Chris Singleton – October 15, 2021

Chris Singleton is a former professional athlete drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 2017. Following the loss of his mother in a racially motivated mass shooting, Chris has now become an inspirational speaker and best-selling author who has shared his message of unity and racial reconciliation with clients such as: Microsoft, Biogen, Houston Texans, Washington Wizards, etc. He shares with over 50 organizations and over 30,000 students annually and resides with his spouse Mariana and his son CJ in Charleston, SC.

Damon West – March 18, 2022

Sentenced to sixty-five years in a Texas prison, Damon West once had it all. 

Damon West, M.S. Criminal Justice, is a college professor, nationally known keynote speaker and best-selling author (with best-selling author and motivational speaker Jon Gordon) of The Coffee Bean: A Simple Lesson to Create Positive Change. His first book and autobiography, The Change Agent: How a Former College QB Sentenced to Life in Prison Transformed His World, was published just three years after his release from a Texas maximum-security prison. 

At 20 years old, he was a Division 1 starting quarterback at the University of North Texas, when he suffered a career ending injury. He turned to hard core drugs to cope with the disappointments of life. After graduation, he worked in the United States Congress, was a national fundraiser on a U.S. Presidential campaign and eventually trained to be a stockbroker for United Bank of Switzerland (UBS). One day at UBS, he was introduced to methamphetamines; he became instantly hooked—and the lives of so many innocent people would forever be changed by the choices he made in order to feed his insatiable meth habit. 

After a fateful discussion during his incarceration with a seasoned convict, Damon had a spiritual awakening. He learned that, like a coffee bean changing with the application of heat and pressure, he was capable of changing the environment around him. Armed with a program of recovery, a renewed faith, and a miraculous second chance at life, Damon emerged from over seven years of prison a changed man. His story of redemption, grit and determination continues to inspire audiences today. 

Today, Damon lives a life of recovery and service, going to meetings and sharing his story all over the country with schools, churches, athletic teams, corporations, conferences and inside correctional facilities. Over the past few years, he has been sharing the Coffee Bean lesson with dozens of college football teams such as Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, and Texas, and countless schools and businesses. His #BeACoffeeBean message has inspired thousands from Walmart to the US Army to the NBA. 

Damon’s story has been featured both nationally and globally. His second book, The Coffee Bean, co-authored with best-selling author Jon Gordon, became an instant best-seller and a part of Forbes’ “Top Twenty Books You Need to Read to Crush 2020.” Damon is passionate about the Coffee Bean message and loves sharing how it changed his life and how it can change yours, too. 

His latest book (with coauthor, Jon Gordon), The Coffee Bean for Kids, is the genesis for Coffee Bean Clubs being started by students at schools all over America.

Nate Eklund – May 6, 2022

Nathan Eklund holds fast to the notion that life is too precious to spend it not liking your job. That conviction bears out in his enthusiastic partnerships with organizations to ensure they engage in the hard work of making work work.

Nathan started his career with 12 years as a high school English teacher, then authored a book on workplace cultures in schools, founded his company Eklund Consulting in 2011, and now works throughout a variety of industries to develop thoughtful leaders, engaged employees, and workplace cultures that are vibrant and fulfilling places for all. His Twitter handle summarizes him and his work thusly: “I like bringing people and organizations into their uncomfortable truths and realities and then getting us out alive together.”

Nathan is presently transitioning the work of Eklund Consulting into a new venture called “Vital Network.” This network provides data, resources, and coaching to schools across the country who are committed to making schools great places to teach, lead, and learn. Above all, the network is an active platform where schools and leaders connect with one another to fundamentally transform how we recruit and retain educators into robust and supportive schools.

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Click Here to download the “2019-2020 Keynote Speakers” Flyer (PDF)

Past Presentations

Friday, April 27, 2018

“What Connected Educators Do Differently”

Mr. Jimmy Casas, Senior Fellow for the International Center Leadership in Education, and Mr. Jeff Zoul, Author and Superintendent of Teaching and Learning for Deerfield District 109, will share and discuss “What Connected Educators Do Differently”

Friday, March 9, 2018

“Decide to Lead: Building Capacity and Leveraging Change Through Decision-Making”

Dr. Mary Herrmann, Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Education – Policy, Organization and Leadership, will share and discuss “Decide to Lead: Building Capacity and Leveraging Change Through Decision-Making”

Thursday, December 7, 2017

“The Persistent Gender Gap in STEM Fields Starts Very Early”

Dr. David Figlio, research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and a member of the executive board of the National Center for the Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER), will share and discuss “The Persistent Gender Gap in STEM Fields Starts Very Early”

Click Here to download the “The Persistent Gender Gap in STEM Fields Starts Very Early” Flyer (PDF)

Friday, September 15, 2017

“Leading and Motivating a Multi-Generational Workforce”

Dr. Kristine Mackey, Vice President of Financial Markets for Charles Rivers Associates, will share and discuss “Leading and Motivating a Multi-Generational Workforce”

Click Here to download the “Leading and Motivating a Multi-Generational Workforce” Flyer (PDF)

Friday, April 21, 2017

“Culturally Responsive Leading”

Dr. Sonya Whitaker, national speaker, author and Illinois superintendent will share research and first-hand experiences of successful leadership models that promote culturally responsive schools.

Click Here to download the “Culturally Responsive Leading” Flyer (PDF)

Friday, February 3, 2017

“Balanced Accountability”

Dr. Julie Schmidt, national speaker, author and Illinois superintendent will address the issues superintendents and their teams will face regarding how schools will be measured and held accountable in the new year.

Click Here to download the “Balanced Accountability” Flyer (PDF)

Friday, December 2, 2016

“Coming Out of the Fog: Education Policy and Politics in the New Administration”

Public School advocacy organizations that monitor and actively influences education policy at the Illinois Statehouse, will be invited to bring superintendents and their teams up-to-date information regarding the state of public education in Illinois after the presidential and state elections.
Click Here to download the “Coming Out of the Fog” Flyer (PDF)

Friday, September 16, 2016

“Transgender Legal Panel”

School attorney, Teri Engler and a representative from the law firm, HLERK will host an informational session for superintendents and their teams as they navigate through policy and procedures related to transgender topics.

Click Here to download the “Transgender Legal Panel” Presentation (PDF)

Friday, October 2, 2015

“The Voice of America’s Bullied Students”
Jodee Blanco, Author and Advocate

Friday, November 6, 2015

“What schools can do to support all students including those who are gender nonconforming and transgender”
Jennifer Leininger, Coordinator of the Gender and Sex Development Program at Lurie Children’s Hospital

Friday, February 5, 2016

“Working to building strong relationships with Latino students and their families”
Dr. Lourdes Ferrer, Author and Advocate

Friday, May 6, 2016

Retirement Celebration & Performing Arts Program

Past Presentations

For 2014 and Older Presentations… please click on the link below
Click Here for Older PresentationsSRT 2019-2020 Speaker Flyer REV. 10.19

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