Kirsten Baesler
State Superintendent, North Dakota Department of Public Instruction

Kirsten Baesler is the state school superintendent and administrator of the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction. The superintendent and her 72-person team oversee the education of almost 122,000 students in more than 450 buildings across the state. She was first elected in November 2012. She was re-elected to her third four-year term in November 2020, receiving 59 percent of the vote.

Before taking office in January 2013, Superintendent Baesler had a 24-year career in the Bismarck Public School system – the state’s largest school district  as a vice principal, library media specialist, classroom teacher, and instructional assistant. Superintendent Baesler also spent nine years as an elected member of the Mandan School Board, serving as the board’s president for seven of those nine years. She worked for a time as assistant director of the North Dakota School Boards Association.

Superintendent Baesler is the president-elect of the Council of Chief State School Officers, representing state education organizations across the nation. She will take office as president in November 2022. She serves on more than a dozen state boards, was one of 25 leaders chosen from across the country for the Governing Institute’s 2019 Women in Government Leadership Program, and is a 2020 Hunt-Keane Leadership Fellow.

Jonathan Butcher Headshot.png
Jonathan Butcher
Will Skillman Fellow in Education, The Heritage Foundation  

Jonathan Butcher is the author of Splintered: Critical Race Theory and the Progressive War on Truth. In 2021, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster nominated Jonathan to serve on the board of the South Carolina Public Charter School District, a statewide charter school authorizer. He has researched and testified on education policy around the U.S. In 2018 the Federal Commission on School Safety cited comments from his testimony in the commission’s final report. 

Jonathan co-edited and wrote chapters in the book The Not-So-Great Society, which provides conservative solutions to the problems created by the ever-expanding federal footprint in preschool, K-12, and higher education.

He previously served as the education director at the Goldwater Institute, where he remains a senior fellow. He was a member of the Arizona Department of Education’s first Steering Committee for Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, the nation’s first education savings account program. He is also a Senior Fellow with The Beacon Center of Tennessee, a nonpartisan research organization, and a contributing scholar for the Georgia Center for Opportunity. Prior to joining Goldwater, Jonathan was the director of accountability for the South Carolina Public Charter School District.

Will Estrada Headshot .jpg
William A. Estrada 
President, ParentalRights.org and Parental Rights Foundation 

William A. Estrada is a husband, dad, attorney, and the President of ParentalRights.org and the Parental Rights Foundation, two nationwide nonprofits headquartered in Loudoun County, Virginia that have advocated at the local, state, and federal level for the last fifteen years to protect children by empowering parents. 

Emilie Kao Headshot.pngEmilie Kao 
Visiting Fellow, Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion & Civil Society, The Heritage Foundation
Vice President and Senior Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom
Emilie Kao is a national authority on religious freedom, which she has defended for almost two decades. She joined the Alliance Defending Freedom as vice president and senior counsel, where she focuses on protecting life, speech, parental rights and religious freedom for all. Previously, she served as the director of the DeVos Center, leading Heritage’s policy work on life, cultural issues, and religious freedom.

Kao has worked on behalf of victims of religious freedom violations in East Asia, the Middle East, Europe and South Asia at the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom as well as at Becket Law. Before that, she worked at the United Nations and Latham and Watkins. Kao also taught international human rights law at George Mason University Law School as an adjunct law professor.

Jay W. Richards Headshot.png
Jay W. Richards
William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow, The Heritage Foundation

Jay W. Richards, Ph.D., is the acting director of Heritage’s DeVos Center. He also is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and Executive Editor of The Stream. Richards is author or editor of more than a dozen books, including two New York Times bestsellers, and Money, Greed, and God, winner of a 2010 Templeton Enterprise Award.

Ian Rowe
Senior Fellow, American Enterprise Institute

Ian Rowe is a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Co-Founder & CEO of Vertex Partnership Academies, a member of the School Board of Pelham Schools, and the author of the upcoming book Agency: The Four Point Plan (F.R.E.E.) on How to Empower the Rising Generation to Overcome the Victimhood Narrative and Discover Their Own Pathway to Power.

Matt Sharp
Senior Counsel and State Government Relations National Director, Alliance Defending Freedom

Matt Sharp focuses on state and local legislative matters at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). Since joining ADF in 2010, Sharp has authored federal and state legislation, regularly provides testimony and legal analysis on how proposed legislation will impact constitutional freedoms, and advises governors, legislators, and state and national policy organizations on the importance of laws and policies that protect First Amendment rights. He has testified before the United States Congress on the importance of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Matt has also worked on important cases advancing religious freedom and free speech. He has won cases upholding the rights of students to form religious clubs, invite classmates to church, and even perform a religious song at a school talent show. He authored an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of nearly 9,000 students, parents, and community members asking the Court to uphold students’ right to privacy against government intrusion.

Hannah Smith
Trustee, Carroll Independent School District School Board

Mrs. Smith has spent two decades involved in high-profile litigation at top law firms and at the U.S. Supreme Court. She worked directly for Justices Clarence Thomas and Sam Alito and later advocated successfully for religious freedom, contributing to over 25 briefs and four landmark victories at the U.S. Supreme Court. She focused on education policy and the Teacher Preparation Program to earn her degree from Princeton University and its School of Public and International Affairs. She earned her law degree from BYU, graduating with honors and as a member of the Order of the Coif. She served as Executive Editor of the Law Review. Mrs. Smith lives in Southlake, Texas with her husband, John, and their four children.

Laura Zorc
Director of Education Reform, FreedomWorks

Laura Zorc brings years of experience and expertise in the subject of education reform and an unparalleled devotion for putting power back in the hands of parents and families. Her focus shifted to education when her children began public school in Florida. Desiring a quality education for her children, Laura served in multiple positions on the parent-teacher board of her children’s schools, was elected twice as president of her county’s parent-teacher association, and co-founded Florida Parents Against Common Core (FPACC), one of the largest parent-led advocacy groups in the state. Additionally, she served on former Florida Governor Rick Scott’s Education Committee as the parent representative before being elected to the Indian River County School Board.