25th Annual California
Charter Schools Conference

25th Annual California
Charter Schools Conference
Plenary Session Speakers

Monday, March 26, 2018

Opening Plenary Session, 1:30–2:45 pm
Location: Ballroom 20

Geoffrey Canada

Nationally Known Author, Children’s Advocate and Founder Of Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ)

In his 20 plus years with HCZ, 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 and NPR’s “On Point,” as well as in articles in The New York Times, USA Today and Newsday. Most recently, Canada can be seen prominently featured in the Davis Guggenheim documentary Waiting for “Superman.” The National Book Award winning author Jonathan Kozol has called Canada, “One of the few authentic heroes of New York and one of the best friends children have, or ever will have, in our nation.”

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.

A third-degree black belt, Canada is also the founder (in 1983) of the Chang Moo Kwan Martial Arts School. Despite his busy schedule as head of HCZ, he continues to teach the principles of Tae Kwon Do to community youth along with anti-violence and conflict-resolution techniques.

For his years of work advocating for children and families in some of America’s most devastated communities, Canada has been the recipient of many awards including the first Heinz Award in 1994, the Harold W. McGraw Jr. Prize in Education, the Heroes of the Year Award from the Robin Hood Foundation and The Jefferson Award for Public Service.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Tuesday Morning Plenary Session, 8:00-9:30 am
Location: Ballroom 20

Jed Wallace

President and CEO of CCSA and CCSA Advocates Board Member

Jed Wallace serves as the President and CEO of the California Charter Schools Association, a membership organization supporting the state's 1,275 charter schools serving more than 630,000 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.

Tuesday Night, 25th Anniversary Celebration Reception & Plenary, 4:45 pm–7:00 pm
Location: Ballroom 20

Margaret Fortune

Fortune School of Education

Margaret Fortune, CEO, Fortune School of Education Margaret Fortune is President/CEO of Fortune School of Education. Under Fortune's leadership, the organization launched a network of K-12 public charter schools in Sacramento and San Bernardino, focused on closing the African American achievement gap. The network currently includes seven schools with combined enrollment of over 1700 students. Fortune also operates a graduate school of education, credentialing teachers and school administrators for a consortium of over 60 school districts and charter schools. In 2017, Fortune opened an early college high school in partnership with Cosumnes River College and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Students are able to earn their high school diploma and their associate's degree upon graduation. A graduate of UC Berkeley and Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, Fortune served as an education adviser to two California Governors. Fortune is a Trustee Emerita of the California State University, a Pahara-Aspen Fellow, and incoming Board Chair for the California Charter Schools Association.

Dr. Jody Graf

Visions In Education

Jody Graf is Executive Director of Visions In Education, a K-12 Independent Study Charter school serving students within northern California. Jody’s educational experience includes twenty years of service as an administrator at elementary and middle schools within San Juan Unified School District. She has served as the executive director of Visions for the past ten years and prior to that she was its Director of Instruction. Jody earned her Doctorate from LaVerne University in Organizational Development, and is currently the President of the statewide organization, California Consortium of Independent Study Schools.

Yvette King-Berg

Youth Policy Institute

Yvette King-Berg, is the Executive Director of Youth Policy Institute's Charter Schools. She was the former California Charter Schools Association Vice-President of School Development and Outreach-Southern California. She is currently working toward her doctoral degree in Educational Leadership and Change at Fielding Graduate University. She has presented her research about parental involvement at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting. Ms. King-Berg has over thirty years of experience working with teachers, students, parents, and organizations in a variety of positions including Director, Assistant Director, Curriculum Advisor, Bilingual, and Title 1 Coordinators, classroom teacher (K-12) in Pasadena and LAUSD.

Sue Park

Yu Ming Charter School

Sue Park is the Head of School of Yu Ming Public Charter School, California’s first Mandarin Immersion charter school. Based in Oakland, California, Yu Ming provides an academically rigorous, innovative and comprehensive Chinese-English bilingual education to K-8 students from many racial, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. Yu Ming is committed to developing global citizens with curiosity, compassion, strong moral character and responsibility to the community that use their education to make a positive difference in the world.

Prior to joining Yu Ming, Sue was the Senior Vice President of Programs at Camino Nuevo Charter Academy where she was responsible for leading the strategy and execution of the Camino Nuevo Continuum of Care working towards building a comprehensive continuum of integrated support services from Pre-K through college completion. Prior to this role, Sue served as Vice-Principal and Principal at the Burlington campus of Camino Nuevo before departing to work with Teach For America as the Vice President of State and District Relations. Sue also lived in Hong Kong where she headed The Hong Kong Women’s Foundation, and was a founding staff member of the international education organization, Teach For All, as the Managing Director of Development Resources.

Sue began her career in education as a bilingual early elementary teacher in LAUSD, and throughout her career has been committed to addressing systemic challenges that limit educational access and opportunity for students in under-served communities in the U.S. and globally. Sue earned a B.A. with honors from UC San Diego, her J.D. from UC Berkeley, and her M.A. in Administrative & Policy Studies in Education from UCLA through the Urban Principal Leadership Institute.

Frances Teso

Voices College-Bound Language Academies

Mrs. Teso is the founder and CEO of Voices College-Bound Language Academies. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Child Development and a Masters of Elementary Education from San Jose State University. Her graduate work focused on studying the effects of language, culture, and society on schooling. In particular, her research examined a new transformational model for staff development. Mrs. Teso is a National Board Certified Teacher committed and was accepted into the prestigious New Leaders for New School principal training program. She has worked as a university instructor, principal coach, school administrator, instructional facilitator and Dual Immersion Language teacher.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Closing Plenary Session, 2:45–4:00 pm
Location: Ballroom 20

Paul Tough

Bestselling author of How Children Succeed and Helping Children Succeed

Paul Tough challenges the belief that intelligence, endlessly measured by test scores, is the sole predictor of how well a child will do in school and in life. In his bestselling book How Children Succeed, he ushered in a tidal change in thinking with his argument that curiosity, conscientiousness, optimism, self-control and grit are better indicators of success than IQ.

In his latest book, Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why (2016), education speaker Paul Tough offers a practical guidebook for educators, parents, and community groups dedicated to improving the lives of children growing up in adversity, containing all-new strategies based in the emerging science of success.

Tough identifies a phenomenon in our culture that he calls the adversity gap: Some kids, especially those growing up in poverty, simply have too much adversity in their lives, and others, especially those growing up in affluence, actually experience too little. Tough says that children develop character strengths when they persevere through adversity. And it's our job - the adults in their homes and their schools and their communities - to give them the support and guidance they need to manage and grow from those setbacks and disappointments.

Tough is also the author of Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America, which chronicled the inspiring story of the Harlem Children's Zone.

The 25th annual conference will be held March 26–28, 2018 in San Diego, CA at the San Diego Convention Center.