20th Annual California Charter Schools Conference Keynote Speakers

Jed Wallace
President and CEO, California Charter Schools Association

photo of Jed Wallace

Jed Wallace serves as the President and CEO of the California Charter Schools Association, a membership organization supporting the state's 982 charter schools serving more than 412,000 students.

Jed began his career in public education as a teacher at Hooper Avenue Elementary School, a 2,000-student school in South-Central Los Angeles. Serving there for seven years, he established a successful school-within-the-school that became the basis for an effort to convert Hooper Avenue to charter status. He later worked in the Office of the Superintendent at San Diego City Schools where, among other duties, he was responsible for the oversight of the District's 22 charter schools. Immediately before coming to the Association, Jed served as the Chief Operating Officer of High Tech High, where he oversaw all operational and financial aspects of the organization during a period when High Tech High grew from one school serving 400 students into eight schools serving more than 3,000 students.

Jed received a Bachelor's degree in the Science of Foreign Service from Georgetown University, an MFA in playwriting from UCLA, and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.


2013 Hart Vision Elected Official of the Year and General Session Speaker
Congressman George Miller

photo of George Miller

Congressman George Miller is the Senior Democrat of the House Education and Workforce Committee and a leading advocate in Congress on education, labor, the economy, and the environment. He has represented Contra Costa and the East Bay of San Francisco since 1975. His current district, newly renamed the 11th, includes most of Contra Costa County, including Alamo, Antioch, Blackhawk-Camino Tassajara, Concord, Danville, El Cerrito, Kensington, Lafayette, Martinez, Moraga, Orinda, Pleasant Hill, Pittsburg, Richmond, San Pablo, and Walnut Creek. He is a life-long Democrat and Californian. His top priorities in the 113th Congress are to spur job creation and economic growth, reauthorize the federal k-12 education law, ensure that the historic health care reform law that he co-wrote is fully implemented, and push for greater investment in renewable energy and energy conservation. He has served on the Education and Workforce Committee since first coming to Congress and was its chairman from 2007 through 2010. From 1991 to 1994 George chaired the House Natural Resources Committee, one of the primary committees overseeing the environment, energy and public lands, and served as the committee’s Senior Democrat until 2000. George has a long and successful legislative record of accomplishment in a wide range of policy areas.


20th Anniversary Dinner Speaker
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson

photo of Kevin Johnsonr

Kevin Johnson was elected as the 55th mayor of the City of Sacramento in November 2008 and re-elected to a second term in June 2012. He is the first native Sacramentan, and the first African American to be elected to the office. His vision is for Sacramento to become “a city that works for everyone. Since taking office, Mayor Johnson has embarked on an ambitious plan to reshape how city government serves the citizens of Sacramento. His top priorities include improving public safety, creating jobs and economic development, reforming public education, promoting good government. and enhancing the quality of life for all Sacramentans.

Beyond his policy goals for Sacramento, Mayor Johnson is committed to elevating Sacramento's profile as the capital city of California - the 8th largest economy in the world. To that end, the Mayor has taken on a range of national leadership positions, including his current roles as Second Vice President of the US Conference of Mayors, Vice President of the National Conference of Black Mayors, and Chair of US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's Education Reform Task Force. Before taking public office, Kevin led a diverse career as a professional athlete, entrepreneur and nonprofit executive. Kevin served as Chief Executive Officer of St. HOPE (Helping Others Pursue Excellence), a nonprofit organization he founded in 1989 and led until January 2008. Originally focused around providing afterschool programs to at-risk youth in Kevin's native Oak Park neighborhood, St. HOPE expanded to pursue a broader program of urban revitalization through public education, civic leadership, economic development, and the arts.

Today St. HOPE consists of three divisions: St. HOPE Academy, St. HOPE Development Company, and St. HOPE Public Schools. Kevin has served on the Board of Directors for LISC National, the California Charter School Association, the UC Berkeley Foundation, Teach for America, the Institute of Governmental Studies National Advisory Council and the Harvard Divinity School SLI Advisory Board. His concern and compassion for children and education prompted President George H. W. Bush to honor Johnson with the 411th Point of Light. In addition, Kevin was selected as one of the “15 Greatest Men on Earth” by McCall’s Magazine and has received the NBA’s J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, the Good Morning America Award from Sports Illustrated, NCAA Silver Anniversary award, and the “Most Caring American” award by the Caring Institute.


Wednesday Keynote
Michelle Rhee
CEO and Founder, StudentsFirst

photo of Michelle Rhee

Michelle began her career as a Teach for America corps member in Baltimore. Through her own trial and error in the classroom, she gained a tremendous respect for the hard work that teachers do every day. In 1997, Michelle founded and led The New Teacher Project, which recruits and trains teachers to work in urban schools. More recently, from 2007 to 2010, Michelle served as chancellor of District of Columbia Public Schools. Under her stewardship, D.C. schools experienced increases in student achievement, a rise in graduation rates and an upswing—for the first time in decades—in enrollment.

"Working in education over the past twenty years, time after time I saw obstacles keeping kids from getting what they needed from their schools. Yes, there were challenges that were going to be difficult to overcome no matter what, but so many practices just didn't make sense and were completely within our power to change. When I tried to change them, I found out why the status quo had persisted for so long.

"Groups that put the interests of adults in the system first were driving the conversation, and they were backed by big dollars and political power. What we needed was a collective voice solely representing kids' best interests, because the sense of balance was completely gone. I started StudentsFirst to change that. Schools exist to give kids the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed, and EVERY decision has to revolve around that."


Wednesday Speaker
Penny Schwinn
Head of School, Capitol Collegiate Academy & Sacramento COE Board Member

photo of Penny Schwinn

Penny Schwinn is the Founder and Head of School at Capitol Collegiate Academy in Sacramento. She also serves as a Board Member for the Sacramento County Office of Education, a Commissioner for Sacramento County Parks and Recreation, and a member of the Sacramento Youth Commission. The majority of her work both in her organization as well as a member of the Sacramento City Unified Compact Oversight Committee focuses on student achievement, accountability, and college-readiness. Previously, Penny was a fellow with Building Excellent Schools, a business manager in Los Angeles, and a high school teacher. She will earn her EdD from the University of Southern California and PhD from Claremont this year, and has her MAT from Johns Hopkins University, and BA from UC Berkeley.


Closing Keynote
Geoffrey Canada
Children's Advocate & Founder & CEO of Harlem Children's Zone

photo of Geoffrey Canada

CCSA is proud to announce that the nationally known author, children's advocate and founder and CEO of Harlem Children's Zone, Geoffrey Canada will be speaking at the 20th Annual California Charter Schools Conference being held March 11–14, 2013 in San Diego, CA.

In his 20-plus years with Harlem Children's Zone, Inc., Geoffrey Canada has become nationally recognized for his pioneering work helping children and families in Harlem and as a passionate advocate for education reform. The work of Canada and HCZ has become a national model and has been the subject of many profiles in the media. Their work has been featured on 60 Minutes, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Nightline, CBS This Morning, The Charlie Rose Show, and NPR's "On Point," as well in articles in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, USA Today, and Newsday. Most recently, Canada can be seen prominently featured in the Davis Guggenheim documentary Waiting for "Superman."

Canada grew up in the South Bronx in a poor, sometimes violent neighborhood. Despite his troubled surroundings, he was able to succeed academically, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bowdoin College and a master's in education from the Harvard School of Education. After graduating from Harvard, Canada decided to work to help children who, like himself, were disadvantaged by their lives in poor, embattled neighborhoods. Drawing upon his own childhood experiences and those at the Harlem Children's Zone, he wrote Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence in America and Reaching Up for Manhood: Transforming the Lives of Boys in America. In its review of Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence in America, Publishers Weekly said, "a more powerful depiction of the tragic life of urban children and a more compelling plea to end 'America's war against itself' cannot be imagined."

The National Book Award-winning author Jonathan Kozol has called Canada, "One of the best friends children have, or ever will have, in our nation."


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