The American Federation for Children is pleased to announce the keynote lineup for the first night of our 2020 National Policy Summit, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the nation’s first school voucher program – the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.
We are excited to hear from key leaders that were involved in starting this revolution for educational freedom – Governor Tommy Thompson, Dr. Howard Fuller, and Susan Mitchell!
Monday Night – May 18th
Governor Tommy Thompson
Tommy G. Thompson, the former Health and Human Services Secretary (HHS) and four-term Governor of Wisconsin, is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Thompson Holdings. As governor, he created the nation’s first parental school choice program in 1990, allowing low-income Milwaukee families to send children to the private or public school of their choice. He also created Wisconsin’s Council on Model Academic Standards, which implemented high academic standards for English language arts, math, science and social studies. Governor Thompson also made unprecedented investments in the University of Wisconsin System through building projects and initiatives to attract and retain world-class faculty while keeping tuition affordable for students. Governor Thompson began his career in public service in 1966 as a representative in Wisconsin’s State Assembly. He was elected assistant Assembly minority leader in 1973 and Assembly minority leader in 1981. Governor Thompson has received numerous awards for his public service, including the Anti-Defamation League’s Distinguished Public Service Award. In 1997, he received Governing Magazine’s Public Official of the Year Award, and the Horatio Alger Award in 1998. Governor Thompson has also served as chairman of the National Governors’ Association, the Education Commission of the States and the Midwestern Governors’ Conference. He also served in the Wisconsin National Guard and the Army Reserve. He is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and co-chairs the Aspen Institute’s Health Strategy Group.
Dr. Howard Fuller
Dr. Fuller is a Distinguished Professor of Education, and Founder/Director of the Institute for the Transformation of Learning at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Immediately before his appointment at Marquette University, Dr. Fuller served as the Superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools June 1991 – June 1995. Dr. Fuller received his B.S. degree in Sociology from Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin, M.S.A. degree in Social Administration from Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and his Ph.D. in Sociological Foundations of Education from Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He has received numerous awards and recognition over the years, including four Honorary Doctorate Degrees: Doctorate of Humane Letters from Carroll College; Doctorate of Laws from Marian College, Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin; Doctorate of Business and Economics from Milwaukee School of Engineering; Doctorate of Humane Letters from Edgewood College, Madison WI. He is the Chair of the Board of Milwaukee Collegiate Academy. He also serves on the Board of The Black Alliance for Educational Options, Milwaukee Region Board of Teach for America, Milwaukee Charter School Advocates, Education Cities and FaithActs. He is an Advisory Board member of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and the National Association for Charter School Authorizers.
Mrs. Susan Mitchell
Susan Mitchell has worked to advance parental choice for more than 30 years. With invaluable support from the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, Howard Fuller, and Governor Tommy Thompson, she organized a coalition of parents, CEOs, religious, and other community leaders that convinced Wisconsin legislators in 1995 to expand Milwaukee’s pioneering school choice program. As a result, Mitchell was chosen to lead the American Education Reform Council, a national organization and predecessor to AFC that focused on helping advocates in states across the country with policy design, coalition development, and legislative strategy. When the Milwaukee program faced serious threats, Mitchell left her national position in 2004 to found School Choice Wisconsin, a nonprofit that led the effort to defeat proposals to damage the program and then counseled other states that wished to found similar organizations. Her husband, George, has been a constant partner whose focus on research and results has added value. Mitchell holds degrees from Lawrence University and the University of Wisconsin – Madison. She was a journalist at The Wall Street Journal and other newspapers and has held leadership positions in government and business. She lives in Arizona and serves on the boards of School Choice Wisconsin and the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy.