Week of March 13, 2023 • SAFE Credit Union Convention Center • Sacramento, CA

General Sessions will begin promptly at 11:05 AM in Ballroom A, Level 2, on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Tuesday Keynote Speaker

Dr. José M. Hernández
Founder and CEO, Tierra Luna Engineering, LLC

José Hernández is a University of California Regent and President and Chief Executive Officer at Tierra Luna Engineering, LLC, an aerospace engineering consulting company.

Dr. Hernández worked at NASA Johnson Space Center from 2001 to 2011, where he was an astronaut, legislative analyst, branch chief and materials research engineer.

Prior to that, Dr. Hernández worked 17 years for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and worked on the X-ray laser project, co-developed the first full-field digital mammography system for the earlier detection of breast cancer and worked in the nuclear non-proliferation arena where he served as the Lab’s Deputy Program Manager in the Russian Highly Enriched Uranium Implementation Program and as Program Manager at DOE Headquarters for Office of International Material Protection and Cooperation.

Dr. Hernández holds a Master’s of Science in Signals and Systems Engineering from University of California, Santa Barbara, a Bachelor’s of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of the Pacific and has been honored with eight Doctorate Degrees, honoris causa.

Wednesday Keynote Speaker

Myrna Castrejón
President & CEO, CCSA

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.

Wednesday Keynote Speaker

Hardy Brown II
Managing Principal, Chief Relationship Officer, Footsteps to Freedom Inc. Emeritus Chairman, Black Voice Foundation Inc. Trustee, San Bernardino County, Board of Education (retired)

A leader in conversations of historical empathy, Hardy Brown is a collector of over 15,000 historical freedom artifacts. They date as early as the 1600s and concentrate on stories of resilience. Brown leads conversations on empathy with hundreds of teachers and thousands of students where learners gain knowledge and inspiration through primary sources.

As a two-term elected policy maker, Brown represented 33 school districts and over 400,000 students as the President of the San Bernardino County Board of Education, where he held many statewide leadership roles including with the California School Boards Association, State legislative affairs committee, and Board policy committee. He has also been awarded multiple times for the impact of his work.

Brown has over 26 years experience in social impact, research, fundraising, college career development, and the solicitation of major gifts for multiple national and regional organizations such as United Way of Orange County, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and Wilberforce University. Brown has volunteered his time as a board member for the Girl Scouts and United Way, and serves on the Board of Advisors for Executive Education at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Brown has been a columnist for the National Association of Colleges and Employers and the Black Voice Newspaper.