2017 Keynote Speaker

Ron Suskind

Ron Suskind Pulitzer
Prize-Winning Journalist, Author

Ron Suskind is one of our most treasured journalists. As a reporter and senior national affairs writer for The Wall Street Journal, he has covered capitalism and our nation's capital in addition to penning front-page investigative features on poverty, race and class in America, which won him a Pulitzer Prize. Highly respected by Washington pundits, Wall Street analysts, business leaders and social activists alike, he is also one of the nation's most gifted speakers and performers. Blending monologue with reportage, Suskind's unforgettable and highly entertaining speaking engagements provide insightful analysis on everything from ethics and leadership to the rise and fall of the U.S. economy, managing money and risk in the 21st Century, and the current state of health care in America.

He is the author of six best-selling books, the most recent of which — Life, Animated, A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes and Autism — documents his family's two-decade struggle with regressive autism. Using a technique called Affinity Therapy, the book recounts how the Suskinds broke through to their autistic son Owen by exposing him to Disney movies, which Owen memorized and used as a pathway to communication. Ron's technique was demonstrated onstage at Comedy Central’s autism fund-raiser, Night of Too Many Stars, where Owen memorably acted out scenes from Aladdin with Gilbert Gottfried. His previous works include the New York Times bestsellers The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism, The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11, and the modern classic, A Hope in the Unseen, An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League.

A globetrotting speaker who NPR hails as "a master storyteller with the lyricism of a poet," Suskind connects with audiences through intellect and humor, sharing unforgettable tales of power, perfidy, tragedy and triumph with astonishing insight and honesty. In keynote speeches and customized presentations tailored to business leaders and corporate groups, he delivers intimate anecdotes and complex global themes culled from his experiences as a journalist, author, teacher, pundit and father to an autistic son. His wildly popular signature keynote, Presenting the World: An Entertaining Evening with Ron Suskind, has been delivered around across the globe, seamlessly fusing politics, ethics and family affairs in a virtuoso showcase from one of the finest writers and speakers working today.

What others have said:

  • He was the BEST keynote speaker in all of the conferences I have attended.
  • One of best sessions I have ever been to anywhere
  • Very inspirational; cried and laughed.
  • Absolutely fantastic!!! I bought the book and can't wait to see the movie! He made great connections to education.
  • It was one of the best opening sessions/keynote speakers I've ever heard.
  • Best I've ever seen!
  • Ron Suskind was phenomenal. He deeply moved me.
  • Ron Suskind was a powerful and interesting presenter with an inspirational story. It would be difficult not to be touched by his keynote. It was the kind of story you wanted to share with others. Also, left wanting to watch his documentary and read his Pulitzer Prize winning series of articles. Thank you for bringing him . . . Really amazing!

2017 Keynote Speaker

Dr. Barbara Jenkins

Dr. Barbara M. Jenkins, Ed.D.
Orange County Public Schools

Dr. Barbara Jenkins has been dedicated to serving the needs of students for more than 25 years. She was named superintendent for Orange County Public Schools in 2012.

Under Dr. Jenkins' leadership, the district won the prestigious 2014 Broad Prize for Urban Education. The prize earned half-a-million dollars for student scholarships from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. The district received the Governor’s Sterling Award in 2014 and again in 2015 for its exemplary performance using research-based best practices in its business. In 2015, OCPS received District Accreditation from AdvancED for its best practices in the education field. Also, for three of the last five years, OCPS was named to the AP District Honor Roll by the College Board, for increasing access to Advanced Placement course work, while simultaneously maintaining or increasing the percentage of students earning exam scores for college credit.

Dr. Jenkins is a recognized education leader. In January 2017, she was appointed a director on the board of the National Board of Education Sciences. She serves on the executive board of directors of the Council of Great City Schools, is a member of Chiefs for Change, a national education policy and advocacy transformation group, is a member of the Florida Council of 100, and is past president of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents. She was named the 2017 Florida Superintendent of the Year and is one of four finalists for U.S. Superintendent of the Year. The Orlando Business Journal honored her as a CEO of the Year in 2015. In 2014, she was named the Visionary Award recipient by the Girl Scouts of Citrus Council, and the Central Florida Woman of the Year by the Women’s Executive Council.

Recognized for her commitment and influence, both the Orlando Sentinel and Orlando Magazine have named her as one of the 10 most powerful people in Central Florida; Orlando Magazine ranked her number five overall in 2015, and number two in the Education category in 2016.

Deeply engaged in the community, Dr. Jenkins serves on the boards of Florida Hospital, Orlando Economic Partnership, United Arts of Central Florida, Winter Park Health Foundation, Central Florida Regional Commission on Homelessness and Orange County Youth Mental Health Commission.

2017 Keynote Speaker

Kerry Gallagher, JD

Kerry Gallagher is a Digital Learning Specialist at St. John’s Prep in Danvers, Massachusetts. She’s also the Director of K-12 Education for ConnectSafely.org and an EdSurge Columnist. Kerry’s passions and the focus of her work include empowering teachers, students and parents to learn with open education resources; educating school communities about the power and privacy concerns that come with social media use; and diving headfirst into learning more about new and effective practices in education.

Kerry received the 2014 Yale-Lynn Hall Teacher Action Research Prize for her submission on the use of mobile devices for a paperless public school classroom. In 2015, she was a PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator, the Family Online Safety Institute recognized her with the Outstanding Achievement Award, and she was a MassCUE Featured Educator. In 2016, she was an ASCD Emerging Leader and received the MassCUE Pathfinder Award. Kerry speaks and presents often at conference locations that have included Harvard Law School, Yale School of Management, and Stanford University. She holds a B.A. in Politics from Saint Anselm College and a J.D. from Massachusetts School of Law. Her multi-award winning blog can be found at www.KerryHawk02.com and she is on social media at @KerryHawk02.

Presentations: http://www.kerryhawk02.com/2017/07/this-is-your-brain-on-technology-iste17.html


Publications:  Media Literacy & Fake News



General Information:

Each exhibit space includes an 8 x 10 area with skirted table, chair, and general cleaning. Internet or electrical access, if needed, must be ordered separately through the facility. General security will be available during exhibit hours.

Conference Information:

The tentative conference schedule, lodging, sponsorship brochure and other pertinent information are available on our website. www.blueribbonschools.com/conferences - Select the desired program.

Sponsorship Information:

There are four levels of exhibitor/sponsor opportunities available to our partners. They are: 1) Exhibitor - $750; 2) Gold Sponsor - $3,500; 3) Red Sponsor - $7,500; 4) Blue Sponsor - $15,000. Click HERE  for a list of advantages for each commitment level.



2017 Summit Speakers*

James Adams James Adams is the Alternative Program Director for Pickens County. He has also served as the district level Discipline Intervention Specialist the last two years. Before that he was a secondary English teacher for 7 years.


Yolande Anderson, SC Department of Education, Office of Family and Community Engagement


Erin Beacham

Erin Beacham is the Education Director in the Southeast Region of the Anti-Defamation League.  In this position Erin develops, manages and implements the ADL’s education programs. These education programs include: A World of Difference Institute® the premiere anti-bias trainings for students, counselors, teachers, law enforcement and the community, No Place for Hate® the year-long anti-bullying campaign, as well as Holocaust education.

Erin has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and African American Studies from Guilford College and a Master of Arts in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. 


Sue Berkowitz, Appleseed Legal Justice


Derek Black, USC School of Law


Rabbi Jonathan Case, Beth Shalom


Dr. Christine Cristle, University of South Carolina


Justus Cox Justus Cox is a 4th grade teacher at Monaview Elementary School in Greenville. While a student in the Education Department at Anderson University he was a part of the Call Me Mister Program. He was one of the leaders of the Call Me Mister summer camp with the group - Silent Victims of Crime - children whose parents are incarcerated.

Justus helped create a panel discussion at Anderson University regarding the recent cases of police brutality against African Americans. He is very proactive when conflict or problems arise in the community - seeking a peaceful and effective solution that works for all involved.

 Justus was homeless at one point in his life, but he has not ever let that be an obstacle for him. Instead, he knows first-hand how tough life can be at times and he works tirelessly to equip children with the qualities needed to accomplish things in life. He sees the good in everyone and just being around him makes others want to be a better person. He is kind and thoughtful, he never commits to anything that he can’t finish.

 He was awarded The Outstanding College Student Award in 2016, the 2016 Upstate Diversity Leadership Award and more recently he received the Emerging Leader Community Award from the United Way of Anderson County African American Leadership Society.


Lynn Dingle  Lynn Dingleis the Vice President of Makerting and Communications for United Way of Anderson County. A lifelong resident of Anderson, SC, she graduated from Westside High School then ventured to Columbia, SC to receive her Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from Benedict College. She is currently the Director of the African American Leadership Council of United Way and serves on the AnMed Health Patient Education Material Committee and the AnMed Health Patient and Family Advisory Council.  She is a graduate of The Riley Institute Diversity Leaders Initiative, Leadership Anderson and the SC State University 1890 Leadership Institute, United Way of Anderson, African American Leadership Society


Tom Dobbins


Susan Dunn, Legal Director, ACLU of SC Susan K. Dunn, a member of the SC Bar since 1977, has been the legal director for the ACLU of South Carolina since 2009.  Prior to joining the ACLU, Dunn was in private practice in Charleston with extensive practice in both the family court and the court of common pleas. She graduated from Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill, School of Law.  Dunn litigated Ferguson v. City of Charleston, a ground-breaking 4th amendment case that was argued successfully before the U. S. Supreme Court and the 4th Circuit. Dunn was also counsel in Anderson v. Chesterfield County School District, a case which resulted in a consent order which assures separation of church and state in public schools.  On behalf of the ACLU of SC, Dunn appeared as an amicus in the Turner case which raised the issue of right to counsel in child support contempt actions.  In 1997, SC Women Lawyers Association awarded her the Bissell Award, given annually to recognize a person who paved the way to success for women attorneys in South Carolina.  Dunn is the proud mother of Anna Hoffius, a pediatrician in North Charleston, and Jacob Hoffius, a teacher at an international school in San Jose, Costa Rico.


Karen Hampton, Asst Principal for Instruction, LexRich5


Nelly Jolley, Latino Communications


Marc Himes, Center for Fathers and Families


Devon Hughes, SC Criminal Justice Academy


Tom Hudson, Exec. Director, SC School Improvement Council


Sara Kearns  An educator for 35 years, Sara Kearns is Coordinator of Academic Assistance and Professional Development in School District Five of Lexington & Richland Counties.  She works with teachers and administrators to create change through professional growth and development.


The Very Rev. Gary Linsky, St. Peter' Catholic Church, Columbia, SC


Craig Martin, Asst. Superintendent, Reading School District, Reading, MA


Gary McFadden

A thirty-five-year veteran of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department, Garry McFadden is one of the most decorated law enforcement officers in the history of CMPD.  Mr. McFadden spent thirty years as a detective and twenty years in the homicide unit.  Gary has received may accolade and awards including:  Medal of Valor, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department; Law Enforcement Commendation Medal, the National Society of The Sons of The American Revolution; 2011 Detective of the Year, Optimist International/Queen City Optimist Club; Charlotte Observer, Community Relations Award and recognition; NAACP Ashanti Award – Unsung Hero; 2011 Chief of Police Outstanding Service Award, Distinguished Service Award for Homicide Investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1996 and 2011;  Citizen of the Year, City of Charlotte, 2015.


Dr. Christina Melton, Chief Instructional Officer, Lexington-Richland School District 5


Claire Murray, SC Department of Education, Office of Instructor Effectiveness


Joey Nimmer, Administrator, Anderson County Board of Education


Dr. Tony Parks, S. C. Baptist E M & C Christian Education


Dr. Tammy Pawloski

Tammy Pawloski grew up in the impoverished areas of rural Horry and Allendale counties of South Carolina, and, after earning an undergraduate degree in early childhood education from USC-Aiken, she returned to the region to teach kindergarten, first, fourth and fifth grades. Pawloski earned the Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1988. She currently holds a dual appointment of Professor of Early Childhood Education and Director of the Center of Excellence to Prepare Teachers of Children of Poverty at Francis Marion University.  Prior to joining the faculty of FMU in 2000, she served in a similar capacity on the Columbia, Aiken, Salkehatchie, and Beaufort campuses of USC, and at Ventura College and Pepperdine University in Southern California.  In addition to her work with under-resourced students, Dr. Pawloski's research interests include family, school, and community partnerships and best practices in early childhood education.


Dr. Sandra Ray, The South Carolina Education Association


Chad Raynor  Chad Raynor is currently an assistant principal at Dutch Fork Middle School, as well as the Secondary PBIS Lead for School District Five of Lexington & Richland Counties.  He works with teachers and administrators throughout the district to find ways to improve student behavior and minimize suspensions.


Alan Richard

Alan Richard is a national education writer and native South Carolinian. Formerly of Education Week, The State newspaper, and the Southern Regional Education Board--and a current contributor to the Hechinger Report--he has chronicled South Carolina's efforts to improve education for 23 years. More than a decade ago, he began a book project on the state's important role in the Brown v. Board of Education decision, and is now returning to that work. A two-time first prize winner of the National Awards for Education Reporting, he also serves as the board chair of the nonprofit Rural School and Community Trust. A Greenville native who grew up in rural Anderson County and graduated from the University of South Carolina, he currently lives in Alexandria, Va.


Chaudhry Sadiq Chandry is the President of the Peace and Integration Council of North America (PICNA). Mr. Sadiq, an international businessman by profession, migrated to the US from Middle East over 15 years ago. He headed SC Chapter of one of the largest Islamic organizations, CAIR - Council on American-Islamic Relations for six years and established PICNA - Peace and Integration Council of North America in 2011.  Chaudhry has been a Board Member of Carolina Peace and is an active component of IPSC - Interfaith Partners of SC. He is also President of a large local mosque "Masjid Noor Ul Huda". Chaudhry, whose PASSION is PEACE, has been frequently interviewed by leading media outlets. 

Chaudhry Sadiq writes poetry in his native language focusing on spiritual and human values and two of his books entitled "A Prayer Call in the Desert" and " I am an Ocean" have been published.


Ann Marie Taylor

Ann Marie Taylor began her college education studying Criminal Justice at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan.  Once she began working with juvenile offenders she realized that many of her young charges were struggling with special education needs. Ann Marie decided to get her master’s degree in special education at Francis Marion University in South Carolina.  She began teaching in 2000 at McLaurin Elementary School in Florence and while she was working at Pine Tree Hill Elementary in Camden she earned the title of 2008 South Carolina Teacher of the Year – the first special educator to ever receive this honor.   

In 2008, Ann Marie became Nationally Board Certified and she also received the Woman of Distinction Award from the Girl Scouts of America.  In 2009, she was awarded the Educator Leadership Award from Francis Marion University.  Currently, Ann Marie serves as the Director of Exceptional Children in Edgefield County.  Ann Marie lives in Ridge Spring with her 13-year old son, Levi, her 6 year old daughter, Lucy Mae, and her husband, Kevin.  You only have to be in Ann Marie’s presence for a few minutes to discover that she is exuberant about life, passionate about teaching, and devoted to special education students. 


Mark Weist, Profession, USC Department of Psychology 

Mark D. Weist received a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Virginia Tech in 1991 after completing his internship at Duke University, and is a Professor in Clinical-Community and School Psychology in the Department of Psychology at the University of South Carolina.  He was on the faculty of the University of Maryland for 19 years where he helped to found and direct the Center for School Mental Health (http://csmh.umaryland.edu), providing leadership to the advancement of school mental health (SMH) policies and programs in the United States. He has edited ten books and has published and presented widely in SMH and in the areas of trauma, violence and youth, evidence-based practice, cognitive behavioral therapy, Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS), and on an Interconnected Systems Framework (ISF) for SMH and PBIS.  He is currently co-leading a regional conference on school behavioral health (reflecting integrated SMH and PBIS, see www.schoolbehavioralhealth.org) and leading a randomized controlled trial on the ISF. 


Sara Wheeler  Sara Wheeler has over 40 years of experience in the field of education and is employed by School District Five of Lexington & Richland Counties in Irmo, South Carolina. Ms. Wheeler has held a variety of positions throughout her career; classroom teacher, magnet school teacher, magnet school administrator, Smaller Learning Communities Site Coordinator and Project Director for three Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) funded grants. 

Julie White  Julie White is currently the Math Coach at Leaphart Elementary School in School District Five of Lexington & Richland Counties. She has served on the math district leadership team for six years, was a LeaD5 district facilitator for the past two years, and presented at the SCCTM conference this past fall. She will be receiving her Masters in Educational Administration from The University of South Carolina in August. 

Bishop Herman Yoos, S. C. Lutheran Synod

*Partial List

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