2016 Keynote Speakers

Jeff Zwiers

Jeff Zwiers is a senior researcher at Stanford University. He received his Ed.D. from the University of San Francisco and has taught English, Spanish, science, and history in high school, middle school, and elementary school.

Jeff says that he became a teacher to “positively influence the social linguistic, ethical, and cognitive development of students.” His areas of specialty are academic language and literacy.

He supports the Understanding Language Initiative and collaborates with teachers, instructional coaches, and school systems to improve the education of academic English learners. He co-directs the Academic Language Development Network, which focuses on accelerating students’ literacy, language, cognition, and conversation skills. He also consulted on the Guatemala Education Reform in the Classroom project to develop effective systems of bilingual education and teacher training across the country.

He has published books and articles on reading, thinking, and academic language. His most recent books are “Common Core Standards in Diverse Classrooms Essential Practices for Developing Academic Language and Disciplinary Literacy” and “Building Academic Language: Meeting Common Core Standards Across Disciplines, Grades 5-12”.


Libia S. Gil
Assistant Deputy Secretary, Director, Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA, U.S. Department of Education)

Assistant Deputy Secretary, Director, Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) U.S. Department of Education President Obama named Libia Gil assistant deputy secretary and director of the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) on September 9, 2013. She is the principal adviser to Secretary Arne Duncan on all matters related to the education of English learners, now estimated to be about 10 percent of the total K-12 enrollment nationwide.

As head of OELA, Gil administers programs under Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which support high-quality instruction for linguistically and culturally diverse students. The office also supports professional development programs for teachers of English learners.

Gil is committed to ensuring improvement in English language education through the Department’s educational initiatives, among them Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation and the Teacher Quality Partnership.

Prior to joining the Department, Gil served as vice president for practice at the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning in Chicago. She was also a senior fellow and managing director at the American Institutes for Research (AIR), where she developed and co-led the AIR Center for English learners.

Gil began her career as a teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District, and later was a bilingual resource specialist in the ABC Unified School District in California. In that same district, she served as a bilingual-ESL coordinator, as a desegregation officer designing bilingual (Spanish, Korean and Chinese) magnet programs for voluntary desegregation efforts and finally as an elementary school principal implementing a Portuguese bilingual maintenance program. She served as an assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in the Seattle Public Schools, where she was responsible for bilingual education services and programs in addition to a multitude of other programs and services. Later she became superintendent of the Chula Vista Elementary School District in California and institutionalized dual language programs in Spanish.

She earned her Doctor of Philosophy degree in curriculum and instruction, with an emphasis in bilingual education, from the University of Washington.

Throughout her career Gil has demonstrated leadership in education beginning in her early career as a bilingual teacher when she created the first Chinese bilingual program south of Los Angeles. As superintendent of the Chula Vista Elementary School District she was awarded the annual Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education for her outstanding leadership in increasing student performance in the district.


Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch 

Consuelo is a US Army Retired Lieutenant Colonel and Education Advocate. She was born and raised along the border in a small barrio in Laredo, Texas. She overcame poverty, discrimination, and illiteracy to become the successful community leader she is today. Although she grew up without material wealth, Consuelo was taught by her immigrant parents that she was rich in culture, tradition, values, and faith.

The values Consuelo learned during childhood were reinforced throughout her career in the United States military. After graduating from Hardin Simmons University, she entered the US Army as an officer and served for two decades. While in the military, she broke barriers and set records to become the highest ranking Hispanic woman in the Combat Support Field of the US Army. In 1996, she was selected out of 26,000 candidates to assume a command post, which would put her on track for the rank of general officer. She respectfully declined the honor and retired as a 22-year veteran of the US Army to fulfill her mother’s dying wish for her to return to her roots and become a community leader. In realizing her dream, she founded Educational Achievement Services, Inc. with a mission to prepare tomorrow’s leaders.

Consuelo currently shares her story with people of all ages and creeds. She is doing exactly what she preaches: living a legacy. She maintains a strong dedication to saving the youth of America by mentoring students and parents across the United States. Her dedication to the youth of America has garnered her numerous awards and citations from educational institutions, government agencies, professional organizations, and the national media. In addition to her work with American youth, Consuelo reaches audiences in the corporate, professional, nonprofit, and multi-cultural markets, speaking on such topics as workforce issues like diversity, leadership, and team building, as well as women’s issues.

Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch has been profiled on CNN’s Latino in America, Univision’s Don Francisco Presenta, the Lifetime Network, National Public Radio, the syndicated television program Hispanics Today, and American Latino Television’s Latination program. Consuelo has also been featured in Hispanic Business magazine’s 100 Most Influential Hispanics in America, O Magazine, Latina Style, Vanidades, and Glamour magazine.

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