Lavin’s Top Women & Leadership Speakers Are Breaking Barriers—and Inspiring Others to Do the Same
In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re shining the spotlight on our Top Women & Leadership Speakers. These women are all powerhouses in their fields—from business and law to STEM and sports. They’re reshaping the worlds they work in, and as speakers, their stories and expertise empower other women to do the same.
Manjit Minhas is demolishing outdated stereotypes in business one boardroom—and brewery—at a time. You might recognize her as one of the venture capitalist “Dragons” on Canada’s Dragon’s Den, but what you might not know is just how fascinating her journey to success has been. At nineteen years old, and with no experience or investment, Manjit and her brother founded Minhas Brewery. What started as a small business making a bold break into the notoriously male-dominated beer industry became a multi-million dollar enterprise—and the tenth largest brewery in the world. Manjit’s powerful talks cover her unique story, her success as a woman in business, and real tips on chasing innovation, growing your business, and adapting to rapid change in the business world.
Kimberley Motley is an indomitable force for good in the world of international human rights law—there’s even an award-winning feature documentary about her work, Motley’s Law. Taking on high-profile, heartbreaking cases such as that of a six-year-old child bride, or a teenage girl sold into slavery over an app, Motley fights to hold complex legal systems accountable to all citizens; and overturning sentences for people subjected to appalling miscarriages of justice in the process. A registered attorney for more than 20 embassies, she was also the first foreign litigator working in Afghanistan. Around the world, Motley empowers women to access the human rights owed to them; countering corruption and tradition by expertly navigating the justice system with hard facts and human rights on her side.
Margot Lee Shetterly wrote Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race—the #1 NYT bestseller that inspired a #1 movie in America. She tells the incredible true story of the black women mathematicians at NASA who helped fuel some of America’s greatest achievements in space. Margot is also a researcher and entrepreneur, as well as the founder of the Human Computer Project. It’s a digital archive telling the stories all of NASA’s “Human Computers”: women from all backgrounds whose work tipped the balance in favor of the United States in WWII, the Cold War, and the Space Race. With a wealth of knowledge on remarkable women in history, Shetterly places their accomplishments and legacies firmly in the context of modern American society: where we’ve been, where we are today—and where we’ll be tomorrow.
Waneek Horn-Miller is a lifelong Indigenous Activist and Olympic Athlete who first drew national attention at fourteen when, while protesting the infamous Oka Crisis, she was stabbed in the heart by a Canadian soldier: and almost died. She fought for recovery and emerged with a mission—and PTSD—to fight for what’s right and be a leader not only for her community, but for the world. Waneek became a champion swimmer, representing Canada at the Olympics, and taking home the gold at the 1999 PanAm Games. Now she channels this remarkable spirit of perseverance and resilience into her advocacy. In her inspiring keynotes, Waneek traces her incredible path and shows how fighting for justice in an unjust world can unlock your full potential.
Ellen Ochoa made history as the first Hispanic woman in space—and didn’t stop there. Also the former Director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, she’s a true trailblazer who knows that of empowering and celebrating women in predominantly male fields is incredibly important. An active astronaut since 1991, she has flown in space four times, logging nearly 1,000 hours, and has even won one of NASA's highest awards, the Distinguished Service Medal and the Presidential Distinguished Rank of the Senior Executive Service. Drawing on her remarkable career at NASA, Ellen shares just how diversity and social justice initiatives enhance creativity, and allow people to take control of their lives in profound ways.
Maureen Chiquet is a legendary leader in the retail world. Most recently the former CEO of Chanel, she’s had a hand in growing major brands like The Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy—and, along the way has been named one of Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women. What was the secret to her success? In her tremendously compelling talks—as well as her book Beyond the Label—Maureen shares the surprising secret to her remarkable success: she injected the traditionally “feminine” values of empathy, authenticity, and communication into her organizations. She found a way to harness what people in the business world too often see as weaknesses to build a truly collaborative corporate culture from the ground up—and proved herself a transformational leader along the way.
Soraya Chemaly is an award-winning journalist, media critic, and the co-founder and director of the Women’s Media Center Speech Project. Her book, Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger explores the socially constructed, repressed relationship between women and their anger, offering a comprehensive look at how identity and emotional expression affect men and women’s personal, professional, and political lives. What does it take to amplify women’s voices in the workplace, at home, and in the world at large? Soraya’s empowering, practical talks pull from the many successful campaigns she’s spearheaded, and challenge corporations to address inclusivity, harassment, and algorithmic bias: providing clear takeaways on how to turn talk into action.
Tarah Wheeler is a cybersecurity expert and the author of Women in Tech, whose incredible career has been dedicated to keeping people safe from cyberattacks and security breaches—and combatting unconscious social bias to champion women in STEM. It’s not that women need more inspiration to get into STEM—they already love science! But they do need help dismantling widespread and insidious discrimination: forces that mean ‘diversity’ looks like one token woman amid scores of men. Recently named the #1 top female cybersecurity influencer by onalytica, Tarah asks the important questions: how can everyone do their part to fight for gender equality across the STEM fields? With anecdotes, personal examples, and a dash of humor, Tarah offers a comprehensive guide creating real change in STEM.
Yaël Eisenstat is a former CIA Officer and National Security expert in the White House—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. She was alarmed to find that, as an Intelligence Officer, she could have easier conversations with suspected terrorists than her average fellow Americans. With political polarization on the rise, she decided to pivot her career and took a job as the Global Head of Elections Integrity Operations at Facebook. There, she spent an eye-opening six months inside a company that she felt contributed directly to democracy’s “biggest existential threat.” Today, as a Visiting Fellow at Cornell Tech, Yaël uses her experience in the public and private sector to explore technology’s effect on society—answering the difficult, and necessary, ethical questions our future depends on.
Danielle Wood is a renowned space engineer and director of the MIT Media Lab’s Space Enabled program. As humankind continues to make giants leaps in technological advancements used in space, development scholar Danielle explores the terrestrial implications of cutting-edge tech. Using revolutionary cosmic technology to tackle complex social issues like improving relied upon water sources and expanding sustainable development for generations to come, Danielle shares how satellites can be instruments of social justice. Equal parts inspirational and aspirational, she explores how out-of-this-world tools are building a better future for everyone here on Earth.