Learn more about the astonishing group of speakers who will share bold ideas, tough truths and jaw-dropping creative visions at TEDWomen 2018.
Speaker lineup subject to change.
Simona Abdallah is lauded as the first female percussionist from an Arabic background. She plays the Darbouka, an instrument that is traditionally played by men. Her passion and talent drive her forwards to break barriers and escape oppressive surroundings. Her music combines traditional sounds with modern beats.
Abdallah identifies herself as Palestinian Danish. Her parents fled from to Lebanon to Germany, where she was born in 1979. The family subsequently moved to Denmark, where Abdallah spent her childhood in Denmark's second largest city, the windy port town of Aarhus.
Tarana Burke's passion for community organizing began in the late 1980s, when she joined a youth development organization called 21st Century and led campaigns around issues like racial discrimination, housing inequality and economic justice. Her career took a turn toward supporting survivors of sexual violence upon moving to Selma, Alabama, to work for 21st Century. She encountered dozens of black girls who were sharing stories of sexual violence and abuse, stories she identified with very well. She realized too many girls were suffering through abuse without access to resources, safe spaces and support, so in 2007 she created Justbe Inc., an organization committed to the empowerment and wellness of black girls. The impacts of Justbe Inc. are widespread, as the program, which was adopted by every public school in Selma, has hundreds of alumni who have gone on to thrive and succeed in various ways.
Burke's role as the senior director at Girls for Gender Equity in Brooklyn, NY, an intergenerational nonprofit dedicated to strengthening local communities by creating opportunities for young women and girls to live self-determined lives, is a continuation of what she considers her life's work. Since #MeToo, the movement she created more than ten years ago, became a viral hashtag, she has emerged as a global leader in the evolving conversation around sexual violence and the need for survivor-centered solutions. Her theory of using empathy to empower survivors is changing the way the nation and the world think about and engage with survivors. Her belief that healing isn't a destination but a journey has touched and inspired millions of survivors who previously lived with the pain, shame and trauma of their assaults in isolation.
Ai-jen Poo is the director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the co-director of the Caring Across Generations Campaign. She has been organizing immigrant women workers for more than two decades, forging pathways to sustainable, quality jobs for the caregiving workforce and ensuring access to affordable child care and elder care for all working families. She is a 2014 MacArthur Fellow and is listed on Fortune's "50 World's Greatest Leaders." She is the author of The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America. And, she says, "The craziest thing that ever happened to me is when Meryl Streep invited me to go with her to the Golden Globes."
Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund (CDF), has been an advocate for disadvantaged Americans for her entire professional life. Under her leadership, CDF has become the nation's strongest voice for children and families. The CDF's "Leave No Child Behind" mission is "to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start, and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities."
Edelman, a graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School, began her career in the mid-'60s when, as the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar, she directed the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund office in Jackson, Mississippi. In l968, she moved to Washington, DC as counsel for the Poor People's Campaign that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. began organizing before his death. She founded the Washington Research Project, a public interest law firm and the parent body of the CDF. For two years she served as the director of the Center for Law and Education at Harvard University and in l973 began CDF. Edelman served on the Board of Trustees of Spelman College, which she chaired from 1976 to 1987, and was the first woman elected by alumni as a member of the Yale University Corporation, on which she served from 1971 to 1977. She has received more than 100 honorary degrees and many awards, including the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Prize, the Heinz Award, a MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship, the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- the nation's highest civilian award -- and the Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award for her writings.
Dolores Huerta is a civil rights activist and community organizer. She has worked for labor rights and social justice for more than 50 years. In 1962, she and Cesar Chavez founded the United Farm Workers union. She served as vice president and played a critical role in many of the union's accomplishments for four decades. In 2002, she received the Puffin/Nation $100,000 prize for Creative Citizenship, which she used to establish the Dolores Huerta Foundation (DHF).
DHF is connecting groundbreaking community-based organizing to state and national movements to register and educate voters, advocate for education reform, bring about infrastructure improvements in low-income communities, advocate for greater equality for the LGBT community and create strong leadership development. She has received numerous awards including The Eleanor Roosevelt Humans Rights Award from President Clinton in 1998. In 2012, President Obama bestowed Huerta with The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States.
As a girl in a poor orthodox community in a south Indian village, Ashweetha Shetty was constantly told that her birth was not celebrated and that she would be a liability to her family. The social norms prescribed for her identity silenced her dreams, thoughts and aspirations. But through the power of education, she became a first-generation graduate and had a chance to rewrite the possibilities for her life.
Today, Shetty believes that her life mission is bridging the rural/urban divide in India by supporting local graduates to explore their greatest potential through education, skills and opportunities. She is the founder of Bodhi Tree Foundation, a nonprofit with a mission to empower rural youth.
As Katharine Wilkinson writes: "At age 16, through some ineffable alchemy of living and learning in the woods, I fell in love with this world and became an environmentalist. That commitment threads through my interdisciplinary journey since, from research and teaching to strategy and advocacy. Along the way, I have written two books. The first, Between God & Green, grew out of my doctoral research at Oxford, where I was a Rhodes Scholar. The second was a bestseller: Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming. That book brings to life the pioneering, collaborative work of Project Drawdown, the nonprofit where I am now vice president of communication and engagement.
"Climate change is humanity's great challenge. It demands extraordinarily ambitious, exponential action, across society. As a writer and speaker, I aim to help others envision possibility and persevere in making it real -- bringing to bear head, heart and hands. I find sustenance in rivers and mountains, dogs and horses, poetry and play, the occasional whiskey, and a community of wise, wild, kindred spirits."
Soraya Chemaly is an award-winning journalist, essayist and author whose work appears regularly in national and international media. In her writing, she rigorously and irreverently casts a bright, incisive light on what it means to be a woman in world built by men. Her narrative skill, careful research and humor-filled analyses described by the New Yorker as "relentless and revelatory." She brings these skills to bear in a critical examination of the social construction of anger and its effects on women’s lives in her first book, Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women's Anger.
At Intel, Nivruti Rai provides engineering and business unit leadership, driving innovation, cross-group efficiencies and execution for engineering teams delivering global products and roadmaps. She also leads engagements with national and local governments and policymakers as well as collaboration with ecosystem players to enable innovation and entrepreneurship.
Rai joined Intel in 1995 and subsequently worked in the CPU development organization in Oregon. She led the effort to conserve chip power in microprocessors by selectively using high-performance devices and pioneered the use of error-correcting codes to reduce operating voltages and memories, becoming a principal engineer in 2003. She moved to India in 2005 to manage R&D of mobile platform technologies used for handheld and laptop computers. In 2013, her team was awarded an Intel Achievement Award for contributing to the development of the Minute Intel architecture core. In her most recent role as vice president in Intel's platform engineering group, Rai led teams across the United States, Costa Rica, Israel, Malaysia and India charged with developing innovative analog and mixed-signal intellectual property (IP) blocks and IP subsystems for Intel's system-on-chip products. She also managed the emerging technologies group in India, developing machine learning and computer vision soft IP.
Monique W. Morris, EdD, founded and leads the National Black Women's Justice Institute, an organization that works to transform public discourses on the criminalization of Black women, girls and their families. For three decades, she has been involved in social justice advocacy and scholarship, working with research and academic institutions, civil rights organizations, nonprofits, public agencies and activists to advance policies and practices that promote racial and gender equity. She's the author of Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools and other books, publications and articles.
As Morris writes: "My work is ultimately about using research and narratives to challenge actions and structures of oppression. I do this using the tools I have available to me as a researcher, educator, public intellectual, visual artist, writer -- and most recently, filmmaker. I am the author of several academic publications and four books, each of them very different. From a street novel about prostitution to a statistical narrative about African Americans in the 21st century to a book about the criminalization of Black girls in schools, I try to meet people where they are on this journey toward freedom. My latest project, a dive into the pedagogical practices that make education freedom work, explores how schools might become locations of healing for Black and Brown girls. And I love Prince. Always have, always will."
The landscapes in which Amanda Williams operates are the visual residue of the invisible policies and forces that have misshapen most inner cities. Her installations, paintings, video and works on paper seek to inspire new ways of looking at the familiar -- and raise questions about the state of urban space in America in the process.
Williams has exhibited widely, including the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale, a solo exhibition at the MCA Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis. She is a 2018 United States Artists Fellow, a Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors grantee, an Efroymson Family Arts Fellow, a Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow and a member of the multidisciplinary Museum Design team for the Obama Presidential Center. She is this year's Bill and Stephanie Sick Distinguished Visiting Professor at the School of the Art Institute Chicago and has previously served as a visiting assistant professor of architecture at Cornell University and Washington University in St. Louis. She lives and works on Chicago's south side.
As Karissa Sanbonmatsu describes herself: "I'm a woman trying to figure out what it means to be a woman -- a woman with a passion for understanding the inner workings of DNA and how this affects our thoughts, our femininity and our psyche. I'm investigating how DNA allows cells in our body to remember events that take place. With cryogenic electron microscopes, supercomputers with a million processors and DNA sequencing, my lab is uncovering the molecular processes responsible for these events." Sanbonmatsu is a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Lucy Cooke is a New York Times best-selling author, award-winning documentary producer, presenter and National Geographic explorer with a master's in zoology from Oxford University. She is a passionate conservationist and champion of animal species that are often misunderstood. Her style is immersive, journalistic and unashamedly populist, mixing expert storytelling with a dash of humor to reach the widest possible audience. She began her presenting career hosting Freaks and Creeps for National Geographic, a show about strange species that get overlooked in favor of charismatic megafauna, and has hosted numerous shows for the BBC.
Cooke has a particular soft spot for sloths and founded the Sloth Appreciation Society to promote a greater understanding of their lazy lifestyle. She has produced a number of iconic viral sloth videos, Meet the Sloths, an award-winning international series for Animal Planet, two best-selling books -- A Little Book of Sloth and Life in the Sloth Lane -- and an annual calendar featuring her sloth photographs.
Cooke's latest book, The Truth About Animals, was shortlisted for the prestigious Royal Society prize and the AAAS young adult science prize. Nature calls it a "deeply researched, sassily written history of the biggest misconceptions, mistakes and myths we've concocted about the animal kingdom, spread by figures from Aristotle to Walt Disney."
Eldra Jackson III is a spiritual warrior who lives a passion of "saving lives one circle at a time." After living most of his life devoid of emotions and coming face-to-face with the reality of dying behind bars, he came to a point of self-inquiry, seeking answers as to how his life had spiraled into a mass of destruction set upon self and others. From this point, the space was made to save his life.
Today, Jackson works to bring his spiritual medicine into the world while simultaneously guiding others to tap into their own internal salve and help identify wounds. Through his intensive awareness work, he is on a mission to show the world what's possible as each person does their own internal examination to begin the path towards emotional and psychic health. Learn more about him in the documentary The Work.
Deeply influenced by the social inequalities around her and inspired by her father's social work in her early years, Shad Begum has become a nationally and internationally known figure because of her determined struggle to improve the conditions of the marginalized segments, especially women, of her community in the northwest of Pakistan -- a deeply religious and conservative area where Taliban publicly execute men and women for nonconformity to their version of Islam. Begum is the founder and executive director of the nonprofit Association for Behaviour & Knowledge Transformation (ABKT), an organization working toward the economic and political empowerment of communities in underserved areas of Pakistan. Her organization was uprooted during the Taliban takeover in Swat due to massive displacement of people in 2009-2010. Against enormous odds, her resilience kept ABKT alive.
Begum previously worked with the UN Human Settlements Program as a consultant for the Building Gender Ladder Project as well as with UNDP's Women Political Participation Program. To encourage women at the grassroots level, she contested local elections in 2001 as an independent candidate and served as councilor for five years in Dir Lower. Begum is an Ashoka fellow, a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at National Endowment for Democracy and an Acumen Fellow. She won the US Department of State's International Woman of Courage Award in 2012.
As Shohini Ghose writes: "I've always wanted to be an explorer. As a girl I was inspired by Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian to go to space. I haven't made it to space yet, but I did become an explorer of a strange and exciting new world -- the quantum world of microscopic particles such as electrons and photons. I'm a theoretical physicist who examines how the laws of quantum physics can be harnessed to transform computation and communication. My colleagues and I made the first-ever observations of cesium atoms that demonstrated a connection between chaos theory and quantum entanglement.
"The activist in me questions why only three women have ever won the Nobel Prize in physics. I am passionate about addressing gender issues in science and recently founded the Laurier Centre for Women in Science, the first centre of its kind in Canada. I also work to create a vibrant and inclusive physics community in Canada as the vice president of the Canadian Association of Physicists. I love teaching and have co-authored Canada's largest selling introductory astronomy textbook."
At age 10, Emily Quinn learned she was intersex. As she writes: "Doctors said not to tell anyone, poking and prodding at me like I was a science experiment. It was lonely, shameful, and I had nowhere to turn. I needed someone to tell me that it would be OK, but no one was there.
"Fourteen years later, I discovered an intersex support group, meeting hundreds of intersex people who endured trauma like mine. I knew it had to stop. I was working at Cartoon Network and decided to help create the first intersex main character on television: Lauren on MTV's 'Faking It.' I publicly came out as intersex alongside her debut, and suddenly I was bombarded with interviews, appearing in content across the web. The impact was so great that I quit my job, created a YouTube channel, began speaking globally about intersex experiences, and am now writing a YA novel. In ways I could have never imagined, I became the person I needed as a kid -- showing myself that one day it would be OK."
Co-creators Alixa Garcia and Naima Penniman have organized more than 30 national and international tours as Climbing PoeTree, taking their work from South Africa to Cuba, the UK to Mexico, Scotland to India, and throughout the US -- including 11,000 miles toured on a bus converted to run on recycled vegetable oil.
Climbing PoeTree has stirred crowds at diverse venues from the United Nations to the Brooklyn Academy of Music, featured alongside powerhouses such as Alicia Keys, Janelle Monáe, Erykah Badu, Little Dragon, Talib Kweli, Maxwell, Madonna, Rising Appalachia, T.I., Nahko and Angela Davis, who writes: "Each time I have the pleasure of attending a performance by Climbing PoeTree, I feel enriched, renewed, and inspired. Alixa and Naima insist that poetry can change the world -- and it is true that the urgency, power and beauty of their words impel us to keep striving for the radical futures toward which they gesture."
Maeve Higgins is the host of the hit podcast Maeve in America: Immigration IRL. She has performed all over the world and is now based in New York, where she co-hosts Neil deGrasse Tyson's StarTalk on National Geographic and has appeared in Comedy Central's Inside Amy Schumer. Her new book is Maeve in America: Essays by a Girl from Somewhere Else.
As Higgins writes: "I am extremely curious and am constantly finding out things I didn't even know I didn't know. I get a kick out of making people laugh, but I also worry a lot, so my head is an odd place to be, but I like it. These days I follow my curiosity, so if I suddenly wonder why most of the nannies in my neighborhood are women of color, and most of the children they take care of are white, I make it my job to figure out how it got to be that way. I research and ask questions and write about that. People are surprised to hear that I ended up here after starting out as a comedian, but I know that for me, comedy was always a way to figure things out, and as I grew up, my questions just got a little more expansive. I moved to the US five years ago and being an immigrant has also opened my eyes to a lot."
As Lindy Lou Isonhood writes: "I was born in Yazoo City, Missouri, in December 1951 and was raised by my grandmother, a widow with nine children. She was my salvation. From her nurturing I acquired my integrity, independence and strength. She impacted the lives of all around her. I was employed for over half my life: as a federal police officer in the 1970s, then I went on to be the first female letter carrier with the US Postal Service in Jackson, Missouri, for seven years, followed by 18 years in the Missouri Army National Guard. I ended my working career as an office manager after 13 years with an architectural firm. A strong Christian, I am married to a retired colonel who is a very staunch conservative, like me. I'm the mother of two children, a son and a daughter and three grandchildren -- all girls! The hearts of my life! There is nothing extraordinary about me. I have never achieved fame or any outstanding records or recognition. Never received a college degree although I have many accumulated hours. But my life reached a turning point when I served as a juror in the sentencing phase of a capital murder trial in 1994. This experience changed me from the inside out."
As Beth Mortimer writes: "I believe that through studying nature we can gain useful insights for new technologies. I am pioneering this approach for an overlooked form of information transfer: vibrations that travel along surfaces and through materials. I study how animals use this information source, which is widespread from spiders and worms to humans and elephants. My research enables me to gain insights for potential new technologies, for example monitoring elephant behavior in remote locations or developing vibration sensors for robots to monitor dangerous machinery.
"I am a biologist by training and have collaborated across scientific disciplines throughout my research career. I have worked with engineers, material scientists, seismologists and computer scientists to learn cutting-edge techniques that I can use to study information transfer with animals. My goal for the next five to seven years is to develop usable technologies for remote monitoring, learning from the biological systems I study."
As Tarje Nissen-Meyer writes: "Much like gazing at the sky, I wonder how our pristine planet functions. Where does hot magma come from, why can't we predict earthquakes, what is the link between climate and Earth, where does life come from and how does it end, and can we find extraterrestrial life? Society depends on the environment: how can we provide clean energy for ten billion people, deal with water scarcity, sea level rise, natural hazards? These are research themes in geophysics, and they require quantitative reasoning.
"In my own research, I develop methods for earthquake waves for free use, work on mapping Earth's interior, earthquake hazard, cyclones and elephant communication. I believe education and science play an ever larger role in extracting useful information from the ever-increasing amount of data to deliver critical decision-making skills and evaluating uncertainties, especially in times of fake news."
Yvonne van Amerongen is an occupational therapist and a social worker. Before 1983, when she started working for the nursing home Hogewey, she worked in a hospital for psychiatric diseases and in a rehabilitation center. In 1992 she was the care manager of the traditional nursing home Hogewey when the management team started thinking about the vision of care for people living with severe dementia. In 1993 this vision was the basis for the development of what now is the De Hogeweyk community village, with 23 houses for more than 150 seniors with dementia. van Amerongen was the project leader and one of the founders of the vision for excellent care for people with dementia and of the De Hogeweyk village.
van Amerongen now works as a consultant for Be, supporting and advising other organizations in their development of excellent care according to the vision of De Hogeweyk. Be is part of the Vivium Caregroup, the owner of De Hogeweyk.
The Reverend Dr. Paula Stone Williams knows the truth will set you free, but only after it upends your carefully constructed narrative. Her devotion to authenticity caused her to leave her comfort zone as a nationally known religious leader and follow her heart to transition from Paul to Paula. She lost all of her jobs and most of her friends. Williams also discovered the massive differences between life as a male and as a female in America.
Williams is the pastor of preaching and worship at Left Hand Church in Longmont, Colorado, a pastoral counselor with RLT Pathways and a sought-after speaker to corporations, government agencies, universities and religious institutions on issues of gender equity and LGBTQ advocacy. She has been featured in the New York Times, the Denver Post, New Scientist, Radio New Zealand, Colorado Public Radio and The Huffington Post. Her TEDxMileHigh talk on gender equity has had more than one million views.
After teaching fifth grade in West Philadelphia for seven years, Jonathan Williams decided to join the family business and become a pastor like his father. He started a church in Brooklyn, NY, and just three months later faced a religious and personal reckoning when his father announced her transition from male to female. Williams decided that his church would become an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, forever shifting the landscape in his personal and professional life.
Williams continues to lead Forefront Church in Brooklyn. He's looking forward to the January 2019 release of his book, She's My Dad: A Father’s Transition and a Son's Redemption, published by Westminster John Knox Press. Williams has told his story to the New York Times, Huffington Post, Christian Standard Magazine, Faithfully Magazine and Rebel Storytellers.
Jan Rader joined the Huntington, West Virginia, Fire Department in August 1994. Rader is the first woman to reach the rank of chief for a career department in the State of West Virginia. She holds an associate's degree in occupational development from Marshall University and an associate's degree of science in nursing from Ohio University. She holds many fire service certifications and is also a fire and EMS instructor in the State of West Virginia.
Since November 2014, Rader has been serving as a member of the Mayor's Office of Drug Control Policy. The purpose of this task force is to address drug addiction in Huntington and the surrounding communities and create a holistic approach involving prevention, treatment and law enforcement. Rader recently came to national prominence after the release of the short documentary Heroin(e) by Netflix in September 2017. In April 2018, she was chosen as one of TIME Magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World."
As the architect of the Moral Monday, the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II stands for a multi-racial, multi-faith movement fighting for voting rights, public education, universal health care, environmental protection as well as the rights of women, labor, immigrants and members of the LGBTQ community. In 2013, thousands joined weekly protests at the North Carolina state legislature; more than a thousand were arrested in civil disobedience. Monday coalition continues to draw tens of thousands each year.
For the past two years, Dr. Barber has led a national organizing tour called The Revival: Time for a Moral Revolution of Values, working alongside Rev. Dr. James Forbes, Rev. Dr. Traci Blackmon and Sister Simone Campbell to redefine public morality and support state coalitions to address poverty, injustice and inequality. Rev. Dr. Barber headed the state NAACP from 2006 to 2017 and serves on the NAACP National Board of Directors. With Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Theoharis, he co-chairs the Poor People's Campaign, A National Call For A Moral Revival, which focuses on systemic racism, poverty and inequality, ecological devastation, the war economy and militarism, and national morality. Rev. Dr. Barber is visiting professor of public theology and activism at Union Theological Seminary and the author of Forward Together: A Moral Vision for the Nation and The Third Reconstruction. He is a member of the College of Affirming Bishops and lives in Goldsboro, NC, where he has pastored Greenleaf Christian Church for 25 years.
The Reverend Dr. Liz Theoharis is an ordained minister with the Presbyterian Church, the director of the Kairos Center for Rights, Religions, and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary and the co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. She has spent the past two decades organizing amongst the poor and dispossessed in the United States. She has led hundreds of trainings and bible studies and recently published Always with Us?: What Jesus Really Said about the Poor.
In 2018, alongside the Reverend Dr. William J. Barber, Theoharis helped to launch the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. Over the coming years, the campaign will organize poor people across race, religion, geography, political party and other so-called lines of division to fuel a moral revolution of values in the country.
Kotchakorn Voraakhom is the founder and CEO of Porous City Network, a landscape architecture social enterprise working to increase urban resilience in her hometown, Bangkok, Thailand. Her passion is solving urban ecological problems through landscape architectural design. Voraakhom previously founded and was the lead designer for the award-winning landscape architecture and urban design firm Landprocess, focused on improving Thailand's productive public space. She has worked on notable projects including a major urban ecological park at the heart of Bangkok and a number of innovative public landscape designs.
Voraakhom is also a highly active campaigner for public green space and is a design consultant for the Redevelopment Bangkok in celebrating its 250th anniversary. During graduate school, she co-founded the Koungkuey Design Initiative, an international partnership that works with communities in difficult landscapes to design and rebuild public space through a participatory process. She is a TED Fellow, Echoing Green Climate Fellow, Atlantic Fellow and Asia Foundation Development Fellow. She received her master's in landscape architecture from Harvard University's Graduate School of Design.
At Google, Kate Brandt coordinates with data centers, real estate, supply chain and product teams to ensure the company is capitalizing on opportunities to advance sustainability and the circular economy.
Previously, Brandt served as the nation's first Federal Chief Sustainability Officer. In this capacity, she was responsible for promoting sustainability across federal government operations including 360,000 buildings, 650,000 vehicles and $445 billion annually in purchased goods and services. Prior to the White House, she held several senior roles in the US government including senior advisor at the Department of Energy, director for energy and environment in the White House Office of Presidential Personnel and energy advisor to the Secretary of the Navy.
Dr. Danielle Moss Lee is a member of the leadership team of the New York Civil Liberties Union. Previously, Moss Lee was President and Chief Executive Officer of the YWCA of the City of New York for five years, where she leveraged more than two decades of experience in education and human services to put the YWCA back at the forefront of the conversation on women and girls in New York City. She began her career as a middle school teacher in the Bronx and Brooklyn, building a distinguished career as an academic and a leader in the education and the social sector.
Moss Lee has been featured in the New York Times "Corner Office" and in Crain's New York for her leadership in the movement toward intersectional gender equity. Her writing has been featured by The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, Edutopia, The Amsterdam News, City Limits Magazine, Ms. Magazine online and the Feminist Wire. She's appeared on WABC-TV's Here and Now and New York Viewpoint, on WNBC's Positively Black, Fox 5's Street Talk, Bronx Net's Perspectives and NY1's Inside City Hall. The New York Daily News's Stanley Crouch once dubbed her one of the most important players in public education for her ability to respectfully meet young people where they are and to give them the tools and agency to transform their own lives.
In her 30-year career, Carla Harris has had extensive industry experiences in the technology, media, retail, telecommunications, transportation, industrial and healthcare sectors. In August 2013, she was appointed by President Barack Obama to chair the National Women's Business Council. Harris was named to Fortune Magazine's list of "The 50 Most Powerful Black Executives in Corporate America," US Banker's "Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Finance" (2009, 2010, 2011), Black Enterprise's "Top 75 Most Powerful Women in Business" (2017) and "Top 75 African Americans on Wall Street," Essence Magazine's list of "The 50 Women Who Are Shaping the World" and Ebony's list of the "Power 100" and "15 Corporate Women at the Top." She is the past chair of the board of the Morgan Stanley Foundation and of The Executive Leadership Council, and she is a member of the board of overseers of Harvard University and the board of directors of the Walmart Corporation. She's the author of the books Strategize to Win and Expect to Win.
In her other life, Harris is a singer and has released three gospel CDs, including Unceasing Praise, Joy Is Waiting, and Carla's First Christmas, which was featured on the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather. She has performed five sold-out concerts at Carnegie Hall.
Singer and songwriter Ane Brun possesses one of Scandinavia's most distinctive voices, which she's employed on a dozen albums since her debut, 2003’s Spending Time with Morgan. Since then, she's been awarded three Norwegian Grammy prizes, with her albums topping the charts and going platinum in Scandinavia while picking up widespread acclaim internationally. She's toured the world repeatedly and is also famed for her interpretations -- her latest album, Leave Me Breathless, is entirely comprised of covers. In 2010, she joined Peter Gabriel on his "New Blood" tour, taking Kate Bush's role for "Don't Give Up," and she also featured on Dr. Kucho! & Gregor Salto’s "Can't Stop Playing (Makes Me High)," which topped the UK charts in 2015. In addition, she runs her own label, Balloon Ranger Recordings.
Helen Marriage writes: "I am a producer of large-scale disruptive moments that place an artist's ideas in the heart of a city. I started life unsure of how to find a job and began helping a street theater company perform at the Edinburgh Festival. Only then did I realize that this could be a career. That was forty years ago. Since then, I've gone on to shut down central London and other cities with ephemeral events that transform people’s understanding of what a city is for and who controls it.
"I don't believe that cities are exclusively about shopping and traffic. Over the years I've developed a real sense of how artists can change the world, if only we make space for their vision. I guess that's my job -- to create a context in which the normal routines of daily life are disrupted for a moment to allow the public, especially those who know they’re not interested in anything the arts might have to say, to discover a new world we’d all like to live in."
Nora McInerny speaks from experience and empathy, having lost her second baby, her father and her husband over the course of six weeks at age 31. She is the best-selling author of the memoir It’s Okay To Laugh, Crying Is Cool Too, the host of the award-winning podcast "Terrible, Thanks for Asking" and the founder of the nonprofit Still Kickin. She contributes words to Elle, Cosmopolitan, Buzzfeed, Time, Slate and Vox, where she's often tapped for her essays highlighting the emotional landscape and humor in complex topics, like the financial impacts of healthcare and grief in a digital age.
McInerny is a master storyteller known for her dedication to bringing heart and levity to the difficult and uncomfortable conversations most of us try to avoid, and also for being very tall. She was voted "Most Humorous" by the Annunciation Catholic School Class of 1998.
An African American educator and a Black Panamanian engineering research technician raised Dr. Ariana Curtis, the youngest of their four kids, in an Afro-Latinx affirming household. Government forms and ill-informed publics have wanted her to be either African American or Latina, but Curtis has always advocated for full and accurate representation of self above all.
The yearning to see lives represented whole led Curtis to travel and study the complex overlap of Blackness, identity, gender, diaspora and belonging. After earning a doctorate in anthropology, Curtis, a Fulbright scholar, joined the curatorial staff of the Smithsonian Institution. She currently serves as the first curator for Latinx Studies at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. In this role, she researches, collects, exhibits and promotes Latinx- and Black-centered narratives, which serve to more accurately represent the history and culture of the Americas and the diaspora. She's the author of the paper "Afro-Latinidad in the Smithsonian’s African American Museum Spaces." She's is passionate about Afro-Latinidad, her sisterhood, social justice, radical love, the Duke Blue Devils and hoop earrings.
A social activist and writer, Farida Nabourema has been a fearless advocate for democracy and human rights in Togo since she was a teenager. Through more than 300 articles on her blog and other sites, she denounces corruption and dictatorship and promotes a form of progressive pan-Africanism. In 2014, she published La Pression de l'Oppression (The Pressure of Oppression), in which she discussed the different forms of oppression that people face throughout Africa and highlighted the need for oppressed people to fight back.
Nabourema is also the engagement and collaboration coordinator of Africans Rising, a pan-African movement that fights for justice, peace and dignity through grassroots organizing, civic education and advocacy. Prior to taking that position, Nabourema founded the Faure Must Go movement in 2011, where she supported Togolese youths to stand against the dictatorial regime of Faure Gnassingbé. Faure Must Go has become the slogan for the civil resistance movement in Togo of which Farida is one of the most well-known leaders.
As an educator, researcher and innovator, Dr. Ayana Howard focuses on designing intelligent robots to enhance our daily lives. She is professor and chair of the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech. Her published works, currently numbering more than 200 peer-reviewed publications, have been widely disseminated in international journals and conference proceedings. She continues to produce novel research and ideas focused on applications that span from assistive robots in the home to AI-powered STEM apps for children with diverse learning needs.
Howard began her career working as a roboticist at NASA in the early '90s and then transitioned into academia in the early 2000s. In 2013, she also founded Zyrobotics, which is focused on developing STEM educational products to engage children of all abilities. Her accomplishments have received numerous recognitions, including highlights in USA Today, Upscale and TIME Magazine. She was named a top young innovator by MIT Technology Review and was recognized as one of the 23 most powerful women engineers in the world by Business Insider.
Galit Ariel is a transdisciplinary creative and strategic thinker. She defines herself as a "digital hippie" since she's passionate about a future that will integrate technology into our everyday lives but not control it. Her book Augmenting Alice: The Future of Identity, Experience and Reality explores the manner in which augmented reality's application will shift cultural and functional paradigms and redefine core concepts related to culture, space, experience and ethics.
Dr. Kakenya Ntaiya is the founder and president of Kakenya's Dream, an international nonprofit educating girls, ending harmful traditional practices and uplifting communities in rural Kenya. Ntaiya was engaged at age five and raised with the expectation that she would undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) and marry as a teenager. She had a different dream. She negotiated with her father to return to school after surviving FGM. When she was accepted to college in the United States, she promised to use her education to help the village in exchange for their support. She went on to earn her PhD in education at the University of Pittsburgh.
In 2009, the Kakenya Center for Excellence boarding school opened with 30 students. Today, Kakenya's Dream empowers thousands of girls, boys and community members each year. Ntaiya is a CNN Hero and National Geographic Emerging Explorer. She received the Feminist Majority Global Women's Rights Award and the Vital Voices Global Leadership Award. Ntaiya was also named one of Newsweek's "150 Women Who Shake the World."
Majd Mashhawari is the 25-year-old CEO of GreenCake, a Gaza Strip-based startup that designs and manufacturers bricks made from recycled local materials. When Mashhawari graduated from Gaza's Islamic University with an engineering degree in 2015, her family expected that she would follow the usual path for young women in Gaza and get married without ever having a career. Instead, she decided to work on solving a persistent local challenge: buildings destroyed by war couldn't easily be rebuilt because many construction materials couldn't make it over the border.
Mashhawari invented a new process for making a strong, low-cost brick from ashes that would otherwise be wasted. She also created a model for a new women-led business, putting other women in leadership positions. The resulting startup is now financially self-sustaining, and Mashhawari is seeking investment to expand. She continues to develop new products, including an off-grid solar kit called SunBox.
As Katharine Hayhoe writes: "I'm a climate scientist: I crunch the data, I analyze the models, and I help people like engineers and city managers and water planners prepare for the ways climate change affects all of us. I'm a professor and chair in political science at Texas Tech University, where I direct the Climate Science Center. I'm also a lead author for the US National Climate Assessment; I host the PBS Digital Series Global Weirding; and I spend a lot of time talking to people about climate science, impacts, solutions and how they connect to our values. I've been named one of TIME's "100 Most Influential People," Fortune's "50 Greatest Leaders" and Foreign Policy's "100 Leading Global Thinkers."
"These are all tremendous honors, for which I'm enormously grateful. What means the most, though, is when just one person tells me sincerely that they had never cared about climate change before, or even thought it was real: but now, because of something they heard me say, they've changed their mind. That's what makes it all worthwhile."
As the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund for 12 years, Cecile Richards worked to increase affordable access to reproductive health care and to build a healthier and safer world for women and young people. In 2018, she stepped down from leadership and published the book Make Trouble.
After starting her career as a labor organizer working with women earning the minimum wage, Richards went on to start her own grassroots organizations and later served as deputy chief of staff to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. In 2011 and 2012, she was named one of TIME Magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World." Richards is a frequent speaker and commentator on politics and progressive issues.