Meet Our Featured Speakers
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.
In 2020, Dr. Lopez ended her tenure as Mott Hall Bridges Academy’s principal to focus on her work as a mental health advocate and wellness enthusiast. After developing a stress-related illness that threatened her life, she dug deeper into her passion for educating, providing workforce training and coaching through her company, The Lopez Effect. Dr. Nadia Lopez continues to support leaders on their journeys to build their capacity, improve culture through DEI practices, and develop systems to create healthy spaces for professional sustainability; on her crusade to impact 10,000,000 educators globally. Additionally, she consults with individuals and organizations on their goals and social responsibility initiatives that target marginalized communities for a positive impact.
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.