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MBDA National Director Discusses Democracy and Innovation at Harvard Conference

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Created on March 15, 2016

It’s rare that the topics of education, democracy, entrepreneurship, and partnership with the federal government intersect in a single conversation, but that’s exactly what happened at Harvard University.

Alejandra Y. Castillo, National Director of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency, led the conversation before an audience of educators, students, and alumni at the Askwith Forum March 4 at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education (GSE).

The forum was part of the Graduate School of Education’s 14th annual Alumni of Color Conference (AOCC) March 3-5 at Harvard. The conference theme was “Educators as Architects: Building a Mosaic for Democracy Now.”

Director Castillo served as the Askwith keynote speaker, delivering an address titled “New American Mosaic: Diversity and the Innovation Economy.”

“Democracy, education, entrepreneurship, and economic opportunity are cornerstones of our American Dream,” said Director Castillo. "If we are to remain a globally competitive nation, we must ensure that the growing minority population is seated at the center of the economic agenda.”

Director Castillo also stressed the importance of critical thinking, policy, access to quality education, and economic opportunity.

“We are all architects of the American Mosaic,” she said.

“When I read Alejandra’s bio I thought she was perfect for the conference,” said Annice Fisher, AOCC keynotes and awards chair. Fisher is also a second year doctorate of education leadership program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

“The goal of this year’s Alumni of Color Conference was to focus on educators and architects and this idea of building a blueprint for democracy,” Fisher said.

“In particular the school of education has done a lot of work with thinking about innovation and entrepreneurship and education. It’s something that our dean finds very important and I think Alejandra brings that unique perspective of talking about what it means to think innovatively and to empower people of color to be engaged in entrepreneurship, innovation and partnerships across various industries.”

After her speech, Director Castillo answered questions from the audience and attended a post-event reception.

She also toured the Harvard Innovation Lab and met with students from the Harvard GSE Innovation and Ventures in Education initiative.

To view Director Castillo’s Askwith Forum speech visit

For more information about AOCC at HGSE visit

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MBDA Agency

MBDA Agency