Keynote Speakers


Dr. Kay M. McClenney

Partner, Mc2 Consultants

Opening Session Keynote Speaker

Kay McClenney is an independent consultant and Partner in Mc2 Consultants. She serves as Senior Advisor to the President/CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges and as Senior Associate for the Center for Community College Student Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin. She was founding Director of the Center from 2001 through April 2014, and also served during that period as a faculty member in the Community College Leadership Program at The University of Texas at Austin.

Also at the University, she served as senior consultant to the Student Success Initiatives’ work on the national Achieving the Dream initiative. In addition, she was co-director of Student Success BY THE NUMBERS; CLASS — the California Leadership Alliance for Student Success; and the national Bridges to Opportunity initiative. She previously served for 10 years as Vice President and chief operating officer of the Education Commission of the States.

Dr. McClenney continues to serve as a leadership coach for Achieving the Dream, working with the Alamo Colleges (TX), Austin Community College (TX), and Ventura College (CA). She has been a consultant to education institutions, state higher education systems, state government, and professional associations in 47 states and internationally. In addition, she served for a number of years as a community college educator, during which she was a faculty member, program director, system administrator, and interim CEO.
A frequent keynote speaker, Dr. McClenney also has authored numerous publications on education issues, strategic planning, accountability, student success, and leadership. She earned her Ph.D. in educational administration from the Community College Leadership Program at The University of Texas at Austin. Her previous degrees are a B.A. from Trinity University and an M.A. in Psychology from Texas Christian University.

Kay has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and the Executive Board of the American Association of Women in Community Colleges (AAWCC). She received the 2002 PBS O’Banion Prize for contributions to teaching and learning in America, the 2009 Mildred Bulpitt Woman of the Year Award from the American Association of Women in Community Colleges, the 2009 International Leadership Award from NISOD, and the 2011 National Leadership Award from the American Association of Community Colleges. She was co-chair of AACC’s 21st Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges. And in 2014, Phi Theta Kappa honored Dr. McClenney with the Alliance for Educational Excellence Award, presented in recognition of the body of work undertaken to improve student success in community colleges.

Dr. Dee Fink

Higher Education Consultant

Featured Teaching & Learning Keynote Speaker

Dr. Dee Fink is an award-winning international consultant on college teaching and faculty development and author of the national best-selling book in higher education Creating Significant Learning Experiences. Dr. Fink received his doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1976, and accepted a faculty position at the University of Oklahoma. He served as the founding director of the Instructional Development Program at the University of Oklahoma. He also served as president of the Professional and Organizational Development (POD) Network in Higher Education, the premier professional organization for faculty developers in the United States.

Dr. Fink presents on integrated course design, significant and deep learning experiences, evaluating college teaching, teambased learning, what campus leaders can do to promote better teaching and learning across campus, and high impact teaching practices. He consults, presents, and teaches at conferences and campuses throughout the US, Canada, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

He is the recipient of the American Association of Higher Education’s (AAHE) national teaching award, the Jaime Escalante “Stand and Deliver” Award (1989); and the recipient of the Outstanding Faculty Award, College of Liberal Studies, University of Oklahoma (1992). His most recent publication is: Creating Significant Learning Experiences for College Classrooms: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass: 2003.

John Bul Dau

President, John Dau Foundation and President, South Sudan Institute

Closing Session Keynote Speaker

John Dau has experienced challenges in his life that most people could never imagine.

Born in war-torn Sudan, Dau is one of 27,000 “Lost Boys of Sudan,” driven from their villages when the northern Arab government attacked the ethnic minority population of South Sudan in 1987. For the next five years, John Dau led groups of displaced boys across Sudan for hundreds of miles facing starvation, disease, and violence.

While living in a Kenyan refugee camp from 1992-2001, John Dau attended school for the first time at the age of 17 and earned a prestigious Kenyan Certificate for Secondary Education. In 2001, Dau was selected to immigrate to the United States and settled in Syracuse, New York.

Following his initial culture shock, John Dau took on two, sometime three jobs, earned an associate’s degree and Bachelor degree at Syracuse University.

Currently, John Dau is the President of both the John Dau Foundation (JDF) and the South Sudan Institute (SSI), he is an influential part of many efforts to bring hope and peace to the people of South Sudan, founding four nonprofits and with help from volunteers Americans John raised over $3 million to build and run Duk Lost Boys Clinic in his home village of Duk Payuel.

John Dau now speaks professionally throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. He is the author of God Grew Tired of Us and Lost Boy, Lost Girl. His story inspired the Pitt-Jolie documentary that won the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. John Dau is an American Association of Community Colleges Outstanding Alumni.

As a human rights activist for the people of South Sudan, John has lived a remarkable life of cultural adaptation in America. He have received many prestigious awards, including National Geographic Emerging Explorers Award and was a Volvo for Life finalist in the Quality of Life category, which carried a financial contribution from Volvo to the John Dau Foundation. John was also named alongside of DRC president Joseph Kabila, a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader for 2008 and together with Former Secretary of State, Gen. Collin Power; he received a Most Caring Award from the Caring Institute plus other 38 awards.

John Dau’s life provides the ultimate example of a profile in courage. He is a natural leader who exemplifies true resilience and perseverance under the most horrific of circumstances. Today, John Dau is a compelling motivational speaker whose life is defined by his uncompromised commitment to having a lasting impact on the future of his native country.

“I think people refuse to try things because they fear failure,” he observes. “There have been many impossible situations in my life, but I keep trying. My family in Sudan thought I was dead and I feared they were dead, but 20 years later we were reunited. You can’t give up.” – John Dau