The Bureau of Non-White Dude Math Education Keynote Speakers

At a workshop in New York City yesterday, I was complimented in the morning for my In-N-Out Burger activity (which was actually created by Robert Kaplinsky) and in the afternoon for my File Cabinet activity (which was actually created by Andrew Stadel). This mix-up will come as no surprise to either Andrew or Robert or anyone who has ever seen the three of us presenting at a conference together. This happens all the time.

Also this week I received an email from May-Li Khoe, a researcher at Khan Academy, reflecting on her experience seeing Fawn Nguyen keynoting CMC-North. Both May-Li and Fawn are Asian-American.

I did not expect to be so affected by having Fawn speak during the keynote. Obviously the content of her presentation made an impression on me, but reflecting back later, I realized that I have never seen anyone remotely resembling myself as a keynote speaker, at any conference, ever.

We want all students to see themselves as people who can do mathematics, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, or any other variable. The power of mathematical thinking is good for everybody, and nobody should feel like their identity excludes them from that power.

The project of extending that access will require a diverse corps of teachers, which will require that a diverse corps of teachers sees teaching as a career full of advancement possibilities. Which means, among other efforts, that we need a more diverse corps of teachers speaking in front of large rooms of teachers.

So if you’re organizing a conference, I’m asking you to consider inviting any of the names below to give a talk before you consider inviting another tall, white dude. I’ll personally vouch for all of their abilities to deliver outstanding talks to large rooms of people. I have included Twitter contact information for each of them, along with websites and sample talks. I’m also happy to connect you with any of them personally. Let me know.

  • Maria Anderson. Applying research to instruction. [Twitter, Web, Sample]
  • Harold Asturias. Teaching mathematics & academic language to emerging bilingual students. [Twitter, Sample]
  • Deborah Ball. Teacher development; mathematical knowledge for teaching. [Twitter, Web, Sample]
  • Robert Berry. Formative assessment; equitable experiences for all math students; #blackkidsdomath. [Twitter, Sample]
  • Jo Boaler. Cultivating a growth mindset in mathematics. [Twitter, Web, Sample]
  • Marilyn Burns. Helping students make sense of math. [Twitter, Web, Sample]
  • Ed Campos, Jr. Technology integration. [Twitter, Web]
  • Peg Cagle. Creating engaging mathematical experiences. [Twitter, Sample]
  • Shelley Carranza. Technology integration. [Twitter]
  • Rafranz Davis. Technology integration; creating equitable experiences for all math students. [Twitter, Web, Sample]
  • Juli Dixon. Teaching students with special needs. [Twitter, Web, Sample]
  • Annie Fetter. Mathematical thinking and problem solving. [Twitter, Sample]
  • Kristin Gray. Creating engaging mathematical experiences. [Twitter, Web, Sample]
  • Rochelle Gutierrez. Creating equitable experiences for all math students (and their teachers). [Twitter, Sample]
  • Shira Helft. Instructional routines that promote discourse and sensemaking. [Twitter, Sample]
  • Ilana Horn. Cultivating a student’s mathematical identity. [Twitter, Web, Sample]
  • Elham Kazemi. Understanding a student’s mathematical thinking. [Twitter, Sample]
  • Jennie Magiera. Technology integration. [Twitter, Sample]
  • Danny Martin. Creating equitable experiences for all math students. [Sample]
  • David Masunaga. Mathematical inquiry, particularly in geometry.
  • Fawn Nguyen. Mathematical thinking and problem solving. [Twitter, Web, Sample]
  • Cathy O’Neil. The powerful and sometimes pernicious effect of algebraic models in the world. [Twitter, Web, Sample]
  • Carl Oliver. Integrating social justice and mathematics education. [Twitter, Web]
  • Megan Schmidt. Integrating social justice and mathematics education. [Twitter, Web]
  • Marian Small. Creating engaging and productive mathematical experiences. [Twitter, Web, Sample]
  • Joi Spencer. Integrating social justice and mathematics education. [Twitter, Sample]
  • Lee Stiff. Technology integration; creating equitable experiences for all math students. [Sample]
  • John Staley. Teaching mathematics for social justice. [Twitter, Sample]
  • Greg Tang. Creating engaging and productive mathematical experiences for elementary students. [Twitter, Web, Sample]
  • Megan Taylor. Creating engaging and productive mathematical experiences. [Twitter, Sample]
  • Kaneka Turner. Cultivating a student’s mathematical identity. [Twitter, Sample]
  • Sara Vanderwerf. Creating equitable experiences for all math students. [Twitter, Web]
  • Jose Vilson. Creating equitable experiences for all math students. [Twitter, Web, Sample]
  • Audrey Watters. Analyzing technological trends and their effect on education and society. [Twitter, Web, Sample]
  • Anna Weltman. Integrating creativity, art, and mathematics. [Twitter, Web, Sample]
  • Talithia Williams. Statistics; diversity in higher education. [Twitter, Sample]
  • Jennifer Wilson. Helping students make sense of mathematics; #slowmath. [Twitter, Web, Sample]
  • Cathy Yenca. Technology integration. [Twitter, Web, Sample]
  • Tracy Zager. Literally anything – have her read the tax code. (Also once her book comes out, your probability of getting her for your conference decreases asymptotically to zero. Buy now.) [Twitter, Web, Sample]

Add someone deserving or promising in the comments. Attach the same information you see above.

[Photos by Cathy Yenca and Kristin Hartloff.]

2016 Dec 14. The commenters have already caught a bunch of my really embarrassing omissions. Thanks for picking up my slack, everybody.

2016 Dec 16. In response to this critique from TODOS, I’d like to clarify that, yes, this list is incomplete, and my hope was that it would be made more complete in the comments. Additionally, my process in constructing the list is inherently biased towards a) speakers who have already given addresses to large rooms, which likely reflects the institutional biases of organizations who rent large rooms, b) speakers I have already seen, many of whom probably don’t challenge my privilege in ways I’d find uncomfortable, c) speakers who address secondary educators on themes of technology and curriculum design, themes reflective of my own disciplinary interests, d) speakers whom I could remember, which reflects my own lousy memory.

In spite of all those biases, I decided it was better for this list to exist than to not exist. I’m interested in hearing from TODOS (or anybody else) how this project could have done a better job advancing the interests of students and teachers of color.

Featured Comment

Elham Kazemi:

I was in graduate school before I had my first Persian teacher (if you exclude my education in Iran). It was an amazing experience, and I did every ounce of work possible in that class.

I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. I will vote for Maria Anderson. @busynessgirl
    Her current interest is in how students / people learn, and helping teachers and professors use the current research to improve their teaching.

    The current post on her blog / webpage has a link to her keynote at AMATYC this fall, where she got 1200 people actually up and moving during a keynote! Also, toward the bottom, she has a “Weekly Teaching Challenge” signup that I recommend right now.

  2. Hey Robert, I mean Dan,

    I really like your website :P

    I’m grateful for you sharing your thoughts and support for providing educators with opportunities to see a variety of their colleagues present.

    Here some great presenters (in no particular order) I’ve had the pleasure and honor to attend where my mind has been positively challenged and nurtured by their talents and passion. Chances are really good I’m missing someone here (forgive me):
    Robert Berry: great presenter, funny, and powerful speaker on the importance of formative assessment.
    Lee Stiff: energetic, hilarious, and passionate teacher for high quality math education
    Brad Fulton: creative and funny presenter who provides practical and useful resources for teachers
    Christina Tondevold: great presenter and passionate about number sense and elementary strategies
    Chris Shore: he will get you fired up about teaching great math lessons
    Jennifer North-Morris: I remember loving her session a few years ago
    Nanette Johnson: colleague of Robert; teacher/coach who is sweet, patient, and passionate about providing students with rich math opportunities
    Harold Asturias: great presenter on language and the importance of language in and of mathematics
    Karen Karp: hilarious and honest about arming teachers with the tools they need to support students
    Javier Garcia: passionate about student growth, supporting teachers, and high quality math education
    Mark Ellis: professor at CSUF, passionate about equity and high quality math education
    Marilyn Burns: wonderful and emphasizing the importance of student thinking
    Avery Pickford: engaging, mind-bending, and passionate teacher for thinking critically in math class and providing opportunities for all students.
    Karim Kai Ani: Eager to share high quality math experiences and perspectives with teachers to relate math with the real-world.
    Jennifer Wilson: I loved her Ignite at NCTM San Fransisco, and her blog posts are student-centered, reflective, and I’ve seen how the teachers she supports adore her.

  3. Annie Perkins makes my day when she talks. She legitimately loves learning things side by side with kids and isn’t afraid to step in it every once in a while. Spoke on Non-White Dude Mathematicians at Minnesota MCTM and Twitter Math Camp, and helped give me feedback as I turned it into a project my students have done – “Who Does Mathematics – A More Complete Picture”. Very cool gal.
    Twitter @anniekperkins

    • Love many of these folks–one in particular! ;) But he does happen to be a white dude ( though not as tall as y’all).

  4. Already, an excellent set of additions, many of which I’m embarrassed I omitted. I also added Elham’s powerful testimonial to the body of the post.

  5. Hi dan, I would love to add two brilliant educators from Adelaide in Australia: Amie Albrecht (@nomad_penguin) and David Butler (@DavidKButlerUoA). These two are inspiring a lot of other Aussie teachers to get involved with online communities (in particular, the MTBoS)

  6. So many great names listed above already. I have been inspired by the following math educators as well:
    Evelyn Lamb @evelynjlamb (Univ of UT prof, Scientific American contributor), Eugenia Cheng @DrEugeniaCheng (Scientist in Residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago), Francis Su @mathyawp (Harvey Mudd prof, prez of MAA), Darryl Yong @dyong (Harvey Mudd prof, Dean of Diversity, involved with MÆ’A and PCMI), Po-Shen Loh @PoShenLoh (CMU prof, USA math team coach).

  7. What I found refreshing about Fawn’s keynote here in Vancouver had little to do with her gender/colour/ethnicity etc but everything to do with the fact she is a classroom teacher. That to me is the most important piece. Megan Schmidt is also a classroom teacher so I’d love to see her keynote too. (Especially up here, Megan!)

  8. Michael Paul Goldenberg

    December 15, 2016 - 8:14 am -

    Contrary to some popular misconceptions, I am not E. Paul Goldenberg, not related to him, and do not resemble him. Most importantly, he’s a vastly more knowledgeable and widely respected mathematics educator than am I. :) And when we met in Orlando (I think) in the early 00’s, I apologized for any flak he might have caught from people thinking he and I were one and the same.

  9. There are many great names in that list indeed! I would add Sunil Singh (@Mathgarden on Twitter), author of Pi of Life: The Hidden Happiness of Mathematics. He also contributes to the Number Play column in the New York Times.
    I met a lot of nice, interesting math people through the Global Math Project. You should also look at their bios!

  10. Thanks for the submissions, everybody. I suspect they’ll be all the more useful for conference organizers if you include a) Twitter contact info, b) areas of expertise, and c) speaking samples (if they exist).

    • I’ve been thinking about your blog and the subsequent comments a lot. I believe what may be happening here is that teachers want to listen to talented individuals, like yourself, who are a reflection of themselves. Based upon your popularity, Caucasian teachers appear to want to hear and see Caucasian speakers. The question is are Caucasian speakers and teachers reflective of their students? How can we better expose Caucasian teachers to the diverse needs and perspectives of their students? How will we better recruit and hear the voices of teachers who look like their students?

  11. I really think Grace Kelemanik and Amy Lucenta (short Grace sample here: short Amy sample here: Both working together: would be wonderful keynotes on the use of instructional routines to support ALL students in having access to and using the mathematical practices.) Twitters: @gracekelemanik and @amylucenta

    Magdalene Lampert could talk quite eloquently on teacher learning as well (sample here: No Twitter account but here’s her website:

    Deborah Ball did a fantastic plenary session at ICME 13 this summer. (sample: twitter: @deborah_ball)

    I know a lot of people love Greg Tang’s work although I haven’t personally experienced any workshops with him (sample: twitter: @gregtangmath)

  12. May-Li posted some compiled thoughts on CMC North this morning: which doubles down on Fawn Nguyen, Megan Taylor, Megan Franke among others.

    Plus: Dr. Federico Ardila (see and ) and Beth O’Sullivan ( see ).

    I’ll also mention I’ve had personally great mentorship from Dr. Judy Kysh (who presents at Asilomar each year) and Dr. Maria Zavala (who has presented at NCSM 2016 and other conferences). Both from SFSU.

  13. While I have huge admiration for many on this list, I find it distressing that once again current classroom teachers are woefully under-represented so thought I would chime in to advocate for a few more voices from the classroom-
    David Masunaga- amazing geometer, thoughtful practitioner about use of inquiry with middle & high school students, (plus he has unique access to the Escher print collection of the Smithsonian)
    Elizabeth Strathmore (aka cheesemonkeySF)- articulate advocate for underserved gifted students and building capacity for discourse w Talking Points
    Tina Cardone (aka crstn85)- crafting relationships w students, One Good Thing & Nix the Tricks
    James Stallworth- a self-proclaimed cultural experience, eloquent spokesperson about straddling two worlds, privilege & identity
    and I would throw my hat into the ring as well

    • Thanks for the additions, Peg. If you had any speaking samples to add to your recommendations, I’m sure it would help out conference organizers. (Some of whom are already passing around this post!)

      At the risk of derailing this thread, I’m curious about the source of your distress over the representation of classroom teachers here and elsewhere. In your view, what percentage of keynote and featured speakers at any given conference should be current classroom teachers? And is that a statement of principle or preference? Given that some non-classroom teachers draw lots of interest from conference-goers, I wonder how conference committees should deal with this conflicting feedback.

  14. In your view, what percentage of keynote and featured speakers at any given conference should be current classroom teachers?

    Here’s an unpopular view. (I know that Patrick H and other MfA people disagree strongly with me on this. They’re very smart and this is speculative on my part, so that makes me doubt myself on this, so I’ll put my confidence at 30%.)

    It makes sense to me that there are fewer teachers represented in keynote or featured slots at conferences. Presenting/keynoting is a weird skill, and it’s not a skill that you don’t typically get a chance to work on while in the classroom.

    Should teachers be represented in the Journal in Research on Math Education? That’s how I feel about keynoting.

    Of course, if teachers do develop this skill then this is rare and valuable, and I would love to see them in keynote slots.

    I’m saying all this from the perspective of a guy who worries a ton about the classroom perspective, and also one who worries especially about the opportunities for teachers to contribute to knowledge about teaching.

    I don’t think that setting representation quotas for teachers in keynote slots is an answer. That’s implausible. But how important is keynoting for spreading professional knowledge? What other ways are there of spreading knowledge that we teachers might form to best suit the talents we develop while in the classroom? And what counts as knowledge in teaching, and what forms of knowledge do classroom teachers tend to come to?

    Before I start the campaign for representation in keynotes, I’m going to advocate for creating more things to do at conferences besides keynotes/speaking.

    • I read this today from Freddie DeBoer (link). and it’s relevant for the discussion here, though I don’t know precisely how:

      I would simply caution, just as a member of the peanut gallery, that we have ample history that demonstrates that more diverse spaces can be built that simply replicate old power structures.

  15. The following are two great presenters I have heard speak. Very engaging and knowledgeable.
    John Staley (@jstaley06)
    Teaching mathematics for social justice;
    Making mathematics meaningful and relevant for all

    Kristopher Childs (@drkchilds)
    Teachers selection and implementation of rich problem solving tasks;
    Creating equitable mathematics learning environments;
    Infusing Social Media into the Mathematics Classroom

  16. Hi Dan,
    I really applaud your efforts to build an awareness of diversity and educators from diverse backgrounds (and, as a regular reader of your blog, really like and admire your whole approach of spotlighting others in the mathematics community).

    However, I think you might want to consider approaching your core argument from a different angle. (You had written: “We want all students to see themselves as people who can do mathematics, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, or any other variable.”) But the notion of math being a universal language is a fallacy. It just isn’t culturally neutral — the purpose within every math activity is loaded with cultural assumptions. What if we were people who could do mathematics BECAUSE of what each of us brings with us to the table?

    None of us is culturally neutral — and that’s not a bad thing at all…

    The culture that each of us brings is the lens that helps us see the world. It’s time to move beyond the view of cultural neutrality. Roland Barthes once observed, “…if you’re a member of the dominant group, your attributes are invisible, as your role in making things the way they are is not noticeable.” So the idea is to be aware of culture and intentionally build on the elements and resources we want to carry forward in our values, thinking, and actions.

    As teachers, the question is how can we move beyond viewing our students only through the lens of our own experiences? It’s of utmost importance for educators to connect to their students’ experiences as well, to build into lessons each day, spaces that allow them to move beyond the generic form of the activity.

    Even the images and tables are loaded with cultural ways of thinking and used in cultural ways. To give kids access to power, be up front about culture. (Don’t view culture as invisible.) Give kids explicit road maps to how to navigate the layout and patterns found in the design of your activities, the language opportunities (not demands!) presented there, and the shape/form/assumptions found in images, tables, and other tools/resources; don’t assume “everyone knows.”

    ….and it’s not just kids from minority language and cultural groups who can benefit; this approach works with kids who are native English speakers who are white. Everyone brings culture to table….Anyways…there’s more… but all for now…


    • @Lynn, thanks for stopping by and offering such a detailed elaboration of “doing mathematics.” Lots I’ll need to think about (and read about) here.

  17. michael reitemeyer

    December 17, 2016 - 6:56 pm -

    Honest question, are white women underrepresented as keynote speakers? My very limited experiences at conferences have exclusively had white women keynoting (Mia bialik, Jo boaler, Diane ravitch; they were all great, and I also love Deborah Ball).

  18. Hey Dan!

    I am currently getting a masters and certification in secondary education, in math and history, at the University of Michigan (shout out to Deborah Ball!). You have come up in a few of my classes and I just wanted to say thanks for being such a great resource. I am so pleased to see this list of awesome
    “non-white dudes,” and thanks for everybody commenting with their own suggestions as well. It’s sad that it is acceptable for kids to think it’s ok to be bad at math, and I hope expanding math role models and doing better, more engaging mathematics teaching will help encourage more young people.

    I also wanted to say I love your pseudo-context posts (that stuff is so frustrating)! AND I recently gave some precalculus students a trig problem that had absolutely no information and, while at first they were a little hesitant, the discussion that came out of that exercise was awesome. I was actually shocked at how well it went.

    Thanks for the ideas and thanks for the resources! I have fallen into internet holes browsing your blogs and following links in the past, and I am sure to do it again (luckily it is just about winter break, so I will have some time to spare).