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ElevatEd isn’t just an education conference, it will change the way you think about opportunity and prosperity in America.

Deep investment in education is the single biggest driver of economic development in modern, knowledge-based economies. Is America on the road to prosperity? Or are we falling behind?

That’s the basis for ElevatEd: Education & the Economy, a daylong conference presented by The Holdsworth Center. This inaugural event aims to drive critical conversations around public education and explore collaborative solutions.

“In reality, there is no country anywhere that has been able to successfully grow GDP without investing in public schools. We’re going to talk about how we finally close the opportunity gap in Texas and the country.” –Kate Rogers, Executive Vice President, The Holdsworth Center

Participants will have the opportunity to:

  • Hear from and ask questions of the country’s leading experts on income inequality and explore how education can close the gap
  • Network with leaders in the business, education and non-profit sectors who care deeply about education
  • Mingle with speakers at a post-conference cocktail reception at the Meadows Museum
  • Get inspired by innovative ideas and programs happening in DFW-area school districts
  • Learn more about The Holdsworth Center’s leadership programs for Texas public school districts

Founded by H-E-B Chairman and CEO Charles Butt, The Holdsworth Center partners with public school districts to cultivate a pipeline of effective leaders to ensure that every classroom and campus in Texas thrives under inspired and dynamic leadership.

Featured Speakers


Kate Rogers serves as Executive Vice President of The Holdsworth Center. She previously served as the Vice President of Corporate Communication and Health at H-E-B, where she oversaw all internal media and corporate communications as well as employee engagement programs for the company. While at H-E-B, Rogers created and launched the company’s early childhood literacy program, Read 3, which provides an in-store experience, a community outreach curriculum, and access to free and affordable books to ensure all children begin their school experience with an opportunity to succeed. In 2006, she was awarded Ford’s Salute to Education award for her work in creating the H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards, the largest monetary awards program in the state honoring outstanding public school teachers, principals and districts. She is currently leading the development of a series of career-themed high schools known as the Centers for Applied Science and Technology (CAST) to support San Antonio students in reaching their maximum potential while also helping to fill local workforce needs.

Tom Luce was a founding partner of Hughes & Luce, LLP and served as US Assistant Secretary of Education for Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development during the George W. Bush administration. He was founding CEO of the National Math and Science Initiative, Inc. from 2007 to 2011. Additionally, Tom served on Dell, Inc.’s Board of Directors from 1991 until 2012. His life’s passion has been volunteer efforts to improve public education for all children. He has co-founded and led various non-profit entities such as: the Texas Business and Education Coalition, Just for Kids, the National Center for Education Accountability, and the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI). Mr. Luce’s work with NMSI has been featured in a national advertising campaign by ExxonMobil, in which the program highlights the success in improving math and science education across the country. From 2013 to 2015, he undertook a new mission- improving mental health services for all of Texans as the founding President and CEO of the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute. He remains on its board. Tom earned a bachelor of business administration in accounting and a juris doctor degree from Southern Methodist University.

Michael J. Sorrell is the 34th President of Paul Quinn College. Under his leadership, Paul Quinn has become nationally renowned for its innovative approach to using higher education to address societal problems. The school’s numerous accomplishments during President Sorrell’s nine-year tenure include winning the HBCU of the Year, as well as reducing tuition and fees to $14,300. Sorrell received his J.D. and M.A. in Public Policy from Duke University and his Ed.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He graduated from Oberlin College with a B.A. in Government. Among the entities on which Sorrell serves as a trustee or director are Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, the College Board, the Center for Minority Serving Institutions at the University of Pennsylvania, and Dallas Advisory Board of Teach for America. The Washington Monthly magazine recently identified Sorrell as one of America’s 10 Most Innovative College Presidents and he is the only two-time recipient of the HBCU Male President of the Year Award (2016 and 2012) in history. Sorrell has received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education; and the A. Kenneth Pye Award for Excellence in Education from Duke University’s School of Law Alumni Association.

Robert Steven Kaplan has served as the thirteenth president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas since 2015. Kaplan was previously the Martin Marshall Professor of Management Practice and a Senior Associate Dean at Harvard Business School. He is the author of several books, including “What You Really Need to Lead: The Power of Thinking and Acting Like an Owner,” “What You’re Really Meant To Do: A Road Map for Reaching Your Unique Potential,” and “What to Ask the Person in the Mirror: Critical Questions for Becoming a More Effective Leader and Reaching Your Potential.” He serves as Chairman of Project A.L.S. and Co-Chairman of the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, a global venture philanthropy firm that invests in developing non-profit enterprises dedicated to addressing social issues. He is also a board member of Harvard Medical School. Kaplan was appointed by the Governor of Kansas as a member of the Kansas Health Policy Authority Board. Born and raised in Prairie Village, Kansas, Kaplan received a bachelor of science degree in business administration from the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School.

Robert D. Putnam is the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University. In addition to teaching, he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the British Academy, and past president of the American Political Science Association. He has received numerous scholarly honors, including the Skytte Prize, the most prestigious global award in political science, and the National Humanities Medal, the nation’s highest honor for contributions to the humanities. He has written 14 books, translated into more than 20 languages, including “Bowling Alone” and “Making Democracy Work,” both among the most cited publications in the social sciences in the last half century. His 2010 book, co-authored with David E. Campbell, “American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us,” won the American Political Science Association’s 2011 Woodrow Wilson Award as the best book in political science. He has consulted for the last three American presidents, the last three British prime ministers, the last French president, prime ministers from Ireland to Singapore, and hundreds of grassroots leaders and activists in many countries. His most recent book, “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis,” a New York Times bestseller, chronicles the growing gap in opportunity for American youth. Putnam is now working on a major empirical project about 20th century economic, social and political trends and the implications for American culture.

Richard V. Reeves is Senior Fellow in Economic Studies and Co-Director of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution. His research focuses on social mobility, inequality, and family change. Prior to joining Brookings in 2013, he was director of strategy to the UK’s Deputy Prime Minister. Richard’s publications for Brookings include his latest book “Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do about It” (2017), “Time for justice: Tackling Race Inequalities in Health and Housing” (2017), and Ulysses Goes to Washington: Political Myopia and Policy Commitment Devices” (2015) among others. He is also a contributor to The Atlantic, National Affairs, Democracy Journal, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. In September 2017, Politico magazine named Richard one of the top 50 thinkers in the U.S. for his work on class and inequality. He is a member of the Government of Canada’s Ministerial Advisory Committee on Poverty, and also teaches at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University. Richard has a BA from Oxford University and a Ph.D. from Warwick University.

Professional headshot of Dr. Ruth Simmons

Ruth J. Simmons is the President of Prairie View A&M University and former President of Brown University from 2001-2012. Under her leadership, Brown made significant strides in improving its standing as one of the world’s finest research universities.

A French professor before entering university administration, President Simmons held an appointment as a Professor of Africana Studies at Brown. After completing her Ph.D. in Romance Languages and literatures at Harvard, she served in various faculty and administrative roles at the University of Southern California, Princeton University, and Spelman College before becoming president of Smith College, the largest women’s college in the United States. At Smith, she launched a number of important academic initiatives, including an engineering program, the first at an American women’s college.

Simmons is the recipient of many honours, including a Fulbright Fellowship to France, the 2001 President’s Award from the United Negro College Fund, the 2002 Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal, the 2004 Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal, the Foreign Policy Association Medal, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and the Centennial Medal from Harvard University. Simmons is a member of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the Council on Foreign Relations, and serves on the boards of Texas Instruments, Chrysler, Mondelez and Square, as well as a number of non-profit boards. Awarded numerous honorary degrees, she received the Brown Faculty’s highest honour: the Susan Colver Rosenberger Medal in 2011. In 2012, she was named a ‘chevalier’ of the French Legion of Honour.

Andreas Schleicher is Director for Education and Skills, and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). As a key member of the OECD’s Senior Management team, he supports the Secretary-General’s strategy to produce analysis and policy advice that advances economic growth and social progress. In addition to policy and country reviews, he oversees the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC), the OECD Skills Strategy, the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), and the development and analysis of benchmarks on the performance of education systems (INES). Before joining the OECD, Mr. Schleicher was Director for Analysis at the International Association for Educational Achievement (IEA). He studied Physics in Germany and received a degree in Mathematics and Statistics in Australia. He is the recipient of numerous honours and awards, including the “Theodor Heuss” prize, awarded in the name of the first president of the Federal Republic of Germany for “exemplary democratic engagement”.  He holds an honorary Professorship at the University of Heidelberg.

Dr. Gasko is the Dean and Professor at the School of Education at the University of North Texas at Dallas. He holds a doctorate in educational administration with a focus on policy and planning from the University of Texas at Austin’s Public School Executive Leadership Program; a Master of Arts in education and teaching from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio; and a Bachelor of Science in engineering from the SUNY Maritime Academy. Dr. Gasko served as the Chief Executive Officer of UChicago Impact and Managing Director of the University of Chicago’s Urban Education Institute (UEI). In this role, Dr. Gasko led school turnaround work to close third grade reading gaps across Minneapolis and St. Paul public school districts and charter networks. He also partnered with the CEO and founder of Groupon to implement a high school and college readiness transformation initiative for middle school students across 38 schools on the South and West sides of Chicago. As Founder and Chair of the Texas Early Learning Council, Dr. Gasko successfully wrote and received an $11 million grant to support change across these systems, which was matched by $30 million in state funds by the Texas Education Agency.

ElevatEd Schedule

Time Event
8:00 a.m. Registration and Check-In
8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Superintendent’s Panel: Holdsworth Center Update and District Application Process: Overview and Q & A
9:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m. Opening of General Plenary
9:45 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Welcome and Overview of Texas 2036 Tom Luce
10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Education and the Economy Panel Discussion

  • Robert S. Kaplan
  • Robert Putnam
  • Richard Reeves
  • Ruth Simmons
  • Moderated by Michael J. Sorrell
12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Networking Lunch (Limited seating available. Additional registration required.)
1:45 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. Keynote Address “Beyond the Data—What does the U.S. Need to do to Catch Up?” Andreas Schleicher
3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Innovative Solutions Facilitated by John Gasko
5:15 p.m. Cocktail Reception at Meadows Museum (Limited seating available. Additional registration required.)

Frequently Asked Questions

ElevatEd’s inaugural theme is Education & the Economy. Education is the single biggest driver of economic development in modern, knowledge-based economies. Across the globe, nations such as Singapore and Finland, which have made deep investments in education, have experienced significant growth in GDP. ElevatEd: Education & the Economy will drive critical conversations about public education and its relationship to America’s position on the road to prosperity.

ElevatEd is open to all who are interested in joining the conversation about the economic impact of a strong public education system.

We will be sharing information and resources on our website ahead of the conference. Visit for more information in the weeks leading up to the conference.

Founded by H-E-B Chairman and CEO Charles Butt, The Holdsworth Center was created to help public school districts grow effective leaders, with the goal that every classroom and campus in Texas thrives under inspired and dynamic leadership. We work collaboratively with districts to strengthen leaders and leadership culture through development programs that are aligned from the superintendent’s office down to campus principals. We help districts understand their own gaps in talent management, to establish their individual goals and priorities, and to develop action plans that will lead to sustainable changes. Throughout the five-year partnership, the District Support team offers implementation assistance to ensure that key learnings from each immersive training session have an opportunity to take root. Participants have the opportunity to visit and learn from high-performing organizations around the world and to tap into our exclusive network of experts and resources throughout their careers.

Registration to attend ElevatEd is $25. Students with a valid student ID can register for $5. Registrants can also sign up for the Networking Lunch on SMU’s campus from 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. for an additional $25 ($5 for students). Following the daylong conference, there will be a cocktail reception from 5:15 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at the Meadows Museum. Tickets for the cocktail reception are $25 with limited availability.

Yes, there are two components of the program that are offered to students at a discount. Student registration for ElevatEd is $5. Valid student ID will be required at check-in for student registrants. Students can also sign up for the Networking Lunch on SMU’s campus from 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. for an additional $5 (valid student ID required).

Space is limited, so be sure to register as soon as possible to reserve your spot. Registration for ElevatEd officially closes on May 16.

You are welcome to attend sessions of the ElevatEd program without staying for the entirety of the conference; however, we ask that you be respectful of our speakers and daylong attendees by remaining quiet and courteous when exiting. There are no discounts available for partial conference attendance.

Yes. ElevatEd has partnered with The Highland Hotel. There are a limited number of rooms blocked for this event.

If you have any dietary restrictions, please let us know the details when you register in the provided field or send an email to before May 16. We will do our best to accommodate your needs.

Upon registration, you will be signed up to receive information about ElevatEd via email prior to the event. Be sure to check your inbox for updates ahead of the conference as well as

There are no refunds offered for ElevatEd registration. Your registration fee is a tax-deductible donation to The Holdsworth Center (a non-profit 501(c)3 educational organization).

ElevatEd event parking is available in SMU lots N, S and U. Parking is limited in each of these lots. Please arrive with enough time to park prior to check-in. A printable map of SMU’s McFarlin Auditorium Event Parking is available here.

Handicapped parking spaces are available outside of McFarlin auditorium. Click here to view a parking map with the accessible entrance noted. Please contact us if you require assistance.

Yes. Attendees are encouraged to ask questions of our dynamic group of speakers during the Education & the Economy panel.

Follow The Holdsworth Center on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube to find updates about ElevatEd and Holdsworth programs. Feel free to share your experiences at ElevatEd with #ElevatEdTX and tag The Holdsworth Center in your posts!

ElevatEd Resources

Additional information about ElevatEd will be provided soon. Check back for our attendee information guide.


Monday, June 4, 2018

McFarlin Memorial Auditorium – Southern Methodist University
6405 Boaz Street
Dallas, TX 75275

Click to open a larger map

ElevatEd Host Committee

Peter Beck, Executive Chairman, The Beck Group

Bruce Esterline, Senior Vice President, The Meadows Foundation; Board Member, The Holdsworth Center

Regen Fearon, Chairman, Early Matters Dallas

John Gasko, Dean, School of Education at the University of North Texas at Dallas

Pete Geren, President and CEO, The Sid W. Richardson Foundation; Board Member, The Holdsworth Center

Charles Glover, Senior Program Officer, The Meadows Foundation

Stephanie Knight, Dean, Simmons School of Education and Human Development at Southern Methodist University

Tom Luce, Chairman, Texas 2036

Matthew Myers, Dean, Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University

J. Puckett, Senior Partner & Managing Director, The Boston Consulting Group

Mark Rohr, CEO and Chairman, Celanese Corporation; Board Member, The Holdsworth Center

David J. Scullin, President & CEO, Communities Foundation of Texas

Jeremy Smith, Executive Director, Rainwater Charitable Foundation

Michael J. Sorrell, President, Paul Quinn College; Board Member, The Holdsworth Center

Todd Williams, Executive Director, The Commit Partnership

Co-Hosted By

Southern Methodist University’s Edwin L. Cox School of Business and the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education & Human Development, The Beck Group, Celanese Corporation, and Rainwater Charitable Foundation

All Fields Required.

Southern Methodist University
June 4, 2018

Space is limited.
Interested in learning
more about ElevatEd and The Holdsworth Center?