Major Speakers

Sea Changes: Traditions and Transformations in California English Language Arts


a sea change: noun

a striking change, as in appearance, often for the better; a radical change or transformation; a transformation brought about by the sea; used by Shakespeare in The Tempest.


Daniel B. Summerhill is a poet and scholar originally from Oakland. His work has appeared in Columbia Journal, Obsidian, Academy of American Poets and elsewhere. He is the author of two collections of poems, Divine, Divine, Divine (Nomadic Press 2021) which was a semi-finalist for the Wheeler and Saturnalia Poetry Prizes, and Mausoleum of Flowers (CavanKerry Press 2022). Summerhill has earned fellowships from Baldwin for the Arts and The Watering Hole. He is Assistant Professor of Poetry/Social Action & Composition at CSU Monterey Bay and is the inaugural Poet Laureate of Monterey County.

Daniel B. Summerhill
Obi Kaufman


Obi Kaufmann has dedicated his life to studying California’s natural world. Growing up in the East Bay as the son of an astrophysicist and a psychologist, Obi spent most of high school practicing calculus and breaking away on weekends to scramble around Mount Diablo and map its creeks, oak forests, and sage mazes. Into adulthood, he would regularly journey into the mountains, spending more summer nights without a roof than with one. He is the author of The California Field Atlas (2017), The State of Water: Understanding California’s Most Precious Natural Resource (2019), The Forests of California: A California Field Atlas (2020), and The Coasts of California (2022) all published by Heyday. When he is not backpacking, the painter-poet can be found at home in the East Bay, posting trail paintings @coyotethunder on Instagram.


Jaime Cortez is a writer and visual artist based in Watsonville, California, and the San Francisco Bay Area. His fiction, essays, and drawings have appeared in diverse publications. Jaime wrote and illustrated the graphic novel “Sexile” for AIDS Project Los Angeles in 2003, and most recently published a collection of short stories called Gordo (2021). The 11 semi-autobiographical stories stem from Cortez’s early life in a San Juan Bautista migrant field worker camp and then in Watsonville. They are humorous, humble and heartbreaking, and they have garnered glowing reviews from NPR, The New York Times and others. Jaime a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in fine arts from UC Berkeley. He has worked for many foundations, including the Barr Foundation in Boston, the San Francisco Arts Commission, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, managing their performing arts grants. Jaime’s website is

Jamie Cortez
Kelly Gallagher


Since 1985, Kelly Gallagher has devoted himself to the teaching of reading, writing, listening and speaking—first and foremost, as a high school ELA teacher in Anaheim, California, and also as an author/consultant who works with educators around the world. Today, he is considered one of the leading voices in literacy education. Kelly has written numerous books for teachers, including:180 Days (co-written with Penny Kittle), In the Best Interest of Students, Write Like This, Readicide, Teaching Adolescent Writers, Deeper Reading, and Reading Reasons. Kelly also works with the Savvas Learning Company as a featured author for the myPerspectives and iLit ELA programs for grades 6-12. Outside of his work with students and educators, Kelly loves watching baseball, reading, hiking and spending time with his family.


Traci Chee is a best-selling and award-winning author of books for young people, including the instant New York Times best seller and Kirkus Prize Finalist The Reader Trilogy, an epic journey spanning kingdoms and generations, brimming with magic, adventure, hidden messages, outlaws, assassins, kings, fools, and loves powerful enough to defy fate itself. Traci is also the author of the Printz Honor Book, Walter Award Honoree, and National Book Award Finalist We Are Not Free. Her latest title is A Thousand Steps into Night, a Japanese-influenced young adult fantasy. When she isn’t writing, Traci enjoys hiking, egg painting, gardening, and hosting game nights for family and friends. Traci lives in California with her dog.

Traci Chee
Greg Sarris


Greg Sarris was born and raised in Santa Rosa. He attended UCLA, then went on to complete his graduate studies at Stanford University. He taught at UCLA and Loyola Marymount, and currently teaches at Sonoma State University. Greg Sarris has published notable books, including Keeping Slug Woman Alive: A Holistic Approach to American Indian Texts (1993), Grand Avenue (1994), and Watermelon Nights (1999). Greg acted as editor (with Connie Jacobs and James Giles) on Teaching the Work of Louise Eldrich (2004). Greg has also written plays, pilot scripts, and helped develop a summer writing lab for American Indians interested in film writing. He also sits on several boards including, the National Video Project, and Word for Word Theatre, where he is Honorary President. Greg is currently serving his fourteenth term as Chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, his tribe which was formerly known as the Federated Coast Miwok. Tribal Chairman Greg Sarris coauthored a bill, H.R. 5528, on behalf of his tribe, which President Bill Clinton signed, restoring the his tribe as a recognized American Indian Tribe. Greg now lives and works in his beloved Sonoma County.


Dr. René M. Rodríguez-Astacio teaches in the Department of English at Fresno State University. When pursuing his master’s degree in English education from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, he joined the Mayawest Writing Project, the local writing project group under the National Writing Project. There he met with many teachers from the island, where they connected and talked about the texts available to students in classrooms. His desire to help create safe spaces for students and his love for literature inspired his decision to further specialize in this area and pursue a Ph.D. at Penn State, where he earned a doctorate in Curriculum Instruction, focused on literacies and English language arts. He researches and advocates for representations of Latinx and queer populations in children’s and young adult literature in the English classroom. He credits his mother for igniting his love for reading and teaching. He advocates for safe spaces for students who, like him, could not find comfort and see themselves in the pages of a book. Apart from being a music and book nerd, René is also an avid video game and tabletop gamer.

Rene M. Rodriguez-Astacio
Kate Schatz


Kate Schatz describes herself as a feminist author, activist, public speaker, radical history lover, freelance writer, consultant, and ideagenerator. Kate is the author of the New York Times bestselling Rad Women book series, along with illustrator Miriam Klein Stahl, including Rad American Women A-Z, Rad Women Worldwide, Rad Girls Can, My Rad Life: A Journal, and Rad American History A-Z, which have sold over 250,000 copies and been translated into multiple languages. Kate has also co-authored Do the Work: An Anti-Racist Activity Book in collaboration with W. Kamau Bell, the Emmy-winning host of CNN’s United Shades of America. She speaks, writes, and consults on a range of topics, including feminist histories (and futures!); social and racial justice; radical children’s books; practical activism; and how white people can be less racist, and more human.