Presidential Scholar Signature Forums

The Presidential Scholar Signature Forums speaker series focuses on providing Maryland’s leaders, parents, educators, and policy makers with access to the newest information and research on current and pertinent topics.

These forums provide a unique opportunity for stakeholders to interact with national experts at the top of their field and access to the most up-to-date research. The Signature Forums are free to attend and open to everyone, although registration is required. Educators, school administrators, and policy makers are encouraged to attend.

Upcoming Event

Canceled: Carla Hayden: A rare first edition

This event will be rescheduled for a future date.

2020 marks the centennial of the passage of the 19th Amendment and women’s constitutional right to vote. While not all women benefited equally, securing the vote was essential for women to achieve economic, social, and political equality. This Signature Forum is an opportunity to celebrate women who are continuing to push for equality and who are making impacts in their communities.

Carla Hayden

Carla Hayden made history in 2016 when she was sworn in as the 14th Librarian of Congress. Unlike her 13 predecessors, she is African American and a woman. She is also only the third librarian to hold the position. Previously, Hayden served as CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, MD, where she was celebrated for her impact on the community.

Join Dr. Hayden as she discusses the relevance of information accessibility in the 21st century. Hayden will also share experiences and lessons learned from an historic and remarkable career.

Past Events

Since January 2013, the Presidential Scholar has convened events featuring national experts at the top of their field providing access to the most up-to-date research for teacher preparation. Videos or Power Point presentations from the previous forums are often available to download from below and are often accompanied by additional resources.

Past Events

Women represent 50% of middle management, however the percentage of women at top levels of leadership is less than one-third of that number. Why are so many women 'stuck' in the middle?

Toxic psychological stress—violence, poverty, neglect, abuse—has negative effects on a child's brain. Research has shown that this trauma alters the brain, affecting behavioral, social, and emotional functioning. As a child ages, these effects continue to influence brain development, educational outcomes, and social activity well into adolescence and adulthood. Dr. Bethany Brand, one of the world’s foremost authorities in psychological trauma, will discuss brain function changes in adults due to childhood trauma and the repercussions for our society.


It takes a village to raise a child.  That age-old saying has been reiterated across news cycles over and over again in the wake of Baltimore’s uprisings.  In the months that have past, we’ve seen stories of  communities coming together to support youth and their neighborhood schools; however, much remains to be done.  The statistics show those students coming from under-served communities — fall far below Maryland state averages and national benchmarks in terms of kindergarten readiness, high school completion, college entrance, and most importantly college completion. Fortunately, there are approaches, programs, and partnerships showing real promise. Panelists included:

  • Wes Moore, Author, Social Entrepreneur, Political Analyst, and Community Leader
  • Jason Botel, Former longtime Baltimore-KIPP Executive Director, Executive Director of Maryland CAN, and school choice expert
  • Moderator:  Dr. Nancy Grasmick, Past Superintendent of Maryland State Schools and Towson University’s first Presidential Scholar for Innovation in Teacher and Leader Preparation
  • View flickr album

Author Elizabeth Green is co-founder, CEO, and editor-in-chief of Chalkbeat, a nonprofit news organization that covers  educational change efforts across the country. Her book “Building a Better Teacher”, a New York Times notable book, was published in July 2015. She has written for The New York Times Magazine, The New York Sun, and U.S. News & World Report. She was an Abe Journalism Fellow studying education in Japan and a Spencer Fellow in education journalism at Columbia University. She serves on the board of the Education Writers Association.

Following her talk, participants were able to talk to Ms. Green as she signed their books.

Rebecca Landa, PhD, CCC-SLP, is the founder and director of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) and the REACH research program at Kennedy Krieger Institute. She is also a professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Dr. Landa is a speech-language pathologist. She has practiced in the public schools, university clinics and hospital settings. Dr. Landa has consulted with schools and families on an international level to establish state-of-the-science educational programming for children with autism spectrum disorders.

Following a fascinating presentation on the application of research to the instruction of children with autism, Dr. Landa presided over a panel discussion that included parents, students with autism, and teachers.


Sharon Lynn Kagan is the Virginia and Leonard Marx Professor of Early Childhood and Family Policy, Co-Director of the National Center for Children and Families at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Professor Adjunct at Yale University’s Child Study Center. Dr. Kagan works with foreign governments, research institutions, UNICEF, the World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank to analyze, plan, and establish early learning policies in over 75 countries around the world.

At the forum, Dr. Kagan presented data showing the benefits of early childhood education and discussed the nuances of implementing early childhood programs.


Daniel Pink is the author of several provocative, bestselling books about changing the world of work – including the long-running New York Times bestseller, A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future, the #1 New York Times bestseller, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, and his latest book To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others. His TED talk on the science of motivation is one of the 20 most watched ted talks of all time. In 2011, Harvard Business Review and Thinkers50 named him one of the Top 30 Business Thinkers in the World.

Using an arts education lens, Mr. Pink provided the audience with numerous ways to lead to inspire creativity and independence.  After some questions he treated the audience to a book signing.

View the video


This forum was inspired by several tragic incidences of school violence.  Former Commissioner Bealefeld had a distinguished career as a leader of the 8th largest municipal police department in the U.S. He identified best practices in police training, invested in smart technology for officers on the street, used data driven policing strategies, and served as a legislative advocate for tougher penalties for gun offenders. His programs resulted in the lowest gun violence and homicide rates in Baltimore since the 1970s.

His talk described aspects of a specific profile often apparent in the perpetrators of school violence and discussed how many of their issues could be addressed prior to their violent acts.  

View presentation


Part one of the first Signature Forum featured Dr. Ben Carson, a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon. He is a full professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery, and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he has directed pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center for over a quarter of a century. He provided the audience with a detailed conceptual understanding of brain function.

The second speaker was Dr. Martha Denckla, a research scientist and Director of the Developmental Cognitive Neurology Clinic at Kennedy-Krieger Institute.  Dr. Denkla “translated” the neuroscience introduced by Dr. Carson and presented it in a away that teachers could apply it in their classrooms to enhance student learning.