Trending Topics for 2021
As the world continues to be faced with unprecedented change, meeting organizers are adapting their agendas to remain relevant and tackle the top issues of the day.
Below are the top trending topics for meetings next year in 2021 – along with some great virtual speaker recommendations for each. Keep reading to learn more!
TRENDING TOPICS FOR 2021
- Leading Through Change & Uncertainty
- Adapting to the Changing Workplace
- Managing Obstacles, Overcoming Adversity, & Thriving in Uncertainty
- Sparking Innovation
- Diversity & Inclusion
- Maintaining Positivity, Balance, & Mental Health
- Virtual Experiences & Entertainment
- Stanley McChrystal, World-Renowned Commander of U.S. and International Forces in Afghanistan and Co-founder of McChrystal Group
- Nadja West, First African American Army Surgeon General and Former Commanding General, US Army Medical Command
- Michael Rogers, Former Director, National Security Agency & Former Commander, US Cyber Command
- Susan Gordon, 30-Year National Security Leader, Former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence
- Jim Donald, Chairman of Albertson’s, Former CEO of Starbucks, & Former CEO of Extended Stay Hotels, and Former CEO of Pathmark Supermarkets
- Sarah Robb O'Hagan, Legendary Business Leader, CEO of EXOS, Former CEO of Flywheel Sports, Former Global President of Gatorade, Former Marketing Director at Nike, Founder & Author of "Extreme You: Step Up, Stand Out, Kick Ass, Repeat"
- Scott Moore, Expert on Building and Leading “No-Fail” Teams and United States Navy SEAL Rear Admiral (ret.)
World-Renowned Commander of U.S. and International Forces in Afghanistan and Co-founder of McChrystal Group
A one-of-a-kind commander with a remarkable record of achievement, General Stanley McChrystal is widely praised for creating a revolution in warfare that fused intelligence and operations. He is also known for developing and implementing the counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan and for creating a comprehensive counter-terrorism organization that revolutionized the way military agencies interact and operate.
First African American Army Surgeon General and Former Commanding General, US Army Medical Command
A trailblazer in female leadership, Lieutenant General (ret) Nadja West is the 44th Army Surgeon General and the former Commanding General of US Army Medical Command. She is the first African American woman 3-star General in the Army’s history, and currently the highest-ranking woman to ever graduate from West Point.
Former Director, National Security Agency & Former Commander, US Cyber Command
Admiral Michael Rogers is the former director of the National Security Agency (NSA), the former chief of Central Security Service, and the former commander of US Cyber Command. One of the most-knowledgeable intelligence professionals and cyber security experts on the lecture circuit, Rogers assumed those posts in April of 2014 and retired in June of 2018, marking 37 years of service. An MIT technology seminar fellow and former Harvard senior executive in national security, Rogers’ presentations are packed with insights gleaned from his recent experience at the highest levels of the US government. He served under both Presidents Trump and Obama and oversaw the NSA and Cyber Command responses to both the Snowden leaks and Russian interference in the 2016 US Presidential election.
30-Year National Security Leader, Former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence
One of the most accomplished leaders in the history of national security, Sue M. Gordon is the former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence (PDDNI) – the country’s number two ranking intelligence official. As the fifth PDDNI, she co-led the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and oversaw the entire Intelligence Community (IC), comprised of over a dozen agencies that collect information on threats against the United States. In particular, Gordon’s transformative leadership focused on integrating intelligence across the organization, expanding outreach and partnerships, driving innovation, and advancing diversity and inclusion throughout the Community.
Chairman of Albertson’s, Former CEO of Starbucks, & Former CEO of Extended Stay Hotels, and Former CEO of Pathmark Supermarkets
The former CEO of Starbucks, Pathmark Supermarkets, and Extended Stay Hotels, and currently the co-chairman of the board of Albertson’s, Jim Donald is a seasoned executive of large, multinational companies with a distinguished career in retail. He has been named one of the “Top 25 CEOs in the World” by The Best Practice Institute and one of Business Travel News’ “25 Most Influential Business Travel Executives” in 2013. Donald earned a reputation for turning around financially ailing companies early in his career. It was this reputation that prompted Extended Stay Hotels to seek him out after emerging from its bankruptcy proceedings in 2010. The hiring marked the rare choice of an outsider to lead a U.S. hotel company, and he led its successful $565 million IPO. He then joined Albertsons Companies in March 2018 as president and chief operating officer, before being named chief executive officer of the large chain in 2018.
Legendary Business Leader, CEO of EXOS, Former CEO of Flywheel Sports, Former Global President of Gatorade, Former Marketing Director at Nike, Founder & Author of "Extreme You: Step Up, Stand Out, Kick Ass, Repeat"
Described by the media as everything from “Superwoman undercover” to “The Pied Piper of potential,” Sarah Robb O’Hagan is an executive, activist, entrepreneur, and founder of Extreme Living—a company designed to help individuals, teams, and organizations play to their highest potential. She is now the CEO of EXOS, the world leader in elite performance training that helps people reach higher and achieve more.
Expert on Building and Leading “No-Fail” Teams and United States Navy SEAL Rear Admiral (ret.)
Having served 30 years as a SEAL leader, retired Rear Admiral Scott Moore is a master in organizational leadership and teambuilding. He served in every leadership position in the SEAL teams, including the former commander of the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, and closed out his career as the number two leader in the entire SEAL organization. He led the military’s elite forces through more than 2,000 of our nation’s most extreme, high-stakes missions and was deployed on SEAL team operations across the globe. He understands the importance of leadership and cohesiveness like few others can, and his experience runs the gamut from leading small groups to large-scale tactical planning. From the mountains of Afghanistan to briefings in the Oval Office, Moore is the man our leaders trusted when failure was not an option.
- Mark Bowden, Expert in Body Language, Human Behavior, and Communication
- Lindsey Pollak, Multigenerational Workplace Expert and NYT Best-Selling Author
- Kaihan Krippendorff, Renowned Business Strategist, Best-Selling Author of Outthink the Competition, and Popular Fast Company Blogger
- Jonah Berger, Best-Selling Author and Expert on Innovation, Disruption, and Change
- Michele Gelfand, Award-Winning Cultural Psychologist, Best-Selling Author, and University of Maryland Distinguished Professor
Expert in Body Language, Human Behavior, and Communication
Mark Bowden is the keynote speaker for organizations worldwide whose work depends upon winning the hearts and minds of others. Mark entertainingly trains any audience in the cutting-edge techniques that will help them to stand out, win trust, and profit every time they speak. His keynote presentation takes everyone on an exciting and humorous journey to understand how, with the right body language “It’s often not what you say—but how you say it, that gets results!” Bowden is the founder of TRUTHPLANE, a communication training company that offers a unique methodology for anyone who needs to communicate with impact with an audience or client. With his system of nonverbal communication techniques, he instantly helps audiences become more confident, collaborative, and credible in their communication—invaluable for anyone in leadership, sales, or teams.
Multigenerational Workplace Expert and NYT Best-Selling Author
One of the world’s leading experts on millennials and today’s multigenerational workplace, Lindsey Pollak is a New York Times bestselling author and advisor to both young professionals looking to succeed in today’s work environment as well as the organizations that want to recruit, retain, and engage them.
Renowned Business Strategist, Best-Selling Author of Outthink the Competition, and Popular Fast Company Blogger
Kaihan Krippendorff is committed to helping organizations and individuals thrive in today’s era of fast-paced disruptive technological change. Kaihan is known for his ability to turn difficult concepts into easy-to-understand ideas that drive meaningful outcomes and actions. He is an internationally recognized thought-leader, battle-tested consultant, and sought-after keynote speaker on the topics of business strategy, growth, transformation, and innovation.
Best-Selling Author and Expert on Innovation, Disruption, and Change
Dr. Jonah Berger is a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a world-renowned expert on innovation, change, word of mouth, and why products, services, and ideas catch on. He is an internationally bestselling author and over a million copies of his books, The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind, Contagious: Why Things Catch On, and Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior, are in print in over 35 languages around the world. He has published over 50 articles in top-tier academic journals, teaches Wharton’s highest rated online course, and popular accounts of his work often appear in places like The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Harvard Business Review.
Award-Winning Cultural Psychologist, Best-Selling Author, and University of Maryland Distinguished Professor
Distinguished Psychology Professor Michele Gelfand is one of the leading researchers and writers on culture and the impact of culture on behavior. She’s the author of the wildly-popular new book, Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire Our World. Gelfand’s research and writing focuses on the difference between “tight” and “loose” cultures, and how that distinction impacts businesses globally. Arguing that culture drives performance more than mission statements, HR campaigns, or even financial incentives ever will, she helps organizations understand if their culture is “tight” or “loose,” why that is, how that drives everything from performance to revenue to position in the marketplace, and how to create a more “open” or “loose” culture. Gelfand’s work on tight-loose theory and its impact on business performance has been cited over 20,000 times and has been featured in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, National Public Radio, Morning Joe, Voice of America, Fox News, NBC News, ABC News, The Economist, De Standard, and more.
- Darcy Gaechter, Adventurer and First Woman to Kayak the Entire Amazon River
- Ben Saunders, World-Record Breaking Polar Explorer
- Erik Weihenmayer, World-Class Blind Adventurer
- Joby Ogwyn, World Record-Holding Mountain Climber and Legendary Wing-Suit Pilot
- Hakeem Oluseyi, Astrophysicist, Former Space Science Education Lead for NASA, and Inspirational Speaker
- Shayla Rivera, Former NASA Rocket Scientist, Professor, and Comedian
Adventurer and First Woman to Kayak the Entire Amazon River
An adventurer, record-setter, and boundary-breaker, Darcy Gaechter is best known as the first woman to kayak the Amazon River from source to sea. Her three-person team also became the first team to kayak the entire river, where all previous expeditions had either hiked around or rafted portions of the whitewater in the Amazon River’s headwaters. The journey required her crew to paddle over 4,000 miles across the widest part of South America, a voyage that took 148 days to complete. The successful traverse of the entire Amazonian watershed relied on Gaechter’s team’s ability to balance many factors: physical endurance, an ability to work with the locals to assuage their fears of outsiders, patience for interpersonal conflicts arising from three people spending every waking moment together for five months, and a mental toughness that allowed no room for quitting to be an option. Without a doubt, the Amazon was as much an intellectual and emotional undertaking as it was a physical challenge.
World-Record Breaking Polar Explorer
Polar explorer Ben Saunders’s incredible feats of endurance challenge conventional wisdom and prove what can be accomplished through ambition, passion, and a refusal to quit. Best known for leading one of the most ambitious polar expeditions in a century, he was the first to successfully complete an epic, 105-day, 1,800-mile trek on foot to the South Pole—equivalent to running 69 marathons back-to-back. Of his expedition he said, “We can all accomplish great feats. If you dream something hard enough, it does indeed come to pass.” In 2017, he became the second person in history to reach both Poles solo and unassisted, after 52 days and six alone in Antarctic conditions described as “The worst in 25 years.”
World-Class Blind Adventurer
Despite losing his vision at age 14, he is an accomplished climber, paraglider, skier, and kayaker who never allows blindness interfere with his passion for pursuing an exhilarating and fulfilling life. Erik brings audiences a powerful message about harnessing the power of adversity as fuel for greatness, emphasizing the importance of building a strong “Rope Team,” and illuminating how to develop a “No Barriers Mindset.”
World Record-Holding Mountain Climber and Legendary Wing-Suit Pilot
Joby Ogwyn is world-renowned for his prowess as an adventurer, high-altitude mountain climber, BASE jumper, and wing-suit explorer. Known for his many firsts and unique feats, Joby summited Mount Kilimanjaro when he was just 18. When he first summited Everest in 1999, he was the youngest American to ever do so. A famed top-speed climber, in 2004 Ogwyn beat the ascent record of the Tibetan peak Cho Oyu, reaching the 27,000 foot summit in just eight hours. Four years later, he climbed Mt. Everest in nine and a half hours (it takes most people six days to complete the trip), setting the world record for the fastest ascent. For most climbers, reaching the summit of Everest is the ultimate dream, but for Ogwyn it was only the beginning.
Astrophysicist, Former Space Science Education Lead for NASA, and Inspirational Speaker
Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi, author of a highly-anticipated upcoming memoir, A Quantum Life: My Unlikely Journey from the Streets to the Stars, is an internationally-recognized astrophysicist, science TV personality, and global education advocate who has had a long, distinguished career in academia and scientific research.
Former NASA Rocket Scientist, Professor, and Comedian
Shayla Rivera is an aerospace engineer and former NASA rocket scientist turned salesperson, corporate trainer, and now international keynote speaker, TEDx speaker, radio host, emcee/host, comedian, actor, writer, producer, seminar facilitator, panel moderator and, as of 2017, director of the ENGR[x] program and Professor of Practice with the College of Engineering at Texas A&M University. However, none of these labels tells you much about her. She best describes herself as a spiritually irreverent mystic and awareness expert. What many would call a Renaissance Woman.
- Sue Desmond-Hellmann, Former CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- Colin Bryar & Bill Carr, Former Top-Level Amazon Executives
- Reggie Fils-Aimé, Former President and COO of Nintendo of America Inc.
- Neil Jacobstein, Chair of the Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Track at Singularity University
- Poppy Crum, Expert in Technology-Driven Innovation & Human Evolution, Stanford University Adjunct Professor, Chief Scientist at Dolby Laboratories, Neuroscientist, and Technologist
- Michael Steep, Executive Director, Stanford Engineering Center for Disruptive Technology and Digital Cities, & Former SVP of Global Business Operations at PARC Xerox
Former CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
With a medical, scientific, and philanthropic career that spans more than 30 years, Dr. Sue Desmond-Hellmann has devoted her life to improving the human condition through innovation. Most recently, she was the CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, leading the organization’s vision for a world where every person has the opportunity to live a healthy, productive life.
Former Top-Level Amazon Executives
Colin Bryar and Bill Carr have more than a decade as part of Amazon’s leadership team, witnessing first-hand the company’s period of unmatched innovation, and provide practical steps for applying Amazon’s approach to leadership, culture, and innovation at your own organization.
Former President and COO of Nintendo of America Inc.
An award-winning innovator and disruptor, Reggie Fils-Aimé is a proven expert on transforming companies, re-vitalizing brands, and reshaping industries to solve daunting challenges and achieve ‘the impossible.’ Most recently, he was the president and chief operating officer of Nintendo of America – the first American and African-American to hold this position.
Chair of the Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Track at Singularity University
Neil Jacobstein is the chairman of the Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Track at Singularity University, whose mission is “to educate, inspire and empower a new generation of leaders to apply exponential technologies”. He is a founding faculty member and past president of Singularity, which is now over ten years old. He is a mediaX distinguished visiting scholar at Stanford University, where his research focuses on augmented decision systems.
Expert in Technology-Driven Innovation & Human Evolution, Stanford University Adjunct Professor, Chief Scientist at Dolby Laboratories, Neuroscientist, and Technologist
Dr. Poppy Crum is a visionary futurist and neuroscientist whose work sits at the intersection of technology advancement and human evolution. Highly regarded in both the technology sector and academic circles, she is an Adjunct Professor in Computer Research at Stanford University and the Chief Scientist at Dolby Laboratories, a leading global innovator and developer of audio, imaging, and voice technologies. An advocate for the kind of technology that learns more about us as we use it, Dr. Crum works to bridge the gap between rapidly evolving technology and insightful, more effective human interaction.
Executive Director, Stanford Engineering Center for Disruptive Technology and Digital Cities, & Former SVP of Global Business Operations at PARC Xerox
Disruptive technology is growing at an exponential rate, but few people know how to transform disruption into opportunity. Drawing on decades of experience driving innovation and leading operations at companies including Apple and Microsoft, Mike Steep shares strategies on how to leverage emerging technology into bottom line business opportunities. Throughout his career, Mike has worked in the presence of industry legends including David Packard, Bill Gates, and Satya Nadella, witnessing first-hand some of the greatest breakthroughs and transformations within organizations and entire industries. All of this change has been powered by the invention of the digital camera, cloud computing, mobile devices, IoT, meta-materials, and privacy preserving analytics.
- Chief Carmen Best, First African American Female Police Chief in Seattle, WA
- Jonathan Capehart, Pulitzer Prize-winning Journalist and Television Personality
- Kristin Beck, Former Navy SEAL and Civil Rights Activist
- Carla Harris, Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley
- Reggie Rivers, Former Denver Bronco, Media Personality, Author, and Motivational Speaker
- Lauren Simmons, Youngest Trader, Only Female and Second-Ever African American Woman at the New York Stock Exchange
First African American Female Police Chief in Seattle, WA
The first African-American woman to hold the top policing job in Seattle, Washington, Chief Carmen Best (Ret.) served with the Seattle Police Department for 28 years. In 2018, Best was promoted to Chief of Police, a job she called “a dream of a lifetime,” managing approximately 2,000 sworn and civilian employees. Best quickly began efforts to diversify the police force, which had long been less diverse than the city, recruiting more than 40 new officers of color.
Pulitzer Prize-winning Journalist and Television Personality
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jonathan Capehart is a member of The Washington Post editorial board, writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog, and hosts the Post’s “Cape Up” podcast. He is also an MSNBC Contributor who regularly serves as a substitute anchor. Capehart is known for his insightful, hard-hitting reporting and writing, as well as his eloquent, witty, and thought-provoking commentary.
Former Navy SEAL and Civil Rights Activist
Kristin Beck is a retired United States Navy SEAL, who served for more than 20 years in the Special Operations Forces, as well as a civil rights advocate. Over the course of 13 deployments and seven combat deployments, she conducted special operations with small UAVs, HUMINT, and Direct Action missions. Her final tours were with the counter-terrorism Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU or “SEAL Team Six”) to head the Special Reconnaissance units and various Task Forces as a HUMINT source handler and technical operations director. For her service, she has been awarded more than 50 ribbons and medals including: the Bronze Star with valor, the Purple Heart, and the Meritorious Service Medal.
Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley
Carla Harris is Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley and a leading keynote speaker on motivation, success, and exceeding expectations. In her current role at Morgan Stanley, she is responsible for increasing client connectivity and penetration to enhance revenue generation across the firm. She has extensive industry experiences in the technology, media, retail, telecommunications, transportation, industrial, and healthcare sectors. The recipient of numerous awards, including being named to Fortune Magazine’s list of “The 50 Most Powerful Black Executives in Corporate America,” Harris was appointed by President Barack Obama to chair the National Women’s Business Council in 2013. She is the author of two best-selling books, Strategize To Win and Expect To Win, and the creator of “Carla’s Pearls,” the centerpiece of her speeches and television appearances. Carla’s pearls are nuggets of wisdom hard-earned throughout her long and impressive career, which she imparts on audiences globally.
Former Denver Bronco, Media Personality, Author, and Motivational Speaker
Reggie Rivers is a renaissance man whose talents and achievements have spanned many different disciplines. He’s a former NFL running back, a media personality, a business owner, an author, and a motivational speaker, master of ceremonies, and auctioneer. Reggie entered the NFL as a classic underdog—an undrafted rookie free agent and a longshot to make a team. But he managed to win a roster spot with the Denver Broncos and stayed with the team for six seasons.
Youngest Trader, Only Female and Second-Ever African American Woman at the New York Stock Exchange
At 22 years old, Lauren Simmons shattered the glass ceiling and made history by being the youngest and only full-time female equity trader on Wall Street for Rosenblatt Securities. Affectionately called the “Wolfette of Wall Street,” Simmons was also the second African American woman in history to hold the prestigious title.
- Bert Jacobs, John Jacobs, & Steve Gross, Leaders at Life is Good
- Sebastian Terry, Author, TV Host, and Founder of 100 Things Philanthropic Movement
- Neil Pasricha, Leadership and Happiness Expert
- Dr. William Li, Food, Health and Disease Expert; Founder of Angiogenesis Foundation
- Laila Ali, Mom, Wife, Boxing Champion, Elite Athlete, Fitness & Nutrition Expert, TV Host, Cooking Enthusiast, Beauty & Lifestyle Brand CEO, Actress, Advocate for Children, Author, Speaker
- Dr. Romie Mushtaq, Neurologist & Chief Wellness Officer for Evolution Hospitality
Leaders at Life is Good
Bert Jacobs, John Jacobs, and Steve Gross help audiences discover their own sense of optimism and practice simple mindset shifts toward gratitude, openness, and compassion to uncover a deeper meaning in the work they do.
Author, TV Host, and Founder of 100 Things Philanthropic Movement
Known worldwide for pursuing an incredible list of 100 Things that he wants to achieve before he dies, Sebastian Terry’s story is surprisingly not about a bucket list. It’s about something more far reaching; permission, choice, growth, and connection. Affected by a curious mind and the death of a close friend, Sebastian experienced a moment in his life where he asked himself a simple question; ‘Am I happy?’. The answer was NO and so he decided to pen down a list of 100 Things that he’d always wanted to achieve. Following his heart and armed with nothing but a list, Sebastian's incredible story has grown from an entertaining tale of adventure into a global philanthropic movement that engages a growing tribe of hundreds of thousands to not just set meaningful goals, but also pull the trigger and achieve them – all while helping others do the same.
Leadership and Happiness Expert
After graduating from Harvard Business School, Neil Pasricha spent a decade as Director of Leadership at Walmart, the world’s largest company. While there he wrote the 50-million-hit, award-winning blog 1000 Awesome Things and the New York Times bestsellers: The Book of Awesome and The Happiness Equation which have been on international bestseller lists for over 200 weeks and sold over a million copies.
Food, Health and Disease Expert; Founder of Angiogenesis Foundation
Dr. William W. Li is a world-renowned speaker, physician, scientist, and New York Times best-selling author of the Amazon #1 best-seller, Eat to Beat Disease. An international expert on health and disease fighting based on diet, lifestyle, and treatments that keep the body’s blood vessels in balance, he is CEO and President of the global nonprofit Angiogenesis Foundation. Dr. Li’s work has impacted more than 50 million people worldwide and has led to the effective prevention, novel treatment, and even reversal of diseases spanning cancer, chronic wounds, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and vision loss. Known for his ability to predict medical breakthroughs often years before they become realized, he is also the creator of the Eat to Defeat Cancer program, a healthy eating campaign which now has spread to more than 40 countries.
Mom, Wife, Boxing Champion, Elite Athlete, Fitness & Nutrition Expert, TV Host, Cooking Enthusiast, Beauty & Lifestyle Brand CEO, Actress, Advocate for Children, Author, Speaker
Laila Ali is a world-class athlete, fitness and nutrition expert, TV host, author, cooking enthusiast, founder and CEO of the Laila Ali Lifestyle Brand, advocate for women and children, wife, and mother of two. The daughter of late beloved global icon and humanitarian, Muhammad Ali, she is a four-time undefeated boxing world champion, whose stellar record includes 24 wins (21 of which were "knockouts") and zero losses. Laila is heralded as the most successful female in the history of women’s boxing.
Neurologist & Chief Wellness Officer for Evolution Hospitality
Dr. Romie brings together Western medicine and Eastern wisdom to help individuals and audiences learn to heal from stress-based illnesses, achieve peak performance, and harness the power of mindful leadership. All of Dr. Romie's programs are based in neuroscience, positive psychology, and mindfulness. Dr. Romie has also traveled the world learning various mindfulness and yoga techniques, and combines her unique skill set to discuss the neuroscience behind mindfulness. A highly sought after professional speaker for corporations and associations, Dr. Romie has a gift for translating complex medical and scientific principles into easy to comprehend information. Her wisdom is featured in her TEDx talk, The Powerful Secret of Your Breath.
- Alpana Singh, First Indian Woman and Youngest Female Master Sommelier
- Jon Dorenbos, Magician, America’s Got Talent Finalist, and Former NFL Player
- Kevin Kallaugher, Editorial Cartoonist for The Economist & The Baltimore Sun
- Sekou Andrews, Grammy-Nominated Creator of "Poetic Voice" & Inspirational Speaker
- John Ondrasik, Singer/Songwriter, Five For Fighting
- Maurice Ashley, First African-American Chess Grandmaster, Analyst, Commentator and Emcee
First Indian Woman and Youngest Female Master Sommelier
One of just 269 master sommeliers worldwide, and one of just 28 women to be given the distinction, Alpana Singh became the first Indian woman and the youngest American woman ever to pass the final level of the master sommelier exam at age 26. Born and raised in Monterey, California, Alpana Singh’s strong work ethic and ease with people of all ages stemmed from a youth spent working in her family’s ethnic grocery store. Later, while waiting tables in college, Singh fell in love with wine and discovered that it united her varied interests in traveling, history and food.
Magician, America’s Got Talent Finalist, and Former NFL Player
Former NFL All-Pro, elite magician, and survivor of immense tragedy, Jon Dorenbos’ extraordinary life and talents have made him one of the most renowned motivational speakers on the circuit today.
Editorial Cartoonist for The Economist & The Baltimore Sun
Kevin "Kal" Kallaugher is the international award-winning editorial cartoonist for The Economist and The Baltimore Sun. The first resident cartoonist in The Economist’s 145-year history, his diverse portfolio includes more than 8,000 cartoons, 140 covers, and six books. The World Encyclopedia of Cartoons said, “Commanding a masterful style, Kallaugher stands among the premier caricaturists of the (twentieth) century.” In a distinguished—and syndicated—career that spans five decades, his work has appeared in more than 100 publications worldwide.
Grammy-Nominated Creator of "Poetic Voice" & Inspirational Speaker
Sekou Andrews is the Founder/CEO of SekouWorld, Inc., innovator of “Poetic Voice,” and one of the most successful spoken word poets in the world. On any given day, this schoolteacher turned artist and entrepreneur, who built a 7-figure company on poetry, can be found keynoting at a Fortune 500 company, inspiring thousands at a concert, or performing for Barack Obama in Oprah’s backyard.
Singer/Songwriter, Five For Fighting
Singer-songwriter John Ondrasik has spent the past decade writing deeply personal songs that include social messages, invoke the human spirit and make an emotional connection. With the past six albums by Five For Fighting, the hockey moniker stage name under which he performs, Ondrasik has seen multitudes of successes. Five For Fighting's breakthrough came in 2001 with the Grammy-nominated song “Superman,” and John’s performance at The Concert For New York.
First African-American Chess Grandmaster, Analyst, Commentator and Emcee
Maurice Ashley made history in 1999 when he became the first African-American chess grandmaster. He is a three-time national championship coach, author of Chess for Success: Using an Old Game to Build New Strengths in Children and Teens, ESPN commentator, iPhone app designer, puzzle inventor, and motivational speaker.
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