Featured Speaker: Jackie FreidbergRon Suskind

No one delivers stories that shape our times like Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author and filmmaker Ron Suskind. His books on Bush and Obama revealed, during the terms of both Presidents, all the key conclusions that now define both administrations and their eras. He did the same with his seminal New York Times opus — appearing the weekend before the election — defining the Trump Presidency and predicting the "inciting of insurrection" by Trump that ransacked Congress and horrified the world. Rachel Maddow calls Suskind's insight and reporting "intensely prophetic." The legendary journalist, with sources atop both parties, the U.S. government, Corporate America and among foreign leaders, provides actionable information — about where we stand and where we're headed — that is unmatched.

At the same time, NPR calls him “a master storyteller with the lyricism of a poet.” The fact that he is both – indefatigable investigator and lyrical narrator – is what makes Mr. Suskind so stunningly unique; and make his works, in print and in movies, among the era’s most consequential and deeply affecting. 

Featured Speaker: Steve PembertonMerlyna Valentine

Merlyna Valentine is highly sought-after international speaker, author, and consultant. She worked for over thirty years as a teacher, principal, and executive director in an extraordinarily successful school district in Louisiana. Her transformational leadership as a school principal enhanced the school’s climate and culture, which resulted in increased student achievement.

Ms. Valentine has received numerous state, national, and international awards, and commendations such as teacher of the year and principal of the year. Ms. Valentine was featured in several news segments and articles including a spotlight in Ebony Magazine. Audiences were captivated by her inspirational story of survival, courage, and hope when she was a featured segment on the Today Show. She was also chosen as the 2020 Inspirational Speaker of the Year in an international competition.

After surviving sepsis and a life-altering medical tragedy, Ms. Valentine was determined to reclaim her life and found her secret formula for building resilience. In the face of tremendous adversity, Ms. Valentine unleashed a remarkable inner strength that enabled her to lead by example.

She is committed to empowering others to embrace change, persevere, and live life without limits. She believes that what happens to us in life should not dictate our success in the future. Today she personifies what it means to transform obstacles into opportunities while inspiring countless others to do the same.  Her powerful message reminds audiences that adversity is not invincible, and they leave ready to leverage difficult moments to prove what’s possible.

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