Keynote Speakers


That One Kid
Brian Mendler, Teacher Learning Center


As an educator, Brian Mendler has extensive experience working with challenging students in general ed, self-contained and inclusion settings. Along with his memoir, That One Kid, he has authored The Taming of the Crew and co-authored books, Turning Tough Parents into Strong Partners, Strategies for Successful Classroom Management, Power Struggles 2nd Edition, and the best seller Discipline With Dignity 3rd Edition: New Challenges, New Solutions. 


Show Me What You Can Do; Don't Tell Me What You Can't Do
Loretta Claiborne, Chief Inspirational Officer, Special Olympics Inc.



Loretta Claiborne was born the middle of seven children in a poor, single-parent family. Born partially blind and intellectually challenged, she was unable to walk or talk until age 4. Eventually, though, she began to run. And before she knew it, she had crossed the finish line of 26 marathons, twice placing among the top 100 women in the Boston Marathon.

A Special Olympics athlete since 1970, Loretta is a woman of faith who shares her life story that carries a heart-felt message of acceptance, hope and tolerance for all people around the world. She learned to persevere despite her different abilities which lead to bullying, teasing, and anger; she credits Special Olympics as her positive force that turned her life around. Loretta is a celebrated international Olympian who was honored in 1996 with ESPN's ESPY Arthur Ashe Award for Courage and was the subject of Disney’s biopic, The Loretta Claiborne Story. Her life’s mission and legacy are to continue to champion inclusion for all persons with different abilities and remains a dedicated athlete and advocate for Special Olympics.


Answering Why: Unleashing Passion, Purpose, and Performance in Younger Generations 
Mark Perna, Founder and CEO, TFS




As a noted expert on Generations Y and Z, Mark has devoted his career to empowering educators and employers to unleash the tremendous potential of today’s young people, both in the classroom and on the job. After successfully parenting two Millennials as a single father, Mark has become a passionate advocate for bridging the generational divides that are contributing to America’s profound skills gap.

Mark has published numerous articles in national publications as a recognized voice in student engagement and success. His first book, Answering Why: Unleashing Passion, Purpose, and Performance in Younger Generations, was written to help parents, employers, and educators understand Generations Y and Z and inspire them to greater performance in all areas of life.

Mark Perna is the founder and CEO of TFS in Cleveland, Ohio, a full-service strategic consulting firm. Completely dedicated to workforce development and education, the TFS team is passionate about partnering with schools, districts, businesses, and state organizations of all sizes to help them experience significant gains in enrollment, retention and performance rates.