Keynote Speakers

Bryan Alexander

A leader in transforming how technology empowers education, Bryan Alexander is an internationally known futurist, researcher, writer, speaker, consultant, and teacher.

Bryan is the founder and main attraction at Bryan Alexander Consulting, LLC. BAC consults throughout higher education in the United States and abroad, working with colleges, universities, businesses, governments, and associations to look to the future in an era of rapid and challenging transformation.

He recently finished his book, Academia Next: The Futures of Higher Education for Johns Hopkins University Press (forthcoming fall 2019). His two most recent books are Gearing Up For Learning Beyond K-12 and The New Digital Storytelling.

Bryan speaks and publishes articles about technology and its important role in education – appearing in publications including The Atlantic Monthly and Inside Higher Ed.

David A. Thomas, President, Morehouse College

Dr. David A. Thomas, the 12th President of Morehouse College, has 30 years of higher education experience. Throughout his career, he proves to be visionary leader as the former H. Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, and the former Dean of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. He holds a doctorate in Organizational Behavior Studies and a Master of Philosophy degree in Organizational Behavior, both from Yale University. He also has a master’s degree in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University, and a Bachelor of Administrative Sciences degree from Yale College

David is nationally renowned for his research on managing diversity in the workplace. He has written numerous case studies and academic articles on the subject. He is also the co-author of two related books: “Breaking Through: The Making of Minority Executives in Corporate America,” one of the first in-depth studies to focus on minorities who have made it to the top; and “Leading for Equity: The Pursuit of Excellence in Montgomery County Public Schools.” 

In addition to his work as an educator, Thomas serves as a member of the Board of Directors of DTE Energy, the American Red Cross, and The Posse Foundation. He was the recipient of the Washington Business Journal’s 2014 “Minority Business Leader of the Year” award and the National Executive Forum’s “Breaking Through: 2020, Beacon Award,” among other honors. He has also worked as a consultant on issues relating to organizational change, diversity, and inclusion for 100 of the Fortune 500 companies, as well as major governmental and nonprofit organizations.  

David Gibson, Senior Higher Education Strategy Leader, Microsoft

David Gibson serves as a Senior Higher Education Strategy Leader at Microsoft, where he aligns the power of Microsoft platforms with Microsoft Partner solutions to support and accelerate the digital transformation of education worldwide. He speaks to the need for our educational institutions to scale and empower every person on the planet to learn more.

David returns to Microsoft after more than seven years with Blackboard where he led a team of teaching and learning experts assisting education institutions with digitizing the work of the instructional staff. He has also led certification programs at Microsoft and educational technology sales and product management at several publishing firms such as Cengage, Macmillan, and Harcourt Brace.

David is active on LinkedIn and Twitter where he works to spread understanding and engage with the community to tackle the challenges facing education in this time of digital transformation.

Rishi Rana, General Manager, Higher Education

Rishi Rana is GM (CEO) of the Higher-Ed business in the edtech sector for PowerSchool Group LLC, leading strategy, growth, and with direct ownership of Product, R&D, Services, Customer Success, Sales, and Marketing. He has over 22 years of executive and leadership experience with a proven track record in leading businesses while developing complex, critical software solutions, products, and platforms across various domains. 

Previously, Rishi was COO of AGDATA LP. He oversaw the transformation of several product and service lines into a single platform providing data-enabled insight and analytics for the agriculture industry. Rishi has led several businesses towards high growth in topline revenue, revamping service lines and factory models towards multiple-fold EBITDA growth. Prior experience includes serving HCM and Talent landscape as SVP for Global Services at Skillsoft Limited and GM-APAC for SumTotal Systems, where he setup offices in various countries and crafted teams and functions from the ground up. Rishi also held several leadership roles at Microsoft for over a decade where he led product, services, and strategy across a variety of functions and markets globally. 

Rishi is an avid speaker at events and recipient of several awards in management excellence, strategy, communication, and mentoring. He recently won the “CEO with HR Orientation” Award from Asia Pacific HRM Congress. He holds a BS in Computer Science & Math and an MBA, both from Texas A&M University. 

Marcy Daniel, Chief Product Officer, PowerSchool

Marcy Daniel is responsible for developing a unified strategic vision for PowerSchool’s portfolio products, managing and executing overall roadmap development for customers. Marcy joined PowerSchool in February 2016.

Prior to joining PowerSchool, Marcy was the Chief Operating Officer of Interactive Achievement. While at Interactive Achievement she was instrumental in 60%+ year-over-year growth in topline revenue and scaling business services to support triple digit growth in end users. She has managed and led multiple functional teams in the education technology space and has over 20 years of experience in enterprise software development, brand management, and emerging market development.

Marcy holds a Bachelor’s degree in System Engineering from the University of Virginia and an MBA from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina. When she turns the business mind wheels to a slower pace you will find her juggling between her beloved roles of a cheering soccer mom and devoted wife. Occasionally, she finds time to huddle over a warm glass kiln – seeking the Zen of creating functional art.

Tricia Sharpton, Product Management Leader, Higher Education

Tricia Sharpton is the Product Management leader for the Higher Education division, PeopleAdmin, at PowerSchool. Tricia joined PowerSchool in November of  2018.

Prior to joining PowerSchool, Tricia was the Director of Product Management at Compeat. While at Compeat she was instrumental in launching the product management division and launching new key products.  She has managed and led multiple functional teams in the technology space and is an experienced Product Manager with over 15 years of experience leading organizations in their pursuit of high performing, scalable, commercial software solutions.

Tricia holds a Bachelor’s degree in Management from the Troy University. When she is not deep in product development, Tricia enjoys spending time with her 4 children and traveling as much as possible.

Ed Venit, Managing Director, EAB

Ed Venit is a Managing Director with EAB. He serves as the firm’s leading expert on best practices in student success, retention and graduation, advising, financial aid, and student data analysis.

Dr. Venit’s research with EAB’s Student Success Collaborative focuses on the use of data analytics and technologies to transform academic advising and institutional student success strategy. By studying student behaviors associated with success and failure, colleges and universities can work to remove unseen barriers to degree completion and proactively intervene with students who have fallen off path.

His most recent work studies how progressive institutions are using real-time student success metrics to achieve their strategic goals faster than was possible before. These practices collectively form the emerging discipline known as “Student Success Management.” Dr. Venit holds a PhD in evolutionary biology from Duke University and a bachelor’s degree in biology, also from Duke.

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