International Day of Education – Speakers

Audrey Azoulay

Director General, UNESCO

A graduate of France’s Ecole Nationale d’Administration and of the Paris Institut d’Etudes Politiques, Audrey Azoulay holds a diploma in Business Administration from the University of Lancaster (UK). Having worked in the sector of culture since the start of her professional career, Audrey Azoulay has notably focused on the funding of French public broadcasting and on the reform and modernization of France’s film support system. She has also served the European Commission providing her expertise on issues concerning culture and communication. In 2014, as an advisor on culture to the President of the French Republic, she notably initiated the development of a protection plan for heritage in danger, which she was able to implement in 2016 as Minister of Culture and Communication. She has also prioritized improving children’s access to culture with the launch of artistic and cultural education school programmes “Création en cours” and created innovative cultural outreach programmes for people in remote and vulnerable areas “Microfolies.”

Maja Behrens

General Manager of Communicating for Agriculture Education Programs (CAEP)

Maja grew up on a mixed farm in Switzerland.  As a young adult, she completed a three year apprentice program in horticulture with certificate. In 1988 she joined the CAEP program as a trainee on a crop and beef operation in Minnesota for 18 months. After completion of program, she returned home and managed a garden center until 1994. When she was asked to recruit young people from Russia for CAEP, she spent a summer in Siberia doing exactly that and returned to Minnesota as a program coordinator for CAEP. In 1996, she married her late husband Keith.  They have one daughter Shyanna, who has continued the family tradition of being involved in agriculture. Maja believes that through cultural exchange we not only learn about each other, but can advance young people’s career in agriculture and therefore make rural communities stronger, worldwide.

Jennifer Bonine

Founder and CEO of AI Appstore, Inc. and RedRex Platform

Jennifer Bonine is the CEO of AI Appstore, Inc. and was the first female Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) platform tech CEO. AI Appstore specializes in custom subscription technology bundles, leveraging an intelligent platform using a personalized “virtual research assistant” to enhance corporate growth. The company exceeds expectations of integration, testing, delivery, and management with a groundbreaking business model that is fully engaged in the sustainable development goals (“SDGs”) cultivated by the United Nations. Respected as a gifted speaker, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, Jennifer addresses the AI industry nationally and internationally, most recently at the World Economic Forum in Davos and for CNNMoney Switzerland. She has held executive-level positions leading teams for Oracle and Target and is a founding board member of the United States bid for a Minnesota World Expo 2027. Jennifer is a 2020 Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal Women in Business honoree, a founding sponsor and member of IVOW AI’s Women in History Data Ideation Challenge, and an executive board member of Chad Greenway’s Lead the Way Foundation. She is a member of Million Dollar Women, member and mentor for TeamWomen, and a council member of DreamTank, an organization designed to champion young entrepreneurs. Recently named one of the Top 30 Leaders to Watch in 2020 by Silicon Review, Jennifer was featured at the UN’s AI for Good Summit. She is also developing a series of books to educate children about the power of AI and machine learning.

Katherine Brown, Ph.D.

President & CEO of Global Ties U.S.

Katherine Brown, Ph.D. is the President & CEO of Global Ties U.S., the largest and oldest citizen diplomacy network in the United States. She is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Security Studies. Before joining Global Ties U.S. in 2018, Katherine was a Public Policy Manager at Facebook, Inc., where she was also in residence as a Council on Foreign Relations’ (CFR) International Affairs Fellow. From 2013-2016, she served as the Executive Director of the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy at the U.S. Department of State, an office authorized by Congress to appraise and strengthen U.S. engagement activities with foreign citizens. Katherine previously served in the U.S. government as an assistant to the National Security Advisor at the White House; as a communications advisor at the American Embassy in Kabul; and as a Professional Staff Member at the Committee on Foreign Affairs at the U.S. House of Representatives. Katherine received her Ph.D. in Communications from Columbia University in 2013 and completed her doctoral fieldwork in Afghanistan and Pakistan where she examined their news media’s effects on governance, civil society and foreign policy. Her book, “Your Country, Our War: The Press and Diplomacy in Afghanistan,” was published by Oxford University Press in 2019. She is a 2018-19 French American Foundation Young Leader; a member of the University of Southern California’s Center on Public Diplomacy Advisory Board and the Alliance for International Exchange Board; and a former Term Member at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Melanie R. Brown

Senior Program Officer, Global Policy & Advocacy-North America, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Melanie R. Brown is a global writer and speaker on philanthropy and justice and is Senior Program Officer for Global Policy & Advocacy- North America at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Washington, D.C. At the Foundation, she works with key constituencies across the United States and Canada to build public support for the Foundation’s education, economic and health priorities. Prior to Gates, Melanie was a program officer at The Heinz Endowments in Pittsburgh, PA. She began her career as a middle and high school English teacher, teaching in Washington, D.C., Hong Kong, and Beijing, China. Melanie is an Adjunct Professor at American University School of Education, a Senior Atlantic Fellow in Social and Economic Equity at the London School of Economics, Vice Chair of the Women’s Funding Network Board of Directors, and a 2020 BMe Vanguard Fellow. Melanie earned degrees from American, Harvard and Carnegie Mellon universities.

Jack Dangermond

Founder and CEO, Esri

Jack Dangermond is the Founder and President of Esri. With a background in landscape architecture and urban design, he and his wife, Laura, founded Esri in 1969 on the idea that computer-based mapping and analysis could make significant contributions to geographic planning and environmental science. Since then, Esri has become the global market leader in GIS and location intelligence, with 49 offices worldwide, 11 dedicated research centers, and a strong user base of about 350,000 organizations around the world. Dangermond has received many acknowledgements and awards for his contributions to the fields of geography, environmental science, planning, and GIS, including 13 honorary degrees.

Linda Darling-Hammond

President of the California State Board of Education, Head of Education Transition Team for President-elect Joe Biden

Linda Darling-Hammond is the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education Emeritus at Stanford University and founding president of the Learning Policy Institute, created to provide high-quality research for policies that enable equitable and empowering education for each and every child. At Stanford she founded the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education and served as faculty sponsor for the Stanford Teacher Education Program, which she helped to redesign. Darling-Hammond is past president of the American Educational Research Association and recipient of its awards for Distinguished Contributions to Research, Lifetime Achievement, Research Review, and Research-to-Policy. She is also a member of the American Association of Arts and Sciences and of the National Academy of Education. From 1994–2001, she was executive director of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, whose 1996 report What Matters Most: Teaching for America’s Future was named one of the most influential reports affecting U.S. education in that decade. In 2006, Darling-Hammond was named one of the nation’s ten most influential people affecting educational policy. In 2008, she directed President Barack Obama’s Education Policy Transition Team. She is currently President of the California State Board of Education. Darling-Hammond began her career as a public school teacher and co-founded both a preschool and a public high school. She served as Director of the RAND Corporation’s education program and as an endowed professor at Columbia University, Teachers College before coming to Stanford. She has consulted widely with federal, state and local officials and educators on strategies for improving education policies and practices and is the recipient of 14 honorary degrees in the U.S. and internationally. Among her more than 600 publications are a number of award-winning books, including The Right to Learn, Teaching as the Learning Profession, Preparing Teachers for a Changing World and The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment will Determine our Future. She received an Ed.D. from Temple University (with highest distinction) and a B.A. from Yale University (magna cum laude).

David Edwards

General Secretary, Education International

David Edwards, Ph.D. is General Secretary of Education International (EI), a federation of 32 million teachers and other educators affiliated with unions and associations in 173 countries globally. Dr. Edwards leads the organization since 2018, after seven years as Deputy General Secretary directing education policy, advocacy, research and communications. Prior to joining EI, Edwards was an Associate Director at the National Education Association of the United States. He has worked as an Education Specialist at the Organization of American States and began his career as a public high school teacher. A Pennsylvania native, Edwards is fluent in Spanish and German and is conversant in French. His doctorate in Educational Policy and Leadership is from the University of Maryland in the U.S. Away from the commitments of work, he devotes his time to his wife and three daughters.

Lily Eskelsen García

President of National Education Association

Lily Eskelsen García started her career in education as a lunch lady in a school kitchen and a teacher’s assistant in a Head Start preschool. She worked her way through the University of Utah on student loans and as a starving folk singer, earning a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a master’s in Instructional Technology. After only nine years teaching, she was named Utah Teacher of the Year. She won election as president of her state education association, won her party’s nomination for U.S. Congress, and served as president of the Utah State Retirement System. She was appointed a Commissioner for the White House Commission for Education Excellence for Hispanics under President Obama, served as an officer of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and currently serves as Vice President of Education International. She served as president of America’s largest union, the 3 million-member National Education Association, completing her final term in 2020. Lily and her husband, Alberto Garcia, are author/illustrator of the bilingual book, Rabble Rousers: Fearless Fighters for Social Justice, which they published to raise funds to help undocumented Dreamers.

Karin Fischer

Senior Writer at Chronicle of Higher Education

A freelance journalist and expert on global issues in higher education, Karin has been writing for more than a decade about the changing relationship between American colleges and the world. She is the author of a weekly newsletter Latitude(s) that provides critical news, incisive analysis, and behind-the-scenes observations on international education. As the Chronicle’s chief international correspondent, she has written about the business of international education, competition for foreign students, activities by American colleges overseas, and new models of education abroad. Her extensive coverage of the phenomenon of Chinese students in America has recently been collected in a special report, “Chinese Journey.” She also writes about higher-education public policy in the states and about the relationship between colleges and the economy, examining the fault lines along education and the economy in America. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Washington Monthly, and University World News. A graduate of Smith College, she received the East-West Center’s Jefferson Fellowship for reporting in Asia and the International Reporting Project fellowship for work on education and gender, also in Asia. Her work has been honored by the Education Writers Association, the National Press Foundation, and the Poynter Institute.

Crystal Ikanih-Musa, Esq.

In-Country Representative for Malala Fund (Nigeria)

Crystal Ikanih-Musa, Esq. is an international law attorney and International Development professional whose focus is human rights. She has immense experience working with the Federal Governments in the United States and Nigeria. She specifically has worked with various government officials in advisory roles, creating innovative strategies for growth, and propelling their agendas. This includes U.S. Congressional members and Nigeria National Assembly members. Currently she is the Malala Fund Country Representative, where she leads the organizations program and advocacy work addressing gender disparities within the education sector and initiating much needed reforms for educational advancement.

Neel Kashkari

President and Chief Executive Officer, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

Neel Kashkari took office as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis on Jan. 1, 2016. In this role, he serves on the Federal Open Market Committee, bringing the Ninth District’s perspective to monetary policy discussions in Washington, D.C. In addition to his responsibilities as a monetary policymaker, Kashkari oversees all operations of the Bank, including supervision and regulation, treasury services, and payments services. He was instrumental in establishing the Opportunity & Inclusive Growth Institute, whose mission is to ensure that world-class research helps to improve the economic well-being of all Americans. Most recently, he has joined with retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page to propose amending Minnesota’s constitution to make a quality public education a fundamental right. This effort supports the Fed’s mandate to achieve maximum employment, with education being a key to obtaining a good job. Under Kashkari’s leadership, the Minneapolis Fed also released an action plan on “Ending Too Big to Fail,” which calls for tighter bank regulations to avoid future taxpayer bailouts of large financial institutions. Committed to increasing transparency at the Fed, Kashkari has published in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Financial Times and is active on Twitter and Instagram. He also serves on the board of the Economic Club of Minnesota and as a member of the Aspen Economic Strategy Group. Kashkari began his career as an aerospace engineer at TRW in California, where he developed technology for NASA space science missions. Following graduate school, he joined Goldman Sachs in San Francisco, where he helped technology companies raise capital and pursue strategic transactions. From 2006 to 2009, Kashkari served in several senior positions at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. In 2008, he was confirmed as assistant secretary of the Treasury. In this role, he oversaw the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) during the financial crisis. Kashkari received the Alexander Hamilton Award, the Treasury Department’s highest honor for distinguished service. Following his tenure in Washington, Kashkari returned to California in 2009 and joined PIMCO as managing director and member of the executive office. He left the firm in 2013 to explore returning to public service and, in 2014, ran for governor of California on a platform focused on economic opportunity. Kashkari earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Habiba Mohammed

Co-Director of Centre for Girls’ Education

Habiba Mohammed is the co-director of Centre for Girls’ Education (CGE) in Kaduna State, Nigeria. CGE works to keep girls in school and provide alternatives to early marriage in rural communities. Habiba has participated in numerous conferences, seminars and workshops, including the 2014 Girl Effect University workshop and the 2015 London Trust Women Conference. She is an alumna of the U.S. Department of State’s Teaching Excellence and Achievement Programme (TEA) in 2014. She is a RMNCH Champion in the Champions for Change first cohort series in Nigeria. In 2017, Malala Fund selected Habiba as an Education Champion. The Education Champion Network invests in local education activists to accelerate progress towards girls’ secondary education around the world. High fees and low-quality education prevent girls in northern Nigeria from going to school and reaching their full potential. With her Education Champion Network grant, Habiba campaigns for the Kaduna State local government to eliminate school costs and ensure higher learning standards.

Justice Alan Page (retired)

Founder/Chair, Page Educational Foundation

Alan C. Page graduated from Canton Central Catholic High School in 1963, and received his B.A. in political science from the University of Notre Dame in 1967 and his J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1978. After graduating from law school, Alan Page worked as an attorney for a law firm in Minneapolis, then served seven years as an attorney in the office of the Minnesota Attorney General. He sought election to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1992 and won, becoming the first African American on the court and one of the few associate justices ever to join the court initially through election, rather than appointment by the governor. When Justice Page was reelected in 1998, he became the biggest vote-getter in Minnesota history. He was reelected in 2004 and 2010 and served until he reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 in 2015. Law was Alan Page’s second career; he was first known for his skills in football both in college and in the NFL. At Notre Dame, Alan Page led the school’s storied football program to the 1966 national championship, and in 1993 he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Alan Page was a first-round draft choice of the Minnesota Vikings in 1967 and he played for the Vikings until 1978. The last three years of his football career were with the Chicago Bears, 1978–1981. During his career, Alan Page played in 218 consecutive games, earning All-Pro honors six times, and was voted to nine consecutive Pro Bowls. In 1971 he was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player, becoming only the second defensive player in history to be named MVP. In 1988 Alan Page was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Also in 1988, Justice Page and his wife Diane founded the Page Education Foundation, which assists Minnesota students of color in their pursuit of post-secondary education. To date, the foundation has awarded $15 million in grants to 7,000 students. Justice Page and his daughter, Kamie Page, have written three children’s picture books, The Invisible You (2014), Alan and His Perfectly Pointy Impossibly Perpendicular Pinky (2013), and Grandpa Alan’s Sugar Shack (2017). In November 2018, Justice Page received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2019, he was chosen as a member of the NFL’s 100th Anniversary All-Time Team.

Kathleen Rogers

President of EARTHDAY.ORG

Kathleen Rogers is the President of Earth Day Network. Kathleen has developed Earth Day Network into a year-round policy and activist organization. Now more than 1 billion people participate in Earth Day in 192 countries. Kathleen has been at the vanguard of developing innovative financial mechanisms to support green buildings and schools. Kathleen also founded Earth Day Network’s groundbreaking Billion Acts of Green program, which has now recorded close to 3 billion individual actions to improve the environment. She is a frequent commentator on environmental issues in the media and has appeared on CNN, Fox News, and NPR, as well as in Time Magazine, The Washington Post, the New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times and many other international and national newspapers and journals. Prior to her work at Earth Day Network, Kathleen held senior positions with the National Audubon Society, the Environmental Law Institute, and two U.S. Olympic Organizing Committees. As Chief Wildlife Counsel for the National Audubon Society, she oversaw international trade, migratory species, and biodiversity programs, and was responsible for bringing the first citizen complaint before the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, the tri-national agency created to oversee North American environmental issues. Kathleen serves on various boards and as Regional Focal point for North America Region of the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Network of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), now known as the GEF-CSO Network to serve a four-year term from June 30, 2018, to June 29, 2022. She is a graduate of the University of California at Davis School of Law, where she served as editor-in-chief of the law review and clerked in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

Sondra Samuels

President/CEO, Northside Achievement Zone

Sondra Samuels is the President and CEO of the Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ), a collaborative of over 30 partner nonprofits and schools. Along with parents, students, partners, and staff, Sondra is leading a revolutionary culture shift in North Minneapolis focused on ending multigenerational poverty through education and family stability. The NAZ Collaborative is working toward a single goal—to prepare low-income North Minneapolis children to graduate from high school college- and career-ready. NAZ has scaled up in support of over 1,000 parents and 2,300 students as they turn the social service model on its head and lead the creation of a college-bound culture throughout the community. Sondra has been a resident of North Minneapolis for over two decades and is a national leader committed to results-based leadership and accountability. She, her staff, and their partners work tirelessly to ensure the integration of effective cradle-to-career solutions across the NAZ collaborative — to scale and sustain results across the community and to achieve the systems and policy changes needed for low-income families and children of color to truly share in the prosperity of the Twin Cities Region. Under her leadership, NAZ was named a federal Promise Neighborhood and has become a nationally recognized model for community and systems change. Sondra serves on the Leadership team of Generation Next, Community Advisory Board of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank’s Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute, as well as the boards of Center for the Study of Social Policy and Health Partners. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD, and an MBA from Clark-Atlanta University in Atlanta, GA.

Amy Sheehan

Director of Talent Acquisition at Hormel Foods

A native of Chicago, Amy is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stout. She began her career in public relations in Orlando, Fla. After a few years, she returned to her roots in Chicagoland, where she accepted a new challenge: a position in the human resources field as a recruiter. She worked for Ernst & Young LLP and the American Dental Association before joining the Hormel Foods team. Since then, she has served as corporate recruiter, supervisor of recruiting and manager of talent acquisition, her current role.


Jim Sheehan

Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Hormel Foods

As executive vice president and chief financial officer for Hormel Foods, Jim Sheehan leads all financial areas of Hormel Foods Corporation including accounting, information technology, internal audit, investor relations and treasury. Sheehan’s career with Hormel Foods began in 1978. Over the years, he held various management and leadership positions in accounting and finance for the company. In 1998, he became the president of Hormel Financial Services and a year later became treasurer. He advanced to vice president and controller in 2000. He was named chief accounting officer in May 2016 and assumed the role of senior vice president and chief financial officer in October 2016. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Missouri Western State University, where he was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2017. He is also a graduate of the Minnesota Executive Program at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. In addition to his professional involvement, Sheehan is involved in numerous professional and nonprofit organizations. Sheehan is an active member of the community as the treasurer of the Austin Area Catholic School Foundation. He is also a former board member of the Austin Country Club, Mower County Red Cross, the Mower County United Way and the Austin Public Library. Sheehan is involved in the Financial Executive Institute and the Institute of Management Accountants.

Atul Tandon

CEO, Opportunity International

Atul is an entrepreneur, nonprofit executive, and humanitarian. He joins leading global empowerment and microfinance social enterprise with ‘deep calling’ to alleviate extreme poverty. Tandon is uniquely qualified to steward the organization’s efforts to scale its global impact to help clients create 20 million jobs by 2020. Tandon is an Indian American who was born and raised in India. His track record includes leadership roles with CitiBank’s global consumer banking arm, World Vision and United Way Worldwide. He played a key part in the founding of the One Campaign and is recognized as a changemaker and business builder. His work has spanned several sectors, including consumer banking, e-commerce, consumer insights, and health and human services, among others. Tandon is no stranger to microfinance, having launched Citibank’s consumer lending businesses in India and having served on the board of VisionFund International, a global microfinance network. Tandon’s appointment demonstrates Opportunity’s uncompromising commitment to bringing the best talent to its work of eradicating poverty and building vibrant communities in deeply challenging environments.

Tim Walz

Governor of Minnesota

Tim Walz is Minnesota’s 41st Governor. His career has been defined by public service, from serving our country in the military to serving our students as a high-school teacher and football coach to serving our state in Congress. Born in a small town in rural Nebraska, Tim’s parents instilled in him the values that guide his commitment to common good and selfless service. Soon after his high school graduation, Tim enlisted in the Army National Guard. Tim attended Chadron State College, where he graduated with a social science degree in 1989. Harvard University offered Tim an opportunity to gain a new perspective on global education by teaching in the People’s Republic of China from 1989-90, where he joined of one of the first government-approved groups of American teachers to work in Chinese high schools. Upon his return from China to Nebraska, Tim served full time in the Army National Guard, and accepted a teaching and coaching position. More importantly, he met his wife, Gwen Whipple, who was teaching at the same school. Tim and Gwen Walz moved to Mankato in 1996, where they began working at Mankato West High School. In addition to teaching social studies, Tim helped coach the Mankato West football team that won the school’s first state championship. After 24 years in the Army National Guard, Command Sergeant Major Walz retired from the 1-125th Field Artillery Battalion in 2005. Tim won his first election to the United States House of Representatives in 2006, and was re-elected for another 5 terms serving Minnesota’s First Congressional District. In addition to his work on the Farm Bill, the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System, Minnesota Highway 14, and the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery in Preston (MN), Tim introduced the STOCK Act, a bill that sought to limit congressional insider trading. On March 22, 2012, the STOCK Act passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate.

Dr. Jennifer Williams

Co-Founder of TeachSDGs

Recognized as a transformational leader in education, Dr. Jennifer Williams has dedicated herself for 25 years to the field of education through her roles as an education activist, professor, school administrator, literacy specialist, and classroom teacher. She speaks, writes, and consults on practices that develop global perspectives and social good through creative uses of technology, and her research interests include innovations in teaching and learning, equity and diversity in education, and social action. As an educator and author of the ISTE book, Teach Boldly: Using Edtech for Social Good, she champions teachers to use educational technology for social good. She is a professor at Saint Leo University, co-founder of TeachSDGs, Take Action Global, and Edcamp Tampa Bay, and is the President of the ISTE Education Leaders PLN Board of Directors. She is currently a consultant for Adobe for Education, Empatico, and the U.S. Department of State and is working with ISTE and Routledge on two new books. Notable recognitions include being named Top 30 for K12 IT Educators (2020), #8 for Top Academics in STEM (2018), and #9 Top Campaigners in Sustainability (2018). Jennifer is inspired everyday by teachers and students who are catalysts for making the world a better place!