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Theme & Focus

The conference theme and focuses come from YOU.

We use your responses to our Annual Survey to invite presenters and structure a program that best reflects what you need right now.

2024 Conference Theme

Literacy and Beyond”

The 2024 Conference Committee has selected “Literacy and Beyond” as our 2024 theme. Thanks to those who suggested this, or something similar, in the 2023-24 Annual Survey!

Why this theme?

In 2023, we focused on innovation and possibility with “Literacy Unleashed”. Now in 2024, we hope to explore what comes next – to bust some myths around narrow definitions of literacy, and look at both the expected and the unexpected places where literacy can transform lives.

What’s universal in literacy?
What’s changing?
What role do new technologies like AI play in teaching and learning?

We’ll look at all of it with “Literacy and Beyond.”

We’re planning a variety of sessions that explore this idea from different angles – an exploration of the many ways the world can open up for Texas adults and families once they’ve achieved the literacy level they want and need.

2024 Focuses

2024 focus topics coming soon!

In the 2023 Annual Survey, your highest-priority topics were:

  • Using data, effective program evaluation
  • Integrating workplace skills into programs
  • The needs of low-literate learners
  • Effective leadership

We prioritized these topics when putting together this year’s conference program, inviting special guest presenters, and selecting sessions from our Request for Proposals.

2024 Guest Speakers

2024 guest speakers coming soon!

Aguilera, Jackie

Jacqueline Aguilera
Project Manager
Mayor’s Office of Adult Literacy – Houston

Featured Breakout Session Presenter

Digital + Health + Literacy: A Prescripton for Adult Ed & Career Pathways
Hard Skills Open the Door. Soft Skills Build The Future.

Jacqueline “Jackie” Aguilera has logged 38 years of diverse experience across educational and non-profit sectors. With a focus on adult literacy, she has left an indelible mark on various initiatives and projects in the multi-layered field of adult literacy.

As an experienced adult education innovations designer, she earned a 2021 Ford Foundation Mujeres Legendarias Award for creative ed tech applications in adult education.

Her service impact also extends beyond the classroom into the workforce. She empowers both employers and employees through worksite literacy training and independent consulting.

She leads a local fellowship of adult education providers called the Houston Area Adult Literacy Collective (the incredible HAALC), serves on many committees, boards, and projects impacting adult learners and families, all while serving as Project Manager for Houston’s Mayor’s Office for Adult Literacy.

In summary, Jacqueline’s multifaceted career reflects a lifelong dedication to advancing literacy and education across diverse communities and platforms. Currently on a journey through breast cancer treatment, she is more than ever committed to advancing the lives of all those she serves, making her a messenger of inspiration, innovation, and evolution.

Mahalia Baldini

Mahalia Baldini
AEL State Director
Texas Workforce Commission

Opening Speaker – Tuesday, July 30:
“The State of the State in Adult Education”

What’s new in Adult Education and Literacy across Texas? What role do community-based organizations play in meeting the literacy challenges of the state?

Mahalia Baldini was named the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) Adult Education and Literacy (AEL) State Director in September 2020 after serving as the program’s supervisor for over six years. She earned her B.A in Journalism from the University of Kentucky and her Master’s in Education from Texas State University. Mrs. Baldini has spent the last fifteen years integrating workforce and economic development with educational solutions that center on outcomes for low and middle skill workers. She believes in and values a system that supports equitable education and learning opportunities that focus on an individual’s academic preparedness and advancement as well as the social and emotional intelligence needed to contribute to a positive work culture aligned to employer needs.

Vicki Clark

Vicki Clark
Vicki Clark Consulting

Featured Breakout Session Presenter

Inclusive Leadership: Unleashing the Power of All of Us
Navigating Change and Transformation: 21st-Century Board Governance

Vicki Clark is an optimist. She loves people and shows up in the world as a learner and a servant leader.

Based in Memphis, Tennessee, Vicki has devoted the past 30 years of her career to building capacity of organizations and individuals; inspiring community and business leaders to take action. She is known for her work in the specialty areas of leadership development, inclusion and diversity, equity, inclusion, antiracism assessment, training and facilitation, board development, strategic planning, volunteer resource development and effective communication. Her work spans dozens of corporate clients, nonprofits and government organizations.

She sits on numerous boards, including the National Diaper Bank, and is a regular trainer at community and leadership organizations such as United Way and the Association of Junior Leagues International. Her work as a consultant, coach, trainer and speaker have given her infinite opportunities to learn from and share with people from all walks of life.

Vicki meets people where they are, never gives up, and believes in the power of prayer. Even at her age and with all that she has experienced, she continues to be A WORK IN PROGRESS.

Headshot - presenter Wendy Ogren

Wendy Ogren
Vice President of Services
The Center for Nonprofit Management

Featured Breakout Session Presenter

Program Evaluation: A Key Component of Program Management (2-part session)
Now What? Applying Evaluation Results

As the Vice President of Services at the CNM (Center for Nonprofit Management) in Dallas, Texas, Wendy is responsible for ensuring quality service delivery to all CNM partners. She has over 30 years of experience working with nonprofits and congregations on program development, implementation, and evaluation. Wendy has led teams of internal and external stakeholders in children and family services, food insecurity, and early learning spaces.

Before coming to CNM, Wendy served as the VP of Early Childhood Programs at ChildCareGroup, where she was responsible for providing high quality early learning experiences for approximately 1,500 low-income children through three service models. Previously, Wendy worked at Second Harvest Heartland, a large food bank in St. Paul, MN, where she led outreach programs for food insecure populations and capacity building efforts for community partners. Wendy holds a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry and a Master of Science in Christian Ministry from Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas.

Sanchez, Horacio

Horacio Sanchez
President and CEO
Resiliency Inc.

Featured Breakout Session Presenter

The Neuroscience of Reading
How Empathy Impacts Reading (2-part session)
The Crucial Role of Relationship Building in Reading Proficiency

Horacio Sanchez is a highly sought-after speaker and educational consultant, helping schools learn to apply neuroscience to improve educational outcomes. He presents on diverse topics such as overcoming the impact of poverty, improving school climate, engaging in brain-based instruction, and addressing issues related to implicit bias. He is recognized as one of the nation’s leading authorities on resiliency and applied brain science.

Horacio has been a teacher, administrator, clinician, mental health director, and consultant to school districts across the United States. Horacio sits on the True Health Initiative Council of Directors, a coalition of more than 250 world-renowned health experts committed to educating on proven lifestyle principles as medicine. He is the author of the best-selling book, The Education Revolution, which applies brain science to improve instruction, behaviors, and school climate. His new best-seller, The Poverty Problem, explains how education can promote resilience and counter poverty’s impact on brain development and functioning.

Stephens, Fran-Victoria

Fran-Victoria Stephens
Story Square

Featured Breakout Session Presenter

Fran-Victoria Stephens is a former attorney and journalist who became the Founder and President of Story Square, Inc. – an evidence-based education social enterprise. After the pandemic, when she witnessed firsthand how parents faced the daunting task of serving as their children’s primary resource for education, she decided parents needed to experience the mission and spirit of Story Square on a larger stage. So, in 2022 she expanded the organization’s work and began Story Square’s Lit with Families Texas Family Literacy Festival, which takes place annually at downtown Houston’s Discovery Green.

Fran-Victoria is an impact addict and obsessed with the impact today’s small actions have on enduring change for our future. She is an avid researcher, writer, civil rights and education advocate, lecturer, and a self-proclaimed neoteric. She specializes in building new things. From idea generation, process design, implementation, and then evaluation, she has created lectures, programs, and Story Square with a focus on operationalizing her passion and education in civil rights law. These vehicles that carry out her passion serve her personal mission: to academically open minds and spiritually speak to hearts. Her hope is that her work widens our imaginative capacity to excavate new pathways for equity that lead to a collective, interdependent freedom.

Don't forget your conference swag!

Caps, t-shirts in multiple styles, mugs, travel mugs, stationery, and more… all available in the Literacy Texas online store. All profits support literacy in Texas AND you can rep the literacy cause in style!

Browse the whole store here, or click on the images below to see the 2024 Annual Conference collection.

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Checked/updated 6/12/24


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