We’re excited to bring a fantastic lineup of national and statewide experts to the conference in 2024.  


Dr. Donna Beegle

Donna Beegle was born the fifth of six children into generational, migrant-labor poverty. She is the only member of her family who has not been incarcerated. She left school at 15 to marry and—instead of celebrating her honeymoon—she immediately returned to picking cherries for a living in Washington State. Donna and her husband Jerry—who was barely literate—supported two children by working temporary, seasonal, and minimum-wage jobs while continuing to cope with the impacts of poverty. As with a lot of families, poverty took its toll and, at age 25, she found herself with no husband, little education, and no marketable job skills.

With significant supports and mentors, she earned a GED and, within 10 short years, a Doctorate in Educational Leadership—studying poverty all the way. She has presented in all 50 states and eight countries to professionals from all sectors including social service, educators, health, justice, and faith-based organizations. She was speaker of the year for New Mexico Bar Foundation and was selected as a Princeton Fellow. Portland State University School of Social Work named classrooms in her honor. Dr. Beegle is also the author of four books and curriculum kits, including, See Poverty…Be the Difference; If Not Me, Then Who? Empowering Our Neighbors; An Action Approach to Educating Students in Poverty; and Breaking Poverty Barriers to Equal Justice. She tells everyone “she knows too much to be quiet.” 

More About Dr. Beegle

Sesame Workshop

Sesame Workshop is a global impact nonprofit organization with a mission to help children everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder.

For over 50 years, Sesame Workshop has worked at the intersection of education, media, and research, creating joyful experiences that enrich minds and expand hearts. With a mission to help children everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder, Sesame Workshop reaches families in more than 150 countries with playful early learning so they can empower each generation to build a better world.

Their beloved characters, iconic shows, outreach in communities, and more are rooted in deep expertise and designed to meet children’s most pressing needs. From building school readiness to encouraging playful problem-solving, from supporting emotional well-being to promoting positive self-identity, Sesame Workshop is here for children and families — as every caregiver’s valued partner and every child’s trusted friend.

Dr. Tunette Powell

Dr. Tunette Powell, mother of three beautiful Black boys, is an activist mama, equity practitioner and storyteller who has published several books and papers on issues of kinship, race, racism, and system-induced collective trauma. Dr. Powell is an Assistant Research Professor and the Director of Parent and Family Partnerships at the Children’s Equity Project at Arizona State University. Dr. Powell, who earned her PhD in education at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), has committed her scholarship and advocacy to disrupting system-induced collective trauma and centering both struggle and joy in historically and contemporarily marginalized communities.

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