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UC Davis Center for Integrated Computing and STEM Education (C-STEM) --- Research and Outreach
Home > Teachers & Administrators > C-STEM Conference > 2020 > Keynote Speaker Biographies

Keynote Speaker Biographies

December 7th Keynote Speakers:

Dr. Mark Schneider, Director of the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education

Talk: “America’s Lowest Performing Students Are Sinking!”

Before joining IES, Mark Schneider was a vice president and an Institute Fellow at American Institutes for Research (AIR) and President of College Measures. Prior to joining AIR, Dr. Schneider served as Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics from 2005–2008. In 2013, the Chronicle of Higher Education selected him as one of the 10 people who had the most impact on higher education policy that year.

He is the author of numerous article and books on education policy. His most recent book, The University Next Door, edited with KC Deane, was published in 2014 by Teachers College, Columbia University. Other books include Getting to Graduation, edited with Andrew Kelly, published in 2012 by Johns Hopkins University Press and Higher Education Accountability, edited with Kevin Carey, published by Palgrave in 2010; Charter Schools: Hope or Hype? written with Jack Buckley, was published by Princeton University Press in 2007. Schneider’s 2000 book, Choosing Schools, also published by Princeton University Press, won the Policy Study Organization’s Aaron Wildavsky Best Book Award.

Dr. Schneider was a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of political science at the State University of New York, Stony Brook.


Tony Thurmond, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, California Department of Education

Talk: “STEM Education – California’s Path Forward to Equity”

Tony Thurmond was sworn in as the 28th California State Superintendent of Public Instruction on January 7, 2019.

Superintendent Thurmond is an educator, social worker, and public school parent, who has served the people of California for more than ten years in elected office. Previously, Superintendent Thurmond served on the Richmond City Council, West Contra Costa Unified School Board, and in the California State Assembly, representing District 15.

Like many of California’s public school students, Superintendent Thurmond came from humble beginnings.  His mother was an immigrant from Panama who came to San Jose, California, to be a teacher.  Read More.

Dr. Mary Croughan, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, UC Davis

Talk: “Equity and Diversity in STEM Education”

Provost Croughan comes to UC Davis with many years of distinguished service as both administrator and faculty member, chiefly at the University of California. After earning her Ph.D. in epidemiology at The Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, she spent 30 years as a professor in the UC San Francisco School of Medicine, during which time she also served as chair of the systemwide Academic Senate and as executive director of the Research Grants Program Office at the UC Office of the President. 

Most recently, she served three years as vice president for research and economic development at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she was instrumental in developing the university’s Harry Reid Research and Technology Park, helping the university attain R1 status, and building research infrastructure.

As the chief academic officer of UC Davis, including UC Davis Health in Sacramento, Provost Croughan oversees all aspects of the university’s mission of teaching, research, and public service. Her top priorities include maintaining and advancing educational excellence, augmenting the university’s capacity to perform critical research, and furthering our culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion.


Lisette Estrella-Henderson, Solano County Superintendent of Schools

Talk: “Closing the Achievement Gap for Young Women in STEM with Engaged Hands-on Learning”

An innovative thinker and longtime supporter of C-STEM, Lisette motivates her team as well as business and community partners to explore and find solutions to close the achievement gap and provide high quality equitable education to all students.

Lisette Estrella-Henderson, has served as an Educator in Solano County for over 36 years. Lisette grew up in a military family and was raised in Solano County after her father was stationed at Travis Air Force Base. She attended Solano Community College and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Davis, and a Master’s in Education degree from the California State University, Sacramento, with focus on bilingual cross-cultural education and curriculum and instruction. In addition to her California Teaching Credential, she also holds her Bilingual Specialist and Administrative Services Credentials and is a certified leadership coach.

For the past 16 years, Lisette has worked with the Solano County Office of Education (SCOE) in various roles of increasing responsibility. In January of 2017, she became the first Latina Superintendent of Schools in Solano County’s history and only the second female to hold the position.

Lisette proudly represents K-12 public education as an active member of several local, regional, statewide, and national organizations including the: California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators (CALSA); Association of California School Administrators (ACSA); U.C. Davis Computing, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (C-STEM) Girls in Robotics Leadership (GIRL) Advisory Board; California Collaborative for Education Excellence Advisory Council; District and County Superintendents Advisory Committee to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction; First 5 Solano Children and Families Commission; Solano Economic Development Corporation; Solano Partnership Against Violence; Solano Community Corrections Partnership; Solano Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council; Solano Coalition for Better Health; Solano Community College Educational Foundation Board of Directors; Vacaville Neighborhood Boys and Girls Club Board of Directors; Solano Kids Thrive; Solano Children’s Alliance and Child Abuse Prevention Council; and local Chambers of Commerce.

Through her extensive knowledge, experience, and leadership abilities, Lisette has earned widespread respect and recognition from her community and up to the national level such as: 2020 Superintendent of the Year (Region 1), California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators (CALSA); 2019 C-STEM Administrator of the Year (UC Davis); 2018 Woman of the Year from the 3rd Congressional District; Women in Educational Leadership Award, American Association of School Administrators (AASA); Outstanding Woman Leader Award, ACSA Region 4; Curriculum and Instruction Administrator of the Year, ACSA (chapter, region, and state awards); Woman of Distinction Award, Soroptimist International of Dixon; Community Recognition Award, La Raza Lawyers Association of Solano; Distinguished Educator Award, Dixon Unified School District, and Champions for Children Award, Children’s Network of Solano County. Additionally, her expertise has appeared in numerous publications, and she has presented at conferences in our community and region, as well as throughout California and across the United States.

Lisette lives in Vacaville with her husband of 33 years and has a daughter who recently graduated from college.


Tim Taylor,  Executive Director, Small School District Association in California

Talk: “Long-Term Impact of the C-STEM Program on Teachers and Their Students”

Tim Taylor previously served Butte County as Superintendent of Schools from 2012 to 2019. He also has served as Assistant Superintendent at Sacramento County Office of Education and as a Director for the Elk Grove Unified School District. From 2014-2018, Tim was an Executive Board Member for the Small School District Association (SSDA), which serves the diverse students and communities for a large number of small school districts throughout California. Since July 2019, he serves as the SSDA Executive Director. He is a huge advocate for C-STEM. Throughout his career, he has worked on various initiatives to ensure all students have access to technology and educational technology resources to provide equity in education, especially in small and rural schools.



December 8th Keynote Speaker:

Dr. Ramona Robinson-Bishop, Co-Founder and President/CEO, ELITE Public Schools

Talk: “All Students Prepared for STEM Fields – 13 Years of Math with Hands-on Robotics”

Dr. Bishop is the Co-Founder and President/CEO of ELITE Public Schools, a public charter school network that opened its first school in Vallejo, California in August of 2019.  ELITE is designed to eliminate the opportunity gap for all students, particularly African-American and Latinx students.  Dr. Bishop considers this her legacy work in that she has dedicated her career toward improving the lives of students in communities that have been historically underserved.

Dr. Bishop graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in Richmond and received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Berkeley. She earned her teaching credential from the University of San Francisco where she was student of the year. She earned her Master’s Degree and administrative credential from California State University, Hayward. She was awarded a doctorate in educational administration from the University of Pacific.

Dr. Bishop has served as Superintendent of Vallejo City Unified School District and Associate Superintendent for Educational Services in the Twin Rivers Unified School District. Her professional career also includes teaching, serving as principal, director, assistant superintendent and superintendent in several urban school districts. Additionally, Dr. Bishop has served as the elected president of the California Association of African American Superintendents and Administrators.


December 9th Keynote Speaker:

Mauricio Arellano, Superintendent, Redlands Unified School District

Talk: “Open the Algebra Gateway to Success in STEM Fields for All Students Through Hands-on Robotics”

Mr. Arellano was appointed Superintendent of the Redlands Unified School District in September of 2017 after an extensive national search. Prior to his arrival to the Redlands Unified School District, Mr. Arellano served as the Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources for the Palm Springs Unified School District for fourteen years. Previous to his assignment in Palm Springs, he served for twelve years as the Certificated Director of Personnel, Elementary Principal, Elementary Vice-Principal and Elementary Teacher for the San Bernardino City Unified School District. Mr. Arellano is a long-time member of the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), the California Association of Bilingual Educators (CABE), the School Superintendents Association (AASA), the Association for Employment in Education (AAEE) and the American Association of School Personnel Administrators (AASPA). He was recently invited to become a member of the National Center for Education Research and Technology (NCERT), a very prestigious national level Superintendents Association. Recognitions include being named ACSA’s Region XIX Personnel/Human Resources Administrator of the Year in 2008, ACSA’s Ray Curry Award winner for excellence in school personnel in 2012, the recipient of the 2015 Riverside County Office of Education Models of Excellence Award for his work with the Skillful Leader Program and the 2016 Riverside County Administrator of the year. Since his arrival in Redlands, working in tandem with the Board of Education and all the remarkable employees at RUSD, the District has been focused on implementing a 21st Century learning experience for all students.

Mr. Arellano earned his Bachelor’s Degrees in Sociology and Spanish in 1990 from the University of California, Riverside (UCR) and his Master of Arts Degree in Educational Administration in 1996 from California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB).


December 10th Keynote Speaker:

Dr. Brittney Beck, Assistant Professor, Department of Education, CSU Bakersfield

Talk: “Telling Stories and Visualizing Data: Inspiring K-12 Pre-Service Teachers to Code through Citizen Science”

With a Bachelor’s in Political Science, a Master’s in Science Education, and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, her body of work resides at the intersection of democratic education, teacher and student activism, C-STEM education, and university-school-community partnerships. At these intersections, she explores how school systems can best engage the material and ideological realities of the community to inform and reform curricula, pedagogy, and school climate initiatives in ways that engage teachers and students as active citizens. Dr. Beck serves as the Project Director and Principal Investigator for the Citizen Scientist Project, which is designed to build the capacity of K-12 teachers and students to apply their budding competencies in computer science, science, technology, engineering, art, and math (C-STEAM) to identify and address issues of community concern in collaboration with scientists and community agencies. Through this work, she seeks to democratize science by including more diverse voices in question posing, data collection, data analysis, and data-informed advocacy. Dr. Beck also serves as a member of the UC-CSU Environmental and Climate Change Literacy Project in which she is developing, piloting, and assessing climate change curricula and pedagogy in teacher education.