Featured Speakers

Lisa Damour

POSITION: Director, Laurel School’s Center for Research on Girls

Lisa DamourLisa Damour, Ph.D. directs Laurel School’s Center for Research on Girls and writes the Adolescence column for the New York Times’ Motherlode blog. She serves as a faculty associate of the Schubert Center for Child Studies and a clinical instructor in the Department of Psychological Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Damour maintains a private psychotherapy practice and also consults and speaks internationally. She is the author of numerous academic papers, chapters, and books related to education and child development. Her next book, Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood, will be released by Random House in February 2016. Untangled has already been hailed by Dr. Michael Thompson as “the best description of the female adolescent journey that I have ever read” and by Dr. Madeline Levine as “mandatory reading.”

A Denver native, Dr. Damour graduated with honors from Yale University and then worked for the Yale Child Study Center before earning her doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the University of Michigan. She has held fellowships from Yale’s Edward Zigler Center for Child Development and Social Policy and from the University of Michigan’s Power Foundation. Dr. Damour draws on years of clinical experience and the latest research to provide sound, practical guidance to girls as well as to their parents, teachers, and advocates.

Di Wilmot

POSITION: Associate Professor and Dean of Education, Rhodes University (South Africa)

Di WilmotDi Wilmot an Associate Professor and Dean of Education at Rhodes University. Before being elected Dean, she was a driving force behind initial teacher education at Rhodes University for more than a decade. Trained as a high school geography teacher, she is continues to be involved in geography teacher education and research. Her doctoral research focused on understanding the process of teacher empowerment that took place in a school-based intervention. Her current research interests include curriculum and pedagogical transformation since democracy in different southern African contexts.

Her recent participation in national and international education processes include: piloting and further developing a Climate Change module for teacher educators as part of UNESCO’s Re-orienting Teacher Education to Address Sustainability initiative (Toronto, 2012); moderating the ‘Teachers and Teaching for Sustainability’ group at the International Task Force on Teachers for UNESCO Education for All, 5th International Policy Dialogue Forum (Windhoek, Namibia, 2012); commissioned in 2013 by Higher Education South Africa to evaluate the National Senior Certificate Grade 12 Geography Examination Papers, and presenting papers at the International Geographical Union Commission on Geography Education (Cologne, 2012; Krakow, 2014). She has published 23 peer reviewed journal articles and has written numerous research reports and school textbooks for the social sciences learning area.

Di serves on numerous university committees. She is Chair of the Board of the Institute for the Study of English in Africa (ISEA) and the Centre for Social Development (CSD), and she is a member of the Governing Board for the Vice Chancellor’s Grahamstown Schools’ Intervention. She is a member of Universities South Africa (USA) Education Deans’ Forum and a founding member of the African Deans’ of Education Forum established in Nairobi, Kenya in 2012. Di is a member of Wolfson College, Cambridge University. She is the former (and first woman) Chair of Council of the Diocesan School for Girls, Grahamstown and a Trustee of DSG’s Raphael Trust. Di is a lay minister at St Cyprian’s Anglican Church, Highlands.

Dr. JoAnn Deak

POSITION: President, The Deak Group

Dr. JoAnn DeakJoAnn Deak, Ph.D., has spent more than thirty years as an educator and psychologist, helping children develop into confident and competent adults. She especially focuses on working adults, parents, and teachers in their roles as guides or ‘neurosculptors’ of children. She is interested in how to assess those environmental, school, and family patterns that lead to the healthy development of children and, conversely, those patterns that cause issues, problems, and disabilities. Dr. Deak is the author of the books How Girls Thrive, Girls Will Be Girls: Raising Confident and Courageous Daughters, Fantastic Elastic Brain, and most recently The Owner’s Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain.

* Sponsored by the Young Women’s Leadership Network (YWLN).

Rebecca Kamen

POSITION: Artist, Lecturer, and Professor Emeritus of Art (Northern Virginia Community College)

Rebecca KamenRebecca Kamen’s work explores the nexus of art and science informed by wide-ranging research into cosmology, history, philosophy, and various scientific fields. She has investigated scientific rare books and manuscripts at the libraries of the American Philosophical Society, the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and most recently the Cajal Institute in Madrid, utilizing these significant scientific collections as a catalyst in the creation of her work.

Ms. Kamen has exhibited and lectured both nationally and internationally including China, Hong Kong, Chile, Korea, Egypt, Spain, and Australia. She has been the recipient of a Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Professional Fellowship, a Pollack Krasner Foundation Fellowship, two Strauss Fellowships, a Travel Grant from the Chemical Heritage Foundation and in 2015 was a fellow at the Salzburg Global Seminar in Austria. Recently, as an artist in residence in the neuroscience program at National Institutes of Health, Kamen has interpreted and transformed neuroscience research into sculptural form. Her artwork is represented in many private and public collections.

Currently as professor emeritus of art at Northern Virginia Community College, Professor Kamen continues to investigate how the arts and creativity can be used to enhance innovation and our understanding of science.

Professor Kamen has been a Nifty Fifty Speaker for the USA Science and Engineering Festival, since 2013. These speakers are selected for their unique ability to inspire the next generation of students to pursue careers in STEM fields. Kamen is the first visual artist select as a Nifty Fifty Speaker.

* Sponsored by NCGS.

Courtney Macavinta

POSITION: Co-Founder and CEO, The Respect Institute

Courtney MacavintaCourtney Macavinta is Co-Founder and CEO of The Respect Institute, whose mission is to give youth and their influencers tools to build self-respect so they can end cycles of disrespect and thrive. In 2014, the Institute was recognized by Ashoka and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation as one of the top six solutions globally to increase empathy in adults and youth to improve their communities. A nationally recognized youth development expert, Courtney is co-author of the best-selling book, RESPECT. She’s been featured by CNN, National Public Radio, USA Today and others and tapped as a resource by the White House, the Clinton Global Initiative, and organizations such as the Girl Scouts of the USA. Most recently she was a top-five national finalist for the American Express NGen Leadership Award and was named the 2014 Local Hero Award Winner by Cosmopolitan for Latinas. In 2015, she was appointed to the Juvenile Justice Commission of Santa Clara County.

* Sponsored by the Young Women’s Leadership Network (YWLN).

Irshad Manji

POSITION: Founder, Moral Courage Project

Irshad ManjiIrshad Manji is the founder of the Moral Courage Project at New York University. The winner of Oprah’s first Chutzpah Award for “audacity, nerve, boldness and conviction,” Irshad teaches a new generation to become gusty global citizens. She’s all about impact: Girl Talk HQ described her Moral Courage TV as “the YouTube channel that will actually make you a better person.” Irshad came to her calling after her international bestselling book, The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith. Her latests book, Allah, Liberty and Love, is a guide to reconciling faith and freedom in a world raging with depresssive dogmas. In between, Irshad created the Emmy-nominated PBS documentary, Faith Without Fear.

* Sponsored by the Young Women’s Leadership Network (YWLN).

Cornelius Riordan

POSITION: Professor of Sociology, Providence College

Cornelius RiordanCornelius Riordan, Ph.D., is Professor of Sociology at Providence College in Providence, RI. He received his doctorate in Sociology from Syracuse University and completed two years of postdoctoral study at Johns Hopkins University. His area of specialization is the social organization of schools and the educational outcomes that are related to various types of school organization.

Riordan is the author of a textbook on the sociology of education entitled “Equality and Achievement”. He has studied the effects of single and mixed sex education at all levels of schooling and is the author of “Girls and Boys in School: Together or Separate” (1990) and “Single Sex Schools: A Place to Learn” (2015) and numerous professional papers on this subject. He has been a keynote speaker, panelist, expert trial witness, researcher, and author on single sex schooling for 25 years.

* Sponsored by the Young Women’s Leadership Network (YWLN).

Rachel Simmons

POSITION: Author, Educator, and Co-Founder of Girls Leadership Institute

Rachel SimmonsRachel Simmons is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls, and The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence. As an educator, Rachel works internationally to empower young women to be more authentic, assertive and self-aware.

Rachel is a Vassar graduate and Rhodes Scholar from New York. The co-founder of the Girls Leadership Institute, she is an experienced curriculum writer and educator. She currently develops leadership programs for undergraduates at the Center for Work and Life at Smith College. She has previously worked as a classroom teacher in Massachusetts and South Africa.

Rachel was the host of the PBS television special, “A Girl’s Life,” and her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, Atlantic, and Slate. Rachel serves on the board of the College Women’s Leadership Educators affiliate of the AAUW, and is on the Council of Advisors for the Wellesley Centers for Women.

Rachel has appeared on Oprah and the Today show, and appears regularly 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 Young Women’s Leadership Network (YWLN).