Featured Speakers

Featured Speakers

Dr. J. Luke WoodDr. J. Luke Wood

J. Luke Wood, Ph.D., is Vice President of Student Affairs & Campus Diversity and Dean’s Distinguished Professor of Education in the College of Education at San Diego State University. Wood also serves as the Co-Director of the Community College Equity Assessment Lab (CCEAL), a national research and practice center that partners with community colleges to support their capacity in advancing outcomes for underserved students of color.

Wood’s research focuses on factors affecting the success of boys and men of color education, with a specific focus on early childhood education and community colleges. His research examines contributing factors to success and positive outcomes.

Dr. Wood has delivered over 1,000 scholarly professional and conference presentations. His research has been featured by NBC, New York Times, Chronicle of Higher Education, Huffington Post, Fortune Magazine, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, San Francisco Chronicle, C-SPAN, and National Press Club. Dr. Wood has authored over 160 publications, including more than 70 peer-reviewed journal articles and 15 books.

Dr. Wood is a former recipient of the Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Fellowship from which he served as research fellow at the Stanford Institute for Higher Education Research (SIHER), Stanford University. Wood received his PhD in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies with an emphasis in Higher Education and master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education from Arizona State University (ASU). He also holds a master’s degree in Higher Education Leadership with a concentration in Student Affairs and a bachelor’s degree in Black History and Politics from California State University, Sacramento. He is also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated.


In recent years, there have been many high-profile slayings of Black people (e.g., George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Tamir Rice) leading to numerous marches, protests, and vigils throughout the nation. The Black Lives Matter movement has shed light on the injustices facing Black communities and has provided a statement of affirmation that Black lives do indeed matter. This presentation will draw parallels between the ways that Black people (particularly Black boys and men) are under-valued and over-criminalized in society and the ways that they are schooled. Tangible solutions for promoting the learning, development, and success of Black males are offered.

Effua McGowanEffua McGowan 

Effua McGowan is the Founder of Amazing You, LLC, an organization dedicated to the development of global human capital. She has over 24 years of corporate experience, including serving as a Vice President at JP Morgan Chase, leading multimillion-dollar businesses across the USA. She collaborates with organizations in East and West Africa.  Educated in Liberia, Kenya, Swaziland, The Ivory Coast and the United States, including immersion programs in France, Effua is a multi-lingual expert in advancing the human capacity of organizations, helping them strategically align their talent to preserve their competitive edge. She holds a Masters of Management in Human Resource Management.

Effua designs and facilitates transformative leadership and diversity programs for corporate and community clients. Her leadership programs and workshops have been adapted and applied globally. Effua has dedicated her focus on community engagement, serving in capacities in the USA and in Africa. Some of her notable achievements include:

  • Established Education First Academy in rural Liberia along with a veteran educator, catering to 300 elementary and junior pupils., in science, math and computer education
  • Created the “50 lbs. of Caring Project,” providing medical supplies for Redemption Hospital in Monrovia and J.J. Dossen Hospital in Harper, Maryland
  • Introduced a dental hygiene and nutrition program for the kids at Education First Academy, Liberia
  • Established a 50-acre agricultural program whose sole focus is providing equal employment opportunity to females in rural Liberia
  • Board member of D.A.T.I., a cultural arts organization, specializing in the dissemination of Liberian culture in the USA and Liberia 
  • Founding member of the Harold E. McGowan Scholarship Fund, which provides annual awards to high performing math students (3 girls and 3 boys) in rural schools (Liberia)
  • Led the Ebola awareness, hurricane disaster management and fundraising efforts in Houston, Texas
  • Created and funded the Amazing Wave Program, providing entrepreneurial opportunities to females in Liberia
  • Develops and facilitates leadership, organizational development, skills enhancement and personal enrichment workshops in Africa and the USA
  • Collaborative partner, The Annual Harold E. McGowan Upcountry Basketball, bringing together 16 to 32 schools in Bong and Nimba Counties, Liberia

Married and a mother of three, Effua makes her home in Houston. In her spare time, she loves to read, travel and enjoys the company of friends.

Dr. Gail L. ThompsonDr. Gail L. Thompson

Dr. Gail L. Thompson is the Founder and CEO of Inspirations by Gail LLC. Inspirations by Gail LLC offers services and resources that are designed to empower youth, parents/guardians, women, teachers, school leaders, school staff, higher education leaders, faculty and students, religious and business organizations, and prospective authors.

Dr. Thompson has won numerous awards, and authored many articles and books, including the critically acclaimed The Power of One: How You Can Help or Harm African American Students; Yes, You Can! Advice for Teachers Who Want a Great Start and a Great Finish With Their Students of Color (co-authored with Rufus Thompson), Up Where We Belong: Helping African American and Latino Students Rise in School and in Life; What African American Parents Want Educators to Know; A Brighter Day: How Parents Can Help African American Youth, and Through Ebony Eyes: What Teachers Need to Know but Are Afraid to Ask About African American Students.

Dr. Thompson has given keynote addresses, and conducted workshops throughout the U.S., in Canada, Costa Rica, and Jamaica. She has also appeared on numerous television and radio programs, including NPR affiliates, and served as the Executive Director of Equity for a large corporation, Fayetteville State University’s “Wells Fargo Endowed Professor of Education,” a tenured professor at Claremont Graduate University, creator and  Director of the “Black Men Teaching Program,” and member of the California State Board of Education's “African American Advisory Committee.”

Her latest book, Dear Beautiful! A Self-Empowerment Book for Black Women, was published in 2018. Her podcast “Inspirations by Gail” can be heard via her YouTube Channel. Dr. Thompson’s “Equity Talk” newsletter can be accessed through her website: www.drgailthompson.com.

Tiffany FlowersDr. Tiffany Flowers

Tiffany Flowers is a native of Chicago, Illinois. Dr. Flowers is a children’s author, literacy advocate and professor. She is a 2000 Indiana University Minority faculty fellow, and a 2004 West Chester University Frederick Douglass teaching fellow. Further, she was awarded the 2014 Early Career Educator of Color Leadership Award from the National Council of the Teachers of English. Recently, Dr. Flowers began serving as a reviewer for the American Library Association Booklist. Currently, she is an assistant professor of education in the Department of Cultural and Behavioral Sciences at Georgia State University Perimeter College. Dr. Flower’s research agenda is divided into four distinct and interrelated areas of research which includes African American literacy development, children’s literature, diversity issues in education and emergent literacy. 

As a writer, Tiffany is the author and co-author of various academic articles, book chapters, and children’s books. Her academic articles focus on the area(s) of literacy, education, and literature. Her academic work can be found in the Journal for the Liberal Arts and Sciences, Urban Education, The High School Journal, and Teachers College Record. The titles of her published children’s book releases include For Those Who Stare at the Moon, Patterns are Everywhere: An Upside Down Pattern Book, The Rooftop Club Book Series, the Guardians of History Book Series, and Nandi: Time Traveler. 

As a literacy advocate, Tiffany has written and received grants to fund various research-based literacy projects in schools, community centers, correctional facilities, and preschools. Those projects are aimed at pre-K through adult populations and include, but are not limited to, the African American Read-In Project, The Buddy Reading Project, The Kindergarten Reading Readiness Project, The Kindergarten Multi-ethnic Literature Project, and the Tolerance Project.

As a lecturer and consultant, Tiffany has presented at various local, regional and national conferences such as the South Carolina Association for School Libraries, The National Reading Conference, and the Georgia Reading Association Conference. Some of her professional presentation topics for educators include Using Diverse Literature in the Classroom, Reading Strategies for Reluctant Readers, Writing Diverse Experiences, Literacy Nights, and Family Literacy. Additionally, she has presented her work as a children’s author to elementary schools, colleges, churches and preschools in the United States.

Gabby GoodwinGabby Goodwin

Thirteen-year-old Gabby is the CEO of Confidence. At the age of seven, she and her mom Rozalynn solved the age-old problem of disappearing hair barrettes by inventing GaBBY Bows, the first, patented and non-slip Double-Face Double-Snap Barrette. GaBBY Bows, along with their line of plant-based girls’ natural hair styling products that reduce detangling time and tears and maintain moisture for days, remove stress from the styling process so moms, dads and girls can cherish this precious time together.

The company launched and began selling barrettes through its online store at gabbybows.com in February 2014. The mother-daughter duo has since filled online orders to all 50 states in the U.S. and in twelve countries. GaBBY Bows are also carried in select Target, retail and beauty supply stores in the US, Canada and South Africa. Gabby and Rozalynn launched the Mommy and Me Entrepreneurship Academy in November 2018. More than 50 Girl Bosses and their mothers from 16 states have enrolled for mentoring and started their own businesses under the Confidence brand. The children’s book Gabby Invents the Perfect Hair Bow chronicles Gabby’s entrepreneurial journey.

Their story has been featured on The Real, Aspire TV, NPR How I Built This, The Today Show, HSN and QVC, and in Inc., Forbes, Kiplinger Magazine, Black Enterprise, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Free Enterprise Magazine, JET.com, Essence.com, Madamnoire, AOL and Now This. Gabby was named a 2015 South Carolina Young Entrepreneur of the Year, the youngest to ever receive this award. The company was named a 2016 SCORE and Sam’s Club American Small Business Champion and the 2016 SCORE Foundation Outstanding Diverse Business of the Year.

Gabby was also named the 2018 Black Enterprise Teenpreneur of the Year, the 2019 SpeakerCon Teen Speaker of the Year and a 2020 Women Founders Foundation Network Fast Pitch Junior Judge. Gabbyis engaged in all aspects of the business, from inventory to speaking at schools and business conferences and helping with sales taxes to writing thank you notes to every customer who orders products online. She also hosts the GaBBY Play Date to teach girls in children’s shelters about entrepreneurship. The “A” student loves to read and dance. Her favorite subjects are science, math and language arts. Gabby, Rozalynn and their father/husband Comedian Mike Goodwin and little brother/son Michael live in Columbia, SC.

Amir R.C. GlymphAmir R.C. Glymph

Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Mr. Glymph attended El Camino Community College, UCLA and Cal State Dominguez Hills. Mr. Glymph has taught math and science with a passion for Inglewood Unified, Long Beach Unified and as Los Angeles Unified school districts. He has been involved with special education as a resource teacher dealing with exceptional students in elementary, intermediate and high school. Mr. Glymph holds a Bachelors, Degree in Sociology, a Masters in Mathematics and a second Masters, Degree in Special Education from Cal State Dominguez Hills. 

Mr. Glymph has served as Vice President of the board of directors for Secure Transitions Foster Family Agency. Mr. Glymph is a mathematics Math Game Flyerconsultant and the Project Director of the Academic Preparation Squad a 501(C) 3 Non-Profit. The Academic Preparation Squad prepares students to succeed in advanced mathematics by increasing positive attitudes and active engagement in learning math. The APS strategy centers on the use of 'Math Maze,' a creative game that teaches learners math skills in a fun and enjoyable environment. Mr. Glymph is dedicated to advancing mathematics proficiency for all students. 

Dr. Kingsley BotchwayDr. Kingsley Botchway

Kingsley Botchway II is the Chief Officer of Human Resources and Equity for the Waterloo Community School District. He was hired into his current position in July 2018. Previously, he was the Director of Equity and Staffing for the Iowa City Community School District. His current role encompasses leading, directing and managing personnel, state and federal law compliance, reviewing disaggregated data, and pursuing initiatives to reduce disproportionality within the District. Botchway is an avid believer of transformational equity leadership and action in K-12 education. He has given a number of keynote addresses at conferences throughout the state of Iowa on how to achieve true equity within our school system. Botchway holds a bachelor’s degree in criminology from the University of South Carolina, and a professional doctorate in law from the University of Iowa.

Botchway has received additional training and certifications from Harvard, Iowa State, Iowa, and Indiana Universities. Through his work in the community, he has served on many boards and commissions while in Iowa, including five years on the Iowa City Council and two years as Mayor Pro Tem. On the Iowa City Council, he was a staunch advocate in addressing affordable housing, creating economic development for communities of color, and introducing race conscious approaches to Iowa City policies, procedures, and protocols. Currently, he is a founding board member of 24/7 Black Leadership Advancement Consortium (BLAC). This group aims to increase personal and professional development, amplify leadership and growth strategies and build networks of influence for Black Professionals in the Cedar Valley.  Additionally, 24/7 BLAC seeks to connect with the unemployed/underemployed, fill vacancies and employment opportunities, increase Black wealth, build career readiness skills, work with employers committed to diversifying their workforce and influence the amount of Black managers and leaders in local companies. 

Brianna BurnetteBrianna Burnette

Brianna Burnette is from Greer, SC and serves as a third year fourth grade teacher at Mary H. Wright Elementary school in Spartanburg, SC. In 2018, she graduated from Furman University in Greenville, SC with a BA in Elementary Education and a minor in African American studies and African Diaspora cultures. She is currently pursuing a Masters of Education with a concentration in Literacy at Furman University. During her undergrad experience at Furman, she studied international public education in Finland and the Czech Republic. Her research interests include critical literacy, cultural responsive pedagogy, social justice and race in the classroom.  She also assists with coordinating the Furman University Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service that allows elementary students to engage in literacy activities with college students and professors. 

Daniel Christian HoilettDaniel Christian Hoilett

Daniel Christian Hoilett is originally from Charlotte, NC, but has lived in Greenville, SC since graduating from Furman University in 2015. Daniel's undergraduate degree is a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education with an Interdisciplinary Minor in Latin American Studies. In the Fall of 2020, he completed his Master of Arts in Literacy Education at Furman University.  Currently he is in his sixth year of teaching in Greenville County School District where he serves second grade students in their Virtual Program. His love of reading has always been strong, but it reached a new level while serving Freedom School Partners in Charlotte, NC under the National Children’s Defense Fund. 

Dr. Sarah MontgomeryDr. Sarah Montgomery

Dr. Sarah Montgomery is an Associate Professor of Elementary Education in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction. She is a former elementary teacher and is a Certified Mindfulness Educator. Dr. Montgomery enjoys teaching others mindfulness strategies that they can use to support their own well-being.  She has been a member of the Conference/Read-in Task Force for three year! We celebrate her expertise in "Mindfulness," adding additional strategies and approaches to strengthening the betterment of children and families!