plenary speakers

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Kenneth Wesson

Kenneth Wesson is a keynote speaker and education consultant for preschool through university level institutions and organizations. He speaks throughout the world on the neuroscience of learning and methods for creating classrooms and learning environments that are “brain-compatible.” Formerly an education consultant with Stanford Research Institute he also lectures on the subjects of early brain development, emotional intelligence, diversity in learning, design, and engineering, and curriculum development.


Shirley Brice Heath

Shirley Brice Heath is a linguistic anthropologist at Stanford University and studies learners across the life span in non-formal environments of learning. She gives primacy focus on the ways in which speakers, young and old, learn the structures and uses of language as well as the attitudes, gestures, and interactional ways called for in learning environments of all types. In community arts organizations, she has examined the learning outcomes that result when youth living in under-resourced communities participate in planning, creating, producing, and critiquing products and performances. She is the author of Words at Work and Play: Three Decades in Family and Community Life (2012) and the classic Ways with Words: Language, Life and Work in Communities and Classrooms (Cambridge University Press, 1983/1996).


Sarah Crowell

Sarah Crowell has taught dance, theater and violence prevention to youth and teachers for over 25 years. She is currently the artistic director at Destiny Arts Center where she has served in different capacities since 1990, including executive director from 2002–2007. She has been the artistic director of the acclaimed teen dance/theater company, the Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company, since 1993. Sarah has authored a curriculum guidebook about her work with teens, and her work with the youth company has been the subject of two documentary films. Sarah has facilitated arts integration, violence prevention, cultural competency and team building professional development sessions since 2000 both locally and nationally. Sarah is the recipient of the 2013 Bay Area Dance Week award, the 2011 KQED Women’s History Local Hero award, the 2007 KPFA Peace award and the 2006 Purple Moon DreamSpeakers award.


Shawn Ginwright

Shawn Ginwright is a leading national expert on African American youth, youth activism, and youth development. He is an Associate Professor of Education in the Africana Studies Department, and Senior Research Associate for the Cesar Chavez Institute for Public Policy at San Francisco State University. In 1989, Dr. Ginwright co-founded Leadership Excellence, Inc. with his friend Daniel Walker. Leadership Excellence is an innovative youth development agency located in Oakland, California that trains African American youth to address pressing social and community problems. In 2002 he also created the Research Collaborative on Youth Activism, a network of scholar activists who study, advocate and support youth organizing efforts around the country. He is the author of Black Youth Rising, Activism and Radical Healing in Urban America, amongst other written works.

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Julia Marshall

Julia Marshall is a Professor of Art Education at San Francisco State University, overseeing the art education program in the Art Department and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses. She is the Design and Development Consultant to ACOE’s Integrated Learning Specialist Program. Her interests and scholarship lie in art-centered learning, arts integration, and the role of contemporary art in the classroom. Julia has published a series of articles on these interconnecting topics in national art education books and journals. She is the co-author with David M. Donahue of Art Centered Learning Across the Curriculum: Integrating Contemporary Art Into the Secondary School Classroom published by Teachers College Press.


Shakti Butler, PhD

Dr. Shakti Butler is a racial justice educator whose work is rooted in love and justice. She is a multiracial African-American woman (African, Arawak Indian, and Russian-Jewish) and her work as a creative and visionary bridge builder has challenged and inspired learning for over two decades. Using film and dialogue, she invites people to grapple with both the intellectual and emotional complexities of social justice issues. Dr. Butler is the producer and director of groundbreaking Word Trust documentaries including The Way Home: Talk About Race in America and Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible, and her film Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity. Dr. Butler is also the Founder and Creative Director of World Trust Educational Services, a nonprofit based in Oakland, CA.

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Joanna Macy

Joanna Macy is a scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory, and deep ecology. A respected voice in the movements for peace, justice, and ecology, she interweaves her scholarship with five decades of activism. As the root teacher of the Work That Reconnects, she has created a ground-breaking theoretical framework for personal and social change, as well as a powerful workshop methodology for its application. Her wide-ranging work addresses psychological and spiritual issues of the nuclear age, the cultivation of ecological awareness, and the fruitful resonance between Buddhist thought and contemporary science. The many dimensions of this work are explored in her books included in this partial list: Despair and Personal Power in the Nuclear Age; Thinking Like a Mountain; Mutual Causality in Buddhism and General Systems Theory; Coming Back to Life: Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World; Widening Circles; World as Lover, World as Self; and Pass It On: Five Stories That Can Change the World.