Claiming our story

Panel of Speakers

Sylvia Burwell

Sylvia M. Burwell

President, American University

Sylvia M. Burwell is American University's 15th president and the first woman to serve as president. A leader with experience managing large and complex organizations in the public and private sectors, President Burwell brings to AU a commitment to education and research, a record of spurring innovation, and experience helping to advance solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges.

Burwell served as the 22nd secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from 2014 to 2017, was director of the Office of Management and Budget from 2013 to 2014, and spent 11 years at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, including roles as chief operating officer and president of the Global Development Program.

She earned undergraduate degrees in government from Harvard University and in philosophy, policy and economics from the University of Oxford, where she was a Rhodes Scholar.

DanDanielle Douglas-Gabrielielle Douglas-Gabriel

Reporter, Education Finance, The Washington Post

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel covers the economics of education for The Washington Post. Douglas-Gabriel joined the national economy desk in July 2012 from Capital Business, a Post publication where she covered local retail, hospitality and banking. Prior to Capital Business, she was the managing editor of Real Estate Forum, a commercial real estate trade magazine. Her writing has appeared in, the New York Sun, the Los Angeles Times and The Independent, among other publications, and she has spoken about higher education, specifically student debt, on C-SPAN and other venues.

She is the recipient of fellowships from the Donald Reynolds Journalism Institute and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Sue Cunningham

Andrew Hamilton

President, New York University

Andrew Hamilton was named the 16th president of New York University—one of the largest and foremost private universities in the United States—in March 2015, officially taking up his duties on January 1, 2016.

He served as the vice chancellor of Oxford University from 2009 to 2015. His tenure as vice chancellor was distinguished by significant improvements in university governance and faculty relations; the launch of a new School of Government and the expansion of the business school; the enhancement of interdisciplinary research and teaching; a significant increase in fundraising, with a focus on raising student financial aid to diversify Oxford's student body, among other initiatives.

Previously, Hamilton served as provost (2004-08) of Yale University; he had previously been Yale's deputy provost for science and technology.

In addition to his record as an academic leader, Hamilton is a noted, award-winning, widely published chemist, and he has continued to maintain his scholarly work—including an active research laboratory—while holding leadership positions. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the recipient of the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award from the American Chemical Society, and the winner of the International Izatt-Christiansen Award for Macrocyclic Chemistry.

At Yale—where he joined the faculty in 1997—he was the Benjamin Silliman Professor of Chemistry and professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry. Prior to joining Yale's faculty, he was a tenured professor of chemistry and chair of the chemistry department at the University of Pittsburgh, and an assistant professor of chemistry at Princeton University.

He received a first class BSc from the University of Exeter, his master's degree from the University of British Columbia, and his doctorate from the University of Cambridge. He is the recipient of honorary doctorates from the University of Surrey, Tsinghua University, and the University of Exeter, among others.

Ted MitchellTed Mitchell

President, American Council on Education

Former college president and top federal policy maker Ted Mitchell became president of ACE on Sept. 1, 2017.

He brings a wide array of experience and accomplishments from across the higher education sector to ACE, as well as a longstanding focus on helping more students gain access to a postsecondary education and complete their degrees. His background includes service as president of a private liberal arts college, senior administrator at a state university and trustee of a major research institution.

Mitchell was president of Occidental College from 1999-2005. He served as U.S. under secretary of education from 2014 until January 2017, reporting to the secretary of education and overseeing postsecondary education policies and programs.

He also has served as vice chancellor and dean of the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, and professor and chair of the Department of Education at Dartmouth College. He has been a member of the Stanford University Board of Trustees.

Prior to becoming under secretary of education, Mitchell was chief executive officer of the NewSchools Venture Fund from 2005-2014, which provides seed capital and counsel to leading education entrepreneurs at the K-12 level, and served as the president of the California State Board of Education. After concluding his service at the Department of Education, Mitchell served as a consultant to ACE in the areas of education attainment and innovation and leadership development.


Sue Cunningham

Sue Cunningham

President and CEO,
Council for Advancement and Support of Education

Sue Cunningham is president and CEO of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, which supports more than 3,700 schools, colleges and universities worldwide in developing their alumni relations, communications, fundraising and marketing operations. As president and CEO, Cunningham provides strategic and operational leadership for one of the largest associations of education-related institutions in the world with members in more than 80 countries.

Appointed in March 2015, Cunningham joined CASE from the University of Melbourne where, as vice-principal for advancement, she worked with the vice chancellor in leading a campaign to raise AUS$500 million and in building the advancement team across the university.

Prior to her work in Australia, Cunningham was director of development for the University of Oxford where she led a development team in the execution of the largest fundraising campaign outside of the United States, the "Oxford Thinking Campaign," with a goal of £1.25 billion. Prior to this, she served as director of development at Christ Church, Oxford, and as director of external relations at St. Andrews University.

Before working in education, Cunningham enjoyed a career in theatre, the arts and the cultural sector. She is an honorary fellow of the Melbourne Graduate School of Education and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. In 2012, she received the CASE Europe Distinguished Service Award, and in 2008, she was awarded a CASE Crystal Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching.