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White House Convening | Speakers

John B. King, Jr.

John B. King, Jr. is the Secretary of Education, a position he assumed upon Senate confirmation on March 14, 2016. In tapping him to lead the U.S. Department of Education, President Obama called Dr. King “an exceptionally talented educator” citing his commitment to “preparing every child for success” and his lifelong dedication to education as a teacher, principal, and leader of schools and school systems. As secretary, Dr. King brings a continued commitment to advancing excellence and equity for every student, supporting educators and elevating the teaching profession, and improving college affordability and completion rates. Before becoming secretary, Dr. King served since January 2015 at the Department as principal senior advisor. In that role, he carried out the duties of the deputy secretary, overseeing all preschool through 12th-grade education policies, programs, and strategic initiatives, as well as the operations of the Department. Dr. King carried out this work with a focus on increasing equity, improving educational outcomes for all students, and closing achievement gaps through implementation of key administration priorities in areas including early learning, elementary and secondary education, special education, English language acquisition, and innovation. In performing the duties of the deputy secretary, Dr. King also oversaw the Department’s work leading cross-agency collaboration for President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper task force, which seeks to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color, and to ensure that all young people are able to reach their full potential.


Eric Waldo

As Executive Director of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher initiative, Eric Waldo is working to inspire every student in the U.S. to take charge of their future by completing their post-secondary education, whether at a professional training program, a community college, or a 2-year or 4-year college or university. His role cuts across policy, advocacy, and community engagement to further the President’s North Star goal—that by 2020, the U.S. once again leads the world in terms of college graduates. Previously Waldo was Deputy Chief of Staff (DCOS) at the Department of Education (ED), where he helped lead and manage ED through President Obama’s historic investment of $100B in education funding via the Recovery Act. This work created important investments around system-level, cradle-to- career changes for states, districts, schools, and communities. Waldo also helped manage the Department of Defense (DOD) global K-12 school system as the Co-Chair for the Advisory Council for Dependents’ Education, which advises and oversees the DOD schools. Waldo earned a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School, an M.Ed. from Harvard University, and an A.B. from Brown University. He currently resides in Washington, D.C.


William Mendoza

William (Bill) Mendoza was appointed as Executive Director of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education in December 2011. Bill, Oglala-Sicangu Lakota, grew up on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Sioux reservations in South Dakota. Bill has experienced, firsthand, through his professional and life experiences, the multitude of challenges facing American Indian students, educators, and tribes. In addition to being a teacher and principal, Bill has worked at the school, professional and community level to help foster leadership development and civic engagement among American Indians. Integral to his professional and academic capacity has been his experiences as a tribal college student at Haskell Indian Nations University, Sinte Gleska University, and Oglala Lakota College. Bill previously served as the Deputy Director and Executive Director for the White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges. Since his appointment in January 2011, he has provided leadership to key administration initiatives including: Executive Order 13592, Tribal Leaders Speak – The State of Indian Education 2010 Report; State-Tribal Education Partnership Pilot; and 2012 ED-DOI Memorandum of Understanding. Before coming to Washington, DC, Bill was working towards a Doctorate in Education Leadership at Montana State University (MSU). He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Humanities from Fort Lewis College in 2005 and a Master of Education from MSU in 2010.


Kim Hunter Reed

Kim Hunter Reed was appointed by President Barack Obama as Deputy Under Secretary of Education. Dr. Reed is a member of the senior leadership team at the Department of Education that oversees higher education in the United States. Dr. Reed is the former chief of staff for the Louisiana Board of Regents and the former executive vice president of the University of Louisiana System. Earlier, she served on the faculty at Southern University in Baton Rouge and was executive assistant to the president and interim vice president of student affairs at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond. Dr. Reed earned a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalist and master of public administration degree at Southeastern Louisiana University. She holds a doctorate in public policy from Southern University.

Mohamed Abdel-Kader

Mohamed Abdel-Kader is the Deputy Assistant Secretary in the International and Foreign Language Education (IFLE) Office at the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE). As Deputy Assistant Secretary of IFLE, Mohamed is responsible for encouraging and promoting the study of foreign languages and the study of the cultures of other countries at the elementary, secondary, and postsecondary levels in the United States; and coordinates with related international and foreign language education programs of other Federal agencies, as established in the 2008 Higher Education Opportunity Act. He leads the work of IFLE in administering the domestic programs authorized under Title VI of the Higher Education Act and those overseas programs under the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange (Fulbright-Hays) Act administered by ED. Prior to joining ED, Mohamed served as the Director of Development for the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and also managed the university’s advancement strategy in the Middle East region, where he focused on major gifts and strategic engagement.