NSBA Equity Symposium - January 27, 2024

Keynote Speaker

You Are a 10!

Alex Boyé | Performer and Mental Health Advocate
Alex Boyé
Performer and Mental Health Advocate

Alex Boyé is known for his dynamic African-infused music that has gained over 1 billion views on YouTube. After being named 2017 Artist of the Year and grand prize winner in a music contest sponsored by Pepsi & Hard Rock Cafe, he performed a halftime show for the NFL’s “Monday Night Football” in Miami. Alex’s voice was featured in “Cruel Summer,” a short film by Kanye West that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. He has shared the stage with many notable artists, including Jay-Z, Tim McGraw, George Michael, Missy Elliott, Justin Timberlake, and The Beach Boys, and opened for Olivia Newton-John at the world-renowned Royal Albert Hall, fulfilling a lifetime dream. Boyé, of Nigerian descent, was raised in London, became a U.S. citizen on Feb. 12th, 2012, and is an official ambassador for many causes, including the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and speaks across the country giving entertaining keynotes on mental wellness. His remarkable studio recordings, viral videos, film appearances, and solo performances led to his unforgettable first audition on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” where judge Howie Mandel stated, “In my six years here, this is my favorite music act ever — it really is!”

General Session Speakers

Black Voices in Today’s K-12 Classroom and Universal Insights for All

Julieanne Richardson

Julieanna L. Richardson
Founder & Executive Director
The HistoryMakers

Julieanna L. Richardson has a diverse background in theater, television production, and the cable television industry that created a unique path to founding the largest effort to record the African American experience since the federal government’s WPA Slave Narratives of the 1930s. Founded in 2000, The HistoryMakers is a national, 501(c)(3) non-profit educational institution headquartered in Chicago committed to preserving, developing, and providing easy access to an internationally recognized archival collection of thousands of African American video oral histories.

A 1980 graduate of Harvard Law School, Richardson graduated from Brandeis University with a double major in Theater Arts and American Studies, where she did extensive oral history interviews on the Harlem Renaissance and Langston Hughes. She worked as a corporate lawyer at the Chicago law firm of Jenner & Block prior to serving in the early 1980s as the Cable Administrator for the City of Chicago Office of Cable Communications.

Richardson currently sits on the Honors Council of Lawyers for the Creative Arts, Simmons University Dean’s Advisory Council of the Gwen Ifill College of Media, Arts, and Humanities, and James Madison University’s Flowerings Advisory Council. She has been awarded Honorary Doctorates from Howard University (2012), Dominican University (2014), and Brandeis University (2016). She also has served as the commencement speaker for Dominican University as well as the Brandeis University 65th commencement. In 2014, Black Enterprise magazine awarded Richardson its 2014 Legacy Award, its highest recognition of women’s achievement. That same year, Richardson was profiled in American Masters: The Boomer List, a PBS documentary and exhibition at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. She is a 2021 recipient of the Chicago History Museum’s John Hope Franklin Making History Award, which celebrates prominent Chicagoans who have made the city a better place to live. Published in July 2022, her TedTalk, “The Mission to Safeguard Black History in the U.S.,” is viewable on YouTube.

Empowering Change: The Journey from Activism to Advocacy in Education

Devin Del Palacio

Devin Del Palacio
Co-Founder Insight Strategies LLC

Devin Del Palacio’s journey exemplifies resilience, vision, and unwavering commitment to community and education. A proud lifelong resident of Arizona, he overcame early life challenges, including financial hardships and attending eight public schools, to emerge as a leader in his community.
His dedication to civic engagement was prominently displayed in 2012 when he successfully registered 34,000 minority voters in South and West Phoenix. This achievement began his profound impact on community organization and leadership.

In 2014, Devin made history by being elected to the Tolleson Union High School District Governing Board, becoming the first African American to serve in this role in the district’s century-long history. During his tenure, he held the positions of vice president and president of the board, where he advocated for equitable education and safe neighborhoods.

Several prestigious institutions, including the Greater Phoenix Urban League, the Cesar Chavez Foundation, The City of Phoenix, NASA-JPL, and the Arizona School Boards Association, have recognized Devin’s efforts and leadership. His commitment to public service and education is widely acknowledged and celebrated.

Beyond his terrestrial endeavors, Devin’s passion for space exploration led him to become a Solar System Ambassador for eight years. His journey in this realm peaked with his acceptance into the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences, training for suborbital space flight, showcasing his diverse interests and pursuit of knowledge.

Devin served in the Arizona State House of Representatives until 2023, advocating for transformative policies that benefited his community. He also held significant roles as the former chairman of the National Black Council of School Board Members and a former National School Boards Association board member.

Until recently, he was the executive director of the Arizona School Boards Association, where he continued his dedication to educational leadership. Currently, Devin Del Palacio is the executive director of the Arizona Alliance of Black School Educators, where he continues to cement his position as a thought leader and champion for education and community development in Arizona. His path, defined by overcoming adversity and achieving distinction, remains a source of inspiration.

Empowering the Future: Amplifying Youth Voice

Kawanza Billy

Kawanza Billy
Social Impact Consultant

Kawanza Billy is a distinguished advocacy and civic engagement leader, deeply dedicated to creating equitable and sustainable impacts in education and environmental systems. With over 10 years of experience in community-centered leadership, Kawanza has excelled in various roles, including Youth Mobilization Manager at DC Action and Director of Operations and Programs at The Black Swan Academy. Her expertise lies in developing engaging youth programs, fostering community organizing, and designing innovative educational curricula. Kawanza’s leadership extends to numerous community engagement roles, including serving as the National Advocacy Chair for the National Urban League Young Professionals. A recipient of multiple honors, including Volunteer of the Year for the Greater Washington Urban League Young Professionals, Kawanza is a graduate of CUNY John Jay College with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, concentrating in Community and Urban Affairs. She has received specialized training in social impact strategy and advocacy.

Empowering Native Voices: Representation on School Boards for Stronger Communities

Desiree Fowler

Desiree Fowler
Board Member
Page Unified School District (AZ)

Desiree Fowler, a proud Diné woman from the Edgewater and Redhouse clans with familial ties to the Mexican People and Bitterwater clans, is a passionate advocate for education and representation. Originating from Steamboat, Arizona, she brings a unique perspective deeply rooted in her cultural identity.

As the President of the Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA) Board of Directors, Desiree stands as the first Native individual in the association's history to hold this esteemed position. She has been instrumental in championing the mission, vision, and strategic plan of the organization. As a dedicated school board member from the Page Unified School District (PUSD), Desiree also chaired the ASBA Hispanic–Native American Indian Caucus (HNAIC), where she fervently represented school board members from rural schools, showcasing her keen understanding of the diverse demographics in Arizona's school districts, both rural and urban.

Desiree's advocacy for inclusivity and her tireless work have significantly impacted the educational landscape for PUSD’s Native population. In the 2022-23 academic year, she achieved a notable milestone by collaborating with the Johnson-O’Malley Program, Indian Education Committee, and PUSD’s Indian Education Office to facilitate a transformative visit for Navajo Language and UNITY Club members to the nation's capital during the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools Conference.

In 2018, Desiree's foresight brought Arlando Teller, assistant secretary for tribal government affairs in the U.S. Department of Transportation, and State Representative Myron Tsosie to ASBA’s HNAIC, sowing the seeds for a robust advocacy movement for Arizona's Native students — a testament to her leadership and vision.

Desiree's advocacy extends beyond titles and positions, grounded in a humble mindset that values true potential over status. Embracing the responsibility that comes with influence, she recognizes the importance of accountability for her character and image in the public eye. Representing her people transcends personal endeavors; it is a meaningful cultural duty where she embodies the legacy of her ancestors, community, and ASBA.

As a champion of equity, diversity, and inclusion, Desiree Fowler stands as a beacon for positive change, driven by her grandmother's unwavering belief in the power of education. Her journey as a leader, advocate, and supporter for ASBA reflects a steadfast commitment to a brighter future for all students.