2018 Conference Plenary Speakers

The following speakers will be joining us this year. Additional speakers will be added as they are confirmed. 

Monday, September 24, Lunch Plenary


Dr. Johnson is the Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer who is responsible for the development and implementation of strategic operational transformation at Federal Student Aid to deliver federal student aid in a world class manner.

His vision for the Next Generation (Next Gen) Financial Services Environment includes the modernization of the systems architecture, technology, and system solutions to the entire financial aid delivery process. As part of Next Gen, Dr. Johnson is leading the conversion to a fully mobile environment to provide the optimum customer service to students, parents and borrowers.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos appointed Dr. A. Wayne Johnson as the chief operating officer for the office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) on July 13, 2017. Dr. Johnson assumed his current role in January 2018, focusing his efforts the strategic planning process and execution to improve the optimum use of technology for aid delivery, debt collection, and compliance efforts.

Throughout a career spanning more than 30 years, Dr. Johnson has proven himself as a dynamic, creative visionary and an entrepreneurial leader. His extensive background includes conceptualizing, developing, and leading successful businesses across multiple industries, with a particular focus on the financial services sector.

Dr. Johnson earned a Doctorate in higher education leadership from Mercer University, an MBA from Emory University, and a Bachelor’s degree from Mercer University.

Tuesday, September 25, Lunch Plenary 


Dr. Mildred García is the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU.) As AASCU's president, Dr. García is an advocate for public higher education at the national level, working to influence federal policy and regulations on behalf of member colleges and universities; serving as a resource to presidents and chancellors as they address state policy and emerging campus issues; developing collaborative partnerships and initiatives that advance public higher education; directing a strategic agenda that focuses on public college and university leadership for the 21st century; and providing professional development opportunities for presidents, chancellors, and their spouses.She is the first Latina to lead one of the six presidentially based higher education associations in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining AASCU, Dr. García served as the president of California State University, Fullerton. Under her leadership, the university saw a 30 percent improvement in six-year graduation rates and a 65 percent improvement in four-year graduation rates for first-time freshmen; and the achievement gap was eliminated for transfer students and cut in half for first-time freshmen. The institution is now number one in California and second in the nation in awarding bachelor’s degrees to Hispanics, as well as sixth in the nation in graduating students of color. 

President García previously served as president of CSU Dominguez Hills, CEO of Berkeley College, and has held both academic and senior-level positions at Arizona State University; Montclair State University; Pennsylvania State University; Teachers College, Columbia University; and the Hostos, LaGuardia, and City Colleges of the City University of New York.

A recipient of myriad awards, and was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. She also served on Air University's Board of Visitors; and the the Committee on Measures of Student Success. She presently sits the boards of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment, the National Survey of Student Engagement, the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities, and the Educational Testing Service (ETS) Board of Trustees. 

A first-generation college student, Dr. García earned a Doctor of Education degree and a M.A. in Higher Education Administration from Teachers College, Columbia University; a M.A. in Business Education/Higher Education from New York University; a B.S. in Business Education from Baruch College, City University of New York; and an A.A.S. from New York City Community College.