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Featured Speakers

Maria HinojosaOpening Session Keynote Speaker: Maria Hinojosa

Emmy-Winning & Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist

Sunday, June 16: 4:00 - 5:45 p.m. 

As a reporter who was the first Latina in many newsrooms, Maria Hinojosa dreamt of a space where she could create independent, multimedia journalism that explores and gives a critical voice to the diverse American experience. She made that dream a reality in 2010 when she created Futuro Media, an independent, nonprofit newsroom based in Harlem, New York City, with the mission to create multimedia content from a POC perspective. Futuro does this in the service of empowering people to navigate the complexities of an increasingly diverse and connected world. Hinojosa’s Pulitzer Prize-winning podcast “Suave” focuses on her relationship with David Luis "Suave" Gonzalez, in addition to telling the story of thousands of other people sentenced to die in prison for a crime they committed as a minor. “Suave” is gut-wrenching, deeply personal and full of heart.

As the anchor and executive producer of the Peabody Award-winning show “Latino USA,” distributed by NPR, as well as co-host of “In The Thick,” the Futuro Media’s award-winning political podcast, Hinojosa has informed millions about the changing cultural and political landscape in America and abroad. Her new book, “Once I Was You: A Memoir of Love and Hate in a Torn America,” Hinojosa tells the story of immigration in America through her family’s experiences and decades of reporting, painting an unflinching portrait of a country in crisis. She is also a contributor to the long-running, award-winning news program CBS Sunday Morning and a MSNBC contributor.

Hinojosa’s nearly 30-year career as an award-winning journalist includes reporting for PBS, CBS, WNBC, CNN, NPR and anchoring the Emmy Award-winning talk show from WGBH Maria Hinojosa: One-on-One. She is the author of two books and has won dozens of awards, including: four Emmys, the John Chancellor Award, the Studs Terkel Community Media Award, two Robert F. Kennedy Awards, the Edward R. Murrow Award from the Overseas Press Club and the Ruben Salazar Lifetime Achievement Award from the NAHJ. She has been honored with her own day in October in New York City and has been recognized by People En Español as one of the 25 most powerful Latina women. Additionally, Hinojosa was the first Latina to anchor a PBS FRONTLINE report: “Lost in Detention,” which aired in October 2011 and was the first to explore abuse at immigrant detention facilities, garnering attention from Capitol Hill as well as both the mainstream and Spanish-language media.

As a reporter for NPR, Hinojosa was among the first to report on youth violence in urban communities on a national scale. During her eight years as CNN’s urban affairs correspondent, Hinojosa often took viewers into communities rarely shown on television and continued that work longform on Now on PBS. At Futuro Media, Hinojosa continues to bring attention to experiences and points of view that are often overlooked or underreported in mainstream media, all while mentoring the next generation of diverse journalists to delve into authentic and nuanced stories. In 2018, she was a Fellow at Shorenstein Center at the Harvard Kennedy School and is a frequent speaker across the country. In 2019, she was named the inaugural Distinguished Journalist in Residence at her Alma Mater, Barnard College. She lives in New York City with her husband and two children.

Dr. Jennifer NorrellDiversity Session Speaker: Dr. Jennifer Norrell

Superintendent, East Aurora School District 131 

Sunday, June 16: 2:00 - 3:30 p.m. 

Dr. Jennifer Norrell has served as superintendent for East Aurora School District 131 since 2018. Norrell was named 2022 Superintendent of the Year for Illinois’ largest region of Kishwaukee. 

Serving as the first female superintendent in 180 years in the State of Illinois’ oldest school district and the first African American female superintendent in Kane County, she leads the Pre-K–12th grade district with equity-focused leadership and proudly implements the only districtwide dual language program in Illinois.

In over 25 years, Norrell has served in many roles including teacher, school and district leader for high school, and Pre-K–12th grade unit school districts. She also served as district liaison for Illinois, overseeing underperforming districts across the state through a partnership with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the American Institute for Research (AIR). Norrell also served many years as university faculty for Saint Xavier University and Governors State University. In her role as leadership and curriculum consultant, Norrell has supported improvement efforts and mentored educators for districts including Dallas ISD, Indianapolis and Atlanta Public Schools, and school principals in Chicago Public Schools. She also presents at numerous State, national, and regional conferences including the American Educational Research Association (AERA), U.S. Department of Education ESEA Conference, College Board Forum, and the American Association of School Administrators (AASA).

Norrell, a 2021 Chicago Defender Women of Excellence Honoree, serves on the College Board’s National Superintendents Advisory Council, Education Research and Development Institute (ERDI) as an ED Leader, Midwest Suburban Superintendents Association (MSSA), and other state and national organizations. In the fall of 2022, Dr. Norrell was elected nationally as a Trustee for the College Board for a four-year term.

Norrell earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry from Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia, a master’s of education from Saint Xavier University in Chicago, and a doctorate of education and superintendent certification from Loyola University Chicago.

Richard CordrayDepartment of Education Speaker: Richard A. Cordray

Chief Operating Officer

Tuesday, June 18: 8:30 - 10:00 a.m.

Richard A. Cordray is the chief operating officer for the U.S. Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA). FSA administers the federal student aid programs, which — in fiscal year 2022 — provided more than $111 billion in federal grants, loans, and work-study funds to nearly 10 million students attending approximately 5,500 postsecondary institutions. In total, FSA manages a federal student loan portfolio valued at more than $1.6 trillion, representing more than 45 million customers.

Cordray is responsible for FSA’s strategic and operational management. Since his appointment in May 2021, Cordray has overseen significant changes to the federal student aid programs, including stronger standards for performance, transparency, and accountability for its student loan servicers aimed at protecting borrowers. Under Cordray’s leadership, FSA reestablished its Enforcement Office to increase focus on investigating problem schools that pose the most risk to students and taxpayers, requiring greater accountability by owners of schools when the institutions fail to follow program participation rules, and partnering with state officials — including attorneys general, banking regulators, and student loan ombuds offices — to collaborate on potential investigations and enforcement actions. FSA continues to deliver targeted debt relief to student loan borrowers, including borrower defense to repayment relief to hundreds of thousands of borrowers defrauded by their schools and hundreds of thousands more through an ongoing overhaul of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

Cordray brings to FSA extensive leadership and expertise, as well as a commitment to serving consumers and American families. His past public service includes several senior state and federal positions, including serving as the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) from 2012 to 2017. Prior, Cordray served as the Ohio Attorney General, where he and his team took major steps to protect consumers from fraudulent foreclosures and financial predators; as the Ohio Treasurer, where he led the state’s banking, investment, debt, and financing activities; as Ohio’s first Solicitor General; and in the Ohio General Assembly.

Cordray majored in legal and political theory at Michigan State University’s James Madison College. He earned a master’s degree in philosophy, politics, and economics while a Marshall Scholar at Oxford University in England. He then earned a law degree from the University of Chicago Law School, where he was editor-in-chief of the Law Review. He clerked for Judge Robert Bork on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and for Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court. He has since argued seven cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and was a professor of constitutional law for many years.

Michael RugglessDepartment of Education Speaker: Michael Ruggless

Program Specialist, Policy Implementation and Oversight

Monday, June 17

10:00 - 11:00 a.m. | Access, Disclosure, and Use Guidance of FAFSA and Federal Tax Information (FTI) Data

3:30 - 4:30 p.m. | SAI Deep Dive and Pell Implications

Tuesday, June 18

8:30 - 10:00 a.m. | Address by Federal Student Aid (FSA) Chief Operating Officer Richard Cordray & U.S. Department of Education Federal Update

11:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. | Unpacking the Development of Cost of Attendance: Findings, Changes, and Discussions

Michael Ruggless joined Federal Student Aid (FSA) in March 2019, where he developed the Department’s training program for new financial aid administrators for the annual FSA training conference and worked to support the policy implementation and administration of the campus-based programs.

Before joining FSA, Michael began his career in higher education as a graduate assistant and financial aid administrator at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE). Since then, he has spent nearly a decade at higher education institutions as financial aid administrator at Saint Louis University and Johns Hopkins University. Michael joined FSA’s Policy Implementation and Liaison Group in November 2019 and is currently a program specialist where his policy research and work largely focus on the use of FAFSA® and federal tax information (FTI) data under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), Higher Education Act (HEA), Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and the Privacy Act. He is also a subject matter expert on approval and consent for purposes of FAFSA and income-driven repayment (IDR), student consumer information, cybersecurity, FSA ID, SAIG agreements, and the Department’s execution of matching programs and system of record notices under the Privacy Act. The scope of his work broadens to include policy and implementation activities under the FUTURE Act, FAFSA Simplification Act, and the STOP Act.

Prior to his career in higher education, Michael earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at SIUE in social science and secondary education, and curriculum and instruction. He earned his Ph.D. in higher education administration from Saint Louis University. His doctoral research focused on institutional development of cost of attendance at American colleges and universities. His research interests include the implications of policy implementation of financial aid programs at institutions of higher education, federal student aid, developing and implementing cost of attendance, and college pricing.

Melanie StoreyDepartment of Education Speaker: Melanie Storey

Deputy Director of Policy Implementation and Oversight

Tuesday, June 18: 8:30 - 10:00 a.m.

Melanie Storey is the deputy director of policy implementation and oversight (PIO). She joined Federal Student Aid (FSA) in March 2020 and joined PIO in September 2020. PIO serves as the principal office advising FSA on higher education policy to ensure that operations are considered in policy development and once enacted, that policy is implemented to meet intended goals. Prior to FSA, Melanie led a wide range of policy-focused activities related to higher education and student financial aid at the College Board. She contributed to the College Board's major policy-related studies and reports about higher education, college affordability, and student aid. Prior to the College Board, Melanie served as the director of national initiatives at the American Council on Education. In that role, she provided strategic research and analytical support to ACE's government relations leadership team and served as the primary staff liaison for several blue-ribbon commissions, including U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings' Commission on the Future of Higher Education.

Gregory MartinDepartment of Education Speaker: Gregory Martin

Director of the Policy Development Group, Office of Postsecondary Education 

Monday, June 17

11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. | An Overview of Financial Value Transparency and Gainful Employment Reporting Requirements (REPEATED)

Tuesday, June 18

8:30 - 10:00 a.m. | Address by Federal Student Aid (FSA) Chief Operating Officer Richard Cordray & U.S. Department of Education Federal Update

1:30 - 2:30 p.m. | What's New in Administrative Capability and Certification Procedures?

3:00 - 4:00 p.m. | An Overview of Financial Value Transparency and Gainful Employment Reporting Requirements (REPEATED)

Greg currently serves as the director of the Policy Development Group in the Office of Postsecondary Education. From 1990 to 1995 he was an institutional review specialist. He then served as a training officer from 1995 until 2014 before starting with the Office of Postsecondary Education. 

Justin DraegerJustin Draeger, President & CEO

Monday, June 17: 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.

Justin is the president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), serving as the foremost advocate and voice for student financial aid issues. In this role, he is the principal liaison between NASFAA members, the U.S. Congress, federal agencies, and the media. Dedicated to aiding underserved populations, Justin has committed most of his career to the idea that post-secondary education should be bound only by ambition and effort, not finances or background.   Since starting his career in 2002, Justin has played pivotal roles in administering, interpreting, communicating, and shaping student financial aid policy. His diverse experience includes positions as a director of financial aid, regulatory and policy analyst, and spokesperson, along with senior roles in government relations, communications, and policy development. Recognized for his expertise, Justin is a frequent source for national and trade press, appearing in the most-read newspapers, radio, and TV shows nationwide, including NBC’s The Today Show, National Public Radio, Fox Business News, CNBC, and C-SPAN.   Justin serves on several boards dedicated to advancing health and education. His academic credentials include an undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University and an MBA from Baker College. Originally from Toledo, OH, he resides with his wife and family in Fairfax, VA. They are proud parents of one college student and two more teens preparing for their postsecondary journeys.



Publication Date: 5/15/2024