Register for the 2023 SEF Issues Forum, Nov. 14-17 in Charlotte, NC

2023 SEF Issues Forum Agenda

Nov. 14-17 in Charlotte, NC

The Southern Education Foundation’s 2023 Issues Forum, Miles to Go: Fulfilling the Promise of Racial Equity in Education, is set for Nov. 14-17, 2023, at The Westin in Charlotte, NC. At the Forum, we will gather to discuss education justice during plenary panels and over 30 breakout sessions led by practitioners, researchers, and other professionals. Find an overview of the forum agenda below and register now to stay up to date as more details are announced.


2023 SEF Issues Forum Agenda

Tuesday, Nov. 14

Kick-Off Event: Desegregation in Charlotte and Its Impact on America
featuring key figures in the Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education case

Wednesday, Nov. 15

Opening Remarks: U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten

Plenary Session: A New Day for Early Learners in the South: Steps Toward More Successful Starts
Early childhood experts from across the country will discuss new strategies in state policy and advocacy to make support systems for young children more equitable. Researchers also will present new data on how the federal government can more equitably fund the broader early childhood education ecosystem.

Scheduled Speakers:

  • Felicia Cummings Smith, President of National Center for Families Learning and Kentucky Early Childhood Education Task Force Chair
  • Kathy Thornburg, Professor, University of Missouri
  • Rochelle Wilcox, Early Childhood and Child-Care Advocate, Louisiana
  • Moderator: Bryan Buroughs, Chief Operating Officer, Institute for Child Success, South Carolina

Morning Breakout Sessions

Plenary Session: Desegregation Strategies of the Past, Resegregation in the Present, Strategies for Education Equity in the Future

Leading education and civil rights advocates — and federal education officials — will discuss desegregation strategies that have worked, where school segregation stands now, and possible new strategies for addressing it in the future.

Scheduled Speakers:

  • Wade Henderson, Senior Advisor, Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights, Washington, DC
  • Damon Hewitt, President and Executive Director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Washington, DC
  • Additional speakers to be announced

Afternoon Breakout Sessions

Thursday, Nov. 16

Plenary Session: Making K-12 Education Resources More Equitable for Students Enrolled in Historically Underinvested Schools
Many schools today face a host of opportunity gaps that present major challenges to the goal of improving educational outcomes for all students, particularly students of color. Further, the connections are undeniable between school funding disparities and continued racial segregation in public schools and districts. How can we learn from our past and develop new solutions to increase opportunity, address resource disparities and racial segregation, and tackle other key issues in education?

Scheduled Speakers:

  • Sheryl Croft, Associate Professor, Kennesaw State University, Georgia
  • Victor Jones, Education Special Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Louisiana
  • Ira Murray, Associate Director of Research and Development – Initiative for Race Research and Justice, Vanderbilt University, Tennessee
  • Andre Perry, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution, Washington, DC
  • Moderator from Brown’s Promise (an initiative based at the Southern Education Foundation), Washington, DC

Breakout Sessions

Networking Lunch

Breakout Sessions

Plenary Session: Making College Opportunity More Equitable in a Post-Affirmative Action World
In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2023 ban on race as a primary consideration in college admissions, how can the South and nation strengthen resolve to help more Black and Latinx students attend and succeed in college? Higher education leaders, experts, and scholars discuss the changing higher education landscape.

Scheduled Speakers:

  • Steve Bumbaugh, Senior Vice President for College, Career, and Digital Access, College Board, Washington, D.C.
  • Stacy Hawkins, Professor, Rutgers Law School, New Jersey
  • Kim Hunter Reed, Commissioner of Higher Education, Louisiana
  • Scott Palmer, Managing Partner and Co-Founder, EducationCounsel, Washington, D.C.
  • Additional speakers to be announced

Friday, Nov. 17

Plenary Session: The Wisdom of Youth: Students’ Vision for Improving Education in the South: Students are becoming more active in education policy issues and were instrumental in efforts to defeat universal private school vouchers in Georgia, Texas, and other states this year. What do young people say we need to improve our public schools, colleges and universities, and educational opportunities in our communities and across the country?

Scheduled Speakers:

  • Alex Ames, Georgia Youth Justice Coalition, PEER, Georgia
  • DaQuan Brown, 2023 Ginny Looney Servant Award Winner, Georgia
  • Zoë Jenkins, senior advisor at Kentucky Student Voice Team, Virginia
  • Additional speakers to be announced

Breakout sessions