2016 Keynotes

davis-jenkinsDr. Davis Jenkins

Dr. Davis Jenkins is a senior research associate at CCRC. He works with colleges and states to find ways to improve educational and employment outcomes for students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Jenkins’ research and thinking have informed the development and spread of innovative approaches to improving student outcomes, including career pathways, adult technical bridge programs (such as Washington State’s I-BEST), and guided pathways to success (GPS).

Together with Thomas Bailey and Shanna Jaggars, he is the author of a new book, Redesigning America’s Community Colleges: A Clearer Path to Student Success (Harvard University Press, 2015), which synthesizes key findings from CCRC’s research on strategies for improving student completion and learning.

He is currently leading research projects aimed at improving the effectiveness of 2- and 4-year institutions in enabling community college transfer students to earn college degrees and on identifying strategies for helping students enter a program of study suited to their interests and aspirations.

Jenkins holds a Ph.D. in public policy analysis from Carnegie Mellon University and a BA from Princeton University.

headshot1Kerin Hilker-Balkissoon

Kerin Hilker-Balkissoon has a diverse professional background spanning K-12, non-profit, post-secondary, and workforce development settings. She joined the faculty at Northern Virginia Community College in 2001 and was selected in 2005 as the founding Director for the Pathway to the Baccalaureate Program. [The brainchild of former NOVA President, Dr. Robert Templin, the Pathway to the Baccalaureate program] has scaled to support over 10,000 underserved students per academic year under Ms. Hilker-Balkissoon’s leadership. The program’s award-winning design leverages the data and resources of PK-16 and community partners to provide a seamless inter-institutional framework of support with strong success outcomes in college readiness, post-secondary transition, and persistence, and credit and workforce credential completion.

Ms. Hilker-Balkissoon is a recipient of the Virginia Excellence in Education award, and her innovative student services model has been lauded by multiple organizations including the New America Foundation, the Excelencia in Education Foundation, the Aspen Institute, and the Community College Futures Assembly. She is a regular presenter at local and national conferences and is highly engaged in supporting institutional and national efforts to develop sustainable college and career pathways through collective impact programming. Ms. Hilker- Balkissoon holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and a Master of Science in Counseling from The Johns Hopkins University.

bekah-headshotBekah Schlatter

Mrs. Rebekah Schlatter serves as the Supervisor of Secondary Counseling and Student Support Services for Prince William County Public Schools in Virginia. Prince William is the second largest school system in the state, educating approximately 86,000 students. In her role, she oversees middle and high school counseling programs and all post-secondary planning services for students. Prior to stepping into this role, Mrs. Schlatter served as a Career Counselor, School Counselor, and Director of School Counseling at three different high schools. She is a graduate of both Virginia Tech and Virginia Commonwealth University.

amytakayamaperez_360Amy Takayama-Perez

As the Dean of Admissions, Amy is responsible for the overall management and execution of the student recruitment and enrollment strategy for George Mason University. She leads an office of 71 professional staff members that includes undergraduate recruitment, graduate admissions, the Office of Military Services, Admissions technology, and K-12 partnerships and outreach. Amy also serves as the Executive Director of the Washington Scholars Program, home to the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment (WYSE) and the Washington Journalism and Media Conference (WJMC), both week-long residential summer programs for talented high school students. She has an affinity for working with students and families in higher education with a particular interest in creating accessible and affordable pathways to college.

Before returning to Mason, she served as the Guidance Specialist for Loudoun County Public Schools, supervising elementary school counselors, and was the Director for a county- wide college access program for first generation students. Previously, she has worked in the Office of Admissions as the Director of Undergraduate Recruitment and the Director for K-12 Partnerships and outreach. She has worked with countless students and families on the application and college search process, helping to alleviate stress from what can seem like a daunting process. She regularly serves on area panels focused on college admissions and has been featured in articles in the NYTimes.com, the Washington Post, and USA Today on current trends in enrollment and higher education.

Amy remains very active in both the Potomac and Chesapeake Association for College Admission Counseling (PCACAC), where she served on the Executive Board, and the National Association of College Admissions Counseling (NACAC), where she has served as delegate to the NACAC assembly and been on faculty for both the Counselors of Color Workshops – Guiding the Way to Inclusion and the Middle Management Institute. She was recognized as the Virginia College Counselor of the year for her efforts in establishing professional development opportunities for both secondary and college counselors.

A native New Englander, Ms. Takayama-Perez holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and a Masters of Education in higher education counseling from George Mason University. She has proudly served the Mason Alumni Association as a Board of Director and Chair of the scholarship committee.

Dr. Karen A. StoutKstout-web

Dr. Karen A. Stout is President and CEO of Achieving the Dream, Inc., the nation’s most comprehensive non-governmental reform movement for student success.

The former President of Montgomery County Community College (PA) for 14 years, Dr. Stout serves on the Advisory Board of the Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is a Commissioner and Executive Committee member with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and a past member of the American Association of Community Colleges Board of Directors (2011-2014).

Most recently, she served as Co-Chair of the AACC 21st Century Commission’s Implementation Steering Committee working with more than 100 leaders from across the country in developing a framework for the redesign of America’s community colleges.

Under Dr. Stout’s leadership, Montgomery County Community College was recognized nationally for its work in student success, receiving Achieving the Dream’s 2014 Leah Meyer Austin Award for significant institutional improvement supporting student achievement. The College is one of seven institutions in the country named to the Next Generation Learning Challenges Breakthrough Models Incubator national grant program. Through the program, MCCC improves first-time students’ understanding of financial, civic, and digital literacies. The College has ranked among the top ten digital savvy community colleges in the country by the Center for Digital Education every year since 2004. A national leader in advancing sustainability, the College has earned the 2011 and 2014 Climate Leadership Award from Second Nature.



Dr. Rob Johnstonerjohnstone-2016-web

Dr. Johnstone works to help 2-year and 4-year colleges create structures and processes that increase student completion, learning and labor market outcomes.  His unique & engaging approach to inquiry & improvement fuses the world of foundations, initiatives, and system-level policy changes with the ground-level work of college practitioners & college senior leaders.  He has worked on the ground with over 300 colleges around the country both directly and on initiatives such as the AACC Pathways Institutes, Lumina’s Beyond Financial Aid, The Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, Gates’ Completion by Design, Lumina’s Guided Pathways for Success, Kresge’s and Gates’ Pathways projects in Arkansas, Michigan and the Seattle area colleges, Texas Completes, and Carnegie’s Statway / Quantway.  He served as a Director, Dean and Provost in the California community college system for over a decade, and worked as a strategic consultant in industry prior to shifting to higher education.  He brings a unique dual perspective with over 20 years of consulting experience in industry and higher education, and brings an energy and passion for authentic change to improve outcomes.