Speakers 2017

Groundbreakers is known for its inspiring, standout speakers. Our 2017 program includes these groundbreaking women:

Luvvie Ajayi

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Luvvie Ajayi

Jeanne Brett

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Jeanne Brett

Susan Hodgkinson

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Susan Hodgkinson

Ana Navarro

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Ana Navarro

Sarah Robb O’Hagan

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Sarah Robb O’Hagan

Ali Wentworth

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Ali Wentworth









Luvvie Ajayi

Luvvie Ajayi

Social Media Expert; New York Times Best-selling Author;
Pop-culture Critic

Luvvie Ajayi is an award-winning writer and digital strategist who thrives at the intersection of comedy, technology and activism. A twelve-year blogging veteran, she’s the voice behind the respected and hilarious AwesomelyLuvvie.com, where she covers all things pop culture with razor sharp commentary and wit.

With a passion for social justice and a love of shoes, Luvvie co- founded The Red Pump Project in 2009 to raise awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls. She serves as Executive Director and the organization’s work has been recognized by the U.S. House of Representatives, the Illinois State Governor, the Black AIDS Institute and more.

Luvvie has been called the Olivia Pope of Social Media for fixing eLives and inspiring students at her popular, frequently sold-out classes. She is a noted speaker on topics related to blogging, branding, digital marketing, nonprofit communications and activism. She’s spoken at numerous colleges and conferences including: SXSW, BlogHer, Social Media Week (Chicago, Lagos and Johannesburg), SAG/AFTRA Broadcast Conference, Chicago Social Media Summit, New Media Expo, FOCUS100, Blogalicious. She launched AwesomelyTechie.com in April 2014 as a resource for writers, small business owners and everyday people looking to use technology to make their lives easier.

Her first book I’m Judging You released by Henry Holt & Co. (division of MacMillan) debuted at #5 on the New York Times best-seller list and has gained major media mentions including NPR, Chicago Tribune, Mashable, and NBC News. Her book was recently optioned by Shonda Rhimes for television. Luvvie has spoken at the UN’s Social Good Summit, Consumer Reports, MAKERS Conference, Twitter, Pennsylvania Conference for Women and Facebook, among others.

Jeanne Brett

Jeanne Brett

DeWitt W. Buchanan, Jr. Distinguished Professor
of Dispute Resolution and Organizations
Kellogg School of Management

Jeanne Brett is the DeWitt W. Buchanan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Dispute Resolution and Organizations, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL.

Brett’s research focuses primarily on culture and negotiation strategy. She is the author of numerous journal articles, negotiation teaching materials, and award winning books: Getting Disputes Resolved with William Ury and Stephen Goldberg and the single authored Negotiating Globally, now in its 3rd edition. She initiated Kellogg’s MBA courses in negotiations in 1981 and in cross-cultural negotiations in 1994. She was a founder in 1986 and the director of Kellogg’s Dispute Resolution Research Center until 2016.

Susan Hodgkinson

Susan Hodgkinson

Principal
The Personal Brand Company

Susan Hodgkinson is a trailblazer in personal branding, and founded The Personal Brand Company in 1994. She is a leadership development expert, award-winning executive coach, and professional speaker.

Hodgkinson was the first practitioner in the US to create a learning model that incorporates the needs and issues of women and people of color into corporate leadership development curricula.

She is the author of The Leader’s Edge: Using Personal Branding to Drive Performance and Profit. She received the India’s 2016 World HRD Congress Leadership Award. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times. She holds her MBA from Simmons School of Management.

Ana Navarro

Ana Navarro

Republican Strategist;
Political Analyst, CNN

Ana Navarro is a well-known Republican strategist and a political analyst for CNN and CNN en Español. She is also a political contributor on ABC’s The View. The Miami New Times named her a “Republican power-consultant,” and the Tampa Bay Times called her “a sought-after voice in Republican politics and an adviser for any presidential hopeful,” saying, “with confidants Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio she is poised to play a big role in the GOP response to immigration reform and Hispanic outreach.” Respected on both sides of the aisle for her straight shooting and candor, Navarro frequently appears in the media, sought after by Meet the Press, Bill Maher’s Real Time, Anderson Cooper 360, and The View, to name a few. “Ana speaks the truth, and she is willing to speak the truth to power without reservation...She has the ear of lots of elected officials,” said Republican consultant Brett O’Donnell. She is in touch with the political issues people are talking about, and in presentations, she discusses the latest hot button issues in politics, giving audiences an insider’s view of the upcoming elections and a roadmap for where the country is headed.

Political Expertise. Navarro most recently served as the national Hispanic co-chair for Governor Jon Huntsman’s 2012 campaign and the national co-chair of John McCain’s Hispanic Advisory Council in 2008, where she was also the national surrogate for the McCain 2008 campaign. She has played a role in several federal and state races in Florida. She served on Governor Jeb Bush’s transition team in 1998 and was his first director of immigration policy in the Executive Office of the Governor.

In 2001, she served as ambassador to the United Nation’s Human Rights Commission, devoting much of her energy to condemning human rights abuses in Cuba. In 1999, she worked in the private sector, representing private and public clients on federal issues, particularly related to immigration, trade, and policy affecting Central America. In 1997, she was a special advisor to the government of Nicaragua and was one of the primary advocates for NACARA (Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act).

Education and Immigration. Navarro is a graduate of the University of Miami. In 1993, she obtained her BA in Latin American studies and political science. She obtained a Juris Doctorate in 1997. She was born in Nicaragua, and in 1980, as a result of the Sandinista revolution, she and her family immigrated to the United States.

Sarah Robb O’Hagan

Sarah Robb O’Hagan

CEO, Flywheel Sports
Former President, Equinox and Former Global President, Gatorade
Author, 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 currently the CEO of fast-growing indoor cycling company Flywheel Sports. She formerly served as the president of luxury health club Equinox, the global president of Gatorade, a GM and marketing director at Nike, and the marketing director of the Virgin Entertainment Group. The founder of the “Extreme Living” movement, she is a rare blend of fierce businesswoman, cheer leading Mom passionate women’s advocate, and high-energy motivator. In her new book Extreme You, due out in spring 2017, Sarah lays out a roadmap for becoming the most “extreme” version of yourself by operating at the edge of your potential and by building highly-collaborative, focused, and successful teams and corporations. Drawing on her decades experience at some of the world’s most influential brands, she shares practical takeaways including how to make failure your fuel, discover your most competitive playing field, get out of line rather than always following conventional wisdom, and bring out the “extreme” in others.

Sarah personally oversaw the development of several breakthrough innovation efforts throughout her career, including: the Virgin Atlantic Airways-Austin Powers movie collaboration in which the airline was rebranded “Virgin Shaglantic,” the roll-out of the game-changing Nike Plus technology developed alongside Apple, the transformation of Gatorade from a declining sports drink into an innovative sports performance company exemplified by the highly-successful G Series line, and Equinox’s revolutionary shift from a bricks-and-mortar gym to an always-on, digital-first fitness business. She also experienced what she calls a “canyon of career despair” in her 20s, using major back-to-back failures to learn, to grow and to motivate herself forward to eventually lead a $5 billion global business by the age of 38. She shares first-hand accounts of these peaks and valleys—pairing stories of firings with a behind-the-scenes look at Gatorade’s transformational turnaround under her stewardship—to illustrate what it truly takes to be successful, why you learn more when play for all or nothing, the importance of humility, and why you must always “play your own game.”

Robb O’Hagan has been named twice to Forbes magazine’s list of the “Most Powerful Women in Sports,” named a “Woman to Watch” by Ad Age magazine, dubbed one of the “Most Creative People in Business” by Fast Company, and named to “40 Under 40” lists by Sports Business Journal, Crain’s Chicago Business, and Sports Goods Business.

Sarah is a passionate advocate for an active lifestyle and believes the lessons learned from sports and fitness can be applied to improve performance in the work place. She has served on Hillary Clinton’s US State Department Council to Empower Women and Girls through Sports, and is a trustee of the Women’s Sports Foundation. She is an active member of the World Class New Zealand Network, as she remains committed to helping the country’s development, international competitiveness and economic growth. In 2014, she was awarded the Sir Peter Blake Trust Award for outstanding leadership.

Ali Wentworth

Ali Wentworth

Actor, Comedian
and New York Times Best-Selling Author

A multitalented performer, Ali Wentworth brings a wealth of experience to all her endeavors, including writing movie scripts, her column in Marie Claire magazine, and acting in notable movies and television shows. Wentworth made a name for herself as a regular on two seasons of In Living Color. She has appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno over 100 times. Other television credits include her memorable role as Jerry Seinfeld’s girlfriend, Schmoopie, in the series’ classic “Soup Nazi” episode. She is the creator, star and executive producer of the critically acclaimed Starz series Head Case. Wentworth was a regular on The Oprah Winfrey Show. She also portrayed Meryl Streep’s best friend in the Nancy Meyers film It’s Complicated.

Also an author, Wentworth’s first book, The WASP Cookbook (Warner Books), details the culinary the lack of taste in the puritanical culinary history with hilarious commentary on WASP culture. Her second book, Ali in Wonderland (HarperCollins), a comedic look at bad advice her mother has given her, was a New York Times best seller. Her latest book, Happily Ali After, premiered June 2015.

Wentworth is the founder of BabyLove DC and is a devoted children’s advocate. She also sits on the boards of the Children’s Defense Fund and Baby Buggy. She resides in New York City with her husband George Stephanopoulos and their two daughters Elliott and Harper.


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