Keynote Speakers

Monday, October 22


Morning Keynote

Carlos Moreno, Big Picture Learning  
Phyllis Lockett, LEAP Innovations
Tony Monfiletto, Future Focused Education

Afternoon Keynote

Russlynn Ali, Emerson Collective and XQ Institute

Tuesday, October 23


Morning Keynote

David Istance, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), retired; Brookings Institute; Strathclyde University, Scotland

Afternoon Keynote

Student Panel – Jemar Lee, Education Reimagined and EdRevision, moderator

Wednesday, October 24


Closing Keynote

Dr. Pamela Cantor, Turnaround for Children

Speaker Bios

Carlos Moreno

A proud native New Yorker, Carlos Moreno is a passionate educational leader committed to supporting school and district leaders who are creating high-quality, non-traditional schools. He is a Co-Executive Director for Big Picture Learning, a nonprofit organization that, since 1995, has developed over 150 such schools in the United States and throughout the world.

As Big Picture’s Co-Executive Director, Carlos is the visionary for all U.S. school and district wide programs. Carlos leads a national team of regional directors, designs and leads Big Picture’s several annual conferences, and coordinates leadership development and support services for school and district leaders and works with scores of non-Big Picture schools that wish to incorporate elements of the Big Picture Learning design. He also leads the Deeper Learning Equity Fellowship in partnership with the Internationals Network for Public Schools.

Carlos holds undergraduate degrees in marketing and business from Johnson & Wales University along with a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership. Most recently Carlos was named as a Pahara-Aspen Institute Fellow – a fellowship designed to sustain diverse, senior leaders who are reimagining public education and who will help shape the future of the educational excellence and equity movement.

Phyllis Lockett

Phyllis Lockett has been dedicated to transforming education in the U.S. for more than a decade. She is currently the founder and CEO of LEAP Innovations, an organization headquartered in Chicago that connects innovation and education to transform how students learn. LEAP works directly with educators and innovators across the country to pilot, research and scale personalized learning technologies and innovative practices across classrooms and outside learning environments.

Before starting LEAP, Phyllis was a driving force behind Chicago’s charter movement. As founding president and CEO of New Schools for Chicago, she helped raise more than $70 million to support opening 80 new public schools. Her work more than tripled the number of charter schools and drove Chicago’s first magnet school replication.

She previously served as executive director of the Civic Consulting Alliance (CCA), a pro bono consulting firm for government agencies, helping to shape the Chicago Transit Authority’s $2.8 billion capital improvement program and the Chicago Housing Authority’s 10-year, $1.5 billion Plan for Transformation. She also held marketing, sales and business development roles with Fortune 500 companies, including IBM, Kraft Foods and General Mills. Currently, Phyllis is a board member of ASCD, an independent director of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago and serves as a board member on several civic organizations including The Economic Club of Chicago, The Chicago Network and the Adler Planetarium. She is also a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago and a Henry Crown Fellow with the Aspen Institute. She earned a Master of Management degree from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University.

Tony Monfiletto

Tony is from Albuquerque, New Mexico and has worked in education since 1990. He began his career at the Chicago Panel on Public School Policy to promote the restructuring of the Chicago Public Schools. After leaving Chicago in 1993, he joined the staff of the Legislative Education Study Committee in Santa Fe, New Mexico where he specialized in public school finance. This big picture work was fundamental in establishing the context for cutting edge small high schools in his hometown. His work is focused on using the local wisdom and reciprocal relationships with communities to create schools that provide, “the best education for the students who need it the most.”

In 2008, Tony began work on ACE Leadership High School, the first in a network of the next generation of career focused schools in New Mexico. The Leadership Schools Network has now grown to four schools, ACE, Health, Technology and Siembra (entrepreneurship) High Schools. These institutions are dedicated to the premise that “learning by doing,” Positive Youth Development and the highest level of private sector collaboration, will result in schools that make Albuquerque a healthier and more prosperous community. Tony is also a Pahara-Aspen and Sizer fellow.  

Russlyn Ali

Russlynn Ali is Managing Director of Education at the Emerson Collective and Chief Executive Officer of XQ Institute. XQ’s mission is to fuel, inspire and catalyze America’s collective creativity in order to transform our high schools so every student can succeed. 

Russlyn served as Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education from 2009 to 2012, acting as Secretary Arne Duncan’s lead advisor on equity and civil rights. Prior to her work in the Obama Administration, Russlynn served as vice president of the Education Trust in Washington, D.C. and founded Education Trust-West, in Oakland.

Her professional background also includes experience as a teacher, attorney, liaison for the president of the Children’s Defense Fund, assistant director of policy and research at the Broad Foundation, and chief of staff to the president of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Board of Education. 

David Istance

David Istance headed the Schooling for Tomorrow project at the OECD’s Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) for a decade, before leading another of its long-running programs – Innovative Learning Environments – and its follow-up Innovative Pedagogies for Powerful Learning. This work has spanned systems change and future thinking, through local strategies and innovations, to research and practice on teaching and learning. Creating syntheses and new frameworks has been as important as reporting on specific innovations.

David held the main pen in these international projects, looking to provide intellectual leadership as well as promoting the innovations of others. He has privileged the practical relevance and accessibility of knowledge, as for instance his 2017 book Innovative Learning Environments – The Handbook aimed precisely at educational practitioners and leaders. He has since co-authored Teachers as Designers of Learning Environments: the importance of innovative pedagogies published by OECD in 2018. Equity and lifelong learning have been inspiring themes throughout his work and he has recently focused his attention on aging and learning by seniors.

David retired from OECD mid-2017 and is now a Non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC and a Visiting Professor at Strathclyde University, Scotland.

Jemar Lee

Jemar Lee is a nationally respected advocate for learner-centered education, an educational entrepreneur and a alumni of Iowa BIG high school in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. As co-founder and former team member of EdRevision, a new youth-led initiative, Jemar has spoken and presented to educators and students about learner-centered education at more than a dozen conferences around the country, including SXSWedu, iNACOL, Education Reimagined, keynote speaker at Edvision’s Ed Expo, Iowa Governor’s Future Ready Iowa Summit, International Seminar for Student Voice & Partnership and many more.

Currently, Jemar is taking a solidified gap year as he serves as a fellow with Education Reimagined working to help the learner-centred movement grow stronger and become irreversible. While doing this, he will be taking online college courses before stepping onto a campus fall of 2019.

Pamela Cantor

Pamela Cantor, M.D. practiced child psychiatry for nearly two decades specializing in trauma. She founded Turnaround for Children after co-authoring a study on the impact of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City schoolchildren. Specifically, she recognized that the scientific research on stress and the developing brain that she had learned in medical school should be translated into practices to help children and schools challenged by with the effects of unrelenting adversity. Dr. Cantor started Turnaround to help schools understand the impact of adversity on learning and to put children on a healthier developmental trajectory so they can live the lives they choose.

After leading Turnaround for 16 years as President and CEO, in 2018, Dr. Cantor transitioned to a new role as Founder and Senior Science Advisor. She now focuses on the scientific underpinnings of Turnaround’s work, on targeted thought leadership opportunities and key development initiatives. Much of her efforts are grounded in a series of papers Dr. Cantor researched and co-authored.

Dr. Cantor has been invited to share her insights on the science of learning and development at a variety of thought leadership events, including the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s By All Means Convening, ASU + GSV Summit, National Summit on Education Reform, Aspen Ideas Festival, NewSchools Summit, SXSWedu and NBC News Education Nation. Her work has been highlighted in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Washington Post and on NOVA and National Public Radio.

Dr. Cantor received an M.D. from Cornell University Medical College and a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College. She is a Visiting Scholar in Education at Harvard University, a member of the Council of Distinguished Scientists for the National Commission on Social, Emotional & Academic Development, and a leader of the Science of Learning and Development Initiative. An Ashoka Fellow, Dr. Cantor was awarded the 2014 Purpose Prize for Intergenerational Impact.