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November 17th, 7:00 - 8:15pm EDT


From top left, clockwise: Rebecca Miller Sykes, John B.King Jr., Angela Sims, and Nick Melvoin.

COVID-19 led to school closings across the country in March. Here we are, months later, with more chaos and uncertainty, and a variety of modes of learning from which parents and students must choose: all remote, all in-person and hybrid. Which parents are choosing to keep their children home? Who is sending their children back? What do family income and race have to do with the decisions? Can the gap between the privileged and the disadvantaged get any greater? What can we do to make positive impact as a nation? As individuals?

Moderator Rebecca Miller Sykes ’73, former President of the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation and former Associate Head of Phillips Academy (Andover), will lead a panel of individuals uniquely positioned to observe and affect the future: John B. King, Jr. ‘96, President and CEO of The Education Trust, Harvard Overseer and former U.S. Secretary of Education in the Obama Administration; Nick Melvoin ’04, Board Member of the L.A. Unified School District; and Angela McEwen Sims, Principal of the Lenart Elementary Regional Gifted Center (Chicago).

Join us November 17 for this conversation about schooling in the time of COVID and what we can do to re-set the course.




Rebecca Miller Sykes joined Carney Sandoe & Associate (CS&A) in October 2019 as a Senior Consultant, conducting head of school searches for independent schools. Prior to her search work, she served for six years as President of the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation, which makes grants to support education and the empowerment of women and girls. On behalf of the foundation, Becky worked especially closely with the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls – South Africa (OWLAG), and during the academic year 2018, stood in as interim head of the academy.

Over the course of 40 years, Becky held many positions at Phillips Academy (Andover, MA), including associate head, dean of community affairs and multicultural development, college counselor and residential dean. In May of 2016, Phillips Academy dedicated the Rebecca M. Sykes Wellness Center, in honor of the years Becky supported the physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of students and staff alike.

Becky holds an A.B. from Radcliffe College and M.S.W. from Simmons College. She and her husband, Elwin (Harvard AB ’71 and AM ’78) live in Brooklyn, NY.



John B. King Jr. is the president and CEO of The Education Trust, a national nonprofit organization that seeks to identify and close educational opportunity and achievement gaps. King served as U.S. Secretary of Education in the Obama administration. Prior to that role, King carried out the duties of Deputy Secretary, overseeing policies and programs related to P-12 education, English learners, special education, innovation, and agency operations. King joined the department following his post as New York State Education Commissioner. King began his career as a high school social studies teacher and middle school principal.



Nick Melvoin is proud to serve the dynamic communities of District 4 on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education. Nick’s work is focused on increasing parent and community engagement, transparency and accountability; directing more resources to schools; protecting our most vulnerable students; and bringing a new spirit of partnership and collaboration to LA’s public schools. He chairs the district's "Continuous Improvement Data Committee," as well as serving on committees related to legislative advocacy, early education, affiliated charter schools, and school safety. Prior to his election, Nick worked as a teacher, public interest attorney, nonprofit director, and an active board member of a number of community and political organizations. Nick has also worked in the Obama White House and the US Attorney’s office. Nick is a graduate of Harvard College, NYU School of Law (Root-Tilden-Kern Scholar), and Loyola Marymount University’s School of Education. He was the 2018 recipient of the Los Angeles Young Democrat of the Year Award.



Angela Sims is a proud graduate of Chicago Public Schools (CPS), and has worked for CPS as a teacher and administrator for over 15 years. She is the principal of Ted Lenart Regional Gifted Center, a 2020 National Blue Ribbon School. She believes that a school should not only challenge students academically, but also meet their social and emotional needs so that they can make critical decisions as they progress through college and into careers. At Lenart, students are taught that great leaders are not only smart, but are also caring and empathetic.

Despite being a good student, Angela did not like school and often felt unchallenged and disinterested. Angela’s main goal as an educator is to create a different learning experience than her own that is both challenging and relevant to her students’ lives. She is a teacher at heart and loves to discuss pedagogy and instruction.

Angela received her Bachelor’s degree from Spelman College, and Master’s degrees in teaching and school administration from National Louis University. She is currently a student of the University of Pennsylvania’s Mid-Career Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership. Her research interests include critical race theory and high ability learners of color.

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