother’s legacy of service to others.

To her colleagues at the Atlanta Hawks, Andrea is an integral part of the organization’s success in developing key relationships with community and civic partners while also overseeing the organization’s social-responsibility efforts. Her contributions include working with the Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer to develop MOSAIC, a vehicle to address race, gender, sexual orientation and overall diversity in sports. Andrea also excels at forging strong partnerships between the Atlanta Hawks and local organizations such as Fearless Dialogues, which facilitates conversations with young people about creating social change.

Steve D. Dolinger, Ed.D.

President, Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education

Steve joined the Partnership in 2002 as its third president. He served as the Superintendent of Schools for Fulton County for seven years prior to joining the Partnership. He served in the Fairfax County, VA school system for 26 years before accepting the Fulton position. He has an Ed.D. from Vanderbilt University, an M.Ed. from George Mason University, and B.B.A. from Wake Forest University.

Aaron Philip Dworkin

Chief Executive Officer, 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.

Barry D. Ford, J.D.

President & CEO, Council for a Strong America

Barry Ford joined Council for a Strong America in 2015. He was named President and CEO in January 2019 after serving in the role in an acting capacity since June 2018. He previously served as Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President following leadership positions with Council for a Strong America’s state offices. Barry brings more than 30 years of professional experience as a government official, lawyer, nonprofit executive, and political candidate to this position. Prior to joining the staff of the Council for a Strong America, Barry served as the Director of Public Affairs and Advocacy for the United States Tennis Association.

Ed Foster-Simeon

President & CEO, U.S. Soccer Foundation

A champion of soccer as a vehicle for youth development and social change, Ed Foster-Simeon was named President & CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation in May 2008. He has more than three decades of experience at the local, state, and national level of the game and has been an active member of the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Board of Directors since 2004. At the grassroots level, he is a former Vice President of the Virginia Youth Soccer Association and past president of Prince William Soccer, Inc.—a 3,000-player recreational and travel club in Northern Virginia. Foster-Simeon serves on the Board of Directors of the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame; the Campaign to End Obesity; and serves as an NAACP Trustee. Foster-Simeon is also a U.S. Navy veteran.

Elizabeth Fowlkes

Senior Vice President, Program, Training and Youth Development, Boys and Girls Club of America.

She is responsible for leading Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s program strategy and design, as well as the development of a Club Impact/Program Model that reflects our collective learning and experience about how Clubs provide extraordinary opportunities for our members to succeed. In her previous role, as Senior Vice President of Planning & Measurement, she played a key role in the development of the Great Futures 2025 Strategic Direction. Elizabeth also led the design and development of BGCA’s National Youth Outcomes Initiative, an unparalleled system built to measure the impact of Boys & Girls Clubs.

Leslie Gabay-Swanston

Director of Program and Systems Building, NSLA

Leslie Gabay-Swanston joined NSLA in 2015 as Director of Program and Systems Quality. She is responsible for translating NSLA’s strategic priorities into services, projects, and partnerships that strengthen summer learning programs and build capacity for providers, intermediaries, and communities.

Prior to joining NSLA, Leslie worked as a Research Analyst and Program Evaluator at Carson Research Consulting where she managed the evaluations of several out-of-school time programs including the multi-site, longitudinal evaluation of Elev8 Baltimore.

Leslie received her master’s degree in public health, concentrating on health education, from Emory University and a bachelor’s degree in biopsychology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She completed a master’s degree in education with a concentration in measurement, evaluation, statistics, and assessment through the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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, Grant oversees all aspects of the Afterschool Alliance’s work – setting its goals and strategies for reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, working with the field to help programs tap into federal funding streams, and supervising research to help national, state and local afterschool advocates and providers support, create and expand quality afterschool programs.

Rachel Gwaltney

Vice President, Policy and Research, NSLA

As Vice President of Policy and Research, Rachel leads NSLA’s efforts to improve federal and state policy conditions for summer activities; and to develop, steward, and share research related to summer opportunities.

Audrey Henson

Founder & CEO, College to Congress

Audrey was inspired to create College to Congress after her own experience landing and navigating her first congressional internship. She works directly with C2C’s partners, mission investors, and mentors our interns. Audrey frequently speaks on the importance of diversity and inclusion initiatives within government at venues such as The US Congress, American University Women & Politics Institute, WeWork Creator Awards Events, as well as various student organizations and advocacy groups.

Amy M. Jacobs

Commissioner, Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning

After serving as Interim Commissioner of Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning in June 2014, Amy M. Jacobs was sworn in as permanent commissioner in January 2015. Commissioner Jacobs leads the agency responsible for the early care and education of hundreds of thousands of Georgia’s children. She oversees an annual budget of more than $820 million for programs focused on child care licensing, child and adult care nutrition, child care quality, and early childhood education, specifically Georgia’s Pre-K Program.


Dr. Sylvia M. James

Deputy Assistant Director, National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR)

Dr. Sylvia M. James is the Deputy Assistant Director of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR), where she oversees aspects of directorate program development, staffing, performance management, and internal and external communications. Prior to her role as Deputy Assistant Director, James served as the Director of the Division of Human Resource Development (HRD). Dr. James holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Loyola University, a Master of Science degree from Johns Hopkins University, and a Doctorate in Science Education from Morgan State University, all located in Baltimore, Maryland.

Jack Jessen

Regional President Northeast, Clear Channel Outdoor

As Regional President of Clear Channel Outdoor  (CCO)-Northeast, Jack Jessen has direct responsibility for New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Salisbury and Atlanta markets. He oversees all areas of sales, real estate, public affairs, operations and finance across the region. Jessen has over 25 years in the media industry. Prior to his current role, he served as President and General Manager for CCO-Atlanta through 2016. And prior to joining CCO, Jack held several senior sales leadership roles with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) across their digital and print platforms as their Advertising Sales Director.

Jason D. King

Jason D. King

Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications, Clear Channel Outdoor

As Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications for Clear Channel Outdoor, Jason D. King oversees and executes communications and media relations strategies for Clear Channel Outdoor North America’s 38 markets plus Clear Channel Airports.


Katie Landes

Director of the Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network (GSAN)

Katie Landes is the director of the Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network (GSAN), a public-private collaborative dedicated to advancing, connecting and supporting quality afterschool programs to promote the success of children and youth throughout Georgia. Katie joined Voices for Georgia’s Children, the home of GSAN, in 2013 in this role and prior to that, served as the project coordinator for the Georgia Afterschool Investment Council, the former home of GSAN. She previously taught kindergarten and third grade in Atlanta Public Schools as a Teach for America corps member. She earned a Masters in Social Work at Georgia State University and her Bachelors of Arts from Washington University in St. Louis.

Milton Little, Jr.

President, United Way of Greater Atlanta

Milton J. Little, Jr. became the first African-American president of United Way of Greater Atlanta, the second-largest in the national system, in July 2007. Altogether, Little has helped raise more than half a billion dollars for local community needs and priorities.

Before joining United Way, he served as chief operating officer and interim president and CEO of the National Urban League. He graduated magna cum laude from Morehouse College with a B.A. in sociology and earned an M.A. in urban sociology and social policy from Columbia University.

Reggie Love

Vice President, Transatlantic Energy Group

Reggie Love is a unique witness to history, whose introduction to Washington was working in Senator Barack Obama’s mailroom. As “body man” to Obama during his first presidential campaign, Love’s job was to stay one step behind the candidate but think and act three steps ahead during a typical eighteen-hour workday.

During President Obama’s first term, Love served as the president’s personal aide, sitting yards from the Oval Office and often spent more time with the president than anyone else. While his experiences were unique, the lessons he learned during his tenure with the President are universal. Persistence. Responsibility. Passion for a cause greater than yourself. In short, maturity.

While his experiences were unique, the lessons he learned during his tenure with the President are universal. Persistence. Responsibility. Passion for a cause greater than yourself. In short, maturity.

Ericka Miller

Partner, Isaacson, Miller

Having served as a partner at Isaacson, Miller from 2005 to 2007, Ericka rejoined the firm in 2016. Her education-focused practice is broad, mirroring her wide variety of experience. Her clients are located around the country and include preK-16 education nonprofits, education advocacy organizations, foundations, scientific research societies, historically black colleges and universities, and social justice research institutes. Ericka leads the firm’s preK-12 education and education improvement practice, and she serves on the firm’s Executive Committee.

Matthew Nelson

Corporate Vice President at New York Life, New York Life Foundation

Matthew Nelson is a Corporate Vice President at New York Life and oversees all of the workforce engagement programs including the giving campaign, matching gifts, volunteer grants and programs. He also provides strategy support for communications for the New York Life Foundation and Corporate Responsibility Department. He has served in similar roles with American Express and Ameriprise Financial. Most recently he was Vice President of Member Services and Membership at the Council on Foundations, the trade association for foundations in the United States. He is on the advisory committee for Charities@Work, serves as co-chair of the Service for Impact group for Philanthropy New York and CECP, and has spoken on Corporate Social Responsibility across the country and around the world.

Dr. Gil G. Noam. Ed.D

Founder and Director of The PEAR Institute: Partnerships in Education and Resilience at McLean Hospital

Gil Noam, Ed.D. is the founder and director of The PEAR Institute: Partnerships in Education and Resilience at McLean Hospital, a Harvard Medical School affiliate. He is an associate professor at Harvard Medical School focusing on prevention and resilience. He served as the director of the Risk and Prevention Program and is the founder of the RALLY Prevention Program, a Boston-based intervention that bridges social and academic support in school, afterschool, and community settings.

He has published over 200 papers, articles, and books in the areas of child and adolescent development as well as risk and resiliency in clinical, school, and afterschool settings. Dr. Noam is trained as a clinical and developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst in both Europe and the United States.

Kaamel Nuri

Program Director, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation

Kaamel Nuri is the Program Director for the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation where he leads youth development (American Explorers) and employment initiatives (Westside Ambassadors) for the Blank Family of Businesses. In this role he oversees the comprehensive leadership development program giving youth from Atlanta’s historic Westside communities pathways to leadership. Through a collection of programs and hands-on learning experiences, the program’s scholars become change agents, educators, community builders, entrepreneurs and stewards of their communities. Kaamel is a former Executive Director of the Arthur M. Blank Family Youth YMCA, formally Centennial Place Family Youth YMCA and worked for the YMCA in a director capacity for nearly 25 years.

Kaamel graduated from Howard University with a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy. Kaamel enjoys biking and spending quality time with his wife and young daughter.

Jim Quinn

Chairman of the Board of Directors, NSLA and President, Tiffany & Co. (retired)

Jim Quinn retired as President of Tiffany and Company in 2012. He began his career at Tiffany in 1986 as a Vice President in the Business Sales Division. He was promoted to Executive Vice President in 1992, joined the board of directors in 1995, was named Vice Chairman in 1998 and President in 2003. Jim was principally responsible for Tiffany’s global expansion over the last 2 decades. During his time at Tiffany, the company grew from a small, privately held retailer with sales of $200M and 7 stores, all in the US, to a global enterprise, doing business in more than 50 countries with sales now in excess of $4 billion.

Jim was elected chairman of the Board of Directors of NSLA in 2019. In his role, Quinn will lead the implementation of NSLA’s new strategic plan and support the organization’s new CEO Aaron Philip Dworkin in fundraising, advocacy and community initiatives to expand and sustain summer learning, meal and job opportunities for our nation’s most vulnerable youth.

Dax-Devlon Ross, J.D.

Principal, Dax-Dev/Third Settlements, Founding Executive Director of After-School All-Stars New York and New Jersey

Dax-Devlon Ross has led a career as an educator, non-profit executive, equity consultant and journalist with a focus on social justice. After receiving his Juris Doctorate from George Washington University, he joined New York City Teaching Fellows where he taught in middle and high schools in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Dax is the author of five books and his journalism has been featured in Time, The New York Times, The Virginia Quarterly Review and other national publications. He was the winner of the National Association of Black Journalists’ Investigative Reporting Award for his coverage of jury exclusion in North Carolina courts. He is currently a investigative reporting fellow at Type Media Center, an alumnus of Coro Leadership New York and a member of NationSwell Council.

Chris Smith

President & Executive Director, Boston After School & Beyond

Over the past two decades, Chris has created, scaled, and led cross-sector partnerships in education and workforce development. Under his leadership, Boston After School & Beyond has developed a nationally recognized model of summer learning that improves student outcomes, built a citywide program performance measurement system, and cultivated a network of 150 programs serving more than 15,000 students. Chris began his career at the US Department of Education in Washington, DC, where he coordinated partnerships for the Secretary of Education. A native of Worcester, MA, Chris earned a BA in American Studies from Trinity College in Hartford, CT and an MBA from Babson College in Wellesley, MA.

Lorna Smith

Chief Executive Officer, Horizons National

Lorna Smith has served as CEO since 2007. Under her leadership, Horizons National has become a vital resource for its affiliates, sustaining a network with strong organizational identity, stability, and consistency. Lorna has shepherded the organization through a period of unprecedented growth and built a national presence for Horizons. She brings market research expertise, extensive client service in several industries, and has co-owned two businesses, both of which experienced substantial growth and enjoyed excellent reputations under her management.

Lorna holds a B.A. from Wellesley College and an M.B.A. from Cornell University. She is a founding board member for the National Network of Schools in Partnership, an organization comprised of public-private partners who share a common goal of expanding educational opportunities for all young people.

Scot Tatelman

Program Officer, STATE Bags

Scot defines the term ‘social entrepreneur’ and has made it his life’s work to balance profitable business ventures with making the world a better place. In 2005, he collaborated with The Mark Wahlberg Foundation and The Boys and Girls Club to create Camp Northbound – a residential camp for kids growing up in the inner cities of Boston. Following its success, Scot set out to build a similar program for kids in New York City’s most underfunded communities, creating Camp Power. In ten years, this volunteer-based nonprofit organization has provided life-changing experiences, positive role models and college scholarships to thousands of kids. After seeing many Camp Power kids carrying their belongings in ripped garbage bags, he and his wife founded STATE Bags – a Brooklyn-born bag brand that uses the power of business to give back and support American children and families in need. He has worked to evolve their charitable model through STATE’s innovative giving initiatives and #WhatDoWeTellTheKids platform. A graduate of UVM and Boston native, Scot currently resides in Brooklyn with his wife, two kids and dog, Pokey.

Rachel Lyn Thornton, M.D., Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Dr. Rachel Johnson Thornton is an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She holds a joint appointment in the Department of Health, Behavior and Society at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Dr. Thornton graduated from the New York University College of Arts and Sciences, where she was also named valedictorian of her class. She received her M.D. from Johns Hopkins, where she also completed a residency in pediatrics and a postdoctoral research fellowship on behavioral aspects of heart and vascular disease. Dr. Thornton earned her Ph.D. in health policy and management from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Pharlone Charity Toussaint

Program Officer, Laureus USA: Sport for Good Atlanta

Pharlone Toussaint has dedicated over half of her life to being an advocate for using sports as a catalyst for social change.. Her passion blossomed in 2007 alongside the Honorable Archbishop Desmond Tutu during a youth symposium. She has supported community relations and corporate social responsibility efforts for several professional sports teams, including the Los Angeles Kings and the Boston Celtics. As the Program Officer of Sport for Good Atlanta, a long-term, collaborative approach to strengthening Westside communities through the power of sport, she has used her influence to meet the needs of an extremely disenfranchised part of the city.

Pharlone is an Atlanta native where she is also a consultant in the creative-cause marketing arena and holds a BS in management with a concentration in marketing from Boston College Carroll School of Management.

Johan Uvin

President, Institute for Educational Leadership

Johan E. Uvin became IEL’s president in February 2017. Prior to his IEL leadership, he served as the Acting Assistant Secretary for the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) at the U.S. Department of Education. While at the Department, he also served as the acting director of the Policy Research and Evaluation Services Division of OCTAE and the co-chair of the Interagency Forum on Disconnected Youth, a multi-agency federal collaboration to improve the outcomes of disconnected youths.

Uvin holds a doctorate in administration, planning and social policy and a master’s degree in international education from Harvard University. He also holds a Master of Arts in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) from the School of International Training in Brattleboro, Vt.

Alex Wan

Executive Director, Horizons Atlanta

Alex Wan was appointed to the position of Executive Director on May 1, 2018, with the goal of leading strategic growth at a critical time. Before joining Horizons Atlanta, Alex Wan most recently served as Director of Development and Alumni Relations at Emory University, and before that as Director of Development at Jerusalem House, Atlanta’s largest HIV housing provider. Alex also represented the in-town neighborhoods of District 6 on the Atlanta City Council for two four-year terms. Alex holds a Bachelor of Industrial Engineering degree from Georgia Tech and an MBA from Wharton Business School. After growing up in Stone Mountain, GA, Alex now lives with his partner in Morningside, where he has been a resident since 1994