10:00AM – 5:30PM



2401 M ST. NW, WASHINGTON, DC 20037

Panels (click to expand)

Standing at the Intersection of Social Justice and Education

To advance the urgent need for social justice, we must approach education reform as part of a broader progressive movement. In doing so, we must be vigilantly mindful of the intersectionality of issues such as the persistent racial discrimination in law enforcement, housing, employment, voting rights, legislative gerrymandering, and other aspects of American society; the widening economic gap between haves and have-nots; access to health care; juvenile justice reform; immigration issues and protecting the rights of Dreamers under DACA; and advancing LGBTQ rights. The goal of this plenary would be to learn from practitioners on the ground engaging with the work every day and explore how intersectionality of issues plays out day to day in schools and classrooms across the country.


Meg Ansara, 270 Strategies
Tenicka Boyd, Education Reform Now
Rob Clark, YouthBuild and LEAD Charter School
Andrea Zayas, New Orleans Youth Alliance
Michele Jawando, Vice President, Legal Progress at CAP
Naomi Shelton, Director of K-12 Advocacy, UNCF
Clint Smith, Writer, Teacher, and Activist

Empowerment Zones as a Tool for Systemic Change

The panel will examine the successes and challenges of an “empowerment zone” model for systemic change that couples an investment of additional resources with greater school autonomy and accountability for student outcomes. Discussion will include how empowerment zones embody evidence-based policies and offer a new strategy for navigating the politics of changing school governance structures so that they serve the best interests of students.


Charles Barone, Education Reform Now
Veronica Conforme, UP Education Network
Chris Gabrieli, Empower Schools
Robin Lake, Center on Reinventing Public Education
Janet Lopez, Rose Community Foundation
Anne Rowe, Denver School Board

Candid Discussion with Elected Officials

In this discussion moderated by The 74 Million’s Beth Hawkins, state legislators will discuss their hard work in moving the progressive reform agenda, a “real talk” session. What motivates progressives to push a reform agenda even in the face of adversity? How do you combat what’s popular/politically viable with what’s right? How can we help more leaders make choices that matter for kids?


Hon. Gary Carter, Louisiana House of Representatives, District 102
Beth Hawkins, The 74 Million
Hon. Brittany Pettersen, Colorado General Assembly, Representative District 28
Hon. Teresa Ruiz, New Jersey State Senate, 29th District

6:00PM – 10:00PM




We look forward to honoring our four trailblazing award winners:

  • Arne Duncan – Founders’ Award
  • Hon. Crisanta Duran – Rising Star Award
  • John King – Founders’ Award
  • Hon. Mitch Landrieu – Change Agent Award


9:30AM – 2:30PM



2401 M ST. NW, WASHINGTON, DC 20037

Panel (click to expand)

Innovation in the Transition from High School to and Through College

If public education support ends at a high school degree, we fail our children and set them on a path of economic insecurity and staggering inequality. Over the last two decades, median family income of those with only a high school degree or just some college has gone down, relative unemployment rates have gone up, and the gap with those who have a bachelor’s degree has grown markedly – especially for Millennials and Generation X. The good news is over 75 percent of young adults prior to age 24 pursue some form of postsecondary education be it at a for-profit trade school, community college, or four-year institution. But approximately half never complete a certificate or degree program. Those who borrow and dropout are four times more likely default on their student loans. How can the intense interest in college access and affordability among all income groups be leveraged in a way that meets those concerns while simultaneously promoting better high school preparation, access to the best fit quality institutions of higher education for individual students, and crucially, on-time degree completion?


Sarah Ancel, Complete College America
Jose Cruz, Lehman College, City University of New York
Michael Dannenberg, Education Reform Now
Tevera Stith, KIPP DC: KIPP Through College and Career

Education Issues within the Progressive Coalition

Quality education is understood by the general public as a persistent and significant challenge. It is core to a progressive agenda of equity and opportunity, and it is urgently relevant as the current administration is quickly instituting policies that undermine access for children in this country. Yet, progressives are divided on the path forward for education and do not currently hold a strong stake in the conversation at a time when the public needs to see us prepared and determined to offer solutions.

This is the work of ERN: we educate progressives who are ready to talk honestly about our public schools and offer research and support as they push for policy that ensures every child in the country has access to a quality public education. As the political rhetoric increases in advance of 2018 and 2020, we need more progressive leaders to understand that there is no path towards a better future that does not include a plan for children. Join this session as we talk with progressive strategists about public opinion in the time of Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and how to raise a unified, progressive message on public education.


  • Meg Ansara, Founding Partner, 270 Strategies
  • Jeffrey Plaut, Founding Partner, Global Strategy Group
  • Symone Sanders, Priorities USA
  • Jamal Simmons, Raben Group (moderator)


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