Keynote Speakers

Global thought leaders, innovators, authors, influencers, educators and TED senior fellows have taken the spotlight at our events. Keynotes are selected by our Program Council

Ron Clark

Author, Educator and Founder of The Ron Clark Academy

Known to many as “America’s Educator,” Ron Clark is the 2000 Disney American Teacher of the Year, a two-time New York Times Bestselling author, the subject of a television movie and the founder of The Ron Clark Academy. Ron is regularly featured on network and cable television (The Today Show, CNN and Oprah,) and was dubbed by Ms. Winfrey as her first “Phenomenal Man.”

Jose Dotres

Superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public School System, FL

Dr. Jose L. Dotres is the Superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS), the fourth-largest school district in the nation with over 40,000 employees and 330,000 students.
Having held multiple instructional and administrative leadership roles over the course of his career in M-DCPS and other educational organizations, Dr. Dotres is a proven educator with a wealth of experience.  He has served in the capacity of Teacher, Reading Coach, Principal, District Administrator, Regional Administrative Director, Region Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, Chief Academic Officer of Broward County Public Schools, Chief of Staff, Chief Human Capital Officer, and most recently, Deputy Superintendent of Collier County Public Schools.
Teaching the whole child and ensuring optimal conditions for teaching and learning are at the forefront of his decision-making and serve as his guiding philosophy. He is a strategic thinker, visionary leader, and innovator with a strong commitment to building the leadership capacity of others. His inclusive management style inspires and empowers others to reach their maximum potential. Throughout his long-standing career as a district leader and educational advocate, he established signature programs centered on teacher leadership, teacher and leader effectiveness, and cultivating the teaching profession from within the organization. A champion of professional learning, Dr. Dotres strongly believes in providing professional growth and career opportunities for the entire workforce. He envisions positioning M-DCPS as a school district of choice for students and parents, and an employer of choice for the community.

Kim Bearden

Co-founder and Executive Director at The Ron Clark Academy

Kim Bearden is the cofounder, executive director, and language arts teacher at the highly acclaimed Ron Clark Academy, an innovative middle school and educator-training facility in Atlanta. Over 85,000 educators from around the world have visited Kim’s classroom and have attended her workshops to learn better ways to engage students, build relationships, foster academic excellence, enhance communication, and create a climate and culture for success.
In 2016, Kim was honored at the White House for being inducted into to the National Teachers Hall of Fame. She was selected from over 70,000 nominations to be honored as the Disney American Teacher Awards Outstanding Humanities Teacher, and the Milken Family Foundation selected her to receive the Award for Excellence in Education. She is the winner of the InfluencHer Award, the University of Georgia Outstanding Educator Award, and the Turknett Character Award for Servant Leadership. Mercedes-Benz recognized her in their Greatness Lives Here campaign, and Women Works Media Group has named her one of Georgia’s Most Powerful and Influential Women.
Kim has spoken at hundreds of in-person events across the country as well as in South Africa, London, and China. Additionally, she is a sought-after virtual speaker and trainer. Her newest virtual course is available through Premiere University.
Over the past thirty-four years, Kim has been a teacher, instructional lead teacher, curriculum director, school-board member, staff-development trainer, and middle-school principal. Kim is a bestselling author of three books: Crash Course: The Life Lessons My Students Taught Me; Talk to Me: Find the Right Words to Inspire, Encourage, and Get Things Done; and her newest book, Fight Song: Six Steps to Passion, Power, Peace, and Purpose.

Ron Chandler

Head of Education at Apple

Ron is a seasoned operating executive with expertise around technology leadership, digital transformation and information security. As Head of the US Education business for Apple, Ron is focused on transforming education through digitization of pedagogy and education administration across K-12 and Higher Education.
Prior to Apple, Ron led technology for the Harvard Business School. He mobilized his team of 300+ and $70 mil budget toward a digital transformation of teaching and working online. He led the transition to stronger cyber hygiene and established a product development group in his organization that created digital products that are used by educational institutions worldwide.
Ron’s focus on technology use in education began in 2008 after 22 years in business and industry. He was a design engineer working on F-16 aircraft avionics and pivoted to a career in information technology and business strategy. He joined Anderson Consulting (now Accenture) with a focus on helping clients scale their organizations and increase effectiveness by leveraging technology. After honing his skills in professional services, technology, and leadership across multiple global business models and markets for more than a decade, Ron started his own firm focused on helping mid-market clients articulate and execute their business strategies through technology solutions.
Returning to operational CIO and Chief Strategy Officer roles, Ron’s became the CIO of the second largest K-12 district in the U.S., the Los Angeles Unified School District, with a technology budget exceeding $½ billion. He also became Senior Advisor to Intel Education, Chair K-12 National Advisory Council on Cyber Security, and recipient of Computerworld’s Premier 100 IT Leader award.
Ron serves on the Board of Directors for the SBLI Company of Massachusetts as chair of the Innovation and Technology Committee and is also on the Advisory Board for WGBH.
He is a member of the Wall Street Journal CIO Network and has been recognized as one of the Big Ten Most Influential People in Technology and Learning magazine.

Dr. Jess Evans

Associate Vice Chancellor & Chief Information Officer, Vanderbilt University

Jess Evans, Ph.D., is the Associate Vice Chancellor and the Chief Information Officer (CIO) at Vanderbilt University. She moved to Nashville, TN, in November 2022, from Arizona, where she served as the IT Chief Operating Officer and Deputy CIO leading all enterprise IT operations and all digital transformation efforts at Arizona State University.
Dr. Evans holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Computer Information Systems from Kent State University and a Ph.D. in Management, Designing Sustainable Systems from Case Western Reserve University, where she earned the highest academic award, Beta Gamma Sigma Honors, and the Student Leadership award as a doctoral student at CWRU.
As a published researcher and scholar, Dr. Evans has received multiple awards and recognitions for her work in IT, including Top 100 Women in Technology by Global, Technology Magazine (2021), and Most Influential Women in Tech by World Leaders Magazine (2022).
Dr. Evans’ research specializes in design thinking, quantitative methods, structural equation modeling, knowledge structures, credible leadership, and leadership effectiveness. She is a frequent speaker on innovation, transformation, and technology leadership while also being an active member of the IT community serving on multiple boards.

Nir Bashan

CEO & Founder, The Creator Mindset

Nir Bashan is a world-renowned creativity expert. He has taught thousands of leaders and individuals around the globe how to harness the power of creativity to improve profitability, increase sales, improve customer service and ultimately create more meaning in their work. Nir has spent the last two decades working on a formula to codify creativity. That formula is found in The Creator Mindset, which has been translated into two languages. He was one of the youngest professors ever selected to teach graduate courses at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and also taught undergraduate courses at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has worked on numerous albums, movies, and advertisements with famous actors and musicians ranging from Rod Stewart to Woody Harrelson. His work on creativity has won a Clio Award and was nominated for an Emmy. Nir is the founder and CEO of The Creator Mindset LLC, a company that conducts workshops, consulting, coaching, and keynote speeches at conferences and corporate events. His clients include AT&T, Microsoft, Ace Hardware, NFL Network, EA Sports, Suzuki, Activision and jetBlue. Nir lives in Orlando, Florida, with his wife, young son, and two Bernedoodles named P-Paws and Waylon Jennings.

Margaret Brisbane

Chief Information Officer - Miami-Dade County, FL

Margaret Brisbane is the CIO for Miami-Dade County. In her current role she is responsible for leading a team of IT professionals in servicing the technology needs of the County. The primary IT pillars are Security, Platforms and Applications along with Administration to support all operations. The team provides support to all County Departments including enterprise solution for Financial, Payroll, Human Resources, Public Safety, Legislative, Commerce and the PeopleSoft systems. The team also supports document and asset management and geospatial systems as well as major technology projects, to include, but not limited to Criminal Justice, Permitting and Code Enforcement, Radio and INFORMS.Prior to joining the County, Margaret served as Director of Service Delivery for Burger King Corporation. During her 20-year career she led the Telecommunications Center of Excellence for various Diageo brands, worked on restaurant systems support as well as Point of Sales system implementation for various domestic and international locations. Throughout her career, Margaret has been actively involved in the community and professional organizations. She is currently a member of the Technology Committee for both the Greater Chamber of Commerce and the Beacon Council. She served as co-chair for the Community Services Committee for the FIU Alumni Circle and is a co-chair for the annual United Way Women’s Leadership breakfast. She is the Chair of the IT Women Virtual Mentoring Program and a mentor to one of the scholarship recipients. She established a mentoring program between the County’s IT department and a local high school IT Academy, currently in its 10th year. She was the Chair for the 2007-2008 Greater Chamber of Commerce Leadership Miami Program and was a member of the Executive Committee for seven years. She was instrumental in developing and chairing the Chambers Youth Leadership program for three years. She has also participated as a mentor to several FIU business students to continually innovate and build their technical and business skills. She has participated on the eMerge Executive Committee and leads the effort for the County’s booth at the annual conference.

Feroz Merchhiya

Chief Information Officer - Glendale, AZ

Mr. Feroz Merchhiya is an award-winning CIO/CISO of the City of Glendale, AZ, a Board Member of The Association for Executives in Healthcare Information Technology (AEHIT), a Member of InfraGard and a member RWC Executive Committee. Mr. Merchhiya is a technology executive at the helm of transformative initiatives for the City of Glendale
Mr. Merchhiya is directly responsible for the city of Glendale’s strategic use of technology to improve processes, capture data, deliver insights, and enhance services while maintaining a resilient technology ecosystem. As the city’s chief technologist, Mr. Merchhiya leads the implementation of complex technology initiatives. In addition, Mr. Merchhiya holds several industry certifications, such as Zero Trust Strategy Certification, CGEIT, CDPSE, and CRISC.

Eddie Contreras

CISO, Frost Bank

Edward has spent his career protecting companies and organizations from cyber risk and cybercrime. He spent 22 years in the Army (Cyber Command, Frist I/O, NSA) as a signal Warrant Officer with deployments to combat zones and earning a bronze star. His core expertise has positioned him to lead cyber teams at systemically important financial institutions through growth, headwinds, regulatory scrutiny, and global investigations. With firsthand knowledge of breach formalities, risk investments, and financial pressure creates business success through informed decision making.

Beth Oliver

Chief Nurse Executive - Mount Sinai Health System

Dr. Beth Oliver is responsible for the practice of nursing across the Health System and collaborates with the senior executive team as well as Chief Nursing Officers throughout Mount Sinai.  A nationally recognized cardiovascular leader, Dr. Oliver has fostered and supported evidence based, patient-centered care throughout her career. As Chief Nursing Executive, her top priorities are ensuring the safety and quality of care for our patients, supporting and advancing the professional development of our nurses, transforming the care we provide around the needs of our patients and communities, and partnering on our transition from volume to value. For more than 28 years, Dr. Oliver has been a transformational cardiac nurse leader at Mount Sinai, most recently serving as Senior Vice President of Cardiac Services for the Health System, in which she led cardiovascular service line strategy and operations for the Health System while also being responsible for ensuring the delivery of quality care to Mount Sinai Heart patients. Dr. Oliver received her MS from Columbia University and her DNP from Case Western Reserve University.

Jonathan Manis

Senior Vice President, Chief Information Officer - Christus Health

Jonathan Manis, a veteran health care information technology leader, currently serves as Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer (CIO) for CHRISTUS Health of Irving, Texas. A Catholic Health Ministry serving communities across four countries, CHRISTUS Health is one of the nation’s largest faith-based provider organizations. With more than 55,000 physicians, nurses, allied health professionals and Associates, CHRISTUS Health operates more than 70 acute care hospitals and hundreds of primary care clinics across the southwestern United States and in Latin America.
Manis is a seasoned CIO with more than 25 years of IT leadership experience. He joined CHRISTUS Health in 2019 from California-based Sutter Health where he served as Senior Vice President and CIO for more than 13 years. Prior to Sutter, Manis served as System Vice President and CIO for Provena Health of Chicago, Illinois. Earlier in his career, Manis served as Vice President of Information Services for Advocate Healthcare in Chicago, Illinois and as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for Sterling Health of Miami, Florida.

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