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Featured Speakers

Save the date! Nov 1-2, 2023. Equity and Excellence conference

Nov. 2023 Speakers

Headshot of Commissioner Cordova

Susana Córdova
CDE Commissioner

Wednesday, November 1
View Susana's Bio

Horacio Sanchez screenshot

Horacio Sanchez
President and CEO of Resiliency Inc.

Wednesday, November 1
View Horacio's Bio
Recorded Keynote Presentation

Headshot of Rhonda Haniford.

Dr. Rhonda Haniford
CDE Associate Commissioner

Thursday, November 2
View Rhonda's Bio

RJ Headshot

Robert Jackson
National/International Speaker

Thursday, November 2
View Robert's Bio
Recorded Keynote Presentation

Photo of 2023 Colorado Teacher of the Year, Jimmy Day II.

Jimmy Day II
2023 Colorado Teacher of the Year

Thursday, November 2
View Jimmy's Bio

Susana Córdova, Commissioner, Colorado Department of Education

Welcome from the Commissioner on November 1


In June 2023 Susana Córdova was named Colorado’s 18th education commissioner and the first Latina to hold the state’s top education position. Prior to being named commissioner, Córdova spent more than 30 years in education. She served as an assistant principal, principal, director, chief academic officer, chief schools officer, and deputy superintendent before becoming the superintendent of Denver Public Schools. She also served as deputy superintendent in Dallas ISD, the second-largest district in Texas.

Córdova grew up in Denver and was a student in the district she later went on to lead. She spent her entire student career in DPS and graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in 1984. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Denver in 1988, Córdova became a bilingual language arts educator at the now-closed Horace Mann Middle School in Northwest Denver. She then taught at West High School before becoming an assistant principal at Bryant-Webster Elementary School and then principal of Remington Elementary School – all high-poverty schools on Denver’s west side. During her tenure as principal, Remington improved by more than 33% over four years on the state reading assessment.

She was then promoted to the district’s administration as executive director of teaching and learning, chief academic officer, chief schools officer and deputy superintendent before becoming the first Latina superintendent in the district where more than half of the students are Hispanic. Among her priorities as superintendent was to “break the historical patterns of inequity that have resulted in far too few black, brown and low-income children succeeding at high levels.” 

As the DPS superintendent, Susana led significant improvements in student outcomes, including an 8% increase in graduation rates for African American Students and a 10% improvement in Latino/a student graduation rates. In 2020, under her leadership, students completed more than 31,000 rigorous courses with a passing rate of 89%, and elementary multilingual students outperformed their peers across the state in reading. She is very proud of her commitment to biliteracy and bilingualism and helped shift the district to an asset-based approach to supporting multilingual students. 

After leaving DPS, Córdova served as deputy superintendent for Dallas Independent School District from January 2021 to August 2022. She then became superintendent in residence for the educational nonprofit Transcend, leading their work to support systems leaders who are dedicated to creating innovative schools that provide equitable and exceptional learning experiences and outcomes.

Córdova’s educational background includes a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction/education administration from the University of Colorado Denver, and she anticipates receiving a doctorate in education from Southern Methodist University in 2024. She lives in Denver with her husband Eric Duran. Her son is a high school teacher in Denver, and her daughter is a recent graduate of Stanford University.


Dr. Rhonda Haniford, Associate Commissioner, Colorado Department of Education

Keynote on November 2


Dr. Rhonda Haniford has served students and communities in a variety of roles for more than two decades. Dr. Haniford served as Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Leadership in the Greeley-Evans School District for three and a half years. Before Greeley, she served as Principal of Centaurus High School in the Boulder Valley School District, where she had worked for nine years. She has also worked as an English Language Arts teacher, assistant principal and principal in school districts in both Missouri and Colorado.

Dr. Haniford has increased on-time graduation rates and decreased dropout rates in both her roles as principal and assistant superintendent. While principal, Dr. Haniford’s work led to a 98% on-time graduation rate. As an assistant superintendent, her work led to a significant increase in graduation rates. Through the launch of a shared strategic plan, Dr. Haniford collaborated with the greater community of school staff, industry leaders, colleges, and both city and county officials to develop career pathways for every student. She also led two school communities in re-envisioning student learning, timely feedback and mentor programs. Within two years both schools became Schools of Innovation and moved out of Turnaround, where they ranked for the previous seven years, to become schools of performance.

Dr. Haniford completed her undergraduate degree and Masters of School Administration degree at Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville. Her Doctorate of Education is in Educational Leadership from Saint Louis University.

Horacio Sanchez, Owner and CEO, Resiliency Inc.

Keynote on November 1: Promoting Success for All Students


Horacio Sanchez is the President and CEO of Resiliency Inc., an agency leader in helping schools improve school climate, instruction, and discipline. Horacio is recognized as one of the nation's prominent experts on promoting student resiliency and applying brain science to improve school outcomes. The Maladaptive Council (Academy of Science) recognizes him as a leading authority on emotional disorders and resiliency. He is a highly sought-after speaker and has keynoted many national conferences.

Horacio has been a teacher, administrator, clinician, mental health director, and consultant to the Department of Education in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and other states. His diverse education and background have helped him to merge research, science, and practice. Horacio sits on True Health Initiative Council of Directors, a coalition of more than 250 world-renowned health experts, committed to educating on proven principles of lifestyle as medicine. He has authored several articles and books on the topics of resiliency, closing the achievement gap, and applying neuroscience to improve educational practices and outcomes. He is the author of the best-selling book, The Education Revolution published by Corwin Press, which applies brain science to improve instruction, behaviors, and school climate.

Robert Jackson, National/International Speaker, Robert Jackson Motivates

Keynote on November 2: No Excuses: Engagement Strategies for Parents, Educators and Students


For every problem, there is a solution is Robert’s motto.  Jackson began his teaching career 27 years ago in Indianapolis Public Schools with a No More Excuses teaching approach with all of his students after being cut from the NFL Minnesota Vikings in 1995. As an educator, he didn’t allow his students to feel sorry for themselves or let their circumstances define their futures. He set high expectations for his students and expected them to do well. As a Coach, the same rules applied. Those same students went from low performing to successful Pastors, Lawyers, School Administrators, Teachers, Pharmaceutical Sales Reps, Business Owners, Pro Athletes, Entertainers and more.

He has become one of the most sought-after speakers in the country, delivering keynote addresses and workshops to educators, administrators, parents and students, corporate events and churches. He has delivered 100’s of presentations and has become an expert in teaching cultural diversity, restorative practices, socio emotional learning, working with students who have experienced trauma and how to educate Black and Latino males. His goal is to teach educators and administrators how to use their power more effectively to Educate, Activate and Motivate all Students to be Successes.

Mr. Jackson has written and published 7 books and has written articles for ASCD EL Leadership Magazine. His ASCD book, “Becoming the Educator They Need: Strategies, Mindsets, and Beliefs for Supporting Male Black and Latino Students” won the Gold Excel Award for Technical Writing. His “No More Excuses” Curriculum has been featured in publications nationally and Is being utilized in K-12 Schools, Colleges and Universities in the US and Canada. His other books include, “Black Men Stand Up”, “A Boys Guide to Manhood”, “A Young Woman’s Guide to Womanhood”, “Put a Stop to Bullying”, “Solutions to Educating Black and Latino Males” and his soon to be released book, “Mothers Raising Sons.”

He attended Western Kentucky University where he received his BS Degree in Industrial Technology while lettering 4 years in both Football and Track. After being cut from the NFL he was broken himself and understands the importance of educators and administrators being sensitive to students who have experienced trauma and let downs. He teaches solutions while remaining deeply rooted in his commitment to serve his community as a speaker and mentor. He has keynoted and conducted workshops at national conferences including ASCD, ESEA, CAAASA, NABSE, SREB, Innovative Schools Summit, AMLE and AASA.

Mr. Jackson is a Life Member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., and the NFL Players Association. He has received numerous awards for his work including the NOBLE Justice by Action Youth Award, the Key to the City of Miami, Florida and the National Motivational Educator of the Year Award by the Alpha Foundation. 1000’s of youth and adults are being transformed through his speeches and presentations.

He is married to Essence Best Selling Author, Tajuana “TJ” Butler-Jackson and they have 3 children and 2 Grandkids.

“His motto is, “For Every Problem, there is a Solution”

Jimmy Day II, 2023 Colorado Teacher of the Year

Speaker on November 2


Day has taught at East Middle School since 2017. During his more than 13 years as an educator, he has rebuilt three band programs, transforming them into award winning programs that earned superior rating scores from district music festivals. As a result of his effective teaching, Day became a highly recommended educator to participate in the Public Education & Business Coalition and the Aurora Public School Mentoring Community of Practice. He received his Bachelor of Science in Music at Tennessee State University and his Master's of Arts and Teaching at Trevecca Nazarene University.