Connections: Linking Talented Educators
Connections: Linking Talented Educators

"Here’s to What’s Next!": Takeaways from the 2023 MEA Forum

May 25, 2023

 2023 Forum Takeaways Group Photo

At the 2023 Milken Educator Awards Forum in Los Angeles, the class of 2022 gathered together with veteran Milken Educators and Milken Family Foundation staff to build professional connections and find their unique voices as leaders in the industry. We asked attendees to reflect on the time spent together learning and imagining the future of education for themselves and their students. Read on to find out how the Forum is motivating them to go forward “10% bolder” and ready to impact the profession.

Click to see more photos from the 2023 MEA Forum: Sessions | 2022 Portraits | Veteran Portraits | Red Carpet

Liz Barnum (NV ’22)

Like many, I had not understood the importance of stretching my fingertips beyond the halls of my third grade wing. The Forum allowed me to reflect on the impact I could make if I push beyond that hall. But I will not be alone. I have an entire family to support me as I venture into new territory.

Following the wisdom of Nader Imad Twal (CA ’03), I plan to “turn this moment into momentum.”

Elise Tureau Frederic (LA ’22)

I learned that the Milken Educators are a strong network. There is a feeling of fraternity and love among its members. This network of exceptional educators inspires me. My biggest takeaway is to be 10% bolder. I’ve made a couple of bold moves since the Forum and more to come!

Dr. Angie Besendorfer (MO ’96)

The Forum hit at a time of dissonance for me, and I left filled with the feeling that this family will be key to my next step in my journey. I have felt the family love even after coming home. My MFFs [Milken Friends Forever] shared the love by reaching out and collaborating with me. This family is a key ingredient to being 10% bolder. Here’s to what’s next!

 2023 Forum Takeaways Megan Brown

Megan Brown (AZ ’22)

It was absolutely an incredible experience. We focused on connecting and networking with educators from across the nation, with 35 winners from this year as well as veteran recipients, I focused on what I could take back to my classroom and talking to the best of the best in the nation and being proud of that.

Shaina Brenner (NJ ’22)

I think the powerful connections I’ve made will have an important impact on my ability to help more educators and ultimately more students. Every single educator I met during the Forum was inspirational and shared the same unwavering passion for education and unrelenting dedication to students as me. I am truly honored to be a member of the national Milken Educator Network.

The Milken Family Foundation believes that the future belongs to the educated, and so they go to great lengths to honor and celebrate outstanding educators across the country. The Milken Educator Awards red carpet event was nothing short of amazing, and of all the red carpets in our country, I think it’s the most important. 

Kelsey Cooper (AL ’21)

Don’t lower the bar just because it may seem too high. When you get enough people in the same room with the willingness to do the unthinkable, we will accomplish what some like to think of as “the impossible”!

Hailey Couch (OK ’18)

I was reminded that we are stronger together. This Network is truly powerful. People are listening, and we must use our voices. It matters greatly. Utilize this incredible Network that we are truly blessed to be a part of. We are in this family for a reason. We can each make a great difference alone, but we can make an even greater difference and impact together. Call and lean on your MFFs [Milken Friends Forever] anytime. They will always be there for you.

Never let go.

Tyler Shows (MS ’22)

We were able to listen to a lot of panels, and I was able to attend a lot of sessions from some really, really talented teachers. We heard about what was going on and how they advocate for their students, with what they do beyond the school and district levels. That was really eye-opening, because I’ve never done anything on a national level like that. It was very interesting to see lots of different perspectives from across the country.

Laura Laiche (LA ’21)

The Forum definitely taught me that I am not on a lone island. That I have an entire family that surrounds me and will instantly be there when I need them. But it also reminded me that my job doesn’t just end with MY classroom. The future of education is all of us collectively using our specialties.

Sarah Collins (ME 22)

The Forum inspired me to use my voice beyond the walls of my classroom. There are leaders in our state who need to hear from those of us who work with children daily. Our students’ needs demand to be heard.

Meghan LeFevers (NC ’17)

The future of education is strong with leaders like those at the Forum. I am most excited for the thousands of children whose lives will be impacted by their hard work and dedication to our profession!

Dr. Cindy Moss (NC ’01)

I was reminded of the power of the Network and have hope we can put our minds together to solve the most pressing problems in education. I am working on a trip where we get together and share our expertise in districts across the country.


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