Keynote Speakers


Dr. Kofi Marfo

Dr. Kofi Marfo is Professor and Foundation Director, Institute for Human Development, Aga Khan University (South-Central Asia, East Africa, and United Kingdom). He has previously held academic positions at the University of South Florida (USA), Kent State University (USA), Memorial University of Newfoundland (Canada), the University of Alberta (Canada), and the University of Cape Coast (Ghana).

Professor Marfo’s current scholarly interests are in the areas of developmental science and childhood interventions, advancement of a global science of human development, and philosophical issues in behavioral science and
education research. He has published extensively in the areas of early child development, childhood disability, early intervention efficacy, parent-child interaction, and behavioral development in children adopted into North America from China. His scholarship has been cited across many disciplines in over 180 different journals worldwide. He has been an Associate Editor of the Journal of Early Intervention and served on the editorial boards of several peer-reviewed journals.

Professor Marfo has given keynote addresses in Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States. He was co-convener of an invitational conference on strengthening child development research in Africa, an initiative that culminated in the publication of six articles on the subject in Child Development Perspectives, a publication of the Society for Research in Child Development. Under his leadership, the Institute for Human Development at Aga Khan University has established an international conference series on early child/human development.

Professor Marfo has been a Residential Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, a finalist for Distinguished University Professor (University of South Florida), a U.S. National Academy of Education Spencer Fellow, and an Irving B. Harris Mid-Career Leadership Fellow (Zero to Three Organization—USA). He served on the WHO Task Force on the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF), officially endorsed by the 54th World Health Assembly on May 22, 2001. He was a founding member of the Bio-Behavioral and Behavioral Sciences Subcommittee of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD—USA). He has been a member of the Governing Council of the Society for Research in Child Development and currently serves on advisory boards of the Center of Excellence for Human Development (South Africa), Innovation Edge (South Africa), and a private Foundation with substantial footprint in early childhood development. Professor Marfo is a graduate of the University of Alberta, Canada (M.Ed. and Ph.D.) and the University of Cape Coast, Ghana (B.Ed., Honors).



Nkem Khumbah

Nkem Khumbah is a lecturer and member of the STEM-Africa Initiative at the University of Michigan. He holds a Doctorate degree from George Mason University. Prior to joining the faculty of the University of Michigan, Khumbah was an Assistant Professor of mathematics at North Georgia College and State University. He also held research fellowships at Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics at UCLA and the Mathematical Science Research Institute at the University of California at Berkeley. His research has been on development and application of mathematical structures that facilitate the compression of massive data sets with minimal distortion to the statistical structure of the data.

An avid ambassador of international scientific capacity and human development, he was founder and chair of the Buea (Cameroon) International Conference Series on the Mathematical Sciences (2009 – 2013).

He has been consulting for and closely working with multiple regional and international organizations, including the African Union, select African governments, the World Bank African Centers of Excellence Project, UNESCO, Washington-based Constituency for Africa (CFA), the Association of African Universities, the African Network of Science and Technology Institutes (ANSTI), among others. He served in 2015 as Founding Executive Curator of the Next Einstein Forum (NEF): Africa’s Global Forum for Science, Policy and Society. He served as the Science and Technology chair of the first ever African Continental Summit on Higher Education in 2015, and co-authored recommendations that were adopted by the African Union, at its establishment of a Committee of 10 African Heads of States as continental Champions of Science and Education. He currently serves on the steering Committee of the African Light Source Initiative, and as a Senior Fellow of the Global Federation of Competitiveness Councils (GFCC).

His articles have appeared in numerous journals, including the New York Times and the African Policy Review, and he continues to present at numerous conferences and symposia as keynote speaker, panel member and speaker in North America, Africa, Asia, and South America.



Justo Méndez Arámburu

Justo Méndez Arámburu is co-founder and former President of Nuestra Escuela in Puerto Rico, an educational project based on liberating education, focused on young people who are marginalized by the educational system and due to this, have not been able to get a high school diploma. Nuestra Escuela’s model of services, has been awarded and studied by the best professional and university institutions in Puerto Rico, being a center of practices for future teachers, social workers, psychologists and other professional disciplines.

His efforts and commitment to education in Puerto Rico have earned him several awards and tributes among which stand out, Citizen of the Year by the “National Association of Social Workers”, Medal of Service Excellence Sister Isolina Ferré by the Senate of Puerto Rico and the distinction of Worthy Man who is concerned about the Education of his Country” granted by the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico.

Justo Méndez Arámburu, together with Nuestra Escuela, was the organizer of the Twentieth International Conference on Democratic Education (20th IDEC – 2012) and convened the First Meeting of the Americas and the Caribbean during the month of March of 2012. In this first meeting, more than a hundred representatives from eighteen countries of America, worked to propose and agree on themes and actions of common interest, embodied in a manifesto. This document motivated the recurrent celebration of the Encuentro de Nuestra América (ENA) international congress.

His vision was fundamental in the development of a public policy that promotes holistic educational services for at-risk youth. Founder of the Alliance for Alternative Education, he has built a solid network to support alternative forms of education. In that sense, he forged a public policy which aimed at expanding the educational options of youth, such as the Sustainable Student Support Centers (CASA) project and the Enabling Act for Alternative Education in Puerto Rico.

He is also the first teacher of a course on alternative education offered at the Faculty of Education Eugenio Maria de Hostos of the Río Piedras Campus of the University of Puerto Rico, and a Post Graduate Certificate in Alternative Education at the same institution. He was the Representative of the Americas in the General Board of Directors of the global organization Aflatoun.

Justo Méndez Arámburu, a tireless patriot who believes that together we will achieve the world we need, deserve and can. He currently holds the position of General Coordinator of VAMOS, a movement of citizen consensus that promotes the transformation of Puerto Rico into a democratic, just, equitable and sustainable nation.