NSBA Equity Symposium 2023 - Save the Date

Keynote Speakers

Freeman A. Hrabowski, III
Advocate for Science and Technology Education for African Americans 


Educator, advocate, and mathematician Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, is a nationally known leader in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. His work has placed a special emphasis on advancing the participation and performance of African American and other students underrepresented in STEM fields. He retired in May from the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), where he served as president for 30 years.

A consultant on science and math education to national agencies, universities, and school systems, Dr. Hrabowski chaired the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine committee that produced the 2011 report, Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads. He was named in 2012 by President Obama to chair the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. In 2018, Hrabowski received the American Council on Education’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2022 he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering for “development of a national educational model for students from diverse backgrounds to excel in engineering and science.”

With philanthropist Robert Meyerhoff, Hrabowski co-founded the Meyerhoff Scholars Program at UMBC in 1988. The program is open to high-achieving students of all backgrounds committed to pursuing advanced degrees and research careers in science and engineering and advancing underrepresented minorities in these fields.

Based on program outcomes, Hrabowski has authored numerous articles and co-authored Beating the Odds and Overcoming the Odds (Oxford University Press), focusing on parenting and high-achieving African American males and females in science. His 2015 book, Holding Fast to Dreams: Empowering Youth from the Civil Rights Crusade to STEM Achievement (Beacon Press), describes the events and experiences that played a central role in his development as an educator and leader. 

A child-leader in the Civil Rights Movement, he was prominently featured in Spike Lee’s 1997 documentary, Four Little Girls, on the racially motivated bombing in 1963 of Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Hrabowski graduated from Hampton Institute with highest honors in mathematics. He received his master’s degree (mathematics) and doctorate (higher education administration/statistics) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Dr. Amy Price Azano
Founding Director, Virginia Tech Center for Rural Education


Dr. Amy Price Azano is the founding director of Virginia Tech's Center for Rural Education and a faculty member in the School of Education. A first-generation college student, Azano grew up in a small rural town in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley.

After earning her bachelor's degree from Louisiana State University and a master's from Old Dominion University, she taught high school English in Virginia's public schools, eventually earning her Ph.D. in Education at the University of Virginia in 2009. At Virginia Tech, she directs the Summer Enrichment Experience and the Supporting Autism Friendly Environments (SAFE) Program.

She is also the Principal Investigator for the Appalachian Rural Talent Initiative, Chair of the Rural Education Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association, and co-editor of the peer-reviewed journal The Rural Educator. Dr. Azano’s scholarship focuses on equity issues in rural schooling. She has authored or co-authored more than 50 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters and published six books.

Her work has been supported by grants from the U.S. Department of Education and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. For her work in rural education, she has received the Land Grant Scholar Award from Virginia Tech’s College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, the Stanley A. Brzezinski Memorial Rural Education Research Award from the National Rural Education Association, and the 2022 Rural Renewal Research Prize from Oklahoma State University.