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2024 Annual Convention Invited Speakers

Friday Speaker

Charles Williams, M.Ed. 
Founder & CEO, CW Consulting: Educational Services

Title: Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges: Connecting Worlds Through Language

Description: In a world rich with diverse cultures and languages, multilingualism stands as a pivotal force in uniting global communities. This keynote will explore the multifaceted challenges inherent in developing multilingual learners, from navigating cultural nuances to the intricate neuroscience of learning. More importantly, it will celebrate the tenacity and dedication of EL educators who play a crucial role in shaping a more interconnected world. Through inspiring stories, innovative strategies, and a shared passion for linguistic inclusivity, we will journey together through the transformative power of language education. Join me and we will uncover how EL professionals are not just teaching a language, but are also forging pathways to understanding, respect, and collaboration across different cultures. This keynote is an ode to the unsung heroes of education, who, word by word, sentence by sentence, are breaking barriers and building bridges, creating a legacy that transcends linguistic boundaries and connects worlds.

Charles Williams, with a distinguished 20-year career in education, has profoundly influenced K-12 students as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal, and as an equity champion with Chicago Public Schools. He's an accomplished author, podcast host of “The Counter Narrative,” and a former co-host of “Inside the Principal’s Office.” His expertise extends to his role as a sought-after keynote speaker, collaborating with organizations like Dave Burgess Consulting and Impact Truth. Charles has left a significant mark in the educational sector through numerous conferences, webinars, workshops across North America, and through his consulting work, establishing himself as a best-selling author and an influential voice in education.


Kim Potowski, Ph.D.
The University of Illinois Chicago

Title: “No child left monolingual”
Description: The U.S. has always been a linguistically diverse nation, but the overall climate frequently discourages and sometimes outright discriminates against the use of non-English languages. The grandchildren of immigrants often don’t speak their grandparents’ language anymore, which represents a huge loss to families and to the nation’s diversity. In addition, we don’t do a great job of teaching languages to monolingual English-speakers. This talk explores several myths about languages in the U.S. and presents arguments and strategies to promote multilingualism among our population such that no child would graduate from high school monolingual. 


Dr. Kim Potowski is Professor of Spanish linguistics in the Department of Hispanic & Italian Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she also holds appointments in Latin American and Latino Studies and Curriculum & Instruction. She directed the Spanish for heritage speakers program for 18 years and is the founding director of its summer study abroad program in Oaxaca, Mexico. Her research focuses on Spanish in the United States, including factors that influence language maintenance and change, as well as connections between language and ethnic identity. She has authored and edited over 12 books including Spanish in Chicago, El español de los Estados Unidos, Heritage language teaching, Language diversity in the USA, and Language and identity in a dual immersion school, as well as several textbooks for students and for teachers.



Saturday Speaker

David Nieto, Ph.D. 
College of Education at Northern Illinois University

Title: Finding Joy in Multilingualism and Multiculturalism

Description: Coming soon!

David Nieto is an associate professor in bilingual education in the College of Education at Northern Illinois University. Prior to joining NIU, he was executive director of the Bueno Center for Multicultural Education in the University of Colorado-Boulder’s School of Education. David’s research focuses on the areas of education, language, and equity. In particular, he is interested in policies and practices that shape the education of culturally and linguistically diverse students. In addition, he is interested in teacher preparation and leadership in diverse settings, bilingual dual language programs, Spanish language development, and language policy in education

Nestor "the Boss" Gomez

Self taught poet, writer and storyteller winner of over 80 Moth slams

Presentation Title: Coming soon!

Description: Coming soon!

Nestor “the Boss” Gomez
Was born in Guatemala and traveled to Chicago Undocumented in the mid 80’s. He told his first story at a Moth story slam to get over the stuttering that plagued his childhood, since then he has won more than 80 Moth Slams. Nestor has performed and conducted storytelling workshops in multiple locations around the country. He also created his own storytelling show 80 Minutes Around the World a show that features the stories of Immigrants and refugees from different parts of the world, their descendants, and allies. 
Nestor also published a collection of stories detailing his experiences driving for ride sharing title “Your Driver Has Arrived” and has a second book in the works, to buy his books and to learn more about Nestor visit his website

Nestor “the boss” Gomez
Nacio en Guatemala y viajo a Chicago sin documentos a mediados de los 80. Nestor conto su primer relato en un evento de la Moth para poder vencer la tartamudez que atormento su niñez, desde entonces a ganado mas de 80 competencias de la Moth. Sus relatos han sido transmitidos en programas de radio a nivel nacional. Nestor es el creador, director y anfitrion de su propio programa de relatos 80 minutos alrededor del mundo en que se relatan las historias de Immigrantes y refugiados de diferentes partes del mundo, ademas de los relatos de sus descendientes y aliados con el fin de proveer un major entendimineto de las realidades, luchas y sueños de la experiencia migratoria.