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May 16 - 20, 2016
43rd Annual National Head Start Conference and Expo
"The Next Generation of Opportunity"

Featured Speakers


Dr. Blanca Enriquez

Director of the Office of Head Start

New Directors Orientation

Dr. Blanca Enriquez has been active in early childhood education for more than 40 years. Most recently, she was the executive director of a Texas Head Start program that has won many local, state, and national awards for excellence. She also has served on the Texas State Secretary's Advisory Committee on Early Childhood Education and was appointed by former President George W. Bush as an advisory board member for the National Institute for Literacy.


Annie Murphy Paul

Science Writer, Yale University

Opening General Session

Annie Murphy Paul is a journalist, author, consultant, and speaker. A frequent contributor to Scientific American, The New York Times, Time magazine, and Slate, Annie is the author of two previous books, The Cult of Personality and Origins, a New York Times Notable Book. Her next book, titled The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain, will be published in 2018.


Dr. Linda M. Espinosa

Professor of Early Childhood Education (Retired), University of Missouri-Columbia

Opening General Session

Dr. Linda M. Espinosa is currently Co-Investigator for the Getting on Track for Early School Success: Effective Teaching in Preschool Classrooms project at the University of Chicago. She is Professor Emeritus of Early Childhood Education at the University of Missouri, Columbia, and has served as the Co-Director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University and Vice President at Bright Horizons Family Solutions.


Anne Cunningham

Researcher, University of California, Berkeley

Opening General Session

Dr. Anne E. Cunningham is Professor of Cognition and Development and the Head Graduate Adviser in the Graduate School of Education.  Known for her research on literacy and development across the life span, from infancy to preschool to middle age, Dr. Cunningham examines the cognitive and motivational processes underlying reading ability and the interplay of context, development, and literacy instruction.


Dr. Jack Maypole

Director of Pediatrics, South End Community Health Center and the Comprehensive Care Program at Boston Medical Center

Opening General Session

In his practice, Dr. Maypole’s interests include caring for children with complex and chronic illness, such as neurodevelopment problems and complications of premature infancy, as well as the challenges of high risk children who have nutritional or social concerns. Dr. Maypole’s blog on pediatrics is popular with parents, pediatricians and educators.


John E. Hales

President, Region IV Head Start Association

Excellence Breakfast

John E. Hales has provided leadership and direction for Pearl River Valley Opportunity, Inc. Head Start for 39 years. Under his leadership, the program has grown from 468 children and families in three counties to 1,744 Head Start children and 239 infants, toddlers and expectant moms in six counties. He is the current president of the Region IV Head Start Association and chairman of its Board of Directors serving the states of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, North and South Carolina.


Todd Rogers

Associate Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University

Research Luncheon

Todd Rogers develops interventions that deliver actionable, personalized communications to children's families and supporters via low-cost and readily accessible forms of contact (e.g., text, mail, progress reports, etc.). His work starts with a fundamentally strengths-based view of families.


Matthew G. Springer

Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Education, Vanderbilt University; Director, National Center on Performance Incentives

Public Policy Luncheon

Professor Springer’s research interests involve educational policy issues, with a particular focus on the impact of policy on resource allocation decisions and student outcomes. His current research includes studies of the impact of performance-based incentives on student achievement and teacher turnover, mobility, and quality; the impact of educator evaluation systems on educator outcomes; and the strategic resource allocation decision-making of schools in response to school accountability programs.


Paul Tough

Author, How Children Succeed

Featured Keynote

Paul Tough is the author of How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character and Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America. He is a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine and a speaker on various topics including education, poverty, parenting, and politics.


Jazzy Ash

Singer, Song Writer

Closing General Session

Jazzy Ash, also known as Ashli Christoval, grew up with her mom from New Orleans and her dad from Trinidad. Music infused her home life every day, from jazz to Caribbean rhythms to the lively children’s music which was playing all the time for the kids in her mother’s home day care. She often spent summers in New Orleans with her aunts and grandparents, enjoying the culture and music that permeated their West Bank neighborhood.


Donna Beegle

Advocate and Author, Communication Across Barriers

Closing General Session

Dr. Donna Beegle has been writing and speaking on poverty for 25 years. After growing up in generational poverty, leaving school for marriage at 15 and having two children she found herself, at 25, with no husband, little education, and no job skills. What followed were: self-confidence, a G.E.D., an A.A. in Journalism, a B.A. with honors in Communications, a Master’s Degree in Communication with a minor in Gender Studies with honors, and completion of a Doctorate Degree in Educational Leadership.


Captain Robert Bialas

Regional Program Manager, Region IV Office of Head Start

Closing General Session

Captain Robert Bialas is the Regional Program Manager of Region IV Office of Head Start and Captain in the Commissioned Corps of the United States Public Health Service. Prior to this position, Captain Bialas served as the Region XI AIAN Program Manager for 150 Tribal Nations consisting of 23,000 children and families in 26 states. He has worked in the Department of Health and Human Services, Indian Health Service (IHS), and directly with AIAN Head Start and Early Head Start programs for over 20 years.