Keynote Speakers
2014 National Forum on Character Education2012 Leaders Logo

2014 Keynote Speakers

Nicholas D. KristofNicholas Kristof
Saturday, Nov. 1 | 4:15pm – 5pm | Grand Ballroom
A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity
Nicholas Kristof’s new book with wife Sheryl WuDunn, A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity, is a tour of philanthropic innovators across the U.S. and around the world who are using research, evidence-based strategies, and brilliant ideas of their own to fight some of the twenty-first century’s most intractable problems: poor early-childhood education, sex trafficking, inner-city violence, poverty and malnutrition, homelessness, and many others. A Path Appears offers concrete advice on how to help others most responsibly and effectively.  Many of us want to give back, but we’re not sure where to begin or what will be the most effective use of our money, energy, and time.  A Path Appears is the roadmap we’ve been waiting for.

Mary Gordon Mary Gordon
Saturday, Nov. 1 | 8am – 8:45 am | Grand Ballroom
Empathic Children Today Build Civil Societies Tomorrow
Mary will share the perspective of children on the Roots of Empathy program along with the scientific research from 3 continents which confirms that the program reduces aggression in elementary school children, including bullying, while increasing social and emotional competence. Stories and film will chronicle the impact of this school based program.  The Roots of Empathy Instructor guides the children in observing the development and temperament of a tiny baby, while learning to take the baby’s perspective and develop emotional literacy. In finding the humanity in this neighbourhood baby, children are able to find the humanity in themselves and one another.

Mary Gordon is recognized internationally as an award-winning social entrepreneur, educator, author, child advocate and parenting expert who has created programs informed by the power of empathy. In 1996 Ms Gordon outlined the initial curriculum of Roots of Empathy and began piloting the program in Toronto. In 2000 she established the national and international organization Roots of Empathy, which has since reached over 600,000 children on three continents. In 2005, Ms Gordon created the Seeds of Empathy program.

Briceno headshot webEduardo Briceño
Friday, Oct. 31 | 3:15pm – 4:00pm | Grand Ballroom
Preparing Students to Truly Thrive: Mindsets, Character & 21st Century Competencies 
Eduardo will share key research on the effect that a growth mindset and other key beliefs has on students’ behaviors for success in developing moral and performance character, and he will share effective strategies that schools use to cultivate those beliefs and competencies in students. Eduardo is the Co-Founder and CEO of Mindset Works. Mindset Works offers curricula, tools, and professional development that hundreds of schools use to develop the student inner drive needed for success in the 21st century.

Gruener_BarbaraBarbara Gruener
Friday, Oct. 31 | 8am – 8:45am | Grand Ballroom
Kindness Is The Real Global Warming 
Imagine a world in which we focused on elevating empathy and elation rather than battling bullying behaviors. Imagine a school culture that cultivates kindness and compassion rather than combating cruelty and chaos. Pie in the sky … or possible? Prepare to feel the global warming as Barbara shares the tangible effects of infusing kindness, affirmations and gratitude into your character building. Barbara is a counselor and character coach at Westwood-Bales Elementary, a 2009 National School of Character. Barbara has worked as a teacher and counselor with students across all grades, pre-K through 12th, for thirty years. During that time, Barbara has always used fun as her invitation to engage, create, discover, learn, and grow with her students. Barbara is the author of The Corner on Character blog and a new book about SUPERHEROES of the Character Kind. Listen to Barbara’s podcast: “Character is our Power” >>

John EnglerJohn Engler
Saturday, Nov. 1 | Gala Keynote | Grand Ballroom
Throughout his leadership at both the National Association of Manufacturers and Business Roundtable, Engler has been heavily engaged in education and workforce issues, identifying the pressing shortage of skilled employees as a growing threat to American competitiveness in the 21st century’s high-tech global economy. During Engler’s tenure as the 46th governor of Michigan from 1991 to 2003, the top priority of his administration was improving education, with a focus on high standards, equity and accountability. Syndicated columnist David Broder summarized Engler’s service as governor as a “model of strong, executive leadership.”


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