#NCSD2020 Virtual Conference (5/12 & 5/14)

Unfortunately, we had to postpone the live version of our 2020 conference (which was scheduled for March 26th and 27th in Washington, DC) due to COVID-19. While we are still looking forward to hosting an in-person gathering when it becomes safe to do so, we’ll be offering some of our sessions virtually. Keep checking back, as we plan to add new sessions over the next few months.


ADVOCACY TRAINING – MAY 12th from 3:30-5:00PM EST

This workshop is designed to give you an overview of the federal legislative process and how you can engage in it. In particular, you will learn about NCSD’s policy priorities and how you can educate your federal representatives about these priorities. You will also learn about how to prepare for a meeting with elected officials and their staff, what to expect at the meeting, and what to do afterward. While this training is geared toward the federal system, the lessons learned can be applied at both the state and local level.

Stephen Cobb
Senior Associate, The Raben Group

As a senior associate at The Raben Group, Stephen Cobb brings years of experience in advocacy, public policy, political campaigns, and strategic communication to his clients.

Before joining Raben, Stephen was an associate at The Pew Charitable Trusts, where he worked closely with senior leadership to help develop high-level institutional strategy and media relations plans. Prior to that Stephen held several positions on Capitol Hill and served as a political assistant at Hart Research Associates, a Democratic polling firm.

Stephen received his master’s degree from American University in Washington, D.C, and his bachelor’s degree from The University of Southern Mississippi. Originally from coastal Alabama, Stephen is passionate about immigration and climate change issues. He is also an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community.

Sunil Mansukhani
Principal, The Raben Group

Sunil Mansukhani brings two decades of experience in education and civil rights policy, law, and advocacy from both the nonprofit sector and government. While at The Raben Group, Sunil’s clients have included Open Society Foundations, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Child Trends, Communities in Schools, The University of Chicago, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Education Writers Association.

He served in the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Department of Education (ED) over the course of three administrations, serving presidents of both parties. Prior to joining Raben, Sunil was the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy in ED’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) from 2009-2012. As part of OCR’s senior management team, Sunil helped lead an office of over 600 employees and a budget of $100 million, with 12 locations across the country. He led the development of OCR’s policy initiatives and data collection efforts.

While Sunil was at ED, OCR issued guidance that sought to protect the civil rights of tens of millions of students in areas such as the consideration of race in K-12 and college admissions; harassment and bullying; sexual violence; documentation requirements for enrollment in public schools; and equal access for students with disabilities. In addition, he oversaw the implementation of the widely-heralded Civil Rights Data Collection, a survey of all the public schools in the nation.

Sunil has also previously served as a Senior Attorney in DOJ’s Civil Rights Division; Executive Director of the District of Columbia Access to Justice Commission; an associate with the law firm Crowell and Moring; a law clerk for Chief Judge Edward Cahn in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and a teaching fellow at Georgetown University Law Center’s Institute for Public Representation.

Sunil received his B.A. in Political Science and Economics, summa cum laude, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, his J.D. from Yale Law School, and an LL.M in Advocacy from Georgetown University Law Center. He is most proud of helping to make his two young daughters diehard Chicago Cubs fans.



NCSD’s keynote presentation was designed as a tribute to the late Courtney Mykytyn (founder and executive director of Integrated Schools, and NCSD steering committee member). Courtney was tragically killed in an automobile accident in December 2019.

The keynote presentation will be introduced by author and entrepreneur Courtney E. Martin. Courtney has authored/edited six books, including The New Better Off: Reinventing the American Dream and Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists. She also co-founded the Solutions Journalism Network and FRESH Speakers Bureau. Courtney has appeared on the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, MSNBC, and The O’Reilly Factor, and speaks widely at conferences and colleges. She is the recipient of the Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics, a residency from the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Centre, and an honorary Ph.d. from Art Center of Design. She lives with her family in a co-housing community called Temescal Commons in Oakland. She is at a work on a new book about white parents and school integration. Subscribe to her newsletter and read more about her work at www.courtneyemartin.com.

Vanessa Siddle Walker

Vanessa Siddle Walker is the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of African American and Educational Studies at Emory University (B.A. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; M.Ed Harvard University; Ed. D Harvard University). For 25 years, she has explored the segregated schooling of African American children, considering sequentially the climate that permeated segregated schools, the network of professional collaborations that explains the similarity across schools, and the hidden systems of advocacy that demanded equality and justice for the children in the schools. Her most recent book, published as The Lost Education of Horace Tate: Uncovering the Hidden Heroes Who Fought for Justice in Schools, was the winner of the Lillian Smith Book Award for 2019 and lauded as one of the Best Nonfiction Books for 2018 by Publisher’s Weekly. Walker is President of the American Educational Research Association for 2019-2020 and serves on the Research Advisory Panel for the National Coalition on School Diversity.

Dani McClain (Moderator)

Dani McClain reports on race and reproductive health. She is a contributing writer at The Nation and a fellow with Type Media Center. McClain’s writing has appeared in outlets including TIME, The Atlantic, Slate, Colorlines, EBONY.com, and The Rumpus. In 2018, she received a James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. Her work has been recognized by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America. McClain was a staff reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and has worked as a strategist with organizations including Color of Change and Drug Policy Alliance. McClain’s book, We Live for the We: The Political Power of Black Motherhood, was published April 2019 by Bold Type Books.

Elizabeth McRae

Elizabeth Gillespie McRae is the Creighton Sossoman Professor of History at Western Carolina University and the co-founder of the Appalachian Oral History Project. Her teaching and research interests center on the intersection of race, gender, and politics in America and in the modern South.  She has published articles in the New York Times, The Washington Post, and the BBC’s World Histories. Her book, Mothers of Massive Resistance published in 2018 examines white women’s work in maintaining white supremacy in public education, social welfare policy, politics, and culture. Her next project will examine the issue of “school choice,” in American history.

The keynote presentation will weave together information and concepts from the following books:

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org     Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org     Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org          

Note: A small portion of the proceeds from book sales via IndieBound (using links above) will help support the work of Integrated Schools, in memory of Courtney Everts Mykytyn. 

Andrew Lefkowits will offer brief reflections following the keynote presentation. Andrew is the host of the Integrated Schools Podcast – hard conversations about race, parenting, segregation, and inequities in our schools. He is also the co-chair of Park Hill Neighbors for Equity in Education, a group of parents and community members working to improve equity in the elementary schools in the Park Hill neighborhood of Denver, CO. He is a proud father to two girls – 6 and 9, who attend the same, integrating elementary school that he attended growing up. In his spare time, he has a “real” job working as an audio engineer mixing live concerts for bands all over the world.

Confirmed #NCSD2020 Supporters:**

  • American Civil Liberties Union
  • American Education Solutions, Inc.
  • American Federation of Teachers
  • Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
  • Beloved Community
  • The Century Foundation
  • Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles (CRP) at UCLA
  • EducationCounsel
  • EmpowerED
  • ERASE Racism
  • Fair Housing Justice Center
  • The Institute for Social Progress at Wayne County Community College District
  • Integrated Schools
  • IntegrateNYC
  • Kindred
  • Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • Learn Together, Live Together
  • Learning Policy Institute
  • Magnet Schools of America
  • Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO Inc.)
  • NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
  • National Center for Law and Economic Justice
  • New York Appleseed
  • Othering & Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley
  • Proskauer Rose LLP
  • Public Advocacy for Kids
  • Schott Foundation for Public Education
  • The Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy
  • Thomas J. Dodd Research Center – University of Connecticut
  • Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation (VICC)
  • William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
  • William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund

**NCSD’s federal policy work is paid for with unrestricted funds, not conference contributions.

Interested in sponsorship?

  • Learn more about our sponsorship opportunities here.
  • Email gchirichigno@prrac.org for more information



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