Schools in Crisis: Addressing Opportunity Gaps in K-12 Education


Moderator: Mike Ford
The Hip Hop Architect

Michael Ford is known as The Hip Hop Architect as he explores architecture and urban planning through the lens of hip hop culture. Ford is the creator of The Hip Hop Architecture Camp®, an international, award winning youth camp which uses Hip Hop Culture as a catalyst to increase diversity in architecture. Ford has spent the past decade working to blur the lines between professional practice and academia. He is dedicated to stimulating cross disciplinary discourse between practitioners and residents on the sociological and cultural implications of architecture and urban planning on its inhabitants. More specifically, Ford has unveiled the subconscious roles of historical architectural figures such as LeCorbusier in envisioning the built environments which necessitated the birth of hip hop culture.
Ford’s work has been featured in a variety of places including The TODAY Show, Rolling Stone Magazine, ESPN’s The Undefeated, and Vibe Magazine. Ford is also a highly regarded speaker with keynotes at The American Institute of Architects National Conference, South by Southwest Eco Conference, and a TEDx titled “Hip Hop Architecture as Modernism’s Post Occupancy Evaluation.”


Kaleem Caire
Founder, One City Schools

Kaleem Caire is the founder and CEO of One City Schools, the operator of two preschools serving ages 1 through kindergarten focused on getting young children ready for school success. Prior to One City, Kaleem was the President & CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison in and chair of the National Urban League’s Education Committee. Prior to the Urban League, Kaleem held other executive leadership positions with Target Corporation, Fight For Children of Washington, DC, Black Alliance for Educational Options, American Education Reform Council, Wisconsin Center for Academically Talented Youth and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. In 2008, Kaleem was among the first recipients of the University of Wisconsin’s Forward Under Forty Award and in the same year, was named a Distinguished Alumni by the University of Wisconsin Alumni Association. He was also the youngest recipient of the City of Madison’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award in 2001 and the Urban League of Greater Madison’s Whitney Young Jr. Award (2001). Kaleem is married with five children and holds a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also a Pahara-Aspen Institute Fellow.


Mike Hernandez
Principal, Madison East High School

Michael Hernandez is Principal of Madison East High School, one of the most diverse schools in the state and a focal point of Madison’s east side community. In 2015, the former Sherman Middle School principal was given the Roberto G. Sánchez Award which honors an individual, group or organization that has demonstrated leadership in advancing educational and career opportunities for Latinos. He has three master’s degrees that he earned at California State University in San Bernardino, California. He is currently working on his doctorate at Edgewood College. Previously, he earned his bachelor of science degree in education at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.


Dr. Juan Báez
Director for the Division of Bilingual and Multicultural Education for the Milwaukee Public Schools

Dr. Juan A. Báez currently serves as the Director for the Division of Bilingual and Multicultural Education for MPS. He has been a Milwaukee Public Schools employee for 18 years. He began his career as a sixth-grade bilingual teacher at Kosciuszko Middle School. He has also served as an assistant principal at U.S. Grant School, and later as principal of Hopkins-Lloyd Community School and then Alexander Mitchell Integrated Arts School. In his most recent role, he served as Co- Director for the Department of Black and Latino Male Achievement MPS. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison with a bachelor’s degree in history. He earned both a master’s degree and doctorate in educational leadership at National-Louis University. Dr. Báez was born in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, but was raised in Milwaukee. He attended Vieau School and graduated from North Division High School. Dr. Báez believes that educators are the pillars of change in our communities and that education is the great equalizer for our children. Dr. Báez’s philosophy is that all children are capable of amazing achievements when they receive the right opportunities.


Marcio Sierra
Founder and Director, Lighthouse Christian School

Pastor Marcio Sierra is originally from Honduras.  He moved to the United States in 1993 when he was 15 years old.  He is the Senior Pastor and President of Lighthouse Church and Schools in Madison, Wisconsin.  He is a graduate from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and he also has a Masters of Divinity from Regent University in Virginia.   Pastor Marcio has a passion to help the Madison community prosper and for such passion, he was selected by Madison365 as one of the most influential Latinos in 2014 and also will be awarded the recognition as the Entrepreneur of the year in 2018 at the Hispanic Heritage Luncheon sponsored by La Movida Radio Station, Mid-West Family Broadcasting, and the Latino Chamber of Commerce.  Pastor Marcio is married to Tia Sierra and he has two children, Marcio and Isabela.