Innovation 2020: Speakers


Jessica Aguirre

Jessica Aguirre | Emmy Award-Winning News Anchor, NBC Bay Area

Jessica Aguirre is the 6 and 11 p.m. evening anchor at NBC Bay Area News and an Emmy-award-winning journalist. Jessica has been a primetime evening anchor in the Bay Area for the last 20 years. She has anchored and reported in Los Angeles and Miami, including for Univision. She has earned several Emmy awards for her coverage, reporting and investigative series on the deadly Sonoma and Napa county firestorms, transgender teen fertility preservation, live coverage of the "Ghostship" warehouse fire, migrant children, and child molesters. As the daughter of immigrant parents, she is deeply involved in organizations that promote literacy and help bridge the Latino achievement gap, including The Silicon Valley Education Fund. Her Emmy-nominated education show, "Class Action," on issues facing California educators and public schools, includes interviews with U.C. President Janet Napolitano, State Superintendent of Education Tom Torlakson, and reform activist Michelle Rhee. Her investigative reporting into the aftermath of the Napa earthquake and the impact on local schools led to school safety legislation being introduced by Assemblyman Bill Dodd.

NBC Bay Area | Twitter | LinkedIn

Anna-Maja Björkenvall

Anna-Maja Björkenvall | CEO, LXMI

A dedicated clean beauty junkie, Anna-Maja Björkenvall is the dynamic and passionate CEO of LXMI, an ethical clean beauty brand available at retailers such as Sephora, Nordstrom, Detox Market, and Harvey Nichols. Since joining LXMI in 2018, Anna was appointed to run the company while the founder, humanitarian entrepreneur Leila Janah, was being treated for cancer, a disease which Ms. Janah later sadly passed away from. Anna and her team have successfully carried on Leila Janah’s social impact mission, working tirelessly to combat global poverty and climate change through the brand’s innovative business model and approach to clean beauty. Born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden, Anna is quadrilingual, has lived in four countries around the world and brings a deep cross-cultural expertise. With a long background in startup management, she is a well-balanced mix between Scandinavian organization and a strong entrepreneurial spirit. Anna currently resides in New York City and is a mission-driven marathoner/Iron Man triathlete with a passion for helping others and healthy living from the inside out.

Nora Herting

Nora Herting | Founding CEO, ImageThink

A pioneer of visual strategy, Nora is passionate about expanding peoples’ definition of creativity and believes the best way to meet the demands of business today is to take a visual approach that blends strategic thinking and creative expression. With more than a decade of experience as a facilitator, educator, and visual strategist, Nora has led transformations for some of the world’s biggest brands. And with ImageThink’s humble back-of-the-napkin origin 11 years ago, Nora helped evolve the nascent industry of visual strategy, growing a global multimillion-dollar business in the process. As a sought-after speaker and thought leader, Nora has inspired audiences at SXSW Interactive, the Massachusetts Women’s Conference, and The Atlantic’s ‘What’s Next?’ Summit with her creative keynotes and workshops. Featured in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, INC., Entrepreneur and on MSNBC, she leads a compelling conversation around the power of visual thinking as a catalyst for personal and organizational change. Nora’s best-selling book, Draw Your Big Idea, has inspired thousands to think visually and access their own creativity.

Leslé Honoré

Leslé Honoré | TEDx Speaker, Blaxican Poet, Artivist, and Authornoré | TEDx Speaker, Blaxican Poet, Artivist, and Author

Leslé Honoré is a Blaxican Poet, artivist, and author of Fist & Fire, a collection of powerful, unflinching poems that confront issues of social justice through the lens of real human lives and voices, and dive into the flames of love within the context of a relationship. In her poetry and life she works to empower youth to find their voices through the arts, and inspire people to stand in the gaps that social, economic, and racial inequities create. Leslé challenges readers, inviting them to think, feel, and consider how to create spaces where everyone can thrive. She hopes that through her work she can help give voices to people who are often silenced, unheard, and feel invisible. Her pieces about Serena Williams and Doria Roberts went viral on social media and expanded the reach of her work to an international audience.

Poetry has always been how Leslé expressed herself, discovering her writer’s voice in childhood. She further honed her work at Xavier University of Louisiana where she studied English Literature and Spanish. Leslé was a featured speaker at the inaugural Tedx Grand Boulevard in 2020. She has spoken and read her work at Obama Foundation convenings and events, the Elevated Chicago Symposium, Chicago’s 19th Amendment Commemoration, the University of Illinois Chicago’s Speaking Anarcha’s Name, The Mercantile Library (Cincinnati) and at events including the Silver Room Block Party and National Period Day. She has been featured in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, WBEZ (NPR), The Kendall Moore Show/WVON, and all major Chicago tv news outlets. In October 2019, she was honored as the Community Partner of the Year by One On One. Leslé also hosts a web-based series, Bestie Shine, with her friend, artist David Anthony Geary.

Born and raised in Gardena, California, she remains deeply rooted in the heritage and culture of her father, a native of New Orleans, Louisiana; and mother, who was born in Sinaloa, Culiacan, Mexico, and immigrated to the US when was 15. Leslé lives in Chicago with her three phenomenal children: Sage, Solomon, and Scarlett. She believes in HBCU’s and that tacos and gumbo without kale can save the world. Her forthcoming book, Letters and Lagniappe, will be released in 2020. You can follow Leslé on Facebook and Instagram @LesléHonoré, and on Twitter @Lesle_honore. (Note: Her name is pronounced LES-lay ON-or-ay.)

Frans Johansson

Frans Johansson | Founder and CEO, The Medici Group

An author, entrepreneur, and acclaimed international speaker, Frans Johansson has inspired readers and audiences worldwide with his ideas on leadership and success, innovation, and diversity, while his practical insights have empowered thousands to take action. Innovation legend Clay Christensen cited Frans’s debut book The Medici Effect as “one of the most insightful books on managing innovation that I have ever read,” while his follow up, The Click Moment, was hailed by Fast Company as the book that challenges traditional business-school thinking, and has been charged with destroying the 10,000 hour rule. Since its publication in 2004, The Medici Effect has become the definitive book on diversity driving innovation, influencing numerous industries and fields such as architecture, design, economic development, education, and investing. In his role as thought leader and CEO of The Medici Group, Frans has advised executive leadership at Fortune 500 companies such as Disney, IBM, Nike, and Synchrony (formerly GE Financial). Frans has been featured on ABC, CNN, CNBC, the PBS Newshour, and National Public Radio and serves on the Board of Trustees of the New York Hall of Science. He has spoken to audiences on six continents, in virtually every industry, and across disciplines, from creatives to engineers, financiers to scientists, and politicians to humanitarians. Raised in Sweden by his African-American/Cherokee mother and Swedish father, Frans has lived all his life at the intersection. He has written articles on healthcare, information technology, and the science of sport fishing. He has founded a software company, an international healthcare firm, and a hedge fund. Frans holds a B.S. in Environmental Science from Brown University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. 

The Medici GroupTwitter | LinkedIn

Erin L Kelly

Erin L. Kelly | Professor of Work and Organization Studies, MIT Sloan School of Management | Co-Director, Institute for Work and Employment Research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Erin L. Kelly is the Sloan Distinguished Professor of Work and Organization Studies at the MIT Sloan School of Management and co-director of the Institute for Work and Employment Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Erin investigates the implications of workplace policies and management strategies for firms, workers, and families with a joint focus on equity, wellbeing, and organizational performance. Her new book with Phyllis Moen, Overload: How Good Jobs Went Bad and What to Do About It, was published by Princeton University Press in March 2020. Previous research has examined scheduling and work-family supports, family leaves, harassment policies, and diversity initiatives in a variety of organizations and industries, primarily in the U.S. As part of the Work, Family, and Health Network, Professor Kelly evaluated innovative approaches to work redesign with group-randomized trials in professional/technical and health care workforces. Her research has been published in top sociology, management, and interdisciplinary journals and twice recognized with the Rosabeth Moss Kanter Award. She is a sociologist and received her Ph.D. from Princeton University and her B.A. from Rice University and previously taught at the University of Minnesota.

Robert Moses

Robert Moses | Choreographer, Founder, Artistic Director, Robert Moses' Kin Dance Company

Since founding Robert Moses' Kin in 1995, the artist Robert Moses has created numerous works of varying styles and genres for his highly praised dance company. His work explores topics ranging from oral traditions in African American culture to the nuanced complexities of parentage and identity and the simple joys of the expressive power of pure movement. In addition to his work with Robert Moses’ Kin, Moses has choreographed for Alvin Ailey American Dance, The San Francisco Opera, and Ailey 2 and other esteemed dance companies.He has choreographed for the SFFF, The Lorraine Hansberry Theater, New Conservatory Theater, Los Angeles Prime Moves Festival (L.A.C.E.), and Olympic Arts Festival. RMK has earned eight Isadora Duncan awards for work supported by funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, James Irvine Foundation, Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, San Francisco Arts Commission, California Arts Council, San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, and San Francisco Foundation, and among others and is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Bonnie Bird North American Choreography Award, the SF Weekly Black Box Award for Choreography, and the SF Bay Guardian Goldie Award. RMK performs at venues such as the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, Fall for Dance/City Center, Bates Dance Festival, Colorado Dance Festival and Black Choreographers Moving Toward the 21st Century. The company performs its two annual home seasons in San Francisco.

Peggy Northrop

Peggy Northrop | CEO, Watermark

Peggy joined Watermark as CEO in February 2020. A media consultant, communications expert, advisor and entrepreneur, Peggy spent the first two decades of her career as an award-winning editor in New York City, where she held senior editorial positions at some of the most iconic names in women’s media, including Vogue, Glamour and Real Simple, before becoming Editor-in-Chief of More and Global Editor-in-Chief of Reader’s Digest. She returned to the Bay Area in 2013 to serve as Editor-in-Chief of Sunset Publishing, and in the same year co-founded Shebooks, an e-book company devoted to publishing stories by and for women. Peggy brings deep experience in branding, communications and public relations to her new role. As a consultant, she has coached communications teams at nonprofits and startups, built new digital communities for brands including AARP, and helped tech companies connect to their audiences with engaging multi-platform content, most recently as launch editor of the Airbnb magazine. Peggy is a communications advisor and investor with Portfolia, which creates investment funds designed for women to back the companies they want to see in the world. She is also a mentor with SHE-CAN, the educational organization that trains the next generation of female leaders in post-genocide countries. She currently serves on the board of directors of Washington & Jefferson College.

Carin Taylor

Carin Taylor | Chief Diversity Officer, Workday

Carin Taylor is chief diversity officer at Workday and has global responsibility for the development and execution of Workday’s inclusion and diversity strategy. Carin also serves on the board of Watermark, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase the number of women in leadership positions. Prior to joining Workday, Carin served as the head of diversity, inclusion, and innovation at Genentech, where she was responsible for strategic initiatives including executive coaching, building and leading highly effective teams, and increasing employee engagement. She was also responsible for creating strategies to successfully recruit, develop, and retain diverse workforces as well as enabling large organizations to leverage diversity and inclusion to drive innovation. Before Genentech, Carin held various positions in human resources, inclusion and diversity, finance, and customer service at Cisco Systems.

Julius Thibodeaux Jr

Julius Thibodeaux Jr. | Program Manager, Advance Peace Organization

Julius Thibodeaux Jr. is an expert in the field of cyclical and retaliatory gun violence reduction in Northern California. In 2016 Julius was given the opportunity to continue his incredible journey as a life skills instructor by the Founder and CEO of Advance Peace, Mr. DeVone Boggan. He began teaching conflict resolution and anger management to young people who were most at risk to commit or be a victim of gun violence for the Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS) in Richmond, California. After working two years under ONS Director Sam Vaughn, Julius set his sights on becoming the Strategy Program Manager for the Advance Peace Organization of Sacramento. Soon after landing the job, Julius assembled an all-star team of Credible Mentors and formed alliances with several local community- based organizations (Sierra Health Foundation & MackRoad Partnership) and other organizations working to reduce gun violence in Sacramento. One of those partnerships proved to be a powerhouse collaboration when Julius was introduced to Laura Abbasi of Moms Demand Action. The two organizations have teamed up with CalVIP to accomplish historical firsts in Sacramento and Stockton: most notably, two consecutive years of no juvenile homicides in Sacramento after suffering a historic high of 9 in 2017. Julius has created two self-help modules, Cultivation of the Heart and Beautiful Evolutions, both aimed at the art of de-escalation and cultural awareness. He is a wonderful husband, father, and grandfather of 4.

Advancing Peace

Melissa C Thomas-Hunt

Melissa C. Thomas-Hunt | Head of Global Diversity and Programming, Airbnb

As Head of Global Diversity and Belonging at Airbnb, Melissa C. Thomas-Hunt leads the strategy and execution of our global internal diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging programs. An expert on building inclusive, global teams, Thomas-Hunt joined Airbnb from Vanderbilt University, where she served as Vice Provost for Inclusive Excellence. In that role, she was responsible for helping advance equity, diversity and inclusion in Vanderbilt’s academic research and community of students, faculty and staff. Prior to her work at Vanderbilt, Thomas-Hunt served as Global Chief Diversity Officer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, where she was focused on ensuring that the student community was seen, heard, valued and supported. For 25 years, she has taught MBAs and executives leadership, team dynamics, and negotiations and conducted research on the factors that unleash, leverage and amplify the contributions made by individuals, particularly women, underrepresented individuals and numerical minorities. Her publications have appeared in Research on Organizational Behavior, Organization Science, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, the Journal of Applied Psychology, the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Management Science, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin and Research on Managing Groups and Teams. Thomas-Hunt received her master’s and doctoral degrees from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management and her undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from Princeton University.

LinkedIn | Airbnb

Nora Herting

Shannon Watts | Founder, Moms Demand Action

Shannon Watts is the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America—the nation’s largest grassroots gun violence prevention group, with chapters in all 50 states and a powerful network of volunteers and survivors that has successfully effected change at the local, state and national level. As part of Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action boasts nearly 6 million supporters and a 90 percent track record of beating NRA-priority legislation in statehouses. Watts is an active board member of Emerge America, one of the nation’s leading organizations for recruiting and training women to run for office. Her book, Fight Like a Mother: How a Grassroots Movement Took on the Gun Lobby and Why Women Will Change the World, was released in May of 2019 and is now available in paperback.

Moms Demand Action | LinkedIn | Twitter

Lily Zheng

Lily Zheng | DEI Consultant, Executive Coach and Author

Lily Zheng is a diversity, equity & inclusion consultant and executive coach who works with organizations around the world to create high-impact and sustainable change. With her clients, she creates novel solutions to systemic issues through a mix of management science, organizational theory, and grassroots praxis. A dedicated change-maker, speaker, and advocate, she writes for publications including the Harvard Business Review, Quartz at Work, and HR Executive, and is the coauthor of two books: The Ethical Sellout, Maintaining Your Integrity in the Age of Compromise (a 2020 Independent Publisher Award Winner) and Gender Ambiguity in the Workplace. | LinkedIn

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