Keynote Speakers


Area of Expertise: Literacy
John Wood is the Founder of Room to Read, an organization that believes World Change Starts with Educated Children. Room to Read seeks to transform the lives of millions of children in developing countries by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education. At age 35, John left his position as Director of Business Development for Microsoft Greater China to form Room to Read. The business acumen honed there, combined with his passion and an unparalleled track record at changing the world, makes John a unique and inspiring speaker with universal appeal.
John's award-winning memoir, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur's Odyssey to Educate the World's Children (Harper Collins, 2006), tells how he raised over $350 million from a "standing start" to develop one of the fastest-growing nonprofits in history. Translated into 20 languages, it's popular with entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and educators alike, and was selected by as one of the Top Ten Business Narratives of 2006.

Title: Literacy — The Best Hope for the Developing World
We all know that literacy is the key to unlocking the power of education. And yet there are tens of millions of young children across the developing world who never gain basic literacy. 1 of 7 adults worldwide cannot read. John Wood, the Founder of Room to Read, believes this is not just a problem, but also an opportunity. He will show us Room to Read’s incredible journey since their 2000 launch, in which they’ve impacted over 9 million children across the developing world with the gift of education. Be prepared for an inspiring journey!




Area of Expertise: Literacy
Anne Sibley O’Brien ( is a Third-Culture Kid who grew up in South Korea as the daughter of medical missionaries, graduating from Seoul Foreign School. She is a children’s book creator who has illustrated 31 books, of which she wrote 14, and a frequent school presenter. O'Brien has received numerous awards for her authentic and expressive portrayals of diverse children and cultures, including the Author-Illustrator Human & Civil Rights Award from the National Education Association; the Africana Award; two Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature; an Aesop Award; the Global Korea Award; and the 2013 Katahdin Award for lifetime achievement from the Maine Library Association. In addition to creating books, O'Brien is an activist in the children's book field, writing, speaking and advocating for the importance of diverse children's literature. Her blog, “Coloring Between the Lines”, reflects on race, culture and children's books (

Topic: The Formation of Racial and Cultural Identity, Our Own and Our Students’
Title: Mirrors and Lenses: Exploring Racial and Cultural Identity

- How do children learn about race and culture?
- How do early experiences shape our identities?
- How does unconscious bias affect our perceptions, attitudes and behaviors?
An overview of some of the latest findings on racial identity formation and unconscious bias, and ideas for developing 21st-century skills for navigating difference.




Areas of Expertise: Assessment
James H. Stronge is President of Stronge and Associates Educational Consulting, LLC. Additionally, he is the Heritage Professor of Education, a distinguished professorship, in the Educational Policy, Planning, and Leadership Area at the College of William and Mary, in Williamsburg, Virginia. His Dr. research interests include policy and practice related to teacher quality and effectiveness, teacher and administrator evaluation, and teacher selection. He has worked with numerous state departments of education, school districts, and national and international educational organizations to design and implement evaluation and hiring systems for teachers, administrators, and support personnel. Recently, he completed work on new teacher and principal evaluation systems for American international schools in conjunction with the Association of American Schools in South America and supported by the U.S. Department of State.

In 2011, Stronge was honored with the Frank E. Flora Lamp of Knowledge Award, presented by the Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals for “bringing honor to the profession” and his “record of outstanding contributions.” He was selected as the 2012 national recipient of the Millman Award from the Consortium for Research on Educational Accountability and Teacher Evaluation (CREATE) in recognition of his work in the field of teacher and administrator evaluation. He has authored, coauthored, or edited 23 books and more than 150 articles, chapters, and technical reports. Among his current research projects are: 1) international comparative studies of national award-winning teachers in the United States and China, and 2) influences of economic and societal trends on student academic performance in countries globally.

Title: What Makes Great Teachers Great
Do teachers make a difference in how much and how well students learn? For anyone who has ever had an outstanding teaching, you know, emphatically, that the answer is yes. What we’ve known intuitively all along, we now know empirically: there is a direct, measurable link between teacher effectiveness and student success. The question we should be asking is not whether a teacher is highly qualified but whether a teacher is highly effective. This keynote address will feature an interactive presentation regarding a fundamental question: What makes great teachers great?