New Beginnings Conference


Join over 3000 virtual participants and 300 on-site participants to discover new strategies for student and workforce development at CFES Brilliant Pathways’ 31st annual conference at the Sagamore Resort on Lake George (NY). The New Beginnings conference will provide leaders in education, business, community, and philanthropy with the skills, information, and support they need to promote student success in a new college and career readiness paradigm.

Because education and the workplace have forever changed over the last 30 months, we must adapt and embrace New Beginnings to successfully prepare our children for postsecondary learning and the new workplace. We need new and innovative approaches to help our youth address staggering changes, such as dropping higher ed enrollment, shifting admissions criteria, and frequently misunderstood strategies for paying for college. We also must understand and help students navigate radical changes in the world of work, where millions of new, high-paying jobs are emerging, industries are desperate for workers, and home is becoming the most in-demand workplace.

Register here to join us for the New Beginnings conference.


Keynote Speakers

Consuelo Castillo KickbuschLieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army (Retired) Founder & President of Educational Achievement Services, Inc.
A renowned charismatic, passionate and influential speaker who carries her powerful message of what it takes to be an effective leader in today’s global marketplace to hundreds of schools, colleges/universities, corporations, and government institutions, both in the U.S. and abroad. For the last thirteen years Consuelo has dedicated her life to empowering a new generation of leaders and has worked with over one million children and their parents across the United States through Educational Achievement Services, Inc. (EAS), a human development company.
Dr. Calvin MackiePresident and Founder, STEM NOLA
An award-winning mentor, inventor, author, former engineering professor, internationally renowned speaker, and successful entrepreneur. In 2013, Dr. Mackie founded STEM NOLA, a non-profit organization created to expose, inspire, and engage communities in the opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). To date, STEM NOLA has engaged over 70,000 K-12 students in hands-on project-based STEM activities. In 2021, he launched STEM Global Action to advance K-12 Stem education across the U.S. and the world.
Ray McNultyPresident, Successful Practices Network (SPN)
President of the National Dropout Prevention Center (NDPC), and the Successful Practices Network (SPN). Prior to that, Ray was Dean for the School of Education at Southern New Hampshire University. An educator since 1973, Ray has been a teacher, assistant principal, principal, and superintendent. From 2001-03, he served as Vermont’s education commissioner. During his tenure, Ray focused on aligning the Department of Education’s work on three key issues: early education, educator quality, and secondary school reform. He is committed to raising performance standards for both teachers and students and to building solid connections between schools and their communities. Ray believes strongly that education systems cannot wait for the children and challenges to arrive at school; rather, schools need to reach out and help forge solutions.

New Beginnings: Leveraging College & Career Readiness Gains


1:00-1:20pm: Welcome and Reflections, Rick Dalton, CEO & President of CFES Brilliant Pathways
1:25-2:15pm: Opening KeynoteGoing Forward Without Forgetting—Avanzando Y No Olvidando, Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch (Veteran, Author, Motivational Speaker)

Breakout Sessions (2:30-3:45pm)

  1. Student Session: Preparing Students for STEM Careers with NASA Engineer
    This session will introduce students to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) current and future robotics and human spaceflight missions including the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST); On-orbit Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing 1 (OSAM-1); Mars Sample Return (MSR); the Artemis program; return to the moon, and travel to Mars. Throughout the discussion, we will highlight the different jobs and skill sets needed to make these projects a reality.
  2. Building College & Career Readiness Through Multiple Mentoring Models
    Mentoring is a foundational practice for guiding students down the college and career readiness pathway because it empowers students to develop networks and skills and build knowledge. Over CFES’s 31-year history, we have witnessed the impact of best practices in mentoring. This workshop will share multiple mentoring models from the perspective of training, content, setting, timing and source of mentors.
  3. Developing & Strengthening the Essential Skills™️
    The Essential Skills™ are vital for guiding students to and through their pathways to college and the workplace. This workshop will show examples of how the six skills (Goal Setting, Teamwork, Leadership, Agility, Perseverance, and Networking) can be introduced and nurtured, share strategies for developing these competencies in K-12 students, and discuss ways in which students can apply the skills in college and the workplace.
  4. New Frontiers in Higher Education
    With climbing college costs and a growing interest in skill-specific opportunities, students and their families are considering a wider array of higher education pathways. The range of options spans from four-year universities to certificates from trade, technical and vocational schools. As connections tighten between vocational and postsecondary studies, some colleges are even guaranteeing jobs for their graduates. Three college presidents will discuss not only what this means today but what the future will bring to higher education.
  5. DE&I in the Workplace and on Campus
    Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) are critical not only for an individual’s success in the workplace and on campus, but foundational for an organization’s success and viability, whether the organization is a corporation, school, or college. This fireside chat will explore the meaning of DE&I, how leaders can become more inclusive and enhance the performance of their organizations, how to manage generational diversity, setting DE&I goals, how DE&I boosts employee and student engagement, and much more.

Breakout Sessions (4:00-5:15pm)

  1. Student Session: STEM Workshop with College Faculty and Students
    College faculty and students from SUNY Adirondack will work in person with North Country CFES Scholars and virtually with hundreds of their peers across the globe to introduce them to STEM postsecondary learning and STEM careers such as robotics, advanced manufacturing, IT networking, and cybersecurity. Professors and college students will outline current career options and engage students with hands-on activities to develop STEM skills and applied learning. This interactive workshop will cover a broad range of postsecondary options from certification programs in IT and cybersecurity to bachelor’s degrees.
  2. The Changing Landscape of Paying for College
    The cost of attending college has students and parents wondering if the investment is worth it. Colleges are responding by offering discounts and other incentives to offset declining enrollments due to COVID. Learn how students can take advantage of these breaks, and how teaching personal finance in schools can help students take control of the burden of paying for college and improve the long-term quality of their lives.
  3. Leveraging Social Media for College & Career Readiness
    Social media has revolutionized how we communicate and interact with each other and its role in our lives grows more significant by the day. In this roundtable discussion, leaders in social media will share how it has influenced higher education and the workplace, and how to leverage it to benefit, rather than hinder, students as they move down the pathway.
  4. Implementing & Integrating the 10-Point College & Career Readiness Plan™️
    The CFES team and our partners work closely with school-based educators to build and strengthen college and career readiness cultures. Through the implementation of mentoring programs, exposure to college and career pathways, and skill development, CFES Scholars rely on the 10-Point College and Career Readiness Plan, which allows them to prepare for their education pathways and future careers. In this workshop, you will learn best practices for implementing each of the 10 points in age-appropriate ways.
  5. The New Leadership Paradigm
    The workplace and education have changed exponentially and permanently, which has altered how people lead businesses and educational institutions as well as how we perceive leaders. Learn what these changes mean for rising leaders and how leaders can best support K-12 students and train future leaders.

5:20-5:30pm: Day One Wrap up, Ron Rix, Program Director
6:00pm: Dinner
7:00pm: After Dinner KeynoteNew Beginnings in STEM Study & Careers, Dr. Calvin Mackie, President and Founder, STEM NOLA
Calvin Mackie channels his passion, enthusiasm and dedication to creating pathways to STEM, creating new beginnings for the youth of today. In 2013, he founded STEM NOLA, engaging over 100,000 mostly under-served low-income students in hands-on project-based STEM learning. In a world where many students are told “no,” Mackie continues to remind leaders in education, business, community, and philanthropy to say “yes” to their students’ future! In his talk, Mackie will remind us of the power of saying YES to student success!
Schools of Distinction Recognition and Mario Pena Awards
8:00pm: Cohort Social


8:00-8:30am: Breakfast
8:30-9:30am: At-large Panel Discussion – Embracing New Beginnings: Readiness in the New Paradigm

Breakout Sessions (9:45-10:45am)

  1. Careers of the Future
    Landing a good job is the single-most important reason that students give for going to college. Yet 100 million new jobs will emerge in the next five years that don’t exist today, making it difficult to forecast with any degree of certainty what future jobs will be. Trends help us gain insight into tomorrow’s jobs. We know, for example, that jobs requiring physical skills are rapidly declining, while jobs that involve automation and artificial intelligence are surging. Covid-accelerated workplace changes have allowed us to better understand and accept the virtual dimension of work and learning. We also know that emerging jobs require higher level social and analytical skills. In this roundtable, experts will discuss how to prepare now for an uncertain tomorrow.
  2. Strategies for Engaging Families
    Research has substantially linked school achievement to the influence of family. Our
    strategies to build and strengthen schools’ college and career readiness culture include activities
    to encourage family engagement. Learn about best practices that CFES schools and partners are
    using to involve families in the college and career journey.
  3. Increasing STEM Opportunities for Students through Collaboration
    STEM activities, often driven by higher ed and business partners, not only provide hands-on learning opportunities for students, but also allow them to interact with STEM professionals. These partners can help our children see STEM careers as natural extensions of what they love to do already, not possibilities only for those who excel in math and science. Participants will learn from STEM partners and share best strategies for increasing STEM opportunities in schools.
  4. Building a High-Impact School/College Partnership
    For 31 years, CFES schools have leveraged partnerships with over 400 colleges to benefit their students, families, and educators. Partnerships can help teachers understand what’s happening today in college classrooms, educate students and their families about where to find resources to pay for college, and familiarize first-gen students about what to expect as they navigate the higher ed pathway. Learn valuable lessons from CFES school/college partnerships, including a partnership with the University of Vermont that opened the university’s doors to 400 students from the Bronx.
  5. Hi-Impact Mentor Training
    Mentors, whether community members, college students, teachers or peers, establish supportive, school-based relationships with mentees to help them become college and career ready. Mentoring can raise educational aspirations and academic performance, build college and career knowledge, and promote Essential Skill development. This workshop will provide you with the training and tools you need to launch, nurture and sustain a strong mentoring program.

11:00-11:55am: Summary KeynoteWhat it Takes to Succeed in the New Paradigm, Ray McNulty, President, Successful Practices Network (SPN)
12:00pm: Day Two Wrap up, Ron Rix, Program Director
12:30pm: Lunch
1:00pm: Departure

Sponsorship Opportunities



Dean & Chan Garfield Family




Dyer Family

Mike Foote, State Farm Insurance

Kissel Family

Ott Family

Rix Family

Ben & Tara Smith Family


The Sagamore Resort on Lake George is a landmark hotel with a prestigious history that dates back to the 1880s. Secluded on a private 70-acre island just 60 miles north of Albany, The Sagamore has hosted families, celebrities and dignitaries alike with their signature hospitality established over a century ago. Along with an inspiring setting in the heart of the Adirondacks, this historic enclave offers elegant lakeside accommodations, award-winning dining, and an 18-hole golf course.

Bolton Landing is a four hour drive from Boston or New York City, and a one hour drive from Albany International Airport.

Miles from Boston
Miles from NYC
Miles from Albany

Celebrate Success

School of Distinction

Candice Sakuda, Director of Service-Learning at Chaminade University of Honolulu was last year’s Mario Peña Award winner. Candice and Chaminade University have been long-time college partners, offering hundreds of opportunities for CFES scholars to visit the campus, participate in college & career readiness activities, providing college students as mentors and foster the Essential Skills with a focus on service and student leadership.

At the conference, CFES will recognize the 2021-22 Schools of Distinction for their development and execution of exemplary plans based on the 10 point plan and the three core practices: Essential Skills, Mentoring, and Pathways to College and Career.