Monday, April 15: General Session
Please grab breakfast in the exhibit hall and join us at 8:30 am in the Grand Ballroom for our opening General Session, including introductions by NJCSA CEO Carlos Perez, performances by charter school students, the announcement of the winner of our Banner Backdrop contest, and the presentation of the Cultivating Quality Education Awards.
Ms. Nina Rees
President & CEO
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
Nina Rees is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the charter school movement.
Rees has more than 20 years of experience in Washington, D.C., most recently as Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives for Knowledge Universe (KU), a leading global education company with investments in early childhood education, before- and after-school programs and online instruction. Prior to her tenure at KU, she served as the first Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement at the U.S. Department of Education. In this capacity, she oversaw the administration of 28 grant programs supporting 1,300 projects and was responsible for spearheading innovative federal programs and policies such as school choice, charter schools, alternative routes to teacher certification and school leadership. Rees has also served as the senior education analyst at the Heritage Foundation where she authored more than two dozen policy briefs and served as the foundation’s chief spokesperson on education.
Rees currently serves on the board of advisors of the Education Policy and Governance Program at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, the Apple Tree Institute for Education Innovation and the review board for The Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools. She also serves on the board of directors of the Charter School Development Corporation and the Education Industry Association.
Rees holds a bachelor’s in psychology from Virginia Tech and a master’s in international transactions from George Mason University. She lives in McLean, VA, with her husband and daughter.
Tuesday, April 16: Morning General Session
Our closing general session will also begin at 8:30 am in the Grand Ballroom, with another performance by charter school students, a keynote address by Senator Theresa Ruiz, and a lively discussion on stage moderated by John Mooney of NJSpotlight.com.
Senator M. Theresa Ruiz
Chair, New Jersey Senate Education Committee
Senator M. Teresa Ruiz was elected to the Senate in 2007. A first-generation Puerto Rican American, she is the first Latina to serve in the New Jersey Senate. An Assistant Majority Leader, Senator Ruiz serves as chair of the Senate Education Committee.
The Senator played a major role in the passage of the “Educational Facilities Construction and Financing Act” which authorized $3.9 billion in funding for school construction projects throughout New Jersey, the majority of which was allocated to school districts formerly known as Abbott School Districts. She also was a driving force in the passage of legislation creating the state’s interdistrict public school choice program, which enables students to attend a school that better suits their needs. She also sponsored a law permitting county colleges and vocational technical schools to implement green jobs training programs to prepare students for a 21st century workforce. Upon assuming her leadership role in 2010, she began a statewide conversation about reforming the state’s teacher tenure laws. Signed into law in August of 2012, the Teacher Effectiveness and Accountability for the Children of New Jersey (TEACHNJ) Act has received unanimous bipartisan support in the state Legislature.
Senator Ruiz is a founding member of the Robert Treat Academy Charter School and also served as a Trustee of the Essex County Technical-Vocational School board. She is vice chair of the Essex County Democratic Party and is deputy chief of staff to Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. She served as an elected delegate in the Democratic National Convention in 2004, 2008 and 2012. During the recent convention, Senator Ruiz joined education advocates from across the country as a panelist on the Democrats For Education Reform-sponsored education town hall.
Senator Ruiz received a bachelor’s degree from Drew University. A lifelong resident of Newark’s North Ward, she is married to Samuel Gonzalez.
A Charter Community Dialog: Finding, Keeping and Growing the Best Teachers
Great teachers lead to great learning. The single most important aspect of a child’s education is the teacher working with that student. For the charter school model to be successful, the development of a strong community of educators is paramount. This forum will discuss various efforts taken to ensure that every child has a great teacher. Teacher preparation, hiring, evaluation, professional development and policies will be examined by national and local experts and practitioners.
Mr. John Mooney, Founding Editor & Education Writer, NJSpotlight.com
Ms. Fatimah Burnham, Executive Director Teach for America – Greater Newark
Mr. S. Charles Dunn, English Teacher, Pride Academy Charter School & 2012 NJCSA Teacher of the Year
Mr. Jamey Verrilli, Managing Director, Relay Graduate School of Education
Mr. Dan Weisberg, Executive Vice President & General Counsel, The New Teacher Project