Keynote Speakers and Thought Leaders
Sarah Bassett-Kim has a background as an instructional coach and high school English teacher, which serves her well in her role as she designs service-learning curriculum, creates training materials, and facilitates training workshops with educators and youth across the country. Sarah is passionate about the work of NYLC because youth interests, choices, and leadership are at the center of every endeavor.
Sarah graduated with a Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction as well as a certificate in Teaching Writing and Critical Literacy from the University of Minnesota. She has completed Thinking Collaborative's ™ Cognitive Coaching (R circle) Foundation Seminars. Sarah is also a licensed English/language arts teacher in the state of Minnesota who serves as an Advisory Board Member for the Minnesota Writing Project.
Andrew Furco is Associate Vice President for Public Engagement at the University of Minnesota, where he also serves as Professor of Higher Education. His research and publications explore various issues regarding the impact, implementation, and institutionalization of community engagement, service-learning, and experiential learning in primary, secondary, and higher education in the U.S. and abroad. Prior to arriving in Minnesota, Furco worked at the University of California, Berkeley (1994-2007) as a faculty member in the Graduate School of Education and as the director of the University’s Service-Learning Research & Development Center. A former K-12 teacher and school administrator, Furco has championed the advancement of service-learning across all grade spans. He has led more than 30 studies of service-learning and community engagement, and has published four books and more than 100 articles and papers on various service-learning and community engagement topics. He is former co-editor of the International Journal for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement and currently serves on NYLC’s Board of Directors.In 2015, he was inducted into the national Academy of Community Engagement Scholarship.
Barry Guillot is a National Board Certified 8th grade science teacher at Harry M. Hurst Middle School in Destrehan, Louisiana. He is the creator and coordinator of the nationally recognized Wetland Watchers service-learning project.During the last 20 years, over 25,000 students have become community leaders through hosting weekend community trash clean-ups, tree plantings, and nature tours. Since the inception of the program, Wetland Watcher volunteers have spoken directly to nearly 2.5 million people across Louisiana about wetland issues through outreach opportunities.
The initial small tract of land adopted by Guillot and his students later became part of 28 acres of land donated by the Pontchartrain Levee Board in 2004 to St. Charles Parish in the name of the Wetland Watchers. This donation includes 2.5 acres of land rebuilt back to the 1976 shoreline through partnerships with community leader Milton Cambre, local industry, and the St. Charles Parish Government. This donated land is now the location of Wetland Watchers Park, which includes 8 picnic pavilions, a huge grand pavilion, two incredible outdoor classrooms, an 8-foot marsh overlook, and over 1,200 feet of boardwalk nature trails. Wetland Watchers Park is now part of the St. Charles Parish Parks and Recreation system.
Greg Herder is currently the Service Learning Coordinator for Mounds View Public Schools in metro Minnesota, and a Member At-Large of the NYLC Board of Directors, representing K-12 teachers. A 15 year classroom veteran and Service Learning practitioner, Herder now assists other teachers and administrators in service learning implementation and program development. He has collaborated with NYLC on many projects over the past decade.
Elizabeth Koenig began her career with NYLC in 2008 as an AmeriCorps*VISTA and continues her work leading NYLC’s Professional Development team. She currently supports NYLC’s efforts in developing young leaders and supporting educators by developing and delivering trainings for educators and young people, coordinating nationwide efforts to support out-of-school time service-learning, and leading NYLC’s efforts to integrate service-learning in school districts around the country. Elizabeth previously led NYLC’s STEM and Teen Driver Safety program areas. Elizabeth graduated from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.
Amy Meuers, CEO, National Youth Leadership Council
Amy is the CEO of the National Youth Leadership Council, a national nonprofit organization that for more than 30 years has transformed classrooms, empowered teachers, and captivated students by leading the way in providing high-quality, dynamic service-learning content to school districts, classrooms, out-of-school youth programs, and everything in between. Amy has a strong passion and commitment to the work of NYLC and the role that young people can play in change the world. Over the past decade, she has authored numerous articles and blogs on service-learning and youth engagement, has led 13 National Service-Learning Conferences, service-learning World and Indigenous Forums, and is an active volunteer in her community. She is committed to transforming community into classroom and inspiring all young people to Serve. Learn. Change the world.®
Biography coming soon!
Kent Pekel is an educator who has worked at the school, district, state, federal, and university levels. Throughout his diverse career, he has sought to bridge the divides that too often exist between educational practice, research, and policy. Kent is currently President and CEO of Search Institute, an internationally recognized research organization that studies and works to strengthen youth outcomes in schools, families, out-of-school time programs, and communities. Prior to joining Search Institute in 2012, Kent served as the founding Executive Director of the University of Minnesota’s College Readiness Consortium, where he led the creation of Ramp-Up to Readiness, an advisory program for middle and high school students that has been adopted by more than 200 schools in eight states, engaging more than 100,000 students each year. While at the University, Kent also led the launch and expansion of the Minnesota Principals Academy, a year-long executive development program that to date has engaged more than 400 Minnesota school leaders in the study and replication of high performing schools and systems. From 2000-2005, Kent served as Executive Director of Research and Development in the Saint Paul Public Schools, where he led development and implementation of the urban school district’s strategic plan and supervised the departments of research, technology, fund development, policy, high school reform, and transportation. From 1995-2000 Kent held several senior staff-level positions in the Clinton Administration, including White House Fellow assigned to the Director of Central Intelligence, Special Advisor to the Deputy Secretary of State, and Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Education. Kent began his career as a high school social studies teacher in his home state of Minnesota. He holds a B.A. in East Asian Studies from Yale University, a Master’s in Education from Harvard University, and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Minnesota.
Kate Walker is an Associate Professor and Specialist in Youth Work Practice at the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Youth Development. She studies the role that adult program leaders, staff and volunteers play in supporting youth development in programs. She also leads professional development efforts aimed at supporting and improving youth work practice. This includes trainings on social and emotional learning and on the dilemmas that practitioners face in their everyday work with young people. Kate is the editor of the Journal for Youth Development: Bridging Research and Practice.