Speakers

Artists, writers, politicians, performers and activists will deliver exceptional value and an unforgetable audience experience from every stage

Tarana Burke
#metoo Founder and Activist

Founder of The ‘me too’ Movement and Social Justice Activist, Tarana Burke shares the heartbreaking story behind the genesis of the viral 2017 TIME Person Of The Year-winning ‘me too’ movement, and gives strength and healing to those who have experienced sexual trauma or harassment.

The simple yet courageous #metoo hashtag campaign has emerged as a rallying cry for people everywhere who have survived sexual assault and sexual harassment – and Tarana’s powerful, poignant story as creator of what is now an international movement that supports survivors will move, uplift, and inspire you.

#Metoo is not just an overnight hashtag sensation; Tarana has dedicated more than 25 years of her life to social justice and to laying the groundwork for a movement that was initially created to help young women of color who survived sexual abuse and assault. The movement now inspires solidarity, amplifies the voices thousands of victims of sexual abuse, and puts the focus back on survivors.

A sexual assault survivor herself, Tarana is now working under the banner of The ‘me too’ Movement to assist other survivors and those who work to end sexual violence. She is also senior director of programs at Brooklyn-based Girls for Gender Equity.

Roxane Gay
Author and Cultural Critic

Roxane Gay is an author and cultural critic whose writing is unmatched and widely revered. Her work garners international acclaim for its reflective, no-holds-barred exploration of feminism and social criticism.

Her collection of essays, Bad Feminist, is universally considered the quintessential exploration of modern feminism. NPR named it one of the best books of the year and Salon declared the book “trailblazing.” Her powerful debut novel, An Untamed State, was long listed for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize. In 2017, Roxane released her highly anticipated memoir, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, as well as a collection of short stories titled Difficult Women.

Roxane is a contributing op-ed writer for The New York Times, was the co-editor of PANK, and formerly was the non-fiction editor at The Rumpus. Her writing has also appeared in McSweeney’s, The Nation and many other publications. She recently became the first black woman to ever write for Marvel, writing a comic series in the Black Panther universe called World of Wakanda. Roxane fronts a small army of avid fans on social media and when she finds the time, she dominates the occasional Scrabble tournament.

 

Jill Smokler
Founder, Scary Mommy

Jill Smokler is a New York Times bestselling author (Confessions of a Scary Mommy andMotherhood Comes Naturally – And Other Vicious Lies) and domestic satirist whose candor about marriage and parenting has made her an unlikely hero among a new generation of women.

Jill founded Scary Mommy as a personal blog in 2008, where she focused on light-hearted and sarcastic content that poked fun at her own parenting shortcomings. Scary Mommy quickly tapped into what moms of the Internet were thinking and feeling, and with the support of a loyal and vocal audience, Jill evolved Scary Mommy into an online phenom, featuring both established and up-and-coming authors, as well as community boards, news, and video.

By 2014, Scary Mommy averaged 15 million monthly page views and employed 6 staff members. In early 2015, Scary Mommy was acquired by Vinit Bharara of the media company Some Spider, LLC. Jill is currently Chief Content Officer for Scary Mommy. In 2017, Jill was named one of the top ten parenting influencers by Forbes magazine.

 

Dr. Michael Kaufman
Co-founder, White Ribbon Campaign

Michael is the co-founder of the White Ribbon Campaign, the largest effort in the world of men working to end violence against women. He is a senior fellow at Instituto Promundo (Washington D.C. and Rio de Janiero) and co-writer of the State of the Worlds’ Fathers Report.

His work in the UN system, including with UN WOMEN, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNDP, IFAD, and UNESCO has taken him to New York, Rome, Paris, Beijing, Katmandu, Ankara, Geneva, Nairobi, Jakarta, and Delhi.  He has worked with numerous NGOs including OXFAM, International Red Cross, Save the Children, and Amnesty International, as well as with governments on six continents. He wrote the training program on sexual harassment used by tens of thousands of staff at the United Nations.

He is the author or editor of eight books on gender issues, on democracy and development studies, and an award-winning novel, The Possibility of Dreaming on a Night Without Stars. His most recent novel is the anti-war tale, The Afghan Vampires Book Club. His articles, which have appeared in newspapers, magazines, and journals around the world, have been translated into Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Finnish, Estonian, Russian, Persian, Chinese, Japanese, Hungarian, Turkish, and Arabic.

Dr. Kate Biberdorf
Professor, University of Texas – Austin

Kate “Dr. B” Biberdorf is a Ph.D chemist who loves to ignite things, including opportunities for young women. Born and raised in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Kate earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and German from the University of Michigan in 2008. She then relocated to Austin, Texas to attend The University of Texas at Austin, where she graduated with her Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry in 2014.

In her current role as a Chemistry Lecturer and the Director of Demonstrations and Outreach for The University of Texas at Austin, Dr. B is known for developing explosive demonstrations that excite undergraduate chemistry students. Outside of the classroom, she is often found at local Austin schools, promoting science education with her outreach program ‘Fun with Chemistry’.

D. B is highly motivated to inspire students of all ages to pursue a degree in STEM – all while diminishing the stigma around women in science. To this end, she has launched a Women in Chemistry program within UT Chemistry, and offers three summer camp sessions for K-12 youth.  Dr. B’s work has spread like wildfire and she’s caught the attention of local news stations and national advocates. Her demos were recently featured by NBC Nightly NewsCNN’s Great Big StoryDiscovery Channel’s Daily Planet, and Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls.

Positive Transformation for
Baltimore and Beyond

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