2023 AESD Annual Conference

Centering Students, Strengthening Systems

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

ESD board members, staff, and invited partners are welcome to join us as we focus on AESD’s efforts to center student voices within the education system to serve all students and schools statewide!

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!

For registration and lodging, please contact your local ESD’s executive assistant or the AESD’s executive assistant, Shayna Burmeister.


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)
2 pm OSPI Welcome (Chris Reykdal)
Centering Students
2:45 pm Presentation 1: Youth Equity Stewardship Workshop (Project YES)
Leading Equity and Elevating Student Voice
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 Presentation 2: Dr. Shakti Butler, World Trust
9:45 am Break
10 am Concurrent Breakout Sessions (two rounds)
Strengthening Systems
Centering Communities
Centering Students
11:45 am Lunch and New Board Member Networking Lunch
1:15 pm Presentation Panel: PSESD Wisdom Council
Centering Students, Strengthening Systems: Student Voice Panel
2:30 pm
2:45 pm
AESD Business Meeting Preview
3:15 pm AESD Recognitions & Awards
AESD Executive Board Award of Distinction
Other recognitions
5 pm Recognition/Award Reception
6:30 pm AESD Board and ESD Staff Networking 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

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

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