2023-2024 Annual Conference

Keynote Speakers

Keynote Speakers

Principal Kafele

Thursday, November 2, 2023
Opening Keynote

A highly-regarded urban educator in New Jersey for over twenty years, Principal Baruti Kafele distinguished himself as a master teacher and a transformational school leader. As an elementary school teacher in East Orange, NJ, he was selected as the East Orange School District and Essex County Public Schools Teacher of the Year, he was a New Jersey State Teacher of the Year finalist, and a recipient of the New Jersey Education Association Award of Excellence.

As a middle and high school principal, Principal Kafele led the turnaround of four different New Jersey urban schools, including “The Mighty” Newark Tech, which went from a low-performing school in need of improvement to national recognition, which included U.S. News and World Report Magazine recognizing it three times as one of America’s best high schools.

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 2500 conference and program keynotes, professional development workshops, parenting seminars and student assemblies over his 36 years of public speaking. An expert in the area of “attitude transformation,” Principal Kafele is the leading authority for providing effective classroom and school leadership strategies toward closing what he coined, the “Attitude Gap.”

A prolific writer, Principal Kafele has written extensively on professional development strategies for creating a positive school climate and culture, transforming the attitudes of at-risk students, motivating Black males to excel in the classroom, and school leadership practices for inspiring schoolwide excellence. In addition to writing several professional articles for popular education journals, he has authored twelve books, including his seven ASCD best sellers – Motivating Black Males to Achieve in School & in Life, Closing the Attitude Gap, Is My School a Better School BECAUSE I Lead It?The Teacher 50, The Principal 50, The Assistant Principal 50 and his newest release, The Equity & Social Justice Education 50. Principal Kafele is also the creator and host of the popular Virtual Assistant Principal Leadership Academy, streamed live every Saturday morning on his Virtual AP Leadership Academy YouTube channel and his other social media platforms at 10:55 EST.

Principal Kafele is married to his wife Kimberley, and is the father of their three children, Baruti, Jabari and Kibriya. He earned his B.S. degree in Management Science/Marketing from Kean University and his M.A. degree in Educational Administration from New Jersey City University. He 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, 2022 & 2023 by Global Gurus Top 30 and the City of Dickinson, Texas proclaiming February 8, 1998 as Baruti Kafele Day.

Dr. Mylien Duong

Friday, November 3, 2023
Closing Keynote

Dr. Mylien Duong is the Senior Director of Research at the Constructive Dialogue Institute (CDI), a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to equipping the next generation of Americans with the mindset and skill set to engage in dialogue across differences.

Trained as a clinical psychologist, Dr. Duong has spent the last 12 years developing psychology-based tools for educational spaces, with an emphasis on tools that are evidence-based, easy to implement, and feasible for real-world settings.

She began her career as an Assistant Professor at the University of Washington in the Department of Psychiatry. There, she led federally funded research projects to develop and evaluate evidence-based psychological interventions for children and adolescents in educational settings. She then became a senior research scientist at the Committee for Children, a leading provider of social emotional learning curricula for K-12 and out of school settings. She has a deep passion for translating psychological research into effective education materials that can be used in everyday life. She’s developed programs to prevent student depression, substance abuse, and delinquency, and to foster student growth mindset, belonging, and emotion management. She also has worked extensively with the adults who provide care for youth, including teachers, case workers, and school mental health providers, to attend to their own well-being, develop awareness of their implicit biases, and build effective classroom communities.

She has received over $20 million in grant funding and published over 50 scientific articles and book chapters, and her educational tools have been used by over 100,000 educators across the United States. She lives in Seattle, Washington, with her husband and her dog, Luke.