2018 Conference Speakers


Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, and the New York Times Bestselling author of 24 books, including THE CROSSOVER, which received the 2015 John Newbery Medal for the Most Distinguished Contribution to American literature for Children, the Coretta Scott King Author Award Honor, The NCTE Charlotte Huck Honor, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, and the Paterson Poetry Prize. Kwame writes for children of all ages. Some of his other works include THE PLAYBOOK: 52 RULES TO HELP YOU AIM, SHOOT, AND SCORE IN THIS GAME OF LIFE; the picture books, ANIMAL ARK, OUT OF WONDER and SURF'S UP; and novels SOLO, BOOKED, and HE SAID, SHE SAID.

Kwame believes that poetry can change the world, and he uses it to inspire and empower young people through his writing and publishing program. A regular speaker at schools and conferences in the U.S., he also travels the world planting seeds of literary love: Singapore, Brazil, Italy, France, Shanghai, and recently, Alexander led a delegation of 20 writers and activists to Ghana, where they delivered books, built a library, and provided literacy professional development to 300 teachers, as a part of LEAP for Ghana, an International literacy program he co-founded. In 2015, Kwame served as Bank Street College of Education’s Inaugural Dorothy M. Carter writer-in-residence. The Kwame Alexander Papers, a collection of his writings, correspondence, and other professional and personal documents is held at the George Washington University Gelman Library.


Trisha Ross Anderson  is the Senior Program Manager for Making Caring Common, a project of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, which works with educators, parents, and communities to promote in children kindness and a commitment to the greater good. Trisha has spent over a decade supporting a wide variety of schools and educational non-profits. Her work centers around social and emotional learning and character development, the promotion of positive school climate, and intervention development and evaluation. Interested in the translation of research to practice, Trisha has been part of several research teams that develop, facilitate, and evaluate social and emotional learning and character education programs in schools. She regularly works with school and district leaders, as well as teachers and parents, as a consultant, presenter, and trainer. Trisha previously worked as a classroom teacher. In her work with Making Caring Common, Trisha helped to research and write reports including The Children We Mean to Raise, Leaning Out, The Talk, and Turning the Tide, which seeks to re-shape the college admission process. She holds an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.


Ross Wehner, Founder of World Leadership School and TabLab, is a social entrepreneur. World Leadership School and TabLab partner with K-12 schools to transform learning. By transforming schools, we pursue our mission to "empower young leaders to find innovative solutions to the world's pressing problems."

Ross began his career as a journalist in the early 1990s, where he reported on the rapid growth of South America’s economies and covered the end of Chile’s Pinochet regime for the San Francisco Chronicle. He spent a decade reporting from Peru, Ecuador, Argentina and Mexico for Mother Jones, Outside, Ski and other publications. He most recently worked as a business reporter for The Denver Post.

Ross has also worked as a teacher for The Bush School in Seattle, The Miller School in Crozet, Virginia, and the University of Virginia, where he earned an M.A. in Spanish American literature. He also taught as an instructor at the National Outdoor Leadership School and as a mountain guide for Alpine Ascents.


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