PIE Network 2018 Summit

  • Overview

Often described by advocates and policy thinkers alike as one of the best working meetings in the sector, the annual PIE Network Summit explores perspectives across the ideological spectrum and provides a roughly 60/40 split in structured sessions and unstructured networking opportunities to connect with colleagues from across the country.



For more than a decade, advocates for education reform have gathered from across the country to reflect, plan, and celebrate advances in public policy. Every year, the Summit welcomes new leaders to the Network, showcases states with big policy crescendos, and revisits states where implementation work is underway. This year brings the Network to New Orleans.


State leaders now wield the baton, and this year’s Summit will examine how increasing autonomy at the state level may be changing the cadence of reform. We’ll look back on lessons learned this past legislative season, explore emerging new policy ideas, and sharpen advocacy know-how to harmonize our efforts for greater impact.  


Questions or ideas about Summit programming? Contact erice@pie-network.org.


2018 Summit App

Looking for detailed information on Summit sessions, event attendees, and more? Please click here to download the event app.

  • Detailed Schedule

Below is a working draft agenda for the 2018 Summit. Times, topics, and titles could change as we build out a robust slate of moderators and discussants. Please check back for additional updates.

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Wed, October 3

Day One

1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Pre-meeting Workshops

Pelican 2

Management Workout: Developing Your Staff

This pre-meeting workshop is open to all Summit participants. 


In this session, we’ll reflect on how to develop the skills and performance of your staff, including when it makes sense to invest significant energy in developing a member of your staff. Learn how to model skills, give stretch assignments, and use “structured doing” to help your staff members grow.

Monique Ayotte-Hoeltzel,
The Management Center

Pelican 1

Harnessing the Power of Measurement in Parent Empowerment

This pre-meeting workshop is open to all Summit participants.


Advocates are constantly seeking better ways to inform and organize parents so they can exercise their innate power to change education systems. But what measures matter to maximize impact in this work? How can the right metrics support planning, executing, learning and attracting allies (and funders)? This session will share lessons on how organizations can harness the value of measurement based on a year-long collaboration of 17 organizations in the parent empowerment space.

Alex Cortez,
New Profit


The Power of Branding: What it Means and How to Engage It

This pre-meeting workshop is open to all Summit participants.


A brand is so much more than a logo, it’s a promise of an experience. In this session, we’ll discuss how to discover the heart of your brand and what it looks like to embody and express it across the entire organization so you can build deeper relationships and loyalty with those you serve.

Chris Everett,
Independent Brand Consultant


Collaboration Across State Lines: A Case Study of the Columbia Group

This pre-meeting workshop is open to all Summit participants.


How did a group of southeastern state education policy/advocacy groups forge a network across state lines 25 plus years ago? Learn how the Columbia Group formed a regional agenda for improving education and how you could replicate this model in your own region. The collective impact of the group’s newest report, Accelerating the Pace: The Future of Education in the American South and major poll of the region attests to the influence organizations with a willingness to collaborate can have in their states and region.

Diane Hopkins,
Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education
Alan Richard,
Education Writer
Thomas Rains,
A+ Partnership for Education

2:30 pm - 3:00 pm


3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Opening Breakout Sessions

Pelican 1

Testing Our Patience: The State of Accountability

Many advocates are anxious about what evolving accountability systems and changes to state tests might mean for equity, transparency, and improvement. This salon-style discussion will seek to understand lessons from recent challenges, help advocates gear up for legislative and advocacy work, and more broadly, explore where we should draw the line and where we might shift our approach to holding the system accountable for students’ outcomes.

Patricia Levesque,
Foundation for Excellence in Education
Charles Barone,
Democrats for Education Reform
Emily Anne Gullickson,
A for Arizona
Javaid Siddiqi,
The Hunt Institute

Pelican 2

Protests, Unions, and the Future of the Teaching Profession

After years of teacher quality reforms yielding mixed results, recent protests across the country, and a decline in union membership and power, how should education reformers think about teacher engagement and policy? In this session, leaders will diagnose recent challenges affecting the teaching profession, and facilitate a discussion to identify opportunities to ensure that great educators are supported in every classroom and heard in every state house.

Evan Stone,
Educators for Excellence
Roberto Rodriguez,
Teach Plus
Hanna Skandera,
Mile High Strategies
Kari Patrick,
STEAM Academy & Collaborative for Student Success


Building Bipartisanship Around Education Investment

After years of enjoying bi-partisan support, reform advocates now operate in an increasingly partisan landscape. In this session, advocates will discuss the current political landscape of reform and how to find the middle ground, drawing on experience building bipartisanship consensus around state investments in education and working with both sides of the aisle.

Scott Laband,
Colorado Succeeds
Toya Fick,
Stand for Children Oregon
Jamie Woodson,
Tennessee SCORE
Andy Smarick,
R Street Institute


A More "Equitable" Union?: Charter, Choice, & Traditional Public School Perspectives

What is educational equity? Ask five different people and you may get five different answers, each of them correct. In this discussion, we will talk with advocates and practitioners from different backgrounds, with differing views on “equity,” and differing policy approaches to achieving it.

Derrell Bradford,
Ian Rowe,
Public Prep
Lindsay Burke,
The Heritage Foundation
Halli Faulkner,
American Federation for Children
Brian Gutman,
The Education Trust-Midwest

4:30 pm - 5:00 pm


5:00 pm - 5:45 pm

Opening Welcome: Collaboration, Innovation, and Adaptability–The Rhythms of Reform

LaSalle Ballroom A

As education reformers, we now work in one of the most decentralized policymaking environments in decades. Finding our collective rhythm requires some new skill. We are joined by jazz educators who will demonstrate what effective co-creation sounds like when talented musicians listen and play together.

5:45 pm - 7:30 pm

Opening Networking Reception

LaSalle Ballroom A

Reconnect with old colleagues and meet new ones in a general networking reception where you will also find role-alike connecting opportunities (Executives, Communicators, Policy, Organizers, and others) hosted by Network leaders.

Thu, October 4

Day Two

7:45 am - 8:45 am


LaSalle Ballroom A

Networking Breakfast

LaSalle Ballroom B

Executive Directors' Breakfast

Gather your breakfast from the buffet and join other executive directors from member organizations for informal breakfast networking in the LaSalle B room.

8:45 am - 10:00 am

Breakout Sessions


Material World: The Challenges of Curriculum Reform

Educators and leaders spend significant time and energy in determining schools’ and districts’ curriculum. What is the potential impact of high-quality instructional materials, and what role can advocates play in initiating curriculum reform? In this conversation, participants will explore Louisiana’s promising state practices, educators’ independent reviews of instructional materials, and a PIE Network member’s efforts to boost learning through great curricula.

Robert Pondiscio,
Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Chanda Johnson,
Louisiana Department of Education
Eric Hirsch,
Peter Tang,
Tennessee SCORE

Pelican 1

Show Me the Money! Case Studies in Achieving More Equitable Charter Funding

The vast majority of charter schools face a gap in state and local funding. In recent years, achieving more equitable funding has been a focus of many in the charter school community. In this session, we will talk with advocates from four states about the specific policies they pursued to achieve more equitable funding and the specific strategies they used to get the policies across the finish line.

Mike Petrilli,
Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Andrew Broy,
Illinois Network of Charter Schools
Michael O'Sullivan,
Dan Schaller,
Colorado League of Charter Schools
Patricia Levesque,
Foundation for Excellence in Education


Tracking Progress: The Revival of Career and Technical Education

Career and technical education (CTE) has had a mixed history, but is experiencing a renaissance as employers struggle to fill job openings, students desire better preparation for employment, and technological advances threaten to disrupt the entire workforce ecosystem. This discussion will explore the shifting CTE landscape, the alignment of our education system with future needs, and other implications as CTE is increasingly looked to as a strategy to address our economy’s most pressing challenges.

Jason Quiara,
Joyce Foundation
Shannon Nicholas,
Colorado Succeeds
Tim Taylor,
America Succeeds
Lowell Matthews,
Foundation for Excellence in Education
Kim Green,
Advance CTE

Pelican 2

Pitching Powerful Stories to Ed Reporters

Do you need more hits from your reporter pitches? A cadre of recovering reporters (and current Network leaders) share insights on how to design a story pitch that generates news coverage that advances your mission. From cultivating a reporter relationship to anticipating multimedia news needs, this session will discuss the elements of building a better game plan and securing more coverage for your organization.

Teresa Wasson,
Tennessee SCORE
Tiffany Lankes,
The Education Trust-New York
Tanzi West Barbour,
Wayfinder Foundation
Caroline Hendrie,
Education Writers Association

LaSalle Ballroom B

Executive to Executive Consultancies

Join other executive directors for hosted conversation about opportunities and challenges unique to an executive director’s role. A listing of consultancy topics will be posted in the LaSalle B room during the executive breakfast. To propose or host a conversation on a particular topic, please reach out to Suzanne.

10:00 am - 10:30 am

Networking Break

10:30 am - 11:45 am

Breakout Sessions


Propping Up the Pipeline: Making Sense of Teacher Supply and Demand

“Teacher shortages” grab the headlines, but advocates are eager to get better data on the pipeline–from recruitment to preparation to retention–and to target their efforts accordingly. This conversation will get more specific about “shortages” (e.g. grades, subjects, geography, quality, diversity), explore implications for certification, and feature policy levers and campaign efforts to ensure great teachers.

Amanda Aragon,
Paige Kowalski,
Data Quality Campaign
Ginger Ostro,
Advance Illinois
Elizabeth Ross,
National Council on Teacher Quality


Building Momentum for Funding Reform: Grassroots Development, Communications, and Coalition Building

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are funding formulas. During this conversation, we’ll unpack recent successful campaigns to reform funding formulas and break down how advocates were able to create momentum for the effort, including building legislative champions, working through coalitions, and uplifting the voices of impacted communities.

Elisha Smith Arrillaga,
The Education Trust West
Teresa Ramos,
Advance Illinois
Neil Kirschling,
Rodel Foundation
Rev. Samuel Casey,
Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement (COPE)

Pelican 2

Inside Louisiana's Innovative Assessment Pilot

Get the inside scoop on the first state to receive approval from the U.S. Department of Education for the Innovative Assessment Pilot. The leaders of Louisiana’s Department of Education will pull back the curtain on how they identified the problem they’re solving for, how they gathered partners, and their preliminary plans for 2018 and 2019.

Jessica Baghain,
Louisiana Department of Education
John White,
Louisiana Department of Education
Chanda Johnson,
Louisiana Department of Education

Pelican 1

Charter Schools and the Shifting Political Landscape

On both sides of the aisle, charter schools have become a divisive issue in today’s political environment. In this session, advocates who interact and influence officials on both the right and the left will share insights into the common battles they face, and the strategies they use to advance their respective charter school agendas. We will also examine data from the latest Education Next poll.

Chris Korsmo,
League of Education Voters
Michael Henderson,
Manship School of Mass Communications; Louisiana State University
Terry Ryan,
Lisette Partelow,
Center for American Progress

11:45 am - 12:00 pm


12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Lunch & Discussion with Louisiana Superintendent John White

LaSalle Ballroom A

What has Louisiana learned while leading some of the country’s most ambitious education reforms? What policies and practices are showing the most promise, and where do we need to change course? Superintendent John White will speak about progress and lessons from the Bayou State, then join a conversation with PIE Network members Carrie Griffin Monica of Stand for Children Louisiana and Eva Kemp of Democrats for Education Reform Louisiana.

Keynote Speaker
John White
State Superintendent, Louisiana Department of Education
Jamie Woodson
Executive Chairman and CEO, Tennessee SCORE
Joy Phillips
Team Captain, Stand for Children Louisiana
Carrie Griffin Monica
Executive Director, Stand for Children Louisiana
Eva Kemp
State Director, Democrats for Education Reform Louisiana

1:30 pm - 1:45 pm


1:45 pm - 3:00 pm

Breakout Sessions

Pelican 2

Finance Policy Reforms States Can Adopt Now

Although states rarely open their funding formulas to change, there are actionable policies advocates can pursue to move the needle toward fairer and more equitable funding systems. In this policy session, top fiscal wonks will discuss policies that advocates can tackle now to lay the groundwork for funding reform, in addition to the future of funding formulas.

Atnre Alleyne,
Marguerite Roza,
Edunomics Lab
David Rosenberg,
Education Resource Strategies
Rebecca Sibilia,


Measuring Success of School Choice Programs

Test-based accountability for traditional public schools continues to spark heated discussions, and in many states there’s increasingly a push to evaluate charter schools and other school choice programs in the same manner. Is this the right approach? What factors should be used in determining the overall success of a school choice program? Are there innovative ways to evaluate choice programs that could influence the broader educational system?

Chad Aldis,
Thomas B. Fordham Institute - Ohio
Robert Enlow,
Veronica Brooks-Uy,
National Association of Charter School Authorizers
Adam Peshek,
Foundation for Excellence in Education

Pelican 1

Forward Motion or Going Through the Motions: School Improvement under ESSA

With most ESSA plans approved by the federal government, states have begun working in earnest to improve schools. However, these blueprints offer little of the detailed prescriptions that were once standard. Some have applauded this hands-off tack, but others worry this approach will stunt meaningful change. Participants will discuss the improvement options available, and offer recommendations for how states might best use their new autonomy to help struggling schools.

Dale Chu,
Independent Consultant
Adam Ezring,
Collaborative for Student Success
Allison Socol,
The Education Trust
Georgia Heyward,
Center on Reinventing Public Education
Chris Gabrieli,
Empower Schools


Revamping State Report Cards Through Policy, Communications, & Engagement

At least 27 states across the country are currently working to revamp state report cards, creating a critical opportunity for advocates to make sure meaningful data is easy to find, use, and understand. Learn from multiple states—working in different contexts and taking unique approaches—about how advocates can serve as critical friends, driving strategic communications, and in some cases, the loudest voice pushing policy forward to ensure stakeholders can access quality information.

Brennan Parton,
Data Quality Campaign
Seth Litt,
Parent Revolution
Alex Deiro,
Stand for Children Louisiana
Erica Felker,
HCM Strategies

3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Networking Break & Table Talks

LaSalle Ballroom A

Table Talks offer an opportunity to host or join a small group discussion on a specific topic, issue, or challenge. A list of options will be available in the ballroom.

4:00 pm - 5:15 pm

Breakout Sessions

Pelican 1

How to Survive and Thrive Amid Electoral Transitions

Changes in elected leadership can have a swift impact on the work of state advocates. But how can organizations effectively manage and navigate times when the political landscape is changing? Whether that is a party or leadership change in the legislature or the governor’s office, what is the best way to plan for and manage these situations? In this session, we will talk with advocates who have been through times of change and hear the strategies they used to not only survive, but thrive.

Luke Ragland,
Taylor Hall,
Tennessee SCORE
Eva Kemp,
Democrats for Education Reform Louisiana
Javaid Siddiqi,
The Hunt Institute


Lessons from NOLA: Community Engagement in Times of Change

This discussion will explore the extent to which community members—families, educators, and others—were (or were not) engaged as partners in the changes that took place in New Orleans over the past dozen years. Leaders will share insights from their experiences of the reforms, and offer broader lessons for advocates about the successes, failures, and unintended consequences of their community engagement efforts in times of great change.

Peter Cook,
Dana Peterson,
Recovery School District
Erika McConduit,
The Education Trust
Lorraine Fedison-Winder,
Langston Hughes Charter


Beyond the Classroom: Addressing Out of School Factors that Impact Learning

Education reform has bet big on the transformational power of schools. We also know that it’s hard to ignore all the factors in students’ lives that influence learning. What are the empirical, strategic, political, and moral reasons for reformers to address or not address out-of-school factors? Network leaders will discuss these growing tensions in education reform and help advocates think about where our work might go in the future.

Paul Herdman,
Rodel Foundation of Delaware
Kenya Bradshaw,
Mike Petrilli,
Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Toya Fick,
Stand for Children Oregon

5:15 pm - 6:15 pm


Le Salon Pre-Function Area

6:15 pm - 8:00 pm

The Eddies! Dinner & Awards Ceremony

LaSalle Ballroom A

The Eddies! is an Oscars-style awards ceremony that recognizes leading advocacy work. The night is billed as “one part roast; one part toast.” Join us for a night of hearty laugher and inspiration as we honor exemplar advocacy from the past year.

Fri, October 5

Day Three

8:00 am - 9:00 am

Coffee & Beignets

Pelican Pre-Function Area

9:00 am - 10:30 am

Breakout Sessions

Pelican 2

Beyond the Bill: Influencing Implementation

Many advocates work to change policy by passing strong legislation. But what happens next? In this conversation, leaders will discuss ways that advocates can be involved when legislation is implemented, including how to directly support the policy’s implementation, monitor and evaluate the implementation process, and how to take action and hold the state accountable when implementation doesn’t go well.

Rachel Canter,
Mississippi First
Raymond Allmon,
Leadership for Educational Equity
Monica Cox,
Stand for Children Oregon
Dan Cruce,
Hope Street Group
Andrew Roethke,

Pelican 1

Personalized Learning: Passing Fad or Future Trend?

Support and interest in personalized learning is reaching a crescendo. After all, who wants to support the implied alternative: impersonal learning? But what does the term mean? Are we at risk of getting ahead of ourselves? And how should states go about implementation? Panelists will seek a shared definition, identify current obstacles, and provide lessons on the promises and perils of this burgeoning policy area.

Karla Phillips,
Foundation for Excellence in Education
Chris Liang-Vergara,
LEAP Innovations
Joel Rose,
New Classrooms
Paul Toner,
Teach Plus Massachusetts


Standing the Test of Time: The Future of Assessments in Education

What is the purpose of tests, and how do they meet (or not meet) the needs of families, educators, policymakers, and other stakeholders? As our education systems evolve, how, too, should assessments evolve? In this discussion, test-makers will share ideas for what’s possible–for assessments, AI, and other technology currently in development–and advocates can voice their needs and concerns for the future of assessments.

Aimee Guidera,
Guidera Strategy
Lesley Muldoon,
CenterPoint Education Solutions
Gary Mainor,
Jeff Carlson,
College Board
Dave Adams,

10:30 am - 10:45 am


10:45 am - 12:30 pm

Jazz Brunch: Where Do We Go From Here?

LaSalle Ballroom A

End the Summit on a high note—literally. Enjoy a performance from local students during this Jazz Brunch, and hear talks from leaders sharing inspiration and ideas for the question, “Where does education reform go from here?”

Aimee Guidera
President, Guidera Strategy
Roberto Rodriguez
President and CEO, Teach Plus
Kenya Bradshaw
VP, Community Engagement and Policy, TNTP
Myles Mendoza
Executive Director, Empower Illinois
Dairion Weber
High School Student
  • How to prepare


Registration is currently open to Nework members, including advocacy organizations and national partners, and any of their invited guests. If you have questions or need more information about registration, please contact julie@pie-network.org.



The Summit provides a roughly 60/40 split in structured sessions and unstructured networking opportunities to connect with colleagues from across the country. As you consider whom to include on your team, consider their ability to maximize this networking time.


PIE Network members, including state advocacy organizations and national partners, are encouraged to bring whomever best reinforces their work. This could include external partners like board members, funders, community leaders etc.


In order to ensure there is room for representatives from all member organizations, please initially limit your team to four people. Later this summer, we will open the remaining seats to additional members and friends of the Network. (At this point, we will no longer be able to guarantee four seats for unregistered member organizations.)



A discounted room rate of $199 is available for Summit participants at the InterContinental Hotel in downtown New Orleans (444 St. Charles Avenue). This rate is available until Sept. 14 or until rooms sell out. The PIE Network hosts all meals and meeting fees, while participants are responsible for lodging and travel. If you have any questions about lodging or would like to make your hotel reservation online, please email julie@pie-network.org.



The closest airport to the hotel is Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY).


Participants are responsible for travel to and from the airport. Both taxis and app-based ride services like Lyft or Uber are readily available. Taking a taxi or a Lyft or Uber from the airport to the hotel will cost roughly $40 and take approximately 30 minutes.


Frequently Asked Summit Questions

What is the address of the meeting hotel?

The InterContinental New Orleans is located at 444 St. Charles Avenue.


When does the discounted room rate expire at the InterContinental?

The discounted room rate at the InterContinental New Orleans expires on Sept. 14.


Which meals are provided by the Network during Summit?

The Summit will kick off with a welcome reception on Wednesday evening, Oct. 3 with drinks and light appetizers. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner will be provided on Thursday, Oct. 4. On Friday, Oct. 5, a light breakfast and brunch will be provided.


What attire is appropriate?

Summit is never an overly formal affair. Business casual attire is the norm. If you’re joining us for the Eddies! on Thursday night, Oct. 4, some participants do choose to wear cocktail attire.


  • The Eddies!

What are the Eddies! Awards?

The Eddies! is an Oscars-style awards ceremony built into the Network’s Summit that recognizes leading advocacy work. The night is billed as “one part roast; one part toast” and has become for many a highly anticipated part of the Summit. Over time, we’ve seen that this recognition is deeply valued by past winners who list the award in bios and display the statue prominently in their offices.


One of our greatest strengths as a Network is working together to spread impact and know-how. In that spirit, we’re proud to feature excellent policymaking and advocacy campaigns from the past year, telling the story of how education policy was advanced one state at a time.

How can I make nominations for 2018?

You can nominate an advocate or organization that has done great work between now and Wednesday, August 15, 2018 (and because we don’t always know what’s happening in every statehouse, you can also nominate yourself or your organization). Meanwhile, catch up on the 2017 nominees.



Interested in learning more about how winners are selected? Read through the 2018 Eddies! Q & A.