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Women - Keynote Speakers

Judy Smith

Judy A. Smith is the founder and President of Smith & Co, a leading strategic and crisis communications firm with offices in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles. Most recently known for being the inspiration for ABC’s hit show SCANDAL. Over the last 25 years, Ms. Smith has brought her unique combination of communication skills, media savvy, legal and political acumen to clients facing a wide array of issues and challenges throughout the United States and abroad. Ms. Smith honed her skills through her experiences with some of the most historic and sensational events of our time, including the Iran Contra investigation, the prosecution of former Washington D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, the 1991 Gulf War, the Los Angeles riots, the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Justice Clarence Thomas, the President Clinton scandal involving Monica Lewinsky, the congressional inquiry of Enron, and the United Nations Foundation and World Health Organization response to the SARS epidemic. Perhaps best known in media circles for her expertise as a crisis management advisor, Ms. Smith has served as a consultant for a host of high profile, celebrity and entertainment clients over the course of her career including, but not limited to, Monica Lewinsky, Senator Craig from Idaho, actor Wesley Snipes, NFL quarterback Michael Vick, and the family of Chandra Levy.

Natalie Stavas

On April 15, 2013, Dr. Natalie Stavas approached the finish line of her fifth Boston marathon. Just blocks away, she heard explosions and ran towards them. Arriving at the scene she went to work administering CPR, applying tourniquets and triaging the wounded. Dr. Natalie Stavas is a physician at Boston Children’s Hospital and she specializes in work with teenage mothers, improving the health of vulnerable children and decreasing youth violence. After the bombings, Dr. Stavas increased her efforts in preventing childhood violence and is described as a healer, educator and Boston community leader. She received the 2012 Change Maker award from The Boston Foundation and in early 2014, she helped partner Prescription for the Outdoors with Boston Medical Center's pediatric team. This advocacy goes beyond borders- traveling to Haiti throughout the year Dr. Stavas provides medical care to children and helps strengthen the fragile medical infrastructure.

Jade Simmons

How do you get to be named Classical Music's "No.1 Maverick?” Just ask Jade Simmons. By repeatedly defying expectations, delivering riveting performances and innovating at every turn, Simmons is one of the most versatile concert artists on the scene today. Simmons, however, doesn’t simply play the piano to impress audiences. She uses the piano as an instrument for providing inspiration, information and entertainment in order to profoundly move people. Listed as one of Ebony magazine's Top 30 Leaders under 30, Simmons’ impressive musical background and diverse cultural experiences have made her a pioneer and source of inspiration for her legions of fans. In her truly unique keynotes, Jade Simmons offers her inspiring messages alongside her world renowned piano performances. Her expertise has been called upon by an array of organizations looking to create a culture of excellence and foster meaningful change. A gifted speaker, her presentations give powerful insights into how creating a unique leadership brand can inspire the creation of ideas that will have a lasting impact on the world. With boundless energy and intellect, Jade Simmons teaches audiences not only how to lead, but how to start achieving beyond what they ever thought possible.

Shawna Suckow

Shawna Suckow, CMP, is an award-winning speaker, author and The Customer Expert©. She has been a million-dollar buyer or influencer in the hospitality industry for more than 20 years. She is the founder and Chairwoman of SPiN, and the founder of The Hive Network. Shawna's mission is to make the buying process easier by bridging the communication gap between customers and salespeople. Honors include being named to the Top 25 Women in the Meetings Industry by M&C Magazine, a 2014 Industry Trendsetter by Meetings Focus magazine, and Top 25 Most Influential in the Meetings Industry in 2012, 2013 and 2014 by Successful Meetings magazine. Shawna is the author of two books, Planner Pet Peeves and Supplier Pet Peeves. She brings a unique understanding to how customers think, and how they've evolved following recessions, technology advancements, and culture shifts.

Donna Orender

Donna Orender, CEO of Orender Unlimited is a recognized business leader, trailblazer, game changer and executive. Throughout her career, she has navigated unchartered waters, forged new and innovative paths and solutions to create growth and innovation, while building teams and belief systems around success. Donna utilizes her expansive experience in guiding both established and new companies to create positive and inclusive cultures and leverage successful growth and brand strategies across a myriad of industries. Donna served 6 years as the President of the WNBA and spent 17 years working on the PGA Tour, leading the negotiating team that changed how the PGA golf tour was packaged and sold for television. She was responsible for developing strategic direction across all business lines including direct oversight of brand management, advertising, and digital strategy. Through storytelling and experiences gained from years as an innovative executive in the highly visible and charged world of sports, Donna taps into the desire in all of us to make a difference in our worlds.

Joy Hoover

Joy Hoover is Founder and President of The Cupcake Girls, a Las Vegas-based national nonprofit organization that provides nonjudgmental and confidential support to those in all realms of the adult entertainment industry, including sex workers and those affected by sex trafficking through respect, resources and relationships. With over eight years of nonprofit leadership experience, and demonstrated expertise in developing innovative solutions to drive and navigate change, Joy has been featured in TEDxWomen, The LA Times, Huffington Post, Fox News, and The Leadership Journal.
Combining her early career in fashion and hair with her passion for helping people, Joy believes it’s imperative to wake up every morning and show up with bravery, tenacity, and humility. Her fight to assist marginalized communities has drastically changed not only the lives of the thousands of clients she has empowered in their own pursuits, but her life, too, and those of the audiences who have listened to her story. Joy is on a mission to inspire others to journey through their own stories with authenticity and hope, overcome fear, fulfill their passions, achieve their goals, and uncover their purpose.

Kara Sundlun

Kara Sundlun is a two-time Emmy Award winning news anchor and co-host of the popular daytime talk show, Better Connecticut. Kara has covered some of the biggest stories of our time from the War in Iraq, to reporting live from the terror attacks on 9/11, to breaking the horrific news of the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Kara is also the author of her inspirational memoir, Finding Dad: From Love Child to Daughter. She shares her experience meeting her biological father, the Governor of Rhode Island, for the first time when she was a teenager. Kara is an engaging speaker that leaves audiences pumped full of practical wisdom they can use immediately to start unlocking their inner power and clearing a path to creating a happy ending from the inside out.

Kathy McAfee

Kathy McAfee is a motivational speaker, business woman and global difference maker, and is known as “America’s Marketing Motivator.” Her personal mission is to inspire business leaders to use more of their talent, energy, and influence to create positive changes in the world. As an executive presentation coach, she helps her clients to become recognized leaders in their professional fields by mastering the arts of high engagement presentations, effective networking, and personal branding. She’s a graduate of Stanford University and author of Networking Ahead for Business, and Stop Global Boring. Her award-winning blog, Elevate: Take Your Talent to the Next Level motivates today’s workers to realize their full potential.

Alison Maloni

Alison Maloni is the President and CEO of Alison May Public Relations. She is a former news reporter who uses her expertise in journalism to educate her clients in media training and crisis communications. Alison has moderated political debates and interviewed internationally known public figures such as Steve Wozniak and Marcia Clark. In addition, she has been seen on Dr. Oz and been quoted in multiple news outlets. She has garnered coverage for her clients in media outlets such as NBC News, MSNBC, Huffington Post, Aol.com and the Washington Post. Alison is a contributing writer for Women’s Prospects Magazine and Thread M.B. She encourages her clients to think outside the box, be bold, and do what everyone else is not doing.

Michelle Gielan

Michelle Gielan, Founder of the Institute for Applied Positive Research, researches the science of positive communication to drive success and fuel happiness. She is the bestselling author of Broadcasting Happiness: The Science of Igniting and Sustaining Positive Change. She is an executive producer of “The Happiness Advantage” Special on PBS and a featured professor in Oprah’s Happiness course. She has also been featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, Forbes, CNN, Fox, and Harvard Business Review. Michelle teaches her audiences the power of being happy and how it has the potential to impact every aspect of their lives. Her message resonates and transforms audiences to adopt the challenge of radiating happiness.

Shannon Miller

Shannon Miller remains the most decorated gymnast in American history. She is the only American to rank among the Top 10 All-Time gymnasts and is the only female athlete to be inducted into the US Olympic Hall of Fame – Twice — Individual (2006) and Team (2008)! She is the first American gymnast to win an individual gold medal at a fully-attended Summer Games and cemented her place as the most accomplished gymnast, male or female, in U.S. Olympic history. Shannon is the author of her newly released book, It’s Not About Perfect: Competing for My Country and Fighting for My Life. Shannon discusses with her audiences how the gold medal mindset leads to victory on the competition floor, in the boardroom, and in our personal lives. She utilizes her critical insight to share what it takes to be a winner: the importance of goal setting, leadership, maintaining a positive attitude, and teamwork.

Dara Torres

Dara Torres is arguably the fastest female swimmer in America. She entered her first international swimming competition at age 14 and competed in her first Olympic Games a few years later in 1984. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Dara became the oldest swimmer to compete in the Olympic Games. She took three silver medals home, including the heartbreaking 50- meter freestyle race where she missed the Gold by 1/100th of a second. America loved her for her astonishing achievements and composure in the face of defeat. Dara has competed in five Olympic Games and has won 12 Olympic medals. Her impressive performance in Beijing and her attempt at the 2012 London Olympic Games has inspired many older athletes to consider re-entering competition. Olympian, author, and role model, Dara is many things to many people, but above all, she is an inspiration.

Michell Smith

Passionate, bold and inspiring, Michell draws on her achievements as a young woman in business to address the themes of high performance, motivation, leadership, commitment, the power of goals, teamwork, and doing whatever it takes. Michell opened her own sales company at the age of 21. In the next 4 years she scaled that business to over 1000 sales reps, 29 locations and over 10 million dollars in annual commissions. It was the biggest and most successful direct sales team ever built in Canadian history. She is the bestselling author of the Six Questions and creator of the popular program, Confidence Kickstart™. A highly entertaining, dynamic and captivating speaker, Michell uses her first hand experiences to deeply connect with her audience and leaves them feeling unstoppable, educated & inspired.

Joyce Saltman

Joyce is an expert in the physiological benefits of laughter, studies on the mind-body connection, and practical (plus some not-so-practical!) suggestions on ways to bring more laughter into your life. She combines scientific data with comedy, in an effort to provide a mirth--provoking educational experience. Joyce is a professor Emeritus of Special Education at Southern Connecticut State University. Her innovative teaching style has led to the development of a graduate course entitled, “The Enhancement of Learning Through Humor.” Intermittently referred to as the “Guru of Laughter,” and “The Chubby Broad from Brooklyn, Joyce helps people lighten up wherever she goes!

Cynthia Weber-Cleary

Cynthia Weber-Cleary has the distinctive ability to identify trends and spot business opportunities and has broad experience accelerating transformation efforts on behalf of the world’s most iconic fashion magazines. Cindy has been a fashion director and editor at iconic magazines including Vogue, Cosmo, Glamour, and New York Woman magazine. She has also appeared on The Today Show, Good Morning America, Oprah and The View. As fashion director for InStyle Magazine, Cindy accelerated the transformation of the magazine from a celebrity/home based magazine to a leader in the fashion category, creating a fresh, original approach and personalized the voice of the magazine’s fashion coverage. Cynthia teaches audiences how to better express themselves through clothes and how to make the most of physical assets.

Angie Morgan

Shortly after launching her professional career, Angie Morgan saw a need in the workplace: professionals consistently showed the capacity to be leaders, but no one was actively helping them get there. Angie is the co-founder of Lead Star, helping professionals understand how they can achieve greater success by implementing leadership practices into their work routines. Angie is also the co-author of two books, Leading from the Front, and Spark: How to Lead Yourself and Others to Greater Success. Angie is passionate about taking a heady concept—like leadership—and breaking it down to achievable actions that anyone, at any level of an organization can demonstrate. She has seen the advantage that businesses can gain when everyone—from the CEO to the frontline employee—is a leader.

Amy Van Dyken

Amy Van Dyken-Rouen is a 6-time Olympic champion. She won 4 medals in 1996 in Atlanta and two more in Sydney, Australia in 2000. Amy has the distinction of being one of the few Olympians whose medals are all gold. In 2007 she was the only American swimmer to be inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame's Class of 2007. She was also inducted into the Olympic Hall of Fame in July 2008. In June of 2014, she was injured in an ATV accident and severed her spinal cord leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. She teaches audiences the importance of not giving other people the power to tell you what you can’t do. Be thankful for what you have and keep trying to improve.

Melissa Stockwell

If you ask Melissa Stockwell to describe herself one of the first things you’ll hear is, “I am a Patriot, a lover of the red, the white and the blue.” Melissa proudly wore the uniform of the United States Army, where she very nearly gave her life for her country. Today, she proudly wears the uniform of Team USA as a World Champion athlete and Paralympic medalist. Melissa shares her inspiring story, from the battlefields of Bagdad to the podium on the beach of Rio de Janeiro, in an emotionally powerful presentation that leaves audiences forever changed to see ability not disability, to maximize what you do have and forget about what you don’t and to apply, as she details, “…the amazing power of choice.” Melissa fully believes that anyone can do anything that they put their mind to and hopes her audience walks away with a greater appreciation of life and an ‘I can do anything’ attitude.

Nataly Kogan

A successful entrepreneur and venture capitalist, Nataly Kogan found that after reaching the highest levels of corporate America, she still wasn’t happy. Chasing achievement left her proud but unfulfilled, so she became inspired to figure out how to live a fuller, happier life. In the process, she found the answers each person and organization needs to unlock their maximum potential, making them more productive and innovative. Nataly has received standing ovations from such groups as Million Dollar Roundtable, Fortune's Tech Brainstorm, Blogher, SXSW, the 92nd St. Y, Harvard Women's Leadership Conference, Gillette, TEDx Boston, and many more. Nataly has also been featured in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, New York Magazine and Time Magazine, and has appeared as an expert on Dr. Oz, Bloomberg TV, and "One World" with Deepak Chopra. She is now CEO and Founder of Happier, an organization inspired by scientific research that shows how gratitude, mindfulness, and staying connected to people you care about create the foundation for a happier and healthier life.

Stacey Hanke

Stacey helps individuals eliminate the static that plagues communicative delivery — to persuade, sell, influence and communicate face-to-face with a clear message. She has trained over 15,000 people to rid themselves of bad body language habits and choose words wisely. Stacey will excite the crowd with her ideas and deliver practical and immediate results. Stacey involves the audience in interactive exercises, inviting eager audience members onstage to demonstrate influence skills and techniques they can immediately use, both personally and professionally. To truly excel as a communicator, you must learn to see yourself as others see you. From understanding your corporate culture to speaking your language, Stacey’s goal is to create not just a relationship but a long-term commitment. Be aware: Her energy, drive, and passion for communication are contagious. She will lead you through an experience that allows you to captivate, engage and connect with your listeners to get them to take action.

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