Join us in celebrating our fantastic line up of speakers for this year's Summit.

Toni Blackman
Cultural Ambassador

Toni Blackman, the first Hip Hop artist invited to work as a Cultural Ambassador with the U.S. Department of State, is currently a teaching artist at Carnegie Hall. Creator of Freestyle Union and Rhyme like a Girl, Toni was a 2012 DOVE Real Woman Honoree. She has shared stages with the likes of Erykah Badu, Mos Def, the Roots, KRS One, Vernon Reid, Meshell, Sarah McLachlan, Sheryl Crow, Onaje Allan Gumbs, and Youssou Ndour. Featured in Forbes magazine, on CENTRIC television, MSNBC’s Melissa Harris Perry Show, CBS morning news, MTV, VH1 and on the Tom Joyner Morning Show, Toni is the world’s leading expert on Cyphers. She releases her new book Wisdom of the Cypher in early 2016 along with BELIEVE, the first installment in the Meditation Mixtape Series. Toni has spoken and/or led workshops everywhere from the Kennedy Center to Harvard, NBC Universal, the World Social Forum, Spelman College to the Juilliard School and the Smithsonian and has designed freestyle master classes not only for artists, but worked with corporate professionals, non-profit leaders and students. Toni has traveled to over 40 countries around the world but one of her favorite places is in her kitchen where she experiments with her dehydrator, hangs out with her NutriBullet and cherishes her new Le Creuset pots and pans. Look out for her food and wellness series on YouTube!


Natasha Bodden

Natasha Bodden began her teaching career in 2004 as a resident student of the New York City Teaching Fellows, an alternative teacher certification program dedicated to staffing high-needs schools in the lowest performing school districts of New York City. She was hired as an elementary special education teacher in one of the areas in New York public schools that is most plagued by severe teacher shortages. Natasha was assigned within the community in which she was raised and where she is needed most.

For the past eight years, she has been her school’s Special Education Teacher Support Services (SETSS) Teacher. She understands the challenges of growing up in a low-income community and is dedicated to changing opportunities available to students living in poverty. Natasha is an active educator of her school community, wherein she serves as a stakeholder to various school-wide committees, including: Response to Intervention (RTI), Professional Development, Teacher Development Coach (TDC), and School Implementation Team (SIT). In July 2015, Natasha participated in a Teach to Lead Summit in Washington, D.C., where teachers received a platform to share ideas and learn how to apply transformative skills to invoke change in education as a teacher leader. She has an undergraduate degree from Herbert H. Lehman College and a Master of Science in Elementary Education from Mercy University.


Bob Bowlsby
Big 12 Commissioner 

Bob Bowlsby, one of the most respected athletic administrators in the nation, was named the fourth full-time Commissioner of the Big 12 Conference on May 4, 2012. The hire was praised throughout college athletics circles as yet another step in the continuing strength and stability of the Big 12.

Bowlsby has been at the forefront of change in collegiate athletics and was appointed to the NCAA Division I Council, the new Division I governance body that will revise and establish new governance rules that will oversee and guide all of college sports. He is also the chair of the newly-established Football Oversight Committee which will oversee all aspects of collegiate football and report directly to the NCAA Division I Council.

In his short time with the Conference, Bowlsby played a key role in the formation of the College Football Playoff that began in 2014-15, the first postseason playoff in the history of the sport. 

In his first three years, Bowlsby has seen seven national championships added to the Big 12 trophy case and 60 NCAA individual event crowns. Eleven additional conference squads finished as runner-up in NCAA competition. In 2014, two football teams competed in the first season of College Football Playoff New Year’s bowl games.

John-David Bowman
2015 Arizona Teacher of the Year 

John-David Bowman has taught for nine years at Westwood High School in Mesa, AZ. While he has taught seven different courses, he currently teaches IB Theory of Knowledge and AP U.S. History to juniors and seniors. In addition, he also teaches a history methods to juniors, seniors, and graduate students at ASU. His educational background is rooted in this great state. He has a BA in History and a BA in Political Science from ASU, and a MA in Secondary Education with an emphasis in History from NAU. John-David feels that there are tremendous things going on in Arizona schools, and we as a community need to celebrate that while also acknowledging where we can improve.


Ruthanne Buck
Senior Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Education

Ruthanne Buck currently serves as a Senior Adviser to the U.S. Secretary of Education for educator outreach and engagement. She was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve in the Department first as Chief of Staff of the Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs in April 2012 and has served in her current role as Senior Adviser to the Secretary since January 2014. Prior to joining the Department, Ruthanne served as Assistant to the President for Special Projects at the American Federation of Teachers. Ruthanne began her career in 2001 at the Democratic National Committee working on women's and LGBT issues. Over the course of her career, Ruthanne has led major field and political operations on behalf of progressive issues, agencies and candidates, with a particular focus on education issues. She was raised in Alexandria, Louisiana; educated at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts; and lives in Takoma Park, Maryland.


Jaime Casap
Chief Education Evangelist at Google 

Jaime Casap is the Chief Education Evangelist at Google. Jaime evangelizes the power and potential of the web, technology, and Google tools as enabling and supporting capabilities in pursuit of fostering inquiry-driven project-based learning models. Jaime collaborates with educational organizations and leaders around the world, building innovation and iteration into our education practices. He speaks on the subject of technology, education, and innovation at events around the world, including South by Southwest EDU, TEDx, Business Innovation Factory Summit, and this past summer, was invited by the First Lady of the United States to speak at the Beat the Odds Summit at the White House.

In addition to his role at Google, Jaime serves on the Board of Directors for the Arizona Science Foundation, New Global Citizens, and Inquire Schools. He serves as an advisor to dozens of organizations focused on education, technology, and equity. Jaime is also an adjunct professor at Arizona State University, where he teaches classes and guest lectures.

You can read Jaime’s blog at, and you can reach and follow him on Twitter at @jcasap.


Karanja Crews
Founder of the Teaching With Purpose Conference 

Karanja N. Crews is an award winning educator, life-long learner and the founder and director of the Teaching With Purpose Conference. Karanja has over 12 years of classroom teaching experience and committed to transforming the lives through inspiration and empowerment. Whether he is speaking or teaching, Karanja motivates his audience to educate themselves and their communities.


Zachary Levine
Executive Director, TEACH


Garrett Maier
Teacher, Estrella Foothills High School
Extra Yard for Teachers Summit Audition Winner 

Garrett Maier is a first-year English teacher at Estrella Foothills High School in Goodyear, Arizona. He earned his undergraduate degree in Secondary Education-English and Certificate in Creative Writing from Northern Arizona University. His passion for education stems from a collection of incredible educators he has had the privilege of learning from. This passion and those educators have led him to opportunities for research, discovery, and presentation of findings at educational conferences at the university level, as well as the national and international level.


Jasmine Muniz
Teacher, Conley Elementary School 

Jasmine Muniz is currently teaching sixth grade math and science at Conley Elementary School in the Chandler Unified School District. While this is her first year in the Chandler District, Jasmine isn’t new to the teaching world. She spent 11 years teaching kindergarten through 7th grade in the Balsz Elementary School District where she was named a Rodel Exemplary Teacher in 2012.


Jack Swarbrick
Vice President & James E. Rohr Director of Athletics 

John B. “Jack” Swarbrick Jr., a University of Notre Dame graduate now in his eighth year as vice president and director of athletics at his alma mater. He has attached his signature to a variety of new initiatives during his tenure, including the launching of Fighting Irish Media (a major enterprise that delivers better information about and access to Notre Dame and its athletic programs via expanded production and distribution of programming), and developing a plan for expanding Notre Dame Stadium in order to make it a year-round asset for the University, while also improving the game-day experience for student-athletes and fans.

Swarbrick became Notre Dame’s 12th athletics director on July 16, 2008. 

He and his wife, Kimberly, are the parents of four children: Kate, a 2010 graduate of Saint Louis University; Connor, a 2011 graduate of Wake Forest University; Cal, a 2014 graduate of TCU; and Christopher, a 2015 graduate of Notre Dame.


Elisa Villanueva-Beard
CEO of Teach for America 

Elisa’s passion for educational equity comes from personal experience. Elisa grew up in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas and developed a deep commitment to Teach For America’s mission as a student at DePauw University, where she was one of just a few Mexican-American students. Her journey with Teach For America started 15 years ago in Phoenix, where she taught first and second grade bilingual education as a 1998 corps member. She joined Teach For America’s staff in 2001 to lead the organization’s work in her hometown in the position of executive director. Elisa was inspired to take on this role because she saw her community beginning to have a different conversation as a result of the work her corps members and alumni were doing. Four years later, she stepped into the role of chief operating officer, leading Teach For America’s field operations. In this role for eight years, Elisa led Teach For America’s dramatic expansion as they grew from 22 regions to 46. It is Teach For America’s regions where the organization’s program is put into practice and where 80 percent of its funding is raised. In 2013, Elisa was named co-CEO of Teach For America alongside Matthew Kramer. In 2015, Matthew Kramer stepped down, and Elisa became the sole CEO. Under her leadership, Teach For America currently impacts more than 750,000 students in over 2,600 schools. Elisa holds a B.A. in sociology from DePauw University. She lives with her husband, Jeremy, and their four sons in Houston.


Cassie Breecher, Vice-President of Education at Valley of the Sun United Way
Joaquín Zihuatanejo, Poet, Spoken Word Artist, Teacher