2023 Ohio Legislators Retreat

March 9, 2023

In partnership with Ohio Senator Andrew Brenner and Representative Gayle Manning, we hosted the Ohio Legislators Retreat on February 23-24, 2023, in Columbus, OH. Over the course of two days, attendees engaged in constructive conversations with leading experts and practitioners, as well as legislative leaders from the Ohio General Assembly. 

To kick off the Retreat, our Co-Chairs opened the floor and welcomed state leaders to the Retreat. We then heard from The Honorable Jon Husted, the Lieutenant Governor of Ohio, who set the stage by discussing current education needs in the state. 

Our first session featured Ohio’s education leaders including Dr. Stephanie Siddens, Interim Superintendent of Public Instruction at the Ohio Department of Education, and The Honorable Randy Gardner, Chancellor, Ohio Department of Higher Education, who discussed their departments’ goals and priorities, along with necessary legislative supports, when it comes to creating a shared vision for Ohio’s future.  This session was moderated by our very own Dr. Dan Wuori, Senior Director of Early Learning at The Hunt Institute 

The next conversation focused on early childhood access, and featured Ohio’s state team that attended our 2022 Early Childhood Leadership Summit. Dr. Wendy Grove, the Director of the Office of Early Learning & School Readiness with the Ohio Department of Education, and Gloria Blevins, the President of the Black Child Development Institute in Ohio, shared their goals for early childhood access and affordability in Ohio and what supports are needed at the legislative level to move this work forward.  This session was introduced by The Honorable Juanita Brent, and was moderated by Kathy Stohr, Program Officer, Pritzker Children’s Initiative. 

The Honorable Joe Miller then opened the floor for Kelly Butler, CEO, Barksdale Reading Institute, who moderated our next discussion titledEmbedding Evidence-Based Literacy Instruction across the Continuum.” This session featured Dr. Melissa Weber-Mayrer, Director, Office of Approaches to Teaching & Professional Learning, Ohio Department of Education, and Dr. Mary Heather Munger, Assistant Professor of Education, University of Findlay, who discussed the science of reading and ways in which evidence-based instruction is currently embedded in educator preparation programs and classrooms.   

Our next session, “Public Perceptions & Community Engagement,” featured Kira Orange Jones, CEO of Teach Plus, and Dr. Lillian Drakeford, Interim Dean at Central State University. Our very own Sean Banks, Senior Program Manager of Educator Diversity at The Hunt Institute, moderated the discussion which focused on rethinking the teacher pipeline to recruit, prepare, and retain teachers to ensure a workforce that is representative of and equitably serves all students. The Honorable Adam Bird provided opening remarks.  

Legislators were then given the opportunity to engage directly with principals and teachers from around Ohio to discuss how to support and maintain teacher recruitment and retention.  

To close out Day One, The Honorable Bob Taft, opened the floor for The Honorable Steve Stivers, President & CEO, Ohio Chamber of Commerce, who moderated the discussion titled “Preparing Students for the Workforce.” Resource experts Dr. Charlotte Cahill, Senior Director at JFF, and Dr. Jack Thomas, President of Central State University, spoke about how leaders from the K-12 and higher education sectors can work together to prepare students for evolving workforce needs and help them work toward long-term goals that lead to economic mobility.

Day Two began with welcoming remarks from our Retreat Co-Chairs, Ohio Senator Andrew Brenner and Representative Gayle Manning, before discussing the social and emotional needs of Ohio’s students. This session was moderated by Dr. Rochelle Herring, Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts, and featured resource experts Bobbie Boyer, Deputy Director of the Office of Prevention Services at the Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services, Teresa Lampl, CEO of The Ohio Council of Behavioral Health & Family Services Providers, and Dr. Ken Yeager, Director of the STAR Program at The Ohio State University. Legislators heard about the mental health challenges students have faced during this time of national uncertainty and learn the role leaders can play to help students, educators, and families focus on the needs of students.  The Honorable Jay Edwards provided opening remarks to this session.  


The Honorable Jessica Miranda then opened the floor for a conversation on the pandemic’s impact on learning, interventions districts could implement to accelerate learning, and the role the legislature could play in those efforts. This session was moderated by LaTanya Pattillo, Director of Policy & Advocacy at NWEA, and featured Chad Aldis, Vice President for Ohio Policy at The Fordham Institute, and Dr. Julia RafalBaer, Managing Partner at ILO Group. 

For the final session of the Retreat, The Honorable Catherine Ingram provided welcoming remarks for a session titled College & Career Readiness in a Changing Higher Education Landscape. This discussion focused on how postsecondary institutions in Ohio and across the nation have placed supports and interventions to ensure students are able to persist through their coursework, and ultimately graduate successfully.Paola Santana, Strategy Officer at Lumina Foundation, moderated the conversation between Dr. Dhanfu Elston, Chief of Staff & Senior Vice President for Strategy at Complete College America, and Dr. Monica Posey, President of Cincinnati State Technical & Community College. 

As always, we look forward to seeing how Ohio’s leaders use this information to move the needle for their students. Special thanks to all our resource experts who traveled to Columbus with us to share their insights and expertise.  

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