Major Speakers

Friday Morning Keynote with Salome Agbaroji

Salome Agbaroji is the National Youth Poet Laureate of the United States 2023-2024, making her the first African with this title. She is a Nigerian-American poet that has written and/or performed spoken word for years. Studying Government and Political Science at Harvard University. Her focuses outside of poetry are civic engagement and advocacy about issues such as racism towards minority communities, immigrant stories, injustices in the international community, and more.


Salome Agbaroji
Lamar Johnson

Friday Luncheon with Dr. Lamar Johnson

Author of Critical Race English Education, Lamar Johnson is Associate Professor of Language and Literacy for Linguistic and Racial Diversity in the Department of English at Michigan State University. He is interested in the complex intersections of race, language, literacy, and education and how English language arts (ELA) classrooms can become sites for racial justice. 


Poetry Jam with host Daniel Summerhill

Daniel B. Summerhill is Professor of Poetry at Santa Clara University and the inaugural Poet Laureate of Monterey County, CA. He is the author of Divine, Divine, Divine (Nomadic Press), a semifinalist for the Charles B. Wheeler Prize. Summerhill holds an M.F.A. from Boston College (Solstice) and has been awarded fellowships from Baldwin for the Arts and The Watering Hole. A two-time Pushcart prize and Best-of-the-Net nominee, he received the Sharon Olds Fellowship and was nominated to Everipedia’s 30 under 30 list. His work can be found or are forthcoming in, Academy of American Poets, Columbia Journal, The Progressive, Rust + Moth, Obsidian, the Hellebore and elsewhere.

Along with his literary accomplishments, Summerhill is an accomplished performance artist, performing in over 25 states in the U.S. He has performed in Canada, co-headlined a European tour, and was invited to guest lecture and perform in Durban, South Africa, sponsored by the U.S Embassy.

Daniel Summerhill
Steven Willis

Steven Willis – Poetry Jam

Storyteller Steven Antoine Willis uses his poetic and theatrical background to embark on the daunting task of creatively articulating African American culture. With art heavily influenced by urban life and religion, steven mixes elements of hip hop poetics and theatrical performance with formal teachings of anthropology, and political theory to help express his eclectic personal narrative. Willis is a contributing writer to the breakbeat poets anthology, NYU’s national council for teacher of English journal, and is a 3-time individual world poetry slam finalist. Willis received his MFA in acting from the university of Iowa in 2021 and the Iowa writers workshop for poetry in 2023.his first full poetry collection a peculiar people was released 2022 through button poetry.


Super Session with Dr. April Baker-Bell

Formerly a high school English Language Arts teacher, DR. APRIL BAKER-BELL is an award-winning transdisciplinary teacher-researcher-activist and Associate Professor of Language, Culture, and Justice in Education at the University of Michigan in the Marsal Family School of Education. She is faculty in Educational Studies and the Joint Program in English and Education (JPEE). Dr. Baker-Bell was formerly an Associate Professor of Language, Literacy, and English Education at Michigan State University (MSU) and an Adjunct Associate Professor at MSU’s Center for Bioethics and Social Justice in the College of Human Medicine. She also served as adjunct faculty at Wayne State University and Oakland Community College. 

Dr. April Baker-Bell

Saturday Luncheon with Maritza Roño Refuerzo

Coming with a heartfelt recommendation from our beloved Bill Younglove, Maritza is an author of two novels for young readers. She earned her BA at UC Berkeley, where she studied human society and its social problems while taking cool courses like Tagalog and Pedagogy of Movement. She graduated with an MFA in English literature and creative writing.


Saturday Night Banquet with Deborah Appleman

Deborah Appleman taught high school English for nine years before receiving her doctorate from the University of Minnesota. She was also a visiting professor at Syracuse University and at the University of California, Berkeley. She works regularly with high school teachers and students, both nationally and internationally and is a frequent keynote speaker. Professor Appleman continues to teach creative writing and college level classes to the incarcerated. She is the author or co-author of more than a dozen books on literacy instruction, which can be found here.


Deborah Appleman
Rita Suh

Super Session with Dr. Rita Suh

Dr. Rita Suh has worked as a classroom teacher in K-5 schools, educational therapist, and Co-Director of the Culture and Equity Project at UCLA Center X. She is currently a Lecturer at CSU Long Beach (CSULB) in the Department of Teacher Education, and an educational consultant who conducts professional development in the fields of second language acquisition, equity, and culturally and linguistically responsive and sustaining pedagogy. She works to ensure teachers, students, and families whose experiences, identities, and histories are typically silenced or ignored in schools are not only celebrated but found just as much as an asset as dominating identities and narratives in schools. Dr. Suh is also a reviewer for American Educational Research Association (AERA) and has presented research and professional development for districts, universities, and research and teaching conferences. 


Sunday CYRM Brunch with Jennifer L. Holm

Jennifer L. Holm is a New York Times-bestselling children’s author and the recipient of three Newbery Honors for her novels Our Only May Amelia, Penny From Heaven, and Turtle In Paradise. Jennifer collaborates with her brother, Matthew Holm, on several graphic novel series including the Eisner Award-winning Babymouse series, the bestselling Sunny series, and the Squish series which is now a streaming show on HBO MAX. Her new novel is The Lion Of Mars.

Jennifer L. Holm