Deputy Director, Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy
Ashley Berner serves as Deputy Director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy and Assistant Professor of Education. Dr. Berner recently authored Pluralism and American Public Education: No One Way to School (Palgrave MacMillan, 2017) and has published articles, book chapters, and op-eds on the relationship between educational structures and state funding in democratic nations, religious education and citizenship formation, and teacher preparation in different national contexts. She has taught in a Jewish pre-school, an Episcopal secondary school, and an open university in Louisiana, and is an instructor in the doctoral program at Johns Hopkins School of Education. Dr. Berner is currently a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University Law School and holds degrees from Davidson College (Honors A.B.) and from Oxford University (M.Litt. and D.Phil. in Modern History).
Founder & Executive Director, Deans for Impact
Benjamin Riley is the founder and executive director of Deans for Impact. Prior to founding Deans for Impact, Ben conducted research on the New Zealand education system, worked as the policy director for a national education nonprofit, and served as deputy attorney general for the State of California. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington and J.D. from the Yale Law School.
Quality Education Activist and Parent
Elaine Wells is the mother of three sons, who through the virtue of her desire for them to have access to quality educational opportunities, have been educated in almost every type of learning environment there is; public, private, cyber, & charter. It’s through her seemingly never ending quest that she discovered her passion for making sure that not only her children, but every child regardless of income or zip code, have equal access to a quality education.
She’s an advocate of School Choice, access to quality schools for every child, Parents as Partners in the school environment, supporting families, school staff and community leaders in making the change toward equal access to quality education.
Owner of Spatulearn & Culinary Arts Teacher
Ernest Hudson was born and raised in Seaford, DE to Elizabeth and the late Ernest S. Hudson Sr. He is the youngest of four and a first-generation college graduate. Cooking and teaching is a huge passion of his. Ernest’s first job was at the age of 14 as a cashier/prep cook at Bargain Bill’s Restaurant and Flea Market. He graduated from Woodbridge High School and went off to play football and pursue a bachelor's degree at Delaware State University. Ernest finished with a degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management. A few months later he decided to teach. After being hired in the private sector and completing additional college courses, he became state certified to teach. Ernest enjoys watching sports, trying new recipes, and being with family.
Freire Charter School Inferno
Students, Freire Charter School
The Freire Charter School Inferno dance team was founded in 2017 under the direction of Jessica Philippe as a group of students dedicated to performing with passion, building self-discipline, and having fun. The team works to demonstrate pride, spirit, and talent while working to achieve academic excellence and promote self confidence.
Freire Charter School is a public high school located in downtown Wilmington focused on providing a college-preparatory learning experience with a focus on individual freedom, critical thinking, and problem solving in an environment that emphasizes the values of community, teamwork, and nonviolence.
Co-Founder and President, BloomBoard, Inc.
Jason Lange is the Co-Founder and President of BloomBoard, an education technology company focused on empowering educator success through personalized, competency-based learning. Prior to founding BloomBoard, Jason worked in finance as an investment banking Analyst and then as a private equity Associate before going to graduate school. While in graduate school, Jason worked as a Summer Associate at NewSchools Venture Fund, where he supported the development of the initial edtech investment thesis for the NewSchools Seed Fund (now Reach Capital). Jason received a BA in psychology and philosophy from Yale University, an MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business, and an MA in Education from Stanford University School of Education.
Co-founder, New York On Tech
Jessica Santana is one of the co-founders of New York On Tech (NYOT), an organization creating pathways for students into degrees and careers in technology. Her work has been featured in Forbes, CNN, TechCrunch, Huffington Post and other major media outlets. Prior to NYOT, she worked as a technologist for Accenture and Deloitte, focusing on digital projects for financial services organizations and federal agencies. Jessica has presented to 50+ audiences and was named a Forbes 30 Under 30, Wells Fargo Millennial Activist, Ashoka / American Express Emerging Innovator, Pahara Institute Next-Gen Fellow, Camelback Ventures Fellow and a World Economic Forum Global Shaper. Proud product of NYC schools, she graduated with degrees in Accounting and Information Technology from Syracuse University.
Engineering Teacher, Concord High School
Jordan Estock was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware. He is a product of the Brandywine School District. Jordan earned his bachelors degree in Technology Education at Millersville University and his masters degree in Educational Leadership at Wilmington University. He is currently pursuing a doctoral degree at Wilmington University in Educational Leadership. He taught engineering at Concord High School for eight years. Jordan previously coached soccer and lacrosse. For the past four years he has been a VEX robotics advisor. He is a two time SourceAmerica Design Challenge National Champion, MIT Inventeam $10,000 grant winner and awarded a US patent along with his students. Jordan is passionate about finding authentic real world problems for students to solve. He is actively seeking to extend outside the walls of the classroom to partner with local businesses, nonprofits, and community members. Jordan loves developing assistive technologies for people with disabilities.
Executive Director, Delaware Charter Schools Network
Kendall Massett is the Executive Director of the Delaware Charter Schools Network, a nonprofit organization supporting 24 charter schools statewide that provide independent, tuition-free public education to 15,882 students from kindergarten through 12th grade. Prior to this role, Massett served as Director of Business for At Your Service Hospitality Management from 1998 to 2011. She is a 2010 Fellow of Leadership Delaware, Inc., a nonprofit foundation that identifies and mentors outstanding young Delawareans with the capacity to serve in leadership roles. Massett holds a B.S in Business Management from North Carolina State University and a M.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies in Management from the University of Maryland University College. She resides in Wilmington, DE with husband, Kelly, and their two sons.
National Education Program Officer, Raikes Foundation
Lindsay Hill is an educator focused on bringing humanity and a sense of belonging into our schools and education system. She joined the Raikes Foundation as an education program officer in 2015 and leads the foundation's efforts around diversity, equity and inclusion. Prior to joining Raikes, Lindsay was the founding executive director of Teach For America – Washington. She began her career as a fourth-grade teacher in Brooklyn and later supported new teachers across New York City. In addition to her work at the Raikes Foundation, she is also a public speaker and diversity, equity, and inclusion coach. She holds a joint bachelor's degree in sociology and public policy from Pomona College and a master's degree in teaching from Pace University.
Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburgh
Lindsay C. Page is an assistant professor of research methodology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education and a research scientist at Pitt’s Learning Research and Development Center. Her work focuses on quantitative methods and their application to questions regarding the effectiveness of educational policies and programs across the pre-school to post-secondary spectrum. Much of her recent work has involved the implementation of large-scale randomized trials to investigate innovative strategies for improving students’ transition to and through college. She holds a doctorate in quantitative policy analysis and master's degrees in statistics and in education policy from Harvard University.
Teacher, Colonial School District
Lisa Mims is a veteran teacher in the Colonial School District. She has received numerous awards for the innovative methods she uses to engage students in her classroom. She is a member of the RODEL Teacher Council, an advocate for policy changes in education. As a member of the National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, Inc., an education sorority, she is devoted to serving our youth. She volunteers for a number of events, including TedxWilmington. Lisa devotes her time to sharing her knowledge with fellow educators and innovators. Her edublog, “Diary of a Public School Teacher,” touches on issues that affect education, including technology in the classroom. She's a prolific writer, with her words appearing on numerous blogs and publications.
Founder & CEO, Teachers Who Pray, Inc.
Marilyn Anderson Rhames is an education blogger and the Founder/CEO of Teachers Who Pray. She taught in elementary schools in Chicago Public Schools for 14 years and is authoring the book, The Master Teacher: 12 Spiritual Lesson That Can Transform Schools and Revolutionize Public Education. A experienced journalist, Marilyn speaks widely on issues of education, race, writing, and faith. She lives in Chicago with her husband Kevin and three children.
Academic Advisor, TeenSHARP
Melissa Benbow is an educator, writer, and artist. She graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in English and a concentration in African American studies in 2013. Since then, she has been working in the non-profit sector. She completed a term of service with AmeriCorp, worked at Delaware Technical Community College for 2 years, and is currently working for TeenSHARP Delaware. Her long term goals are to work in academia and to expand her career as a visual artist.
Founder & CEO of Education Modified, Inc.
Melissa Corto is the Co-Founder & CEO of Education Modified, an education technology company that uses the latest research and technology to help teachers improve outcomes for students with special needs. Melissa is responsible for setting Education Modified’s strategy, leading product development, & building internal capacity. Prior to founding Education Modified Melissa was a special educator in Brooklyn, NYC at a Title I high school for 9 years. She served as a mentor for new special education teachers entering the profession and was a Girl's Varsity Basketball coach. Melissa has been a leader in alternative approaches to education, lobbying for alternative language and alternative justice programs for students with special needs. She is excited about the possibilities that technology, policy, and social entrepreneurship present for the future of education.
Senior Pastor, Kingdom Life Church
Michael Phillips is the Senior Pastor of Kingdom Life Church. a non-denominational church in Baltimore, Maryland. Starting with just eighty congregants the ministry has grown to over three thousand members.
Pastor Phillips currently serves on the Maryland State Board of Education, and the board of Green Street Academy. He is the chair and co-founder of Faith Leaders for Excellent Schools and the board chair of 50CAN.
Pastor Phillips studied Business Administration at Oral Roberts University. He holds a Master of Sacred Theology and is currently pursuing a Masters of Divinity from New York Theological Seminary.
Teacher, Mount Pleasant High School
Robyn Howton is the English Department Chair and AVID Coordinator at Mount Pleasant High School in the Brandywine School District, where she has taught for 12 years. Howton is a 2007 Fellow with the Delaware Writing Project and has facilitated the Invitational Summer Workshop for the last five years. She has served as a Rodel Teacher Council member, a National Hope Street Group Fellow and a member of the Gates Foundation Teacher Advisory Group. She earned her Bachelor in Science degree in education from Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville and her Master in Education degree in curriculum and instruction and endorsement in educational leadership from Lindinwood University.
Senior Education Fellow, Caesar Rodney Institute
Ron's academic preparation includes a B.S. in Physics, an M.B.A., and a J.D. degree. He spent 42 years in secondary education including 18 years as principal of St. Mark's High School and 14 years as the founding president of Delaware's first charter school. A consortium of businesses led by the DuPont Company hired him in 1995 to open the Charter School of Wilmington, consistently ranked by Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report as one of the top public schools in the nation. His assignment was to implement an education reform effort to change the existing public school system and to improve the state's economy.
Superintendent, Freehold Township Schools
Dr. Ross Kasun is serving in his seventh year as the Superintendent for the Freehold Township School District and was chosen as the 2017 New Jersey Superintendent of the Year. Students being leaders of their own learning is a cornerstone of his vision. For his efforts to foster personalized learning, Dr. Kasun was chosen to participate in the first cohort for the Lexington Education Leadership Award. This fellowship helped create a vision that transformed learning and led to the district being recognized as one of the most innovative in the country and invited to participate in the League of Innovative Schools. Dr. Kasun’s article about leading a district’s journey toward personalized learning was published in District Administration in January 2017.
Founder & CEO, Basta
Sheila recently founded Basta - an organization aimed at bridging the gap between employers and 1st-generation college graduates. Prior to Basta, Sheila served as the Director of National Leadership Recruitment Team for the KIPP network. Sheila began her work in education inn HR at DC Public schools where she started in Principal Human Capital and was then tapped to build a Recruitment & Selection team from the ground up. Her team managed all recruitment and selection across the district and rolled out a cutting edge teacher selection model that was recognized nationwide. Prior to education, she worked on political campaigns including the 2008 presidential and 2009 [WHERE]gubernatorial races. She started her career working in the tech industry across Paris, Amsterdam, and London.
Teacher, William Penn High School
A teacher at William Penn, Stephanie Diggins has been developing the Teacher Academy program and teaching theatre there for the last two years. She received a Bachelors degree in Theatre Production and English from the University of Delaware in 2004, and a Master of Education degree with licensure from Xavier University in Secondary Education-Integrated Language Arts in 2011. In addition to Delaware, Stephanie has taught in schools in several states including Ohio and New York. In Ohio she taught Drama at Gamble Montessori, and in New York she taught English and History at Passages Academy in the city. Stephanie is also currently serving on the Teacher Council for the Rodel Foundation.
Founder & CEO, TeenSHARP
Tatiana Poladko has dedicated the last 10 years to propelling exceptional young people of color to highly selective colleges through TeenSHARP, an organization she founded together with her husband as a graduate student. Today TeenSHARP is a regional organization serving hundreds of talented youth in Delaware, Philadelphia, and South Jersey. Tatiana began her professional career working at United Nations in her native Ukraine spearheading youth policy initiatives and organizing hundreds of youth leaders around key socioeconomic priorities for Ukraine. Tatiana holds a Master’s in Public Administration degree from Rutgers University. She is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at Temple University. Tatiana lives in Wilmington, DE with her husband Atnre Alleyne and their three-year-old daughter.
Founder & CEO, The Fellowship - Black Male Educators for Social Justice
Vincent has a background in school leadership. He started his education career at the Syracuse City School District, where he worked for 7 years as a school administrator and then program director for the Say Yes to Education Foundation organizing faith based initiatives and school partnerships. In 2013, Mr. Cobb moved to Washington, DC as an Education Pioneer fellow working for the Maya Angelou Public Charter Schools to increase workforce readiness supports and internships for rising high school juniors and seniors. After the year-long fellowship, Cobb accepted a job with Teach for America, Philadelphia as the school and community partnerships regional manager with special focus on Black male achievement programs to help bolster the region’s Black male educators in the TFA corps and supports for Black male students in Philadelphia public schools. Recently, Cobb served as manager of family and community engagement with a portfolio of Mastery North Philadelphia schools.