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Featured Speakers
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Dr. Gloria Swindler Boutte is an Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and a Carolina Distinguished Professor at the University of South Carolina.  Her scholarship focuses on equity pedagogies. She is the author/editor of six books: (1) Educating African American Students: And how are the children (2nd edition); (2)We Be Lovin’ Black Children: Becoming Learning to Be Literate About the African Diaspora (2022 Society of Professors of Education Outstanding Book Award); (3) African Diaspora Literacy: The Heart of Transformation in K-12 Schools and Teacher Education (2019 AESA Critics Choice Award) (4) Educating African American Students: And how are the children; (5) Resounding Voices: School Experiences of People From Diverse Ethnic Backgrounds; and (6) Multicultural Education: Raising Consciousness.  She has nearly100 publications.  Dr. Boutte has presented nationally and internationally on equity issues and has received prestigious awards such as the Fulbright Scholar; Fulbright Specialist; 2020 National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Outstanding Educator in the English Language Arts—Elementary Section; and the 2021 American Educational Research Association (AERA) 2021 Division K Legacy award and 2022-23 AERA Fellow. She is the founder and Executive Director of the Center for the Education and Equity of African American Students (CEEAAS).  She has served as a Visiting Scholar and presented her work internationally on every continent except for Antarctica. Dr. Boutte is the mother of three children and five grandchildren. 

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Doctora Julia López-Robertson is a Professor in the Department of Instruction and Teacher Education at the University of South Carolina. She completed her Ph.D. in Language, Reading, and Culture at the University of Arizona.   A former early childhood bilingual classroom teacher, her research focuses on the intersections among language, race, ethnicity, and culture as they relate to the teaching and learning of English Learners and their families and in preparing teachers for diverse classrooms. Doctora López-Robertson’s scholarly agenda is built on a commitment to working with children, families, teachers, and preservice teachers in public schools, universities, and communities for the purpose of advancing understanding of emergent bilingual students and their families and on the transformation of teacher education to support equitable teaching for all children, particularly English Learners.  Doctora López-Robertson is the author of Celebrating Our Cuentos: Choosing and Using Latinx Literature in Elementary Classrooms published by Scholastic. Her research has been published in leading national and international journals:  Language Arts, Bilingual Research Journal, Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, Early Childhood Education Journal, Colombian Applied Linguistics Journal and Innovations in Language Learning and Teaching Journal.

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Theresa Jenkins Hilliard is a retired civil servant who spent 30 years with the Federal Government. She retired as the Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity Manager (EEO/DM) where she was responsible for the EEO and Diversity Programs. She was responsible for the administration, education and training of over 1,000 employees on Affirmative Employment, Workplace Discrimination, Alternative Dispute Resolution, EEO Counseling and Cultural Diversity in the workplace. She was a Personnel Specialist for eight years with State Government. After her retirement in 2007, she started her business, Mama Doonk’s Gullah, and began sharing the history and culture of her ancestors, the Gullah-Geechee People, through speaking engagements and storytelling across South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Massachusetts. She was born on Edisto Island, S.C. where she spent her early years under the guardianship of her beloved maternal grandmother, Susan Jenkins, affectionately known as “Mama Doonk.” Gullah was her first language taught to her by her grandmother, whose only language was Gullah. Her ancestors have a rich history on one of the largest sea islands in South Carolina, where the Gullah-Geechee people resided during slavery and continues to reside today. She is also the great-granddaughter of Henry Hutchinson, who built the historical Hutchinson House on Edisto Island and the great-great granddaughter of James “Jim” Hutchinson, who was a legendary “King” of Edisto Island, a Civil War veteran, and political leader, who played a pivotal role in the newly freed enslaved people getting land on Edisto Island at the end of the Civil War. Ms. Hilliard received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Workforce Training and Development from Southern Illinois University. She is a business owner, a Gullah Storyteller/lecturer, a South Carolina Arts Commission Teaching Artist-in-Residence; a Certified City of Charleston Tour Guide, a local historian and Interpreter at the Old Slave Mart Museum. She is the author of three books and created a line of Gullah-Geechee spices that can be purchased on her website Her books are: 1) Mama Doonk’s Gullah Recipes; 2) A Guide to Charleston’s African American Historical Markers; and 3) Mama Doonk’s Gullah Recipes, 2nd Edition. Ms. Hilliard sings with the Charleston Gospel Choir, and has performed gospel and Old Negro Spirituals throughout Europe. She is a member of Greater Zion AME Church and serves on the MOJA Arts Festival Committee, and a member of the South Carolina Storytelling Network. She is very active with her community serving as an officer with the Maryville/ Ashleyville Neighborhood Association. Ms. Hilliard was featured in the 2014 issue of National Geographic video magazine, Post and Courier Newspaper, Charleston Magazine, Gun and Garden Magazine, Charleston Inside Out Magazine, Essence Magazine, Upscale Magazine, Charleston City Paper, West of paper, Charleston Southern Belle, and more. She also appeared on Fox News 24, Lowcountry Live Television Show, Keeping It Krystal Klear, and The Quentin Washington Show. Ms. Hilliard has presented at the MOJA Arts and Piccolo Spoleto Arts Festivals, the State Museum, Gibbes Museum of Art, The Charleston Museum, Morris Museum of Art, Boston, MA City Hall, Public and Private schools, and many other public and private venues within and out of the state of South Carolina. Ms. Hilliard is a recipient of President Obama’s Drum Major for Volunteer Award. Having dedicated her post-professional career for the past 15 years to preserving the Gullah-Geechee rich history, shows her dedication and commitment to passing it on. Theresa and her husband, Franklin, have three wonderful children and ten awesome grandchildren.

Next Generation Youth Speakers

“Youth are resources to be tapped, not problems to be solved.” Dixie Goswami, co-founder of Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English’s Bread Loaf Teacher Network (BLTN), has for decades invited teachers to work collectively and collaboratively with youth in diverse settings, united by this vision. The BLTN Next Generation Leadership Network (BLTN NextGen), founded in 2017, brings Goswami’s vision to a new level. BLTN NextGen is a youth social action network linking seven sites across the nation. Launched by a two-year grant from the Ford Foundation to Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English (BLSE), BLTN NextGen mobilizes teams to address issues identified by youth.  Led by a Youth Advisory Board and by Bread Loaf-connected teachers, community mentors and young people from diverse, economically challenged communities and regions, BLTN NextGen work takes place in Lawrence, MA; Atlanta; Aiken, South Carolina; Louisville, KY; Vermont; the Navajo Nation, and the Santa Fe Indian School.  Each of the BLTN NextGen sites is a place where BLTN’s teachers and their students have been leaders of wide-ranging activities, research, and advocacy, and where they have engaged as participant researchers in their own communities. Youth on the Navajo Nation, for example, work with community partners to advocate for healthy food options within a vast reservation with few grocery stores, while youth across Vermont and Kentucky use documentary film and collaborative research to raise awareness of many inequities. Young people in each of these regions, along with teachers and community mentors, network across differences with principles and practices that arise from BLSE courses, faculty, theater, and the entire Bread Loaf community.  BLTN NextGen youth bring to the table insightful perspectives on their worlds, knowledge, skills, talents, and an extensive repertoire of communicative and expressive practices. Together, they hone their talents as thought leaders, researchers, analysts, and storytellers. As a cohort, they set a compelling framework for a more richly defined view of “American diversity.” Their presence and their roles change conversations about education inside and outside of BLTN, about public school classrooms, and about social issues and public policy.

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