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I have had the pleasure to attend multiple Forums with school personnel and parents from my school district. The enthusiasm, the sharing of strategies, and the vital message of how our work is growing future generations of citizens are all my take-aways. I always come home re-energized.

Dr. Keith Marty

Superintendent, Parkway School District, Missouri

Washington D.C.

November 6-7, 2023

Save the Date!

Early Bird Registration Now Open

Our 30th Anniversary International Forum is LIVE in Washington D.C.!

Welcome Reception  –  November 5 (5pm)








2023 Keynote Speakers

Character Can Change The World

The Power of Real-Life Stories to Help Students Practice Kindness and Gratitude

During the pandemic, Steve Hartman from the iconic CBS News series “On The Road” began a new series called “Kindness 101.” Together with his children, Steve shares stories around character-inspired themes and how ordinary people are doing extraordinary acts and changing lives. Steve will give a keynote at our Forum on how to join thousands of teachers around the country who are using his videos to inspire students to build connections, and how through a ripple effect, create a more caring and compassionate world.

Steve Hartman has been a CBS correspondent since 1998 and is known for creating moving stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things in his weekly feature “On The Road.” Hartman‘s stories are often used in schools by thousands of teachers for lessons on empathy, honesty, fortitude, courage, etc. In addition, with the help of his children (Meryl and Emmett), Hartman has produced “Kindness 101” segments on these themes for CBS Mornings. Steve has proved the adage, “Everybody has a story” and has won numerous broadcast journalism awards, including an Alfred I. DuPont Columbia University Award, four National Emmy awards, and 14 RTNDA/Edward R. Murrow awards, including a record 11 citations for best writing.

Character: The Science-Backed Solution to Our Mental Health Crisis

Tools and strategies to improve well-being

Our young people are experiencing a mental health crisis due to a variety of factors. In her keynote, renowned psychologist Dr. Michele Borba will  share the science-based tools and strategies educators and families can use to equip young people with the resiliency and character strengths that all of us need during the inevitable storms of life. 

Dr. Michele Borba is an internationally renowned educational psychologist, award-winning author and Today show contributor who has spoken to over one million participants on five continents about child development issues. She blends 40 years of teaching and consulting experience with the latest science, giving realistic advice to parents, educators, and child advocates about strengthening children’s resilience, social-emotional intelligence and character, and reducing peer cruelty. Borba is the award-winning author of 25 books translated into 30 languages. Titles include: Thrivers, Don’t Give Me That Attitude!, Building Moral Intelligence, End Peer Cruelty, Build Empathy, and UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World.

Cracking The Intrinsic Motivation Code

5 Insights To Help Students Discover Their Moral Compass

Dr. Elias will explore how to shape positive student behaviors by fostering their sense of purpose. He will also discuss the evidence-informed approaches and practices that encourage students to set goals for themselves, to think about their own thinking, as well as tools to help students assess and strengthen their own character. This highly-interactive keynote will draw on many of the key indicators highlighted in Principle 7 of our 11 Principles Framework for Schools

Maurice J. Elias, Ph.D. is a professor in the Psychology Department at Rutgers University, director of the Rutgers Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab, and codirector of the Academy for SEL in Schools. He received our “Sandy Award” in 2013 for his sustained and significant impact to the field of character development and education. He has written Emotionally Intelligent ParentingTalking Treasure: Stories to Help Build Emotional Intelligence and Resilience in Young Children, and The Joys & Oys of Parenting .

Breakout Sessions

Learn about peer mentoring, service learning, staff retention and morale, parent engagement, student leadership, sports, restorative practices, and much more. Check out some highlights below or our full schedule


Houston Kraft

PRACTICAL KINDNESS – Former Character.org keynote speaker and author of Deep Kindness, Houston Kraft will lead you through a series of practical exercises designed to increase empathy and create more consistent compassion that you can take back into any classroom or staff meeting. Leave with research-backed activity ideas and easy-to-implement educator tools to support your staff development.


Scarlett Lewis

The Choosing Love Mindset: Thriving, not just surviving – Former Character.org keynote speaker, Scarlett Lewis will empower you to thrive physically, mentally, and emotionally. Participants will discover the importance of essential life skills taught through the Choose Love Movement’s no cost, comprehensive, lifespan, next generation Character Social Emotional Development programs.

Nicole Diehl

IMPROVING STAFF MORALE AND RETENTION through the ABCs of Character EducationSchools nationwide are experiencing a teacher shortage and a decline in staff morale. While there are factors outside your control, there are still many things that a school leader can do to contribute to teacher satisfaction and retention! This interactive session will show you the evidence behind how building a sense of Autonomy, Belonging, and Competence for the adults in your building could be the key, as well as equip you with low-burden, high-impact tools for success.

Joe Beckman

JUST LOOK UP: 5 Life-Saving Phrases Every Human Needs to Hear – Combining humor, authenticity, heart, and soul, international speaker Joe Beckman shares five specific phrases he believes all humans need to hear…especially today. The result is a refreshing, authentic, and down-to-earth approach to finding self-worth (Love YOU), resilience (Push Through), confidence (Fail On), joy (Yeah Toast!), and maybe most importantly, human connection (Just Look Up).

Dara Feldman

VIRTUES: The Key to Scaling Transformation and Wellbeing – Join us for a highly engaging workshop where you will experience how the largest school in the world, India’s City Montessori School, infuses character into every fiber of their community, bringing out the best in their students, staff, and families. You will experience firsthand the healing power of a virtues well-being connection circle and leave inspired with a library full of free resources.

Antonio Cooper

USING CORE VALUES TO ADDRESS RACE, ETHNIC, AND CULTURAL GAPS IN SCHOOL CLIMATEAny difficulty addressing cultural differences in your building? Any problems connecting with diverse backgrounds? Does your data show misalignments within your populations? If so, what is your plan to help navigate these issues? These questions, and more, will be addressed during this session that gives educators tips and strategies to address race, ethnic, and cultural gaps among students and staff. Participants will leave with a blueprint for leading difficult conversations and move forward together.

Mindy Bier

PRIMED FOR CHARACTER EDUCATION: Six Design Principles for Effective School ImprovementFor character education to work, it needs to be both comprehensive and designed according to research evidence about what works in schools. PRIMED is based on 25 years of reviewing the research on effective implementation strategies and programs and distills it into six essential design principles. In this session, participants learn about PRIMED’s history, an overview of the six design principles along with examples of evidence-based practices for each.

Hal Urban

GOOD NEWS, KIND WORDS, and FUNNY THINGSJoin an award-winning teacher and author for a fun discussion on how to build a caring community in your classroom. Learn proven win-win strategies for creating a classroom environment that kids WANT to be in, and walk away with a plan to interact with your students more strategically and more successfully.

International Summit: A Carousel of Character

International attendees don’t miss our summit on Sunday, November 5th from 1:00pm – 3:30pm, where you can learn, share, and make new friends in our growing global character community.

Schedule At A Glance

Saturday, Nov. 4th (Preconference)

10a-4p: 11 Principles Training

Sunday, Nov. 5th (Preconference)

9a-12p: Pre-conference workshops
9a-1p: Evaluator Training
1p-3:30p: International Summit
1p-4p: Pre-conference workshops
1p-4p: Schools of Character Summit
5p-7p: Registration, Welcome Reception, Exhibits

Monday, Nov. 6th

7a-8a: Registration, Breakfast, Exhibits
8a-9a: Keynote – Michele Borba
9:15a-10:30a: Breakout Sessions
10:45a-12p: Breakout Sessions
12p-1p: Lunch, Exhibits
1p-2:15p: Breakout Sessions
2:30p-3:45p: Breakout Sessions
4p-4:15p: Ethics In Action Award
4:15p-5:15p: Keynote – Steve Hartman
5:15p-6p: Poster Session Displays, Exhibits
7p-10p: Off-site Monuments Tour (optional)

Tuesday, Nov. 7th

7a-8a: Breakfast, Exhibits
8a-8:45a: Keynote – Maurice Elias
8:45a-9a: Sandy Award – Phil Brown
9:15a-10:30a: Breakout Sessions
10:45a-12p: Breakout Sessions
12:15p-1:45p: Schools of Character Luncheon

JIM CLARK, President of Boys & Girls Club of America to receive the John Winthrop Wright ‘Ethics In Action” Award at the Forum!

PHIL BROWN, co-founder of the New Jersey Alliance for Social, Emotional, and Character Development (NJASECD), to receive the Sandy Award for a lifetime achievement in Character Education at the Forum!

What To Expect

✓  Keynote speakers to inspire you

✓  Celebrate our 2023 National Schools of Character

✓  60+ Breakout sessions on emerging practices and strategies

✓  Networking opportunities with experts and school leaders

✓  Learn from our 2023 Promising Practices

✓  Moonlight monument tour

✓  25+ Exhibitor Booths

What To See

Lincoln Memorial

These are just a few of the amazing things to see in Washington D.C.

Jefferson Memorial

These are just a few of the amazing things to see in Washington D.C.

White House

These are just a few of the amazing things to see in Washington D.C.

2023 Forum Partners

Character.org is honored that the Kern Family Foundation is our 2023 Forum Sponsor. 

Register Today!

Don’t Miss The Premiere Character Event Of The Year!