Presenters

Meet Our KeyNote Speakers

LeVar Burton

Actor, Author and Educator

LeVar Burton launched his acting career while still a student at the University of Southern California. Cast in the groundbreaking role of Kunta Kinte in the landmark television series Roots, at 19 he found himself on the cover of Time magazine. A seemingly impossible act to follow, Burton managed to do so in dramatic fashion, achieving further global acclaim as Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge in the iconic Star Trek: The Next Generation television series and feature films. But it has been his role as host and executive producer of the beloved PBS children’s series Reading Rainbow that he is most proud of. Airing from 1983 to 2009, it was not only one of the longest-running children’s television shows in history, but also one of the most acclaimed, earning over 200 awards including multiple Emmys and a Peabody.

Always committed to improving children’s education through innovative uses of storytelling, in 2012 Burton launched RRKidz, a digital educational publishing company, co-founded with business partner Mark Wolfe. Together they hold the global rights to the Reading Rainbow brand through a partnership with series creator, WNED/Buffalo. Reading Rainbow was reimagined to combine today’s forms of media and technology with the goal of inspiring a new generation of children to love reading. The all-new Reading Rainbow is a digital reading service filled with over 500 children’s fiction and non-fiction books, newly produced video field trips and new content added every week. With over 16 million books and videos enjoyed since launch, Reading Rainbow is the number one educational app on iTunes and recipient of numerous awards.

Most recently, Burton turned to Kickstarter to bring Reading Rainbow to “Every Child, Everywhere” – especially to classrooms in need. The campaign met its 35-day goal of raising $1 million in less than 11 hours, and became the most popular Kickstarter campaign ever with over 105,000 backers and a final tally of over $6.4 million. As a result, in 2015 RRKidz will introduce Reading Rainbow EDU, complete with engaging supplemental learning content for teachers and students.

And in October, 2014, Reading Rainbow published Burton’s first children’s book, The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm, a powerful and uplifting story to help children cope with the difficulties of everyday life.

The honored recipient of 12 Emmy Awards, a Grammy and five NAACP Awards, Burton has demonstrated in his career that he can do it all —acting, directing, producing, writing and speaking. He is often invited as a keynote speaker at leading education and technology events, most recently speaking at NASA, ISTE, The National Headstart Association and many more.

And in 2014, with educational groups, business organizations and media clamoring to recognize him for the record-setting Reading Rainbow Kickstarter campaign, Burton was named Geek of the Year in the annual Geekie Awards, was listed as one of Ebony magazine’s Power 100, and earned the World Tech Award for Education, awarded by the World Technology Network.

He now enters his fourth decade in the industry, with millions of fans throughout the world, and continues his mission to inspire, entertain and educate.

Derreck Kayongo

Entrepreneur, Global Soap Project Founder

With his trademark panache, Derreck Kayongo tells his courageous story of survival, social entrepreneurship, and humanitarianism, and the life lessons he learned along the way.

From Ugandan refugee to successful entrepreneur, CEO, and renowned human rights activist, Derreck’s journey inspires audiences to dream big. Through personable and articulate storytelling, he shares his visionary ideas for harnessing the power of observation and creative problem solving, applicable to any organization or community. It’s all about taking responsibility while looking for opportunities to improve.

Derreck is the founder of the Global Soap Project: a humanitarian aid organization that collects discarded and unused soap from thousands of hotels worldwide, reprocesses it, then distributes it to in-need populations around the world. The project was born from his simple observation about how much soap is available in hotels, and how much is thrown away when hotel rooms are turned. This observation turned into a simple yet innovative idea that is now battling global health issues in 90 countries. Hygiene-related diseases, and the resulting deaths, have dissipated in many at-risk communities, thanks in part to Derreck’s creative problem solving.

The energy and enthusiasm levels are unmatched as Derreck brings his stories and principles to life. He identifies the key factors of his personal and professional success with the memorable acronym S.E.L.F.: Service, Education, Leadership and Faith. He calls upon his dynamic experiences to empower audiences, inspiring an entrepreneur spirit made possible only through creative problem solving. Derreck’s emotionally-packed presentations linger long after his speech, empowering audiences to invent their own self-made motto of success so they can create tangible change in the world.

In creating this global humanitarian initiative, Derreck demonstrates that a simple yet novel idea has the power to transform millions of lives. That “the little guy can do something big.” It is this creativity and innovation that led him to be named a 2011 CNN Top Ten Hero and a 2014 TED Talks speaker.

Derreck’s demonstrated passion for helping others and commitment to innovative thinking led him to the role of CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. During his time as CEO, he elevated the visibility of the Center on a global scale, showcasing stories of victims of civil rights abuse and the heroic actions that changed the course of history.

Derreck is an advisory board member for The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

Derreck Kayongo is an internationally recognized visionary and humanitarian. The Global Soap Project demonstrates his creativity and innovation, making him a leader in both global health and environmental sustainability. His infectious optimism and powerful storytelling inspire audiences from all walks of life to see the bigger picture.

Michael Toth

CEO of LSI and Award-Winning Author

Michael D. Toth is founder and CEO of Learning Sciences International (LSI) and leads LSI’s Applied Research Center. He is the author of The Power of Student Teams: Achieving Social, Emotional, and Cognitive Learning in Every Classroom Through Academic Teaming with David Sousa; author of Who Moved My Standards? Joyful Teaching in an Age of Change; and co-author with Dr. Robert J. Marzano of The Essentials of a Standards-Driven Classroom, School Leadership for Results, and Teacher Evaluation that Makes a Difference.

Toth was formerly the president of the National Center for the Profession of Teaching, a university faculty member, and director of research and development grants. He is an expert in research-based school improvement models, shifting instructional methodologies, root causes analysis for school issues, and building 21st century skills in students; he gives public presentations and advises education leaders on these issues.

Robert Marzano

Author and Educator

Internationally recognized author of The New Art and Science of Teaching, Dr. Marzano will share practical translations of the most current research and theory into classroom strategies. Including thought-provoking aspects of rigor, their impact on types of work such as team-centered tasks that promote effective student collaboration and promote complex learning which are covered in his latest book, Understanding Rigor in the Classroom.

Dr. Marzano's practical translations of the most current research and theory into classroom strategies are widely practiced internationally by both teachers and administrators.