beginning of content:

Preconference Event

Film Screening and Panel Discussion

  • Event
    • Sun, Mar 18

    All the Difference

    A film by Tod Lending and Joy Thomas Moore and Wes Moore.

    Join us for an important and challenging film chronicling the lives of African American students. The film explores the challenges that affect access and opportunity for black students. The film will be followed by an engaging panel discussion and talk-back session with the principals of the film and K–16 leaders. Light refreshments will be served. Open to all full conference attendees.

    Film Synopsis:
    Accompany two African American teens from the South Side of Chicago on their journey to achieve their dream of graduating from high school and college. This film is a collaboration with POV, the award-winning independent nonfiction PBS series.

    • 2–5 p.m.


Tim King

Tim King

Founder, president and CEO, Urban Prep Academies

Tim King is founder, President and CEO of Urban Prep Academies, a nonprofit organization operating a network of public college-prep boys’ schools in Chicago (including the nation’s first all-male charter high school) and related programs aimed at promoting college success. 100% of Urban Prep graduates—all African-American males and mostly from low-income families—have been admitted to four-year colleges/universities.

Tim also serves as an Adjunct Lecturer at Northwestern University and has published in the Journal of Negro Education, Chronicle of Higher Education, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, Huffington Post and New York Times. King was honored at the BET Awards as a recipient of the “Shine A Light” award and has also been: named ABC World News “Person of the Week,” Chicago Magazine’s “Chicagoan of the Year,” People Magazine’s “Hero of the Year,” and to Ebony Magazine’s “Power 100” list; featured on Good Morning America, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and The Moth/USA Networks’ Characters Unite series; highlighted in Discovery Channel’s “Rise: The Promise of My Brother’s Keeper,” the documentary film “All the Difference,” and the major motion picture “Barbershop 3: The Next Cut”; and recognized by Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton for his work with youth.

Tim has completed post graduate work in Kenya and Italy; holds the Doctorate Honoris Causa from the Adler School; and has received the Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service and Juris Doctor Degrees from Georgetown University. Tim, a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., serves on several boards including the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners and is the Co-Chair of Chicago’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative. Tim became the guardian of a former student orphaned when his mother died. That student was once homeless and now has graduated from college. Having a positive impact on this young man’s life is the achievement of which Tim is the proudest.

Other Panelists

Krishaun Branch

Krishaun Branch
Alumnus, Urban Prep Academy, Englewood

Robert Henderson

Robert Henderson
Alumnus, Urban Prep Academy, Englewood


D’Andre Weaver
Community Superintendent, Spring Branch Independent School District, Houston, TX

  • Event
    • Mon, Mar 19, 2018

    A Dream Deferred, but Not Denied: Equitable Access and Success for Black Students

    The primary goal of the landmark legal case Brown v. Board of Education was to ensure equitable access for all young people, especially African American students, who had been significantly disadvantaged by Jim Crow laws, de jure segregation, and unequal funding for Southern public schools. Black schools were poorly resourced, housed in dilapidated buildings, and staffed by deeply committed teachers who had to “do more with less.” The Supreme Court decision ushered in equal opportunity in public education; what it wasn’t able to do was then achieved through years of civil rights efforts. Over 60 years after Brown, current data indicates that racial gaps and inequities still exist in K–12 and higher education. Professor Strayhorn will present data on race-related achievement gaps, and reveal how social identities still affect black students’ performance in a democratic society. Come to learn; leave ready to fight for justice.

    • 9–10 a.m.


Terrell Strayhorn

Dr. Terrell Strayhorn is former professor and Founder/CEO of Do Good Work Educational Consulting, LLC. Most recently, he was on the faculty at The Ohio State University, where he also served as Director of the Center for Higher Education Enterprise (CHEE) and Founding Director of the Center for IDEAS within the College of Education and Human Ecology.

An internationally-recognized student success scholar, highly acclaimed public speaker, and award-winning writer, Strayhorn is author of 10 books and over 200 book chapters and journal articles and other scholarly publications. He has given hundreds of invited keynotes and lectures at more than 500 universities and conferences across the globe. Dr. Strayhorn maintains an active and highly visible research agenda focusing on major policy issues in education: student access and achievement; issues of race, equity, and diversity; impact of college on students and student learning and development. His most popular book is College Students’ Sense of Belonging: A Key to Educational Success.

Known for using the hashtag #DoGoodWork on social media, Strayhorn was named one of the country’s top diversity scholars by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education in 2011, one of Business First’s “Top 40 under 40,” one of the “Top 20 to Know in Education,” and became the youngest full professor in Ohio State’s history in 2014. He has been quoted in major news outlets including the Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside HigherEd, Huffington Post, and newspapers across the nation. Prior to Ohio State, Strayhorn was special assistant to the provost at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and research associate at the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) in Washington, DC. Strayhorn received a bachelor’s degree (BA) from the University of Virginia (UVA), a master’s degree (MEd) in educational policy from the Curry School of Education at UVA, and doctorate (PhD) in higher education from Virginia Tech. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated and a native of Virginia Beach, Virginia.

  • Event
    • Mon, Mar 19, 2018

    The Future of African American Education

    Join us as we learn about the future of African American Education from an esteemed group of panelists who will address college affordability, civil rights, educational attainment, creating change, supporting educators, and inspiring students from both secondary and postsecondary educational systems. These community leaders and education experts will discuss challenges and solutions to clearing a path for all students to own their futures.

    • 12:30–1:30 p.m.

Welcome Address

Austin A. Lane

Austin A. Lane serves as the president of Texas Southern University (TSU). In that role, Lane has increased enrollment, improved retention and persistence rates, and enhanced the TSU experience, by focusing on Five Priorities: (1) student success and completion, (2) academic program quality and research, (3) culture, (4) partnerships, and (5) finances. These initiatives have increased the overall academic and financial outlook of the university, ensuring that its graduates are well prepared to compete in the global marketplace and the university remains a premier, independent HBCU.

Over the past twenty years, Lane has been lauded as an innovator and visionary leader. His career in higher education is marked by a variety of successive leadership roles and professional achievements. Previously, Lane served as the dean of students for the University of Texas at Arlington, vice-president of student affairs at Tyler Junior College, president of Lone Star College-Montgomery, and executive vice chancellor for the Lone Star College System.

A native of New Jersey, Lane graduated from Hackensack High School and attended Odessa Junior College on a basketball scholarship. He holds a BA in psychology from Langston University, MA in human relations from the University of Oklahoma, and EdD in higher education administration from the University of Alabama. Lane and his wife, Loren, have three children, ages 20, 16, and 11.


Bakari Sellers

Bakari Sellers

Political Commentator, CNN

Bakari Sellers made history in 2006 when, at 22, he defeated a 26-year incumbent state representative to become the South Carolina state legislature’s youngest member and the nation’s youngest African American−elected official. In 2014, he was the state’s Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor.

Sellers followed the footsteps of his father, civil rights leader Cleveland Sellers, by championing progressive policies to address issues ranging from education and poverty to preventing domestic violence and childhood obesity.

In addition to having served on President Barack Obama's South Carolina steering committee during the 2008 election, Sellers is widely considered a rising star within the Democratic Party and a leading voice for his generation. He’s received numerous accolades, including being named to Time magazine’s 40 Under 40 in 2010 and 2014 and 2015 “The Root 100” lists of most influential African Americans. He’s been a featured speaker at the National Education Association, College Democrats of America National Convention, and the 2008 and 2016 Democratic National Conventions.

Sellers practices law with Strom Law Firm LLC in Columbia, S.C., and is a CNN political commentator. He earned his undergraduate degree at Morehouse College and his law degree at USC. He’s married to Ellen Rucker-Sellers.

Michael D. Smith

Director, Youth Opportunity Programs, Obama Foundation
Executive director, MBK Alliance

Michael Smith currently serves as director of youth opportunity programs at the Obama Foundation and executive director of the My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Alliance. In these roles, Michael works to promote the MBK initiative and aligned efforts to expand opportunity for youth in greatest need.

Michael was part of the team that designed and launched My Brother’s Keeper, a cross-sector call to action to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and to ensure that all young people can reach their full potential. As special assistant to President Obama and senior director of cabinet affairs for MBK, Michael became the first and only White House director of the initiative. Prior to joining the White House team, Michael was an appointee in the Obama administration, serving as director of the Social Innovation Fund (SIF), a key White House initiative and program of the Corporation for National and Community Service that combines federal and private investment to help discover solutions to complex social challenges.

Before joining the Obama administration, Michael served as senior vice president of social innovation at the Case Foundation, where he oversaw the Foundation’s giving and program strategy and guided numerous sector-building initiatives and public-private partnerships. Michael also helped build national initiatives aimed at bridging the “digital divide” at the Beaumont Foundation of America and PowerUP, served as a senior program and communications staff member at the Family Center Boys & Girls Club in Springfield, Mass., was an aide to U.S. Congressman Richard E. Neal, and has a BA in communications from Marymount University.

Prior to his political appointment, Michael served for many years on the boards of Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE),, and Public Allies. He is also an Atlantic Fellow for Racial Equity and a member of Boys and Girls Clubs of America’s Alumni Hall of Fame, the highest honor bestowed by the organization.

Ruth Simmons

Ruth Simmons

President, Prairie View A&M University
President Emeritus, Brown University

Ruth J. Simmons serves as president of Prairie View A&M University. She was president of Brown University from 2001–2012. Under her leadership, Brown made significant strides in improving its standing as one of the world’s finest research universities.

A French professor before entering university administration, Simmons held an appointment as a professor of comparative literature and Africana studies at Brown. After completing her PhD in romance languages and literatures at Harvard, she served in various faculty and administrative roles at the University of Southern California, Princeton University, and Spelman College before becoming president of Smith College, the largest women’s college in the United States. At Smith, she launched a number of important academic initiatives, including an engineering program, the first at an American women’s college.

Simmons is the recipient of many honors, including a Fulbright Fellowship to France, the 2001 President’s Award from the United Negro College Fund, the 2002 Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal, the 2004 Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal, the Foreign Policy Association Medal, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and the Centennial Medal from Harvard University.

Simmons is a member of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the Council on Foreign Relations, and serves on a number of nonprofit boards. Awarded numerous honorary degrees, she received the Brown Faculty’s highest honor, the Susan Colver Rosenberger Medal, in 2011. In 2012, she was named a “chevalier” of the French Legion of Honor.

Elizabeth Kirby

Elizabeth Kirby

Chief officer of strategy and support at the Chicago Public Schools

In this role she oversees the Office of Network Supports, the Principal Quality Initiative and the Office of Innovation, and Incubation. Prior to this role, she was a network chief for four years, serving the Network 11 and the Southwest Side High School Network.

She graduated from Harvard in 1994 and worked as a center director with the Higher Achievement Program in Washington, D.C. After moving to Chicago in the fall of 1995, she taught at Olive-Harvey Middle College, an alternative school for students who dropped out or were expelled from Chicago public schools, as well as Triumphant Charter School. She was awarded a James Madison Fellowship in 1998 and studied constitutional history at Georgetown University. In 1999, she began her career at Kenwood Academy as a history teacher, winning a Golden Apple Award during her second year.

A member of the second cohort of New Leaders for New Schools, Kirby worked as an assistant principal at Kenwood from 2003 to 2005 and became the principal in July of 2005. In 2008, she received an award from New Leaders for New Schools for service in leadership as the principal of Kenwood Academy and an award for service in education from the Southeast Chicago Commission in 2009. She holds a master’s degree in arts and social science from the University of Chicago.


Nichole Pinkard

Nichole D. Pinkard

Associate professor, Northwestern University
Founder, Digital Youth Network, Remix Learning and cofounder, YOUmedia

Nichole Pinkard is a leader in the evolution of digital media and its use in education. Pinkard believes that digitally literate kids—those who can critically consume and produce alternative media—grow up to be better citizens.

Pinkard is an associate professor of learning sciences at Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy and is the founder of the Digital Youth Network and Remix Learning; both organizations focus on developing digital literacy.Pinkard is also a cofounder of YOUmedia, a public learning space that immerses high school students in a context of books and other traditional media while they make and produce new media, such as music, games, videos, and virtual worlds.

Dr. Pinkard has led efforts to implement 1:1 computing in urban schools, integrate digital media into core instruction, and create digital media learning opportunities outside of the formal school day, as exemplified by the launch of  the Chicago City of Learning Initiative in partnership with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Kalimah Priforce

Kalimah Priforce

Headmaster CEO and Founder of Qeyno Group

Kalimah Priforce is just a kid from Brooklyn committed to eliminating barriers to human potential as the headmaster CEO and founder of Qeyno Group, an independent global think tank for inclusive innovation. Qeyno is also home to Hackathon Academy, the first pop-up school that prepares youth and their mentors to build web and mobile apps together that solve the world's biggest problems. From Tech EQuity Week to Moonshot Q, Qeyno believes in a future that brings magical opportunity for all.

Kalimah's brand of inclusive “hacktivism” has been featured on the cover of USA Today, in the MSNBC mini-documentary, "Swimming in Their Genius" and the indie award-winning film "Code Oakland," and was recognized by the Obama White House as a Champion of Change. He is a 2013 Echoing Green fellow and awarded the 40 Under 40: Tech Diversity for Silicon Valley. He is a member of the National Advisory Council for Forward Promise, a fund based out of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Fellows Advisory Council for Echoing Green.