The AFC National Policy Summit is the nation’s premiere event on educational choice, joining together policymakers, advocates, and leading business and media figures to ensure that all children in America have an equal opportunity to receive a quality education.
Betsy DeVos serves as the 11th U.S. Secretary of Education. Secretary DeVos has been involved in education policy for nearly three decades as an advocate for children and a voice for parents. She is especially passionate about reforms that help underserved children gain access to a quality education. DeVos’ interest in education was sparked at an early age by her mother, a public school teacher. It grew when she sent her own children to school and was confronted with the reality that not every child in America is granted an equal opportunity to receive a great education. DeVos saw firsthand the work leaders in her hometown were doing to increase educational opportunities for students and choices for parents, and she has been involved in the fight to provide better educational options across the nation ever since. For 15 years, DeVos served as an in-school mentor for at-risk children in the Grand Rapids (Michigan) Public Schools. Her interactions there with students, families and teachers, according to DeVos, “changed my life and my perspective about education forever.”
A leader in the movement to empower parents, DeVos has worked to support the creation of new educational choices for students in 25 states and the District of Columbia. Prior to her confirmation, DeVos served as chairman of The Windquest Group, an enterprise and investment management firm. In addition to her leadership in the education arena, DeVos has also served on the boards of numerous national and local charitable and civic organizations, including the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Kids Hope USA, ArtPrize, Mars Hill Bible Church and the Kendall College of Art and Design. DeVos is a graduate of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. She is married to entrepreneur, philanthropist and community activist Dick DeVos, and together they have four children and seven grandchildren.
Fr. Boyle is the founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, Calif., the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation, and re-entry program in the world. A Jesuit priest, from 1986 to 1992 Father Boyle served as pastor of Dolores Mission Church, then the poorest Catholic parish in Los Angeles that also had the highest concentration of gang activity in the city. In 1988 they started what would eventually become Homeboy Industries, which employs and trains former gang members in a range of social enterprises, as well as provides critical services to thousands of men and women who walk through its doors every year seeking a better life. Father Boyle is the author of the 2010 New York Times-bestseller Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion. His 2017 book is the Los Angeles Times-bestseller Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship.
As Superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Carvalho has overseen one of the nation’s largest school districts since 2008. Under his leadership Miami-Dade has become one of the highest performing urban districts in the nation.
Superintendent Carvalho has created one the most dynamic and high performing large school districts in the country. He embraces the idea that parents should be empowered to find the best learning environment for their children. His district now has over one hundred magnet schools, including some of the best schools in the country. He doesn’t fear competition; rather, he thrives on it. He is the most talented and progressive superintendent in the country.
Virginia Walden Ford is one of America’s leading advocates for parent empowerment. As a student, a mother, an advocate, and a grandmother, Virginia has spent her lifetime fighting to create new educational opportunities for children and families. In 1998, she founded D.C. Parents for School Choice and assembled like-minded parents to insist on better educational opportunities for their children. In 2003, with the support of national education organizations and lawmakers, Virginia and her courageous group of parent advocates succeeded in convincing Congress and President George W. Bush to enact the nation’s first-ever Opportunity Scholarship Program for low-income children, a program that set into motion a complete overhaul of Washington, D.C.’s education system and is still operational today.
As a child, Walter had many difficulties in his public school system. He routinely was in detention, his parents were called into numerous meetings to discuss his behavior, and the staff had little patience for him. Walter felt discouraged in the classroom and says “it was very difficult for me to have a sense of purpose.” Luckily, Walter’s life changed after he was able to access the school of his choice. As a Future Leader Fellow with the American Federation for Children, Walter has met with Senators, Members of Congress, legislative staff, and the U.S. Department of Education to advocate for expanding school choice. He has also served as a panelist and speaker on the subject at numerous events in Washington, D.C. and around the country.
Rebecca Friedrichs is the face of a national movement to restore the voices and authority of parents and teachers in America’s schools.
As a twenty-eight-year public school teacher, she was forced to fund state and national teachers’ unions whose politics and divisive tactics degraded her profession, our schools, universities, and our national character. Her seminal lawsuit Friedrichs v California Teachers’ Association, which sought to free educators and all public sector employees from forced unionism, was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on January 11, 2016. Poised to rule 5-4 in Rebecca’s favor, the Court deadlocked after the sudden passing of Justice Scalia. But Rebecca refused to give up. She wrote a new book, Standing Up to Goliath, detailing dozens of powerful personal accounts of teachers standing up to teachers’ union tactics, and also founded For Kids and Country, a national movement of parents, teachers, students, faith leaders, and citizens uniting to restore our schools and culture. Her case trail blazed the way for Janus v AFSCME which won at the US Supreme Court on June 27, 2018 – remarkably Rebecca’s birthday – and successfully ended public-sector forced unionism in America.
She’s appeared in print and on broadcast in local and national outlets such as CBS, FOX News, NBC, FOX Business Network, NPR, The Hill, and the Orange County Register, and she’s the host of a successful Prager University video on why teachers’ unions attack school choice – power and money. Rebecca lives in Southern California with her husband Charles, and their sons Kyle and Ben.