Summer 2016 Keynote Speakers

David Abel

David Abel is a former teacher who has designed and developed curriculum, assessment and training for K-12 English Language Arts. He taught composition and ESL at numerous post-secondary institutions, including City College of New York, New York City College of Technology and St. John's University. As the chief academic officer for English Language Arts, he directs the ELA curriculum work and creates professional development programs for the Standards Institute. Previously, David was a fellow for ELA curriculum and assessment at the Regents Research Fund, where he led the development of P-12 ELA curriculum on EngageNY.org. David also previously held senior roles at the New York City Department of Education.

Jean Desravines

Jean Desravines serves as the Chief Executive Officer of New Leaders. As CEO, he has expanded the organization to approximately 200 staff supporting leaders in more than 15 urban school districts and over 100 charter schools across the country. Recognizing that there are more than 16,000 schools serving more than 7 million high poverty children in the United States, Jean recently initiated the organization’s first scale strategy to design and launch a program to improve the practice of sitting principals and their instructional teams with the goal of preparing 1 million students for success in college, careers, and citizenship by 2020.

Prior to his appointment as CEO in 2011, Jean served as Chief Officer for Cities and Policy at New Leaders for five years. In that role, Jean oversaw the management of New Leaders city teams, including the launch of five of the organization’s sites, and the organization’s national public policy and public funding work.

Jean has more than 15 years of professional leadership experience working with parents and communities on education issues and community development, with a primary focus on improving outcomes for kids in underserved communities. Before joining New Leaders, Jean served as Senior Counselor to the Chancellor of New York City’s public school system, the Executive Director for the Office of Parent and Community Engagement, Chief of Staff to the Senior Counselor for Education Policy, and Director for Community Relations at the New York City Department of Education, and the Director of Organizational Development and Community Programming for the Faith Center for Community Development, Inc.

Kate Gerson

Kate Gerson has driven the design and development of curriculum implementation and professional learning, trained transformational school leaders, and served as both a high school teacher and principal. As managing partner of programs, Kate sets the vision and oversees the design, delivery and quality of all programs. Kate was the senior fellow for educator engagement at the Regents Research Fund, where she oversaw the design and development of New York State’s groundbreaking curriculum, training and professional development resources related to higher educational standards on EngageNY.org. Previously, she was executive director with the national nonprofit New Leaders and trained aspiring school leaders. She also served as a principal at a turnaround high school for overaged, under-credited students in South Brooklyn, New York.

William G. McCallum

William G. McCallum is a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Arizona and one of the lead writers for the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics. He holds a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Harvard University and has authored numerous articles, essays, books, and textbooks. He is the founder of the Institute for Mathematics and Education at the University of Arizona; he was Director of the Institute until 2009 and now chairs its advisory board. In 2012, he won the American Mathematical Society's Award for Distinguished Public Service. He currently serves as Chief Executive Officer at Illustrative Mathematics, a discerning community of educators dedicated to the coherent learning of mathematics. 

David Paige, Ed.D.

David D. Paige is Associate Professor of Education at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky. After a 20-year career in business, Dr. Paige began his educational career as a special educator in an urban middle school in Memphis, Tennessee where he taught reading and math for five years to children with mild to moderate learning disabilities in both pull-out and collaborative class settings. Dr. Paige completed his doctoral studies at the University of Memphis under Dr. Robert B. Cooter. Paige’s research interests are framed around literacy issues, particularly those concerning the role of oral reading fluency in adolescent children from poverty. Additionally, Dr. Paige works in urban school settings investigating strategies for improving literacy achievement, instruction, and educational outcomes. Research by Dr. Paige has been published in The Reading Teacher, Reading Psychology, Reading Horizons, Literacy Research and Instruction, and the Kentucky Reading Journal. As part of his interest in school reform around literacy and instruction, Dr. Paige recently completed a Master’s of Arts degree in Instructional Leadership and School Administration and holds a Kentucky license as a school administrator. Dr. Paige is currently Treasurer and member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Literacy Researchers and Educators (ALER).

Sue Pimentel

Susan Pimentel was a lead writer of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts/Literacy and is a Founding Partner of Student Achievement Partners. Susan’s efforts have been focused on helping communities, districts and states across the nation work together to advance education reform and champion proven tools for increasing academic rigor. Her work has resulted in the phase-out of student tracking, enriched core curricula, and advances in results-based school accountability programs. Susan also has led several national improvement efforts, including two multi-state adult education reform initiatives under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Adult and Vocational Education (OVAE), and the development of content for the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence—a rigorous discipline-specific national teacher test. Susan holds a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and a law degree from Cornell University. Since 2007, she has served on the National Assessment Governing Board that advises on the nation's report card, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). In addition to several articles, Susan is co-author with Denis P. Doyle of the best-selling book and CD-ROM, Raising the Standard: An Eight-Step Action Guide For Schools and Communities.

​Nikolai Vitti

Dr. Nikolai P. Vitti is Superintendent of Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) in Jacksonville, Florida. As the nation’s 20th largest school district, he serves nearly 130,000 students within 200 schools through a $1.7 billion dollar budget. Since his arrival in mid-2012, the school district has reached an historic high in graduation and college readiness rates through the expansion of accelerated programming and early warning systems. DCPS has also surpassed all Florida urban districts in African-American and English Language Learner graduation rates while ranking among the first to fourth highest performing urban districts throughout the nation on the NAEP in overall and subgroup performance in most reading and mathematics categories. Since his arrival, the district has been recognized for its expansion of the arts, foreign languages, early learning, innovative school choice options and redesign, mental health and progressive discipline strategies, and financial transparency and efficiency. Dr. Vitti has also successfully secured $40 million dollars in local philanthropy to transform the district’s historically lowest performing schools with a focus on human capital and technology infusion.