CLOSING GENERAL SESSION:
Wednesday, May 7
9:30 am - 11:00 am
Known for his thought-provoking coverage and his commitment to exceptional storytelling, Byron Pitts is a multiple Emmy award winning journalist. In 2013 Pitts became an anchor and the Chief National Correspondent at ABC. Prior to working for ABC, Pitts was the Chief National Correspondent for CBS Evening News With Katie Couric. He was also CBS’ lead correspondent at Ground Zero immediately following the September 11th attacks and won an Emmy for his coverage.
A news veteran with over 20 years of experience, other major stories include the war in Afghanistan, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the military buildup in Kuwait and the refugee crisis in Kosovo, to name but a few. Pitts realized a life-long goal when he was named a Contributing Correspondent to CBS’ 60 Minutes in 2009. Pitts’ many achievements are all the more extraordinary when he tells of the many obstacles he faced as a child.Raised by a single mother in a working class neighborhood in Baltimore, Pitts was illiterate until the age of twelve and had a persistent stutter. Capitalizing on his desire to play football, his mother mandated he receive Bs or above in school in order to play. With that focus, Pitts learned to read and went on to attend Ohio Wesleyan University. With the help of his roommate and a college professor, Pitts found the support and encouragement necessary to pursue a career in broadcast journalism—a field that demands excellence in writing and speaking. By staying focused, setting simple and achievable goals and finding strength in faith, Pitts overcame powerful odds. He graduated in 1982 with a BA in Journalism and Speech Communication.
Praised by 60 Minutes Correspondent Lesly Stahl as “truly moving,” Pitts tells his incredible story in his memoir Step Out On Nothing: How Family and Faith Helped Me Conquer Life’s Challenges (2009). Pitts shares how his faith saw him through his many struggles and how a few key people “stepped out on nothing” to help him change his life. Katie Couric praised Pitts’ work, saying, “No wonder he is such an inspired storyteller—his own story is inspiring.”
Pitts’ grit and determination shone throughout his illustrious career as well, garnering him several prestigious awards including a national Emmy Award for his coverage of the Chicago train wreck of 1999, a National Association of Black Journalists Award and second national Emmy Award for individual reporting of September 11th. He is also the recipient of four Associated Press Awards and six regional Emmy Awards.
CLOSING GENERAL SESSION:
Friday, May 9
11:30 am - 1:30 pm
Rob Shindler is not your traditional author. He's a dad who wrote a story about his little boy and the adult learners they fell in love with along the way.
Hot Dogs & Hamburgers is a heartwarming book about a father's struggles with his son's learning disability, about volunteering and bringing to the forefront the real faces of adult illiteracy. Shindler takes readers along as he shares his unconventional yet successful and highly engaging teaching techniques. His inspirational story challenges society to cherish our adult learners and undoubtedly will inspire new reading tutors and teachers of all ages.
In addition to his work as a volunteer teacher at Literacy Chicago, Rob tutors inmates at the Cook County Jail and along with his sixteen year old daughter, recently started a program at a local high school introducing teenagers to the joy of teaching reading. Rob and his wife Andi live in Chicago with their twins, Isabella & Oliver, and their younger son, future NFL star, Sage. Rob is the founder of Abogados America, a small law firm that specializes in representing Chicago’s Hispanic community.