General Sessions will be held in the Grand Ballroom, Level 2.
Alex Sheen is the founder of because I said I would, a social movement and nonprofit dedicated to bettering humanity through promises made and kept. Sparked by the loss of his father, Alex and his organization send “promise cards” to anyone anywhere in the world at no cost. Alex is someone who truly honors commitment. He once walked over 240 miles across the entire state of Ohio in 10 days to fulfill a promise. In just two years, because I said I would has sent over 12.3 million promise cards to over 153 different countries. The promises written on these cards have made headlines around the world. Alex is a five time Tedx Talk speaker and his charitable work has been featured on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, CNN, The Today Show, NPR, The Los Angeles Times and many other programs.
As the leader of CCSA, Myrna manages the membership organization representing California’s public charter schools, since January 2019. Prior to assuming the role of President and CEO, she served for nearly three years as the Founding Executive Director of Great Public Schools Now, an organization created in winter 2015. As the Executive Director, Myrna led Great Public Schools Now's strategy in transforming education in Los Angeles by expanding high-quality public schools of diverse governance models in the areas most in need of support.
Prior to Great Public Schools Now Myrna worked at the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) in various key leadership roles since its founding in late 2003, most recently as the Acting Chief Executive Officer and prior to that heading the government affairs, local advocacy, quality, school development, and research and evaluation portfolios at various times. Her work with CCSA was preceded by a decade in school reform efforts in Texas and Los Angeles. In the late 1990s-early 2000s, Myrna served as a consultant to the state-funded Urban Education Partnership/LAUSD where she helped to develop eight innovative early education service centers in the most high-need areas of Los Angeles; she served as VP of School and Family Networks for the Los Angeles Alliance for Student Achievement and the director for family engagement for the Los Angeles Annenberg Metropolitan Project. In Texas, Myrna spearheaded parent and community engagement efforts at the El Paso Collaborative for Academic Excellence, a K-16 systemic reform initiative and piloted a model for pre-service teachers to work organically with parents and community during their clinical assignments, which was adopted as a program requirement for all teachers at the University of Texas at El Paso.
She served for nearly a decade as a key education leader, supporting organizing strategies for the Southwest Industrial Areas Foundation and its statewide Alliance Schools Initiative to develop parent, teacher and community capacity to transform low-performing schools into high achieving centers for community-wide change. An experienced trainer and public speaker, Myrna receives frequent invitations to lead professional development seminars, deliver keynote presentations and make media appearances, particularly on matters of Latino student achievement and effective parent and civic engagement in transforming public education. She served as Vice President and then a term as President of the National Board of Parents for Public Schools, a network of twenty-four local organizations that support public education reform across the United States.
In these positions, Myrna saw parents' deep desire to give their children real high-quality education opportunities when faced with so few choices. Her passion for this critical work comes from her background as a mother and an immigrant, and what she has seen is possible when commitment, opportunity and urgency meet to help families carve out better futures. In 2013, Myrna was named "Education Reformer to Watch" by the Walton Family Foundation. She is also a fellow of the Aspen Pahara Education Fellowship's eighth class and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.
As the 2015 Hart Vision Teacher of the Year, Genein Letford is a best-selling author and international speaker on Intercultural Creativity®. As a TEDx speaker and top creativity trainer, she has inspired many educators to be aware of their cultural lenses and creative abilities in order to produce innovative ideas for the classroom and workspace. She is the founder and Chief Creative Officer of CAFFE Strategies, LLC which trains administrators, educators and employees to unleash their Intercultural Creativity® for themselves and in their classrooms.
Pulling from her fifteen years of working with creative geniuses (her charter students), her unique curriculum utilizes metaphorical strategies, heightened observation techniques and the creative arts to reawaken intuitive thinking in her clients. She recently published her first children’s book I AM CREATIVE! with her 3-year-old son, Shawn Letford to show how creative thinking develops. Her latest book, 7 Gems Of Intercultural Creativity: Connect, Create and Innovate Across Cultural Lines has been labeled groundbreaking for education in the 21st century. Genein believes creative thinking paired with cultural competency are critical 21st Century skills and she is often called ‘America’s Creativity Coach’ for her work in reigniting Intercultural Creativity® and in our youth and in our workforce.