SESP Announces 2023 Convocation Speaker

SESP Announces 2023 Convocation Speaker

Headshot of Pamay Bassey Bassey, a passionate lifelong learner, has worked in edtech, K-16, and corporate education.Northwestern University alumna Ekpedeme “Pamay” Bassey, chief learning and diversity officer for the Kraft Heinz Company, will be the featured speaker during the 2023 School of Education and Social Policy Convocation ceremony.

The in-person event will be held from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Ryan Fieldhouse, 2333 Campus Drive on Northwestern’s Evanston campus. A reception for graduates and their families follows the ceremony.

A lifelong learner, executive, and entrepreneur who loves laughter, words, big ideas and serving her community, Bassey has worked in edtech, K-16, and corporate education––both in startups and large companies–– for more than 20 years. She spent ten of those years as an associate professor for multiple fully online and hybrid universities.

At Kraft Heinz, Bassey is responsible for developing and implementing training initiatives for almost 40,000 employees in 30 countries. She also amplifies the work of all employees to foster a diverse and inclusive workplace.

In addition to Bassey’s keynote, Convocation features the annual Alumni Leadership Award, given to an undergraduate and graduate student for exceptional leadership in the School of Education and Social Policy, Northwestern, and beyond. Graduating seniors Djamila Oumarou and Jake Geil are the 2023 Convocation co-chairs.


Bassey, whose early interests included artificial intelligence, earned her bachelor’s degree in symbolic systems from Stanford University. She was selected as an Andersen Consulting Fellow at the pioneering Institute for Learning Sciences at Northwestern, which was founded by the late Roger Schank and led to the new interdisciplinary field of learning sciences.

At Northwestern, Bassey received a master’s in computer science and focused on designing and developing technology enabled learning applications for corporate audiences.

“My time at Northwestern always reminds me that when I encounter boring learning solutions to remember who I am, what I’m made of, and what we talked about when we were at the Institute of Learning Sciences,” she told a group of SESP learning sciences graduate students during an alumni talk in January.

“That’s where I learned it’s not about just churning out boring training, it’s using a delivery mechanism that’s innovative and engaging to really capture the audience’s attention and change behavior.”

Bassey, a graduate of Chicago’s Second City Conservatory improvisational comedy and theater program, is also known for her humor and passion projects.

Her TEDx talk and weekly journal, both titled “Navigating Sacred Spaces,” are based on her project work and her book My 52 Weeks of Worship: Lessons from a Global, Spiritual, Interfaith Journey. In 2010, she visited different sacred spaces, from the Southside of Chicago to Brazil; she now uses what she learned to facilitate courageous conversations about cultural and interfaith diversity, inclusion, and understanding.

Her 365 Days of Learning project — where she made a promise to learn something new every day for a year and share it with her organization — laid the foundation for learning transformation at Kraft Heinz, she says. It also inspired her new book, Let’s Learn Our Way Through It, Shall We? — created to encourage others to embark on their own personal and professional learning journeys.

Prior to Kraft Heinz, Bassey served as the global head of learning platforms and professional development for BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager. Before that, she was president of The Pamay Group, an e-learning design and strategy company. She began her career in Accenture’s Media Technologies Group.

In 2021 she was named to Crain’s List of Notable Executives in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for advancing DEI at Kraft Heinz. Also that year she was named to the a list of Most Influential Black Corporate Directors by Savoy Magazine.

Bassey has received several other awards for excellence for the design of employee development programs and been included on lists such as The Network Journal 25 Most Influential Black Women, 40 Women to Watch over 40 and Women of Influence by Chicago Business Journal. Most recently, in April of 2023, she was recognized as an OnCon Icon Top 100 learning and design professional.

A first-generation Nigerian American born in New York City and raised in Atlanta, Bassey currently lives in Chicago.

By Julie Deardorff
Last Modified: 5/1/23