Leading Educational Excellence

Keynote Speakers



PAUL TOUGH is a prolific journalist and broadcaster who has written extensively on the effects of poverty and politics on children’s education. Through his hands-on work with students and teachers across North America, he’s become an expert on the impact new practices in education can have on children’s social skills, moral development, and independent, critical thinking. In his talks, he speaks to the idea that perseverance, optimism, and self-discipline should—and often do—triumph over IQ points and arbitrary standards of “intelligence” when it comes to academic success.

A contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine, Paul is also the author of Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America, which focuses on the steps necessary to improve the lives and education of underserved children. Through the case study of the Harlem Children's Zone, Tough describes the inspiring struggle to establish a way to combat poverty that could be replicated nationwide. Tough has also contributed to This American Life and The New Yorker, where he has honed his focus upon education, poverty, parenting, and politics. The film rights for his New York Times Magazine cover story "A Speck in the Sea," about the rescue of fisherman John Aldridge, have been acquired by Harvey Weinstein for production by The Weinstein Company.

To learn more about Paul Tough, go to: www.paultough.com.


DR. AMISHI JHA, Ph.D., is neuroscientist and Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Miami, and Director of Contemplative Neuroscience for the UMindfulness Initiative, prior to which she was an

Assistant Professor at the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Pennsylvania. She received her PhD from the University of California-Davis in 1998, and received her post-doctoral training at the Brain Imaging and Analysis Center at Duke University in functional neuroimaging. She studies the neural bases of attention and the effects of mindfulness-based training programs on cognition, emotion, and resilience. With grants from the Department of Defense, and several private foundations, she has been systematically investigating the potential applications of mindfulness training in education, sports, business, and the military. Her work has been featured in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, Emotion, and PLoSOne and she serves on the editorial boards of Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Frontiers in Cognitive Science, and Frontiers in Cognition. She has received several awards for teaching and innovation in science, including selection as a Poptech Science and Public Leadership Fellow in 2010. She is an internationally recognized speaker who has lectured at the Aspen Institute, World Economic Forum, and NY Academy of Sciences as well as many other forums on topics such as optimizing attention, building brain fitness, mindfulness and other forms of contemplative training, and how to protect the brain from stress and aging. She has been interviewed on NPR, CBS, and NBC, as well as in the NY Times, New Yorker, Washington Post, LA Times, Time Magazine, GQ, Newsweek, and Scientific American.

To learn more about Dr. Amishi Jha, go to: www.amishi.com/lab/people.


Over the last nine years, KRISTEN HADEED Kristen Hadeed has challenged the millennial status quo and learned what it takes to bring out the best in people. At 19, she launched a company that has now employed hundreds of millennials and is known for its industry-leading retention rate and culture of trust, accountability and empowerment. Many of her former employees have gone on to run their own businesses and have received highly-sought after positions in companies around the world.

Kristen now spends most of her time helping organizations across the country make a lasting, meaningful impact on people by creating environments in which they thrive. Kristen and her company, Student Maid, have been featured by news outlets including PBS, FOX and Forbes. Her first TED Talk has received more than two million hits on YouTube.

To learn more about Kristen Hadeed, go to: www.kristenhadeed.com.


Although you may not recognize MICHAEL BAIAMONTE's face, there is a good chance you will find his voice to be very familiar. Now in his 26th season, Michael has been the public address voice of the Miami Heat and has announced over 1,000 games. He is also the third longest tenured public address announcer in the NBA. His creativity and style has earned him the distinction of being “one of the most recognizable voices in the South Florida sports market” for sporting events and event hosting markets.

As an emcee, Michael has hosted a variety of events for corporations and organizations such as Top Rank Boxing, The Ritz-Carlton, Hilton Hotels, NIKE, Assurant Inc., Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Miami Children’s Hospital, and Stryker Medical Corp.

For the last nine years, Michael has served on the Board of Trustees at Palmer Trinity School, an independent Episcopal day school in Palmetto Bay. He has held the positions of Chairman of the Development Committee, Board Secretary, Board Vice-Chair, and for the last four years, Chairman of the Board. During his time on the Board, Michael has led a multimillion dollar campaign for endowment, assisted the School in receiving city approval to expand its campus onto 33 contiguous acres of bordered property, led a search committee for the current Head of School, Patrick Roberts, and has begun the initial steps of campaign organization for a major upcoming capital campaign to support the expansion approval.

Michael received his Bachelor of Business Administration, with majors in marketing and international business, from Florida International University (‘86) and received his Master of Business Administration from Barry University (‘93).

To learn more about Michael Baiamonte, go to: http://voiceofmiami.com/.

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