Featured Speakers

Over the years, the Roundtable has the privilege of hearing from some remarkable international and nationally renowned speakers. We want to recognize them and acknowledge their contributions here. Beginning with speakers in 2015, works its way back through major speakers starting in 2006.



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Penny Bender-Sebring (2010)


Bender-Sebring is a senior research associate at the University of Chicago and co-founder of the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research. She is the co-author of Organizing Schools for Improvement.

Martin J. Blank (2015)

blank-marty-lgMarty Blank has been president of the Institute for Educational Leadership since 2009 and also serves as the Director of IEL’s Coalition for Community Schools.



Kevin Cahill (2014)


Cahill is Executive Director of the W. Edwards Deming Institute, named after his grandfather.



 Martin Carnoy (2013 and 2018)


A former Research Associate in Economics, Foreign Policy Division at the Brookings Institution, Carnoy is now the Vida Jacks Professor of Education at Stanford University.


Donald Cohen (2015 and 2019)

cohen-300x300Currently on the boards of the Ballot Initiatives Strategy Center and the Center for Effective Government, Cohen is president of In the Public Interest.

Carl Cohn (2019)

Cohn is a clinical professor at the School of Educational Studies at Claremont University and well-known for his pivotal role in leading Long Beach USD from 1992-2002, during which time he made the district a model for high academic standards and accountability.

Michael Davidson (2012)


Davidson was named head of Research and Analysis at United Learning in 2014 and served as head of OECD’s early childhood education and schools division for 11 years from 2003 to 2014.


Sherrie L. Gahn (2015)


Principal of Whitney Elementary in Las Vegas, Nevada. Gahn has been featured in national news’ outlets such as CBS for her efforts to help her students, 80 percent of whom are homeless.


Sue Hackman (2013)


Hackman served as Chief Adviser on School Standards for the Director of Education in England between 2006-2013.


Molly Hunter (2014)


Hunter directs the Education Law Center’s Education Justice program, which analyzes school funding in all 50 states.

Kathleen Hall Jamieson (2008)


Jamieson is the Elizabeth Ware Packard Professor of Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication and Director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

Paul Jargowsky (2012)


Jargowsky, a fellow at The Century Foundation, is author of Poverty and Place: Ghettos, Barrios, and the American City, which examines poverty at the neighborhood level across America.

Jack Jennings (2015 and 2019)

For nearly three decades, Jennings worked as subcommittee staff director and then as a general counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Education and Labor. Jennings is the author of the 2015 book Presidents, Congress, and the Pubic Schools, published by the Harvard Education Press.

Michael Kirst (2016)

Michael Kirst, Ph.D., is a Professor Emeritus of Education at Stanford University who held several positions with the federal government, including Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Manpower, Employment, and Poverty, and Director of Program Planning for Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Office of Education, and he was twice appointed president of the California State Board of Education.

Madam Liu Yandong (2008)

Liu Yandong

Madam Liu Yandong currently serves as Vice Premier of the People’s Republic of China. Here, she speaks to Roundtable members in Beijing.


Christopher Lubienski (2015)
from left: Joel Malin, curriculum specialist at the Pathways Resource Center and Chris Lubienski, professor of education

Christopher Lubienski, co-author of The Public School Advantage is a professor of educational policy at the University of Illinois.


Kent McGuire (2014)

KENT-MCGUIREMcGuire, a member of the Roundtable’s steering committee, is president and CEO of the Southern Education Foundation.


John Merrow (2018)

Merrow has won multiple journalism and educational awards for his long-time work as an education reporter for NPR and PBS News Hour.

Armi Mikkola (2012)


Mikkola is Counselor of Education for Finland, and described the Finnish teacher preparation program.



John Merrow (2015)

Merrow retired after four decades of covering schools for NPR and PBS NewsHour.



Jim Moran (2010)


Moran served as U.S. Representative for Virginia’s 8th congressional district from 1991 to 2015.



Henry Otero, M.D. (2014)


Otero is a Medical Oncologist and faculty member of the Virginia Mason Institute, who described “lean management” principles.


Diane Ravitch (2013)


Ravitch was responsible for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement in the U.S. Department of Education under President George H.W. Bush. A historian of education, she is a research professor of education at New York University and author of several books, including Reign of Error.

Sir Kenneth Robinson (2019)

Author of several books and the most-watched speaker in TED history, Sir Kenneth Robinson is a leading international thinker on education issues.

Pasi Sahlberg (2013)


A Finish educator and scholar, Sahlberg’s best-selling book, Finnish Lessons, won the 2013 Grawemeyer Award.


Peter Senge (2008)


Author of the Fifth Discipline: the Art and Practice of the Learning Organization, Peter Senge is a senior lecturer at MIT.


Dan Siegel (2012)

img_dan_bio_v2Dr. Siegel, clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, is on the faculty of the Center for Culture, Brain, and Development.


Shuzaburo Takeda (2008)


Takeda is a Senior Adviser to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) in Japan.


Patricia Talton (2015)

In 2000, Talton co-founded IntegritySource, a resource-management consulting firm serving faith and community-based organizations.

Gregory Thornton (2015)


Thornton served as superintendent in Milwaukee, and is currently the superintendent of Baltimore’s public schools in Maryland.

Mildred Toliver (2018)

Tolliver is the Executive Director of the School Turnaround Program of The Rensselaerville Institute, which seeks to improve teaching outcomes through training.

Adam Urbanski (2018)

Urbanski is the vice president of the American Federation of Teachers and director of the Teacher Union Reform Network.


Michael Usdan (2016)

Michael Usdan served as the president of the Institute for Educational Leadership from 1981 through 2001, and remains a senior fellow there.  Before that, he was Connecticut’s Commissioner of Higher Education and the president of the Merrill-Palmer Institute in Detroit.  He has written numerous articles and books on education.

Francois Weil (2013)


Weil, is director of studies (professor) at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en sciences sociales in Paris. The President of France Francois Hollande appointed him in July 2012 as rector of the Paris Academy and chancellor of the universities of Paris.

Madam Xu Lin (2008)

Xu Lin

Madam Xu Lin is director of the Hanban Institute and Chief Executive of Confucius Institute Headquarters in Beijing.


Yong Zhao (2019)

Zhao is a prolific author of books on education and a professor of education at the University of Kansas.

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