StriveTogether 2023 Annual Convening | NorthStar Charting the course to economic mobility


Across the country, the Cradle to Career Network brings together thousands of partners and countless community leaders, all pursuing one North Star: a future where every child has every opportunity to succeed. Together, we transform systems to get better, more equitable outcomes for Black, Indigenous, Latine and Asian children and children experiencing poverty. We are guided by community expertise, data and shared learning. We celebrate our progress and chart the course to stronger futures.

Every year, StriveTogether brings the power of our national movement to one city for three days of connecting, learning and creating change. The Cradle to Career Network Convening is the only event of its kind for local and national leaders breaking down barriers and changing systems for 14 million youth — including nearly 8 million children of color.

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our keynote speakers

Frederick M. Hess

Frederick M. Hess | Educator, political scientist and author

Frederick M. Hess is a senior fellow and the director of Education Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he works on K–12 and higher education issues. He is also an executive editor of Education Next and a senior contributor to Forbes, and he founded and chairs AEI’s Conservative Education Reform Network. Dr. Hess started his career as a high school social studies teacher and has since taught at colleges including Rice, Harvard and Georgetown.


Kim JohnsonKim Johnson | Director of the California Department of Social Services

Kim Johnson was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom as the director of the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) in July of 2019. In this role, she leads a team of over 5,000 employees serving over 6 million Californians in the largest department in the California Health and Human Services Agency. Ms. Johnson has over 25 years of experience working in various family support and children’s programs focused on social justice, equity and poverty disruption in both community-based organizations and government.


Dr. Tim Lampkin

Dr. Tim Lampkin | Founder and CEO of Higher Purpose Co

Dr. Tim Lampkin is the founder and CEO of Higher Purpose Co, an economic justice nonprofit building community wealth with Black business owners across Mississippi. He has more than a decade of community development and entrepreneurship experience. Dr. Lampkin was the first person in Mississippi to be selected by Ashoka for their lifetime social impact fellowship. He serves as president of Lampkin Impact Ventures, LLC, providing economic justice advising, impact speaking and creative digital content.


Pedro Noguera

Pedro Noguera | Dean and professor at USC’s Rossier School of Education

Pedro Noguera is dean of the Rossier School of Education and a distinguished professor of education at the University of Southern California. He has served as a professor and holder of endowed chairs at the University of California, Los Angeles, New York University, Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley. Nogura is the author of 15 books. In 2022, he was ranked third in the nation for influence and impact in education by Education Week.


Jerelyn Rodriguez

Jerelyn Rodriguez | Co-founder and CEO of The Knowledge House

Jerelyn Rodriguez co-founded The Knowledge House, which combines technology training, career support and strategic partnerships to create opportunities for economic mobility. Her previous work include serving as national program director for Students for Education Reform and serving on Mayor De Blasio’s NY Workforce Recovery Strategy Group. In 2016, she was named on the Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Education list. She serves on the leadership council for Cradle to Career Network member South Bronx Rising Together.


Erik Stegman

Erik Stegman | CEO of Native Americans in Philanthropy

Erik Stegman is the CEO of Native Americans in Philanthropy, advocating for increased philanthropic investments in tribal communities. Previously, he served as the executive director for the Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute. He has held positions at the Center for American Progress, as majority staff counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and as a policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Education.


Jennifer Blatz

Jennifer Blatz | President and CEO of StriveTogether

Jennifer Blatz is the president and CEO of StriveTogether and a nationally recognized leader and expert in building place-based partnerships. For two decades, she has designed, developed and implemented strategies that drive large-scale community improvement through partnership with local leaders and organizations. Jennifer began her career in the education sector. She serves as a PolicyLink Ambassador for Health Equity, a LEAP Ambassador, a board member at Raising A Reader and a member of the Cincinnati Business Courier Leadership Trust.

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Interested in joining the Network? The Cradle to Career Network unites people who want to ensure that every child has access to opportunities for success in school and in life. Learn more about joining the network.