Keynote Speakers

iNACOL is proud to announce the lineup of keynote speakers for the iNACOL Symposium, being held on October 23-25 in Orlando, Florida. 

Tuesday, October 24th

Opening Keynote: 8:00 – 9:15 a.m. ET

Personalized, Learner-Centered Innovations to Transform Lives and Communities

Kara Bobroff, Native American Community Academy
Diane Tavenner, Summit Public Schools
Bror Saxberg, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
Facilitator: Susan Patrick, iNACOL

Communities, leaders, students, teachers and parents are coming together and ideating a clear vision for the future of education by exploring the fundamental purpose of our education system and redefining student success. What does it mean for communities to engage meaningfully to lift up opportunity and support student success? What are the most important roles for communities in setting the vision and describing the purpose, values and outcomes for learner-centered education systems to honor our commitment to our youths, families and communities and prepare young people for their futures?

The transformation to personalized learning requires a deep systemic change to learner-centered communities. How do communities engage in supporting learners at all stages in the design of new innovative models?

Today, an increasing number of innovative educators are designing innovative learning models using personalized approaches to advance equity, to provide access to educational opportunities and rich cultural experiences and to redouble efforts to examine quality to dramatically improve student outcomes for success in college, career and life. These learning designers are drawing from research and the learning sciences to create next generation learning models that better meet all students’ needs and maximize each student’s full potential.

Education leaders are creating expanded learning opportunities that extend beyond school walls, increasing student agency and supports, offering community-based and experiential learning with increased student agency in the shift to personalization. Performance-based assessments, which are personalized and rigorous alternatives to standardized testing, help teachers and students build on individual strengths, develop a growth mindset, and cultivate skills to foster more equitable learning outcomes within competency-based learning systems.

This session will follow a TED-talk format, where three extraordinary leaders will provide short, powerful talks exploring their journeys and reflecting on how they shifted toward personalized learning, focusing on evidence for how students learn best. It will conclude with a facilitated panel discussion focusing on powerful, breakthrough models that foster equity, access and quality.

Kara Bobroff (Navajo/Lakota) will share how NACA is implementing a holistic and culturally relevant student-centered, community-based model, as her work in New Mexico is becoming a beacon for new models globally.

View Kara’s bio.

Diane Tavenner will reflect on her journey to implement and share a personalized learning model designed to equip every student to lead a fulfilled life.

View Diane’s bio.

Bror Saxberg will explore the latest research from the learning sciences and its impact on the future of education, teaching and learning.

View Bror’s bio.

Keynote Plenary Luncheon: 12:15 – 2:00 p.m. ET

Learning by Design: Breakthrough Models for Empowering Youth and Innovations for Educational Excellence

Caroline Hill, CityBridge Foundation
Jordan Tinney, Surry Schools
Harvey Chism, South Bronx Community Charter High School

Drawing on professional learning strategies, policies, and systemic “lessons learned” in Washington, D.C., Surrey, British Columbia, and New York City, three leading-edge practitioners will share their journeys on building a culture of learning with personalized approaches, flexible structures and breakthrough models.

How do we build capacity to lead change? How do we ensure we are using evidence-based practices as we innovate and create better flexibility for school and educator autonomy, while ensuring a strong vision and values to ensure all students meet and exceed high standards? Transforming to a learner-centered culture and leading change are key to innovating teaching and learning, building the capacity and professionalism of educators, and advancing student success. The design of new personalized learning models is educator-driven and designed to address equity and excellence, nurturing the growth mindset to focus on the talents and potential inherent in all children.

Embedded in the design of these new models is innovation for equity — where systems advance important innovations and consistently embody a culture of continuous improvement — focused on assessing holistic student needs, developing teaching practices to meet those needs, and evaluating the impact of new practices. These new designs focus intentionally on equity, personalizing learning to students’ individual needs, and embrace expansive measures of student success. Leaders and educators are working together through adaptive leadership styles that ensure a culture of growth mindset, create a collective community of innovative practice within the educator workforce, and provide quality professional learning for teachers each day.

In this TED-talk style keynote, three internationally and nationally renowned practitioners will give short, powerful talks to share their unique perspectives on equity, access and quality throughout the change process. Discover the story of their journeys into the heart of school transformation efforts to personalized, breakthrough system models that advance success for all youth.

This session will conclude with a facilitated panel discussion to spark further conversation and leadership insights, focusing on equity, access, quality, and excellence for all students.

Caroline Hill will share her experiences in advancing education innovations for equity and building capacity for designing personalized, breakthrough models.

View Caroline’s bio.

Jordan Tinney will speak on how he has approached leading change, building capacity, and developing a culture of learning through his “Learning by Design” framework.

View Jordan’s bio.

Harvey Chism will share his insights in advancing student-centered, competency-based education innovations.

View Harvey’s bio.

Wednesday, October 25th

Morning Keynote: 8:00 – 9:15 a.m. ET

Leading Systems Change toward Student-Centered Learning

Rose Colby, Competency Education Specialist
Paul Leather, Center for Innovation in Education
Yvonne Armenta, University of California Berkeley, Class of 2017

Education leaders across the country are designing the structures and architectures for new personalized learning systems to nurture and grow students’ talents while demanding quality, excellence and mastery of the highest standards. This keynote will provide deep insights on the journey of two experts leading the transformation to competency education — recognizing the “long-game” needs for change for education systems over two decades — as well as a student perspective on how a student-centered, competency-based approach provided her with personalized pathways to grow, exhibit her student work based on mastery, and what it has meant for realizing success.

Rose Colby will share her work across multiple states, districts and schools to explore the central design elements of competency education systems to meet the needs of all students. Rose’s new book, published by Harvard Education Press this fall, Competency-Based Education: A New Architecture for K-12 Schooling, shares guidance on redesigning the traditional structures of K-12 education toward competency-based systems. She will explore the vision of creating a new Profile of a Graduate with communities and the lessons learned from implementing competency-based grading and assessment. Crucial to the change is culture, community engagement, leadership, new skills and competencies. View Rose’s bio.

New Hampshire’s move to competency education and the work on the innovative assessment models, including the Performance Assessment of Competency Education (PACE) initiative, has lifted New Hampshire as a national model for work in moving systems toward competency education. PACE is now in its third year with twenty-four districts, where educators judge and validate student learning using robust, locally-developed performance assessments, rather than relying on a single annual state exam.

In New Hampshire, Paul Leather has led decades of impactful work and systems change to support student learning. Paul’s work has led the nation through a student-centered vision for systems to support local leaders in reimagining the future of education and understanding how New Hampshire is building capacity for professional educators to implement these transformations to personalized learning. Gain insights into how New Hampshire is designing next generation accountability models and systems of assessments with PACE, developing coherence and bringing about systems change at the state level to support competency education and college and career readiness for all students. View Paul’s bio.


Yvonne Armenta, a former student of Metropolitan Arts & Technology High School, will share her student perspective on how performance assessments in personalized, competency-based systems led to deeper learning and preparedness for college, career and life. She will share how her high school experiences in creating student demonstrations of work, including exhibitions, projects, and a College Portfolio Defense, were valuable and central to her success, and helped her recognize the power of her voice. View Yvonne’s bio.

Student Panel: 12:15 – 2:00 p.m. ET

Unleashing the Most Underutilized Resource in Education: The Learner

Ulcca Joshi Hansen, Education Reimagined
Jemar Lee, Iowa BIG 
Patricia Coleman,
Summit Elementary School, McComb School District
Keyonna Griffin,
Summit Elementary School, McComb School District 
Vanella Tadjuidje,
Pike Road Schools 
Ikonkar Kaur Khalsa,
Lindsay Unified School District 

What do learners think about transforming K-12 education in ways that lead to more powerful learning experiences designed to meet the unique needs of every learners? How have next generation learning designs fostered their development and provided them with opportunities, leading to deeper learning and increased engagement?

Ulcca Joshi Hansen, Associate Director of National Outreach & Community Building at Education Reimagined, will facilitate a panel discussion with five inspiring learners from across the country who have experienced both traditional and learner-centered education models to hear their insights into creating environments that unleash their full potential. These learners will share their perspectives on shifting toward learner-centered approaches to learning. In a provocative, unfiltered, and honest conversation, they will provide first-hand accounts of what it’s like to experience powerful learning opportunities that prepare them for success. Send your questions to the learners through Twitter using #iNACOL17.

View Ulcca’s bio.

Speaker Bios

Kara Bobroff

Kara Bobroff (Navajo/Lakota), Ed.S., is a lifelong educator and leader with more than 25 years of experience serving her community. After serving as a special education teacher, assistant principal, and principal in several schools, she earned an Echoing Green Fellowship during which she engaged the larger Albuquerque community toward her vision of promoting academically excellent and culturally relevant education for Native American students. She became the Founding Principal of the Native American Community Academy (NACA) in 2006, now an award-winning public charter school dedicated to Native American student success. Under her leadership, NACA has been recognized as a model for effective Indigenous education by the New Mexico Indian Education Sub-Committee; by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) as a Breakthrough School — 1 of 10 schools in the country for its ability to promote high achievement in spite of serving a large number of students living in poverty (2012 and 2017); by Teach for America as a “School to Learn From” for delivering an excellent education for students while also maintaining a culturally responsive learning environment (2015); and as an Ashoka Changemaker School for its work in developing empathetic leaders (2015). Kara is now the Executive Director of the NACA Inspired Schools Network (NISN), the first school network in the nation that is focused on improving Native American education, using NACA’s success as a model and guide for a comprehensive fellowship and community engagement program. Kara’s leadership in education led to an appointment on President Barack Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, where she served during 2015-16. Kara has also received the Zia Award for University of New Mexico alumni for distinguished service in the field of education, and been named a “Woman of Influence” by Albuquerque Business First. Her volunteer roles include as an advisory board member for Harvard Urban Principal Center, Learning Alliance New Mexico, and Southwest Youth Services, among others.

Diane Tavenner

Diane Tavenner is the Co-Founder and CEO of Summit Public Schools, a leading public school system that operates 11 schools in California and Washington, as well as a free program that enables schools across the U.S. to implement Summit Learning, its nationally recognized personalized approach to teaching and learning.  

Diane founded Summit’s flagship school, Summit Preparatory Charter High School in 2003, with the mission to prepare a diverse student population for success in college, career and life, and to be thoughtful, contributing members of society. Summit quickly earned the reputation for being one of the nation’s best public high schools, and overwhelming community demand led to the opening of 10 additional Summit schools, as well as the creation of the Summit Learning Program.

Prior to founding Summit, Diane spent ten years as a public school teacher, administrator and leader in traditional urban and suburban public schools throughout California. Diane holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Sociology from the University of Southern California, and has a master’s degree in Administration and Policy Analysis from Stanford University.

Bror Saxberg

As Vice President, Learning Science, Bror Saxberg is responsible for CZI’s thinking about how to expand and apply learning science results and good learning measurement practice at scale to real-world learning situations across the full span of learning – pre-K, K-16, and beyond.

Saxberg most recently served as Chief Learning Officer at Kaplan, Inc. where he was responsible for the research and application of innovative evidence-based learning strategies, technologies and products across Kaplan’s full range of educational services offerings. He also worked to maintain consistent learning standards for Kaplan’s products and services. Saxberg also served as senior vice president and chief learning officer at K12, Inc., where he was responsible for designing both online and offline learning environments and developing new student products and services. Saxberg has also held positions at Knowledge Universe, Dorling Kindersley, and McKinsey. Saxberg received an Honors BA in Mathematics and a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Washington, an MA in mathematics from Oxford University, a PhD in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT, and an MD from Harvard Medical School.

Caroline Hill

Caroline is a catalyst for equity.  She is the founder of the DC Equity Lab and co-founder of the Equity Design Collaborative — two emerging nodes in the equity ecosystem. She also leads new school creation and redesign efforts at CityBridge Education in Washington, D.C. For the past 15 years she has worked in D.C. public and charter schools as a teacher, mentor, coach, and leader. She aspires to create learning environments that facilitate equity for all people — designing with those who have been historically underserved.

Preparing all learners for peak equity demands new and different solutions. This challenge inspires Caroline to explore innovative organization and learning models that optimize the role of relationships, leverage technologies, and engage people as agents in their own learning. Caroline holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of Virginia and a Master of Education in Learning and Teaching from Harvard Graduate School of Education. An additional Master of Science in Administration was conferred through New Leaders for New Schools — a principal training fellowship.

Jordan Tinney

Dr. Jordan Tinney is Superintendent/CEO in Surrey which is British Columbia’s largest school district and one of the largest school districts in Canada. Surrey has over 72,000 students and approximately 10,000 staff.

Jordan began his career in Electronics Engineering Technology in the field of Oceanography but then moved to education where he holds a master’s degree in administration and a doctorate in curriculum with specific research in educational change and technology.  Jordan has taught K-12 and at post-secondary and as CEO, his current responsibilities are to directly oversee all aspects of the district.

Jordan’s passion is for organizational culture and change in a complex world. On any given summer, you’ll find Jordan and his family somewhere in Yellowstone National Park where they will be fly fishing and relaxing among the bison.

Harvey Chism

Previous to being a founding member of the South Bronx Community team, Harvey was Senior Director of School Design for the NYC Department of Education. In this capacity, he supported the implementation of three new co-created high schools designed to serve under-served students in target NYC neighborhoods. He worked with school leaders, their faculty and other colleagues to share resources, maintain alignment to common strategies vision and promote collective brandraising and partnership efforts. Prior to joining the NYC DOE, Harvey was VP of Educational Innovations at the Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN) for 7 years. As a member of PYN’s senior leadership team, he supervised mid-level, cultivated and maintained institutional partnerships and managed the performance of a $6.7 million dollar programs portfolio. Harvey is a former teacher and foundation board member. He has a Masters of Science in Education Policy from the University of PA and a Bachelor of Arts in Education and Sociology from Swarthmore College.

Rose Colby

Rose Colby is currently a Competency-Based Learning and Assessment Specialist, assisting schools in designing high quality competency, assessment, and grading reform systems in many states. She is a Talent Cloud Fellow for 2Revolutions, an education design firm. She is a member of the national Advisory Board and contributor to Competency Works, the national clearinghouse and resource for innovative practices in competency education. She has served as Competency Education Consultant for the N.H. Department of Education supporting school districts as they develop their competency education systems and in designing and supporting the new state accountability pilot system, the New Hampshire Performance Assessment for Competency Education (NH PACE).

Ms. Colby is a motivational speaker and presenter in the areas of competency-based learning, digital learning, differentiation, and school leadership. She has been a partner in the Nellie Mae Education Foundation-funded project centered on Student Success through Extended Learning Opportunities in partnership with Q.E.D. Foundation, PlustimeNH, and the N.H. Department of Education.

Prior to 2006, Ms. Colby was the principal of Mountain View Middle School, which was awarded the N.H. Department of Education Excellence Award (School of the Year) in 1996 and 2001. While on sabbatical in 2002, she served as Principal in Residence for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s N.H. School Administrators Leading with Technology project.

Ms. Colby currently teaches in the Educational Leadership Program at Plymouth State University. She is the recipient of the University’s 2015 Dennise Maslakowski Memorial Award in Education.

Paul Leather

Paul Leather is Director for State and Local Partnerships at the Center for Innovation in Education. Mr. Leather’s background and experience in Education, Counseling, and Administration in New Hampshire spans four decades. He served as the Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Education in New Hampshire for eight years, and has also served for 18 years as the Director of the Division of Career Technology and Adult Learning for the Department, overseeing statewide initiatives such as High School Redesign, Extended Learning Opportunities, and Drop Out Prevention, as well as the administration of Vocational Rehabilitation, Adult Education, Career and Technical Education, Tech-Prep, and School Guidance and Counseling. In 1997, as part of the NH School to Career efforts, Mr. Leather began the journey to create a state model for a “competency-based student transcript.” This effort resulted in the development and implementation of the NH Competency based Assessment System and ultimately to the student mastery model now in place as part of NH’s school approval standards. More recently, he has led the development of a first-in-the-nation next generation educational accountability model, called “Performance Assessment of Competency Education,” or PACE, approved as a pilot program with four NH districts in March 2015.

Yvonne Armenta

Yvonne is a recent graduate from the University of California, Berkeley where she double majored in Media Studies and Native American Studies with an education minor. She’s the first member of her family to graduate from high school and attend college. Yvonne graduated from Metropolitan Arts & Technology High School, an Envision School in San Francisco in 2013 where she defended her work through the College Portfolio Defense to an audience of teachers and staff. This presentation along with countless others throughout her high school career, paved the road for the confidence that she exudes when she tackles the craft of public speaking and story-telling in her academic and personal life. Since then, she has been an advocate for Envision Education and project-based learning in hopes that others may recognize the power of their voice and through it, find their passion.

Ulcca Joshi Hansen

Ulcca is Associate Director of National Outreach and Community Building for Education Reimagined, an initiative of Convergence Center for Policy Resolution. She will be helping build the ecosystem of partners needed to ensure that learner-centered pioneers have the supports they need to succeed. She brings a diverse set of experience working with educators, funders, policymakers, legislators, business leaders, and community advocates in the US and internationally. Ulcca is author of The Third Rail blog, and a forthcoming book, The Future of Smart, which explores how our school-centered education systems and decades of reform efforts have prevented us from realizing the unique potential of all students.

A first-generation college student, Ulcca completed a BA and certificate in early childhood and elementary education with a focus on special education at Drew University. She taught in Newark public schools before earning her PhD from Oxford University and a JD from Harvard Law School. She has been recognized for her commitment to public service as a Truman Scholar, a British Marshall Scholar, and a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow.