2019 Keynote speaker

John King
President and CEO of The Education Trust

John B. King Jr. is the president and CEO of The Education Trust, a national nonprofit organization that seeks to identify and close educational opportunity and achievement gaps. King served as U.S. Secretary of Education in the Obama administration. Prior to that role, King carried out the duties of Deputy Secretary, overseeing policies and programs related to P-12 education, English learners, special education, innovation, and agency operations. King joined the department following his post as New York State Education Commissioner. King began his career as a high school social studies teacher and middle school principal.


Sara Goldrick-Rab
Professor at Temple University and Founding Director of Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice

Sara Goldrick-Rab is Professor of Higher Education Policy & Sociology at Temple University, and Founding Director of the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice in Philadelphia. She is best known for her innovative research on food and housing insecurity in higher education, having led the four largest national studies on the subject, and for her work on making public higher education free. Her latest book, Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream, is the 2018 winner of the Grawemeyer Award.



Registration Rates

  • General Registration: $550
  • Alliance Team Member Registration: $250*
  • Post-Conference Registration (for Saturday, 12/14): $150

*Alliance Team Members will have been notified of their special registration rate. Please wait for further instructions, and do not register through the general registration process.


Scaling What Works. Pursuing New Ideas. Together.

It started a decade ago with a mission – more Americans earning more degrees. That mission launched a movement, growing from a handful of change agents to a now 46-member strong national network of impatient reformers focused on student success, tested reforms and measurable results – a Completion Nation.

Ten years in, the mission remains. The needle is moving, but there is more to do. Populations are being left behind and equity gaps persist. It will take a collective effort to close them.

CCA is firmly focused on the next ten years of impact. That means doubling down on what works and forging ahead with comprehensive structural change. It means intentionally searching the field for new game-changing ideas and greater innovation and advocating for stronger policy to help drive these efforts. CCA has never worked alone, and it’s clearer than ever before that the completion crisis can only be solved together.

So, join the movement. Join the Completion Nation.


Preliminary Agenda

Thursday 12/12Friday 12/13Saturday 12/14 (Post-Conference Workshops)
1:00-2:30pm Opening Plenary7:45-8:45am Breakfast7:45-8:45am Breakfast
2:45-3:45pm Breakout Session I9:00-10:30am Morning Plenary9:00am-2:00pm Post-Conference Workshops
4:00-5:00pm Breakout Session II10:45-11:45am Breakout Session III
6:30-9:30pm Dinner and Show at Corona Ranch12:00-1:15pm Luncheon Keynote
1:30-2:30pm Breakout IV
2:45-3:45pm Breakout V
4:00-5:00pm Closing Keynote

Additional agenda details are forthcoming.

Day Three Featuring the National Postsecondary Strategy Institute (NPSI)

K12 and Higher Education Alignment:  Strategies To Support College Persistence and Completion

What would happen if colleges were more proactively working with high school partners to help advise students on educational opportunities, including dual enrollment, affordability and transition barriers, as a way to increase degree completion?

Through a districtwide postsecondary advising framework, The National Postsecondary Strategy Institute (NPSI) helps local educational agencies work with higher education institutions to advance student success. Intentional partnerships will enable greater transparency about pathways to college, as well as more effective alignment of rigorous standards, so high school graduates are better informed about postsecondary classroom and professor expectations.

This session will review the policies and practices of a  K–16 postsecondary advising model implemented across the nation’s third largest school district, Chicago Public Schools, resulting in an 18 percent increase in college enrollment for first generation, low income populations.

Featured speakers:


Joyce V. Brown

Joyce V. Brown is the president of Joyce V. Brown Consulting Groups – a group of expert practitioner counselor leaders who specialize in training and coaching counselors and nonprofit organizations working on the front lines of schools.

They are a one-stop shop for strategic postsecondary planning services for schools, especially districts requiring college and career readiness counseling services to address complex school populations (e.g., students from low-income families, students with social-emotional needs, and students from nontraditional families).

Team members have provided consultations and trainings with state departments of education, large urban school districts, and provided technical support to Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative.




Greg Darnieder

Greg Darnieder is the president and founder of College and Career Strategic Directions, LLC, providing consulting services across the country to school districts, foundations, and nonprofit organization focused on college and career strategies.

He has represented the U.S. Department of Education on the First Lady’s Reach Higher Initiative. Returning to Chicago in 2016, he currently serves as senior advisor at the Steans Family Foundation to its comprehensive community investment strategies in the North Lawndale community. His work with youth in the former Cabrini- Green Housing Development spanned 15 years and has been captured in the recently released book, You Can’t Be What You Can’t See: The Extraordinary Power of Opportunity to Change Young Lives.




Kelly Sparks

Kelly Sparks is the chief executive officer of Maple Grove Objective, which helps organizations strategically use data to improve outcomes for youth and communities. She has 20 years of experience in the education field and is a national expert and innovator in data strategy.

Sparks was the research director at Chicago Public Schools responsible for tracking the postsecondary outcomes of students and analyzing the data to increase understanding of the levers that impact postsecondary success. Her research and data team developed innovative approaches to connect school and central office administrators with actionable data to target their efforts and improve their outcomes, including the first FAFSA tracking system in the nation based on third-party verified student-level data.


Hotel Accommodations

8000 S. Arizona Grand Parkway
Phoenix, AZ 85044

Conference room rate: $159 (excludes taxes and hotel fees)

Reservations: Register online, or at
(877) 800-4888
Mention “2019 Annual Convening” when booking.

For questions about hotel reservations, please contact booking@completecollege.org.

Sponsorship Opportunities

There are a variety of sponsorship opportunities for the 2019 Convening. Please refer to the sponsorship packet for more information. If you have questions, contact Monika Mala at mmala@completecollege.org.