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Fueling Austin's Tech Industry with Education

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Today's technology is changing the world at a quicker pace than any prior period of time. In order to keep up with this transformation, our education system will need to react at a much faster rate to develop new skills, curriculum, and resources. This session will bring some of the top educators and influencers from the area together to share how they plan to influence and support this need. The panel discussion will show the education spectrum from High School to College with speakers from Austin Independent School District (AISD), Austin Community College (ACC), and Concordia University.



Donald Christian Dean College of Business Concordia University

Dr. Donald Christian serves as the Dean of the College of Business for Concordia University Texas, a position he has held since the fall of 2005. During that time, the College has grown from just under 100 students to over 700 students today. Dr. Christian attributes much of that growth to creative programming and hard work by a dedicated faculty.

Dr. Christian received his Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership from the University of Phoenix where his research and dissertation focused on the correlation between leadership skills and interagency collaboration among organizations. His teaching expertise is in the areas of leadership and management, focusing on developing the critical and creative thinking process for his students. In addition to his work at Concordia, Dr. Christian serves in leadership positions on two community not-for-profit boards.

Prior to his work at Concordia, Dr. Christian served in a variety of positions, including Headmaster for a Lutheran High School; Parish Life Administrator at a church in downtown Houston; and as a high school band director.

Nathan Green Pres/Founder campus2careers Inc

Nathan Green is co-founder of campus2careers and the Austin Young Chamber (AYC). campus2careers is first site focused on connecting students and recent grads with the employers that don’t typically recruit on campus: the local startups, nonprofits, and small businesses. Through Nathan’s leadership, campus2careers has become the largest entry-level job board in TX and has recently partnered with the White House to help power SummerJobs. The AYC is the second largest chamber in the city and largest YPO in the state and Nathan is the Board Chair of their mentoring program: Apprentice Austin.

Prior to these endeavors, Nathan was one of the youngest executives at Pearson, a global 300 education company, and previously held executive positions at Accenture, Bloomberg, and a McKinsey spinoff (the Everest Group). Nathan sits on a number of for-profit and nonprofit Boards and is a two-time finalist for Austin’s Under 40 awards in Technology. He is a graduate of Cornell University’s Industrial and Labor Relations school and a frequent guest lecturer, occasional keynote, and constant talker.

Pauline Dow Chief Academic Officer Austin ISD

Pauline Dow currently serves as Chief Academic Officer for the Austin Independent School District, an urban school district of 85,000 PreK-12 students in over 120 schools and learning sites. Prior to this, she served as Associate Superintendent for Academics for the Ysleta Independent School District, a district with 62 schools serving more than 44,000 students.

She has focused on establishing meaningful standards of excellence, strengthening school-community partnerships, and a culture of collaboration at all levels. Much of her research, training and methodology were born and nurtured during her three-year, 1995 – 1997, W.K. Kellogg Foundation National Leadership Fellowship. This program enables professionals to explore new interdisciplinary pathways, develop a broader knowledge and experience base, and challenge their own perspectives on pressing issues of national and international concern.

Dow’s research focuses on the achievement of students in dual language education programs and the policy implications of bilingual schooling. Her most recent publication includes a book chapter published on June 13, 2012 by Springer: “Education Policies: Standardized Testing, English Language Learners and Border Futures” in Social Justice in the U.S.-Mexico Border Region. She is a founding member of the Institute for Language and Education Policy.

Richard Rhodes Pres/CEO Austin Community College District

Dr. Richard Rhodes is the president and CEO of the Austin Community College District. He joined ACC in September 2011 after serving as president of El Paso Community College for 10 years.

A native of Alamogordo, New Mexico, Dr. Rhodes received his Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting and Master of Arts in Educational Management and Development from New Mexico State University. He earned his doctorate through the Community College Leadership Program (CCLP) at the University of Texas at Austin. CCLP honored Dr. Rhodes with its Distinguished Graduate Award in 2001.

Dr. Rhodes' commitment to student success is unparalleled. He works to improve pathways into higher education, strengthen awareness of the community college mission, and give students the tools to accomplish their educational, professional, and personal goals.

Since arriving at ACC, Dr. Rhodes has enhanced the college's partnerships, working closely with regional business and industry, other institutions of higher education, and school districts within ACC's service area. He is closely involved with the Early College High School program, which gives students at two Austin high schools an opportunity to earn up to an associate degree by high school graduation. Dr. Rhodes is working to increase degree and certificate completion rates for all students, recognizing graduation as among the many benchmarks worthy of celebrating in students' academic careers.

His professional associations include the American Association of Community Colleges' 21st Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges; the Formula Funding Advisory Committee for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board; the Governor's Commission for a College-Ready Texas; and the Carnegie Foundation Board, among others.

Dr. Rhodes is active in the community, serving on the board of American YouthWorks as well as the economic development committees of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and the Round Rock Chamber of Commerce. He also is a member of the board of ACC's Center for Public Policy and Political Studies.

Dr. Rhodes is a certified public accountant in Texas and New Mexico. He and his wife, Kate, have been married for more than 30 years, and they have four children and three grandchildren. Dr. Rhodes enjoys reading, golf, hiking, and spending time with his family.