Plenary Sessions

(All Listed Session Times are ET)

Tuesday, February 16
1:30 – 3:00 PM EST  
The Future is Now: Hope at the Forefront of Change  

In times of uncertainty, colleges must instill and inspire hope for the communities they serve. MacArthur Genius and two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward has been hailed as the standout writer of her generation, proving her “fearless and toughly lyrical” voice in novels, memoir, and nonfiction. Join Ms. Ward, Achieving the Dream president and CEO, Dr. Karen A. Stout, and the DREAM 2021 scholars as they open DREAM 2021 with a transformative message of turning hope into action.  

Jesmyn Ward  
Acclaimed Novelist
Professor of Writing at Tulane University

Wednesday, February 17
12:00 Noon – 1:15 PM EST  

Fostering Teaching & Learning Excellence: Creating Inclusive, Relationship-Rich, Culturally Responsive Learning Experiences for Student Success 

To truly move the needle on student success, we must take an equity-focused approach to teaching and learning. This session will highlight multiple perspectives from theory, research, and practice to document the essential role of relationships (between faculty and students, and between students and peers) and the need to engage the whole student for learning and success. Attendees will have the opportunity to engage with peers and speakers via the chat function and ask questions using the Q&A panel.    

Dr. Peter Felten
Director of the Center for Engaged Learning, Assistant Provost for Teaching and Learning, and Professor of History, Elon University 

Dr. Laura Rendón 
Professor Emerita, University of Texas-San Antonio


  Dr. Jacqueline Taylor
Associate Vice President, Retention & Student Success at Southwest Tennessee Community

Thursday, February 18 
12:00 – 1:15 PM EST 
The Power of Place: Connections that Foster Student Opportunity and Community Well-being
Innovative community partnerships can nurture learning and completion of all students and cultivate future citizens who build thriving and equitable communities. David Treuer, Pushcart Prize winner and New York Times bestselling author, will reflect on Imagining and Making Native Futures, followed by two community college leaders who will highlight how their colleges are leveraging their role as anchors in the community to build pathways to bright futures for their students. The session will end with a facilitated discussion between the speakers.

David Treuer  
Dr. David Treuer, (Leech Lake Ojibwe)
 Author, Professor of Literature, University of Southern California
  Stephanie Hammitt
President, Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College
Gregory Haile 
President, Broward College 


Thursday, February 18
3:45 – 5:00 PM EST  

Rethinking the Intersection of Education, Training, and Work in the 21st Century: A Roadmap to Creating More Inclusive Opportunities 

As dramatic changes in work accelerate and smart machines transform the nature of human work, our systems for developing and deploying quality learning that will prepare people for work and life must also radically change. By shifting long-held ideas about how the workforce should function and expanding our concept of work, Lumina Foundation President and CEO Jamie Merisotis posits that we can harness the population’s potential, encourage a deeper sense of community, and erase a centuries-long system of inequality. ATD presidents Dr. Shanna L. Jackson, President of Nashville State Community College, and Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart, President of Amarillo College will reflect on his vision and its implications for the student success reforms colleges are pursuing. 

Jamie Merisotis
President and CEO
Lumina Foundation

Dr. Shanna L. Jackson


Nashville State Community College


Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart


Amarillo College




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