Keynote Speakers


Bob Aiken

Bob Aiken

Bob Aiken serves as chief executive officer of Feeding America, the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief organization and fourth largest charity according to Forbes. Feeding America is a nationwide network of 200 food banks and 61,000 food pantries and meals programs that provides more than 3.2 billion meals to more than 37 million people across the United States. As CEO, Aiken leads Feeding America strategy and fortifies relationships with member food banks to strengthen capacity to serve more meals to more people while also developing initiatives that help clients achieve stability and self-sufficiency. Aiken joined Feeding America in 2012 after a lengthy career in the food industry. Among his roles, he served as president and CEO of US Foods, a leading foodservice distributor in the United States with over $20 billion in revenue and nearly 25,000 employees.

Aiken serves on the Board of Leadership 18, an alliance of CEOs leading some of the country’s largest charities. He is also an Advisory Board member of the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing. He began his career as a business lawyer. Aiken holds accounting and law degrees from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. He and his family reside in Wilmette, Illinois.

Joaquin Castro

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Joaquin Castro was born in San Antonio, Texas. A second generation Mexican American, he was raised on the city’s Westside and is a proud product of the public school system. Castro went on to graduate with honors from Stanford University in 1996. He then went on to attend Harvard Law School where he received his Juris Doctorate degree in 2000. Having experienced America’s promise firsthand, Castro wants to help build out what he calls the Infrastructure of Opportunity so that future generations will have the same chance to pursue their American Dream. He served five terms in the Texas state legislature representing San Antonio’s District 125. In 2012, Castro was elected to serve in the U.S House of Representatives to lead Texas’ Congressional District 20, which covers a large portion of San Antonio. Castro serves on the House Armed Services Committee, as well as the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He was also chosen as 2013 co-President for the House freshman Democrats and named Assistant Whip for House Democrats, charged with assisting in rallying members around important legislation. From supporting military families to investing in education, Castro remains committed to helping mold an Infrastructure of Opportunity for San Antonians and Americans around the country.

Linda English

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Dr. Linda English is a clinical assistant professor in the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Since joining the faculty at Baylor in 2009, she has taught Principles of Microeconomics and Introduction to the Economics of Poverty and Discrimination. Her primary research interests are in the economics of education, economic history and economic education. She is especially interested in better understanding the factors influencing education outcomes for disadvantaged individuals. Current research projects include an examination of evening schools designed to facilitate education among working children in the late nineteenth-century, a project examining the relationship between the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit program and the college attendance of single mothers, an investigation into the effectiveness of a mentoring program targeting at-risk children, and several studies examining the efficacy of pedagogical innovations in economic education. Dr. English is also the founder and faculty advisor for a new student organization promoting the personal and academic success of Baylor’s students who are parents and is working to promote summer reading at low-income elementary schools in the Waco community. Dr. English holds a doctorate in economics from Vanderbilt University and a bachelor’s degree, also in economics, from Oklahoma State University.

Greg Kaufmann

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Greg Kaufmann is a senior fellow with the Half in Ten campaign at the Center for American Progress and the Editor of Previously, he was the poverty correspondent for The Nation. MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry called him "one of the most consistent voices on poverty in America." Through his weekly column, "This Week in Poverty," Kaufman sought to increase media coverage of poverty, share new research, elevate the voices of people living in poverty, and offer readers opportunities to get involved with organizations working to eradicate poverty. syndicated this column.

Kaufman has spoken at numerous poverty-related conferences and has been a guest on MSNBC, PBS, NPR, and radio talk shows across the United States. His work has also been featured on "Moyers & Company,",, and Kaufman serves as an advisor to the Economic Hardship Reporting Project and on the board of Mary House in Washington, D.C. Prior to his work as a reporter, his favorite job was as education director for the Westside Boys and Girls Club in Columbus, Ohio.

Kaufman graduated from Dickinson College and studied creative writing at Miami University in Ohio. He lives in his hometown of Washington, D.C., with his wife, son, and two daughters.

Suzii Paynter

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Suzii Paynter is the Executive Coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF), a Christian network comprised of nearly 1,800 congregations, thousands of individuals and dozens of partners all over the world, all working together to inspire good in the world.

Prior to joining CBF in March 2013, Paynter served in executive management of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) as the director of the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission and as director of the Advocacy Care Center. Paynter directed public policy initiatives for state and federal issues and led international relief and development projects.

In 2013, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty honored Paynter with the J.M. Dawson Religious Liberty Award. Paynter’s work has also been highlighted on television programs such as Moyers in America and in print publications such as the Wall Street Journal and The New Yorker. In April 2014, Paynter was invited to the White House, where she discussed immigration reform with President Obama and a small group of faith leaders in the Oval Office.

Paynter has held positions of leadership in Baptist churches in Texas, Kentucky and Mississippi. She has served these congregations alongside her husband, Roger Paynter, who serves as senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Austin, TX.

Audrey Rowe

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Audrey Rowe is the administrator for the food and nutrition service (FNS) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, D.C. and has over 20 years of experience in human services policy development, fiscal management, program design, service delivery and marketing with a particular focus on vulnerable populations, low income women, children and youth. Most recently, Rowe served as deputy administrator for Special Nutrition Programs at FNS, leading the effort to pass the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, the legislative centerpiece of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative to end childhood obesity in a generation.

Rowe has extensive experience working on issues related to FNS programs. Her leadership has included roles as human resources administrator in New Haven, Connecticut and social services commissioner for the State of Connecticut and the District of Columbia. In addition, she served as executive vice president and chief operating officer for the National Urban League. In private industry, Rowe served as senior vice president and managing director for the Children and Family Services division for Affiliated Computer Service (ACS), formerly Lockheed Martin IMS. Additionally, Rowe was appointed senior vice president for Public Affairs where she managed the corporation's government relations, philanthropy and community relation programs.

Rowe is a graduate of Federal City College and was a fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government Institute of Politics at Harvard University.