thursday, February 25

Nina S. Rees, 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 over 20 years of experience in Washington, D.C., most recently as Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives for Knowledge Universe, 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. She also helped coordinate the implementation of several provisions of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Prior to joining the Education Department, Rees served as Deputy Assistant for Domestic Policy to Vice President Dick Cheney. 

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. 

She has appeared on various news outlets including CNN, C-Span and PBS's NewsHour and her articles and opinions have been published in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. She also writes a regular column for U.S. News and World Report.

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 and the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. She is also an Aspen Institute Pahara Fellow. 

Rees holds a B.A. in Psychology from VA Tech and a master’s in International Transactions from George Mason University. She lives in McLean, VA with her husband and daughter. 




Friday, FEBRUARY 26

Dr. Karen Kay Harvey & Dr. Donna Nicholson
Authors of "Sacred Elephants: The Catastrophic Crisis in Education Impacting the Decline of America"

Dr. Karen Kay Harvey

Dr. Karen Kay Harvey has been involved in education for 40 years and has served in all educational capacities.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Southern Colorado State College in Behavioral Science for Elementary Educators; a Master of Arts degree from the University of Northern Colorado in Guidance and Counseling; and a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Denver in School Administration (cognate Business Management).

Dr. Harvey was an elementary teacher for fourteen years, an elementary principal for eight years, served in various capacities at the central office level for eleven years, New Mexico NAEP Coordinator; New Mexico Public Education Department Assessment Specialist; and performed the duties of the Assistant Secretary for Quality Assurance and Systems Integration at the New Mexico Public Education Department.  Her broad background includes teaching at the university level and serving as a School Board member in Douglas County Public Schools.  During these years in education she has worked in Colorado, Maryland, New Mexico, Canada, Washington, and Nevada.  Dr. Harvey has worked in three districts as the leader of curriculum and instruction.  In these positions she worked on systemic reform to impact student achievement and was responsible for the development of standards based grading and reporting systems.  

Dr. Harvey serves as an educational consultant and national presenter in standards based grading and reporting, gap analysis, curriculum alignment, administrator mentoring, and supporting Schools in Need of Improvement (No Child Left Behind), and Turnaround Schools.  In addition, she is a Nationally Certified Mentor for building administrators; trained in Cognitive Coaching; and the Virginia Leadership Model.  Recently, Dr. Harvey co-authored a book with Dr. Nicholson entitled, Sacred Elephants: The Catastrophic Crisis in Education Impacting the Decline of America.


Dr. Donna Nicholson

Dr. Donna Nicholson has been an educator for almost 50 years. Her experience is wide and varied. She has served as a teacher, a principal at both elementary and high school level, associate director of an educational service center, assistant superintendent, superintendent and adjunct professor. Dr. Nicholson has held positions as a superintendent of school districts in Colorado, Alabama and a charter school system with multiple campuses in many of the major cities in Texas.

Retiring from her last superintendent’s position in 2009, Dr. Nicholson is now the President of Donna Nicholson & Associates working with schools across the nation. She has done postdoctoral work at both Harvard and Oxford University.

The most notable of her many awards is the Key Communicator Award for Texas given to Dr. Nicholson as the person who made the greatest impact on education in 1992. Governor Ann Richards nominated her for her work with corporations across Texas in establishing effective business education coalitions, which worked with the Texas legislature to raise the graduation standards of the state through a nationally recognized scholars program.

Dr. Nicholson’s first book published in 2013 titled Shattered: Tragedy on the Mountain-Living with traumatic brain injury and bipolar madness, is the true story of her husband’s freakish accident which changed her family’s lives forever.  She is a national speaker and an internationally recognized advocate for mental health. She has just published her second book, which she coauthored with Dr. Karen Harvey, titled Sacred Elephants: The Catastrophic Crisis in Education Impacting the Decline of America