National School Choice Week 2024: The Education Freedom Revolution
Jan 24, 2024, 2:30PM
Kicking off National School Choice Week 2024: Tune in for a robust conversation between the top school choice leaders in the country. In a discussion facilitated by AFPI Chief Engagement Officer Ashley Hayek, Center for Education Opportunity and Center for the American Child Director Dr. Laurie Todd-Smith, Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives Cameron Sexton, and Pennsylvania parent powerhouse Sharon Sedlar will reflect on the unprecedented school choice wins occurring across the nation, discuss a growing surge in parental power, and outline steps we can collectively take to ensure that this momentum continues in the new year.
Cameron Sexton serves as the 83rd Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives. Known as a pragmatic conservative, the eighth-generation Tennessean is currently in his sixth term serving the 25th House District, which includes Cumberland and Van Buren Counties, as well as the City of Monterey in Putnam County. Sexton previously served as House Republican Caucus Chairman for the first half of the 111th General Assembly. As Caucus Chairman, Rep. Sexton expanded and grew conservative initiatives under the House Republican Majority over the past six years. He also chaired the House Health Committee during the 109th and 110th General Assemblies, and he has served as Majority Whip during the 108th General Assembly. Sexton holds a degree in Public Administration from the University of Tennessee. He and his wife Lacey live in Crossville and they have three children.
Laurie Todd-Smith, Ph.D., is originally from Phoenix, Arizona, but has lived in Mississippi for over 25 years. She serves as AFPI’s Director of the Center for Education Opportunity and the Center for the American Child. Dr. Todd-Smith was appointed by President Trump to serve as the Director of the Women’s Bureau at the United States Department of Labor. During her tenure at the Women’s Bureau, she focused the agency on issues of childcare, paid family leave, and grants to support women in apprenticeship. Prior to her work with the United States Department of Labor, Dr. Todd-Smith served as Senior Education and Workforce Policy Advisor to Governor Phil Bryant. She led numerous legislative efforts to help improve public education in Mississippi, including The Literacy-Based Promotion Act, Early Childhood Education, Charter Schools, Special Needs Education Scholarship Account, and accountability models for school districts, all of which resulted in improved outcomes for Mississippi’s students. These education reforms have been deemed the “Mississippi Miracle” as the state’s students now lead the nation in growth in reading and math achievement outcomes. Dr. Todd-Smith is also the former executive director of the Mississippi State Workforce Investment Board (SWIB) and the State Childhood Advisory Council (SECAC). Dr. Todd-Smith is a former elementary school teacher and holds a doctorate in education from Mississippi State University, a master’s degree from Western New Mexico University, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona.
Ashley Hayek is originally from the small agricultural town of Clovis, California, and serves as AFPI’s Chief Engagement Officer. Hayek is a political strategist with over 15 years of experience in political, non-profit, and organization consulting, most recently serving on the Trump-Pence 2020 presidential campaign as the National Coalitions Director. At the age of 22, she started her first company in the loft of her townhouse in San Diego and within five years became the premier political and non-profit fundraising firm in Southern California. Hayek attended the University of California, San Diego, where she received a degree in Political Science, and is the proud wife of a United States Marine and mom of five. Despite her relentless commitment to work, she is devoted to her family, juggling it all in her best stilettos.
Sharon Sedlar lives in Western Pennsylvania with her husband and 6 daughters. Her public advocacy life started with a simple letter as a concerned parent to dozens of Pennsylvania legislators. Since that time, she has been asked to testify for the PA Senate Education Committee, the PA House of Representatives Education Tour, and the US Ways and Means Committee on the importance of education freedom and respect for parent agency. She can also be seen speaking at schools, rallies, National School Choice Week events, or at the Harrisburg Capitol. These experiences inspired Sharon to build PA Families for Education Choice, an 501(c)3 organization dedicated to the protection and advancement of education freedom for all students in Pennsylvania.