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EduLab@LightCity presented by University System of Maryland

Wednesday, April 18

Rethink learning. Join future-focused education innovators for a dialogue on the central role of education in our society.

• EduLab kicks off with Atman and Ali Smith of the Holistic Life Foundation in conversation with Rhonda Richetta, Principal of City Springs Elementary/Middle School, moderated by Karen Webber. City Springs implemented restorative practices in 2007 resulting in a tremendous transformation in school climate and significant reduction in school suspensions. They have shown that when teachers and administrators give students voice—allowing them to speak up and for themselves—a culture develops that is conducive to learning.

• Professor Christine Mallinson from UMBC will take on codeswitching in a talk entitled, “Baltimore: An Incubator of Language Diversity.”

• Two national leaders in the Black Male Achievement movement, Shawn Dove and Matthew Kincaid will be interviewed by acclaimed journalist, Barbara Hamm Lee, in a panel entitled, “Where Do We Go From Here? Building Communities & Schools for Black Boys’ Success”

• Acclaimed writer and local professor, Marion Winik, will look at the power of words in a talk titled, “Take a Sad Song & Make it Better.”

• In a lightning round, called “Dear Mr. President,” three local EdTech entrepreneurs - Chris Sleat, Nichole Tucker Smith, and Sean Tackett - will share what they’d say if they were given five minutes with the President.

• We’ll look at the education implications of the recent Casey Foundation Report on Reshaping Workforce Development in Baltimore with three young leaders who led the project: Shawn Burnett, DeJuan Patterson and Victoria Bryan

• Jimmie Thomas and DevRock, of the Media Rhythm Institute will discuss the power of  “Using Hip Hop as a cultural lens for education.”

• Leader of the national EdFinTech movement and CEO of Allovue, Jess Gartner, will talk about “The Resource Gap,” sharing the real story about funding in Baltimore City Public Schools.

• We’ll close the day with rockstar, professor, filmmaker, Thomas Dolby, in a high-energy, multimedia talk focused on the future of higher ed entitled, “Are we ready for the $4,000 college degree?

Dr. Kim Schatzel, President, Towson University

Dr. Kim Schatzel began leading Towson University as its 14th president on January 26, 2016. Her eight presidential priorities strategically build on TU’s momentum as Maryland’s second largest and fastest growing university, as well as the largest university—public or private—in Greater Baltimore. During her tenure, with more than 190 partnerships at work, TU has strengthened its commitment as an anchor institution for Greater Baltimore; established the Office of Inclusion and Institutional Equity and hired the university’s inaugural vice-president to lead its advancement; and embarked on a comprehensive communications strategy to retell the contemporary story of Towson University and its significant positive impact on Baltimore, Maryland, and the entire Mid-Atlantic Region.

Atman Smith, Co-founder, Holistic Life Foundation

Atman Smith is a Co-founder's of the Holistic Life Foundation, where he served as Director of Youth Programming for ten years Director of Fundraising for five years and currently serves as the Director of Development. Since 2001, he has been teaching yoga and mindfulness to a diverse population including underserved and high-risk youth in Baltimore City Public Schools, drug treatment centers, wellness centers, and colleges.

Ali Smith, Co-founder, Holistic Life Foundation

Ali Smith co-founded the Holistic Life Foundation in 2001, where he currently serves as Executive Director. He has over 15 years of experience teaching yoga and mindfulness to diverse populations. Through his work at the Holistic Life Foundation he has helped develop and pilot yoga and mindfulness programs at public and private schools, drug treatment centers, juvenile detention centers, mental crisis facilities, and retreat centers, nationally and internationally.

Rhonda Richetta, Principal, City Springs Elementary/Middle School

Principal Richetta has been principal at City Springs for the past eleven years. The enrollment at City Springs has increased significantly during her tenure from 355 students in 2007 to 765 students in 2018. Principal Richetta led the implementation of restorative practices at City Springs beginning in 2007 that resulted in a tremendous transformation in school climate and culture and significant reduction in school suspensions. City Springs has received local and national recognition for its implementation of restorative practices and positive school climate.   

Christine Mallinson, Professor of Language, Literacy, and Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)

Christine Mallinson is Professor of Language, Literacy, and Culture at UMBC. The author of three books and numerous journal articles, her research and teaching focus on how language differences can affect student outcomes, and she regularly works with K-12 teachers across the U.S. to help make classrooms and schools more culturally and linguistically inclusive. She is also an expert on Baltimore speech and shares information about linguistic diversity on her website,

Shawn Dove, CEO, Campaign for Black Male Achievement

Shawn Dove serves as the CEO of the Campaign for Black Male Achievement (CBMA), a national membership organization of more than 4,700 leaders representing over 2,600 organizations nationwide that seeks to ensure the growth, sustainability and impact of leaders and organizations committed to improving the life outcomes of Black men and boys. He launched CBMA at the Open Society Foundations in 2008 and spun it off into an independent entity in 2015.  Dove has demonstrated catalytic leadership in helping to establish and develop the emerging field of Black Male Achievement. He has served as a lead organizer of the Executives' Alliance to Expand Opportunities for Boys & Young Men of Color; brokered a partnership between Open Society Foundations, Bloomberg Philanthropies and the City of New York to launch the Young Men's Initiative (YMI); helped seed the launch of the White House's My Brother's Keeper Initiative, as well as a number of other national and local initiatives advancing Black male achievement.  Prior to leading CBMA, Dove held over 20 years of leadership experience as a youth development professional, community builder and advocate for children and families, with organizations such as The DOME Project, Harlem Children's Zone and MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership. Dove earned a BA in English from Wesleyan University and is a graduate of Columbia University Business School's Institute for Not-for-Profit Management.  

Matthew Kincaid, Founder, Overcoming Racism

Matthew Kincaid is an educator and activist who has been leading anti-racism workshops for over fourteen years. Kincaid has worked as both a teacher and school administrator in New Orleans. As a teacher, Matthew’s classroom practices focused on building student self-esteem, cultural awareness, and literacy of the systems of oppression his students would have to navigate as a vehicle to drive academic performance. As a school administrator Kincaid lead a host of initiatives within his school and network from cultivating a positive school-wide culture, to restorative discipline practices, to implementing anti-racist and culturally responsive pedagogy. Kincaid founded Overcoming Racism an organization that works to develop culturally responsive schools and practitioners. Overcoming Racism works with schools providing intensive race and equity training and consulting providing schools with the tools to address the reality of systemic racism both inside and outside of the classroom. After being selected as one of the top five education startups to watch in New Orleans, Overcoming Racism works in schools around the country, training educators who go on to impact thousands of students. The founder of Overcoming Racism is currently a fellow of the Red Bull Amaphiko Social Entrepreneurs academy, his work has been featured in GOOD magazine, at AFROpunk and SXSW. This year Matthew is recognized as one of 100 visionary leaders by “Real Leaders 100.”

Shawn Burnett

The art gave Shawn Burnett freedom from his Baltimore neighborhood. In middle school he experimented with cartoons, fashion design, dance and culinary arts. After hosting a local event, people began asking him about visual and performing art workshops for youth. He noticed schools minimizing art courses, so he decided to study nonprofit leadership and political science at Coppin State University. Burnett started Walks of ART in 2011, which holds art-based workshops up to three times a week in Southern Park Heights. The goal of Walks of ART is to have a positive impact on the cognitive development, emotional health and social lives of underserved youth in the city through arts education, recreation and mentoring.  

DeJuan Patterson, Businessman, public servant, and community organizer

DeJuan Patterson is a businessman, public servant, and community organizer. He received both his Bachelors in Psychology and his MPA in Public Policy from Bowie State University. He is currently the Executive Director of The BeMore Group. Patterson deems himself a “social impact consultant” for Baltimore, where he uses strategic planning and economic development as channels to highlight and solve the challenges in the community. Economic Empowerment is dear to his mission of education, he has led and contributed his expertise to programs within under-served communities. His professional interests include societal issues in education, public policy, equity, economic empowerment and ethnic/racial studies.

Imani Victoria Bryan, Health and Policy Analyst, Baltimore City Health Department’s Office of Youth Violence Prevention

Imani Victoria Bryan is the Health and Policy Analyst for the Baltimore City Health Department’s Office of Youth Violence Prevention. In this position, she combines technical knowledge and hands-on leadership experience with program development, operations, and sustainability.  Bryan’s experiences cross several industries including, government agencies, healthcare, philanthropy, consulting groups, non-profits and private sector organizations. Bryan is a social change agent cross-trained in public health, nursing, and anthropological research. 

Thomas Dolby, Professor of the Arts at Johns Hopkins University

The list of breakthrough innovations in Thomas Dolby’s 35-year career is continuous. As an early MTV icon he blazed a trail for electronic music with his imaginative videos. The same year as his own record reached the top of the pop/dance charts, he co-wrote and produced the first ever platinum-selling rap 12” single “Magic’s Wand” by Whodini. His synth playing and production have graced the recordings of Foreigner, Def Leppard, George Clinton and Joni Mitchell, earning five Grammy nominations. Thomas Dolby has created original music for feature films produced by George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Ken Russell; he has appeared with The Muppets, and on numerous TV shows from Soul Train to The Late Show. In 2014 he was named Johns Hopkins University’s first Homewood Professor of the Arts. He helped launch the JHU/MICA Film Center in Station North, and is now teaching at the Peabody Institute where this Fall he will establish the first USA’s first undergraduate degree course in VR music and sound.

Jess Gartner, CEO & Founder, Allovue

Jess Gartner is the CEO and founder of Allovue, an education technology company that empowers K-12 educators to strategically and equitably allocate financial resources. She has been awarded for her innovation and entrepreneurship. Gartner has also been featured as one of Forbes Magazine’s 30 Under 30 in Education, Baltimore Sun’s Women to Watch and Baltimore Business Journal’s 40 Under 40. Gartner was an adjunct professor at Towson University and a Teach for America Baltimore corps member who taught middle school humanities in Baltimore City. She loves mentoring female founders and is a staunch advocate for diversity and inclusion. Gartner received her MA in Teaching from Johns Hopkins University.

Marion Winik

University of Baltimore professor and book critic Marion Winik is the host of The Weekly Reader on WYPR. She is the author of nine books, with a new one coming this fall -- "The Baltimore Book of the Dead."

Karen E. Webber, Director of the Education and Youth Development program, Open Society Institute-Baltimore

Karen E. Webber is the director of the Education and Youth Development program at Open Society Institute-Baltimore. Previously, Webber was the executive director of the Office of Student Support and Safety at Baltimore City Schools where she worked both on policies and practices that contributed to the school suspension and expulsion rates decreasing dramatically. Before moving to this position with the district administration, she served as a principal in a Baltimore City school. Prior to her career in education, Webber earned her law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and focused on civil rights. She also served as the executive director of the Open Housing Center in New York and the Public Justice Center in Baltimore.

Sara K. Muempfer, Senior Associate, The Annie E. Casey Foundation

Sara K. Muempfer is the senior associate at The Annie E. Casey Foundation. Previously, Muempfer was the director of workforce development at the Maryland Department of Human Resources, and led the TANF and SNAP E&T workforce development programs. She earned a BS in Human Development Family Studies from Pennsylvania State University. She holds a Global Career Development Facilitator credential and is a recent graduate of DHR’s Leadership Development Initiative and the Weinberg Sector Skills Academy. 

Christopher Sleat, CEO, Workbench

Christopher Sleat is the CEO of Workbench, A serial entrepreneur, market visionary and inspirational leader who consistently achieves extraordinary results. Repeat success in launching and growing new businesses in the software and services space. Driven by a deep desire to deliver disruptive solutions to old problems at scale. He is deeply passionate about finding ways to make it easier to teach and learn with experiences by removing barriers to the point that the end result is, "why would we teach and learn any other way?"


Jimmie Thomas, Curators of Hip Hop, Media Rhythm Institute

Jimmie Thomas received his bachelor's degree from Florida A&M University Broadcast Journalism program in 2009. Upon graduation, he worked for Morris Communication in Baltimore, MD as an Account Executive. He is the co-founder of Curators of Hip Hop, an online platform that focuses on cultivating and preserving hip-hop culture and music.  

Sean Tackett, Research Director, Osmosis

Dr. Tackett is Research Director for Osmosis, a web and mobile application used by health professions students. He oversees all Osmosis research activities and supports Osmosis content development related to the theories and science of learning. He is also a practicing internal medicine physician and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, where he teaches clinical medicine to medical students and resident physicians and provides mentorship to faculty on curriculum development and medical education research projects.

Nicole Tucker-Smith, Founder and CEO, Lessoncast

Nicole Tucker-Smith is founder and CEO of Lessoncast, an ed tech platform that helps schools develop, capture, share, and spread effective teaching practices. Prior to leading Lessoncast she served as a teacher, supervisor of parent support services, principal, and systemwide coordinator of professional development for Baltimore County Schools. She also led state-level initiatives for Johns Hopkins University Center for Technology in Education and currently teaches in the JHU Administration and Supervision program. Tucker-Smith presents internationally on Universal Design for Learning and education innovation. In founding Lessoncast, she believes the future of student learning depends on our ability to merge innovative best practices with classroom realities. 


Barbara Hamm Lee

Barbara Hamm Lee is the Executive Producer and Host of Another View, a weekly call-in talk show that “discusses today’s issues from an African American perspective”.   She has also held the position of Project Director for the National Federation of Community Broadcasters’ African American Public Radio Stations Initiative, consulting with 26 African American public radio stations on compliance, governance, development, programming and community engagement.  She has served as Creative Services Officer, Chief Communications Officer, Chief Public Affairs Officer and Chief Community Engagement Officer, all with WHRO Public Media. 


Stephen Babcock, Market Editor, Baltimore

Stephen Babcock is Market Editor for Baltimore and DC. A graduate of Northeastern University, he moved to Baltimore following stints in New Orleans and Rio Arriba County, New Mexico. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Baltimore Fishbowl, NOLA Defender, Times-Picayune and the Rio Grande Sun.