Equity in Education Summit

Missing Voices: Equity in Education Summit is a collective-impact summit of educators, students, families, and community members that defines solutions to improve the future of education.


Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018
8:00 a.m.* - 2:30 p.m.

Saint Mary's University Center, Twin Cities Campus
* Check-in and continental breakfast begin at 7:30 a.m.

The Missing Voices Summit brings together a variety of stakeholder voices to engage in solution-oriented dialogue and actionable steps toward educational equity. Attendees draw from an array of multiple perspectives including youth (high school and college-age), parents and families, community members, teachers and administrators. Through intentional collaboration, the goal of the conference is to increase equitable learning opportunities for ALL students.

The 2018 conference focuses on educational equity with special emphasis this year regarding native, immigrant and refugee voices by embracing the idea that We Are All Related (Mitakuye Oyasin). In Lakota tribal education one gains knowledge from firsthand experience in the world and then transmits or explores this knowledge through ritual, ceremony, art, and appropriate technology. The essence of this concept is that our lives are truly and profoundly connected to others and the world around us. Now, in this time of division and polarization, we must recognize ourselves in the faces of others, particularly historically marginalized groups. The Missing Voices Summit allows for an exploration of commonalities and differences through an examination of self and others in our combined journey from Indigenous nations and along a timeline of immigration.

Conference Takeaways:

  • Educational strategies focused on diversity, inclusion, and intercultural competence.
  • Professional development in the form of keynote speakers, participation in creative expression, and interactive engagement.
  • Information gleaned from meaningful self-reflection and community conversations that promote transformative change in ourselves and our educational systems.


Registration open now.

Educators and administrators: $125. Youth, Families, and Community Members: Free.

Register Now

Ron Leith

Native Elder

Ron is a Native elder of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa and will perform a blessing upon the Summit space.

Ron Leith has been employed in the Native American non-profit field for over thirty years. He has extensive experience in program administration, program development, and community service in both urban and rural Native American communities. Ron has proudly served as a Native American representative for communities, families and children on the local, state and national levels in the fields of child welfare, juvenile justice, business, and housing all during the last ten years. Ron has been fortunate to have been selected to work with some of the most talented and gifted Native American professionals in a variety of community service fields. Ron is an enrolled member of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa, Red Lake, Minnesota.

Red Tree Singers

Native Singing, Morton, Minnesota

The drum group will perform several Honor and Traveling songs; the group includes both Ojibwe and Dakota singers.

"We learned much of what we know as singers from singing in ceremonies, sundances, and by simply observing others who had knowledge. As singers, this is our way of life. We sing around the drum for strength, happiness, and life for all people, and without the drumbeat I would be lost. The drum keeps me happy. I have been around pow wows my whole life. I started dancing when I could walk, I started singing when I was 7 or 8 years old. I've always heard this drumbeat. I can't imagine my life without the drum. It is the heartbeat of our people. It keeps us going. It brings life."
~ Joseph Erler, Red Tree Singers member

Jim Knutson-Kolodzne

We Are All Related

Dr. Knutson-Kolodzne will provide information on the 11 Minnesota tribal nations and explain the native value of “ a sense of place.” Additional information will be provided on how educators can increase their sensitivity and awareness of MN American Indian history, language and culture.

Jim Knutson-Kolodzne is a member of the Ottawa Nation from Manistee, MI. He has held several positions within American Indian education for over 30 years in the Minnesota and Wisconsin public K-12 schools, tribal colleges, and at the college level within the University of Wisconsin system and the Minnesota Colleges and Universities system (MnSCU). Jim earned a B.A. in Psychology and a M.S. in Guidance/Counseling from the University of Wisconsin-Stout and an Ed. D. in Higher Education Administration program at St. Cloud State University. He is the founding director of the Native Studies Summer Workshop for Educators (NSSWE) and has been involved with the Native Sky Watchers program for seven years.

Wing Young Huie

"How Photographs Form Us: What Do You See?”

An award winning Twin Cities-based photographer, Wing’s artistic process has constantly evolved. Wing will show photos from his many projects, while facilitating a group discussion that will challenge initial perceptions, opening up the possibilities for multiple perspectives. How we look at photographs shows us how we look at life. What do you see?

Wing Young Huie has been photographing for over thirty years, with much of it focused on his home state of Minnesota. Although his work has been exhibited nationally and internationally in galleries and museums, his most well-known projects are large-scale public installations, including Frogtown (1995), Lake Street USA (2000) and The University Avenue Project (2010), which transformed major Twin Cities’ thoroughfares into epic photo galleries. In 2000 the Star Tribune named Wing “Artist of the Year”. The resulting book was hailed by the Star Tribune as one of 25 great books ever published about Minnesota. The Minnesota Historical Society Press will publish Chinese-ness, his current project, in 2018.

Shegitu Kebede

The Value of One Life

Shegitu Kebede gives a first-hand account of what it means to be a refugee and to immigrate to the United States in the early '90s. She presents her challenges and obstacles in coming to the states and experiencing cultural shock.

Shegitu Kebede knows first-hand what refugee camps and war are like. She lived in and had her first child in a refugee camp in Kenya. Since coming to Minnesota in 1990, she has worked as an advocate for refugees. She’s been honored by several groups including the McKnight Foundation, Bridging Youth and her story has been featured in the Minnesota History Center. Shegitu is a mother, published author and motivational speaker. She travels to refugee camps in Ethiopia several times a year to improve the livelihoods of refugees by building facilities that support education to add a renewed hope and confidence in their future.

Green Card Voices

Sharing Immigrant Stories

Green Card Voices’ shares various stories of our nation’s 40 million immigrants and puts a human face to the current immigration debate. Two youth authors from the Green Card Voices project will share their stories.

Launched in 2013, Green Card Voices focuses not only on capturing individual stories, but also on demonstrating the incredible breadth of the immigrant population. We want to show that immigrants work on our farms, serve our food, teach our children, create our technologies, and start our Fortune 500 companies. Utilizing web-based video storytelling, we’re traveling the country and listening to those with the courage to share their journey, documenting each story in an authentic and unbiased way. The chronicles of those whose stories we capture are both awe-inspiring and thought provoking, portraying the diversity of the immigrant experience in the United States.

What Makes It Special

Most educational conferences are provided as an opportunity for educators only. By doing that, multiple perspectives are missing in the conversations. Our goal is to bring all voices together and move from discussion to action.

Through collaboration focused on equity, the Saint Mary’s Graduate School of Education’s Missing Voices: Equity in Education Summit brings together educators, students, families, and community members. When missing perspectives are intentionally included, our community is bound to be more creative in our solution-making and we will increase the opportunity to collectively improve the future.

Why Attend?

Throughout the day, participants have the opportunity to learn strategies, identify new resources, experience creative expression, engage in dialogue and intentional networking, and commit to individual action toward solutions to make our schools more equitable. 

How Can I Help?

Make a donation that will:

  • Allow participants, especially students, families, and community members, to attend the event free of charge.
  • Sponsor follow-up events focused on action planning, particularly Youth Action Retreats.
  • Assist families in need of childcare during the event.


Contact us at missingvoices@smumn.edu.

Youth Equity Solutions

Do you know any youth interested in participating on our Youth Equity Solutions (YES!) team? Team members help plan the Missing Voices Summit and other youth-focused events.

Learn more about the YES team.

Know someone who is a leader in educational equity and inclusion? Nominate a youth, educator or community member for one of our Missing Voices Recognition Awards. Nominations accepted throughout the year. Award recipients will be notified one month prior to the Missing Voices Summit each year.

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota will bestow awards to three (3) individuals who are working toward educational equity in P-12 and higher education institutions and within the greater community:

  1. Culturally Responsive Leadership award recognizes an educator/ administrator in P-12 or higher education who is a collaborative, innovative and future-thinking solution-seeker working to address issues of equity in education;
  2. Community Advocate for Change award celebrates work being done by an individual or group within the greater community working to help parents, families and communities address issues of educational equity and;
  3. Youth Equity Solutions (YES!) award honors a youth (age 15-22 years) working for educational equity within their school or community. Saint Mary’s University seeks nominations for individuals or groups who meet the criteria for each award and who have not been recognized previously.

If you know of an organization, group, or individual who meets these guidelines or has perhaps gone above and beyond in an area of educational equity that is “outside the box” of the criteria listed, nominate them!

Please complete and return this application form by December 29, 2017.

Nominees will be screened by the Missing Voices Committee and selected by the President and Cabinet of Saint Mary’s University of MN. Nominees will be contacted by the Missing Voices Committee if chosen. The recipients of these awards will be honored during a ceremony at the Missing Voices: Equity in Education Summit (date and time TBA).

Recognition Awards Criteria

Culturally Responsive Leadership Award

  • Awarded to educator or administrator.
  • Demonstrated impact on the educational community or working directly with youth (creation of new programming, outreach beyond their own sphere, helped to change policy, worked across populations to bring communities together to bring greater opportunities to all kids, created partnerships with outside organizations, leader of equity initiatives).
  • Collaborative, future-thinking, innovative, solution-seeker. Believes in the power of people and embodies a spirit of service.

Community Advocate for Change Award

  • Awarded to community member.
  • Demonstrated impact on the community or working directly with youth (creation of new programming, outreach beyond their own sphere, helped to change policy, worked across populations to bring communities together to bring greater opportunities to all kids, created partnerships with outside organizations, leader of equity initiatives).
  • Collaborative, future-thinking, innovative, solution-seeker. Believes in the power of people and embodies a spirit of service.

Youth Equity Solutions (YES!) Award
The Youth Equity Solutions (YES!) team supports the Missing Voices: Equity in Education Summit under the philosophy of Ubuntu: each person in the learning community contributes their unique cultural identity to the greater whole. Missing Voices youth engagement is intended to move youth from a mindset where they must lose who they are to learn to one where they must know who they are to learn. Youth leaders model the process of honoring all cultural assets in the classroom. The Youth Equity Solutions Award is designed to recognize a youth whose advocacy and dedication to educational equity mirrors this philosophy

  • Awarded to young person between 15 and 22 years old.
  • Has a demonstrated passion and dedication to equity work.
  • Sets a strong example for peers.
  • Is a servant leader who gives back to the community.
  • Actively engages and rallies their peers.
  • Acts as a liaison between student groups, administrators and other community members.
  • Has identified an important community solution and has organized some effort to make a
  • difference.

Each year the Culturally Responsive Teaching program hosts Missing Voices: Equity in Education Summit, which is a unique opportunity in the world of educational conferences. The program strives to bring multiple perspectives and stakeholders to the table, welcoming their wisdom and lived experience. Participants in Missing Voices will experience a variety of participatory activities, dialogue, and expert keynotes as they are asked to collectively commit to action. To earn credit for this experience, participants will synthesize their learnings and create a plan to move to action and application. Coursework will be completed as an independent study following the conference.

Registration for, and participation in, the Missing Voices: Equity in Education Summit is required in order to complete GPDE 5441A.

Register for the graduate credit by Nov. 10 at gpde.smumn.edu.

Cost for the graduate credit: $275

Educators and administrators are charged $100 for Summit attendance and the GPDE 5441A course is billed separately.