Author, Activist, and Agent of Change
Closing Plenary Speaker
Arun Gandhi, grandson of ‘Mahatma’ Gandhi, was born into apartheid South Africa in 1934 where he became a victim of violence. His parents and grandparents taught that justice was best sought through transforming an opponent through love and compassion. To enhance his education in nonviolence Arun went to India in 1946 to live with his grandfather and directly benefitted from daily one-to-one lessons.
Arun is the founder of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence and is the Founding President of the Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute. This charitable organisation currently supports over 1000 children in India with shelter, food and education.
Arun Gandhi has been very involved in writing and social programs. This included a 30 year career in journalism in India. Arun is an international bestselling author. His most recent book is ‘The Gift of Anger and other lessons from my grandfather’.
Arun and his late wife Sunanda started projects in India for the social and economic uplifting of the oppressed using constructive action programs, the backbone of Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence.
Arun is the author of several books. The first, A Patch of White (1949), is about life in prejudiced South Africa; then, he wrote two books on poverty and politics in India; followed by a compilation of M.K. Gandhi’s Wit & Wisdom. He edited a book of essays on World Without Violence: Can Gandhi’s Vision Become Reality?, wrote The Forgotten Woman: The Untold Story of Kastur, the Wife of Mahatma Gandhi his late wife Sunanda, and also wrote his bestselling book Legacy of Love: My Education in the Path of Nonviolence. In March of 2014 Grandfather Gandhi was released.
Arun Gandhi travels the world as a Peace Farmer planting seeds of peace and spreading the message ‘Be the change you wish to see’.
Educator, Journalist and Author
Opening Plenary Speaker
Esther Wojcicki is a renowned American educator, journalist, author and mother of three incredibly successful daughters. She is a leader in the Blending Learning space, teaching science through AR, and many believe she has the silver bullet to solving today’s education problems.
Esther believes that every child deserves to be taught in a way that enriches their minds, unlocks their true potential, and provides them with lifelong skills to flourish in today’s world. That means giving students control of at least 20% of their learning in the school day. Her kids are taught and empowered to become “do-ers”, investigators, problem solvers. This process enhances their critical thinking skills which empowers their life and business skills. Today, she says, kids are taught to memorize things and take tests, which is NOT learning. It is just memorizing. She also talks about how parents should parent in today high stress, social media age.
Esther is a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at MediaX at Stanford, and is the founder of the Palo Alto High School Media Arts Program – one of the top programs for journalism in the nation which grew from a small group of 20 students in 1984 to one of the largest in the nation including 600 students, five additional journalism teachers, and nine award-winning journalism publications. She is the subject of national articles in Time Magazine, multiple newspapers, and is the author of viral blog posts for the Huffington Post, and many other media outlets, and has gone viral online with her TEDx and other speeches. She wrote a popular book entitled Moonshots in Education: Launching Blended Learning in the Classroom (2015). Esther has always been at the forefront of emerging trends in education and has been intimately involved with Google and GoogleEdu since its inception, where she was one of the leaders in setting up the Google Teacher Academy and remains a guiding force.
Esther believes that when educators adopt a powerful new mindset that anything is truly possible. Many of her students, including several prominent journalists and the multi-talented James Franco, have gone on to do incredible things! In addition to winning California Teacher of the Year in 2002, she was also a recipient of the Gold Key by Columbia Scholastic Press Association in recognition of outstanding devotion to the cause of the school press.
She is a Board member of the Alliance for Excellent Education and on the board of Newseum in Washington D.C. and is former Chair of Creative Commons. Esther has been a Consultant for the U.S Department of Education, The United Nations, Hewlett Foundation, Carnegie Foundation for Advancement of Teaching, Google, Silicon Valley Education Foundation, and Time Magazine Education. She has two honorary doctorates, one from Palo Alto University (2013) and one from Rhode Island School of Design (2016).
As an educator, she is especially proud to be the mother of three highly successful daughters. Susan is CEO of YouTube, Janet is Professor of Pediatrics at UCSF working on the obesity epidemic, and Anne is Founder of 23andMe and is former wife of Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google.
Provost, Georgia Tech
Association Breakfast Speaker
Rafael L. Bras is provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is a professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences where he holds the K. Harrison Brown Family Chair.
Before becoming provost, Bras was a distinguished professor and dean of the Henry Samueli School of Engineering at UC-Irvine. For 32 years, he was a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he was chair of the faculty, head of the Civil and Environmental Engineering department, and director of the Ralph M. Parsons Laboratory.
He has served as advisor to many institutions including: Engineering Directorate, National Science Foundation; Board of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, National Research Council; Earth Systems Sciences and Applications Committee of NASA and NASA Advisory Committee; National Academy of Sciences; United States Secretary of Energy, and the academic departments of prestigious American and international universities.
He is a distinguished member of ASCE, fellow of AGU, AMS, ASCE and AAAS, an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, the Academy of Arts and Sciences of Puerto Rico and the Academies of Engineering and Sciences of Mexico. He holds an honorary degree from the University of Perugia in Italy. His awards include the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Award Hall of Fame, AGU Horton medal, NASA Public Service Medal, and the Clarke Prize, among others.
He chaired a panel that supervised the design and construction of a multibillion-dollar project to protect the city of Venice from floods. He has published two textbooks, more than 225 refereed journal publications, and several hundred other publications.