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Diversity / Activism
Baratunde Thurston is an Emmy-nominated writer, activist, and comedian who has worked for The Onion, produced for The Daily Show, advised the Obama White House, and cleaned bathrooms to pay for his Harvard education. He hosts the iHeartMedia podcast Spit, wrote the New York Times bestseller How To Be Black, and serves on the boards of BUILD and the Brooklyn Public Library. Baratunde makes media, delivers keynotes, and promotes action with his unique blend of criticism, humor, and optimism. He’s most invested in topics of race, technology, democracy, and climate because the hard stuff has already been solved.
Cornell William Brooks
Moving, motivating, informative and insightful, Brooks brings both a proud personal heritage and a thought-provoking vision to the podium. Brooks has picked up the mantle of the powerful orators that have influenced him, including Dr. Martin Luther King. He has actively embraced Black Lives Matter within the evolving continuum of civil rights activism. His stirring keynotes inspire audiences to broaden their perspectives, expand their definition of inclusion and diversity, eliminate inequality and honor the history and ever-evolving mission of the civil and human rights movement.
Ferguson. Staten Island. North Charleston. Cleveland. Cornell Brooks has traveled the nation, led a 40-day march from Selma to Washington, D.C. and continues to stand shoulder to shoulder with those advocating for justice and change.
Diversity / Business
Mr. Rhee is an impact-focused entrepreneur, investor, operator and educator. As both CEO and investment firm founder, Mr. Rhee has generated market-leading returns by creating bespoke capital and operational solutions through the contemporaneous application of algorithmic, technologic and cultural change. He has a uniquely diverse network and knowledge base spanning the private equity, retail/consumer, venture and media/technology communities. At Ashley Stewart, as Chairman/CEO, marketing head and investor, Mr. Rhee has authored and executed upon an innovative complement of CRM, digital and organizational changes that have transformed a twice bankrupt, unprofitable brick-and-mortar retailer with decades of operating losses into an industry leader founded upon a values-based, social commerce paradigm. FirePine Group, the investment firm he founded in 2009, invests the capital of some of the world’s most sophisticated investors and their family offices to successfully fuel transformative and impactful change in multiple enterprises, including Ashley Stewart.
Luvvie Ajayi Jones
Luvvie Ajayi is known for her trademark wit, warm voice, and exceptional integrity. But even she’s been challenged by the enemy of progress known as fear. She was once afraid to call herself a writer because she was afraid of the title. She nearly skipped out on doing a TED talk that changed her life because of imposter syndrome. Also, she’s deathly afraid of bugs. And, as she shares in Professional Troublemaker, she’s not alone.
We’re all afraid of asking for what we want because we’re afraid of hearing “no.” We’re afraid of being different, of being too much or not enough. We’re afraid of leaving behind the known for the unknown. But in order to do the things that will truly, meaningfully change our lives, we have to become professional troublemakers: people who are committed to not letting fear talk them out of the things they need to do or say.
With humor and honesty, and guided by the influence of her inspiring and professional troublemaking grandmother, Funmilayo Faloyin, Luvvie walks us through what we must get right within ourselves before we can do the things that scare us; how to use our voice for a greater good; and how to put movement to the voice we’ve been silencing–because truth-telling is a muscle.
The point is not to be fearless. It is to know we are afraid and to charge forward regardless, to recognize the things we must do are more significant than the things we are afraid to do. This book shows you how she’s done it, and how you can, too.
Neil Patrick Harris
After first entering America's homes regularly as the title character, Doogie Howser, MD., Neil Patrick Harris has been a fixture of American pop-culture for nearly three decades. Starring on the hit TV show, How I Met Your Mother, Neil plays "Barney," a philandering playboy, which ran its ninth and final season on CBS for which Neil won multiple awards including the Emmy. Other notable film credits include The Smurfs and the Harold and Kumar franchises. An avid fan of live theater, Neil has also performed on Broadway in both musical (Sweeney Todd), dramatic roles (Proof) and even hosted the Tony Awards three times ('09, '11, '12).
Outside of his acting work, Neil is also an accomplished magician having won the Tannen's Magic Louis Award in 2006. He currently serves as the President of the Board of Directors for the world-famous Hollywood Magic Castle.
In 2010, Neil was named one of TIME magazine's '100 Most Influential People of 2010.' Neil currently resides in Los Angeles.