Virtual Agenda


Virtual Agenda

Forum Overview

We have made the decision to go completely virtual. While this means we will not be together face-to-face on Tuesday, February 8, it does not change our commitment to bringing together local, state and national leaders to call attention to the educational attainment gap and how we enhance our North Carolina workforce.  Because education is fundamentally local in character, effective action must take place at the community and regional levels across the state. Our virtual forum will explore what makes for effective collaboration while showcasing promising practices that help all students, but especially students in groups with historically lower attainment rates, to get ready for, gain access to and successfully complete postsecondary educational opportunities.

4 modules divided into three days, built around key forum themes 

Tuesday morning (2/8)  |  9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. 

  • The impact of the pandemic on educational attainment in North Carolina + State Level Support for Local Level Action on attainment
    • The pandemic is creating significant disruptions throughout the educational pipeline from K-12 through higher education. The Forum will examine the impacts the pandemic is having on educational attainment in our state and on progress in meeting our goal of 2 million North Carolinians with a high-quality credential or postsecondary degree by 2030. Particular attention will be paid to what we know about the pandemic’s impact on attainment by race/ethnicity, income and geography and how our state’s leadership is responding to boost attainment.
  • Welcome
  • Where Do We Stand in Meeting Our Attainment Goals?
    • Becky Tippett, Director, Carolina Demography
  • Boosting Local Success from the State Level, Part 1
    • Machelle Baker Sanders, Secretary, NC Department of Commerce
  • Boosting Local Success from the State Level, Part 2
    • Peter Hans, President, The University of North Carolina 
    • Thomas Stith, President, NC Community Colleges 
    • CatherineTruitt, Superintendent, NC Department of Public Instruction 
    • Hope Williams, President, North Carolina Independent College & Universities 
    • Mebane Rash, EducationNC (moderator)
  • Brief Recess

Tuesday afternoon (2/8)  |  1 p.m. – 4 p.m. 

  • Strategies for closing our educational attainment gaps.
    • As in other parts of the country, North Carolina has long standing educational attainment disparities. This segment calls attention to the needs of learners in groups with historically lower attainment rates and identifies strategies that better support postsecondary access and completion.
  • Welcome Back
  • Strategies That Work for Closing Attainment Gaps
    • Scott Jenkins, Strategy Director for State Policy, The Lumina Foundation 
    • MC Belk Pilon, President and Board Chair, The John M. Belk Endowment
    • Javaid Siddiqi, President and CEO, The Hunt Institute
  • Break
  • Breakouts
    • Strengthening K-12 Supports to Bridge Attainment Gaps
      • This session will highlight best practices and current initiatives to promote awareness and interest in pursuing postsecondary education among students of color, first-generation students, and students from low-income backgrounds.
    • Campus Supports to Promote Attainment
      • This session will highlight ways in which institutions of higher education support students through the transition to postsecondary, including targeted supports to overcome barriers to persistence in higher education such as food and housing insecurity, mental health, and identity.
  • Break
  • The Road Ahead: Reflections on the Work in Front of Us
    • Rupen Fofaria, Equity and Learning Differences Reporter, EducationNC
    • Emily Thomas, Policy Analyst, EducationNC
  • Closing 

Wednesday morning, 2/9  |  9 a.m. – Noon

  • Moving forward, together.
    • While our attainment goal is statewide, education is fundamentally local in action. This segment highlights the importance of effective collaboration and how to do it effectively, including the roles that local groups must play to increase attainment and close attainment gaps in their communities.
  • Welcome
  • Collaborating for Success From the Ground Up
    • David Bolton, Director, Workforce Initiatives, Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro
    • Pamela Gould, Executive Director, Strategic Twin-Counties Education Partnership
    • Dominique Oliver, Director of Community Partnerships, Made in Durham
    • Anita Brown-Graham, Director, ncIMPACT, UNC Chapel Hill (moderator)
  • Break
  • Breakouts
    • How to Have Cross-Sector Conversations to Promote Collaboration, Facilitated by Cris Charbonneau, Director of Advocacy and Engagement, myFutureNC
      In this session learn what effective cross-sector conversations look like and how to evaluate your own community’s readiness to collaborate in ways that will move the needle on educational attainment.

      • Tracie Metz, Interim Director of Regional Impact, Western & Northwestern Region, myFutureNC
      • Senemeht Olatunji, Southwest and Piedmont-Triad Regional Impact Manager, myFutureNC
      • Angie Jenkins, Northeast and North Central Regional Impact Manager, myFutureNC
      • Toni Blount, Southeast and Sandhills Manager Regional Impact Manager, myFutureNC
    • Working Collaboratively to Reengage Adult Learners in NC, Facilitated by the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research at NC State
      An “early harvest” of learning from a pilot program to recruit adult learners at five NC community colleges.

      • AJ Jaeger, Executive Director, NC State’s Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research 
      • Laura Leatherwood, President, Blue Ridge Community College
      • Johnny Smith, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, Pitt Community College
      • Roshaunda Breeden, Senior Research Associate, NC State’s Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research
    • How faith communities can support educational attainment, Facilitated by IEI staff
      Examples and discussion of how faith communities are supporting educational attainment efforts in communities across our state.

      • Rev. Dr. Dawn Baldwin Gibson, Executive Pastor of Peletah Ministries and Superintendent of Peletah Academic Center for Excellence
      • Rev. Julia Trantham Heckert, Community Engagement Coordinator, HIGHTS
      • Ellen Beasley, Rural Faith Community Program Assistant, Institute for Emerging Issues (moderator)
  • Break
  • The Road Ahead: Reflections from Local Leaders
    A panel discussion with leaders of community organizations supporting attainment.

    • Selena Bennett, Executive Director, Communities Supporting Schools of Wayne County
    • Greg Thomas, VP for Academic and Student Affairs, Isothermal Community College
    • Diana Torres-Edwards, Asst. Executive Director, Boys and Girls Club of Henderson County
    • Robin Williams, Executive Director, Wilson Education Partnership
    • Pat Cronin, Asst. Director, Institute for Emerging Issues (moderator)
  • Closing 

Thursday morning, 2/10  |  9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

  • The imperative of employer engagement
    • Efforts to raise educational attainment rates must prioritize not only the needs of learners but also those of employers. This segment shines a light on what employers need from our educational systems and, importantly, what they must contribute at the local and regional levels to strengthen educational attainment pipelines across the state. 
  • Welcome 
  • The Business Imperative to Promote Attainment
    • Lynn Good, Chair, President and CEO, Duke Energy 
    • Dr. John Lumpkin, Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC Foundation
    • OneTen w/member of CEO
    • Maurice Smith, CEO, Local Government Federal Credit Union
  • Break 
  • Collaborating for Meaningful Impact: Employer-led Sector Collaborations
    • Matt Meyer, Assoc. Vice President, Business Engagement, National & International Partnerships, NC Community College System and
    • Scott Panagrosso, Sector Strategy Coordinator, NC Department of Commerce (moderators)
    • Panelists (TBD)
      • Examples and discussion of how putting employer needs at the center can create significant value for businesses, the communities in which they operate and the support organizations charged with helping them.
  • Closing

Some session titles are subject to change. Check back for additional updates. 


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