2023 AESD Annual Conference

Centering Students, Strengthening Systems

April 12–14, 2023
Hyatt Regency Hotel in Lake Washington

Co-hosted by Capital Region ESD 113 and Puget Sound ESD, this year’s conference is our first on-site, in-person AESD conference since we marked our 50th anniversary in 2019! We have grown and evolved through the pandemic, and we have much to celebrate. Welcome back!

Conference Materials & Photos

AESD Network Welcome artwork

Graphic illustrations of the conference that Leah Lavelle from Urban Wild Studios created during the event


Chris Reykdal

Chris Reykdal, State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Chris Reykdal was born and raised in Snohomish, Washington, as the youngest of eight children. He has served as a high school history teacher, local school board member, state legislator, and budget and policy executive for our state’s community and technical college system. Reykdal has dedicated his entire career to public education, and he is currently serving in his first term as the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. He and his wife, Kim, live in historic Tumwater with their two children, Carter and Kennedy.

Joan Wade

Joan Wade, AESA Executive Director

Joan Wade, Ed.D. is a life-long educator with over 30 years of service in public education. She began serving as the Executive Director for the Association of Educational Service Agencies (AESA), on July 1, 2016. Dr. Wade began her career as a library media specialist in Montello, Wisconsin. After attending graduate school, she served in various administrative capacities in Wisconsin school districts including as Technology Coordinator for Portage Community School District, and Distance Learning Director for CESA 5.

Shakti Butler

Shakti Butler, PhD, President and Founder of World Trust Educational Services, Inc.

Dr. Shakti Butler is a visionary, filmmaker, transformative learning educator, wife, mother, grandmother and friend to many. She is also President and Founder of World Trust Educational Services, Inc., a non-profit transformative educational organization. Rooted in love and justice, World Trust produces films, curricula, workshops and programs that are catalysts for institutional, structural and cultural change. Dr. Butler is an inspirational speaker, facilitator, trainer and lecturer who is sought after by schools, universities, public and private organizations, and faith-based institutions.

Youth Equity Stewardship Project

Benjie Howard

Benjie Howard

Benjie Howard is the executive director of New Wilderness Project, an outdoor education program focused on developing youth leadership for equity and land justice. He is the co-founder of Youth Equity Stewardship (YES!), a program offering an inter-generational, experiential, arts based approach to school change efforts in public education.

Wade Antonio Colwell

Wade Antonio Colwell

Wade Antonio Colwell gratefully serves geographically diverse school communities as a poet, author, teacher, songwriter, facilitator, mentor and performance artist. His passionate collaboration as Co-Founder of Youth Equity Stewardship (YES!) and national consultant for the Deep Equity professional development process with Corwin Press, is inspired by a growing social movement of collective reciprocity.

Conference Agenda

Wednesday, April 12
12pm – 6:30pm

12 pm Exec Board/Leadership Council Lunch
1:15 pm Welcome & Conference Kick-Off
Land Blessing
What is the AESD?
AESA Welcome, Joan Wade
OSPI Welcome, Chris Reykdal
2:30 pm Break
2:45 pm Keynote: “Leading Equity and Elevating Student Voice”
Presenters: Youth Equity Stewardship Team Benjie Howard and Wade Antonio Colwell with students and alumni of Auburn School District
4:15 pm Closing
5 pm Presidents’ Reception (hors d’oeuvres)

Thursday, April 13
8:30am – 8:30pm

8:30 am Welcome & Framing
8:45 am Keynote: “The Challenges of Systemic Change”
Dr. Shakti Butler, World Trust
9:45 am Break
10 am &
11 am
Concurrent Breakout Sessions (2 rounds)
Strengthening Systems Breakout
Centering Communities Breakout
Centering Students Breakout
11:45 am Lunch and New Board Member Networking Lunch
1:15 pm Keynote Panel: “Centering Students, Strengthening Systems: Student Voice Panel”
Youth Wisdom Council, Puget Sound ESD
2:30 pm
2:45 pm
AESD Redesign Updates & Business Meeting Preview
5 pm Networking Reception
6:30 pm AESD Awards & Recognition Banquet

Friday, April 14
7:30am – 11:15am

7:30 am Breakfast
8:30 am Welcome Back
9:00 am

ESD Boards: Deeper Dive — Centering Students in our ESDs
Integrating Students Into ESD systems
Board Reflection on Centering Students in Their Work

ESD Staff: Job-Alike Meetings until 11:15 am (Fiscal, Assistant Supts, Communications, Executive Assistants)

10:00 am ESD Boards: AESD Business Meeting
10:45 am ESD Boards: Closing Reflections & 2024 Conference Preview


We are extremely grateful to all of our sponsors for their support and participation! Click on a logo below to learn more.

Diamond Sponsors

Patterson, Buchanan, Forbes, & Leitch, Inc., P.S.

Gold Sponsors

Clear Risk Solutions
ESD 112 Financial Advisory Services
Point North Inc.
STS Education
Foster Garvey PC
Right At School
Stevens Clay
Washington Schools Risk Management Pool

Silver Sponsors

Beresford Company, Inc.
D|A Davidson
Financial Alternatives

Bronze Sponsors

The Athena Group
FlashAlert Newswire
MES Solutions
Poth Investigations

Lodging & Venue

Hyatt Regency Hotel in Lake Washington

1053 Lake Washington Blvd N
Renton, Washington 98056

Located on the shores of Lake Washington, Hyatt Regency Lake Washington at Seattle’s Southport perfectly combines the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest with modern amenities.

Discounted rooms are available for conference attendees at the link below.

How to Register

For registration and lodging, please contact your local ESD’s executive assistant:


Mary Kempel

ESD 123

Kunika Votaw

ESD 114 – Olympic

Tina Schulz

ESD 171 – North Central

Heather Small

ESD 112

Sara Moore

ESD 121 – Puget Sound

Renee Hill

ESD 189 – Northwest

Jennifer Longchamps

© Copyright 2024 Washington Association of Educational Service Districts. All Rights Reserved.