Keynote Speaker: Yong Zhao

Yong Zhao

Yong Zhao Twitter logo

Foundation Distinguished Professor & Expert on Globalization and Education

Learn more about the Second General Session, read Yong's official biographyand use an interview between Yong and Lou Ann Gvist as a discussion exercise for your board.

Yong Zhao at Annual Convention

Second General Session & Luncheon, Thursday, Nov. 18 at Noon

Build Back Better! Fostering Creativity, Passion and Entrepreneurship
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused both unprecedented disruptions and massive changes to education. While some changes may disappear, the pandemic has created a unique opportunity for schools to rethink what is necessary, desirable, and even possible for current and future generations. In his inspiring keynote, Yong will explore the essential abilities and spirit of the new world—creativity and entrepreneurship—where every child creates their own value through individual greatness. He’ll also discuss the vital role policymakers can play to build back a better education system that positions students to thrive in the modern world.

Special thanks to Jester Insurance Services for sponsoring the Second General Session & Luncheon.

Jester Insurance Services horizontal logo


Book Signing, Thursday, Nov. 18, 1:15–1:45 p.m.

Book Signing with Keynote Speaker Yong Zhao
This year we are pleased to offer multiple opportunities to purchase three books onsite. Keynote Speakers Brandon P. Fleming and Yong Zhao will be on hand to autograph copies of their books on Thursday, and Pre-Convention Workshop Facilitator Bill de la Cruz will be available on both Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday, the bookstore and signing will be located on Level 2 near Hall C from 11:30–Noon, then relocated to the Exhibit Hall from 3:30–4 p.m. The bookstore will reopen on Thursday from 9 a.m.–2 p.m. in the Exhibit Hall.

Special thanks to the Drake University Bookstore/Follett for sponsoring the Convention Bookstore.

Drake University Bookstore/Follett logo


Education Session, Thursday, Nov. 18, 2–2:45 p.m.

Reimagining Schools: A Continued Conversation with Keynote Speaker Yong Zhao
Join keynoter Yong Zhao in a follow-up conversation about the potential students have for greatness and how school leaders can lead and support meaningful learning for today's students. Bring your questions to this informal session with one of the country's experts on innovation in education.

Meet Yong

Official Biography

Yong Zhao is a Foundation Distinguished Professor in the School of Education at the University of Kansas and a professor in Educational Leadership at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education in Australia. He previously served as the Presidential Chair, Associate Dean, and Director of the Institute for Global and Online Education in the College of Education, University of Oregon, where he was also a Professor in the Department of Educational Measurement, Policy, and Leadership. Prior to Oregon, Yong Zhao was University Distinguished Professor at the College of Education, Michigan State University, where he also served as the founding director of the Center for Teaching and Technology, executive director of the Confucius Institute, as well as the US-China Center for Research on Educational Excellence. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Education and a fellow of the International Academy of Education.

Yong Zhao has received numerous awards including the Early Career Award from the American Educational Research Association, Outstanding Public Educator from Horace Mann League of USA, and Distinguished Achievement Award in Professional Development from the Association of Education Publishers. He has been recognized as one of the most influential education scholars.

His works focus on the implications of globalization and technology on education. He has published over 100 articles and 30 books, including An Education Crisis Is a Terrible Thing to Waste: How Radical Changes Can Spark Student Excitement and Success (2019), What Works May Hurt: Side Effects in Education (2018), Reach for Greatness: Personalizable Education for All Children (2018), Counting What Counts: Reframing Education Outcomes (2016), Never Send a Human to Do a Machine’s Job: Correcting Top 5 Ed Tech Mistakes (2015), Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon: Why China has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World (2014), Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization (2009), and World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students (2012).

Zhao was born in China’s Sichuan Province. He received his B.A. in English Language Education from Sichuan Institute of Foreign Languages in Chongqing, China in 1986. After teaching English in China for six years, he came to Linfield College as a visiting scholar in 1992. He then began his graduate studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1993. He received his masters in Education in 1994 and Ph.D. in 1996. He joined the faculty at MSU in 1996 after working as the Language Center Coordinator at Willamette University and a language specialist at Hamilton College.


Meet our second keynoter, Yong Zhao, and use this video as a discussion exercise with your board team to prepare for his session in November. See you at Convention, Nov. 17–18 in Des Moines! Learn more at