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General Session Speakers

Join thousands of your colleagues in the same grand event space to be inspired by the words of our general session speakers.
New! Watch Onaje, Susan, and Sir Ken from the comfort of your home, office, or hotel room. We're offering free live streaming of their general sessions to NAIS members. Find out more here​

 General Session Speakers

  • Onaje X. O. Woodbine

    Onaje X. O. Woodbine

    Thursday, March 2, 9:15 - 10:45 AM
    Baltimore Convention Center Hall F/G
    Opening General Session

    Onaje X. O. Woodbine is an author and teacher of philosophy and religious studies at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. His book, Black Gods of the Asphalt: Religion, Hip-Hop, and Street Basketball, has garnered praise as “a profound narrative of survival [and] self-determination … in this season where black male bodies are under attack.” Black Gods has also been adapted into a stage play that dramatizes the rhythms, styles, and search for meaning that infuses street basketball in Boston’s inner cities. The BGOTA stage play has been performed at Phillips Academy Andover and at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival in South Africa.

    A Boston native, Woodbine received his B.A. degree in Philosophy from Yale University, his M.T.S. in Theological Studies and Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Boston University. 

  • Susan Cain

    Susan Cain

    Thursday, March 2, 3:15 - 4:30 PM
    Baltimore Convention Center Hall F/G
    General Session

    Susan Cain is cofounder of Quiet Revolution and the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can’t Stop Talking, which was on the New York Times best-seller list for more than four years. Cain is also the cofounder of the Quiet Schools Network and the Quiet Leadership Institute.

    Her writing has appeared in the The New York TimesThe Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. Her record-smashing TED talk has been viewed over 14 million times and was named by Bill Gates one of his all-time favorite talks. Cain has also spoken at Microsoft, Google, the U.S. Treasury, the S.E.C., Harvard, Yale, West Point and the US Naval Academy. She received Harvard Law School’s Celebration Award for Thought Leadership, the Toastmasters International Golden Gavel Award for Communication and Leadership, and was named one of the world’s top 50 Leadership and Management Experts by Inc. Magazine. She is an honors graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School. 

    See her in conversation with Heidi Kasevich, director of Quiet Education.

  • Sir Ken Robinson

    Sir Ken Robinson

    Friday, March 3, 9:15 - 10:45 AM
    Baltimore Convention Center Hall F/G
    General Session

    ​An internationally recognized authority on creativity and innovation in education and business, Sir Ken Robinson is also one of the world’s leading speakers. His latest book, Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education, includes groundbreaking research and tackles the critical issue of how to transform the nation’s troubled educational system.

    Called “one of the world’s elite thinkers on creativity and innovation” by Fast Company magazine, Sir Ken has received numerous awards and recognitions for his groundbreaking contributions. He was included in Thinkers50 list of the world’s leading business thinkers and has been named one of TIME/Fortune/CNN’s Principal Voices. In 2003, he received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for services to the arts. His 2009 book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, is a New York Times best seller and has been translated into 21 languages. A 10th anniversary edition of his classic work on creativity and innovation, Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative, was published in 2011. Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life, was published by Viking in May 2013 and is also a New York Times best seller.

  • Brené Brown

    Brené Brown

    Friday, March 3, 3:15 - 4:30 PM
    Baltimore Convention Center Hall F/G
    Closing General Session

    Brené Brown has spent the past 13 years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. She is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. Her books include three No. 1 New York Times best-sellers: Rising Strong, Daring Greatly, and The Gifts of Imperfection.

    She is also the Founder and CEO of The Daring Way and COURAGEworks – an online learning community that offers eCourses, workshops, and interviews for individuals and organizations ready for braver living, loving, and leading. 

    Brené’s 2010 TEDx Houston talk, The Power of Vulnerability, is one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world, with over 25 million viewers.


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