In 2015, working with her fellow Bosnian, Ilda Ismaili, Anela Arifi won the chance to compete in student science’s signature event, the Google Science Fair, with an ingenious device that creates biodiesel from poultry waste. Their final design drew inspiration from a variety of sources, including the structure of Arifi’s flute.
One of the biggest obstacles? Stockpiling chicken feathers in each of their houses for experiments for months (chicken feathers don’t smell good, Arifi notes).
On February 10, 2015, San Francisco doctor Suzanne Barakat received shattering news -- that her brother, Deah Barakat, his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and her sister Razan, had been shot and killed in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In spite of the noncommittal reaction of the police, Barakat recognized the shooting for what it really was -- a hate crime.
Since then, Barakat's mission has been to counter Islamophobia with her message of inclusivity, while sounding the alarm that unless we can stem the tide of hate, anyone who society marginalizes as “other” faces an increased risk of violence.
Mia Birdsong has spent more than 20 years fighting for the self-determination and pointing out the brilliant adaptations of everyday people. In her current role as co-director of Family Story, she is updating this nation's outdated picture of the family in America (hint: rarely 2.5 kids and two heterosexual parents living behind a white picket fence). Prior to launching Family Story, Birdsong was the vice president of the Family Independence Initiative, an organization that leverages the power of data and stories to illuminate and accelerate the initiative low-income families take to improve their lives.
Birdsong, whose 2015 TED talk "The story we tell about poverty isn't true" has been viewed more than 1.5 million times, has been published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Slate, Salon and On Being. She speaks on economic inequality, race, gender and building community at universities and conferences across the country. She co-founded Canerow, a resource for people dedicated to raising children of color in a world that reflects the spectrum of who they are.
Birdsong is also modern Renaissance woman. She has spent time organizing to abolish prisons, teaching teenagers about sex and drugs, interviewing literary luminaries like Edwidge Danticat, David Foster Wallace and John Irving, and attending births as a midwifery apprentice. She is a graduate of Oberlin College, an inaugural Ascend Fellow of The Aspen Institute and a New America California Fellow. She sits on the Board of Directors of Forward Together.
Time4Good is a social-benefit business aimed at solving one of the biggest market failures of our generation: the market for quality time. Founder Peter Boyd is also Executive Fellow at Yale’s Center for Business and the Environment, helping other organizations with a combination of strategy, marketing and an eye for climate change solutions and entrepreneurial opportunity.
Boyd recently worked with The B Team on their "Net-Zero by 2050" initiative in the lead-up to COP21 and was previously Launch Director & COO of Sir Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room. His time with business-focused NGOs followed 10 jobs in more than 10 years with the Virgin Group, including two years as CEO of Virgin Mobile South Africa.
Based in Los Angeles, Rabbi Sharon Brous is the senior and founding rabbi of IKAR, a community built in 2004 that has become a model for Jewish revitalization in the US and beyond. IKAR’s goal is to reinvigorate Jewish religious and spiritual practice, inspiring people of faith to reclaim a moral and prophetic voice in counter-testimony to the small-minded extremism now prevalent in so many religious communities. IKAR quickly became one of the fastest growing and most influential Jewish congregations in the country, and it's widely credited with sparking a rethinking of religious life in a time of unprecedented disaffection and declining affiliation.
In 2008, Brous was the youngest person on the Newsweek/Daily Beast list of the most influential Rabbis in America, and in 2013 she was named the list’s most influential rabbi. In 2013, Brous blessed President Obama and Vice President Biden at the Inaugural National Prayer Service.
Brittney Cooper spends her days in conversation with college students about everything from feminism to hip hop. During her other waking hours, she uses digital platforms and blogging as a virtual classroom to incite her national readership to have more robust and honest conversations about racism, popular culture and how to take down the patriarchy. She is an Assistant Professor of Women's and Gender Studies and Africana Studies at Rutgers University.
Cooper's work and words have appeared on MSNBC, BET, NPR, PBS, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, TV Guide, New York Magazine, Salon.com, The Root.com and Al Jazeera America, among many others. She is a regular contributor at Cosmpolitan.com and co-founder of the Crunk Feminist Collective and blog. Cooper is author of two forthcoming books, Beyond Respectability: The Intellectual Thought of Race Women (University of Illinois Press 2017) and Never Scared: One Black Feminist's Refusal to Bow Down, Back Up, or Give In (St. Martin’s Press 2017) and editor of one co-edited volume, The Crunk Feminist Collection (The Feminist Press 2017).
Kimberlé Crenshaw, professor of law at UCLA and Columbia Law School, is a leading authority in the area of cvil rights, Black feminist legal theory, and race, racism and the law. Her work has been foundational in two fields of study that have come to be known by terms that she coined: critical race theory and intersectionality.
Crenshaw’s articles have appeared in the Harvard Law Review, National Black Law Journal, Stanford Law Review and Southern California Law Review. She is the founding coordinator of the Critical Race Theory Workshop, and the co-editor of the volume, Critical Race Theory: Key Documents That Shaped the Movement. She has lectured widely on race matters, addressing audiences across the country as well as in Europe, India, Africa and South America. A specialist on race and gender equality, she has facilitated workshops for human rights activists in Brazil and in India, and for constitutional court judges in South Africa. Her groundbreaking work on intersectionality has traveled globally and was influential in the drafting of the equality clause in the South African Constitution.
Crenshaw authored the background paper on race and gender discrimination for the United Nation's World Conference on Racism, served as the rapporteur for the conference's expert group on gender and race discrimination, and coordinated NGO efforts to ensure the inclusion of gender in the WCAR Conference Declaration. She is a leading voice in calling for a gender-inclusive approach to racial justice interventions, having spearheaded the "Why We Can't Wait" campaign and co-authored Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotected, and Say Her Name: Resisting Police Brutality Against Black Women.
Crenshaw has worked extensively on a variety of issues pertaining to gender and race in the domestic arena including violence against women, structural racial inequality and affirmative action. She has served as a member of the National Science Foundation's committee to research violence against women and has consulted with leading foundations, social justice organizations and corporations to advance their race and gender equity initiatives.
In 1996, she co-founded the African American Policy Forum to house a variety of projects designed to deliver research-based strategies to better advance social inclusion. Among the Forum's projects are the Affirmative Action Research and Policy Consortium and the Multiracial Literacy and Leadership Initiative. In partnership with the Aspen Roundtable for Community Change, Crenshaw facilitated workshops on racial equity for hundreds of community leaders and organizations throughout the country. With the support of the Rockefeller Foundation, Crenshaw facilitates the Bellagio Project, an international network of scholars working in the field of social inclusion from five continents. She formerly served as Committee Chair for the U.S.-Brazil Joint Action Plan to Promote Racial and Ethnic Equality, an initiative of the U.S. State Department.
Crenshaw has received the Fulbright Distinguished Chair for Latin America, the Alphonse Fletcher Fellowship and was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University in 2009 and a Visiting Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy in 2010. Currently, Crenshaw is director of the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies at Columbia Law School, which she founded in 2011, as well as the Centennial Professor at the LSE Gender Institute 2015-2018. Crenshaw received her J.D. from Harvard, L.L.M. from University of Wisconsin and B.A. from Cornell University.
Patrisse Cullors is an artist, organizer and freedom fighter from Los Angeles, CA. While she is a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Network, and she is also a performance artist, Fulbright scholar, writer and mother. Cullors brings her full self to this work and wants to use her talents to both grow the Network and its diverse leadership. Cullors serves the Network primarily on the field team and utilizes her energy for leadership development, political strategy and relationship building with chapters based on commitment and shared reciprocity. She is focused on deepening the Network's political work, both long-term and rapid response, specifically around legislation and policy.
Along with her colleagues at NYU’s Davachi Memory Lab, brain researcher Lila Davachi is helping to reveal some of the brain’s most persistent secrets, from memory processing to how time perception allows us to construct our own versions of reality.
Davachi’s research seeks to discover the parts that various brain regions play in memory formation, analyze the structure of the hippocampus and investigate how the temporal lobe memory system plays a part not only in long-term memory formation but also in short-term memory storage and learning processes.
Taylor Dayne became an ’80s household name with the release of her first single, “Tell It to My Heart.” Since then, she’s sold 75 million singles and albums, including “Love Will Lead You Back” -- which topped Billboard’s dance and Hot 100 charts in 1990 -- and continues to tour into the 21st century.
In addition to her music, Dayne has appeared on Millionaire Matchmaker and This American Life, and she has acted on film and stage, including Elton John’s Broadway production of Aida. She is a vocal advocate of both LGBT rights and music education.
Abby Dobson is the 2016 artist-in-residence with the African American Policy Forum (AAPF). A sonic conceptualist artist, Dobson's sound is the alchemy of R&B/Soul, jazz, classic pop, gospel and folk, forging a gem that erases musical boundaries. Dobson has performed at venues such as S.O.B's, Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, Apollo Theater, Blue Note Jazz Club, Queens Museum and "The Tonight Show." Her debut album, Sleeping Beauty: You Are the One You Have Been Waiting On, was released in 2010 to glowing reviews. Featured on Talib Kweli’s album Gravitas on State of Grace, Dobson was also nominated for a 2014 BET Hip Hop Award for Best Impact Song.
Dobson received a Juris Doctorate degree from Georgetown University Law Center and a Bachelor's degree from Williams College in Political Science and History. Her interests have been deeply impacted by intersectionality discourse and critical race theory. An artist and independent scholar, Dobson's interests focus on the intersection of race and gender in the imagination, creation and consumption of music. A sampling of recent presentations include: International James Baldwin Conference at American University of Paris (2016), Association for the Study of African American History and Life Conference (2013-2015); Anna Julia Cooper Project at Tulane University (2013); and National Women's Studies Association (NWSA) Conference (2013).
Passionate about using music as a tool for empathy cultivation, Dobson creates music to inspire audiences to reflect on the world we live in and engage in action to promote transformative social change. She creates music to privilege black female voices and highlight the human condition. Inspired by AAPF’s social justice work, Dobson composed and performs "Say Her Name" in tribute to the black women lost to state and non-state violence.
Dobson also volunteers with the National Organization for Women, NYC Chapter's Activist Alliance serving as a member of its Intersectionality Committee. She is currently wrapping up recording for Sister Outsider, the follow-up to her debut album, slated for release in 2017.
Thordis Elva is a firm believer in the healing potential of dialogue when it comes to ending the silence that shrouds sexual violence. In 2015, she was voted Woman of the Year in her native Iceland due to her tireless campaigning for gender equality.
As an award-winning writer, journalist and public speaker, Elva has utilized many different platforms for her activism, including plays, films and books. Her passion for equality extends to the internet, and she has toured extensively giving lectures about online bullying, non-consensual pornography and digital human rights to audiences such as the United Nations and the Nordic Council of Ministers.
Read a Q&A with Elva about her TED Talk on the TED Blog.
Vocalist, songwriter, pianist, arranger and producer Sheléa blends traditional pop, jazz, R&B and soul to build a classic -- but not throwback -- sound in singles like “Seeing You” and “Love The Way You Love Me.” In 2011, her song "Love Fell On Me” became the musical theme of the Angela Bassett film Jumping the Broom.
In 2013, Sheléa gave a standing-ovation performance at the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame Awards as she honored the late Hal David, singing "Anyone Who Had a Heart" -- a performance first curated by Stevie Wonder to present at the White House. In 2015, Sheléa toured with Stevie Wonder in his Songs in the Key of Life Tour.
American architect and MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang is the founding principal of Studio Gang, an architecture and urban design practice based in Chicago and New York. Gang is recognized internationally for her socially engaged design process that foregrounds the relationships between individuals, communities, and environments. Drawing insight from ecological systems, her analytical and creative approach has produced some of today's most compelling architecture, including the Aqua Tower and Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, and the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Her current major projects include an expansion of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and the next United States Embassy in Brasília, Brazil.
Committed to working on global and local issues, Gang brings design to a wide range of projects beyond architecture's conventional boundaries. She collaborates and innovates with experts across fields on pursuits ranging from the development of stronger materials to fostering stronger communities. Through teaching, speaking, writing, advocacy and advising, she engages with others to make a positive impact at multiple scales.
Alicia Garza is an organizer, writer and freedom dreamer. She is the special projects director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, the nation's leading voice for dignity and fairness for the millions of domestic workers in the United States. She is also the co-creator of #BlackLivesMatter, an international movement and organizing project focused on combatting anti-black state-sanctioned violence.
Garza's work challenges us to celebrate the contributions of black queer women's work within popular narratives of black movements and reminds us that the black radical tradition is long, complex and international. Her activism connects emerging social movements, without diminishing the structural violence facing black people.
Garza has been the recipient of many awards for her organizing work, including the Root 100 2015 list of African-American achievers and influencers. She was also featured in the Politico50 guide to the thinkers, doers and visionaries transforming American politics in 2015. She lives and works in Oakland, California.
As a Juilliard drama graduate, serial entrepreneur Erika Gregory might seem like an unlikely candidate to disrupt the nuclear weapons industry. But given an establishment built on Cold War stereotypes and motivated by profits, outside innovation may be just what the world needs to shrink our still-growing atomic-weapons stockpile.
Now in her role as the Managing Director of N Square Collaborative, the brainchild of five of the world's largest peace and security funders, Gregory is exploring cross-disciplinary, collaborative approaches to nuclear weapons threat -- from engaging emerging technology innovators to recasting the way nuclear weapons are portrayed in games and other media.
Did you know mother's milk is older than dinosaurs? Or that the "biological recipe" of milk differs for sons and daughters? Or that milk doesn't just build babies but fuels them too? Mother's milk is the food, medicine and message that organize a baby's brain, body and behavior. What we take for granted in the grocery store dairy aisle has been shaped by hundreds of millions of years of natural selection. As scientists decode the mysteries of milk, we gain essential new tools for human health and well-being.
Scientist, writer and advocate, Katie Hinde, PhD, explores the dynamic interactions between mothers, milk, and infants. Author of dozens of essays and academic articles, Hinde situates her work at the intersection of the life sciences and social sciences to inform parents, clinicians and policy-makers about institutional and inter-personal support of mothers and babies. Hinde co-authored the book Building Babies and founded the science outreach blog, "Mammals Suck…Milk!"
Hinde earned a PhD in Anthropology at UCLA, completed post-doctoral training in neuroscience at the California National Primate Research Center, and then launched her faculty career in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. Now an Associate Professor, Hinde is the Director of the Comparative Lactation Lab in the Center for Evolution and Medicine and the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University.
Described as "The Milk Maven" in the inaugural Grist 50 list of "innovators, organizers and visionaries who will lead us toward a more sustainable future," Hinde's work was highlighted for tackling social justice in health and research. From considering how milk feeds microbes to researching how milk shapes infant behavior , her research has been featured in the New York Times, National Geographic, La Presse, Wall Street Journal, Quartz and more. Hinde has been recognized with Early Career Awards from the International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation and the American Society of Primatologists for making outstanding, original contributions to these fields as a young investigator.
Importantly, Hinde is dedicated to science outreach and building enthusiasm for animals, ecology and behavior. In 2013, Hinde created the annual March Mammal Madness, a month-long science outreach extravaganza that is used in hundreds of classrooms described by Deadspin Deputy Editor Barry Petchesky as "the only bracket you need."
Understanding milk can directly translate to more personalized clinical recommendations and health optimization for mothers and their infants as well as substantiate the importance of infrastructure and institutional support for breastfeeding. Further, identifying the composition and function of milk informs the formulation of more representative artificial breast milk for those mothers facing obstacles or contraindications to breastfeeding. Lastly, decoding mother's milk will allow for enhanced precision medicine for the most fragile infants and children in neonatal and pediatric intensive care units. Such integrative approaches to mother's milk take discoveries at the bench to applications at the bedside.
Chinaka Hodge is a writer and educator from Oakland. She received her BA from NYU’s Gallatin School and studied Writing for Film and Television at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts MFA program. Her work has been featured in Believer Magazine, Teen People Magazine, Newsweek, San Francisco Magazine, on PBS and NPR, and in two seasons of HBO’s Def Poetry. She was an Associate Producer on Simmons Lathan presents Brave New Voices for HBO.
She is a Cave Canem Graduate Fellow, was a playwright-in-residence at SF Playwrights Foundation and serves as a Visiting Editor at The California Sunday Magazine. She is an inaugural Senior Fellow at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
With her pioneering spirit and tenacious nature, Dr. Kathy Hull recognized an unmet need in the provision of services to children with incurable medical conditions. Working in a traditional medical environment at a prominent children's hospital, with its emphasis on curative treatment, Hull realized the necessity for a more supportive medical model, and setting, for children at the end of their lives. Her research of pediatric care modalities convinced her that a well-established prototype of pediatric palliative care existed throughout Europe and could be replicated here.
Acting as an architect for creative change, Hull navigated the labyrinth of permits and approvals, as well as managed the design and building of the George Mark Children's House (GMCH). The House opened in 2004 in San Leandro, California, where it's set on five beautifully landscaped acres. Since opening its doors, more than twelve hundred children and their families have been lovingly cared for by the staff of GMCH. Additionally, George Mark has served as the role model for sixteen other entities currently under development throughout the United States. Presently, Dr. Hull is the staff Psychologist and President of the Board of GMCH, as well as being an adjunct staff member at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland.
Among the honors Hull has received for her philanthropy and humanitarianism are Maria Shriver’s Minerva Award; Traditional Home Magazine Classic Woman Award Purpose Prize Fellow and Jefferson Award. She is also a Regent Emeritus of Santa Clara University. Hull and her husband Bill reside in the San Francisco Bay Area and are proud parents of eight offspring and have eight delightful grandchildren.
From her earliest questions (“Why is the sky blue?”) to her realization of the boundless frontiers of discovery, Ilda Ismaili, a music and STEM student, has had a passion for science. Along with Anela Arifi, she took part in a variety of competitions before attaining the pinnacle of student science: the 2015 Google Science Fair.
Ilda and Anela’s project analyzed the expanding energy needs of their home country, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and proposed a solution drawing on the abundant poultry waste in their region. The result is a two-stage reactor that synthesized high-quality biodiesel from chicken fat and feathers.
In 2015, Ashley Judd tweeted a casual, critical comment at the Arkansas Razorbacks -- and found herself plunged into the world of cyberbullying and violence. But rather than backing off, Judd pushed back, seeking legal action and lending her voice to growing demands for a safe internet free from abuse.
In addition to her acclaimed roles in films such as Ruby in Paradise and Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, Judd is the author of a memoir, All That Is Bitter and Sweet. As a humanitarian and advocate, she’s worked with organizations ranging from the United Nations Population Fund (for whom she serves as Goodwill Ambassador) to Population Services International.
Jude Kelly was appointed artistic director of Southbank Centre, Britain's largest cultural institution, in 2006.
She founded Solent People's Theatre and Battersea Arts Centre, and was the founding director of the West Yorkshire Playhouse. In 1997, she was awarded an OBE for her services to theatre, and in 2015 she was made a CBE in the New Year honours for services to the Arts. She has directed over 100 productions from the Royal Shakespeare Company to the Châtalet in Paris.
In 2002, Kelly founded Metal, a platform where artistic hunches can be pursued in community contexts, with bases in Liverpool, Southend-On-Sea and Peterborough. She led the cultural team for the successful London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic bid and then served on the Board of the cultural Olympiad. She is a regular broadcaster and commentator on a range of issues relating to society, art and education.
Kelly created the WOW – Women of the World Festival in 2011. In 2011 she created the WOW: Women of the World Festival, now heading into its 7th year at Southbank Centre as well as in other parts of the UK and in countries all over the world.
(Photo: Kalpesh Lathigra)
Founded in 1982, Alonzo King LINES Ballet imbues exquisite human form with hypnotic movements and music sourced from every corner of the globe. Their musical collaborators have included Pharoah Sanders, Jason Moran, Lisa Fischer and Hamza el Din.
Alonzo King’s choreography is an evolution of ballet from its classical roots into a complex algebra of emotions informed by King’s observations of physical and scientific principles. Alonzo King has been heralded as “one of the few true Ballet Masters of our time.” (William Forsythe).
Deepika Kurup is a scientist, speaker, social entrepreneur and student at Harvard University. She has been passionate about solving the global water crisis ever since she was in middle school. After witnessing children in India drinking dirty water, Kurup developed a water purification system that harnesses solar energy to remove contaminants from water.
Recognized as "America’s Top Young Scientist" in 2012, Kurup won the grand prize in the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. In 2014 she was honored with the "United States President's Environmental Youth Award" and represented the United States in Stockholm, Sweden at the international Stockholm Junior Water Prize. Most recently Kurup was named one of the Forbes' "30 Under 30: Energy" and was the National Geographic Explorer Award Winner in the 2015 Google Science Fair. She attended the 2016 (and 2013) White House Science Fair. Currently she is CEO and founder Catalyst for World Water, a social enterprise aimed at deploying the technology she developed in water-scarce areas.
Along with research, Kurup is passionate about STEM education, and she feels that STEM education has the power to revolutionize the world. In her free time, she enjoys giving talks and writing articles to encourage students all around the world to pursue science, technology, engineering and math, and to increase awareness of the global water crisis. She has been invited to speak at schools, international conferences and the United Nations.
Elizabeth Lesser is a bestselling author and the cofounder of Omega Institute, the renowned conference and retreat center located in Rhinebeck, New York. Lesser's first book, The Seeker's Guide, chronicles her years at Omega and distills lessons learned into a potent guide for growth and healing. Her New York Times bestselling book, Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow (Random House), has sold more than 300,000 copies and has been translated into 20 languages. Her book, Marrow: A Love Story (Harper Collins/September 2016), is a memoir about Elizabeth and her younger sister, Maggie, and the process they went through when Elizabeth was the donor for Maggie's bone marrow transplant. And her newest book is Cassandra Speaks: When Women Are the Storytellers, the Human Story Changes (Harper Collins/September 2020).
Lesser cofounded Omega Institute in 1977 -- a time when a variety of fresh ideas were sprouting in American culture. Since then, the institute has been at the forefront of holistic education, offering workshops and trainings in: integrative medicine, prevention, nutrition, and the mind/body connection; meditation and yoga; cross-cultural arts and creativity; ecumenical spirituality; and social change movements like women's empowerment and environmental sustainability. Lesser is also the cofounder of Omega's Women's Leadership Center, which grew out of the popular Women & Power conference series featuring women leaders, activists, authors and artists from around the world. Each year more than 30,000 people participate in Omega's programs on its campus in Rhinebeck, New York and at urban and travel sites, and more than a million people visit its website for online learning.
A student of the Sufi master, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, for many years, Lesser has also studied with spiritual teachers, healers, psychologists and philosophers from other traditions. In 2008 she helped Oprah Winfrey produce a ten-week online seminar based on Eckhart Tolle's book, A New Earth. The webinar was viewed by more than 8 million people worldwide. She was a frequent host on Oprah's "Soul Series," a weekly radio show on Sirius/XM, and a guest on Oprah's "Super Soul Sunday." In 2011, she gave a TED Talk, "Take 'the Other' to lunch ," in which she called for civility and understanding as we negotiate our differences as human beings.
Lesser attended Barnard College, where she studied literature, and San Francisco State University, where she received a teaching degree. In 2011 she received an honorary doctorate from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, in Palo Alto, California. Early in her career she was a midwife and birth educator. Today, besides writing and her work at Omega Institute, she lends her time to social and environmental causes and is an avid walker, cook and gardener. She lives with her family in New York's Hudson River Valley.
As a writer and researcher, C. Nicole Mason advocates for economic, racial and gender justice. Mason’s gripping 2016 memoir, Born Bright, details the complexities of climbing the ladder from poverty to success while being denied access to a world taken for granted by the privileged.
As the executive director of New York Women’s Foundation’s Center for Research and Policy in the Public Interest (CR2PI), she uses an intersectional framework and analysis to address a broad range of social issues. She founded the Lead the Way Initiative, a resource for women of color rising through middle and upper management.
Ian McCallum is a psychiatrist, analytical psychologist and writer. He is the author of two anthologies of wilderness poems, Wild Gifts (1999) and Untamed (2012), and a novel, Thorns to Kilimanjaro (2000). His 2008 book, Ecological Intelligence: Rediscovering Ourselves in Nature, addresses the interconnectedness of all living things and, ultimately, the survival of the human animal. In 2012, together with his friend and journalist, Ian Michler, he completed a 5-month, 5000 km journey through six southern African countries walking, kayaking and cycling. Following ancient elephant migration routes and clusters, the expedition highlighted the ecological importance of trans-frontier/corridor conservation.
Tiq Milan speaks and writes about intersectional leadership, transgender rights and racial justice. He shares stories of his life and how his transgender experience has informed his views on masculinity, race and the gender binary. A journalist for over a decade, his work has appeared on MIC, Buzzfeed, NBC and CNN. He is also a strategic media consultant, helping organizations and companies create detailed media campaigns that engage diverse audiences in ways that are inclusive and authentic.
Tiq has been most inspired by his years mentoring LGBT youth at the Bronx Community Pride Center and the Hetrick Martin Institute in the New York City. He was able to witness first hand the intersectional lived experiences of gay and trans youth and how it's affected by social systems put in place to help them. He most recently was the senior media strategist and national spokesperson for GLAAD, where he utlilized the media to call attention to the needs of the LGBT community, particularly transgender people of color.
Tiq is currently the co-Founder of Milan Media Arts Productions (MAPS) along with his wife, Kim Katrin Milan. MAPS is a content creation and consulting firm that is dedicated to creating narratives of queer people and their allies. View his published work, features and appearances here.
A daughter of the diaspora -- Afro-Caribbean, Venezuelan Arawak, Indian and Scottish, hailing from Trinidad and living between Toronto and New York -- Kim Katrin Milan is an acclaimed educator, writer and artist.
Kim is the co-founder and Executive Director of The People Project, an initiative to bring forth local and international community development for queer and trans folks of color and their allies through alternative education, art-activism and collaboration. She is also one of the owners of the Glad Day Book Shop, the oldest LGBT bookstore in the world.
As an educator, Kim travels around the world talking to people about justice, equity and human rights. She is dedicated to inclusivity and invested in arousing a sense of curiosity and empathy in her audience. She uniquely weaves together the historical context, statistical analysis, as well as current events.
A public researcher, consultant and human rights educator, Kim has shared hundreds of unique resources and presentations around intersectional issues including race, ability and gender. As a social entrepreneur, she speaks to the opportunities and challenges for women in business and leadership roles. With great openness, she welcomes difficult conversations hosting community dialogues and sharing practical strategies around sexuality and consent, queer and trans allyship. and anti-racism and equity.
Since 2012, Kim has spoken at universities including Princeton, Dartmouth, McGill and Mount Allison. She has opened for cultural scholar Cornel West at UC Davis, delivered the keynote address at HBCU's Morehouse and Spelman's first Pride, and she was a panelist at Amber Rose's first SlutWalk. She has hosted events for the United Nations, acted as the Grand Marshall for Hudson, NY Pride and hosted an session at Dreamforce 2016.
Kim has contributed to Cosmopolitan, MTV, NBC, Larry King Now, Buzzfeed and the CBC, both independently and alongside her husband Tiq Milan. She regularly contributes to TeleSUR English, the Central American news network.
Morley’s warm and soulful voice often gets her compared to Annie Lennox and Roberta Flack. And she uses that gorgeous voice as an instrument of change. Using music to facilitate dialogue, she works with teenagers from domestic and international conﬂict zones, as well as organizations such as Face to Face/Faith to Faith, the Door, the Lower East Side Girls Club, Code Pink, and the Fortune Society (a program that facilitates reentry into society from prison), to name a few. Her music has been used in an array of ﬁlms, including Burma and the Media: Amplifying Voices for Democracy.
Morley's next CD, Undivided, will be available in spring 2012; until then, check out her albums Seen, Days Like These, and sunmachine ... She has collaborated and toured with artists such as Angélique Kidjo, Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, Toshi Reagon, Dave Matthews, Raul Midón, Amadou et Mariam and Queen Latifah.
Read more about Aung San Suu Kyi, the inspiration for "Women of Hope."
Credits for Morley's performance of "Women of Hope":
Aung San Suu Kyi photo © Ebet Roberts
Afghanistan photos courtesy of Patrick Andrade
Burma photos courtesy of Ebet Roberts and Moshe Cohen
Kosovo photo courtesy of Moshe Cohen
Rwanda photos courtesy of Alexander Gibbons for VOR
Special thanks: V-Day, Paley Center for Media, John Fine, Nick Weinberg, Voice of Rwanda and Peter Cunningham
Sisonke Msimang tells stories about justice and human rights. In the early part of her career, Msimang set up a fund fight for people whose health had been compromised by their race, class and gender identities. In 2008 she became the executive director of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, responsible for making grants on human rights projects. Msimang is now the head of programs at the Centre for Stories, a new initiative that collects, preserves and shares stories about migrants, refugees and diverse people and places linked to the Indian Ocean Rim.
Msimang has been awarded a number of fellowships including from Yale University, the University of the Witwatersrand and the Aspen Institute. She also contributes regularly to the New York Times, Newsweek, the Guardian and a range of other outlets. You can watch her Moth talk on the power of listening here.
Based on mounting evidence and groundbreaking research, Jack Myers’ book, The Future of Men, proposes a bold new model: the male dominance of society is about to come to an end, and men must learn to adjust while unlearning millennia of destructive programming.
Myers is a media ecologist at marketing intelligence firm MyersBizNet. He is the founder of marketing information network Media Village and its affiliated organization, WomenAdvancing, an all-female advertising industry group. Myers is also the author of Hooked Up, a survey of changing generational attitudes towards sex and politics.
Alana Nichols is a world-class athlete with a passion for challenging herself and others. From a young age, her passion for sports and adventure has driven her and no matter what obstacle life throws her way, she takes a challenge head on. After suffering a spinal cord injury at age 17 while attempting a backflip on her snowboard, Nichols quickly transitioned to adaptive sports. She is the first American female to win gold medals at both Summer (Wheelchair Basketball) and Winter (Alpine Ski Racing) Olympic/Paralympic Games.
Nichols graduated from University of Arizona with Education degree and obtained a Master's Degree in Kinesiology from University of Alabama. She serves on the board at EspnW, The Women's Sports Foundation and The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.
Born in Kibera, the largest and roughest slum in Nairobi, Kenya, Kennedy Odede founded youth-empowerment group Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) with a soccer ball he purchased for 20 cents. In 2007, he met Jessica Posner, who partnered with him to start the pioneering and tuition-free Kibera School for Girls, which serves as SHOFCO’s launch pad for a variety of poverty-fighting initiatives.
Despite his lack of formal education, Odede began studying at Wesleyan University, from which he was graduated with honors in 2012. Odede and Posner, now married, collaborated on Call Me Unafraid, a memoir of both their love and their work in Kibera.
From her pioneering book Schoolgirls to her latest, Girls & Sex, author Peggy Orenstein interviewed young women across the country, mapping the terrain of adolescent female sexuality and gender expectations. Her interviews reveal an uncomfortable truth: although women may display self-confidence in public society, their knowledge of their own sexuality has plummeted, resulting in a “psychological clitoridectomy.”
In addition to her bestselling books, Orenstein writes for New York Times Magazine, comments for NPR and was recognized by the Columbia Journalism Review as among its “40 women who changed the media business in the past 40 years.”
Before launching her career as a writer, Caroline Paul embarked on a long list of unlikely adventures, ranging from flying experimental planes to whitewater rafting unexplored rivers in Borneo and Australia.
Paul was one of the first women to work for the San Francisco Fire Department -- a job that inspired her first work of nonfiction, Fighting Fire. Her latest book, The Gutsy Girl, uses stories from her own life as a gutsy woman to inspire girls to break the rules, take risks and accept seemingly insurmountable challenges.
Nancy Pelosi is the Democratic Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives for the 114th Congress. From 2007 to 2011, Pelosi served as Speaker of the House, the first woman to do so in American history. As the Democratic Leader, Pelosi is fighting for bigger paychecks and better infrastructure for America’s middle class families. In 2013, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Seneca Falls, the birthplace of the American women’s rights movement.
For 29 years, Leader Pelosi has represented San Francisco, California's 12th District, in Congress. She has led House Democrats for more than 12 years and previously served as House Democratic Whip.
Under the leadership of Pelosi, the 111th Congress was heralded as "one of the most productive Congresses in history" by Congressional scholar Norman Ornstein. President Barack Obama called Speaker Pelosi “an extraordinary leader for the American people," and the Christian Science Monitor wrote: “…make no mistake: Nancy Pelosi is the most powerful woman in American politics and the most powerful House Speaker since Sam Rayburn a half century ago.”
Believing that the power of sharing stories could transform the experience of extreme poverty, Colorado native Jessica Posner left her comfortable Denver home for the slum of Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya -- and found her life transformed.
In 2009, along with now-husband Kennedy Odede and his organization Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO), for which she now serves as COO, Posner helped found a school for girls in Kibera to battle gender inequality, sexual violence, disease and systemic poverty.
Posner and Odede’s love story is immortalized in their co-written romantic memoir, Find Me Unafraid: Love, Loss and Hope in an African Slum.
Miriam Zoila Pérez began her career as a doula, a layperson who provides support to people during pregnancy and childbirth. That work led her to explore the complex ways our identities shape our health, especially for people of color, LGBT folks and women. As a writer, Pérez has illuminated these topics, and much more, for outlets like Fusion, Talking Points Memo, The American Prospect, Feministing and Colorlines, where she is the gender columnist.
For ten years Pérez has run Radical Doula, a blog that explores the political aspects of doula work. She's the author of The Radical Doula Guide, a political primer that has influenced a generation of activist doulas.
A frequent speaker at colleges, universities and conferences around the US, Pérez brings her perspective as a queer Cuban-American to the issues she explores. A lover of music, Pérez is also the co-host for the popular Latinx music podcast Radio Menea with Verónica Bayetti Flores.
As an author coach, Linda Sivertsen is an expert in getting books written and, more important, getting them published. She’s written or co-written nine books, including her debut, Lives Charmed, which was inspired by a stint as a celebrity dog walker and explores the myriad ways celebrities manage their lives. Her "Beautiful Writers" podcast explores the creative habits of winning authors.
Sivertsen’s current venture is The Boyfriend Log, an app that color-codes partner behavior and personal satisfaction to provide an at-a-glance assessment of whether a relationship needs to change course -- or be shut down.
Dr. Stacy L. Smith is the Founder and Director of the Media, Diversity, and Social Change Initiative at the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at the University of Southern California, where she is also an Associate Professor. Her work examines gender, race, LGBT status, disability and age on screen and gender and race/ethnicity behind the camera in cinematic content as well as barriers and opportunities facing women and people of color in the entertainment industry. She also conducts economic analyses related to diversity and the financial performance of films. Smith is a world leader, with speaking engagements ranging from the TED Women stage to the United Nations. Her research sets the global standard for data on employment diversity in entertainment, and she is a trusted source to the entertainment industry. Her work is cited widely by both corporate and educational audiences.
Smith has written more than 100 journal articles, book chapters, and reports on content patterns and effects of the media. Her research has been written about in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, fivethirtyeight.com, The Atlantic, The Huffington Post, Newsweek, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Wired and USA Today, among others. She has a co-edited essay in Maria Shriver's book, A Woman's Nation Changes Everything (2009). Her most recent research reports include the Comprehensive Annenberg Report on Diversity (CARD), multiple landmark studies with Sundance Institute and Women in Film Los Angeles and a study of 800 top-grossing films conducted at USC Annenberg.
Social sciences and the outdoors have been both professional directions and personal themes for Tom Stranger. After studying social science and working in outdoor recreation, Tom Stranger's focus shifted towards working with young people with complex needs -- mental health challenges, substance addiction, homelessness and neurological impairment. His time working with young people has taught him the immense value of listening with intent.
Stranger has recently completed and thoroughly enjoyed a Master of Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney, and he has returned to work in the outdoors as a landscaper. During his studies, he was involved as a co-author in the writing of South of Forgiveness. He and the book's primary author, Thordis Elva, share the hope that in speaking up they will add their voices to the ever-growing public discourse around relations of gender and sexual violence.
Read a Q&A with Stranger about his TED Talk on the TED Blog.
Michele L. Sullivan has held various globally influential leadership positions at Caterpillar during her 29-year career. She currently is Caterpillar's Director of Corporate Social Innovation and President of the Caterpillar Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Caterpillar Inc.
Throughout Sullivan's career, she has dramatically grown the reach, influence and impact of each role. Her time with the Caterpillar Foundation is no different. She has taken the Caterpillar Foundation from a transactional Foundation into a global and strategic Foundation. She has moved the Foundation from Corporate Social Responsibility into Corporate Social Innovation. This strategy places the human need first, not as an afterthought of profit. Sullivan is well known for her global expertise and sustainable and collaborative approach to philanthropic investing.
Sullivan strongly believes monumental and sustainable change in our largest global challenges can only happen through partnerships and collaboration between public, private and non-profit entities. This strategy resulted in the Caterpillar Foundation's transformation into one of the most influential corporate foundations and, ultimately, the launch of the Foundation's collaborative impact platform, Together.Stronger.
Determination and resilience have been present throughout Sullivan;s life. She endured many years of orthopedic surgeries and other challenges. She provided leadership starting in the Little Prairie Chapter of Little People of America as a teenager. She was named by Inside Philanthropy as one of the 50 most powerful women in philanthropy and she served as a US delegate to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. She is a member of the ONE board of directors and chairs the Greater Peoria Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Advisory Board. She earned her MBA from Bradley University, and she is the first woman to be President of the Caterpillar Foundation.
Sandi Toksvig OBE is an award-winning writer, broadcaster and performer. She was born in Copenhagen, Denmark but grew up traveling the world with her family as they followed the work of her father, Claus Toksvig, Danish television's most famous foreign correspondent. Toksvig gave her own first television interview when she was six. After graduating with a first class degree from Cambridge University she began her acting career first at Nottingham Playhouse and then the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park.
Toksvig's first experience of live television was when she hosted and co-wrote the children's Saturday morning show "No 73," which she did for six years. Other TV followed including the improvisation show, "Whose Line is it Anyway?" and six years as team captain on "Call My Bluff." Toksvig is the new host of the BBC's entertainment show QI and is currently recording the eighth season hosting the game show "15-1" for Channel 4. She has also had recent acting cameos in "Call the Midwife" and "Up the Women." Toksvig is well known on BBC Radio 4 for her appearances on "I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue" as well as hosting "Excess Baggage" and the News Quiz.
Toksvig has also produced television. The current Playhouse Presents strand on Sky Arts was conceived by her and she produced and wrote much of the content for the first three years.
Toksvig has written over twenty books including fact and fiction for both children and adults. Her stage play, Bully Boy, was the opening production of London's newest theatre, the St James. The piece also had a successful run in Copenhagen. Her latest novel The End of the Sky, set on the Oregon Trail in 1847, will be published in 2017. It's a sequel to her last novel A Slice of the Moon about the Irish potato famine. Her new comedy play Silver Linings deals with society's attitudes to older women. It will open at the Rose Theatre in February 2017 before going on tour. Toksvig has written a column for Good Housekeeping magazine for twenty years.
In March 2015, along with journalist Catherine Mayer, Toksvig co-founded Britain's newest political party, The Women’s Equality Party (WEP), which in one year of existence now has over 70 branches across the UK. WEP stood candidates in the London, Welsh and Scottish elections of May 2016.
Toksvig has many honorary degrees. She is the President of the Women of the Year Lunch, Chancellor of the University of Portsmouth and in 2014 she was made an Officer of the British Empire by the Queen.
Opal Tometi is a New York-based Nigerian-American writer, strategist and community organizer. She is a co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter. The historic political project was launched in the wake of the murder of Trayvon Martin in order to explicitly combat implicit bias and anti-black racism, and to protect and affirm the beauty and dignity of all black lives. Tometi is credited with creating the project's online platforms and initiating the social media strategy during its early days. The campaign has grown into a national network of approximately 50 chapters.
Tometi is currently at the helm of the country's leading black organization for immigrant rights, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI). Founded in 2006, BAJI is a national organization that educates and advocates to further immigrant rights and racial justice together with African-American, Afro-Latino, African and Caribbean immigrant communities. As the executive director at BAJI, Tometi collaborates with staff and communities in Los Angeles, Phoenix, New York, Oakland, Washington, DC and communities throughout the southern states. The organization's most recent campaign helped win family reunification visas for Haitians displaced by the 2010 earthquake. BAJI is an award-winning institution with recognition by leading intuitions across the country.
A transnational feminist, Tometi supports and helps shape the strategic work of Pan African Network in Defense of Migrant Rights, and the Black Immigration Network international and national formations respectively, dedicated to people of African descent. She has presented at the United Nations and participated with the UN's Global Forum on Migration and Commission on the Status of Women. Tometi is being featured in the Smithsonian's new National Museum for African American History and Culture for her historic contributions.
Prior to becoming executive director, Tometi worked as co-director and communications director at BAJI. Her contributions include leading organizing efforts for the first ever black-led rally for immigrant justice and the first Congressional briefing on black immigrants in Washington, DC. Additionally, she coordinated BAJI's work as launch partner with Race Forward's historic "Drop the I-Word" campaign, working with the campaign to raise awareness about the importance of respectful language and history through the lens of the Great Migration, the Civil Rights Movement and current migration of the black diaspora. Tometi has been active in social movements for over a decade. She is a student of liberation theology and her practice is in the tradition of Ella Baker, informed by Stuart Hall, bell hooks and black Feminist thinkers. She was a lead architect of the Black-Brown Coalition of Arizona and was involved in grassroots organizing against SB 1070 with the Alto Arizona campaign. Tometi is a former case manager for survivors of domestic violence and still provides community education on the issue.
Tometi holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and a Masters of Arts degree in communication and advocacy. The daughter of Nigerian immigrants, she grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. She currently resides in the Brooklyn, New York where she loves riding her single speed bike and collecting African art.
Halla Tómasdóttir started her leadership career in corporate America working for Mars and Pepsi Cola and was on the founding team of Reykjavík University, where she established the Executive Education Department, founded and led a successful women’s entrepreneurship and empowerment initiative and was an assistant professor at the Business School. She was the first female CEO of the Iceland Chamber of Commerce and later went on to co-found an investment firm with the vision to incorporate feminine values into finance. The company successfully survived the infamous economic meltdown in Iceland. In 2016, Tómasdóttir was an independent candidate for President of Iceland. She entered a crowded field of candidates and finished as the runner-up, with nearly 30 percent of the vote.
Between careers and kids, many women feel that they are too busy to cram in anything else. To test the truth of this feeling, author Laura Vanderkam began logging her time for each of the 168 hours of the week. Among her surprising findings: we retroactively overestimate the amount of time spent stressing about work while underestimating our available downtime.
In her latest book, I Know How She Does It, Vanderkam analyzes the ways in which professional women successfully balance free time and work -- and explores how everyday readers can benefit from their experiences.
Nanfu Wang's Peabody Award-winning documentary, Hooligan Sparrow -- which follows maverick activist Ye Haiyan as she faces government surveillance and harassment after advocating for sexually abused schoolgirls -- was shortlisted for a 2017 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. She also directed and produced I Am Another You, winner of the Special Jury Prize at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, and her latest film, One Child Nation, which explores the history of China's birth policy and its profound effects on generations of Chinese parents and children. It won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.
Originally from a remote village in China, Wang overcame poverty and a lack of access to formal education en route to earning three master's degrees from Shanghai University, Ohio University and New York University. She teaches editing at the School of Visual Arts as well as cinematography at New York University.
For Tashka and Laura Yawanawá, leaders of the Yawanawá people living in the Acre region of Brazil, engagement with the world begins with his people’s right to self-determination and self-worth.
The son of a former leader of the Yawanawá, as a boy Tashka witnessed the near annihilation of his culture by the New Tribes Mission and by the pressure of economic interests. He studied in the United States and visited other indigenous communities. With other tribal leaders in the Amazon, he is working to restore dignity, identity and a sustainable economic future to indigenous populations, founded on their own values, culture and definition of prosperity.
In 1998, Laura Soriano, a Mixteca-Zapoteca activist from Oaxaca, Mexico, met indigenous Brazilian activist Tashka Yawanawá -- and they realized they were both, in their own ways, bridge-walkers between two worlds. The two married and began the Nawa Institute, an organisation to serve indigenous communities. Now, they travel the world connecting with indigenous peoples, assessing needs and offering tribes and groups solutions on their own terms, addressing both economic and cultural revitalization of today's indigenous communities. Laura speaks four languages and holds a degree in journalism and international relations.