I much prefer to stay home than attend conferences. I know I’m not alone in this, and I’m fortunate that SXSW occurs right here in my hometown of Austin. Beyond that, I think long and hard about which conferences I’m willing to travel for. But there’s one conference I won’t miss: ASU+GSV Summit. It’s worth the trip to San Diego, every time. This annual gathering brings together the most incredible innovators across the education spectrum including K12 and higher ed leaders, those creating non-traditional pathways, philanthropists, technologists, and workforce preparation experts. The programming invites us to carefully consider the continuum from learning to labor — and debunks the notion that an education ends when a career begins. Here’s who I’m excited to catch up with and why:
- Angela Williams — She’s a model for me as a woman in leadership, a woman with clear purpose, and a woman interested in how faith intersects with the fight for equity. She seems to operate from the first principle of values – questioning and assessing which values (implicit or explicit) are driving systems, decisions, and people. Angela grew up with a front row seat to the Civil Rights Movement in South Carolina where her father was head of the NAACP. Fast forward many years, and she became a JAG lawyer, which strikes me as very badass, and I suspect she was one of very few Black women in the role. She’s the first woman and the first Black person to lead the world’s largest privately funded nonprofit, which you’ve probably heard of: United Way (Worldwide). United Way has 1,100 local entities in 37 countries, and their staff live in each of those communities, advancing equity and economic empowerment. In her 2022 commencement speech for UCLA’s MBA grads, she told the graduates: “You are one of one.” I love that. Each and every one of us is one of one, with equal innate dignity. Learn more about Angela: ASU+GSV | LinkedIn | Org
- Oliver Sicat — Oliver is the CEO of Ednovate, a charter school management organization in the LA area that starts and operates high schools. At Matterlab, we partnered with Ednovate last year, clarifying the organization’s identity, providing marketing tools and providing strategic advising to their incredible team. Oliver is changing the nature of high school, improving how we report on progress in high school, and leading how people in the charter space think about growing at a responsible pace. And he was Boston’s Teacher of the Year in 2006, so he’s not just another talking head. Learn more about Oliver: ASU+GSV | LinkedIn | Org
- Jared Joiner — My interest was piqued when I saw that Jared is going to moderate a session on the well-being of both students and educators. I checked out his background and in a lot of ways we’ve been on parallel paths that never crossed: Cognitive science and lacrosse in undergrad, a couple of years bilingual teaching, graduate work in the neuroscience of learning and education, volunteering through 826, working on human capital strategy within CMOs and districts, and leading communications strategy for organizations. Jared if you are reading: I look forward to meeting you and comparing notes! Learn more about Jared: ASU+GSV | LinkedIn | Org
- Kyla Johnson-Trammell — Kyla has been within Oakland Unified for 25 years, and she’s been Superintendent since 2017. That means she led the district for three years leading up to the pandemic, and now for three years since it hit. She seems to partner with the city, as one of its most vital entities, in a way that is at once intuitive and all too uncommon. And she’s on the board of Oakland Promise which offers every child in Oakland financial resources, educational programming, mentorship, and supportive community. I’m keeping my eye on that model, and I’m definitely keeping a close watch on her work, as well. Learn more about Kyla: ASU+GSV | LinkedIn | Org
- Jean-Claude Brizard — When I was just getting my feet wet within charter schools, recruiting principals and operations leaders for Uncommon Schools, Jean-Claude was a Regional Superintendent in the NYCDOE, then Superintendent of Rochester City School District – the very same cities I was working in. That was fifteen years ago, and I remember him being willing to publicly acknowledge – not discredit – charter operator achievements. He did some interesting (early) work in autonomous schools, situating more decision-making authority with principals and improving teacher prep. I’m keen to learn what he’s pursuing now with Digital Promise. They seem to do so much, and I haven’t fully grasped it yet but want to. Learn more about Jean-Claude: ASU+GSV | LinkedIn | Org
And last but not least: I cannot wait to hear from Sam Altman, co-founder and CEO of OpenAI, the AI company behind ChatGPT. He’s about my age, and in my opinion he has changed the fabric of our collective future (which leaves me wondering where all my own time goes). If you want a flavor of how his mind works, check out these blog posts: How to Be Successful (2019) and The Strength of Being Misunderstood (2020). See you in San Diego!