2015 Speakers


Janice M. Brown, Ed.D.

Janice M. Brown is a Trustee of The Kalamazoo Promise. Prior, she was executive director of the Promise and Superintendent of Kalamazoo Public Schools. In addition, she has 40+ years of experience working in public education as a teacher, consultant, professor, State administrator, principal and district official.

Brown is involved with local, state and national organizations interested in transforming their communities using education as a major vehicle to do so. She has made many presentations on the economic and educational value of The Kalamazoo Promise. She was named Michigan Regional Superintendent of the Year and received the national Athena Award, the Women of Achievement and the Glass Ceiling Awards in her community. Brown provides leadership in the community for improved learning for all youth emphasizing total community commitment. She currently serves on a number of boards and is an active community volunteer.

As superintendent, Brown prepared and announced The Kalamazoo Promise. She continues as a spokesperson and is the sole communicator to the anonymous donors.

Wes Moore

Wes Moore is a decorated Army combat veteran, youth advocate and CEO of BridgeEdU, a national initiative focusing on addressing the college completion and career placement crisis by reinventing the Freshman Year of college. He is also the author of two instant New York Times best-selling books, The Other Wes Moore, a story of the importance of individual decisions as well as community support, and The Work, which chronicles Wes’s journey to discover meaning in his work and how he found that meaning in service.

Wes graduated Phi Theta Kappa from Valley Forge Military College in 1998 and Phi Beta Kappa from Johns Hopkins University in 2001. He completed an MLitt in International Relations from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar in 2004. Upon graduation, Wes served as a paratrooper and Captain in the United States Army, participating in a combat tour of duty in Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne Division.

Wes has been featured by USA Today, People magazine, Meet the Press, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The View, MSNBC, and NPR, among many others. He is also the host of Beyond Belief on the Oprah Winfrey Network and Executive Producer and host of Coming Back with Wes Moore on PBS.

Gary Oertli

Gary Oertli was appointed president of South Seattle College in August 2010. He also serves as Vice Chancellor for University Partnerships for the Seattle Colleges. Mr. Oertli brings a wealth of community college leadership experience to South Seattle College. His experience includes seven years at the Seattle Colleges – most recently as interim president at Seattle Central College and before that at South Seattle College. He also served as interim vice president of instruction at South and interim dean for Business, Information Technology and Creative Arts at Seattle Central.

Mr. Oertli was president and CEO of Shoreline Community College for five years and was honored as president emeritus when he retired. Prior to that, he spent 20 years at Edmonds Community College as part-time instructor, tenured faculty member, associate dean and dean, executive vice president for instruction and student services, and as interim president.

A West Seattle native, Mr. Oertli is a graduate of Chief Sealth High School in the Seattle Public Schools system. He earned his bachelor's degree and master’s of education in business from the University of Washington, where he later served as Alumni Association president. He also completed the Executive Management Program in the UW Graduate School of Business Administration. In addition, he was awarded a Doctorate of Humane Letters by Schiller International University.

Michael F. Rice, Ph.D.

Dr. Michael F. Rice became superintendent of the Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS) in August 2007. Prior to his appointment, Rice served for five years as superintendent of the Clifton Public Schools in Clifton, New Jersey.

During Dr. Rice’s tenure as superintendent, the district has adopted the nationally recognized OWL pre-school curriculum with community pre-school partners that include the county-run Head Start Program, New Genesis, and the YWCA; expanded full-day kindergarten from 176 to 1009 students, with the use of federal Title I funds; created a K-3 writing block; adopted new K-5 math materials, the first time since 1992; created new K-5 language arts and math guides; more than doubled the number of students in high school Advanced Placement (AP) courses and the number of AP courses that students take; and increased elementary, middle school, and high school state reading and math scores from 2007 to 2011.

Dr. Rice’s leadership, the district is working hard to help create a literacy community and a college-going culture to help children make the very most of their promise/Promise.

Mary Anne Schmitt-Carey

Mary Anne Schmitt-Carey is President of Say Yes to Education. Say Yes is a national nonprofit that galvanizes communities by partnering with them to help give every public high school graduate access to a college or other post-secondary scholarship. Say Yes also works with communities to set milestones along the pathway to post-secondary readiness, and to organize and deliver supports and services intended to eliminate predictable barriers to achievement, particularly for students from low-income backgrounds.

For six years Schmitt-Carey was president and CEO of New American Schools, which merged with American Institutes for Research, helping that nonprofit grow from a pilot to the model for Comprehensive School Reform, a national school improvement program.

In 2012, Schmitt-Carey was appointed to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Education Reform Commission, which was charged with making recommendations for boosting student achievement and for making education spending more efficient in New York State. She earned her master’s from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and graduated magna cum laude from SUNY Albany with a bachelor’s in political science and English.

Governer Rick Snyder

When Rick Snyder became Michigan’s 48th Governor in 2011, he pledged a commonsense approach to governing that focused on working together to find solutions for the state’s toughest problems.

With the self-proclaimed moniker "one tough nerd," Governor Snyder has focused on making government more efficient and effective for Michigan’s citizens. In his first term, the state has passed four balanced budgets, eliminated a $1.5 billion deficit and reformed burdensome tax and regulatory codes that were stifling business growth and job creation.

Raised in a Battle Creek home known for a strong work ethic and service to others, Governor Snyder’s upbringing has aided in leading the state’s comeback. A homemaker and a small business owner, his parents demonstrated the value of hard work. - - Read more.