Billie Jean King

Advocate, Changemaker, and Founder | Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative

Billie Jean King is the founder of the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative and the co-founder of World TeamTennis. She has long been a champion for social change and equality. King created new inroads for all genders in sports and beyond during her legendary career and she continues to make her mark today.

King was named one of the “100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century” by Life Magazine and, in 2009, in recognition of her work in the social justice arena and her accomplishments in sports, President Obama awarded her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

In 2014, in partnership with Teneo, she launched the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative to address inclusion and diversity issues in the workplace. In 2016 she addressed both the National Football League and FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, on issues related to gender equality and inclusion.

King grew up playing tennis in the California public parks and won 39 Grand Slam titles during her career. She helped form the Virginia Slims Series and founded the Women’s Tennis Association. She defeated Bobby Riggs in one of the greatest moments in sports history – the Battle of the Sexes on Sept. 20, 1973.

In 2017, Fox Searchlight released the critically acclaimed film, Battle of the Sexes, starring Academy Award® winner Emma Stone as King and Academy Award® nominee Steve Carrell as Bobby Riggs, which depicts both players’ battles on and off the court as well as the cultural and social impact of the groundbreaking match.

In 1974 King co-founded World Team Tennis (WTT), the revolutionary professional tennis league. She also founded the Women’s Tennis Association and the Women’s Sports Foundation. In August 2006, the National Tennis Center, home of the US Open, was renamed the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in honor of her accomplishments on and off the court. In 2014 President Obama named King to the Presidential Delegation for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. King serves on the boards of the Women’s Sports Foundation and the Elton John AIDS Foundation and is a past member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.

Sponsored by Girls Prep

Azar Nafisi

Iranian-American Bestselling Author, Reading Lolita in Tehran and The Republic of Imagination: America in Three Books

Azar Nafisi is best known as the author of the national bestseller Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, an incisive exploration of the transformative powers of fiction in a world of tyranny. The book has spent over 117 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. Reading Lolita in Tehran has been translated in 32 languages and has won diverse literary awards. In 2009 Reading Lolita in Tehran was named as one of the “100 Best Books of the Decade” by The Times (London).

Between 1997 and 2017, Azar Nafisi was a Fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, DC, where she was a professor of aesthetics, culture, and literature, and taught courses on the relation between culture and politics, she was also Director of The Dialogue Project & Cultural Conversations. She studied in the US in the 1970s and earned her Ph.D. at University of Oklahoma. She returned to Iran and taught at the University of Tehran, and in 1981, she was expelled for refusing to wear the mandatory Islamic veil and did not resume teaching until 1987. She taught at the Free Islamic University and Allameh Tabatabai, and then held a fellowship at Oxford University, teaching and conducting a series of lectures on culture and the important role of Western literature and culture in Iran after the revolution in 1979. Dr. Nafisi returned to the United States in 1997 — earning national respect and international recognition for advocating on behalf of Iran’s intellectuals, youth, and especially young women.

Azar Nafisi conducted workshops in Iran for women students on the relationship between culture and human rights; the material culled from these workshops formed the basis of a new human rights education curriculum. She has lectured and written extensively in English and Persian on the political implications of literature and culture, as well as the human rights of the Iranian women and girls and the important role they play in the process of change for pluralism and an open society in Iran. She is also involved in the promotion of not just literacy, but of reading books with universal literary value. In 2011, she was awarded the Cristóbal Gabarrón Foundation International Thought and Humanities Award for her “determined and courageous defense of human values in Iran and her efforts to create awareness through literature about the situation women face in Islamic society.” She also received the 2015 Benjamin Franklin Creativity Laureate Award. She has been awarded honorary doctorates from Mt. Holyoke College (2012), Seton Hill University (2010), Goucher College (2009), Bard College (2007), and Nazareth College.

Azar Nafisi has written for The New York Times, Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. Her cover story, “The Veiled Threat: The Iranian Revolution’s Woman Problem” published in The New Republic (February 22, 1999) has been reprinted into several languages. She is also the author of Things I’ve Been Silent About: Memories, a memoir about her mother. Her most recent book is entitled The Republic of Imagination: America in Three Books, a powerful and passionate case for the vital role of fiction in America today. Azar Nafisi’s book on Vladimir Nabokov, That Other World, will be published by Yale University Press in 2019. She lives in Washington, DC.

Sponsored by the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools

Halla Tómasdóttir

Entrepreneur, Board Director, Investor, and 2016 Iceland Presidential Candidate

Halla is an experienced leader, entrepreneur, board director and investor who has worked in the US, UK and across the Nordics. She is sought after as an international keynote speaker, thought leader and change catalyst. She has delivered keynotes and participated in panel discussions for international corporations and conferences including TED, Clinton Global Initiative, Women of the World, Skoll Forum, Women’s Forum, Rockefeller University, Cisco, Pfizer, GE, Nasdaq, and IESE Business School.

Halla started her career in corporate America working for Mars and Pepsi Cola. She was a member of the founding team of Reykjavík University where she established the Executive Education Department and was an assistant professor at the Business School. She was the first female CEO of the Iceland Chamber of Commerce and has served on for-profit and non-profit boards in education, healthcare, finance and consumer products.

Halla led a successful women entrepreneurship and empowerment initiative (Auður í krafti kvenna), and later founded Auður Capital, an investment firm that focused on incorporating feminine values into finance. Auður Capital survived the infamous financial meltdown in 2008 in tact. Halla was a founding member of the National Assembly held in Iceland in the wake of its collapse, where a random sample of the Icelandic nation discussed its values and vision for the future. She also founded and chaired WE 2015, a global dialogue on closing the gender gap.

In 2016, Halla was a Presidential candidate in Iceland. The elections were held on June 25t and Halla was the runner-up with nearly a third of the vote. An impressive finish as only 45 days before, the polls had her at 1%. Following the elections, the New Yorker had this to say about her: “Halla was not just sincere-looking for a politician. She was the most sincere-looking human being I have ever seen, a living emoji of sincerity: her head gently tilted to one side, her face a perfect equation of warm smile and worried, caring expression.”

Halla received the Cartier Award for European Women Entrepreneurship in 2009 and the following year Newsweek named her to a list of 150 women who “shake the world”.

Sponsored by Margét Pála Schools

Sylvia Acevedo

Chief Executive Officer | Girl Scouts of the USA

Sylvia AcevedoSylvia Acevedo, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA), brings to the organization a background in entrepreneurship; science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM); and innovation, as well as a lifelong commitment to girls’ success in their own lives and the world. She was a member of the GSUSA Board of Directors from 2009 to 2016 and served as its secretary.

Dedicated to girls’ leadership long before she was named to GSUSA’s board, Sylvia has seen firsthand the power of Girl Scouts. As a girl growing up in New Mexico, after her family suffered a major tragedy, Sylvia was forced to move and leave behind her school, her neighborhood, and her friends. It was this move that brought her to Girl Scouts, which would change her life forever. Her troop provided her with tools and experiences not widely available to girls of her background at that time. In Sylvia’s words, “This life-changing experience showed me what leadership looked like and enabled me to pursue it as a goal.”

Over the years Sylvia has spoken across the country about the importance of helping girls discover their strengths, passions, and talents. She also served on the founding board of the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders in Austin, Texas—one of the largest all-girls public school in the nation.

In addition, Sylvia served as a member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, chairing its Early Learning Subcommittee. She coauthored the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Family Engagement curriculum to help narrow academic achievement gaps in America, and she is writing an aspirational memoir that promotes STEM for middle school students, which will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in September 2018.

A talented technology executive who has held positions with some of the world’s most respected companies, previously Sylvia was the founder, president, and CEO of CommuniCard LLC, a firm known for its innovative approaches to working with changing community demographics. Prior to that, she served in executive and business development roles at REBA Technologies, Dell Computer Corporation, Autodesk Inc., Tandem Ungermann-Bass, Apple Computer, and IBM—and she began her career as a rocket scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Sylvia has been widely recognized for her accomplishments, with honors that include the Austin Con Mi Madre Education Award (2016), Girl Scouts of Central Texas Woman of Distinction (2013), a place in U.S. News and World Report’s list of the top 100 American women in STEM (2012), the Ohtli Award from the federal government of Mexico, a national civil rights award (2011), the Austin Community Foundation’s STAR Award (2010), NMSU College of Engineering Distinguished Alumna (2010), the Austin American-Statesman’s Austin Hero Award (2009), the Austin Business Chamber of Commerce’s Star of Texas Award, Education (2007), and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Businesswoman of the Year (2004).

Sylvia was one of the first Hispanic students, male or female, to earn a graduate engineering degree from Stanford University—an MS in industrial engineering—and she holds a bachelor of science degree with honors in industrial engineering from New Mexico State University.

Sponsored by the Young Women’s Preparatory Network

Lieutenant Colonel Lucy Giles

First Female Commander | New College, Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst

Lieutenant Colonel Lucy Giles was commissioned in 1992 after time at Exeter University. Early regimental duty in the newly formed Royal Logistic Corps included postings within Germany, UK and South Africa and deployments to Bosnia (1994, 1997, 1999), East Timor and Sierra Leone.

After gaining her Masters and completing the Advanced Command and Staff Course from 2001-03, she posted to HQ Northern Ireland.

Lieutenant Colonel Giles commanded 47 Air Despatch Squadron enabling operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts of the world. She also led within a training regiment prior to her appointment as an instructor at the Joint Services Command and Staff College in 2011. Here she focussed on command, leadership and management, represented the College in military ethics and leadership development, and gained her PGCE in 2013.

Appointed Commander of New College, Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in January 2015, she was humbled to receive an entry into the Debretts’ People of the Day in 2016 and was the winner of the ‘Inspirational’ and ‘Woman of the Year’ awards at the inaugural Women in Defence event in October 2016. She is an ambassador for First Women UK, is part of the Girls’ Schools Association teachers’ mentoring programme, and was delighted to receive an honorary doctorate from Exeter University for services to the military in July 2017.

Lucy is married to Nick. They have two children; Jess (2004) and Alex (2008). She enjoys drama, singing and lending support to Girl Guiding. She also coaches, competes and runs orienteering to UK Armed Forces level.

Sponsored by the Girls’ Schools Association

Gail Kelly

Former Chief Executive Officer | The Westpac Group and Author

Gail KellyGail’s banking career spans 35 years, split equally between South Africa and Australia. While in South Africa, Gail held a number of senior executive positions in the Nedbank Group.

Gail served as the Group Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of two banks in Australia – St.George Bank from 2002 to 2007 and Westpac from 2008 to 2015. In 2008, these two banks came together under Gail’s leadership in what was the largest in-market merger in Australian financial services. At the time of her retirement in February 2015, The Westpac Group was the country’s 2nd largest bank and the 12th largest bank in the world, in terms of market capitalization.

Gail is currently engaged in various roles globally as well as in Australia, including as a:

  • Member of the Group of Thirty
  • The Global Board of Advisors at the US Council on Foreign Relations
  • Member of the McKinsey Advisory Council
  • Member of the PLuS Alliance Advisory Board
  • Member of the Optus Advisory Committee
  • Senior Global Advisor to UBS
  • Director of Woolworths Holdings in South Africa
  • Director of Australian Philanthropic Services
  • Adjunct Professor at the University of New South Wales
  • Ambassador for Women’s Empowerment for CARE Australia

Her previous roles have included Vice President of the International Monetary Conference, Chairman of the Australian Bankers’ Association, and Member of the Australian Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council. In addition, she has served as a Director of the Business Council of Australia, Country Road Group, and David Jones.

Gail is also the author of Live Lead Learn: My stories of life and leadership, which was published in July 2017 in Australia and New Zealand by Penguin Random House, and in November 2017 in South Africa by Pan Macmillan.

Gail holds a Bachelor of Arts degree and Higher Diploma of Education from the University of Cape Town and a Masters of Business Administration (with Distinction) from the University of the Witwatersrand. She has also completed the INSEAD Advanced Management Programme in Fontainebleau.

Gail has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Business by the University of New South Wales, Macquarie University and Charles Sturt University. She has also been conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Science in Economics by the University of Sydney.

Sponsored by the Alliance of Girls’ Schools Australasia

María Gabriela Martino de Galindez

Head Teacher | Colegio El Buen Ayre

María Gabriela Martino de GalindezMaría Gabriela “Gaby” Martino de Galindez is a teacher of English with a specialty in Didactics. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in English Language from the Universidad Tecnológica Nacional de Buenos Aires and a Master’s Degree in TEFL from the Universidad de Jaén, España.

Gaby has served as both a chair of “Didáctica Especial y Práctica de la Enseñanza” and as a researcher teacher. In addition, she has taught methodology at the Universidad del Museo Social Argentino, has been a dissertation director in “Licenciatura en Gestión y Organización Institucional” at the Universidad Austral, Buenos Aires, and co-authored the paper “Nuevo Paradigma Escolar” (2012, Ed. Logos-Promesa).

In her role as a member of the Academic Committee of ALCED Argentina, she has explored and lectured on differentiated pedagogy applied to teaching girls and boys in Argentina and abroad. Gaby has taught English at the secondary school level for more than 25 years and is now the Head Teacher in the Primary section at Colegio El Buen Ayre, a school for girls in Buenos Aires.

Sponsored by Red ALCED

Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini

Co-founder and Executive Director | International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)

Sanam Naraghi-AnderliniA former pupil of Round Square School, Cobham Hall, Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini is an influential peace campaigner, consultant and author, who has brought the issue of women in countries torn apart by conflict both to the debating floor of the United Nations and to the attention of academia and the global media. In 1999-2000 she was a lead figure in a global campaign that petitioned the United Nations to consider the courageous peace activism as well as the plight of women in war-torn countries. Their campaign resulted in a ground-breaking UN Security Council resolution (Number 1325) mandating countries to involve women in conflict resolution. Now an influential advisor to governments and international bodies, she publishes extensively on the subject of women, war and peace, and campaigns for greater understanding of women’s role as “the frontline humanitarians, mediators and even weapons collectors and ceasefire monitors… the peace actors”.

In 2006 Sanam co-founded the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN), a US-based non-profit supporting civil society activism, promoting women’s rights, peace and security in countries affected by conflict. ICAN connects women who become peacebuilders and have the courage to say no to violence. It captures their stories through the PeaceHeroes series, and helps to break their isolation and learn from each other’s skills and experiences. The organisation also introduces them to the policy community to inform and improve policy making and programming. ICAN also runs the Innovative Peace Fund that grants money to women’s peace organizations in war affected countries.

Sponsored by Round Square

Conor Neill

President | Vistage, and Teacher | IESE Business School (Spain)

Conor NeillConor Neill is President of Vistage Spain and a Professor of Leadership at IESE Business School, one of the world’s leading MBA schools. He has taught over 30,000 senior leaders the skills of powerful persuasive communication over the last 15 years.

Vistage is the world’s leading organization for CEOs. The mission of Vistage is to improve the effectiveness and enhance the lives of CEOs and key executives. The 4 core values of Vistage are Trust, Caring, Challenge and Growth.

Conor has delivered keynote addresses to many global conferences over the last 10 years. Conor was the Closing Keynote on Leadership for the 2014 Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Global Leadership Conference, the main Keynote speaker at the Leadership Concert in Bucharest, and regularly keynotes HR Director Summit Europe and other major business events such as the Mobile World Congress, IBM global leadership meeting, and ADP global partner congress.

Conor has been teaching Leadership Communication programs for over 15 years. He is Lecturer at IESE Business School in Barcelona and runs the IESE Leadership Communications courses for MBA and Executive MBAs and many senior director programs. He is a regular guest Lecturer at UCD Smurfit Business School in Dublin and at IEEM in Montevideo, Uruguay. He has worked with organizations such as Accenture, Applus, Barcelona Activa, The UK Labour Party, Microsoft, Novartis, IBM, ISDIN, Partido Popular, Puig and Santander Bank delivering seminars on Leadership through Communication.

Conor is a serial entrepreneur. He has founded 4 companies, raising capital, hiring teams and reaching over €10M in sales. He spent 6 years creating a revolution in private jet travel with his company Taxijet and has invested in 2 start-ups. He is Past-European Area Director for the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, the world’s leading community of entrepreneurs. He is the proud father of two wonderful daughters, Alexandra and Sofia.

Conor has a degree in Psychology and Artificial Intelligence and an MBA from IESE Business School. Conor was a manager in the Change Management division of Accenture for 8 years. He has worked with corporate leaders in Europe, USA, and Australia helping drive systematic change in their organizations. His hobbies include kicking footballs (the round ones), running long distances, tennis, mountain biking up steep forest slopes, blogging at www.conorneill.com, travel to historic places, and breaking out of his personal comfort zone at least once a month.

Conor is from Dublin, Ireland. He has lived in Barcelona, Spain since 2002.

Sponsored by the European Association of Single-Sex Education

Simon Noakes

Founder & CEO, Interactive Schools

Simon NoakesA father of 4 (girl, boy, girl, boy!), Simon wants to ensure education is fit-for-purpose for the iGeneration – and that the #FutureSchool meets their needs now, not in 10 years when it is too late. They will, after all, be doing jobs that do not exist – and have to live in a world where automation, AI, and social media is the norm.

Simon’s global experience and passion for strategic marketing, thought leadership, brand values, new technology and innovative thinking is transforming schools around the world.

Change is the only constant, and schools should stop just talking about “being outstanding”, and focus on being STAND-OUT.

Simon does not follow benchmarks. Success can only be delivered through creating new benchmarks and #InspiringSchools. Simon believes that every school is unique, and wants to help tell their #SchoolStories.

Simon challenges the traditional methods of communication, and embraces new ways of thinking that align to changes in user behavior and technological advances.

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Sponsored by the Association of State Girls’ Schools

Rachel Simmons

Author, Educator, and Cofounder, Girls Leadership

Rachel Simmons is the author of Enough As She Is: How to Help Girls Move Beyond Impossible Standards of Success to Live Healthy, Happy and Fulfilling Lives, and the New York Times bestsellers Odd Girl Out and The Curse of the Good Girl. As an educator, Rachel teaches girls and women skills to build their resilience, amplify their voices, and own their courage so that they—and their relationships—live with integrity and health.

The cofounder of national nonprofit Girls Leadership, she is an experienced curriculum writer and educator. She is currently the leadership development specialist at the Wurtele Center for Leadership at Smith College, and is Girls Research Scholar in Residence at The Hewitt School in New York. Rachel has served as a national spokesperson for the Always #LikeAGirl and Keds Brave Life Project campaigns, and consults nationally on women’s professional development.

Rachel was the host of the PBS television special, “A Girl’s Life,” and her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, Atlantic, Slate, and The New York Times. Rachel is a regular contributor to Good Morning America and appears often in the national media. Odd Girl Out was adapted into a highly acclaimed Lifetime television movie. Rachel lives in Western Massachusetts with her daughter.

Sponsored by the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools