For over 30 years, Sonia Manzano inspired, educated, and delighted children and families as "Maria" on Sesame Street. Named among the "25 Greatest Latino Role Models Ever" by Latina Online, Manzano broke ground as one of the first Hispanic characters on national television. In May 2016, Manzano received an Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award.
A first generation mainland Puerto Rican, Manzano was inspired by teachers to be involved in the arts, leading to a scholarship at Carnegie Mellon University and eventually a starring role in Godspell. Within a year, Manzano joined Sesame Street, where she eventually began writing scripts, winning 15 Emmys as part of the Sesame Street writing staff. She is most proud of having penned the story line for the birth of "Maria's" baby, briefly played by Manzano's real-life daughter, Gabriela.
Manzano is also an author. Her latest book, Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx, is a memoir praised by Kirkus Reviews for its "lyrical and unflinching account of her tough Nuyorican upbringing." Manzano is a master storyteller and staunch advocate for education who has opened doors for Latinas on screen, speaking out for literacy, diversity, or addressing the issues children face in our media-saturated life.
Manzano will keynote and emcee the Summit's Banquet celebration on Tuesday evening, October 18.
Jim Lentz is chief executive officer of Toyota Motor North America, Inc. (TMNA); president and chief operating officer of Toyota Motor North America, Inc. (TMA); a senior managing officer of parent company Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), located in Japan; and president of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing, North America, Inc. (TEMA).
In this role, Lentz oversees all of Toyota's North American affiliate companies, including TMA, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (TMS), and Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing, North America, Inc. (TEMA), which includes responsibilities for Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc. (TMMC), and oversight for Toyota Canada, Inc. (TCI). Lentz also is chairman of the North American Executive Committee, comprising top leaders from the affiliate companies.
Read more about Lentz, who will join the Summit's Banquet celebration on Tuesday evening, October 18.
Dale Dougherty is the founder and CEO of Maker Media, Inc. which launched Make:magazine in 2005, and Maker Faire, which held its first event in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2006. Dougherty's vision and mission continue to be the guiding force for the family of brands. When not in the office, Dougherty can be found making award-winning wines with his family in Sebastopol, Cali.
Dougherty will keynote the Summit's closing brunch on Wednesday, October 19.
Tatanka Means is a stand-up comic and award-winning actor. He has starred in Saints and Strangers, A Million Ways to Die in The West, and Tiger Eyes, based on the acclaimed novel by author Judy Blume. Means is from Chinle, Arizona, and he represents the Oglala Lakota, Omaha, and Navajo Nations. Raised in a home where his father was an influential leader of the American Indian Movement, Means has followed in his father's footsteps as an advocate for equality and advancement for Native Americans. His ambition and perseverance has taken him away from his home on the reservation and he has become a role model for all American Indian First Nations youth.
Means will keynote the Summit's opening session on Monday, October 17.
William Mehojah, Jr. is the past Director of the Office of Indian Education Programs. He worked as a teacher, counselor, and administrator in the Office of Indian Education Programs, now the Bureau of Indian Education, for thirty-six years. He helped develop the Family and Child Education program that started in five schools on the Navajo Nation. It has expanded to 43 schools and over the past 26 years has enrolled more than 47,000 adults and children. He is currently semi-retired and works with schools on the Gila River Indian Community in Arizona.
Mehojah will join us for the opening session on Monday, October 17.
Dana Suskind, author of the book, Thirty Million Words: Building A Child's Brain, is Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics at the University of Chicago, Director of the Pediatric Cochlear Implantation Program, and Founder and Director of the Thirty Million Words Initiative. Based on scientific research that shows the critical importance of early language exposure on the developing child, Thirty Million Words helps parents enhance their home language environment in order to optimize their child's brain development and, therefore, his or her ability to learn.
Suskind will join us for a keynote presentation, question-and-answer session, and book signing on Monday afternoon, October 17.