March 6-9, 2023
March 6-9, 2023


American Student Assistance® (ASA) is a proud Premier Sponsor of the SXSW EDU Conference & Festival 2023, an international conference that empowers the diverse community stakeholders to advance teaching and learning. The conference, taking place in Austin, Texas, on March 6-9 and online, features a diverse array of speakers, thought leadership presentations, workshops, mentorship, an expo, learning experiences, performances, and film screenings programmed to foster learning and discovery for all education stakeholders. ASA’s presence at the event provides a unique opportunity to connect with engaged educational stakeholders and business leaders to advance our mission to change the way middle and high schoolers learn about careers and navigate paths to postsecondary education and career success. 

Thought Leadership Sessions
ASA thought leaders, partners, and experts from across the education and career readiness ecosystem will share insights and proven models for student success during panel discussions on the topics of work-based learning, career readiness skills, youth activism, and education-to-career pathways.  

Expanding Pathways in Postsecondary Education

Monday March 6, 2023 at 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. CT | Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon C

The mindset that traditional college is the only path to success and a degree is the only proxy for knowledge is failing students, employers, and our economy. Young people want learning opportunities after high school that lead to well-paid, meaningful careers. Employers don’t know how to evaluate candidates with career skills vs. those with degrees. Join Hari Sreenivasan, Julie Lammers, ASA’s SVP Advocacy & Corporate Social Responsibility, and panelists on how we can help prepare students for career success and build a future-ready, diverse workforce.

Moderated by:

  • Hari Sreenivasan, Emmy Award-Winning Reporter, Anchor, and Executive Producer

Panelists include:

  • Julie Lammers, SVP Advocacy & Corporate Social Responsibility, American Student Assistance (ASA)
  • Hudson Baird, Co-Founder and Executive Director, PelotonU
  • Dan Fisher, President and CEO, ECMC Group  
  • Aisha Francis, Ph.D., President and CEO of Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology

Building Youthforce in Middle School Meet Up

Tuesday, March 6, 2023 at 1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. CT | Austin Convention Center, Exhibit Hall 4 Meet Up Pavilion

Work-based learning opportunities have traditionally been reserved for college students and maybe even high school students. But middle school students? Come meet up with us and learn about a new pilot that overcomes the barriers to providing experiential learning experiences to middle schoolers in Boston. Hosted by ASA, we will discuss best practices in partnering with communities and businesses to build relationships that welcome students to workplaces where they can begin a successful future.

  • Ashley Hemmy, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility, American Student Assistance (ASA)
  • Anthonette Peña, B-Unbound Program Director, Big Picture Learning
  • Letta Neely, VP of Programs, Apprentice Learning

Engaging Employers in High School Work-based Learning

Tuesday March 7, 2023 at 1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. CT | Austin Convention Center, Room 9C

Working-to-learn experiences can help students build workforce skills and provide a path into the labor market. Organizations benefit by cultivating a pipeline of talent. Communities can reduce unemployment and attract new business and industry. Seems like a win-win. But only 2% of high school students have had a work-based learning experience. So, how can we help employers overcome barriers–including transportation, safety, and workers’ compensation issues–and provide financial incentives to encourage participation? 

Moderated by:

  • Julie Lammers, SVP Advocacy & Corporate Social Responsibility, American Student Assistance (ASA)

Panelists include:

  • Jason A. Tyszko, Vice President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
  • Stephanie Reisner, President and CEO, GPS Education Partners
  • Corey Mohn, President and CEO, CAPS Network

Verifying Qualified Candidates: Proof of Skills

Tuesday March 7, 2023 at 2:30-3:30 p.m. CT | Austin Convention Center, Room 9AB

There are 11.4M open jobs in the U.S. and 80% of HR leaders say they can’t find candidates to fill their open positions. While employers want to embrace skills-based hiring, many are looking to understand how to assess skills. If not a degree, what signals of quality will ensure that future employees are workforce ready? Join our panelists to hear what it would take to validate the mastery of skills coming out of high school for employment and shift the narrative on what to look for when evaluating skills.  

Moderated by:

  • Courtney Reilly, Co-Founder, Skillsline

Panelists include:

  • Mike Flanagan, CEO of the Mastery Transcript Consortium (MTC) 
  • Tim Taylor, Co-Founder and President, America Succeeds
  • Ashley Hemmy, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility, American Student Assistance (ASA) 

WANTED: Access to Career Connections for Teens  

Tuesday March 7, 2023 at 2:30-3:30 p.m. CT | Austin Convention Center, Room 8ABC

New national survey findings from ECMC Group and VICE Media reveal that 63% of teens wish their high school explained more about the different postsecondary education paths available to them. In addition, 40 percent of high schoolers don’t feel prepared for a job after high school.

Middle school may seem too early to contemplate a future career, but research has shown that it is an optimal time to start exploring career options. That is why it is critical that tools are made available for middle school students and their supporting adults to aid in these discussions. Middle school is the time to start exploring career options and high school is the time to identify the way to make dreams a reality. Technology, when paired with high touch interactions, creates the ideal environment for students to explore and realize their postsecondary education and career dreams.

Moderated By:

  • Heidi Johnson, Chief of Staff, ECMC Group

Panelists include:

  • Julie Lammers, SVP Advocacy and Corporate Social Responsibility, American Student Assistance (ASA)
  • Jennifer Kushell, Founder and CEO, Exploring Your Potential™ (EYP)
  • Tomika Brown, Director, ECMC’s The College Place-Richmond

Youth Activism in the Age of Digital Disruption

Wednesday, March 8, 2023 at 11:30a.m.-12:30 p.m. CT | Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon C 

What’s preventing teens from actively advocating for important issues? While 43% consider themselves engaged, less than 25% get involved. While money and time are barriers, according to research from ASA, 46% don’t have the “know how” or tools they need. Join a discussion on the research and learn how technology is changing the paradigm for teens, helping them develop the mindsets and gain the skills they need to become changemakers to positively impact their lives, career, and communities. 

Moderated by:

  • Julie Lammers, SVP Advocacy and Corporate Social Responsibility, American Student Assistance (ASA)

Panelists include:

  • Laura Tierney, Founder and CEO, The Social Institute
  • Sofia Ongele, Digital Strategist, Gen-Z for Change
  • Lexi McMenamin, News and Politics Editor, Teen Vogue 
  • Kaylee Johnson, Ph.D., Market Research Manager, American Student Assistance (ASA)

Validating Postsecondary Pathways: Quality Metrics Meetup

Wednesday March 8, 2023 at 1:00 p.m. -2:00 p.m. CT | Hilton Austin Downtown, Room 406

Learners, employers and policymakers are interested in options outside the traditional degree path, but have questions about determining quality. Join us for coffee & a lively discussion on the characteristics we should embrace in judging quality of non-degree paths. Learn about standardized and transparent metrics, validation credential values, and the transferability and stackability of credentials that will maximize options for education and training paths as demands and technology change.

  • Judy Goldstein, SVP PR & Communications, American Student Assistance (ASA)
  • Joel Vargas, Vice President, Jobs for the Future (JFF)


  • Hudson Baird | Co-Founder & Executive Director, PelotonU
  • Bertina Ceccarelli | CEO, NPower

We’re looking for partners to help us develop digital career readiness experiences. Let’s chat at SXSW EDU.

ASA is revolutionizing the school-to-work journey with innovative, digital experiences created through direct collaboration with kids and partners like you. And if you’re attending SXSW EDU, we’d love to chat! Sign up for a 15-minute conversation with our Partnerships team right here.