CUBE 2020 Annual Virtual Conference

Jacinto Ramos, Jr.

CUBE Steering Committee Chair & NSBA Board Director

Mawi Asgedom

Mawi Asgedom

Founder of Mawi Learning & bestselling author

And special guest appearances from U.S. Senator Cory Booker and Former New York Yankee and Latin Grammy-nominated Jazz Musician Bernie Williams.

Join us September 22-24 for CUBE's premier annual event, curated specifically to provide you with the tools and support you need to effect change as an empowered, impactful urban school board member. The deadline to register is Sept. 21. at 12 p.m. ET.


The pandemic has forced us to work, live, and think in new ways. One thing remains constant in moving forward: the importance of Community. Now that the Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) Annual Conference is virtual, there is an opportunity to expand our reach and continue to build and strengthen our community.

The 2020 CUBE Annual Virtual Conference fosters effective school district leadership through practical clinic sessions and inspirational keynote addresses. CUBE has convened school board members from across the nation for the past 52 years to network and share the continually evolving strategies they are using to address the unique educational challenges that exist in our nation's urban centers.

Although the format is different, our commitment to you stays the same. Join us for our premier annual event, curated specifically to give you the tools and support you need to effect change as an empowered, impactful urban school board member.

Registration Fees

   Early Bird (By July 31)  Regular
CUBE District Members/NATCON Participants/State Association Staff    $199  $249
Non-CUBE District Members  $274  $324

Registration Bonus! As a member benefit, CUBE districts receive one complimentary registration. The Equity and Member Services Department will send complimentary registration codes and instructions to each CUBE district. If you have any questions, please contact us at

*Conference registration fees are non-refundable.


1–2 p.m. State of Urban Education Keynote Address: Jacinto Ramos Jr.
2–2:20 p.m. Networking Break
2:20–3:20 p.m. Breakout Sessions
3:20–3:40 p.m. Networking Break & Presentation of AIAN Luminous Eagle Award
Award Sponsored by McGraw Hill
3:40–4:40 p.m.  Breakout Sessions
1–2 p.m.
General Session: Mawi Asgedom 
2–2:20 p.m. Networking Break & Presentation of NBC RISE Award
Award Sponsored by McGraw Hill
2:20–3:20 p.m. Breakout Sessions
3:20–3:40 p.m. Networking Break & Presentation of NHC Abrazo Awards
Awards Sponsored by McGraw Hill
3:40–4:40 p.m. Breakout Sessions
1–2 p.m.  Breakout Sessions 
2–2:20 p.m. Networking Break & Presentation of NHC Abrazo Awards
Awards Sponsored by McGraw Hill
2:20–3:20 p.m. Breakout Sessions
3:20–3:40 p.m. Networking Break
3:40–4:40 p.m. Awards Ceremony: Benjamin E. Mays Award and the CUBE District Awards

Sessions and Descriptions (as of Sept. 17, 2020)


  • Tuesday

    2:20–3:20 p.m. EDT

    Access, Options & Quality: School Nutrition as an Essential Tool for Equity, Sponsored by Sodexo
    Historically, disparities have existed in the quality and variety of school nutrition across geographic and socioeconomic groups. As policymakers and K-12 leaders focus on equity, nutrition must be a consideration. While federal and state laws and regulations provide the framework, innovation and continuous improvement in implementing nutrition programs are essential equity considerations. We all know that access to energy-dense foods help students focus and achieve. Beyond that baseline, learn how nutrition programs are invaluable tools for equity if they foster curiosity, showcase diversity of flavor and cuisine styles, and impart an understanding of agriculture and food production practices.

    Stephen Dunmore, CEO North America Schools, Sodexo
    Michael Morris, Senior Manager, Marketing-Back of House, Sodexo Education
    Tina Reddington, National Manager, Nutrition and Wellness, Universities and Schools, Sodexo North America

    Stronger on the Other Side: A Board’s Considerations for Learning from Crisis Response, Sponsored by BoardDocs
    As school districts are coming back together, reopening district offices and navigating the criteria to resume some form of in-person services, boards are beginning the process of assessing their district’s response to the pandemic crisis. While always critical, the pandemic has brought into sharper relief the dual concerns of equity and access. These core issues are deeply intertwined with ongoing concerns around budget uncertainty, student social-emotional well-being, and student outcomes. How can boards support districts in improving their ability to respond rapidly to changing conditions, while ensuring that the needs of all students are met with fidelity? Join governance experts Diana Baker Freeman of Diligent Corporation, and AJ Crabill of the Council of the Great City Schools for a discussion of the lessons learned from early responses to the pandemic in education, and how boards of education can continue to approach the 2020-21 school year with a growth mindset to emerge stronger on the other side.

    Diana Baker Freeman, Governance Specialist, Diligent Corporation
    AJ Crabill, Director of Governance, Council of the Great City Schools

    Equity or Inclusion? It All Begins with Releasing Cultural Biases
    Many districts are focusing on the initiatives of equity, inclusion, or both. However, if the members of these districts do not first begin with confronting and dispelling their individual biases, specifically cultural, the effectiveness will be limited.

    Ty G Jones, Board Member, Lancaster Independent School District
    Dawn Miller, Board Member, Cedar Hill Independent School District

    3:40–4:40 p.m. EDT

    Women in Leadership Presents Strategies for Improved Maternal Health, Sponsored by UnitedHealthcare
    The health of women, infants, and children is fundamental to the health of communities, and vice versa. Maternal well-being is a public health concern magnified in K-12 organizations, where more than two-thirds of the workforce is female. According to the 2019 American Health’s Rankings, nearly 6.9 million women ages 19-44 (12.4%) are uninsured, and nearly one in eight households (12.3%) in the nation don’t have adequate food due to lack of resources. Get information on stress-reduction techniques, nutrition tips, and other best practices for child-bearing women. After all, nearly 60% of maternal deaths in the U.S. can be prevented with the right approach to care.

    Dr. Charmaine Heard, Medical Director, UnitedHealthcare

    A Conversation with Google’s CS First Team: Equitable Access to Computer Science Education During a Global Pandemic, Sponsored by Google
    Google’s CS First team focuses on equitable access to computer science (CS) and offers a free, introductory curriculum for upper elementary and middle school students. This session will cover an overview of CS First and the program’s focus on equitable access to CS education with a particular focus on Black and Latinx students and include a discussion about the impact of COVID and CS education.

    Jessica Maissonet, Marketing Manager, Google

    Dismantling Institutional Racism in a Large Urban School District
    Fort Worth Independent School District (FWISD) is committed to interrupting institutional racism and interrogating the role race plays in decisions made and the expectations held for students of color. Attendees will gain an understanding of the role the Equity and Excellence Division plays to engage, sustain, and deepen conversations about race. Participants will be introduced to the tools used in FWISD to measure the impact of professional learning on changing the beliefs that drive behaviors and outcomes.

    Sherry Breed, Chief, Division of Equity and Excellence, Fort Worth Independent School District
    Dorene Benavidez, Executive Director, Division of Equity and Excellence, Fort Worth Independent School District
    Ashley Paz, Board Trustee, Fort Worth Independent School District
    Quinton Phillips, Board Trustee, Fort Worth Independent School District

    Workforce Impact: Ready to Work, Sponsored by NAF
    This session will discuss an approach for making high school graduates ready for work after high school. It is important that school districts prepare all students for college, career, and military readiness. Since students deserve choices, an effective curriculum and offering industry certification programs for all students is a must. These students will receive current and relevant skills that will guarantee passing of all certification tests. In addition, industry partners support will be explained.

    Linda Griffin, School Board Trustee, Garland Independent School District

  • Wednesday

    2:20–3:20 p.m. EDT

    Using a Culturally Anchored and Healing-Centered Approach to Help Students Advance, Sponsored by Aetna 
    For students to succeed, we need to consider the intersectionality of social-emotional development with academic learning. National CARES Mentoring Movement shares its holistic approach to supporting student achievement. In 10 cities across the country, its research-based model is helping students to transform their lives. In the session, you will learn about the group mentoring model and how it is seeding resilience in our most vulnerable students.

    Susan L. Taylor, Founder & CEO, National CARES Mentoring
    Stephen Powell, Chief Programs and Partnerships Officer, National CARES Mentoring
    Kerri Osborn, Chief Development Officer, National CARES Mentoring Movement
    Jayne Chu, Director of Development, National CARES

    Mentoring Protecting the Students' Journey through Enhanced Cleaning and Enhanced Facility Design, Sponsored by ABM
    Protecting the students’ journey is an exploration of the actions that should be taken to protect them and all others who enter your facilities. This would include administration, faculty, staff, and the community as a means of raising confidence in the perception that schools are safe. We will explore the following

    • Students protection best practice from the time they enter the school bus until the time they return home.
    • We will discuss the concept of Enhanced Cleaning.
    • Technologies that permanently clean the learning environment.
    • Continuity of Education – making sure students can be successful.
    • Funding these concepts.

    We know teachers and students are eager to get back to the classroom, so we explore the best ways to get this accomplished.

    Philip Martell, Senior Educational Consultant, ABM Building Solutions
    Jenny Post, Vice President, Client Engagement & Strategy, ABM Building Solutions
    Kevin R. Brown, Vice President of Engineering, ABM Building Solutions
    Daniel G Dowel, SVP Education Sales & Strategy, ABM Building Solutions

    Excellent Superintendent/Board of Education Relationships
    For nine years, the superintendent and the board have worked with the staff, parents, students, and community members to standardize the practice of excellence in Prairie-Hills District 144. We have raised test scores consistently. We have overcome budget deficits to balance the budget. We have written competitive grants, built and remodeled new facilities, and incorporated STEM and STEAM programs throughout our district.

    Kimako Patterson, Superintendent, Prairie-Hills Elementary School District 144
    Sharron Davis, Board President, Prairie-Hills Elementary School District 144
    Juanita Jordan, Board Member, Prairie-Hills Elementary School District 144
    Natalie Myers, Board Member, Prairie-Hills Elementary School District 144
    Barbara Nettles, Board Member, Prairie-Hills Elementary School District 144
    Kathy Taylor, Board Member, Prairie-Hills Elementary School District 144

    3:40–4:40 p.m. EDT

    The Importance and Logistics of Feeding Kids During the 2020-2021 School Year, Sponsored by Share our Strength
    Since the Coronavirus pandemic, No Kid Hungry has adapted its role in the anti-hunger space to help schools and community organizations meet the needs of students and families. In this session, No Kid Hungry will provide an overview of their response to COVID-19, cover the importance of school meals and available resources, and provide an update on the current school meal landscape by fielding questions and explaining the USDA waivers that are currently in place.

    Thompson Bertschy, National Partnerships & Field Associate, Share Our Strength
    Carolyn Vega, Senior Program Manager, Center for Best Practices, Share Our Strength

    Virtual Education: Are Your Students Engaging … AND Learning? Sponsored by Forecast5
    As many school systems across the country have moved to 100% remote learning or hybrid delivery models, the key questions school leaders are facing are:

    1. For students trying to overcome a disadvantage, are we closing gaps in the Digital Divide?
    2. Which students are not logging in daily?
    3. Which students are not completing the assigned virtual work?
    4. Are any of our students falling behind grade level?

    This session will feature CUBE members who have implemented live data dashboards that connect core SIS demographic information to classroom activity data streams to track the quality of engagement in a virtual environment. The panelists will discuss the process of identifying students who are having difficulty connecting and engaging in remote learning, as well as providing a framework for reporting engagement statistics to inform building leaders and key stakeholders.

    Jeff Carew, Managing Director, Forecast5 Analytics, Inc.
    Adam Cibulka, Senior Manager, Forecast5 Analytics, Inc.

    Award-Winning Equity at Work, Sponsored by Sodexo
    The ASBJ Magna Awards recognize exemplary equity district equity programs. Two 2020 Grand Prize winners will present on their programs: a redesigned and reimagined alternative school and a community wellness center for disadvantaged students and their families.

    Melissa Norris, Director of Alternative Education, Liberty Academy, Liberty, Missouri
    Martinrex Kedziora, Superintendent of Moreno Valley Unified School District, Moreno Valley, California

    National Update on the Teacher Shortage and Vision Planning for the Future
    Join Kelly Coash-Johnson as she shares what American Association of School Personnel Administrators (AASPA) has been tracking with regard to the national teacher shortage. Learn what is going on in some key states, good and bad. Johnson will share some strategies districts and their HR teams can use to improve their recruitment and retention. Learn how to develop your own HR vision statement and utilize it best to reach a more diverse audience.

    Kelly Coash-Johnson, Executive Director, American Association of School Personnel Administrators  

  • Thursday

    1–2 p.m. EDT

    Where Do We Go From Here? We RISE! Sponsored by McGraw Hill
    The COVID-19 pandemic has upended and reshaped the learning experience for millions of students worldwide. This shift to remote learning in response to the crisis has exposed deep educational inequalities and opportunities for growth. So, where do we go from here? We RISE! In this session, we will explore ways to empower high-quality teaching and learning in these uncertain times using the acronym RISE. R: Responsive I: Integrate S: Set Goals E: Empathy

    Amber Woodford, M.Ed., National Ambassador Literacy & Educational Equity, National Urban Education Team, McGraw Hill

    Agile Leadership and Community Collaboration, Sponsored by Johnson Control
    School and community leaders, accustomed to handling crises and challenges, have been at the front lines over the last several months working to develop healthy, safe communities and schools. In this Johnson Controls-facilitated discussion, learn from the Superintendent of El Paso Independent School District and the Mayor of the City of El Paso, as they discuss how they collaborate and make decisions to ensure their communities are safe. In this webcast, Johnson Controls infrastructure experts Cheryl Aquadro (K-12) and Lisa Brown (cities & municipalities) facilitate the discussion, addressing:

    • Strategic bridge building and unity in response to the COVID-19 public health crisis
    • Resiliency planning and infrastructure development needs
    • Improvement measures to advance community safety


    Cheryl Aquadro, Vertical Market Director, K-12, Johnson Controls Advanced Solutions
    Juan E. Cabrera, Superintendent of the El Paso Independent School District

    Promotion and Retention: Transitioning from “Learning to Read” to “Reading to Learn”
    The 3rd Grade Commitment is a collaborative effort between schools, parents, and the community that helps ensure that we work together to best help students reach reading readiness before the third grade. If students are not reading on grade level when they reach the third grade, half of the curriculum they will be taught for the remainder of their school years will be incomprehensible. This session will break down the strategy and how to gain stakeholder support.

    Miska Clay-Bibbs, Chair, Shelby County Board of Education
    Joris Ray, Superintendent, Shelby County Schools
    Stan A. Bell, Ed.S., Senior Communications Advisor, Shelby County Schools

    Discipline Policies that Helps Prevent Bias Towards Children of Color
    This session will show the importance of developing a discipline policy that will help to eliminate implicit bias that impacts students of color and identify specific student needs that are impeding their educational success. It will reveal the importance of school leaders examining their own discipline data and practices towards children of color.

    Khem Irby, School Board Member, Guilford County Schools
    Deena Hayes-Greene, School Board Member, Guilford County Schools
    Winston McGregor, School Board Member, Guilford County Schools
    Sharon Contreras, Superintendent, Guilford County Schools

    2:20–3:20 p.m. EDT

    Supporting Schools During and After COVID-19: DonorsChoose as a Strategic District Partner, Sponsored by DonorsChoose
    As district leaders grapple with instruction this fall – whether in-person, remote, or blended – continuing to ensure that students and teachers have access to the resources that they need to address learning loss and provide mental health support for our most vulnerable students is a top priority. Over the course of two decades, the nonprofit charity DonorsChoose has made it as easy as possible for classrooms to get the additional resources they may need from a community of millions at no cost to districts. How can you leverage the largest crowdfunding platform dedicated to public schools that has raised over $995 million in resources as a force for equity, especially during COVID-19? In this presentation, attendees will learn how DonorsChoose can be part of a national philanthropic engagement strategy through a free district partnership program, which includes several CUBE school systems.

    Keya Wondwossen, Director, Advocacy and Public Partnerships, DonorsChoose

    Equity in Action: Building a Culture of STEAM
    Are you preparing students for the hottest and highest paying STEAM job market where Blacks and Latinos make up only 4% of the workforce? Learn how Compton Unified School District is closing the opportunity gap by building a pipeline of students in preK-12 who are prepared for STEAM majors and career opportunities. Engage in an equity-driven process to build a STEAM culture, develop STEAM learning pathways for engagement, and raise parents’ awareness through community events.

    Michele Dawson, Senior Director of Instructional Technology and Innovation, Compton Unified School District
    Darin Brawley, Superintendent, Compton Unified School District
    Micah Ali, School Board President, Compton Unified School District

    Has Your District Taken an Equity Detour?
    Examine Paul Gorski's four racial equity detours and five equity principles that can help school board members and administrators trade in the illusion of progress for a genuine transformational racial equity approach.

    Mary Fertakis, CEO, M Fertakis Consulting LLC
    Kay Douglas, Senior Consultant, Texas Association of School Boards

Enjoy these highlights from past CUBE annual conferences. 


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