Keynote Speakers

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Piper Kerman

Piper Kerman is a social justice advocate and the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling memoir Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Woman’s Prison. This eye-opening memoir recounts the year that Piper spent in federal prison for a crime she had committed ten years previously during a brief involvement with the drug trade. Compelling, moving, and often hilarious, Orange is the New Black explores issues of friendship and family, mental illness, the uneasy relationship between prisoner and jailor, and the almost complete lack of guidance our society offers for post-prison life. The book inspired the Peabody Award-winning, critically acclaimed Netflix series of the same name, and has been credited with radically increasing the public’s awareness about mass incarceration and the growing female prison population. Kerman speaks to audiences around the country, including the American Correctional Association’s Disproportionate Minority Confinement Task Force, federal probation officers, public defenders, justice reform advocates and volunteers, and formerly and currently incarcerated people. She serves on the board of the Women’s Prison Association and the advisory boards of the PEN America Writing For Justice Fellowship, InsideOUT Writers, Healing Broken Circles, and JustLeadershipUSA, and has spoken at the White House and testified before the US Senate. She speaks about learning from mistakes, the power of women’s communities, the need for prison reform and support for people after incarceration, her life and experiences, and the TV series.

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Dr. Pedro A. Noguera

Pedro Noguera is the Distinguished Professor of Education at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA. His research focuses on the ways in which schools are influenced by social and economic conditions, as well as by demographic trends in local, regional and global contexts. He is the author of twelve books and over 200 articles and monographs. He serves on the boards of numerous national and local organizations and appears as a regular commentator on educational issues on CNN, MSNBC, National Public Radio, and other national news outlets. Prior to joining the faculty at UCLA he served as a tenured professor and holder of endowed chairs at New York University (2003 – 2015) Harvard University (2000 – 2003) and the University of California, Berkeley (1990 – 2000). From 2009 - 2012 he served as a Trustee for the State University of New York (SUNY) as an appointee of the Governor. In 2014 he was elected to the National Academy of Education. Noguera recently received awards from the Center for the Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences, from the National Association of Secondary Principals, and from the McSilver Institute at NYU for his research and advocacy efforts aimed at fighting poverty.


Bryan Terrell Clark

Bryan Terrell Clark shares life-changing lessons from his career on Broadway and work in arts education and philanthropy to empower young people to leave their mark on the world.

Bryan is an actor and singer-songwriter, known for his starring role as George Washington in Hamilton: An American Musical on Broadway. He has also starred in the iconic role of Marvin Gaye in Motown: The Musical, as well as in Broadway’s acclaimed Fences. His numerous TV credits include Fox’s Empire.

Musically, he has written for such artists as Jussie Smollett and Mary J. Blige, and he has performed with Brandy, Patti LaBelle, Ciara, and Michael Bublé. He is now in the studio recording his solo album. In 2017, he co-founded the philanthropic lifestyle brand inDEFINED, created to inspire and teach youth through the arts. In keeping with the theme of his life’s work, Bryan has made it his mission to help as many young people as possible find their unique purpose in life. He connects his experiences on Broadway and the entertainment industry to relatable, real-life issues, like tackling insecurity and finding motivation, while inspiring audiences to use their past to fuel their future and discover the best version of themselves.

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Mary Marx

Mary Marx is the President & CEO of PACE Center for Girls, Inc., and in her tenure as CEO has led the organization through a transformational period of growth. Marx's 2009 appointment as CEO marked a new era for PACE, which now has $38 million in annual revenue and a combined staff of more than 400 people across 20 locations. She implemented a growth strategy that has increased the number of girls reached by PACE by 61%, increased revenue by more than 80% and significantly advanced the organization's programs, services and reach across Florida. Under Marx's leadership, the organization significantly enhanced capacity in the areas of leadership development, technology and resource development and her proudest accomplishments include uniting all 19 PACE Centers behind a common agenda. Marx has led large, multi-site nonprofit agencies focused on the well-being of children for more than 25 years. She currently serves on numerous boards and commissions focused on juvenile justice reform, girls and women and the well-being of children. A graduate of Reed College in Portland, Oregon, she is a member of Class XIX of Leadership Florida, and the 2005 class of Leadership Jacksonville, as well as a Paul Harris Fellow with Rotary International.


Yessica Cancel

Yessica Cancel is the COO of Pace Center for Girls, In. She joined Pace Center for Girls, Inc., in November 2011, bringing more than 13 years of varied experience in human resource and organizational development leadership as part of start-up as well as international private organizations. She holds a bachelor's degree in multilingual/multicultural education as well as a master's degree in human resource management, and is certified as a Compensation Professional (CCP) and Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR).

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Thresa Giles

As Chief Business Officer since 2011, stands at the forefront of business and operation processes for PACE Center for Girls, Inc. She has been a finance and operations professional for more than 17 years. Most recently completing the Wharton School of Business -Strategic CFO Executive program. She leads and oversees Information Technology, Finance, Risk Management & Facilities and Business Intelligence, ensuring that limited resources are strategically used to support PACE's mission - believing in the empowerment of girls.

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Teddy Thompson

Teddy Thompson is the Chief Advancement Officer of the PACE Center for Girls where he oversees the development and execution of PACE's marketing and fundraising strategies. Under his leadership his team works to secure the critical financial resources needed to support the PACE mission to empower girls to find their voice and achieve their full potential.

Thompson joined PACE in 2018 bringing over 17 years of sales, marketing and leadership experience in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors most recently as Vice President of Resource Development at Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta where he was responsible for leading the board development and fundraising for one of the largest Boys & Girls Clubs organizations in the country. He also served as a National Director of Corporate and Cause Partnerships with Boys & Girls Clubs of America where he was a responsible for a corporate development team in the Eastern United States that secured over $50 Million in revenue under his leadership.

Thompson earned a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education & History from Mt. St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg, MD in 2000.

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Judge Victoria Pratt

Driven. Innovative. Inspiring. These are a few of the words used to describe Judge Victoria Pratt who has gained national and international acclaim for her commitment to reforming the criminal justice system. During her tenure as the Chief Judge in Newark Municipal Court in Newark, New Jersey, she spent years gaining a deep understanding of how justice could be delivered to court participants in a manner that increased their trust in the legal system and changed their behavior. While presiding over Newark Community Solutions, the Community Court Program, she used creative problem solving to provide alternatives to jail to low-level offenders. These alternatives included community service, individual and group counselling sessions, and her signature assignment of introspective essays. Called a pioneer in procedural justice, her respectful approach, and treating individuals with dignity has had a positive effect on court participants’ court experience, how the community viewed the court and how court players viewed their roles.

Her TED Talk, How Judges Can Show Respect, has gone viral. It has been translated into 11 languages, received over one million views and the Facebook clip has received an astounding 21 million views. A fierce advocate committed to reform, Pratt has worked with jurisdictions across the nation, and as far as Ukraine, England, Trinidad and Tobago, and Mexico. In that role she facilitates workshops and presentations on alternative sentencing for juveniles and adults, as well as procedural justice.

As a nationally recognized expert in procedural justice and alternative sentencing, Judge Pratt has been asked by numerous professional organizations to share her story and philosophy. Pratt’s work has been featured in The Guardian newspaper, The Simple Idea that Could Transform U.S. Criminal Justice, and Rutgers Magazine, Asking for a Little Respect, both written by Pulitzer prize-winning author Tina Rosenberg. She has also appeared on MSNBC’s The Melissa Harris Perry Show, the Emmy-award winning PBS show Due Process- Community Court: A Kinder, Gentler Way? and National Public Radio’s WBGO: Conversations with Allan Wolper.

Now a Professor at Rutgers Law School in Newark, New Jersey, she teaches Problem Solving Justice and Restorative Justice. She also continues to champion criminal justice reform through her consulting firm Pratt Lucien Consultants, LLC, by sharing her skills and approach with others. As well as speaking to leaders of institutions and organizations about how to heighten and restore respect into their day-today operations so that their mission can be better achieved. Pratt is licensed to practice law in both New Jersey and New York, and is admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court. She also facilitates Mountain Movers empowerment sessions to help individuals live their best lives.


Jyoti Nanda

Jyoti Nanda is the Binder Clinical Teaching Fellow at the UCLA School of Law. She has been teaching at UCLA School of Law since 2003, has taught over 600 law students, served as the Co-Faculty Director of their Critical Race Studies Program and is core faculty of the David J. Epstein Public Interest Law Program. Nanda founded and teaches the Youth & Justice Clinic at UCLA; she also teaches Criminal Law and a first year introductory course she co-designed on the ethics and responsibilities of the attorney-client relationship. Her research and writing is on the intersections of gender, race, disability, education, and juvenile justice. Nanda’s 2012 UCLA School of Law Review article, Blind Discretion: Girls of Color and Delinquency in the Juvenile Justice System, served as the framework for a national report on the adultification of girls of color in our criminal justice system. Her current project, The Construction and Criminalization of Disability in School Incarceration (forthcoming in the Columbia Journal of Race & Law) is a critical examination of the role and consequences of a hyper-surveilled, under-resourced school environment in the determination of a child’s special education designation. She argues an incorrect disability diagnosis leads to further racial stratification and criminalization for Black and Latinix students. Nanda is also the official reporter of the American Bar Association’s Juvenile Justice Standards Task Force where she updates and writes aspirational national standards for the field.

In Nanda’s Youth & Justice Clinic, she trains students to holistically advocate for the unmet education rights of children in Los Angeles’ Delinquency courts and has represented over 50 youth. In December 2018, her Clinic won an award from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for their Report, Improving and Ending the Incarceration of Pregnant Youth in the LA County Delinquency System; the Board unanimously approved all the Reports’ recommendations. Nanda is hopeful this Report will be part of a growing movement to end the incarceration of all pregnant girls in our criminal justice system.

In August 2019, she will join the faculty at Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco as an Assistant Professor of Law.


Wansley Walters

Wansley Walters is a Partner with Ballard Partners, Florida’s top government relations firm. She is the former Secretary for the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. As a nationally recognized leader in the field of juvenile justice and a long standing child advocate, she pioneered the reform of the largest comprehensive juvenile justice system in the country in the administration of Governor Rick Scott. Under her leadership, the agency implemented strategies that have reduced the juvenile crime statewide and the number of children in detention and residential care as well as expanding civil citations for first time misdemeanors statewide. She finished her tenure with the 2014 Florida Legislature unanimously passing legislation that ensures the continuation of the reforms.

Wansley currently serves as the Chair of the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet. In November 2012 she was one of eight recipients of the 2012 Juvenile Justice Without Borders International Award presented by the International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO) during the International Youth Justice Convention in London. The IJJO grants the award once every two years to individuals and organizations for outstanding achievements in juvenile justice research, advocacy and intervention under the auspices of the United Nations.

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Luanne Southern

Luanne Southern has more than 30 years of leadership experience in behavioral health care, with a specialization in policies and services that address the mental health needs of children, youth and families. She is currently a Senior Director at Casey Family Programs, a national operating foundation focused on reducing the number of children in foster care. Southern serves on the Supreme Court of Texas Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families, and was a past appointee to the Texas Protect Our Kids Commission. In 2013, she received the Stella Mullins Champion for Children’s Mental Health award for her local, state and national work on behalf of children and families. Luanne served as Deputy Commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services from 2007-2013. Prior to that time, she worked in the Washington DC area as a national advocate and consultant focused on children’s behavioral health, health care, child welfare and juvenile justice public policy, programs and services. Southern served in various roles at the Austin Travis County MHMR Center from 1988 – 2002 and was a social worker at Austin State Hospital from 1984-1988. She has an MSW from the University of Texas - Austin, and a BSW from Goshen College in Indiana.

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Whitney Stewart

Whitney Stewart is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania studying International Relations, Modern Middle Eastern Studies, and Consumer Psychology. Upon graduation in May 2019, she will join Accenture as a Strategy Analyst based out of New York City. At the University of Pennsylvania, she has served as president of multiple student organizations, including the Government & Politics Association and the Epsilon Chapter of Sigma Iota Rho, the National Honor Society for International Studies.

In 2015, Whitney Stewart was named the National Youth of the Year for Boys & Girls Clubs of America, a non-profit that serves 4 million young people annually. She has been recognized as a 2016 Radio Disney Heroes for Change Award recipient, and 2018 Forbes Under 30 Scholar. As the National Spokesperson of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, she met with political leaders, such as President Barack Obama, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to advocate for our nation’s most vulnerable young people. Whitney also used her platform to advocate for the causes she is most passionate about, including women’s empowerment and criminal justice reform. She is now a HuffPost Contributing Author who writes about youth leadership and political engagement.

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Daniela Deas

Daniela Deas joined the Dr. Pallavi Patel College of Health Care Sciences Dean’s Office at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) in November 2018. As Administrative Assistant for the College, Ms. Deas assists the Associate and Assistant Deans and provides administrative support to the college’s Coalition for Research and Education Against Trafficking and Exploitation (CREATE). Prior to joining NSU, Ms. Deas served as an intern at the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at Florida International University (FIU). Ms. Deas has developed a passion for social activism and advancement amongst marginalized communities; she currently serves as the president of the African and African Diaspora Studies Graduate Student Association (AADS GSA) at FIU. The AADS GSA promotes voluntarism and executing events that will lead to a deeper understanding of African Diaspora communities’ cultural, aesthetic, social, political, and economic environments. Ms. Deas holds a bachelor’s degree in Women’s and Gender Studies and English and a Certificate in Global Black Studies from FIU. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in African and African Diaspora Studies and will graduate in Fall 2019.

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Libby Foster

Foster is a Senior at North Oldham High School in Goshen, KY.. She co-founded, and is the co-President, of the Prospect Girl Up Club which has recruited 47 members and has worked to raise money for Girl Up’s School Cycle initiative. Aside from her dedication to Girl Up, she is an avid outdoors woman. In the summer of 2017, she spent four weeks in the Alaskan wilderness with the National Outdoor Leadership School, which was instrumental in her development as an advocate and individual. She is also involved in the Kentucky YMCA Youth Association, the Kentucky Youth Assembly and Kentucky United Nations Assembly. She was appointed as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court program for the 2018-19 school year.

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Angel McCune

Angel is an alumna of Pace Pasco in New Port Richey, Florida. She began her journey with Pace at the age of 12 and continued to engage through her graduation. She graduated early at the age of 16 and is attending Florida State University in Tallahassee studying Social Work. Angel also works at Publix and cares for her 3 year old daughter, Journey.

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Mia Paz

After attending the Pace Center for Girls, Mia received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from UCF and her Juris Doctor from Vermont Law School. She now lives in Seattle, Washington where her position as Senior Negotiator at Callahan Law involves advocating for criminal defendants and injured plaintiffs.