Clarence B. Jones Among the List of the Speakers for NAF’s Annual Professional Development Conference

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NAF Next is a dynamic professional development conference that brings together education, business, and community leaders to address some of the biggest challenges facing education.

NAF is thrilled to announce the line-up of plenary speakers for NAF Next 2018. NAF Next is a dynamic professional development conference that brings together education, business, and community leaders to address some of the biggest challenges facing education. This year’s conference theme is “Imagine Our Future.” All plenaries and sessions will center on the topic of the future of education and workforce development, with speakers providing insight into strategies for elevating the student voice and engaging key stakeholders in playing an active role in shaping our future. Speakers for the annual conference include:

  • Clarence B. Jones served as speechwriter and legal counsel to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for eight years. He assisted King with his letter to President John F. Kennedy and partly drafted the famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
  • Ursula Burns was the first African American female CEO of a major fortune 500 company (Xerox), having worked her way up from an internship. She continues to make waves in the business world as the Executive Chairman of VEON Ltd. Burns sits on NAF’s Board of Directors.
  • John King Jr. is the president and CEO of The Education Trust, a national nonprofit organization who mission is to promote identify and close opportunity and achievement gaps. Prior to holding this position, King served as the 10th U.S. Secretary of Education, during the Obama presidency, and the first the first African American and Puerto Rican New York State Education Commissioner.
  • Dr. Victor Rios is an award-winning Sociology professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research includes closing the opportunity/achievement gap and teacher well-being. Rios is also an author of five books.
  • Thomas Penny is President of Donohoe Hospitality Services (DHS). He has been with Donohoe Hospitality Services for over 21 years; his previous roles include Courtyard by Marriott Convention Center General Manager and Assistant General Manager at DHS’ Holiday Inn Capitol. Penny sits on NAF’s Board of Directors.
  • Antoinette S. Mitchell Ph.D. has been the Assistant Superintendent of Postsecondary and Career Education for Washington, DC, since 2011. Before working in the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, Mitchell was Trinity’s Dean of the School of Education.
  • Joe Plumeri was the Chairman and CEO of Willis from 2000 to 2013. Since stepping down from his position at Willis, Plumeri serves as the Senior Advisor to KKR and Vice Chairman of the First Data Board of Directors. Plumeri sits on NAF’s Board of Directors.
  • Rob Cato is the Executive Director, North America Channel Chief for Lenovo. Lenovo is an active NAF corporate partner.

NAF President, JD Hoye said, “The NAF Next 2018 speaker line up is jam packed with important and powerful voices supporting our future leaders. I am confident that our network members will benefit from hearing these individuals share their thoughts and knowledge and bring ideas back to elevate the NAF experience for the students in their communities.”

NAF Next 2018 takes place in Washington, DC from July 8 to July 11. Over 1,300 attendees will participate in learning sessions and plenaries to learn key strategies to improve NAF academy quality, work-based learning opportunities, and corporate engagement efforts. Participants will leave the conference with practical and proven strategies to ensure all NAF students, teachers, and partners can be future ready.

About NAF:

NAF is a national network of education, business, and community leaders who work together to ensure that high school students are college, career, and future ready.

NAF works with high need communities to transform the high school experience through an educational design that includes industry-specific curricula, work-based learning experiences, and relationships with business professionals, culminating in a paid internship. NAF academies fit within and enhance school systems, allowing NAF to become an integral part of a plan for higher achievement at a low cost. NAF academies focus on one of five career themes: finance, hospitality & tourism, information technology, engineering, and health sciences. During the 2017-18 school year, more than 100,000 students attended 644 NAF academies across 36 states, including DC and the US Virgin Islands. In 2017, NAF academies reported 97% of seniors graduated with 90% of graduates with post-secondary intentions. For more information, please visit:

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