The series highlights developments and trends in technology, research, policy, and funding relevant to education.

With an emphasis on global connections, this event series offers attendees the opportunity to network and collaborate with peers by engaging in meaningful dialogues and experiences that can positively influence the future of education.

Highlights from our 2023 Global Connections in Education

2023 Speakers

Sandeep Aneja

Founder and Managing Partner, Kaizenvest

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Sandeep is the founder and managing partner of Kaizenvest, an education-focused fund management firm headquartered in Singapore. He is responsible for overseeing the firm’s strategy, growing operations across regions, driving the company’s thought leadership, and building the firm’s investor and entrepreneur networks across the globe.

Laurie Forcier

Strategy and Partnerships, ISTE

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Laurie Forcier is a senior education leader with a passion for connecting people and ideas to drive system-level change. During her close to 25-year career in education she has contributed to the world’s top education institutions, including the National Science Foundation, Harvard University, and Pearson. She now works independently, supporting partnerships and strategy for global education organizations linked by a common belief in the power of technology to make a quality education available to everyone, including EVR, ISTE, and EDT & Partners. She speaks internationally on the future of education, skills, and work; AI in Education; how we can support educators in the use of technology; and why evidence is key to unlocking the power of EdTech.

John Gamba

Entrepreneur in Residence, University of Pennsylvania

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John is a serial entrepreneur with a track record for converting innovative ideas into industry-transforming ventures. Currently, he serves as Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) and Director of Innovative Programs at Catalyst @ Penn GSE where he works with entrepreneurs, researchers, and practitioners to incubate new EdTech ventures and advance innovation, impact, and equity in worldwide education.

L. Michael Golden, Ed.D., MBA

Executive Director, Catalyst @ Penn GSE, University of Pennsylvania

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Michael is a proven education leader committed to education reform. He brings expertise in envisioning and implementing the convergence of business, technology, and education in established, emergent, and public sector environments.

Mike Hennessy

Applied Research, Product Management, and Decision Science, PeopleBench

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Mike leads the Research and Product functions at PeopleBench, an Australian-based company offering HRTech software, workforce research, and advisory solutions to the K–12 Education sector. As a member of the founding leadership team, Mike helped to develop the business from a bootstrapped pilot project in March 2019 to now serving thousands of schools and education systems across Australia and around the world.

Cynthia Hobbs

Lead Education Specialist, Inter-American Development Bank

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Cynthia Hobbs is a lead education specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). She has a deep interest in improving teaching quality, and she has taught in primary schools, universities, and courses for adults. She also has conducted research on teaching practices, including intercultural bilingual math education. Prior to joining the IDB, she worked for 15 years at the World Bank where she also oversaw the preparation and execution of education projects in several areas, including early and pre-primary education, primary and secondary education, youth, and transitions from school to work. Cynthia holds a degree in psychology from Bates College (USA) and a master's degree in international education from Harvard University.

Mike Michalec

Founder & Managing Director, EdTech Asia

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Mike is the Founder and Managing Director at EdTech Group, an EdTech and education market intelligence, business development, and research services firm. He also serves as an International Development Consultant for UNESCO, UNICEF, and USAID. Mike holds a Master of Education degree from George Mason University and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Colorado.

Michael J. Nakkula

Professor of Practice and Chair, Human Development and Quantitative Methods Division

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Dr. Nakkula’s teaching and research focus on the development of resilience and the promotion of possibility development among children and youth from low-income backgrounds. He is particularly interested in the integration of counseling, mentoring, and educational processes in urban schools to create contexts that allow students to thrive in school and during their transition to higher education and career opportunities.

Jason Palmer

Partner, New Markets Venture Partners

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Jason's combination of vision, leadership, team building, and product market growth expertise enables him to serve as a trusted advisor to mission-driven founders, educational institutions, and movement builders.

Norihisa Wada

Global EdTech Acceleration Committee Japan (Ministry of Education Japan)

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Norihisa Wada serves as a steering committee member for numerous government ministries in Japan, including the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry, leading government policy in education innovation. He is also the Managing Partner at EduLab Capital Partners. Norihisa has been responsible for EduLab’s investment portfolio into both Edtech companies and fund investments. Norihisa is heavily involved in Edtech, a mentor at GSV Labs, and serves as a GESAwards (Global EdTech Startup Awards) Finals judge. Before joining EduLab, Norihisa served as a senior vice president of an entertainment games company where he achieved an unprecedented number of hit titles for Nintendo DS & Wii, setting the global trend of Nintendo DS Study. He previously served as a new business development consultant at the largest non-profit testing institute in the world and as an advisor at CHINA MOBILE in China. Norihisa still serves as an Industry-Government-Academy Collaboration Advisor at Kyoto University Inter-Graduate School Program for Sustainable Development and Survivable Societies where he is part of behavior change studies.

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