SPEAKERS AND PANELISTS
Betsy DeVos serves as the 11th U.S. Secretary of Education. She was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on February 7, 2017 after being nominated by President Donald J. Trump.
Secretary DeVos has been involved in education policy for nearly three decades as an advocate for children and a voice for parents. She is especially passionate about reforms that help underserved children gain access to a quality education.
DeVos’ interest in education was sparked at an early age by her mother, a public school teacher. It grew when she sent her own children to school and was confronted with the reality that not every child in America is granted an equal opportunity to receive a great education. DeVos saw firsthand the work leaders in her hometown were doing to increase educational opportunities for students and choices for parents, and she has been involved in the fight to provide better educational options across the nation ever since.
For 15 years, DeVos served as an in-school mentor for at-risk children in the Grand Rapids (Michigan) Public Schools. Her interactions there with students, families and teachers, according to DeVos, “changed my life and my perspective about education forever.”
A leader in the movement to empower parents, DeVos has worked to support the creation of new educational choices for students in 25 states and the District of Columbia.
As secretary, DeVos will work with President Trump to advance equal opportunities for quality education for all students. DeVos firmly believes that neither the ZIP code in which a child lives nor a child’s household income should be the principal determinant of his or her opportunity to receive a world-class education. As secretary, she will advocate for returning control of education to states and localities, giving parents greater power to choose the educational settings that are best for their children and ensuring that higher education puts students on the path to successful careers.
Prior to her confirmation, DeVos served as chairman of The Windquest Group, an enterprise and investment management firm. In addition to her leadership in the education arena, DeVos has also served on the boards of numerous national and local charitable and civic organizations, including the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Kids Hope USA, ArtPrize, Mars Hill Bible Church and the Kendall College of Art and Design.
DeVos is a graduate of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. She is married to entrepreneur, philanthropist and community activist Dick DeVos, and together they have four children and seven grandchildren.
Prior to assuming the role of Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical and Adult Education, Scott Stump served as the Chief Operating Officer with Vivayic, Inc., a learning solutions provider devoted to helping individuals, organizations and corporations do good in the world. Before that, Scott served as the Assistant Provost/State Director for Career & Technical Education (CTE) with the Colorado Community College System. Over his tenure with the system Stump also served as State FFA Advisor, Agriculture Program Director and interim President of Northeastern Junior College during the institution’s presidential search process.
During his seven-year tenure as a State CTE Director, Scott served as an officer in the National Association of State Directors of Career & Technical Education. Through this role, he served on the National SkillsUSA Board of Directors as the NASDCTEc liaison.
Stump served two terms on the Prairie RE11-J school board and one year on the Colorado Association of School Boards Board of Directors.
Stump received his bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Education from Purdue University and taught at Manchester High School in North Central Indiana. Before coming to Colorado he also worked for the National FFA Organization managing the national officer team and the national FFA convention. In May of 2018, Stump completed his Master of Business Administration through Western Governor’s University.
Frank T. Brogan was nominated by President Donald J. Trump to be assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education on Dec. 11, 2017, and he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on June 25, 2018.
Brogan most recently served as chancellor of Pennsylvania’s public universities. He began his career as a fifth-grade teacher in Martin County, Florida, and later served as a dean of students, assistant principal, principal, and superintendent before being elected Florida’s commissioner of education in 1994. Brogan continued his advocacy for public education when he was elected to serve as lieutenant governor of Florida in 1998 and 2002. After five years in that role, he was named president of Florida Atlantic University, a position he held until 2009, when he was selected to serve as chancellor of Florida’s public universities.
A native of Ohio, Brogan was the first member of his family to attend college, earning a bachelor’s degree in education magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati and a master’s degree in education from Florida Atlantic University. He and his wife, Courtney, have a 13-year-old son.
Casey K. Sacks is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Community Colleges in the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education. She provides leadership for initiatives supporting career and technical education, adult education, correctional and re-entry education, and community colleges. These initiatives collectively serve over 25 million students each year.
Prior to assuming the role of deputy assistant secretary, Sacks served as the vice chancellor for the West Virginia Community and Technical College System. In West Virginia she led a statewide guided pathways initiative, expansion of apprenticeship and work based learning programs, developed customized workforce training for employers, and served as acting chancellor.
Before that, Sacks served as the assistant provost for academic programs and innovation with the Colorado Community College System. During her tenure there, Sacks led two TAACCCT grants, statewide redesign of developmental education, redesign for credit for prior learning, and development of online and blended delivery for career and technical education programs in energy and manufacturing.
Sacks is an active Rotarian, frequent host mom for exchange students, and avid equestrian. She received her bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University, a masters from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and doctorate from Bowling Green State University.
Richard grew up in Decatur, Alabama and graduated from Auburn University in 2013 with degrees in Finance and Spanish. Upon graduation, Richard moved to Jackson, Mississippi where he taught high school Spanish at a public high school for two years through Teach For America. Following his time in the classroom, he worked with RePublic Charter Schools to open the first charter school in the state of Mississippi. He managed all start-up and business operations of the school for two years before being promoted to a senior network position, in which he managed and supported operational leadership across the multi-state charter school network.
In 2017, Richard moved from Mississippi to Washington, DC in order to work for Senator Lamar Alexander. Richard worked on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee majority staff covering higher education and career and technical education. Most recently, Richard worked on the Chairman’s team responsible for writing, negotiating, and passing the bipartisan Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which reauthorized the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. He currently works on CTE policy, projects, and initiatives and is a senior advisor to the Assistant Secretary in the United States Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education.
Betsy Brand has served as the Executive Director of AYPF since 2004, and she served as Co-Director of the organization since 1998. Betsy has spent her career working on education, workforce, and youth policy and specializes in comprehensive approaches to helping all young people be prepared for today’s careers, lifelong learning, and civic engagement. She leads the policy work, strategic management, fundraising, and talent development efforts at AYPF. Her policy expertise includes college and career readiness and success, afterschool and out-of-school time learning, personalized learning, and holistic approaches to serving traditionally underserved youth.
Betsy’s policy career started when she served as a Legislative Associate for the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor from 1977 to 1983. She subsequently served as a Professional Staff Member on the U.S. Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee from 1983 to 1989, where she handled all federal education and training legislation. In 1989, Betsy was appointed Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education, under President George H.W. Bush, where she worked for four years. From 1993 to 1998, Betsy operated her own consulting firm, Workforce Futures, Inc., which focused on policy and best practices affecting education and workforce preparation. Betsy has a B.A. from Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA and serves on various boards, including the Latin American Youth Center.
Dominica Chavez is the National Secondary Division President of Business Professionals of America. As a fourth-year member of BPA, Dominica has served as Chapter President of Santa Rosa High BPA and the 2017-2018 New Mexico BPA State President. During her tenure as the State President of New Mexico BPA, the future of NMBPA and other Career Technical Student Organizations was threatened due to cuts in state funding. This moved Dominica to act and spearhead a variety of advocacy efforts within the New Mexico Legislature. These efforts included testifying in committee hearings, facilitating a statewide advocacy training, and helping organize an event at the New Mexico State Capitol for all CTSO members to attend and advocate for their organizations.
In addition to her role as National President, Dominica is also a member of the National BPA Board of Trustees and Chair of the BPA National Advocacy Committee where she is currently working with fellow BPA board members to identify strategies, best practices, and actions to guide BPA to become better engaged with elected officials and community leaders at the federal, state, and local levels.
Dominica currently attends Cottey College where she is majoring in both Business and Organizational Leadership. Her goal is to advance to law school and continue her fight for Career Technical Education as a State Representative in New Mexico.
Jon Graft is the Superintendent/CEO of Butler Tech, one of Ohio’s largest providers of career technical education. Named a 2018 CEO of the Year by the Cincinnati Business Courier and a 2018 Civic Leadership Award Winner by Lead Tribune Media Group, Jon has forged unique business and industry partnerships to create opportunity for students and spur economic development in the region. Butler Tech serves more than 17,000 secondary students each day and more than 2,000 adult students annually.
Prior to joining Butler Tech, Jon was Superintendent of the Butler County Educational Service Center. During his tenure, the agency doubled educational programming and staffing for its partner school districts, while growing professional development, special education, and multi-faceted family services from prenatal through high school.
Jon’s roots are in education, having held leadership roles in the Middletown City School District and Madison Local Schools. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Bowling Green State University and a Master’s Degree in Administration from the University of Dayton.
Jon is a member of the National and State Association of Career Technical Education, Ohio Association of Career Technical Superintendents, Buckeye Association of School Administrators, the Greater Cincinnati Public School Advocacy Network, Southwest Ohio Computer Association Executive Committee, the Miami University College Access Partnership and the Great Miami Valley YMCA Board of Trustees.
Dr. Sarah Heath is the State Director for Career and Technical Education for Colorado. In Colorado, Career and Technical Education is managed by the Colorado Community College System and she serves as the Assistant Provost for the Colorado Community College System. Dr. Heath has been in this position since July 2015. Prior to her appointment as State CTE Director, Dr. Heath was the Director of Choice Programs for Jefferson County Public Schools, one of the largest school districts in Colorado, for four years. In this role, she was responsible for Career and Technical Education, concurrent enrollment, business and industry partnerships, legislative implementation, and career development initiatives for the district. Prior to this role in Jefferson County Schools, Dr. Heath served the State of Georgia as the Program Director for Business and Computer Science. Georgia is a state driven education system and Dr. Heath was tasked with state wide curriculum and resource development, professional development, and support for teachers in every school district in Georgia. She taught high school Business Education and served as her local FBLA chapter adviser. In addition to her work experience, Dr. Heath served as the National President of the Association for Career and Technical Education as well as the Business Education Division Vice President which provided her opportunities to engage in the national CTE landscape. She is a graduate of the University of Georgia from which she holds a PhD in Workforce and Economic Education, a MEd in Business Education, and a BBA in Management Information Systems.
Joshua Jennings currently serves as the Founding Director of the Global Impact STEM Academy in Springfield, OH. Prior to his work at Global Impact, Mr. Jennings was the Director of Career and Technical Education at the Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center and Agriculture Education instructor at Northeastern High School in Clark County, OH.
He holds an undergraduate degree in Agriculture from The Ohio State University and completed his graduate work from Ohio State with a Masters in Workforce Development and Education. In 2013, Mr. Jennings had the opportunity to launch and champion an innovative new STEM school initiative in Clark County. Global Impact is one of a few independent STEM Schools in the state of Ohio, but the only one with a specific industry focus. This focus is on Agriculture, specifically in the areas of biotechnology, food science, energy and the environment. Students at Global Impact not only take specific industry related courses, but also find relevancy in all academic areas through Agriculture. Global Impact currently serves 650 students in grades 7 through 12 from 19 different school districts and 6 counties. The rapid pace of growth the school has seen has exceeded many expectations, but knowing the broader impact this is making on the future of the agriculture sciences in the state of Ohio has made leading this endeavor especially rewarding for Mr. Jennings.
Andrew Johnson is a Grants Management Specialist at the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) in Washington, DC. His major responsibility is to assist in the implementation and administration of the Carl Perkins grant with a focus on financial issues. Specific assignments include identification of policy issues related to the Perkins grant, membership of the Perkins grant monitoring team as a fiscal lead, and the review of budget and financial reports. Andrew earned a B.A. in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland and a M.P.M. (Masters in Policy Management) from Georgetown University.
Dr. Pradeep Kotamraju is currently the Bureau Chief, Career and Technical Education, Division of Community Colleges, Iowa Department of Education. As Iowa’s State Director for Career and Technical Education (CTE), he has leadership responsibility in managing those secondary and community college CTE programs that are funded through the Carl D. Perkins federal program. Previous to his current position as the Iowa CTE State Director, Dr. Pradeep Kotamraju has served the Deputy Director, National Research Center for Career and Technical Education (NRCCTE), University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky. Prior to that, he served as the System Director, Perkins, at the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, Office of the Chancellor. Dr. Kotamraju has worked in several senior administrative positions in higher education and workforce development agencies in Minnesota.
Dr. Kotamraju has written several publications and monographs, and made numerous presentations, in the area of student success in career and technical education, workforce development in the United States, and, in the area of economic progress in the developing world. His research has included the examination of a variety of labor market information and workforce development issues that connect occupations, skills and careers, as individuals transitioned back and forth between employment and education. Dr. Kotamraju has been invited to participate on several statewide, regional and national committees that have focused on CTE programs, budget and finance, and accountability. Some of these committees have had even broader focus that places CTE right front and center when it comes to connecting education, workforce development, and economic development.
Before working in the public sector, Dr. Kotamraju taught college- and university-level Economics and Statistics at several higher education institutions in Minnesota and Kentucky. Dr. Kotamraju holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Illinois. He received his Masters Degree in Economics from George Washington University, and his Bachelors in Economics from the University of Delhi, India.
Dr. Marcie Mack, state director of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, has been focusing on providing a high-quality education for Oklahomans for more than 20 years. Before becoming the eighth state director of CareerTech, she served as the deputy state director/chief operations officer and the interim state director for the department. Prior to coming to CareerTech, she served in various other capacities at Autry Technology Center in Enid.
Under her leadership, the CareerTech System has implemented multiple advancements to meet the changing needs of the environment with maintained focus on continuous improvement. To ensure our work is meeting the needs of our stakeholders, Dr. Mack has created statewide advisory committees for business and industry leaders and military personnel, as well as expanding current partnerships with other agencies and businesses.
Dr. Mack continues her passion for CareerTech through building partnerships with business and industry, engaging nationally to represent Oklahoma CareerTech and continually advocating for students. Dr. Mack was honored by Advance CTE as the recipient of the 2017 Star of Education Rising Star Award. This award is presented to a state CareerTech director who displays unequivocal commitment to the goals and overall mission of Advance CTE.
Mack earned a doctorate in educational administration and leadership from Oklahoma State University, where she also completed her master’s degree in telecommunications management. She also earned a bachelor of science degree in education at Oklahoma State University, and has a true passion for quality education.
Nat Malkus is a resident scholar and the deputy director of education policy at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he specializes in empirical research on K–12 schooling and the transition to postsecondary education. He is a national expert on a range of educational issues including Advanced Placement, teachers’ unions, charter schools, standardized testing, and high school credit recovery programs. Dr. Malkus’ current work focuses on career and technical education, school choice, school discipline, and teacher quality.
Before joining AEI, Dr. Malkus was a senior researcher at the American Institutes for Research, where he researched postsecondary remedial coursetaking, charter schooling, and school turnaround. Earlier, he spent four years as a middle-school teacher in Maryland. Malkus has a Ph.D. in education policy and leadership from the University of Maryland, College Park.
Kolesen McCoy grew up in the city of Springfield, Ohio with no prior background in agriculture or CTE before the FFA. He currently serves as the 2018-2019 Ohio FFA State President. Kolesen has been associated with numerous agriculture-focused organizations including the World Food Prize, Columbus Council on World Affairs, Ohio Farm Bureau, and 4-H.
Currently, Kolesen is a graduate of The Global Impact STEM Academy, an early college high school focused on incorporating agriculture into STEM based learning. During his time there, he helped lead a growing Ag-ed program by serving two terms as President and participating in strategic planning board meetings to discuss the direction of STEM education throughout Clark County.
Kolesen plans to attend The Ohio State University in the fall of 2019 where he will major in Agribusiness and Applied Economics with a minor in Political Science. Throughout this year, Kolesen intends to share his passion for the FFA and demonstrate the importance that STEM in agriculture and CTE can have on the community, while he serves as Ohio FFA State President.
Ned McCulloch is Global Issue Manager for Skill Development and Education in IBM’s Governmental Program function. IBM seeks work-ready graduates from improved education systems, incumbent workforce training, and smarter technology in education.
Mr. McCulloch has had progressive responsibilities at IBM including Manager, US Government and Congressional Relations, and Governmental Programs Executive for Human Resources focused on the use of information technology in healthcare.
Among his current and previous positions is Leadership of the Perkins CTE Coalition, Board Member of the National Skills Coalition, Member of U.S. Chamber of Commerce Center for Education and Workforce, Chair of the Advocacy Committee of HIMSS; Chair of the Policy and Advocacy Committee of the eHealth Initiative; and a Founder and Treasurer of the Personalized Medicine Coalition.
Ned McCulloch was Counsel to U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman for Health and Social Policy, and in Connecticut, staff to the Human Services Committee of the Connecticut State Legislature.
Ned McCulloch was born and raised in Connecticut, graduated from Yale University with a degree in Biology and has a law degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law. He has patents for data exchange and message integration.
Janice Oh is a health science student at Westwood High School in Austin, Texas, and serves as the SkillsUSA Region 4 Vice President. Janice plans to become a doctor and aspires to serve patients with the best quality health care, while maintaining a compassionate spirit and diligent work ethic.
She credits CTE for developing her as a student, a leader, worker and responsible American citizen through the career readiness goals reflected by the SkillsUSA Framework. Janice finds inspiration in the exposure to the real world of work in her classes, and discovered her career pathway.
Through SkillsUSA, she has enhanced her motivation and is working toward her goals. Janice loves hearing about others’ passions and seeing their excitement for their own career pathways.
Rishin Pandit is a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (THJSST) in Alexandria, VA. He developed a passion for science and technology in elementary school when he participated in First Lego League and Odyssey of the Mind.
Since middle school, Rishin has actively participated in the Technology Student Association (TSA). He has served as a TSA chapter officer and regional vice president, and currently serves as president of the Northern Virginia Region TSA and member of the Executive Council of Virginia TSA.
Rishin’s contributions have been recognized with a President’s Leadership Award at Virginia TSA and at Northern Virginia Region TSA. He serves as treasurer for the THJSST class of 2019. Rishin aims to pursue a career at the intersection of data science and public policy, and contribute to the impact of science, technology, and innovation on society.
From Duluth, Georgia, Priya is currently a senior at Emory University and is majoring in Biology with a minor in Hindi on the pre-health track. She will be graduating in May and hopes to attend medical school after college to pursue her dream of becoming a physician. Priya likes to stay involved in her Emory community. She serves as an Orientation Leader for incoming first year students, the Special Events Chair of Suri Bollywood Fusion A Capella, as well as the Co-President of the Student Alliance for Health Involvement (SAHI). She enjoys serving the Atlanta community through volunteering at senior homes and psychiatric residential centers, and giving back to underserved populations.
Outside of Emory, Priya has been actively involved with HOSA-Future Health Professionals for the past eight years. She began her journey during her first year of high school, served as her chapter Secretary and President, State President, and recently finished her terms as the national President. Through HOSA, she has had the privilege to work with incredible leadership teams and serve over 225,000 members globally, attend the Public Health Leadership Scholars conference. HOSA has allowed her to grow her passion for the field of health and has motivated her even more to pursue her dream of becoming a healthcare professional. Priya hopes to continue to serve HOSA in the coming years as a member of the Alumni division and will always be thankful for the skillsets she has gained.
“He flunked the third grade. Now he’s the best high school principal in the nation.” This was the headline from the local newspaper after he was announced the National Principal of the Year. Dr. Akil Ross’ story is a testimony of the power a community has to transform a struggling student into a high performing student. Akil grew up in Washington, DC during the height of a drug and crime wave that claimed the potential of many young people in his community. In the midst of these conditions, transformational elements were made available that empowered him to maximize his potential. He credits his home, his elementary school and a recreational center for teaching him how to face adversity and overcome obstacles early in his life. As a result of the high expectations set in his home, school and on the playing field, Akil was able to earn a full scholarship to Duke University.
Upon graduation from Duke University, Akil moved to South Carolina, where he taught Social Studies for three years at Eau Claire High School in Columbia, SC. In 2005, he obtained his M.Ed. in Secondary Educational Administration from the University of South Carolina and joined Chapin High School as an assistant principal in July of 2005. After 5 years as an assistant principal, he was named principal in July of 2010. In July of 2012, he earned doctorate degree in Curriculum Studies from the University of South Carolina.
Chapin High School received many awards and recognitions under Akil’s leadership such the Palmetto’s Finest Award, Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence Lighthouse Award, several national rankings in academics from Newsweek, Niche, Washington Post and US News & World Report. His school earned 20 State Championships in 8 Years (14 State Championships in Athletics, 4 State Championships in Marching Band and 2 NJROTC State Championship including 1 National Championship). As principal of Chapin High School, Dr. Ross was named the 2017 SC Secondary Principal of the Year and the 2018 NASSP National Principal of the Year.
He and his wife Jocelyn live in Columbia, SC and have two children, Alyssa (9) and A.J. (5). Dr. Ross started HeartEd, LLC, an educational consulting firm, to share lessons and strategies to further his vison of a future where every community Empowers every child
Ben Williams, PhD is Chief Executive Officer of the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE), which is a consortium of state and workforce development agencies, community and technical colleges, secondary institutions, universities, business and industry, and other partners whose mission is to build educators’ capacity to implement effective solutions to increase student access, educational equity, and ultimately workforce diversity through CTE and other STEM pathways. NAPE accomplishes its mission through four lines of business: Technical Assistance to its state, affiliate, and individual members, especially in the planning and implementation of Perkins; Professional Development; Public Policy and Advocacy, and Research and Evaluation. Dr. Williams has worked in Career and Technical Education for over 15 years, 12 of which were spent coordinating the Perkins Program at Columbus State Community College in Columbus, Ohio. Dr. Williams is a national expert on equity in CTE, a master instructor in NAPE’s professional development curriculum, and a passionate educator and advocate for social justice and equity in education and careers.
Dale Winkler was named vice president of SREB in April 2018. He joined the Southern Regional Education Board in 2015 as special assistant to the senior vice president of the organization’s school improvement team, where he brings more than 19 years of experience working on issues related to leadership and policy in the area of college and career readiness. At SREB, Dale works with school improvement frameworks for grade K-12. Prior to SREB, he was a high school teacher, principal and associate commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Education. Dale holds a bachelor’s in accounting and master’s in secondary education from Cumberland College. He also holds a doctorate in education leadership from the University of Kentucky.