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2022 Birth to 12th Grade Water Cooler Conference


You're Invited

Building a System of Belonging and Community Power: Transformation Rooted in Racial Equity

Join us virtually on November 1st and 2nd from 1 – 4 pm to come together with other advocates, community leaders, students, and policymakers impacting early childhood and K-12 education. Over two action-packed days, we will explore how we center equity and community voice in policy and budget investments that result in a transformative and racially just birth to 12th-grade system for California’s children and families.


1:00 pm – 1:15 pm Welcome & Opening Keynote 

  • John Kim, President & CEO, Catalyst California 
  • Vickie Ramos Harris, Director of Educational Equity, Catalyst California 


1:15 pm – 1:35 pm A Budget Landscape for the Birth to 12th Grade System 

  • Christian Griffith, Chief Consultant, California State Assembly Budget Committee 


1:35 pm – 2:35 pm The State of Education: Where are we now? 

  • Moderator: Vickie Ramos Harris 
  • Max Arias, Executive Director, SEIU Local 99 
  • Linda Asato, Executive Director, California Child Care Resource & Referral Network  
  • Toby Boyd, President, California Teachers Association 
  • Najla Gomez Rodriguez, Capacity Building Director, Californians For Justice  
  • Edgar Zazueta, Executive Director, Association of California School Administrators 


2:35 pm – 2:45 pm Reflections on the B-12 Landscape 

  • Sarah Neville-Morgan, Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction, California Department of Education 


2:45 pm – 3:40 pm Student, Family, and Community-Led Healing and Thriving 

  • Moderator: Elena Fernandez, Chief Program Officer, St. John’s Well Child & Family Clinic  
  • Liza Bray, Executive Director, Partners for Children South LA  
  • Alma Cervantes, Regional Education Equity Director, Building Healthy Communities-Monterey County 
  • Kamal Kaur, Center Director, Just Plane Kids  
  • Jessica Ramos, Student, UC Berkeley 


3:40 pm – 3:55 pm Closing Keynote 

  • Kim Johnson, Director, California Department of Social Services 


3:55 pm – 4:00 pm Closing Remarks and Next Steps 

  • Manuel Fierro, Associate Director of Early Childhood Policy, Catalyst California 

1:00 pm – 1:05 pm Welcoming Remarks 

  • Day Son, Senior Manager of Educational Equity, Catalyst California 


1:05 pm – 1:10 pm Opening Reflections  

  • Dr. Lupe Jaime-Mileham, Deputy Director, Child Care and Development Division, California Department of Social Services 


1:10 pm – 2:10 pm Designing Quality Whole Child Systems Rooted in Equity and Community Power   

  • Moderator: Brenda Aguilera, Director of Community Transformation, Para Los Niños  
  • Mayra Alvarez, President, The Children’s Partnership  
  • Keisha Nzewi, Co-Founder, Black Californians Unified for ECE  
  • Jackie Thu-Huong Wong, Executive Director, First 5 California  
  • Noemi Valdes, Director of Early Childhood Education, Oxnard School District  


2:10 pm – 2:45 pm Featured Keynote: A Vision of Rebuilding a Racially Just, Equitable World  

  • Moderator: Kirsten Roman, Youth Leader Alumna, InnerCity Struggle 
  • Nic Stone, Author, Dear Martin 

2:45 pm – 3:40 pm Centering Equity in K-12 Systems 

  • Moderator: Dr. Anya Hurwitz, Executive Director, Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL)  
  • Miguel Dominguez, Director of Youth and Education Policy, Community Coalition 
  • Dr. Jesse Levin, Principal Research Economist, American Institutes for Research  
  • Michael McCormick, Superintendent, Val Verde Unified School District 
  • Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber, California State Assembly District 79  


3:40 pm – 3:55 pm Closing Keynote 

  • Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, State Board President, California State Board of Education 


3:55 pm – 4:00 pm Closing Remarks, Evaluation, and Next Steps  

  • Jessenia Reyes, Associate Director of K-12 Policy, Catalyst California 

Meet Our Keynote Speakers

Kim Johnson
Director of the California Department of Social Services
Learn more about Kim Johnson
linda darling hammond
Linda Darling-Hammond
President of the CA State Board of Education
Learn more about Linda Darling-Hammond
nic stone
Nic Stone
New York Times Bestselling Author
Learn more about Nic Stone

Meet Our Speakers