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2023 Amplify

Keynotes & Presenters

Abram II, Ed.S.

Richard Abram

Bates, Jr., Ed.D.*

Dr. Tyrone Bates

Craig, Jr.

Rictor Craig

, Ed.D.

Sha Fanion

Ford, Ph.D.

Adrianne Ford

Naomi Fortis-Gebreselassie

Naomi Fortis-Gebresalassie


Mara Gilyard


Andrea Hancock

Lewis, Ed.D.

Anthony Lewis

Michelle D.

Michelle McClaine

Phelton Cortez
Moss, Ph.D.

Phelton Cortez Moss


Sandra Nuñez

K. Chase

K. Chase Patterson


Catina Taylor


Jeremy Tullis

AntoniÁ (Toni)

Toni White


Deon Whitten


Stacey Wyatt


Curtis Valentine


Richard Abram II, Ed.S.
(he, him, his)

Richard Abram II is the dean of students at the Kauffman School. He is a passionate advocate for equitable education, believing that every student deserves to be equipped with the tools for success. He’s committed to imparting educational and social concepts that empower students to become active contributors to society. 

Abram II has a Bachelor of Science in liberal arts from Columbia College, a Master of Science in industrial and organizational psychology from Grand Canyon University, and an educational specialist degree from the School of Psychology at Emporia State University. 

Tyrone Bates, Jr., Ed.D.
(he, him, his)

Tyrone Bates, Jr., Ed.D. is the CEO and President at True Empowering, LLC Consulting Group. He is from Kansas City, Kansas, by way of Chicago, Illinois.  

He taught biology and chemistry, was an academic coach for Kauffman Scholars, was a high school and elementary school administrator, and is currently a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion coordinator. 

Bates, Jr., graduated from Wyandotte High School, Northwest Missouri State University, Pittsburgh State University, and the University of Missouri—Columbia, where he earned his doctorate in education. 

Rictor Craig, Jr.
(he, him, his)

Rictor Craig, Jr., is the chairman and founder of the National Association of Black Male Educators and is the co-founder/founding director of instruction for Statesmen College Preparatory Academy for Boys. 

Craig, Jr. started his career teaching English in the Baltimore City Public School System. In 2005, he joined the Friendship Public Charter School system. In 2011, he became the principal of Friendship Woodridge Elementary and Middle School and led the school to receive its Tier 1 status and its International Baccalaureate status in 2015. 

Craig holds a Bachelor of Arts in professional English from North Carolina A&T State University, a Master of Arts in teaching from Morgan State University, and a Master of Science in administration from Trinity Washington University. He is pursuing his doctorate in educational leadership from The University of Maryland Eastern Shore. 

Sha Fanion, Ed.D.
(she, her, hers)

Sha Fanion, Ed.D. is a leadership coach at The New Teacher Project, where she coaches principals in New York. Before this role, Dr. Fanion served as a district administrator, teacher residency director, and elementary principal in Memphis. At the Arkansas Department of Education, she supported districts in school improvement, handled fiscal distress, and monitored districts under court-mandated desegregation orders. Dr. Fanion is a former special education coordinator and teacher who has worked in urban, suburban, and rural settings. 

Adrianne Ford, Ph.D.
(she, her, hers)

Adrianne Ford, Ph.D. is an associate professor and program director of the business management program at the University of Saint Mary. She is committed to fostering greatness in people of all ages by equipping them to maximize their potential and achieve their God-ordained purpose. Before becoming an educator, she managed a publishing operation. She served on teams in telecommunications that shepherded and launched other technology in use today, such as high-speed internet and speech recognition. She is a member of several local and national professional organizations and serves as a commissioner on the Unified Government Ethics Commission.

Naomi Fortis-Gebreselassie 
(ella, her, hers)

Naomi Fortis-Gebreselassie is a leadership coach at The New Teacher Project, where she coaches principals and supports instructional leadership teams in Maryland and New York. Before this role, Fortis-Gebreselassie served as the founding principal of a bilingual school in a diverse Washington, D.C. community. Throughout her 15 years in education, she taught elementary and middle school and coached instruction. She provided professional development in Mexico, El Salvador, and D.C. She holds a dual master’s degree and is TESOL certified. 

Mara Gilyard
(she, her, hers)

Mara Gilyard manages regional programs for Greater Houston at Latinos For Education. At Latinos For Education, she has served as the family and community organizer, where she supported the development and implementation of local programs, advocacy strategies, and policy recommendations to advance the organization’s national principles and local advocacy efforts. 

Before joining Latinos For Education, Gilyard was a secondary school teacher in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area, where she used her leadership and voice to represent the interests of Latino students and families. 

Andrea Hancock
(she, her, hers)

Andrea Hancock is the deputy chief of program design and development at UnboundEd. There, she leads the staff who designs and develops the content for UnboundEd’s external offerings. A career educator, Hancock has served in several capacities within the district where she was educated during her formative years — Baltimore City Public Schools. She worked as a school teacher, instructional coach, principal, and regional superintendent, supervising principals across a network of PreK-8 schools. 

Hancock holds a Master of Arts in education, graduating Summa Cum Laude from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County campus. 

Anthony Lewis, Ed.D.
(he, him, his)

Anthony Lewis, Ed.D. is the superintendent of Lawrence Public Schools. He began his educational career as a high school special education teacher in Montgomery, Alabama. He was later named assistant principal and then principal of what would become a high-performing, high-poverty elementary school. Because of his success in Alabama, Lewis was recruited to work in the Kansas City, Mo., School District, where he served as principal, director of elementary schools, and assistant superintendent.  

The Lawrence Public Schools School Board unanimously approved Lewis to become the ninth superintendent of Lawrence Public Schools. He is currently in his sixth year as superintendent. 

Michelle D. McClaine
(she, her, hers)

Michelle D. McClaine is an accomplished instructional coach for the Kansas City, Kansas, School District. She is also a teaching consultant and active member of the Greater Kansas City Writing Project. McClaine is a highly experienced language arts teacher with more than two decades of instruction.  

McClaine has shared her expertise on literacy through action research presentations across the metropolitan area. She aspires to work with teachers around culturally responsive teaching and multimodal critical literacies and create specialized programs and curricula prioritizing Black girl literacy and Pushout. 

Phelton Cortez Moss, Ph.D.
(he, him, his)

Phelton Cortez Moss, Ph.D., is a senior professorial education policy & leadership lecturer and an inclusive pedagogy fellow at the Center for Teaching, Research, and Learning at American University. He also served as a senior policy adviser to Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (FL-24) and was the congressional liaison to the U.S. Commission on the Social Status of Black Men & Boys.  
He holds a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Mississippi and a Bachelor of Arts in public policy leadership and English from the University of Mississippi. He holds a certificate in education finance from Georgetown University. Moss is a member of The Reading League National Board of Directors and the He Is Me Institute National Board of Directors. Moss is also the founder of ALL Means ALL Consulting. 

Sandra Nuñez
(she, her, hers)

Sandra Nuñez is the managing director of programs & partnerships at Latinos For Education, Houston, where she leads local leadership programs, helps expand the organization’s partnerships, and supports external affairs. 

Nuñez has 15 years of experience in education. After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin, she began her career as a 2007 Teach For America corps member and was the managing director of college access at EMERGE. Nuñez is a proud native of Mexico City and El Paso, Texas, and believes deeply in the power of education to transform communities. 

K. Chase Patterson
(he, him, his)

K. Chase Patterson is the CEO of the Urban Academy of Greater Pittsburgh, where he has held various roles, including trustee, business manager, and chief operating officer. Under his leadership, the school underwent a rebranding relocation and significantly grew student enrollment, staffing, and annual revenue. He established the Black Male Leadership Development Institute and taught classes at Wilkinsburg High School. Patterson later served as a federal liaison to multiple government departments on behalf of Pennsylvania Congressman Mike Doyle and as the Chief Diversity Advisor to Covelli Enterprises.  

Patterson has held prominent positions in organizations such as the Pittsburgh NAACP, Chuck Cooper Foundation, and the Larimer Consensus Group. He has also served on the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board and the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh. He is the founder and Chairman of the State of Black Learning Conference. 

Catina Taylor
(she, her, hers)

Catina Taylor is the founder and executive director at Dreams KC, where she empowers families to address literacy gaps. Known for being a literacy expert, Taylor created the Reading the Phonics Way curriculum to ensure students acquire foundational literacy skills, including phonics, phonemic awareness, and phonological awareness. She began teaching in 2000 after completing law school to give back to Kansas City Public Schools. 

Over 15 years, Taylor taught in various school settings, gaining insights into education and engaging with students, parents, and leaders across educational landscapes. She contributed to educational initiatives, served on hiring teams for charter schools, and authored an education agenda for the Human Dignity & Economic Justice Coalition. 

Jeremy Tullis
(he, him, his)

Jeremy Tullis is an associate partner at Catalyst: Ed. He supports Catalyst: Ed’s efforts to connect state, district, and school leaders to personalized capacity-building. With 15 years of education experience, he has an unwavering passion for improving systems with all students’ needs at the center. He began his career as a middle-school ELA teacher in Houston, later serving as a school leader and district academic director in Washington State. Before joining Catalyst: Ed, he partnered with education leaders nationwide to improve curriculum and instruction. Outside work, he appreciates great coffee, neighborhood walks, lifting weights, and open-world video games. 

AntoniÁ (Toni) White 
(she, her, hers)

As a partner at Catalyst: Ed, AntoniÁ (Toni) White is responsible for Catalyst: Ed’s work with organizations led by communities of color and/or oriented toward specific underserved populations. She leads capacity-building efforts supporting diverse leaders, innovative public schools, and racial equity. White supported capacity building with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and several state education agencies via Catalyst: Ed’s SEA Exchange. Her professional experience includes serving as an elementary teacher, creating policy at education agencies, and practicing law for the State of Texas. Outside of work, you can find White embracing relaxation. 

Deon Whitten
(he, him, his)

Deon Whitten is the CEO of Resilient Transitions. His journey in education is fueled by a deep belief in learning transformative power and its positive impact on youth. As a Kauffman Education Fellow, he addressed educational gaps in Kansas City, aligning with his commitment to inclusive learning environments. He envisions a lasting impact, fostering an environment where each student thrives academically, socially, and personally. 

Whitten earned a philosophy degree and minor in business from the University of Kansas and holds a Master of Arts in conflict management and dispute resolution from Baker University. 

Stacey Wyatt
(she, her, hers)

Stacey Wyatt is an educational and organizational consultant and a leadership coach at Bloom Educational Services. A veteran instructional leader and community and equity advocate, Wyatt is known for her authentic leadership that has a throughline of love, empowering students, parents, and educators to see and engage beyond the status quo. She uses research-based and arts-integrated frameworks and strategies to help her education and community-based partners grow in transformative ways to close the gap between intention and outcomes. Wyatt is also an artist who incorporates her Griot nature as a storyteller, dancer, and actor. 

Curtis Valentine
(he, him, his)

Curtis Valentine founded Real Men Teach, a national campaign to recruit and retain male educators of color through reimagining and reinvestment in the profession. Valentine has over 20- years -experience in local, state, federal, and international education policy. He is co-director of the Progressive Policy Institute’s Reinventing America’s Schools Project and as adjunct professor at the University of Maryland, College Park. Previously, he served as an at-large member of the Prince George’s County (MD) Board of Education, America’s 20th largest school district, where he created the Male Educator Network of PGCPS.  

A graduate of Morehouse College and Harvard University, Valentine was recently elected to the position of at-large vice president of the Morehouse College National Alumni Association.