February 11–12, 2019
Nashville, Tennessee

Featured Presenters

Luis’ pas­sion is to col­lab­o­rate with oth­ers to cre­ate plat­forms, spaces and oppor­tu­ni­ties for empow­er­ment. Migrat­ing in 2000 from Mex­i­co, Luis stayed in the U.S. to attend col­lege, where he devel­oped projects with peo­ple involved in arts, pol­i­tics and social jus­tice.

After 9/11, Ari­zona and oth­er states became prov­ing grounds for leg­is­la­tion crim­i­nal­iz­ing undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants. Luis and oth­er young orga­niz­ers from all back­grounds effec­tive­ly advo­cat­ed and chal­lenged the­se harsh poli­cies.

In 2004 he learned about vot­ing rights while reg­is­ter­ing vot­ers in Jack­son, Mis­sis­sip­pi, as part of the Amer­i­can Free­dom Sum­mer pro­gram. Trav­el­ing the coun­try and work­ing close­ly with com­mu­ni­ties under attack, Luis learned that despite the tox­i­c­i­ty of their polit­i­cal envi­ron­ments, com­mu­ni­ties are fierce in the fight for social change. The­se expe­ri­ences were cru­cial when he col­lab­o­rat­ed with orga­niz­ers and lead­ers to advo­cate for the DREAM Act, fight again­st SB1070 and chal­lenge Sher­iff Joe Arpaio’s dis­crim­i­na­to­ry prac­tices in Ari­zona.
​His work with the Oba­ma cam­paign in 2008 gave him insight on cor­ner­stone aspects of elec­toral orga­niz­ing. This knowl­edge, paired with tech­nolo­gies devel­oped to boost vol­un­teer engage­ment, are applied now in all his advo­ca­cy work.

Luis spear­head­ed Somos Améri­ca in 2011, the largest immi­grant-rights coali­tion in Ari­zona, and cur­rent­ly sits on the Boards of Advi­sors of Unidos US (for­mer­ly the Nation­al Coun­cil for La Raza), is an Aspen Glob­al Fel­low, and serves as Board Chair for The New Teacher Project, an orga­ni­za­tion work­ing to end edu­ca­tion inequal­i­ty.

In 2013 Luis joined 270 Strate­gies, a cut­ting-edge con­sult­ing firm found­ed by Obama’s field lead­er­ship team, where he cur­rent­ly serves as an Advi­sor. There, he has designed and exe­cut­ed impor­tant nation­al advo­ca­cy cam­paigns, cre­at­ed inno­v­a­tive fam­i­ly engage­ment mod­els with school sys­tems around the coun­try, and coached a new gen­er­a­tion of com­mu­ni­ty orga­niz­ers around the world. In 2016, he served as Nevada’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic Coor­di­nat­ed Cam­paign Field Direc­tor, con­tribut­ing to major vic­to­ries in the state leg­is­la­ture, elect­ing the first Lati­na Sen­a­tor and deliv­er­ing the state to Hillary Clin­ton.

Sharhon­da is the Deputy Direc­tor at Edu­ca­tion Lead­ers of Col­or (EdLoC). In her cur­rent role, Sharhon­da focus­es on iden­ti­fy­ing, equip­ping, ele­vat­ing and sus­tain­ing tal­ent­ed Black and Lati­no lead­ers to thrive in the high­est-lev­el edu­ca­tion roles and lead a more inclu­sive edu­ca­tion reform move­ment.

Pri­or to join­ing EdLoC, Sharhon­da Bossier worked with Edu­ca­tion Cities, a nation­al non-prof­it that sup­ports and advis­es city-based edu­ca­tion orga­ni­za­tions on their efforts to grow great pub­lic schools. In addi­tion to core advis­ing work, Sharhon­da uti­lized her expe­ri­ence launch­ing and lead­ing a mul­ti-state edu­ca­tion engage­ment and advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tion to help mem­bers devel­op the skills and capac­i­ty to engage much more effec­tive­ly with stake­hold­ers. Pri­or to join­ing the Edu­ca­tion Cities team, Sharhon­da co-found­ed Fam­i­lies for Excel­lent Schools where she devel­oped their train­ing pro­gram and over­all par­ent engage­ment strat­e­gy.

A grad­u­ate of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, San­ta Cruz. Sharhon­da start­ed her career in edu­ca­tion as a pub­lic school teacher and also brings years of leg­isla­tive and elec­toral cam­paign expe­ri­ence in both vol­un­teer and lead­er­ship capac­i­ties to her work at Edu­ca­tion Lead­ers of Col­or.

Sarah Car­pen­ter is a native Mem­phi­an and proud res­i­dent of the North Mem­phis com­mu­ni­ty.

In 2015 she helped estab­lish The Mem­phis Lift and in 2016 became its exec­u­tive direc­tor. Sarah leads the orga­ni­za­tion with a par­ent-focused ded­i­ca­tion to com­mu­ni­ty engage­ment. She brings par­ents to the table to edu­cate them about school per­for­mance in order to demand high qual­i­ty edu­ca­tion through choice and healthy com­pe­ti­tion.

Her proud­est accom­plish­ment has been see­ing her grand­chil­dren and oth­er chil­dren in her com­mu­ni­ty attend col­lege, grad­u­ate and become pro­duc­tive cit­i­zens. Pri­or to found­ing The Mem­phis Lift, Sarah also served on sev­er­al boards, includ­ing the North­side Fam­i­ly Resource Cen­ter Board and the board of KIPP Pub­lic Char­ter Schools.

Renata Soto is a Costa Rican-born social entre­pre­neur based in Nashville, TN.

She is co-founder and Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of Conex­ión Améri­c­as, a non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tion that annu­al­ly sup­ports more than 8,000 Lati­no and oth­er immi­grant fam­i­lies in Ten­nessee in achiev­ing their own ver­sion of the Amer­i­can dream: pur­chas­ing homes, start­ing busi­ness­es, learn­ing Eng­lish, sup­port­ing their children’s school suc­cess and path to col­lege, and becom­ing inte­gral part of Tennessee’s social, cul­tur­al and eco­nom­ic vital­i­ty.

Renata is the vision­ary behind Casa Azafrán, a non­prof­it col­lab­o­ra­tive and com­mu­ni­ty gath­er­ing place that has become the de-fac­to gate­way to Nashville’s Inter­na­tion­al Dis­trict. The 29,000 square-foot facil­i­ty opened in Decem­ber 2012 after a tena­cious five-year effort and an unprece­dent­ed $6 mil­lion pub­lic-pri­vate invest­ment in Nashville’s most eth­ni­cal­ly diverse neigh­bor­hood. Today Casa Azafrán hous­es Conex­ión Améri­c­as and nine non­prof­it and gov­ern­ment part­ners under one roof. Togeth­er, they make Casa Azafrán a vibrant place for health ser­vices and coun­sel­ing; adult edu­ca­tion and after-school pro­gram­ming for chil­dren and youth; legal and finan­cial ser­vices; entre­pre­neur­ship; com­mu­ni­ty orga­niz­ing; events; visu­al, per­form­ing and culi­nary arts. Casa Azafrán has become an icon­ic land­mark in Nashville’s urban land­scape and a source of local pride and nation­al atten­tion. Even Pres­i­dent Oba­ma took notice and host­ed a nation­al­ly tele­vised town-hall meet­ing on immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy at Casa Azafrán in Decem­ber 2014.

Renata’s vision for equi­table com­mu­ni­ties where all res­i­dents have access to beau­ti­ful shared civic spaces where to play, gath­er and par­tic­i­pate extend­ed fur­ther in August 2018 with the open­ing of Azafrán Park, a $2.6 mil­lion pub­lic park locat­ed next to Casa Azafrán. As with Casa Azafrán, Renata led the design team, fundrais­ing and pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship that made it pos­si­ble.

After 23 years in the non­prof­it sec­tor, Renata was eager to sup­port a new cadre of change-mak­ers of col­or and build a strong net­work among them. To that end, in 2017 she con­ceived and launched the Mosaic Fel­low­ship, a year-long, cohort-based pro­gram that brings togeth­er African Amer­i­can, Lat­inx and oth­er lead­ers of col­or in Ten­nessee to learn about each other’s his­to­ries, dis­cov­er shared val­ues, fos­ter deep bonds, and cul­ti­vate a com­mon vision for their com­mu­ni­ties’ future. The fel­low­ship was inspired by and is designed based on Renata’s own trans­for­ma­tive expe­ri­ence in the Pahara Aspen Edu­ca­tion Lead­er­ship Fel­low­ship in 2015. There are 15 fel­lows cur­rent­ly par­tic­i­pat­ing in the inau­gu­ral class of the Mosaic Fel­low­ship and the sec­ond class kicked off in Novem­ber 2018.