Keynote Speakers

Karim AbouelnagaKarim Abouelnaga is an ivy-league educated inner-city public school graduate. He received over $300,000 in scholarships to make his education possible. He founded Practice Makes Perfect at 18, writes for Entrepreneur and Forbes, is an Echoing Green Fellow, Global Shaper, at 23 was named to Forbes’ 30 under 30 list in Education, and at 24 was named to Magic Johnson’s 32 under 32 list. In 2016, he was ranked in the top 5 most powerful young entrepreneurs under 25 in the world by Richtopia.

Shaun David HutchinsonShaun David Hutchinson is the author of numerous books for young adults, including The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley, which won the Florida Book Awards’ Gold Medal in the Young Adult category and was named to the ALA’s 2015 Rainbow Book List, the anthology Violent Ends, which received a starred review from VOYA, and We Are the Ants, which received five starred reviews and was named a best book of January 2016 by,, Publishers Weekly, and iBooks. He lives in South Florida with his partner and adorably chubby dog, and enjoys Doctor Who, comic books, and yelling at the TV. Visit him at Photo credit: Chris Piedra


Andrew AydinAndrew Aydin, an Atlanta native, grew up reading and collecting comic books. After college, upon taking a job with Congressman Lewis, Andrew learned that the civil rights legend had been inspired as a young man by a classic 1950s comic book, Martin Luther King & The Montgomery Story. Together, they decided to bring the congressman’s memories to visual life with artist Nate Powell in the March trilogy. Today, Andrew serves as Digital Director & Policy Advisor to Congressman Lewis and frequently speaks to schools about comics, activism, and the civil rights movement, while also writing other comics such as The X-Files. Photo credit: Bob Adelman

Todd BurlesonTodd Burleson is a Library Media Specialist from Winnetka, IL where he teaches grades K-4 at the Hubbard Woods School. He is a 24-year veteran teacher having taught at the elementary, middle and the university level. He collaborated with his students, colleagues, parent teacher organization and community members to develop a state of the art ‘Makerspace’ called the IDEA Lab. Todd is constantly working to find the balance of books and bytes while igniting the fire of curiosity in learners of all ages! Todd is the SLJ 2016 School Librarian of the Year.

Dr. Monique ChismDr. Monique Chism joined the Department in January 2013 as member of the Senior Executive Service and is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Programs in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE). In this role she serves as a principal advisor to the Assistant Secretary on grant programs and initiatives in the Offices of Academic Improvement, Safe and Healthy Students, School Support and Rural Programs, Impact Aid Program, Migrant Education, and Indian Education. Previously, Dr. Chism served as the Director of the Office of Student Achievement and School Accountability and then transitioned to lead the new Office of State Support (OSS) in OESE. Prior to joining the department, Dr. Chism held a number of positions in the field of education as a teacher, researcher, and state policy maker at the Illinois State Board of Education, where she served as the Assistant Superintendent for Innovation and Improvement. In these positions she has influenced and shaped education policy with the goal of ensuring that every student has access to a high-quality education and the opportunity to learn. She is committed to creating environments that foster educational excellence. Through her work she continues to focus on effective strategies for improving equity and access for all students, closing opportunity gaps, and cultivating culturally proficient schools.

John ChrastkaJohn Chrastka is executive director of EveryLibrary, the first nationwide political action committee for libraries. Since 2013, EveryLibrary has helped dozens of library communities with ballot measures and tax referendum. He is a former Board president of the Berwyn (IL) Public Library and the Reaching across Illinois Libraries System (RAILS). Prior to EveryLibrary, he was a partner in AssociaDirect, an association consultancy, and was Director for Membership Development at ALA. He is a 2014 Library Journal Mover & Shaker.

Eugene HainerEugene Hainer is Assistant Commissioner for the Office of the State Library at the Colorado Department of Education. A native Coloradan, he was appointed to the position in 2005, following ten years in two separate positions as the State Library’s Sr. Consultant for school library services, and library development director. Before coming to CDE he was a school librarian and tech teacher in the Poudre (Ft. Collins, CO) school district.
Katie JohnsonKatie Johnson has worked for the last eleven years at Twinsburg Public Library in Twinsburg, Ohio. She was the Manager of Youth Services for eight years and recently became the Community Outreach Librarian. Her article, Ohio Storytime Turns Into Life-Changing Program for Low-income Families, was published in School Library Journal in February of 2016. The article discussed the program she created for low-income children who reside in the community, but are unable to access the library and other essential services.

John LewisJohn Lewis is the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 5th district and a global icon of nonviolent activism. After leading sit-ins in Nashville and attracting national attention with the first Freedom Rides, he became one of the civil rights movement’s “Big Six” as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He was the youngest speaker at the 1963 March on Washington, a key figure in the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer, and co-leader of the “Bloody Sunday” March in Selma, Alabama, where where police brutality spurred national outrage and hastened passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Lewis was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2011. His graphic memoir trilogy March, created in collaboration with Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, is a #1 New York Times Bestseller, a popular curriculum selection for schools and universities, and has won such honors as the Eisner Award and a Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. Photo credit: Ned Ahrens

Mat McRaeMat McRae is the Superintendent of Swan Valley Schools in Saginaw, Michigan. Mr. McRae holds B.S. and M.A. degrees from Central Michigan University and will soon complete his dissertation toward his E.D. He began his career in education twenty-seven years ago as a high school mathematics and English teacher and has spent the last twenty two as an administrator with the Swan Valley. He is a staunch supporter of school libraries and has earned the AASL Distinguished School Administrator Award.

Pam MoranDr. Pam Moran, superintendent of Albemarle County Public Schools in Virginia, has been a middle school science teacher, elementary principal, and assistant superintendent. Her school district is home to some of the most contemporary learning spaces in the United States, represented by a commitment to a “search, connect, communicate and make” model for unleashing the lifelong learning potential of young people across 26 schools, 726 square miles of rural, suburban and urban environments. Educators from her district are well known for their work to infuse Maker work across the curricula. Libraries in the district are transformative and the Monticello High Library recently received the Magna Award from NSBA for its premier maker spaces. The school district was featured in Newsweek‘s article “Will the Maker Movement Reinvent Education?” and has been the subject of numerous articles and posts on the maker movement. The district was a charter member of the MakerEd Maker Corps.

She has served as a past-president of the Virginia Association of School Superintendents as well as the Women Educational Leaders of Virginia. She currently serves as a board member of the State Higher Education Council for Virginia. She has been recognized as a national Tech Savvy Superintendent in 2010, recipient of the Bammy Superintendent’s Award in 2013, and named Virginia Superintendent of the Year in 2015 and a top four finalist for national AASA Superintendent of the Year in 2016.

Carey PalmquistCarey Palmquist is the Sr. VP of E-Commerce at First Book, a non-profit social enterprise aggregating the network of educators serving kids in need in order to provide low-cost, high-quality resources in the name of education equity. Carey joined First Book after 5 years as Executive Director of Operation Warm, national non-profit providing brand new coats to low-income children. Prior to joining the non-profit sector, Carey served as Vice President of Operations at ProCure Proton Therapy, a state-of-the-art, multi-billion dollar cancer treatment company where she was responsible for all operational aspects of the company’s flagship treatment center in Oklahoma City. She has also served in the capacity of human resources executive in the healthcare, technology, and financial industries. Carey serves on the board of The Institute for Global Youth Development Programs, holds a Master’s of Management and is a Six Sigma Black Belt.

Timothy PurnellDr. Timothy Purnell is the Superintendent of Somerville Public Schools and an Adjunct Professor at four New Jersey colleges. He also serves on the New Jersey State Board of Examiners, Executive Board for the National Association for School Superintendents and on the board at Hope + Future. Dr. Purnell has served as a keynote presenter and was featured on the NY Times Room for Debate. He attended the ConnectEd #FutureReady Superintendents Summit at the White House with President Obama, Secretary Duncan, and 100 other superintendents from across the United States. His district is nationally recognized as a District of Distinction and in 2015, he was selected as the New Jersey State Superintendent of the Year and the highest rated professor in the nation. This year, he was honored as one of two National Superintendents of the Year. Dr. Purnell has traveled twice to Kenya with a medical team to provide free care for people in need. Most importantly, Dr. Purnell is a husband and father of 3 children!

Erica PerlErica S. Perl is the author of picture books, middle grade novels, plays, and waaaaay too many emails. Her books (including the Sydney Taylor Honor Book When Life Gives You O.J. and Goatilocks and the Three Bears) have received great reviews from educators and kids alike and have landed on NPR’s Best Books as well as many states’ book award lists. Her newest picture book is Ferocious Fluffity, illustrated by Henry Cole (Abrams, 2016) and her newest middle grade novel is The Capybara Conspiracy: A Novel in Three Acts (Knopf, 2016). Erica is an enthusiastic, crowd-pleasing presenter at schools and libraries. She also worked for First Book for many years and is also an outspoken advocate for book access. Her website is and she connects via social media (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest & Facebook) at @ericaperl.

Tasara RedekoppTasara Redekopp is a second-generation school librarian in her 7th year at Alice Deal Middle School in Washington, DC. She is a founding board member of the DC Association of School Librarians (DCASL, an AASL affiliate). Previously, she taught high school English in Chicago and GED classes in Washington, DC. When she isn’t library-ing, she performs with the all women Afro-Brazilian drumming band Batalá.
Karen SullivanDr. Karen Sullivan was appointed as Indian Prairie District 204’s superintendent in 2014. Indian Prairie is the fourth largest school district in the state of Illinois, serving 28,500 students in 33 schools in Naperville, Aurora, Bolingbrook, and Plainfield. As Superintendent, Dr. Sullivan has overseen the launch of numerous STEM and technology initiatives including the opening of the John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School, a collaborative venture with three other school districts and Aurora University as well as the eLo (Expanding Learning Opportunities) Consortium, another collaborative partnership with two other area districts to bring online coursework to district students. In 2015, Indian Prairie District 204 was selected by the U.S. Department of Education’s Future Ready Initiative as one of eight districts across the country to highlight the role leaders play in leveraging technology to create transformational learning environments.

Sara TrettinSara Trettin is a Presidential Management Fellow in the Office of Educational Technology (OET) at the U.S. Department of Education. She leads the open education work for the Department, directs digital engagement for OET and leads the office’s Future Ready Librarians work. Prior to joining the Department, she worked as a Learning Services Librarian and served as Teacher in Residence at the Library of Congress. A former teacher, Sara holds a B.A. from Clemson University and a Master’s in Library Science from UNC Chapel Hill.

Moderators and Facilitators

Aaron GravesAaron Graves is a school librarian with 18 years of experience in education. He is a mash-up of robot geek, book lover, and tech wizard. Aaron gained his perseverance for projects through collaborative and interactive art experiences as a member of the Good/Bad Art Collective. He is an active speaker and presenter on libraries, makerspaces, and research skills. In his free time he can be found writing, restoring microcars, or inventing something that makes you smile! Photo credit: David Minton

Colleen GravesColleen Graves is a teacher librarian obsessed with learning commons transformations, maker education, makerspaces and making stuff. Colleen brings a passionate artistic energy to the school library world; this passion earned her the School Library Journal/Scholastic School Librarian of the Year Co-Finalist Award in 2014 and Library Journal Mover and Shaker Innovator Award in 2016. She is an active speaker and presenter on makerspaces and the maker movement on a national level. Photo credit: Michael J. Madsen

Michelle LuhtalaMichelle Luhtala is the Library Department Chair at New Canaan High School. She facilitates an online professional learning community at Michelle was named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker in 2015, and is a contributing author to Growing Schools: Librarians as Professional Developers by Libraries Unlimited.
Joyce ValenzaAfter completely 25 years of joyful practice as a teacher librarian in K12 education, Joyce Valenza joined the faculty of Rutgers University where she is an Assistant Professor in the Master of Information program. Joyce has worked in special, public, and school libraries. She writes the NeverendingSearch Blog for School Library Journal and contributes to several other library and edtech publications. Joyce is active in AASL, ALA, and ISTE and considers herself one of the godmothers of the #tlchat network.


October 15-16, 2016
Pre Conference Events, October 14

Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel
999 Ninth Street NW
Washington, DC 20001

Group rate: $209 USD per night
Book Online
Group name: School Library Journal Summit
Rate Expires: September 22, 2016