CFES Brilliant Pathways’ 32nd annual conference (November 6-7) on the shores of Lake Champlain in Burlington, VT will gather leaders in education, business, government and philanthropy to explore ways to enhance college and career readiness in a time of accelerating change. Following the biggest disruption in education and the workplace in American history, we need to be strategic in preparing our country’s next generation for the challenges and opportunities that await them.

CFES believes that for optimal readiness, we need to both prepare for the future and celebrate our past. At the conference, we will address the conspicuous drop in the perceived value of higher education, the widening opportunity gap defined by race and income, the gender imbalance in which young males are falling behind on every rung of the education ladder and other troubling trends. However, we will also celebrate one of our nation’s most significant and impactful educational partnerships: the collaboration that CFES created 15 years ago that has helped hundreds of NYC students attain degrees from the University of Vermont.

The conference’s exploration of tomorrow and yesterday will introduce new and innovative approaches to helping our youth address the staggering changes brought on by automation and AI, the growing politicization of education, educator shortages, rural-urban tensions, the fallout from the coronavirus epidemic and other challenging forces.

Keynote Speaker

Eric BolesPresident of The Game Changers Inc.; Authority on Teamwork, Leadership & Personal Development
Eric Boles is a highly acclaimed motivational speaker and expert on change, who helps leaders maximize their human assets, as well as increase productivity and peak performance. His perspectives on managing and leading change, transforming culture and overcoming inertia are laced with practical tools and principles that can be applied both professionally and personally to students and leaders in all sectors of education, business and community.

Boles, who played in the NFL for the NY Jets and Green Bay Packers, is a graduate of Central Washington University and lives in Tacoma. He is the author of “Moving to Great…Unleashing Your Best in Life and Work.”

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.

Accelerating Change: New Frontiers in College & Career Readiness


1:00-1:30pm: Kick-off

  • Welcome, Tara Smith, Chief Operating Officer of CFES Brilliant Pathways
  • Reflections, Rick Dalton, CEO & President of CFES Brilliant Pathways
  • Schools of Distinction Recognition
  • Mario Peña Award

1:30-2:30pm: Opening Keynote, Eric Boles, former NFL player and renowned motivational speaker
2:45-4:00pm: Breakout Sessions

  • Tomorrow’s Jobs are Here Today: Hands on Activities for CFES Scholars
  • Show Me the Money: How to Pay for College
  • Rebuilding the Teacher Pipeline
  • The Changing Shape of Higher Ed
  • The Disappearing Male: Keeping Young Men on the College & Career Pathways

4:15-5:30pm: Breakout Sessions

  • So You Want to be Your Own Boss: Becoming an Entrepreneur
  • Innovative Pathways Connecting Higher Ed to the Workplace
  • Building Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in K16 and the Workplace
  • Launching the Right Mentoring Model for Your Students
  • How CFES Can Help Scholars and Educators Meet Post-COVID Challenges

5:30pm: Networking Event
6:00pm: Dinner
7:00pm: At-large Panel Discussion on Accelerating Change
8:00pm: Cohort Gathering


8:30am: Welcome & Preview of Day 2
8:35-9:30am: Celebrating America’s High-Impact Educational Collaborative: the UVM-Bronx Partnership
9:45-10:45am: Breakout Sessions

  • Micro Credentials and Certificates of Value: Accelerating Workforce Pathways
  • College & Career Readiness Advisor Training: Closing Session
  • Taking Action: A New Affirmative Approach
  • Digging Deep – Mentoring
  • Essential Skills™ & 10-Point College & Career Readiness Plan

11:00am: Summary Keynote, Ray McNulty, President, Successful Practices Network (SPN)
12:00pm: Day Two Wrap up, Ron Rix, GEAR UP Project Director
12:15pm: Lunch
1:00pm: Departure





Flores Family

Bronze Plus

Ott Family


Adirondack Foundation – Port Jackson Fund

Rix Family


On the shores of Lake Champlain, the Hilton Burlington has what past guests call the best view in Burlington, Vermont. Visitors can watch boats come into the harbor and enjoy panoramas of the Adirondack Mountains from their rooms. Surrounded by restaurants, with Church Street Marketplace a five-minute walk away. Hop aboard one of the rental bikes and explore the Burlington Bike Path.

Burlington is home to a thriving arts scene, museums and educational opportunities, creative entrepreneurship, three colleges and a university, as well as a full range of four-season outdoor pursuits. It’s no wonder this small, friendly city consistently earns national awards.

Miles from Albany
Miles from Boston
Miles from Montreal, CA
Miles from NYC