Opening Plenary Speaker: Cynthia Dillard, Ph.D.

Dean, College of Education
Seattle University

Dr. Cynthia B. Dillard (Nana Mansa II of Mpeasem, Ghana, West Africa) is Dean of the College of Education at Seattle University. Prior to this appointment, she served as the Mary Frances Early Professor of Teacher Education in the Department of Educational Theory and Practice at the University of Georgia. Her scholarly research interests include critical teacher education, spirituality in education, and African/African American feminist studies.

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Beyond numerous published articles, book chapters, and scholarly presentations across the globe, two of her books, On spiritual strivings: Transforming an African American woman’s academic life (SUNY Press, (2006) and Learning to (re)member the things we’ve learned to forget: Endarkened feminisms, spirituality and the sacred nature of research (Peter Lang, 2012) were selected as Critics’ Choice Book Award winners by the American Educational Studies Association (AESA). Her fourth book, The spirit of our work: Black women teachers (re)member was published in November, 2021 with Beacon Press. In addition to receiving numerous awards for her teaching, research and service, Dean Dillard was awarded the prestigious Taylor and Francis AESA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019. She is also the recipient of the 2012 AERA Distinguished Contributions to Gender Equity in Education Research Award, given for her distinguished research and practices that advance public understanding of gender in education and received the Division G Henry T. Trueba Award at the 2016 AERA annual meeting. This prestigious award honors a researcher whose scholarship and teaching has led to the transformation of the social context of education. At Seattle University, Dean Dillard is developing a new study abroad program to Ghana, West Africa, and has founded and directs a preschool, elementary and middle school with her husband in Mpeasem (M-pee-a-sem) in the Central Region of Ghana, West Africa. There, she also holds the distinct honor of being enstooled as Queen Mother of Development (Nkosua Ohemaa) for the village, an esteemed lifetime position of leadership within the community. She also offers numerous and popular retreats to Ghana, West Africa through her small business, Full Circle Retreats Ghana. In addition, Dean Dillard serves as the Executive Director and President of GIVE.BUILD.SHARE, a nonprofit organization designed to support educational opportunities for children and families through building schools in Ghana. Dean Dillard is a visionary leader who continues to make impacts in education across the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest, the nation and the world.

Morning Plenary Speaker: EIham Kazemi, Ph.D.

Professor of Mathematics Education
University of Washington

Elham Kazemi is a professor of mathematics education at the University of Washington. Her research has included close study of classroom discourse and children’s disciplinary identities, pedagogies of teacher education, and teacher educator and leadership practice. She partners with schools to build and study strong and joyful professional learning communities that make a difference for children’s learning and development. She has co-authored several books for educators from these collaborations: Intentional Talk, Choral Counting and Counting Collections and a new book called Learning Together: Organizing Schools for Teacher and Student Learning.

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Elham Kazemi

Closing Plenary Speaker: Yolanda Sealy-Ruiz, Ph.D.

Professor at Teachers College
Columbia University

Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, Ph.D. is a Professor of English Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research has appeared in several top-tier academic journals. She is co-editor of four books and is co-author of the multiple award-winning book Advancing Racial Literacies in Teacher Education: Activism for Equity in Digital Spaces (2021) where she examines her concept of Archeology of Self ™ in education. 

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Yolanda Sealy Ruin

For three years in a row, she was named one of EdWeek's EduScholar Influencers -- a list of the Top 1% of educational scholars in the United States -- a highly selective group of 200 scholars (chosen from a pool of 20,000). At Teachers College, she is the founder of the Racial Literacy Project @TC, and the Racial Literacy Roundtables Series, where for 14 years, national scholars, teachers, and students facilitate conversations around race and other issues involving diversity. Yolanda appeared in Spike Lee2 Fists Up: We Gon Be Alright” (2016), a documentary about the Black Lives Matter movement and the campus protests at Mizzou, and "Defining Us, Children at the Crossroads of Change, a documentary about supporting and educating the nation's Black and Latinx males youth,  and the forthcoming "Black Girls", a documentary about Black girls and women in society, the film will be released in 2024. Yolanda's first full-length collection of poetry, Love from the Vortex & Other Poems, was published in March 2020. Her sophomore book of poetry, The Peace Chronicles, was published in July, 2021. Yolanda opened the 2022 TEDx UPENN conference at the University of Pennsylvania with her TEDx Talk: Truth, Love & Racial Literacy. Connect with Yolanda on Twitter at @RuizSealey and on Instagram at @yolie_sealeyruiz