Dana Mortenson

Speech Topics

Sixty-five percent of today’s grade-school students will hold jobs that don’t exist today. How should that influence the way we’re preparing the workforce of the future? There’s a lot we do know about what the U.S. – and the world – will be like in 20 or 30 years. Guided by compelling demographic and social trends, Dana shares a road map for how we can begin to prepare for the changing roles that will be shaping our world decades in the future.

Audience: Corporate Leaders, HR Professionals, Parents, Educators

As our world becomes more interconnected, changing demographics make communities across the U.S. more diverse and the future workplace demands a completely different set of skills to succeed in a global economy, schools must change how they educate young, digital learners. The immediacy of global issues such as climate change, food security, and global health crises make global learning essential preparation for a changing world. All students should have the opportunity to develop skills essential for future success, including: an appreciation for cultural differences, critical and comparative thinking skills, comfort with ambiguity, and an understanding of globally significant issues. Take a look with Dana into how some schools are doing this well.

Audience: Educators, Administrators, Parents


Many districts and schools across the country have included the importance of building 21st Century learners in their strategic plans. What does that really mean? As our world becomes more interconnected and regional issues – from health crises to food security – become global, we need to ensure our students graduate with the ability to understand and act on significant issues with worldwide implications. During this session, Dana provides a deep dive into the global competence matrix, a tool developed by World Savvy, Teachers College, Columbia University, and Asia Society, to help educators teach 21st century learners.

Audience: Educators, Administrators


If it’s not, it should be. As U.S. demographics change rapidly and the world becomes increasingly interconnected, the single thing we could do to revolutionize our educational system is ensure students graduate with an appreciation for cultural differences, strong critical and comparative thinking skills, and an understanding of globally significant issues. Dana shares how she and her team have spent the past 13 years providing teachers and schools with resources to do just that.

Audience: Parents, Communities, Educators


Since 2002, Dana Mortenson has worked with teachers and schools to help teens understand global and community issues, then translate that understanding into action. World Savvy uses a model called Knowledge to Action as a way of helping students apply what they learn to affect change in their community. During this session, Dana will share the Knowledge to Action model and how she and her team have engaged more than 375,000 students as social entrepreneurs and changemakers.

Audience: Parents, Communities, Educators

Kids want to have positive impact on the world. How can families, schools, faith communities, encourage teens to become social entrepreneurs? Since 2002, Dana Mortenson has run an organization that works with students across the country to help them understand global issues, and how they can impact them. To date, Dana and her team have worked with more than 375,000 students. Dana shares some practical ideas for engaging teens in world affairs, and making the connection between global and community issues, and how to impact them.

Audience: Parents, Communities


Dana Mortenson has dedicated her professional life to educating and engaging youth in community and world affairs with the goal of ensuring they have the skills to succeed and lead in a global economy. Her passion is working in partnership with educators to close the global competence gap in American education.

Dana’s deep belief in the transformative power of global education to contribute to peace, justice, and equity on a global scale led her to co-found World Savvy in 2002. She has since led the organization through extensive growth and expansion, reaching more than 580,000 students and 3,500 educators from three offices nationwide.

She is a recognized expert in the field of global education, and serves as advisor and board member to a range of nonprofits focused on international education and youth development. She is an Ashoka Fellow, a recipient of the Tides Foundation’s JBL award for excellence in public advocacy, and was named one of The New Leaders Council’s 40 Under 40 Progressive American Leaders.

Dana is a frequent speaker on the subject of global citizenship and social entrepreneurship, and has spoken recently at the Harvard University School of Education, 21st Century Schools Consortium, Nebraska Global Education Consortium, and Social Venture Partners national conference. View Dana’s recent TED talk here.

Dana holds a B.A. in International Relations from Connecticut College and a Masters in International Affairs from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University.

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