Keynote Speakers

Additional Speakers

Rachel Anderson

Associate Director, Federal Policy and Advocacy, Data Quality Campaign

Rachel leads DQC’s work to foster an effective role for the federal government in supporting education data use. She convenes and collaborates with partners and policymakers to analyze and develop constructive education data legislation at all levels. Rachel’s work focuses on student data privacy, federal policy, student access to data, education research, and state and federal legislation.

Bruce Bailey

Accessibility IT Specialist, U.S. Access Board

Jon Bernstein

Founder and President, Bernstein Strategy Group

The founder and president of BSG, Jon has been working on education, education technology and telecommunications issues since 1995. Jon is an expert on federal legislative and regulatory issues related to the E-Rate program, education appropriations, and the No Child Left Behind/Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Currently, Jon serves as the Co-chair of the Education & Libraries Networks Coalition (EdLiNC), an organization focused on preserving and protecting the E-Rate program, which is comprised of all of the major public and private education associations and the American Library Association. He is also the Treasurer for the National Coalition for Technology in Education and Training (NCTET) and is co-chair of NCTET's Inaugural Ball Subcommittee.

Sean Cavanagh

Senior Editor, EdWeek Market Brief

Sean Cavanagh is Senior Editor of EdWeek Market Brief. He is also a reporter and editor for Education Week, where he has covered a variety of beats since 2002. His primary focus is on business and technology issues in K-12 education. Previously he covered math and science education, charter schools and school choice, and federal policy. Before joining Education Week, he was a reporter for daily newspapers in Tennessee and Florida.

Sheryl Cohen

Executive Director, Committee for Education Funding

Sheryl Cohen is the Executive Director of the Committee for Education Funding (CEF). As the oldest and largest coalition of education associations in existence, CEF provides a strong and unified voice in support of increasing the federal investment in education. Our mission is to provide our members, the public, the US Congress, the Executive Branch, and the media with information in support of federal investments in education. CEF takes positions on federal education funding issues that represent a consensus of its membership and then communicates those positions to federal government officials and Members of Congress. Ms. Cohen joined the American Continental Group in 2008. She is a veteran Senate staffer with nearly two decades of management, strategic planning, political, communications and fundraising experience. Previously, Ms. Cohen served as Chief of Staff to United States Senator Christopher J. Dodd from 1999 to 2008, with the exception of the time she spent from January 2007-January 2008 managing his presidential campaign effort. During her tenure as Chief of Staff, her responsibilities included the Senator’s Chairmanship of the Committee on Banking with its broad jurisdiction over financial institutions, as well as his involvement in education, health, and other important issues before the Senate.

Cheryl Costantini

VP, Content Strategy, Cengage Learning

Jarret Cummings

Director of Policy and Government Relations, EDUCAUSE

Jarret Cummings serves EDUCAUSE as Director of Policy and Government Relations. In this role, he oversees association efforts to address federal policy and regulatory issues - advocated on behalf of higher education IT and promoting effective institutional IT policies. Before joining ELI, Cummings provided IT strategic planning, institutional strategic planning, and general management consulting services to institutional clients of SunGard Collegis, which included colleges and universities of all types. He focused on helping institutions link their technological progress to the achievement of their missions and strategic objectives. Cummings began his career as a program analyst administering higher education grant programs at the U.S. Department of Education.

Brendan Desetti

Director, Education Policy, SIIA

Brendan Desetti is the Director of Education Policy for the Software & Information Industry Association. He works with SIIA members and other education stakeholders to identify educational trends and needs, formulate a vision for technology and related policies, address industry and market challenges, and advocate for enabling legislation and government programs at the federal and state levels. He also helps education providers understand the impact of public policies and regulations on their customers in order to better serve educational needs. Prior to his current role, Brendan was the education policy and programs manager for SIIA. Before joining SIIA, Brendan worked as a legislative liaison for the Association for Career and Technical Education in Alexandria, VA.

Meaghan Duff Ph.D.

Executive Director, Personalized Learning Consortium

The Personalized Learning Consortium (PLC) serves as a coordinating body to foster multi-institutional collaboration advancing the use of technology to improve student learning, retention, and graduation. As Executive Director, Dr. Meaghan Duff provides the PLC with strategic and operational leadership as its members cooperate to share experiences and expertise, assess the market and identify promising vendors, and organize collaborative projects. Prior to joining APLU, Meaghan worked as Vice President of Corporate and Business Development at Blackboard Inc. Her mission is to provide professional educators with the technology and support they need to deliver transformative and sustainable instructional services for all the learners. The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) is a research, policy, and advocacy organization representing 235 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems, and affiliated organizations. Founded in 1887, APLU is North America's oldest higher education association. Annually, its member institutions enroll 4.9 million undergraduates and 1.3 million graduate students, award 1.2 million degrees, employ 1.3 million faculty and staff, and conduct $43.8 billion in university-based research.

Alastair Fitzpayne

Director of the Future of Work Initiative, Aspen Institute

Alastair Fitzpayne serves as Director of the Future of Work Initiative. Prior to his work at the Aspen Institute, he served as Chief of Staff at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under Secretary Sylvia Burwell. In addition to serving as Chief of Staff at HHS, Fitzpayne also held a number of senior roles at the Department of the Treasury during the Obama Administration, including Deputy Chief of Staff and Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs. He has also served on Capitol Hill, in both the Senate and the House, as an economic advisor to Sen. Evan Bayh and Rep. Rahm Emanuel, respectively. He has also worked at the Office of Management and Budget and Abt Associates, a public policy consulting firm. Fitzpayne holds a BA from Vassar College and an MPP from the University of California-Berkeley.

Cristi Ford Ph.D.

Associate Provost, Center for Innovation in Learning and Student Success, University of Maryland University College

Cristi Ford, PhD brings more than 15 years of cumulative experience in higher education, project management, program evaluation, training, instructional design, and student services to her new role. Before joining UMUC, Ford served as director of the Research Academy for Integrated Learning for the University of the District of Columbia and as an assistant professor for UDC's Center for Academic Technology. Prior to UDC, Ford was the founding director of distance education at Hampton University, creating Hampton U Online with 22 online programs. She also teaches courses online for Prince George's Community College's department of psychological and sociological sciences. In addition to her experience building new online learning programs and research related to teaching and learning in the online environment, Ford possesses significant experience in the design and delivery of integrated educational support, training, and transition services for young adults and children with neurodevelopment disabilities. She has served as associate director of training, Marshall University, Autism Training Center; coordinator, Integrated Services for Young Adults, Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders; consultant, Trellis Services; ACT specialist, Kennedy Krieger High School; and transition specialist, Kennedy Krieger Institute.

Lindsay Fryer

Vice President, Penn Hill Group

Lindsay Fryer is a consultant on education policy issues for Penn Hill Group. Before joining Penn Hill Group, Lindsay served as a senior education policy advisor to Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) on the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. She was responsible for managing, developing and carrying out the Committee’s legislative agenda for issues including elementary and secondary education, teacher preparation in higher education, research and student privacy. She served as the principal negotiator for Senator Alexander on the Every Student Succeeds Act. Previously, Lindsay worked at the American Institutes for Research. Her work included coordinating and conducting data collection and coding, contributing to analyses, and assisting in report write-ups for two large-scale randomized field trials that evaluated a literacy software program and an online distance learning Algebra I course. Lindsay provided research and consulting services to State, district and school leaders on high school dropout prevention issues, helping to develop an Early Warning System tool to identify students at risk of high school dropout. She has authored several reports on these topics.

Angela Hanks

Associate Director, Workforce Development Policy, Center for American Progress

Angela Hanks is the Associate Director for Workforce Development Policy on the Economic Policy team at American Progress. Her work focuses on developing and promoting effective workforce development policies that raise the skills, wages, and employment opportunities of workers. Her work has been featured in U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, and MarketWatch, among others. Prior to American Progress, Hanks was senior federal policy analyst at the National Skills Coalition, where she worked to develop and advance federal workforce policies and assist local leaders in advocacy on these issues both in Washington and in their home districts. Hanks previously worked as a legislative assistant to Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD) and a counsel on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, where she worked on issues such as education, labor, and government oversight matters. Hanks holds a J.D. from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in political science from The George Washington University.

Michael Hawes

Director, Student Privacy Policy and Assistance Division, U.S. Department of Education

Michael Hawes is the Director of the Student Privacy Policy and Assistance Division (SPPAD) for the U.S. Department of Education. SPPAD is responsible for developing policy and guidance on long-standing and emerging student privacy policy issues, and for providing general and targeted technical assistance to educational agencies and institutions, and the broader education community on issues relating to statutory and regulatory compliance, as well as best practices for protecting student privacy beyond compliance with Federal requirements.

Jim Hermes

Associate Vice President, Government Relations, American Association of Community Colleges

Rich Hershman

Vice President, Government Relations, National Association of College Stores

Marc Hoit

Vice Chancellor for Information Technology and CIO, North Carolina State University

Dr. Marc I. Hoit is NC State’s first Vice Chancellor for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer. In this position, he leads the Office of Information Technology (OIT), which was created by merging the two former central IT units for academic and administrative computing on campus. Dr. Hoit continues to work on the use of information technology as a driver for change. As VCIT, he is leading the implementation of the campus-wide IT Strategic Plan, an IT Governance Structure, and a Strategic Operating Plan. He has also launched a number of key foundational projects that have improved efficiency and effectiveness of IT on campus.

Alyson Klein

Writer, Politics K-12, Education Week

Alyson Klein covers federal policy for Education Week and writes the Politics K-12 blog, with Michele McNeil. She joined Education Week after nearly two years at CongressDaily and internships at the Chronicle of Higher Education, and the Baltimore Sun. She holds a master's degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.

Sharon Leu

Senior Policy Advisor, Higher Education Innovation, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology

Sharon leads the Office of Educational Technology’s higher education innovation initiatives, including next generation assessments, individualized learning pathways, use of open resources and platforms, and strategic partnerships with stakeholders. Sharon also works in offices across the Department to design programs that improve quality of education and increase success of students and adult learners. Prior to joining OET, Sharon oversaw the design and implementation of the Department of Labor’s $2 billion Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program, the largest federal investment in postsecondary innovation and systematic infrastructure change.

Barmak Nassirian

Director of Federal Relations and Policy Analysis, American Association of State Colleges and Universities

Barmak Nassirian is the Director of Federal Relations and Policy Analysis at AASCU. In this role, Barmak coordinates federal relations and legislative, regulatory, and public policy at the federal level. He is a nationally known policy analyst and expert on federal student aid and student data privacy.

Paula O'Gorman

Senior VP, Strategic Partnerships, Renaissance Learning

Lillian Pace

Senior Director of National Policy, KnowledgeWorks

As KnowledgeWorks’ Senior Director of National Policy, Lillian Pace works with federal policymakers to create flexible policy environments that support personalized learning at scale. Pace also helps state and district leaders leverage federal policy to advance their vision for next generation education reform. During her time at KnowledgeWorks, Pace has authored a number of national publications on competency education, innovative assessments, and high school redesign. Prior to joining KnowledgeWorks, Pace served as an Education Policy Advisor for the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee.

Stephen Parker

Legislative Director, Education & Workforce Committee, National Governors Association

Parker manages policy and advocacy for education and workforce issues, including: child nutrition, workforce development, career and technical, early childhood, K-12 and postsecondary education. He is responsible for directing the development and implementation of governors’ strategic priorities through the Education and Workforce Committee.

Brian Pick

Chief of Teaching and Learning, District of Columbia Public Schools

Brian Pick serves as the Chief of Teaching and Learning for the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). In this role, he leads the district’s efforts to ensure that teachers are equipped with the best resources and professional learning opportunities so that all students achieve at their highest potential. Prior to becoming Chief, Brian served in various capacities at DCPS, including Policy Analyst, Chief of Staff for School Management and Support, and Deputy Chief of Curriculum and Instruction. Most notably, Brian has led the development and rollout of the DCPS Teaching and Learning Framework, spearheaded DCPS’ Race to the Top application process, which ultimately resulted in a $30M RTTT grant, and led the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. In recognition of his achievements, he was awarded the 2012 National Curriculum Leadership Award by the Council of Great City Schools. Prior to joining DC Public Schools, Brian taught in California for three years as a Teach For America corps member, and he served as an Education Pioneer.

Scott Ready

Director Customer Relations & Accessibility Strategist, Blackboard

Mark Schneiderman

VP Government Affairs, West (SchoolMessenger solutions)

As VP Government Affairs for West Corporation's Education group, Mark Schneiderman is responsible for representing its interests on education-related issues before governments and supporting its response to public policies and regulations that impact operations and school customers. Schneiderman previously served as Senior Director of Education Policy for the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) where he represented the interests of more than 800 high-tech companies before education policymakers and administrators at all levels of government. Prior to joining SIIA, Schneiderman was Legislative Associate for the Council of Chief State School Officers. Recently, Schneiderman has provided nationwide expertise and leadership in the area of student privacy and data security, including development of the Student Privacy Pledge, publication in Phi Delta Kappan magazine, testimony before the New York and California state legislatures, and production of a developer workshop.

Robert Schwartz

Professor Emeritus of Practice in Educational Policy and Administration, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Bob Schwartz joined the faculty of the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) in 1996, where he has served, successively, as lecturer, professor of practice, academic dean, Francis Keppel Professor in Educational Policy and Administration, and senior research fellow. Prior to joining the HGSE faculty, Professor Schwartz served in a variety of roles in education: high school teacher and principal; education advisor to the Mayor of Boston and the Governor of Massachusetts; assistant director of the National Institute of Education; executive director of The Boston Compact; and education program director at The Pew Charitable Trusts. From 1997-2002 Schwartz served as founding President of Achieve, Inc, a nonprofit organization created by governors and corporate leaders to help improve performance in US schools. Since 2010, Professor Schwartz has participated in two OECD studies, Learning for Jobs and Strong Performers and Successful Reformers and contributed chapters to four Harvard Education Press volumes: Teaching Talent (2010), Surpassing Shanghai (2011), The Futures of School Reform (2012), and Improving the Odds for America’s Children (2014). In 2011, he co-authored an influential report calling for more attention to career and technical education, Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young Americans for the 21st Century. He is currently co-leading Pathways to Prosperity at Jobs For the Future (JFF), a national network of states and regions that was formed in 2012 to act upon the analysis and recommendations outlined in the Pathways report. He is a senior fellow at Jobs for the Future; his primary affiliation remains with HGSE.

Christopher Sessums Ph.D.

Director of Academic Affairs, D2L

Dr. Christopher Sessums is Director of Academic Affairs at D2L where he works with higher education institutions across the globe to optimize learner success and institutional efficiencies. Prior to joining D2L, Christopher served as a faculty member and administrator at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education, at the University of California Berkeley, and at the University of Florida. His research interests focus on educational technology and teacher professional learning.

Burck Smith

CEO, StraighterLine

Burck Smith is the CEO and founder of StraighterLine. Ten years before launching StraighterLine in 2009, he co-founded SMARTHINKING, the largest online tutoring provider for schools and colleges. Burck has written chapters for three books on education policy for the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He is a member of the American Enterprise Institute's Higher Education Working Group.

Jennifer Stiddard

Director of Government Relations, Association of Community College Trustees

Steven Taylor

Project Lead, ACE Alternative Credit Project, American Council on Education

Steven Taylor leads national initiatives on alternative education pathways, institutional change and innovation, and instructional quality for ACE; he is the principal investigator on a Gates Foundation grant to create an alternative credit ecosystem and co-principal investigator on a Strada Education Network grant to research the impacts and outcomes of quality, scalable faculty development. Additionally, he follows trends around education and industry credential alignment that influence the work of ACE’s Center for Education Attainment and Innovation. Taylor is also an adjunct faculty member in the College of Business at Wilmington University (DE). Taylor has worked for over a decade designing and delivering training programs and working with non-traditional learners in the higher education and trade association sectors. Before ACE, he managed the development of over thirty certification preparation and continuing education courses for pharmaceutical and medical device industry professionals at the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society. His experience at institutions includes roles in student development at the University of North Texas and leading the first Texas Prefreshman Engineering Program (TexPREP) in the Dallas County Community College District.

Nan Travers Ph.D.

Director of the Center for Leadership for Credentialing Learning, SUNY Empire State College

Nan L Travers, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Leadership for Credentialing Learning, SUNY Empire State College. The Center for Leadership for Credentialing provides national leadership in the areas of prior learning assessment, professional learning evaluations, competency-based education and other related practices that support the credentialing of pathways to enhance students’ economic opportunities, social mobility and talent development within workplace and educational settings. Dr. Travers focuses on research, policies and practices of prior learning assessment and competency-based education and is widely published nationally and internationally. She led the development of the Global Learning Qualifications Framework to assess college-level learning acquired outside of the traditional academic setting. She serves on the board for the Prior Learning International Research Consortium and is a member of the national Connecting Credentials Initiative sponsored by the Lumina Foundation and led by the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce. She serves as co-editor for the journal: PLA Inside Out: An International Journal on the Theory, Research, and Practice in Prior Learning Assessment ( Prior to SUNY Empire State College, Dr. Travers has served in various administrative roles at community colleges in VT and NH.

Dr. Dietra Trent

Secretary of Education, State of Virginia

Dr. Dietra Trent was recently appointed Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Virginia by Governor Terry McAuliffe. Previously, she served as Deputy Secretary of Education. She joined the Administration of Governor Terry McAuliffe in January 2014. As Secretary of Education, Dr. Trent is tasked with promoting and implementing the Governor’s education agenda. This includes eradicating the Achievement Gap, promoting great teaching and learning, and working with agencies, stakeholders and other partners to strengthen educational pathways to the new Virginia Economy. Prior to joining the McAuliffe Administration, Dr. Trent served as Deputy State Director for Senator Mark Warner, and also served in the administrations of Governors Warner and Kaine, where she served as Deputy Secretary of Education. She worked in the Office of Congressman Bobby Scott and in the President’s office at Virginia Commonwealth University. Secretary Trent currently serves as Chair of the Minority Political Leadership Institute’s (MPLI) advisory board. MPLI is a program which supports leadership development for individuals focused on addressing and studying issues of importance to minority populations. She also serves on the Board for Higher Achievement – a nonprofit which aims to close the opportunity gap for middle school youth in at-risk communities through the promotion of rigorous afterschool and summer programs. A native of Halifax County, Virginia, Dr. Trent earned a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Criminal Justice from Hampton University, and completed her master’s and Ph.D degrees in Public Administration and Policy from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Peter Zamora

Director of Federal Relations, Council of Chief State School Officers

Peter Zamora is Director of Federal Relations for the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), representing public officials who head state departments of elementary and secondary education. Prior to CCSSO, Zamora was Senior Education Counsel, Office of Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee. He was previously the Washington, D.C. Regional Counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, a Hispanic civil rights legal organization. He has also served as a bilingual-credentialed English teacher in a California public high school, an education lawyer in private practice, and a consultant to the D.C. Public Schools.

For More Information

This event is only open to SIIA Members. For more information, contact Brendan Desetti, SIIA, Director, Education Policy 


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