Featured Speakers in Politics

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul

Lieutenant Governor of the State of New York

New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul was elected in 2014. Prior to her role as a statewide official, she was elected at both the Federal and local level – she was a Member of Congress in New York’s 26th Congressional District, served as Erie County Clerk, and began her career in public office on her local town board. The Lieutenant Governor chairs the Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Councils, which have reinvented economic development by empowering local leaders in business and academia, not bureaucrats in Albany.  This strategy has brought more jobs than ever before to New York State. As the highest ranking female elected official in New York State, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul is committed inspiring a new generation of women to enter public service or aspire to leadership within their chosen field through the #NYWomenLead initiative. The Lieutenant Governor spearheads the Administration’s key efforts to advance gender equality, including the Enough is Enough campaign to combat sexual assault on college campuses and efforts to eliminate the wage gap. In 2016, she was elected chair of New York State’s Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission.

A.G. Cynthia H. Coffman

Attorney General of Colorado Cynthia H. Coffman

Attorney General of Colorado | A native Missourian, General Coffman graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia and then Georgia State University Law School in Atlanta. Before moving to Colorado, AG Coffman’s legal career began more than 25 years ago in the Georgia Attorney General’s Office as a courtroom attorney.  She then had the opportunity to work for the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, where she acted as the primary liaison with the victims and their families following the 1996 domestic terror attack in Olympic Park. General Coffman began her tenure at the Colorado Department of Law in March of 2005 when she was appointed Chief Deputy Attorney General. She proudly served in this role for 10 years, acting as chief of staff and chief operating officer for the largest law firm in the State of Colorado. Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman serves as the State’s 38th Attorney General.  Since being elected in November of 2014, General Coffman has focused on community outreach, consumer protection, drug enforcement and protecting Colorado’s sovereignty. In 2016, Roll Call named AG Coffman one of the Most Influential Women in State Politics. In 2017 Law Week Colorado named AG Coffman one of the Top Women Attorneys. 

Hon. Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes

Chair of Women’s Legistative Caucus, Albany, New York

Assemblymember Crystal B. Peoples-Stokes has faithfully served New York State’s 141st Assembly district since 2003. An advocate with clear and principled service, she has always put people and policy before politics. She was appointed as Chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Governmental Operations in 2015. This committee maintains oversight on ethics reform and FOIL requests, state police, homeland security, disaster and emergency preparedness, MWBE, crime victims, human rights, and military and naval affairs. In June 2017, she was voted by her colleagues to be Chair of the New York State Legislative Women’s Caucus which is a bi-partisan and bi-cameral group. She has been an integral part of ensuring that Minority and Women Owned Businesses have a fair chance in obtaining state contracts.  Through a pilot program in Buffalo, a similar Diversity in Education initiative is currently working with teachers’ aides to help bridge the gap between their existing credentials and those required to teach in NYS.  As a graduate of both Buffalo Public Schools and Buffalo State College, she earned a Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Elementary Education and a Master’s Degree in Student Personnel Administration. She was presented with an Honorary Doctorate Degree by Medaille College in May 2017.

Hon. Lovely Warren

Mayor of the City of Rochester, NY

Mayor of Rochester | Lovely Ann Warren was sworn in as Mayor of Rochester, New York on January 1, 2014, making her the city’s first female and youngest mayor in modern times. In 2017, she was re-elected to a second, four-year term. Rochester’s bond rating was upgraded by two Wall Street rating agencies in her first term and the ratings were re-affirmed in her second term. Rochester has the highest municipal bond rating of New York’s largest cities outside New York City. Major crime rates in the city of Rochester fell to a 30-plus-year low during her tenure, and the Rochester Fire Department achieved a Class 1 rating from the national Insurance Services Organization. An advocate of school choice, Mayor Warren helped the Rochester City School District increase pre-k enrollment by 1,200 percent in 2016 and fostered partnerships to enable the screening of thousands of children for developmental delays. She eliminated library fines for children and has overseen the distribution of thousands of free books to children in the city. Mayor Warren was a Rochester City Councilmember from 2007 to 2013 and was elected as President in 2010—making her the youngest President in City Council history. She has a bachelor’s degree from John Jay College and Juris Doctorate from Albany Law School.  

Hon. Gale A. Brewer

President of the Borough of Manhattan, NY

Borough President of Manhattan | Since she took office in 2014, she has successfully passed legislation to reform the deed restriction process, add ‘caregivers’ to the city’s anti-discrimination law, remove criminal history questions from initial employment applications (the “Fair Chance Act”), and enforce requirements for street numbers on buildings in Manhattan (to aid emergency workers). She has also spearheaded community planning initiatives at the South Street Seaport, in East Midtown, and in other neighborhoods to address development and zoning issues. Brewer previously served on the City Council for 12 years, serving as the founding chair of the Technology Committee and leading the Government Operations Committee. There, the Council passed her legislation guaranteeing paid sick leave for most hourly employees, requiring all City data be published online, and protecting domestic workers from abusive practices. Prior to that, she served as Chief of Staff to Council Member Ruth Messinger, NYC Deputy Public Advocate, Director of the city's Federal Office, and Executive Director of the Mayor’s Commission on the Status of Women.

Hon. Nathalia Fernandez


Assemblymember | A daughter of immigrant parents, Nathalia was raised to understand the benefit of a strong work ethic. Her father, William, migrated with his family from Cuba to the Bronx at a young age and started his own business painting apartments in his late teens to help his father support the family. Upon graduating from Hofstra University, Nathalia found herself volunteering for change within the Bronx. Nathalia was driven by her compassion for her peers and neighbors, and it was no surprise when she served the 80th Assembly District as chief of staff to former Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj. In early 2017, Nathalia accepted the position of a lifetime, joining the Executive Chamber at the highest level of state government as the Bronx regional representative for Gov. Andrew Cuomo. She was active in awarding $10 million to the Bronx Civic Center under the governor’s Downstate Revitalization Initiative. In partnership with the Bronx borough president’s office, this project allowed Nathalia to work closely with community stakeholders and small businesses to create a uniform plan of execution on how best to utilize the grant. With her advanced knowledge of state operations and services, Nathalia looks forward to representing the district she calls home and her community as the Assemblymember for the 80th District.


Liz Abzug

President of Bella Abzug Initiative

Liz Abzug is the Founder/ Executive Director of Bella Abzug Leadership Institute, Inc (BALI) which she createdin 2005 as a 501c-3 not for profit leadership, debate, and empowerment skills training organization that trains girls and young women in New York City and the rest of the tri state area. BALI students, many of whom come from low income, immigrant and single parent households are NYC public middle and high school girls and college aged women. We have trained over 2100 girls who attend 124 different public middle and high schoolslocated throughout all 5 boroughs of New York City and in New Jersey, Long Island, Westchester and Connecticut. Most of our students attend underserved schools, yet others attend some of the most competitive public schools in New York City. BALI also trains college women who attend public and private colleges and universities throughout the country. All BALI’s training programs and training materials are provided for free to all our students.

Charlsey Baumeier


National Business Development Officer

With over 20 years of estate planning experience in large law firms, Charlsey has spent her career working with high net-worth individuals, business owners, and corporate executives. She has seen first-hand both the devastation a lack of planning bestows on a family and the fulfillment and continuity that a well-thought estate and financial plan provides. Having an entrepreneurial spirit, Charlsey was one of the founding Officers of NetLaw Inc., an ABA award winning legal technology company. As Senior Vice President of Business Development, Charlsey was responsible for the acquisition and development of strategic enterprise partners. Charlsey was also head of the NetLaw Attorney Network, responsible for the recruitment and training of estate planning attorneys. Charlsey is a national and international speaker, webinar host, published author &  blogger.

Rachel Y. DeGuzman


Rachel Y. DeGuzman is President & CEO of 21st Century Arts and ARTivist in Residence at Gallery Seventy Four. A 2015-17 FLF Fellow and 2012-13 Association Performing Arts Presenter LDI alumna, DeGuzman is founder and producer of the “At the Crossroads: Activating the Intersection of Art & Justice” initiative, producer & host of “Up Close and Cultural," a weekly radio show on WAYO 104.3 FM in Rochester.  DeGuzman was named one of the “Rochester 10” in December 2017 by Rochester City Newspaper; recipient of Geva Theatre Center’s 2016 Essie Calhoun Diversity in the Arts Award (“Essie"); a 2016 ATHENA Award finalist; recipient of Visit Rochester’s “Coach” award; a 2011 New York Emmy Award nominee; and a 2009 D&C “Woman to Watch.” Her past positions include Director of Advancement & External Relations at Rochester City Ballet, Marketing & Publicity Manager at Nazareth College Arts Center, Director of Development & Communications at The Commission Project, and Director of Development at Garth Fagan Dance.

Natalie Douglas

Entertainer, Mable Mercer Foundation

Gorgeous pipes, combined with effortless vocal styling and inspiring song interpretation are the hallmarks of nightclub diva Natalie Douglas, an eight-time MAC Award, Nightlife Award and two-time Backstage Bistro Award winner, whose recent appearances include Birdland Jazz Club, Carnegie Hall, Cafe Carlyle, The Town Hall, The Crazy Coqs (London) and numerous Cabaret Conventions presented by The Mabel Mercer Foundation (which also honored her with the Margaret Whiting Award at Carnegie Hall and the Donald F. Smith Award). Natalie’s portrait has joined the illustrious collection of legendary musicians on Birdland’s Wall of Fame. Her musical celebrations of Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Stevie Nicks, Dolly Parton, Nat “King” Cole, Lena Horne, Sammy Davis, Jr., Freedom Songs, The Music of the 70’s and Cafe Society have had US & International audiences on their feet clapping long, loudly and yelling for more. Natalie has also made her mark as a much sought after educator and actor. Natalie has a Bachelor’s Degree from USC in Theatre and Women’s Studies and holds a Master's Degree from UCLA in Psychology and Theatre. For more information, please visit nataliedouglas.com

Deborah L. Hughes, Conference Co-Chair

President & CEO of Susan B. Anthony House & Museum

Deborah L.Hughes joined the Susan B. Anthony House as executive director in August 2007. She brings more than twenty-five years of wide-ranging non-profit experience in managing people and financial resources, training and motivating volunteers, and fundraising to this National Historic Landmark. An ordained minister, Hughes has served on the pastoral staff of three churches in Michigan and New York. She also served on the executive staff of the pension board of the American Baptist Churches, USA, in New York, NY, administering health, death, disability and retirement benefits for employees of churches and related social service organizations. After spending most of her life away from her hometown, she was delighted to return to Rochester in 2001. Hughes is a graduate of the University of Oregon (Eugene) with a B.S. in Religious Studies; she holds a masters’ degree from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Biblical Studies, with a focus on ancient languages. She has provided leadership for hurricane relief teams in New Orleans, flood relief in Iowa, and participated in peacemaking trips to El Salvador and the Middle East. She is a strong advocate for human rights and equal opportunities for all, especially those who suffer discrimination based on gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or economic circumstances.  

Linda Lattimore

Author, Lawyer of Solutionaries

Linda Lattimore is a seasoned lawyer, corporate executive and business strategist. Her skills and experience across industries, segments and geographies, enable Linda to articulate and represent the issues that are unique, and distinct, to the cultures and markets her clients serve. Linda has worked as the General Counsel for various multinational corporations and the Chief of the White-Collar Crime Section of the US Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Texas where she first chaired many noteworthy trials. An American who lived for many years in Peru and Mexico, Linda is fluent in Spanish, conversant in French and has traveled extensively throughout the world with her work as international corporate counsel. Linda is a dedicated and passionate collaborator and visionary. She has received the International Humanitarian award from Ten Thousand Villages as well as being nominated for Woman of the Year for both San Diego Magazine and Austin Woman Magazine. Director of the WGN Global Fund, a 501c(3) that educates young women about social enterprise as a vehicle for change, and supports women who, because of socio-economic circumstances, would not otherwise have the tools to create businesses. Linda believes that social responsibility is critical to competitive edge and often consults on this new norm of business.


Alex Lehman


Alexandra (“Alex”) Lehman is the co-founder and executive director of Coalition Z, an activism organization committed to amplifying the voices of progressive youth (www.coalitionz.org). Launched on Inauguration Day 2017, Coalition Z began with a “Day of Action” during which 50 students from all over NYC came together to engage in our democracy and effect change even before they were of voting age. Students participated in issue-based volunteer opportunities supporting civil rights, reproductive rights, and climate change policy reform. Since that time - through lobbying trips to Albany to advocate for more expansive voting rights, organizing voter registration drives, and speaking at several activism events on behalf of high school age progressive youth - Coalition Z has grown into a nationwide multi chapter coalition of hundreds of members. Coalition Z organized 65 schools to participate in the walkout for gun reform and hosted a corresponding "Evening of Action”  (https://www.teenvogue.com/story/post-parkland-evening-of-action-teen-activists-gun-control-coalition-z)."

Irma McCLaurin, PhD, Conference Co-Chair


Irma McClaurin, PhD/MFA, is a leadership strategist, past president of Shaw University, and award-winning author. Recently selected as a Fulbright Specialist, she is the founder and senior consultant for McClaurin Solutions, and consults on leadership strategies; authentic community engagement practices. McClaurin is an Executive Coach who also served as the Chief Diversity Officer at Teach For America and is a former Ford Foundation Program Officer, Associate VP and Founding Executive Director of the first Urban Research and Outreach Engagement Center at the University of Minnesota, and senior faculty at the Federal Executive Institute where she taught leadership education to senior federal executives from agencies like the CIA, NASA, DOT and USAID. She was tenured in anthropology at the University of Florida and the University of Minnesota. She researches the social construction of inequality and has fieldwork experiences in Belize, Surinam, the Netherlands and the United States. 

Kenneth B. Morris, Jr.

Heir of Federick Douglas & Booker T. Washington

Mr. Morris descends from two of the most influential names in American history: he is the great-great-great grandson of Frederick Douglass and the great-great-grandson of Booker T. Washington. His mother, Nettie Washington Douglass, is the daughter of Nettie Hancock Washington (granddaughter of Booker T. Washington), and Dr. Frederick Douglass III (great-grandson of Frederick Douglass). Ken’s life until the year 2007 could be described as distinguished yet decisively disengaged from his lineage until Providence called. Ken continues his family’s legacy of anti-slavery and educational work as co-founder and president of the Atlanta-based nonprofit Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives (FDFI). His career and life path are driven by a clear focus on FDFI’s mission[t]o Advance Freedom through Knowledge and Strategic Action.” He could not have predicted that one day he would so fully embrace and be defined by the characteristics that so closely defined his famous ancestors.

Jenifer Rajkumar

Former Candidate of NYS Assembly

Jenifer Rajkumar serves in the Executive Chamber of New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. She led a statewide effort to ensure immigrants in New York State have access to counsel through the Governor's first-in-the-nation Liberty Defense Project. Rajkumar has a wide range of experience in litigation, policy, and politics. She practiced civil rights law for several years at Sanford Heisler Sharp LLP, focusing on class action litigation on behalf of the disenfranchised. She was part of the legal team on Velez v. Novartis, which was ranked by the U.N. as one of the top 10 cases in the world advancing women's rights.  She teaches Political Science as a Professor at CUNY's Lehman College. She is a panelist on the national PBS Show "To the Contrary" which airs to over 1 million viewer nationwide. In 2011, she became the first Indian American elected to the political office of District Leader in Manhattan, an office she won with 70% of the vote. She is a graduate of Stanford Law School with pro bono distinction and the University of Pennsylvania, magna cum laude, and graduated as a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Sherylynn Sealy

Yoga Instructor

Sherylynn Sealy is a yogi, strategist, artist, and educator with a varied background. She received her yoga training from Mang’Oh Yoga in Manhattan, NY, and appreciates the marriage of her strong spiritual background with her love of movement. Sherylynn believes yoga is for everyone and she desires to share its physical, mental, and spiritual benefits with all people. Sherylynn also carries a background in dance. She received her dance and choreography training from studios and experts of New Haven Ballet, Joffrey Ballet School, Bosoma Dance Company and Urban Bush Women. She serves on the Dance/NYC Junior Committee and is the Producing Artistic Director at Greater Glory Nazarene Ministries in Brooklyn, NY.  She previously served as a consultant for the New Haven, CT Mayor’s Office and Superintendent’s Office on their implementation of the City-wide Youth Stat Initiative. She managed over 200 student-cases and served as the point of contact for schools and local partners.

Cynthia Richie Tyrell

President & Founder of Represent 2020

Cynthia Richie Terrell is the founder and director of RepresentWomen and an outspoken advocate for rules & systems reforms to advance women’s representation and leadership in the United States. Terrell also helped to found FairVote - a leading electoral reform organization. Terrell has worked on women’s representation and voting system reform in the United States and abroad. Previously, Terrell worked extensively on political campaigns, working as campaign manager and field director for campaigns for the U.S. President, U.S. House and U.S. Senate, for governor and for state and city-wide initiative efforts, including a state equal rights amendment and a city campaign for fair representation voting. Terrell has been published in numerous print journals including: the Washington Post, The Hill, Refinery29, The Nation, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, The American Prospect, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Baltimore Sun, and The Christian Science Monitor; has appeared on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal; and has participated in numerous radio shows & panel discussions on the topic of structural strategies to elect more women.


Elaine Weiss


Elaine Weiss is a journalist and writer. Her magazine feature writing has been recognized with prizes from the Society of Professional Journalists, and her by-line has appeared in The Atlantic, Harper’s, New York Times, Wall St. Journal, and Christian Science Monitor. as well as reports and documentaries for NPR.

​Her long-form writing garnered a Pushcart Prize "Editor's Choice" award, and she is a proud MacDowell Colony Fellow. Her first book, Fruits of Victory:The Woman's Land Army in the Great War was excerpted in Smithsonian Magazine online and featured on C-Span and public radio stations nationwide. 

Tracy C. Higginbotham


For 23 years, Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham has been promoting, publicizing and uniting women entrepreneurs and their companies online and at special events to cultivate strong economic relationships to advance their companies and eradicate pay inequality for women. 

She has been dedicated to supporting women entrepreneurs since 1996 when starting and owning a business was becoming a potential career option for women. By hosting and organizing 40 events in New York State annually, in her ten year weekly e-newsletter and inspirational speeches Tracy has motivated women for 2 decades.

Sharon J. Hill

Sharon J. Hill, Principal Strategist of Public Eye Relations and voice and pen of The Public Eye Report, is the former National VP of Development of National Women's Political Caucus, NWPC, and NWPC Georgia President, continues guiding the "Run to Win," support for all women.
Hill serves as Regional Voter Empowerment Coordinator, Peoples' Agenda, GCPA, championing the "No Excuses" Absentee Ballot Initiative and National Advisor of the National Commission for Voter Justice. Hill is Chair of the Evangelistic Outreach

Betty Folliard


The Honorable Betty Folliard is the Founder and Immediate Past President of ERA Minnesota, an organization dedicated to finally passing the Equal Rights Amendment into both the Minnesota and U.S. Constitutions. A former 3-term state legislator in the Minnesota House of Representatives where she focused on education, clean environment, strong communities and women’s rights, Ms. Folliard has a background in the arts, business, and in the political sphere. Having worked in government at the local, state, & national levels, Betty served for six years on the Hopkins School Board and spent several years in the Office of Congressman Keith Ellison as his Community Representative. Ms. Folliard is also the former co-owner of Strategy Partners, a business & political consulting firm; and she created and executive produced the feminist, progressive talk show called A Woman’s Place, because, as she says, “A woman’s place is in the White House, and in the U.S. Constitution, and wherever she chooses it to be”.

Patrick L. Riley


Patrick L. Riley is best known for his work as a freelance, senior field producer at “The Oprah Winfrey Show” for over 13 years – including ABC network credits on “Oprah’s Legends Ball” and “Building a Dream: The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy”. That opportunity provided moments for Patrick to interview Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton as well as many of his own idols - including Diana Ross, Mary Tyler Moore, Janet Jackson, Beyonce, Dr. Maya Angelou, and many more. Since OPRAH wrapped in 2011, other brands call on Patrick to consult as a producer - including The Oprah Winfrey Network, The Wendy Williams Show, Pickler & Ben, BET Creative Services, and NBCBLK. Patrick Executive Produced th 2015-16 "The More You Know" campaign for NBC Universal. In a rare turn, Patrick portrays "Rudy" in the independent film STEPS, his movie acting debut – Executive Produced by Shaquille O’Neal.

Jocelyn R. Taylor


Jocelyn R. Taylor is the Founder of JRT Multimedia LLC, a full-service, boutique strategic brand marketing, event and media agency that serves the luxury and premium lifestyle industries. In her role as Chief Brand Media & Revenue Officer, she focuses on brand architecture - bringing a proven knowledge and success of disrupting and impacting top organizations to create monetization within a variety of industries ranging from non-profit, corporate and sports, to entertainment and SaaS. In her most recent endeavor, Taylor is proud to announce JRT Multimedia’s business brand launch, LayerUpWithJRT. This new brand’s mission, vision and proposed resolution now completes the trifecta to propel offline change to the #MeToo and Time’s Up narrative - #LayerUp!  Together with Managing Partner, Chandra McQueen, they launched this female-inspired empowerment, social responsibility and “call-to-action" Global movement during the 2018 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.


Gloria Browne-Marshall


Gloria Browne-Marshall, an Associate Professor of Constitutional Law and the author of numerous articles and books on race, law and American society, has traveled extensively to share her progressive understanding of race relations and constitutional law with the world, speaking to audiences in Ghana, Rwanda, England, Wales, Canada and Switzerland. 

Browne-Marshall, the author of Race, Law, and American Society: 1607-Present (Routledge 2013), has received multiple professional honors, including the Ida B. Wells-Barnett Justice Award for her work with civil rights and women's justice issues, and the Wiley College Woman of Excellence in Law award. An award-winning playwright of seven produced plays, her most recent play, "Diversity," examines marriage choices. She reports on the U.S. Supreme Court, the United Nations, and major legal issues around the world.

Meridith Maskara


Meridith Maskara is Chief Executive Officer of the Girl Scouts of Greater New York. In this role, she provides leadership to the Council in achieving its vision of being the premier leadership organization for girls in New York City; creates more by girlsfor girls opportunities and programs; grows membership, particularly among girls from under-resourced schools, homeless shelters, and low-income communities; and expands leader training and adult development opportunities.

Meridith, a 3rd generation Girl Scout, has served in positions across the organization – as a girl member, troop leader and parent volunteer, and employee. She is committed to help create a world where all girls can achieve their dreams and to ensuring that every girl in every corner of New York City has access to leadership development programs that will help them to secure a successful future and achieve their goals.

Pam Elam


PAM ELAM is President of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Statue Fund (and its Monumental Women Campaign) which seeks to break the bronze ceiling to create the first statue of REAL women in the 164-year history of New York City's Central Park. That statue, honoring ALL the women who fought for the right to vote, will be unveiled on The Mall in Central Park on August 26, 2020. Pam worked for NYC government and elected officials for over twenty-five years. She has extensive experience in policy, legislative, administrative, and management operations. Pam made her first public speech in support of Women's Rights when she was 13 years old and has been organizing for women ever since - creating and managing countless programs, conferences, hearings, and projects over the years. She has a Masters Degree in Women's History, a Juris Doctor Degree, and a B.A. in Political Science.