NSBA Equity Symposium 2023 - Save the Date

The NSBA Equity Symposium provides a forum for school board members, public school advocates, and community leaders to examine and discuss the strategies, current trends, research, and best practices around equity in our nation’s public K-12 schools. Join your colleagues at NSBA’s Equity Symposium, January 28, 2023 in Washington, D.C.

All Districts Are Welcome to Attend the NSBA Equity Symposium!

Registration is closed.

Registration Fees

Registration Registration Deadline  Participating NATCON & CUBE Districts in Member State Associations
Participating NATCON & CUBE Districts in Non-Member State Associations  Non-Participating NATCON & CUBE Districts in Member State Associations  General 
Early  By November 18  $225 $275  $325  $375 
Standard  After November 18  $325 $375  $425 $475 

*Participating Member State Association Executive Directors receive a complimentary registration. For more information, contact info@nsba.org.

Keynote Speakers

NSBA Equity Symposium Keynote Speakers 

Read Bios

Schedule (as of 1/12/23)

Friday, Jan. 27

3 – 6 p.m.  Early Registration 

Saturday, Jan. 28

7:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. Registration 
7:30 – 9 a.m. Breakfast
9 – 10:15 a.m. Welcome Remarks & Keynote Presentation: Freeman A. Hrabowski III 
10:30 – 11:15 a.m. Breakout Sessions 
11:15 – 11:30 a.m. Coffee Break
11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Breakout Sessions
12:30 – 2 p.m.  Lunch and Panel Discussion: Equity for Rural Students: Out of the Pandemic, but Still Out of the Loop
2:15 – 3 p.m. Breakout Sessions
3 – 3:15 p.m. Coffee Break
3:15– 5 p.m. Closing Keynote Presentation: Dr. Amy Price Azano 
5:30 – 6:30 p.m. NSBA Equity Symposium and Advocacy Institute Joint Reception  


More general sessions and breakout sessions will be announced soon. 

  • General Sessions

    9 – 10:15 a.m.

    Beating the Odds: Raising Academically Successful African American Males
    Today, young Black men are more likely to be killed or sent to prison than to graduate from college. Yet, despite all the obstacles, some are achieving at the highest academic and professional levels.

    Dr. Freeman Hrabowski shares remarkable stories and shows audiences what African American families have done to raise academically successful sons — sons who are among the top two percent of African American males in terms of SAT scores and grades. He will show precisely how young African American men can succeed despite the roadblocks of racism, the temptations of crime and drugs, and a popular culture that values being "cool" over being educated. This presentation offers insight, guidance, and hope for anyone concerned about the plight of young African American men and the society in which they live.

    Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, Advocate for Science and Technology Education for African Americans

    12:45 – 2:15 p.m.

    Equity for Rural Students: Out of the Pandemic, but Still Out of the Loop
    Educational equity means that each student should receive what they need to develop to their full academic and social potential, regardless of who they are and where they go to school. Providing quality education to all rural students is a daunting task and needs the support of policy and research. Exacerbated by the pandemic, issues such as funding, teacher recruitment and retention, and serving disadvantaged students have become more severe in rural school districts. With these challenges in mind, NSBA’s Center for Public Education recently released a new report: Out of the Pandemic, but Still Out of the Loop. The report examines the relevant data about the education conditions of rural students and attempts to answer the following research questions:

    • Why should rural students be actively included in the discussion about educational equity?
    • How can policies be more aligned with rural circumstances to provide each student with equal access to all learning opportunities?
    • What practices have rural school districts adopted to provide quality education to all students?

    This session will feature a panel of experts to discuss the results and implications of this report, along with best practices and strategies that communities can incorporate to close opportunity gaps and inequities in their districts.

    Kathy Gebhardt, Director at Large, Colorado Association of School Boards

    Dr. Herbert T. Monroe, III, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, Caroline County Public Schools (VA), DEI

    Kelly L. Griffith, Ed.D., Executive Director, Eastern Shore of Maryland Education Consortium & Retired Maryland
    Superintendent Of the Year 2021

    Michelle Murphy, Executive Director, Colorado Rural Schools Alliance

    3:45 – 5 p.m.

    Centering Place and Rurality in Educational Equity
    Context influences school funding, curricular options, and opportunities for young people; yet, placeless educational policy rarely accounts for these contextual differences. This keynote presentation will provide an overview of the salient issues related to rural education, with a focus on equity issues in rural schooling, ways to disrupt harmful stereotypes and deficit ideologies, and innovative programs designed to invest in rural students, teachers, schools, and communities. This presentation will be followed up by a fireside chat discussing the issues of educational equity in rural communities with Dr. Amy Price Azano and NSBA President Frank Henderson.

    Dr. Amy Price Azano, Founding Director, Virginia Tech Center for Rural Education

  • Breakout Sessions

    10:30 – 11:15 a.m.

    The Role Black Male School Leaders Play in Ensuring Equitable Division of Services in an Urban School Environment
    Innovative K12 Solutions (IKS) provides school districts with support around social-emotional learning (SEL), restorative practices (RP), and the reacclimation to in-person learning. IKS works to ensure that all students, regardless of zip code, have access to welcoming and safe learning environments. This session will center around a panel discussion designed to provide attendees with the practical application skills necessary to ensure that all students in their buildings, especially Black and Brown boys, are served appropriately with an equity-based focus. Participants will be equipped with the tools needed to navigate any challenges that arise when serving a diverse economic, race, and gender-associated student population.

    Dr. William Blake, Director of Redesign XQ, District of Columbia Public Schools

    Dr. Jeffrey O. Holmes, Senior Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Baltimore County Public Schools

    Joseph E. Speight Jr., Executive Director, Black Male Teacher Residency, Co-Founder, National Black Association of Black Male Educators

    Dr. Deitra Bryant-Mallory, Deputy Chief, District of Columbia Public schools

    Dr. Art Fields, PhD, LMSW, Chief Executive Officer, Innovative K12 Solutions

    Electric School Buses: Advancing Equity With Cleaner Air for Students and Communities
    Carla Walker, World Resources Institute’s Director of Environmental Justice and Equity, will moderate a discussion focused on how electric school buses can be a tool to create more equitable schools. Panelists will include experts who work at the intersection of equity, education, and electrification, as well as a school board member who is pursuing an equitable transition to electric school buses in their own district. The discussion will highlight equity considerations for school board members interested in electric school buses and cover strategies and best practices that can help them both electrify their fleets and advance equity in their communities.

    Carla Walker, Director, Environmental Justice and Equity, World Resources Institute

    Pamela Boozer-Strother, Board of Education Member, District 3, Prince George's County Public Schools

    Erica Swinney Staley, Executive Director, Manufacturing Renaissance

    Carol Tyson, Government Affairs Liaison, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund

    Johana Vicente, Chispa National Senior Director, League of Conservation Voters

    Developing and Implementing a Districtwide Equity Policy
    In this session, presenters will highlight work within Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS), a large school district in Maryland with 128 schools and 85,000 students, to develop, enact, implement, and ultimately evaluate the impact of a new equity policy. The AACPS school board initiated the policy in 2020.

    Presenters will describe in detail key components of the equity policy, as well as the supports provided by the Office of Equity And Accelerated Student Achievement (OEASA), which were instrumental in helping the AACPS School Board develop and enact the policy. Specific examples of district-led initiatives to support schools in implementing policy also will be discussed.

    In addition, in alignment with the districts’ implementation goals related to the new equity policy and to help evaluate its impact, the OEASA leveraged a longstanding research-practice partnership with the University of Virginia, Johns Hopkins University, and Sheppard Pratt, a health services provider. Data from this collaboration also will be presented.

    Dr. Lorenzo Hughes, Senior Manager of School Supports and Equitable Practices, Anne Arundel County Public Schools (MD)

    Dr. Jessika Bottiani, Assistant Professor of Education, University of Virginia

    Dr. Maisha Gillins, Executive Director of Equity and Accelerated Student Achievement, Anne Arundel County Public Schools (MD)

    Public Education: The Foundation for a Just, Multiracial Democracy
    Public schools are not just places where children learn to read, listen, and think. They are also where our young people are prepared to become citizens by sharing learning spaces with their neighbors and making decisions together. At its best, public education prepares students for citizenship in a democracy.

    But that goal is not enough for our increasingly diverse society. Research shows that students of color and white students benefit academically and socially from honest discussions about race. Additionally, if we want young people to work together so that they can tackle some of the biggest problems we’re facing today — like growing economic inequality, homelessness, and climate change — we need to prepare citizens who understand that equity, including racial equity, is in service to us all. We need to work towards a just, multiracial democracy.

    Unfortunately, in recent years our public schools and school boards have been ground zero for relentless attacks by the far right to stop educators from teaching our nation’s true history and prevent students from realizing the promise of democracy. Book bans, educational gag orders, and other tactics have been used to limit critical thinking about equity and shut down the democratic engagement of youth, parents, and educators.

    The session will closely examine these topics and encourage school board members to think critically about how recent attacks on equity and honesty in education have shaped their own efforts to meet their students’ and educators’ diverse needs.

    Dr. Tarece Johnson, Chairperson, Gwinnett County Board of Education (GA)
    Anastasia Ordonez, Public Education Leadership Project Director, Race Forward

    11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

    A Gateway to Greater Equity, More Effective K-16 Partnerships
    This session will introduce school board members to the Gateway to College program and the importance of equitable pathways for all high school students. It will discuss who are the students who fall off track, the options that are available to them, and the schools they attend, including alternative high schools, early college high schools, and dual-enrollment programs. The session will indicate how school districts and school board members can better support at-promise youth, and what school boards should look for in strategically introducing or developing an equity-based approach serving them. Nick Mathern, executive director of K-12 partnerships for Achieving the Dream and a national expert on at-promise youth, programs that serve them, and K-16 partnerships, will lead the session. He will be joined by Dr. ShaVon Savage, deputy superintendent for academic services for Philadelphia Public Schools, to discuss practical examples of what’s required to make programs successful. Without advocating for any one program, the session will provide school board leaders with strategies to make better decisions to help improve graduation and college-going rates, build more effective relationships with colleges, and identify questions every school board member should ask of dual-enrollment and early-college high school programs to ensure equity.

    Nick Mathern, Executive Director of K–12 Partnerships, Achieving the Dream

    Dr. ShaVon Savage, Deputy Superintendent for Academic Services, Philadelphia Public Schools (PA)

    Is it Time for a Special Education Update?
    Is your district closing the achievement gap for students with disabilities or leaving you open to legal action? School districts across the country are renovating their special education service delivery systems since the Endrew F. Supreme Court decision of 2017. The presenter will provide an overview of Seven Principles of Special Ed with updated legal requirements and share the Checklist for Special Education Update. Participants will practice using this Checklist with case study scenarios to identify special education liability issues and explore areas for systemic renovation.

    Dr. Amy Pleet-Odle, Founder, Inclusion Focused Coaching, LLC

    Galvanized for Impact: How the PGCPS Board of Education, Students, and Staff Converged to Maximize the Impact of The Equity Policy
    The heart of the Prince George’s County Public Schools’ mission and vision speaks to developing distinguished learners and leaders who advocate for humanity. Further, we know that each student holds brilliance in unique ways that, when allowed to flourish, can empower all communities. Participants in this session will hear how district leaders galvanized a budding synergy among the aspirations of students, the Board of Education, and Staff to move on key BoE Policy areas that center student voices from a variety of student demographic populations. Presenters will share artifacts that demonstrate how students hailing from the intersection of various communities have led in the areas of policy, climate change, equity, and inclusive learning environments. Participants should bring their own equity policies, procedures, or related documents to anchor their learning for this session.

    Dr. David Rease, Director, Office of Equity and Excellence, Prince Georges County Public Schools (MD)

    Stephanie Bailey, Equity Coach, Prince George's County Public Schools (MD)

    Dr. Olga I. Pabon, Instructional Supervisor for ELA, Prince George's County Public Schools (MD)

    Approaching Misconceptions Around Equity, Oppression, and Marginalization Within a Community
    Many communities have become very divided on topics around equity and social justice through accusations or misinformation of Critical Race Theory, book banning, gender identity, indoctrination, and more. Finding the balance to provide equity within schools while considering the needs of a politically divided community can present significant challenges to boards. Members of the Berlin Board of Education will open the session by sharing the challenges encountered from the community due to a newly formed social justice & equity committee, how the board worked to address misconceptions, the creation of a board/district equity statement, and next steps to continue to move forward as a district while creating equitable opportunities for all students. This workshop will provide participants with the opportunity to define and identify oppression and marginalization specific to their community and examine the issues that exist around equity and the potentially associated controversies. Through collaborative conversations, participants will have the opportunity to gain a stronger understanding and develop ways to best address issues while focusing on student outcomes in their district.

    Dr. Kari Sassu, Board Member, Berlin Public Schools (CT)

    Brian Benigni, Superintendent, Berlin Public Schools (CT)

    Julia Dennis, Board of Education President, Berlin Public Schools (CT)

    2:15 – 3 p.m.

    Making ESSER Dollars Count: Promising Practices & Advocating for Equity in American Rescue Plan Spending
    In this session, participants will dive deep into The Education Trust’s new resource, “Promising Practices: A School District Guide to Equity in America Rescue Plan Spending.” The guide provides both promising examples of school districts spending Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) dollars, as well as questions to help hold districts accountable for ensuring their practices are evidence-based and equity-oriented. Participants will engage hands-on with the tool, learning how to utilize the guide to increase equitable ESSER spending in their districts.

    Marissa Alberty, Senior Associate for National & State Partnerships, The Education Trust

    The NNPS Tiered Emotional and Mental Health Supports (TEaMS) Program
    The Newport News Public Schools (NNPS) Tiered Emotional and Mental Health Supports (TEaMS) Program was created to provide equitable opportunities for all students to have access to a continuum of social-emotional learning and mental health care services and support. The NNPS TEaMS Program has assisted in decreasing systemic barriers for students and families to access mental health supports by investing in the hiring of school-based licensed mental health professionals and partnerships with mental health care community-based agencies. Session participants will learn how an urban school division envisioned and implemented school-based mental health care services for students.

    Dr. George Parker, Superintendent, Newport News Public Schools (VA)

    Dr. Michele Mitchell, Executive Director of Student Advancement, Newport News Public Schools (VA)

    Linda Askew, LCSW, Student Support and Mental Health Care Services Supervisor, Newport News Public Schools (VA)

    Post-COVID Board Redesign: Seizing Opportunity to Diversify Board Leadership
    The last few years in school districts have exhausted many individual board members to the extent that many are not running for re-election. The 2019 and 2021 elections in Oregon saw the lowest percentages of members running for re-election in two decades. What is lost in institutional knowledge may be counterbalanced by a possible gain in new members who provide representation for historically underseen and underrepresented communities. When equity-centered leaders join our school boards, superintendents and their teams are able to support all students through meaningful re-examination and design of systems, including finance, human resources, facilities, and other operations, in addition to teaching and learning. Come learn how to encourage and support diverse perspectives on our school boards while also building an understanding of systemic redesigns that may quickly better benefit all students.

    Melissa Goff, Education Advisor to Oregon Governor-Elect Tina Kotek

    Dr. Sami Al-Abdrabbuh, Ph.D., Oregon School Board Members of Color Caucus, President, NSBA Board of Directors, Pacific Region

    Reengagement: Opportunities to Promote Equity
    Youth of color, youth experiencing poverty and homelessness, and other marginalized youths are more likely to be chronically absent and leave their educational institution before obtaining a high school diploma. School districts across the nation are playing a valuable role in supporting the reengagement of these young people through supporting community-based partnerships. Join the National League of Cities for a highly interactive session discussing the different roles that school districts can have in reengaging students.

    Antonia Rangel-Caril, Reengagement Senior Program Specialist, National League of Cities (NLC)

    Paul Smith, Consultant, National League of Cities (NLC)

Event Information

  • Cancellation Policy

    Request for refunds of the conference registration fee (minus a $75 service fee) can be honored only if made in writing to NSBA at info@nsba.org by December 21, 2022. No refunds will be honored after that time.

    Please feel free to email us at info@nsba.org with any questions you may have regarding your Equity Symposium registration.
  • Safety Protocols & Requirements

    Proof of vaccination status or a negative test result is not required to attend NSBA events. Attendees who are not vaccinated are asked to take an at-home COVID-19 rapid antigen test before traveling to the event and should not attend if they test positive or have COVID-19 symptoms. NSBA does not require proof of these measures but encourages attendees to act responsibly and with consideration for the health and safety of others. Mask wearing is not required but strongly encouraged.

    Please note that these requirements are subject to change and may be modified at any time. We will continue to monitor and communicate COVID-19 developments as needed.