2022 Academy Speaker Bios

Academy Home  — Session Descriptions2022 Schedule

Principal Kafele: “One of the most sought-after school leadership and classroom equity presenters in America, Principal Kafele is impacting America’s schools! He has delivered over two thousand conference and program keynotes, professional development workshops, parenting seminars and student assemblies over his 35 years of public speaking.” As a middle and high school principal, Principal Kafele led the transformation of four New Jersey urban schools, including “The Mighty” Newark Tech—which went from a low-performing school in need of improvement to national recognition, and which was recognized three times by U.S. News and World Report as one of America’s best high schools. His newest book – The Equity and Social Justice Education 50 was recently released in May, 2021. Principal Kafele is the recipient of over 150 educational, professional and community awards which include the prestigious Milken National Educator Award, the National Alliance of Black School Educators Hall of Fame Award, induction into the East Orange, New Jersey Hall of Fame, recognition as one of the World’s Top 30 Education Professionals for 2020 & 2021 by Global Gurus Top 30 and the City of Dickinson, Texas proclaiming February 8, 1998 as Baruti Kafele Day.

Joe Truss is committed to dismantling white supremacy culture in schools. He is a father of 3 children and a husband of a High School History Teacher. He brings 18 years of education experience, and originally grew up in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. A product of public schools and a first-generation college student, he graduated from UC Berkeley, before attending Tufts University where he got his teaching credential. He began as a high school Spanish teacher in East Oakland. After attending UC Berkeley’s PLI program, he started school leadership work and was the Principal of Visitacion Valley Middle School in San Francisco Unified School District, for 6 years. There, he worked to grow Project Based Learning, restorative practices, and reading intervention. In 2018, he started his blog Culturally Responsive Leadership, where he writes about school leadership and racial equity. With over 50 articles written, his website has been visited over 600,000 times. He later started his consulting company, Truss Leadership, where he offers workshops on antiracism and provides team retreats, and 1 on 1 Leadership Coaching. His expertise areas include leading racial affinity groups, co-creation of brave norms, antiracist deeper learning, and school redesign. He has supported many schools and organizations across the United States and in Canada. He also hosts an annual convening, the DismantleWSC Conference. In 2021, he hosted 700 virtual participants, with keynotes by Dr. Bettina Love, Dr. Gholdy Muhammad, and Dr. Ibram X. Kendi. It also featured workshops by 20 guest presenters and 3 days of foundational learning led by the Truss Leadership team. He has been fortunate to present keynotes to over 12,000 people, and has trained over 5,000 educators.

    • With Jen Benkovitz: Dr. Jen Benkovitz (she/her) brings over 25 years of experience in education to her role as Founder of The Leadership Collaborative. She began her career teaching at a Title I magnet school in Charlotte, North Carolina, before serving as a school leader in both North Carolina and Washington State. Jen also served as a Leadership Coach in the non-profit sector, where she provided school and district leaders with coaching and professional development that empowered them to create and sustain equity-centered, systemic change in their schools. Jen’s focus on school transformation for equity and social justice, coupled with her passion for facilitating adult learning, motivated her to start The Leadership Collaborative, where she supports educators at all levels to identify, disrupt, and redesign systems that produce inequitable outcomes for their students. She firmly believes that equity and social justice can only be realized through leadership that centers, celebrates, supports, and takes leadership from our most marginalized populations. Jen’s areas of expertise include creating and facilitating Antiracist Communities of Practice, building and leading Antiracist Learning Organizations, facilitating white racial affinity groups, creating and sustaining systemic, transformational change, and developing equity-centered leaders and teams.

Dr. Joelle van Lent is a licensed psychologist with over 20 years of experience working with children, families, and child serving agencies.  Dr. van Lent has expertise as a therapist, clinician, evaluator, consultant, and trainer.  Her work focuses on child and adolescent mental health, family therapy, trauma, and Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Dr. van Lent’s approach is geared toward fostering resilience and creating communities that support healthy development.  She is currently in private practice based in the northwestern part of Vermont and works across the state with schools and agencies.



Susan Reinecke, Faculty Center for Creative Leadership-Societal Advancement, with over twenty-five years in the field of education, Susan has worked in and with private and public schools, colleges and universities and non-profit organizations across the US. She strongly believes that leadership is both a science and an art form; a continued process that requires creativity, curiosity, a sense of adventure, and a true appreciation of the diverse needs of learners. As a Societal Advancement faculty member, Susan designs and delivers custom designed leadership solutions for K-12, Higher Education, Non-profit and Population Health that include both short term experiences and systemic initiatives. She is committed to the continued development of herself and others in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Susan holds an EdM in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard University, a MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College (focus on the intersection of social sciences and performative arts), and a MEd in Theatre Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She received a BA in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Susan is the Co-Author of Social Emotional Leadership: A Guide for Youth Development.

Greg Cameron is the K12 Practice Director for The Center For Creative Leadership. In this role he leads a team of expert faculty with a focus on designing, facilitating, and supporting leadership development efforts for K12 education leaders. Specifically, he leads state-wide leadership development initiatives and designs leadership development programs in partnership with schools, districts, professional organizations, universities, and nonprofit organizations that support K12 education. Greg Cameron of the Center for Creative Leadership has an extensive background in nonprofit and educational leadership effectiveness, program design, development, and delivery. He is an internationally recognized expert in developing collective efficacy and organizational collaboration. At CCL, he leverages his experience to lead statewide K-12 leadership development initiatives and design development programs in partnership with school districts, universities, professional associations, and nonprofits.

Up For Learning, UP for Learning supports educational communities’ work toward systemic transformation, engaging all learners, and increasing the authentic voice of youth in learning and decision-making. We believe educational equity is a basic human right and all young people deserve a meaningful and engaging education. In each of our five primary programs and customized community projects we use research-based models that transform the student-teacher relationship to one of shared ownership and shared responsibility. UP offers facilitation, strategies, tools and ongoing coaching to ensure all young people can pursue active roles in their learning, their lives, and their community.

Michael J. Swenson of FranklinCovey has been a client facilitator since 2001 and a contract consultant since 2011. He loves sharing content with clients that dramatically helps them in both their work and personal lives. He’s taught over 1000 staff at Cornell University, and over a 1000 other educators in FranklinCovey’s Leader in Me process. Before coming to FranklinCovey, he spent 23 years in leadership and management over a career spanning multiple industries, including six years in the United States Army Transportation Corps, seven years in telecommunications, and 9 years working in higher education. Michael has a B.A. in education with an emphasis in computer science and math.

Kelly True of Novak Education is an experienced principal, reading specialist, classroom teacher and curriculum coordinator with over 20 years of experience teaching and leading. As a co-chair of the RTI/MTSS Action Committee for the Massachusetts Reading Association, Kelly assisted many districts with assessing current systems, developing MTSS action plans, and following through on implementation. True’s many years as a reading specialist, coach, and administrator have allowed her the experience of working directly with teachers, analyzing data and empowering teachers and leaders to make decisions that will positively affect student outcomes across all three tiers of instruction. True’s expertise is in data literacy for teachers and administrators, curriculum development, reading/writing workshop, Universal Design for Learning and Inclusive Practice.

Ronn Nozoe is a lifelong educator and the Chief Executive Officer of NASSP, an organization dedicated to transforming education through school leadership. Nozoe previously served as associate executive director and interim executive director at ASCD where he led the development of their Whole Child Network and Activate, an online professional development library of resources. Prior to this, Nozoe was deputy assistant secretary for policy and programs at the U.S. Department of Education, where he worked on initiatives to build state and local capacity in the areas of teacher quality, school safety, rural education, and migrant and Indian education. In his home state of Hawaii, Nozoe served as deputy state superintendent from 2010–15, during which time he amplified principals’ voices in statewide decisions with the creation of the Deputy’s Principal Roundtable; and leveraged federal Race to the Top funds and School Improvement Grants to increase statewide achievement, graduation rates, and college enrollment. Prior to that, he served as district superintendent of the Farrington/Kaiser/Kalani complexes, and as a principal, vice principal, and teacher in various schools across the state. Nozoe holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in education and teaching, both from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.