University of Houston
Renu Khator has recently celebrated her tenth anniversary as president of the University of Houston, having assumed her post as well as the UH System’s chancellorship in January 2008.
UH, the largest and oldest of the four UH System universities, enrolls more than 46,000 students, offers 280 degree programs and awards nearly 10,000 degrees each year. During her tenure, UH has experienced record-breaking research funding, enrollment and private support, highlighted by the “Here, We Go” campaign which has raised more than $930 million toward its $1 billion goal.
Born in Uttar Pradesh, India, she earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Kanpur, and her master’s and Ph.D. degrees in political science and public administration from Purdue University. Prior to her appointment at UH, she was provost and senior vice president at the University of South Florida, capping a 22-year career at that institution.
Her current and previous appointments include Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Athletic Conference, member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Academic Advisory Council, member of the Indian Prime Minister’s Empowered Expert Committee, Chair of the American Council on Education and of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, and a Texas Women’s Hall of Fame inductee.
Among the institutional accomplishments Khator is most proud of are the elevation of UH to Tier One status in 2011, being awarded a Phi Beta Kappa chapter in 2015, establishing a College of Medicine in 2018 and improving graduation rates 10 points in 10 years.
Federal Bureau of Investigation
James Comey led the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 2013 to 2017, appointed to the post by President Barack Obama. His tenure was tested by new forces within and outside America’s borders. He oversaw the federal response to mass shootings in San Bernardino in December 2015 and at Pulse nightclub in Orlando the following June, at the time the deadliest in the country’s history. He also worked to address key leadership, agility, and diversity issues within the Bureau.
Prior to his service at the FBI, Comey worked as a federal prosecutor in New York and Virginia as well as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and the U.S. deputy attorney general in the administration of President George W. Bush. In the private sector, he has worked at law firms and as the general counsel of Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defense contractor, and Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund.
Comey is the 2017–2018 Gwendolyn S. and Colbert I. King Endowed Chair in Public Policy at Howard University. He has been an adjunct professor at the University of Richmond School of Law and a Hertog Fellow in National Security Law at Columbia Law School.
A native of the New York metropolitan area, Comey attended the College of William & Mary and the University of Chicago Law School. He and his wife Patrice have five children and live in northern Virginia.
Brazile & Associates LLC
Veteran Democratic political strategist Donna Brazile is an adjunct professor, author, syndicated columnist, television political commentator, Vice Chair of Voter Registration and Participation at the Democratic National Committee, and former chair of the DNCs Voting Rights Institute. Last, but never least, she is a native of New Orleans.
Aside from working for the full recovery of her beloved New Orleans, Ms. Braziles passion is encouraging young people to vote, to work within the system to strengthen it, and to run for public office.
A New Orleans native, Ms. Brazile began her political career at the age of nine when she worked to elect a City Council candidate who had promised to build a playground in her neighborhood; the candidate won, the swing sets was installed, and a lifelong passion for political progress was ignited. Four decades and innumerable state and local campaigns later, Ms. Brazile has worked on every presidential campaign from 1976 through 2000, when she served as campaign manager for former Vice President Al Gore, becoming the first African-American woman to manage a presidential campaign.
Author of the best-selling memoir Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics, Ms. Brazile is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, a syndicated newspaper columnist for United Media, a columnist for Ms. Magazine, and an on-air contributor to CNN, NPR, and ABC, where she regularly appears on This Week with George Stephanopoulos.
In August 2009, O, The Oprah Magazine chose Ms. Brazile as one of its 20 remarkable visionaries for the magazines first-ever O Power List. In addition, she was named among the 100 Most Powerful Women by Washingtonian magazine, Top 50 Women in America by Essence magazine, and received the Congressional Black Caucus Foundations highest award for political achievement. A former member of the board of directors of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, responsible for leading the states rebuilding process in the aftermath of two catastrophic hurricanes, Ms. Brazile is the proud recipient of honorary doctorate degrees from Louisiana State University and Xavier University of Louisiana, the only historically Black, Catholic institution of higher education in the United States.
Ms. Brazile is founder and managing director of Brazile & Associates LLC, a general consulting, grassroots advocacy, and training firm based in Washington, DC.
Tony Plana recently starred as Ignacio Suarez, the widowed father to America Ferrera’s Ugly Betty, in ABC’s landmark, groundbreaking hit series for which he received the 2006 Golden Satellite Award from the International Press Academy, an Imagen Award, and an Alma Award. Ugly Betty was the first Spanish speaking series to be adapted to English for a major American network and received the highest ratings and the most critical acclaim of any Latino-based show in the history of television, most notably 11 Emmy nominations and a Golden Glove Award for best comedy. Previously, he also starred in Showtime’s original series, Resurrection Boulevard, and was nominated for two Alma Awards for best actor. Resurrection Boulevard was the first series to be produced, written, directed and starring Latinos, and the most awarded series in Showtime’s history including an Alma Award for the best television series of 2002. Besides recurring roles on Alpha House, Madam Secretary, Jane the Virgin, Cristela, Motive, The Fosters, and the CW’s newest hit, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, his latest television features are Meddling Mom for Hallmark Movie Channel with Sonia Braga and The Jodi Arias Story for Lifetime where he plays the renowned prosecutor Juan Martinez.
He has directed two feature film comedies, A Million to Juan with Paul Rodriguez and The Princess and the Barrio Boy, the first Latino family film to be produced by Showtime, starring academy award nominee Edward James Olmos and Maria Conchita Alonso. The film received two 2001 Alma Award nominations for Best Made for Television Movie and Best Ensemble Acting and won the 2001 Imagen Award for Best Made for Television Movie.
Plana is the co-founder and Executive Artistic Director of the EastLA Classic Theatre (ECT), a group comprised of multicultural, classically trained theatre professionals. For the past 18 years, the EastLA Classic Theatre has been dedicated to serving economically challenged communities through educational outreach programs for primary and secondary schools. Through the EastLA Classic Theatre, Plana has challenged the boundaries of the teaching and learning of language through an innovative approach called Language in Play (LIP). Working directly with language arts teachers, LIP utilizes the performing arts to impact literacy skills in academically at risk and bi-lingual students.
Dr. Cornel West
Cornel West is a prominent and provocative democratic intellectual. He has taught at Yale, Harvard, the University of Paris, Princeton, and, most recently, Union Theological Seminary. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard in three years and obtained his MA and PhD in philosophy at Princeton. He has written over 20 books and has edited 13. Though he is best known for his classics, Race Matters and Democracy Matters, and for his memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud, his most recent releases, Black Prophetic Fire and Radical King, were received with critical acclaim.
Dr. West is a frequent guest on the Bill Maher Show, Colbert Report, CNN, C-Span and Democracy Now. He made his film debut in the Matrix – and was the commentator (with Ken Wilbur) on the official trilogy released in 2004. He also has appeared in over 25 documentaries and films including Examined Life, Call & Response, Sidewalk and Stand.
Last but certainly not least, he has made three spoken word albums including Never Forget, collaborating with Prince, Jill Scott, Andre 3000, Talib Kweli, KRS-One and the late Gerald Levert. His spoken word interludes were featured on Terence Blanchard’s Choices (which won the Grand Prix in France for the best Jazz Album of the year of 2009), The Cornel West Theory’s Second Rome, Raheem DeVaughn’s Grammy-nominated Love & War: Masterpeace, and most recently on Bootsy Collins’ The Funk Capital of the World. In short, Cornel West has a passion to invite a variety of people from all walks of life into his world of ideas in order to keep alive the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. – a legacy of telling the truth and bearing witness to love and justice.
Carly Fiorina is a true leader and seasoned problem-solver. She is a passionate, articulate advocate for entrepreneurship, innovation, and effective leadership. Her mission is to inspire, equip and connect individuals and teams to seize opportunities, face challenges, and accelerate impact in their communities. She knows that everyone has more potential than they realize, that those closest to the problem understand the problem best, and that leading to unlock the potential in others and actually solve problems can result in both progress and joy.
Carly shares her leadership experience and approach to problem-solving in a variety of ways. In addition to her regular speeches to students, businesses and non-profits, she is the founder and Chairman of Unlocking Potential, a non-profit organization that invests in human potential by supporting local leaders who are solving problems in their communities; equipping them with the behaviors, characteristics, disciplines and tools to increase their leadership and problem-solving capacity. She is also the host of By Example, an upcoming podcast (currently in production) that will feature leaders from various sectors and communities. On By Example, Carly will use the experiences, stories and lessons from innovators and problem-solvers to teach practical, real-world solutions to challenges many listeners face.
Carly’s experience spans from secretary to CEO, from public to private, and from for-profit to non-profit. She started out as a secretary for a 9-person real-estate business and eventually became the first woman ever to lead a Fortune 50 company. When Carly was recruited to lead HP in 1999, the industry was facing the worst technology recession in 25 years. Under Carly’s leadership, revenue grew, innovation tripled, growth quadrupled, and HP became the 11th largest company in the U.S.
During her tenure at HP, the company received numerous civic recognitions, including being named one of the 100 Best Corporate Citizens by Business Ethics Magazine, one of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers by Working Mother Magazine, receiving a 100% rating by The Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, and being named one of the World’s Most Respected Companies by The Financial Times and PricewaterhouseCooper.
After leaving HP, Carly focused her efforts on giving back. Prior to Unlocking Potential, she served as the Chairman of Good360, the world’s largest product philanthropy organization, and as Chairman of Opportunity International, a Christian-based organization that lifts millions out of poverty around the globe through micro-finance. She also founded the One Woman Initiative in partnership with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, to engage and empower women in Pakistan, Egypt, India and the Philippines through increased access to economic opportunity.
Carly was appointed by President Bush and CIA Director Michael Hayden to serve as the Chairman of the External Advisory Board of the CIA after 9/11. In this capacity, she held the highest clearances available to a civilian, and focused her efforts on CIA recruitment policies, information technology capabilities and organizational integration.
In 2015, Carly launched a campaign for President. Running as a political outsider, Carly spoke about empowering and engaging citizens to take back government from a political ruling class that has failed to deliver results. There, many more Americans came to know her as a clear-eyed, direct leader capable of actually solving problems.
Anne was appointed Chief Executive Officer of AT&T Business in September 2019. She is responsible for the company’s Business Solutions organization, which serves more than 3 million business customers in nearly 200 countries and territories around the world, including nearly all of the world’s fortune 1000 companies.
With decades in the industry, Anne has led many global organizations through major transformations, developing and executing innovative growth strategies while building role model relationships. She's passionate about education, diversity and inclusion, advancing women in technology and cultivating next generation leaders.
Previously, Anne was President - National Business, where she led over 12,000 business professionals supporting 95 percent of AT&T’s business customers nationwide. Across numerous AT&T Business segments, she oversaw customer experience, management of direct and indirect sales channels, the B2B Sales Development Program, call center support, and DIRECTV FOR BUSINESSSM. She also owned P&L for the small and medium-sized business market encompassing AT&T's B2B services including wireless, networking, and application solutions.
Anne’s experience is diverse in both breadth and depth. She has held leadership positions in engineering, direct and indirect sales, sales operations, marketing, customer care, international operations, product management and strategic planning. She’s known for building world class teams, developing model leaders, and having a passion for excellence with customers and constituents alike.
As a founding member of AT&T University’s governing board, Anne actively supports the company’s leadership development imperative. She’s also involved in many of AT&T’s Employee Resource Groups and Employee Networks worldwide and serves as the executive sponsor for AT&T’s Women of Business Employee Network and the Asia Pacific Women’s Organization.
A lifetime member of the Girl Scouts, Anne also serves on the National Board of Directors for the Girl Scouts of the USA. She also currently serves on the Board of the Directors of Franklin Covey Co (NYSE: FC). Anne is a member of the Committee of 100 and the Co-Chair of Georgia Tech’s Parent Board.
Her many contributions to business and the community are widely recognized. A few of Anne’s awards and accolades include Leaders and Legends by Who’s Who in Asian American Communities, Corporate Woman of the Year by the Women’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Most Inspiring Woman in Comms by Light Reading. Most recently, Anne was awarded the Gold Stevie Award as Female Executive of the Year - Business Services.
Anne holds a Master of Business Administration with distinction from The Johnson School at Cornell University and a Bachelor of Science degree and Master of Engineering degree in Electrical Engineering from Cornell. She is also a graduate of the Pre-College Division of the Juilliard School of Music.