WACUBO 2024 Keynote Speakers

Freeman A. Hrabowski, III | Keynote Speaker
Eligible for 1 Personal Development CPE Credits

Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, President Emeritus of UMBC (The University of Maryland, Baltimore County) served as president from 1992 to 2022. His research and publications focus on science and math education, with special emphasis on minority participation and performance. He chaired the National Academies’ committee that produced the 2011 report, Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads. He was named in 2012 by President Obama to chair the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. His 2013 TED talk highlights the “Four Pillars of College Success in Science.” 

In 2022, Dr. Hrabowski was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and he was also named the inaugural ACE Centennial Fellow, to be served upon his retirement from UMBC. In Addition, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) also launched the Freeman Hrabowski Scholars Program ($1.5 billion) to help build a scientific workforce that more fully reflects our increasingly diverse country. In October 2022, he was named the inaugural Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Lecture Speaker by Harvard. In April 2023, The National Academy of Sciences awarded him the Public Welfare Medal, the Academy’s most prestigious award, and inducted him as a member of the academy, for his extraordinary use of science for the public good.

Keynote: Leadership, Empowerment, and Resilience in Higher Education: Reflections on the Past Sixty Years

Hrabowski will focus on the increasingly important role of higher education in American society and globally. He will draw heavily from themes in his two recent books, The Empowered University-Shared Leadership, Culture Change, and Academic Success; and The Resilient University-How Purpose and Inclusion Drive Student Success. Conference participants will learn about the development of American higher education over the past 60 years, the important role of leadership in shaping the future of our institutions, the lessons learned from this past period of the pandemic and political unrest, and how to view and transform campus culture.

Learning Objectives

  • Discuss the development of higher education in America over the past 60 years
  • Reflect on the role of leadership in shaping the future of our institutions
  • Apply concepts to transform your campus culture


Maria Elena Salinas | Keynote Speaker
Eligible for 1.5 Personal Development CPE Credits

Maria Elena Salinas, an award-winning journalist and author, is one of the most recognizable and respected journalists in the country. In a career that spans over four decades, including serving as co-anchor of Univision's evening news for more than 30 years and co-hosting news magazine Aqui y Ahora, she has dedicated her life and career to empowering the Latino community.

Her work has earned the top awards presented in broadcasting, among them multiple Emmys, including a Lifetime Achievement Emmy, a Peabody, 3 Gracie Awards, the Edward R. Murrow Award, and the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism.

Salinas joined ABC News as a contributor and consultant to the Race and Culture Unit. She has reported stories for the award-winning news program Nightline and election coverage focusing on the Latino vote among other shows and platforms and was part of the Uvalde365 team that covered the school shooting’s aftermath for one year.

In the past, Salinas served as a contributor for CBS News where she reported across multiple platforms, including the network's coverage of the 2020 election.

Salinas, hosted and co-executive produced "The Real Story with Maria Elena Salinas," a true crime series for Investigation Discovery, that can be seen on the Discovery+ streaming service.

A versatile and bilingual journalist, throughout her career Salinas has been a witness to history covering elections around the world, armed conflicts, and natural disasters. She has interviewed dozens of world leaders including Presidents of the United States and Latin America and top international entertainers such as Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan, Pitbull, Shakira, and JBalvin among others.

From 2001-2011, Salinas wrote a weekly syndicated column in both English and Spanish. She is also the author of the 2006 memoir, "I Am My Father's Daughter, Living a Life Without Secrets."

Salinas is a founding member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and for over two decades has provided dozens of students with a scholarship under her name. She also serves on the board of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund.

Salinas has received several Lifetime Achievement Awards and has been inducted into the Hall of Fame of Broadcasting and Cable, National Association of Broadcasters, and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, as well as receiving honorary doctorates from American University and California State University Fullerton.

Salinas began her journalism career in 1981 as a reporter, anchor, and public affairs host for KMEX-TV, Univision's affiliate in Los Angeles.

Keynote: Find Your Passion and Make It Your Mission

In life, we can either exist or we can live. Existing is gliding through life effortlessly. Living involves finding things that give you satisfaction knowing you are making a difference in society, in someone’s life, or helping to create a better future. That is what my career as a journalist and my civic engagement activities have done for me. As a board member with the Hispanic Scholarship Fund for over 16 years, I have witnessed the transformation of young students who find the confidence, drive, and purpose they need to succeed, and then, pay it forward. Can’t imagine a better way to live life.

Learning Objectives

  • Identify the distinction between merely existing and actively living, as articulated in personal experiences and societal engagement narratives.
  • Analyze the impact of journalistic career pursuits and civic engagement activities on personal fulfillment, societal change, and the cultivation of purpose.
  • Evaluate the role of mentorship and community involvement, illustrated through the case study of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, in fostering confidence, motivation, and a sense of purpose among young individuals, with an emphasis on the concept of "paying it forward".

David Epstein | Keynote Speaker
Eligible for 1.5 Personal Development CPE Credits

New York Times best-selling author and science writer David Epstein has made it his mission to uncover the keys to achieving high performance in any profession or fast-changing environment — knowledge that has become essential to educating, developing and retaining the workforce of the future. His New York Times best-seller, "The Sports Gene," investigated the balance of nature and nurture in developing a skill. His latest book, #1 New York Times best-seller "Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World," examines the world’s top performers, from professional athletes to artists, scientists, entrepreneurs and Nobel laureates. One of only five titles to make Bill Gates' "Holiday Books 2020" list, Range was also named one of Wharton professor Adam Grant's "New Leadership Books to Read in 2019" and a finalist for the 2019 Financial Times/McKinsey business book of the year. Range was selected as one of Amazon's best business books of 2019, Inc.’s 2019 Must Read Books for Entrepreneurs and #1 out of 100 of the "Best Social Psychology Books of All Time" by Book Authority.

The Washington Post named Range one of its “10 Leadership Books to Watch For,” and it was selected by Apple for its "Best Audiobooks of 2019" list. In Range, Epstein brings bold new insights to business, education, technological innovation, healthcare, and other industries on the best approach to career development, hiring and retention amid rapid technological change. His conclusion: In most fields, especially those that are complex, unpredictable, and difficult to automate, generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel, and only organizations that cultivate them will survive.

Epstein shares fascinating research and examples from career trajectories as varied as Roger Federer’s to that of the man who saved Nintendo, to a woman who took her first job around the age her peers were retiring — and who Peter Drucker called the greatest CEO in America. He shows that at every stage of life, from the development of children in math, music, and sports, to young professionals trying to adapt to a changing work world, all the way to executives who urgently need to broaden their thinking and their skills — generalists triumph as the world around them becomes increasingly specialized.

Epstein’s two TED Talks have amassed more than 12 million views. He has spoken around the world on the science of high performance and novel uses (and misuses) of data, to organizations from X (Alphabet’s “moonshot factory”), to NASA (humanity’s original moonshot factory), to Cisco and the Association for Talent Development, and at a diverse array of events from the World Knowledge Forum in Seoul to the open-source software community’s Hadoop Summit.

Epstein’s writing has appeared in numerous publications, from The New York Times and The Atlantic to National Geographic. He was previously an investigative reporter at ProPublica, where his work ranged from an investigation into the DEA’s complicated pursuit of Chapo Guzman’s rivals, to a This American Life episode about a woman with muscular dystrophy who discovered that she shares a mutated gene with an Olympic medalist.

A former Sports Illustrated senior writer, Epstein authored or co-authored several of the magazine’s most high-profile investigative pieces, including the 2009 revelation of Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez’s steroid use. He has master’s degrees in environmental science and journalism from Columbia University, and was twice NCAA All-East as an 800-meter runner.

Merging stories from the worlds of sports, business, medicine, and education, Epstein sheds light on the paths to peak performance. From how to best prepare for our specialized world to how to optimally incorporate AI into our workplaces, Epstein unpacks the science of success — leaving audiences with actionable takeaways to improve how they live, work, teach, parent, and prepare for the future.

Keynote: Expanding Your Range: Why Stepping Outside Your Lane is Essential in Times of Change

In an increasingly complex and rapidly changing higher education landscape, the ability to think beyond disciplinary boundaries is more crucial than ever. Drawing on research into skill acquisition and innovative problem-solving, David Epstein will demonstrate why cultivating a diverse skill set and collaborating across traditional boundaries are essential for tackling the "wicked" problems facing colleges and universities. This talk will highlight the power of a broad professional toolbox for thriving in a world where the only constant is change.

Learning Objectives

  • Distinguish between what cognitive psychologists call “kind” and “wicked” problems, and why the distinction matters for how we think about developing expertise
  • Demonstrate the common traits of thinkers known as “serial innovators,” who repeatedly make creative contributions to their organizations
  • Apply the concept of “match quality” and its importance for students as well as administrators and staff members at institutions of higher education