Friday, September 29
General Session Keynote Speaker

Clint Smith
Acclaimed Spoken Word Poet
Award-Winning Educator

Clint Smith is a writer, teacher, and doctoral candidate in Education at Harvard University with a concentration in Culture, Institutions, and Society. He is a recipient of the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship with research interests that include mass incarceration, the sociology of race, and the history of U.S. inequality. Previously, he taught high school English in Prince George’s County, Maryland where, in 2013, he was named the Christine D. Sarbanes Teacher of the Year by the Maryland Humanities Council.

Clint is a 2014 National Poetry Slam champion, an Individual World Poetry Slam Finalist, a Cave Canem Fellow, a Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop Fellow, and has served as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. Department of State. His writing has been published in The New Yorker, The Guardian, Boston Review, The American Poetry Review, Harvard Educational Review and elsewhere. His first full-length collection of poetry, Counting Descent, was published by Write Bloody Publishing in September 2016.


Saturday, September 30
10:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

John B. King
CEO, Ed Trust & Former Secretary of Education

A passionate advocate and inspiring educational leader, former Secretary of Education John B. King considers himself living proof of the transformative power of a great education. According to Dr. King, “New York City public school teachers saved my life and gave me hope.” After losing his mother at age eight, school became the haven of stability, structure and support that sustained him during his father’s struggle and death from Alzheimer’s disease. Parentless at age 12, he continued to immerse himself into a world of learning, theater productions and historical research projects created by caring, inspirational teachers and a safe, supportive school community. To this day, Dr. King never misses an opportunity to celebrate the life-transforming power of educators. When President Obama named him as Secretary of Education at a White House ceremony, Dr. King once again thanked those teachers that had saved his life. He also shared a core belief that has driven him throughout his career: Education is at the very heart of America’s promise of opportunity.

Dr. King is currently President and Chief Executive of the Education Trust, a nonprofit organization that advocates for high academic achievement for all students, particularly low-income students and students of color. He was named Secretary of Education in January, 2016, succeeding Arne Duncan. Described as “an exceptionally talented educator” by President Obama, the appointment recognized Dr. King’s lifelong dedication to preparing every child for success as a teacher, principal and leader of schools and school systems. As Secretary, Dr. King focused on advancing excellence and equity throughout pre-school, K-12, and higher education, supporting educators and elevating the teaching profession, and improving college access, affordability and completion. He had previously served the department as Delegated Deputy Secretary, overseeing overall operations and all pre-K-12 education policies, programs and strategic initiatives. This included leading the cross-agency work of President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, focused on creating pathways to opportunity for boys and young men of color. Dr. King came to the Department of Education after heading the New York State Education Department (NYSED).

Bringing a moving personal narrative and experience that ranges from classroom teacher to Secretary of Education, Dr. King is a strong voice for equity and opportunity, elevating the teaching profession, and preparing a diverse, globally competitive workforce.

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