These amazing women have broken gender barriers and risen to the top in their respective fields. They are activists, entrepreneurs, CEOs, authors, actors, and more. Above all else, these powerful women are inspirational leaders.
Inspiring Female Leaders: Motivational Speakers with a Powerful Message
Sheryl Sandberg is Chief Operating Officer at Facebook. She oversees the company’s business operations including sales, marketing, business development, human resources, public policy and communications. In 2013, she released the book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, in which she examines why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, explains the root causes, and offers compelling, commonsense solutions that can empower women to achieve their full potential. Sandberg received a B.A. summa cum laude in Economics from Harvard University and was awarded the John H. Williams Prize for the top graduating student in economics. She received an MBA with highest distinction from the Harvard Business School.
Award-Winning Actress & Producer; Humanitarian
In tandem with her work on the Half the Sky series, Ferrera served as ambassador on the campaign, “America4America” joining Voto Latino, the leading non-partisan national youth empowerment organization. The campaign, which engaged people across the country in online conversations, featured Ferrera discussing issues related to voter ID laws, education, and immigration. Ferrera was the face of the initiative for the 2012 election. In July 2016, America spoke at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on behalf of women’s rights and immigration in support of Hillary Clinton. Ferrera also served as an artist ambassador for Save the Children and traveled to West Africa where she raised funds to build a school in southern Mali. She has dedicated her time to the organization, ONE, in support of women facing the challenges of extreme poverty. Behind the scenes, America has started her own television and film production company, Take Fountain.
In 2008, Oprah and Discovery Communications announced plans to create OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, a multi-platform media venture designed to entertain, inform and inspire people to live their best lives. OWN debuted on January 1, 2011, in 67 percent of homes in the United States and 80 percent of cable homes. Effective Fall 2011, Oprah assumed the positions of Chief Executive Officer and Chief Creative Officer for the network. In 2010, she formed Harpo Creative Works. Through her company’s film division, Harpo Films, Oprah has produced projects based on classic and contemporary literature that have garnered the highest industry honors for quality acting and production.
4Dr. Jill Biden
Former Second Lady of the United States
Jill Biden, wife of Former Vice President Joe Biden, is a mother and grandmother, a lifelong educator, a proud military mom, and an active member of her community. With the February 2017 launch of the Biden Foundation, Jill Biden and her husband will continue their commitment to strengthening the middle class, protecting women and children against violence, and supporting community colleges and military families. As Second Lady, Dr. Biden worked to bring attention to the sacrifices made by military families, to highlight the importance of community colleges to America’s future, and to raise awareness around areas of particular importance to women, including breast cancer prevention, all while continuing to teach as a full-time English professor at a community college in Northern Virginia.
Malala shared her father’s passion for learning and loved going to school. Malala became a global advocate for the millions of girls being denied a formal education because of social, economic, legal and political factors. In 2013, Malala and Ziauddin co-founded the Malala Fund to bring awareness to the social and economic impact of girls’ education and to empower girls to raise their voices, to unlock their potential and to demand change. Malala accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on 10 December, 2014 with Indian children’s rights and education advocate Kailash Satyarthi. Malala contributed her entire prize money of more than $500,000 to financing the creation of a secondary school for girls in Pakistan.
Jenkins wrote and directed the 2003 crime drama film Monster about serial killer Aileen Wuornos, a former prostitute who was executed in Florida in 2002 for killing six men in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 2011 she directed the made for television film Five. She was nominated for another Emmy for the final segment of FIVE – a series of short films about breast cancer for Lifetime she shared with fellow directors Jennifer Aniston, Alicia Keys, Demi Moore and Penelope Spheeris. In 2015, Jenkins signed on as director for the DC Extended Universe film, Wonder Woman, with a screenplay by Allan Heinberg and a story co-written by Heinberg, Zack Snyder, and Jason Fuchs. Wonder Woman premiered in 2017 and gave Jenkins the biggest domestic opening of all-time for a female director. With this film, Jenkins also became the first female director of a studio superhero movie.
Neuroscientist & Actress
Known for her highly acclaimed role as brainy “Amy Farrah Fowler” on the CBS hit comedy The Big Bang Theory, Mayim Bialik is remembered as the title character from NBC’s Blossom, as well as for her portrayal of the young Bette Midler in Beaches. Bialik made a name for herself in the entertainment business while at the same time developing a fascinating career in neuroscience, very similar to her Big Bang Theory character. After receiving her PhD in neuroscience at UCLA, Bialik had originally intended to become a research professor before she and her husband turned their focus toward their children. As if it’s not enough to be a mom and an actress on a popular sitcom, Bialik designed a neuroscience curriculum for the home school community that covered everything from the brain’s structure to the spinal cord to how the senses work, in addition to the ideas of the “early heavy hitters” in the science of the brain like Sigmund Freud and Ivan Pavlov.
When the “face” of your sport is a Wilhelmina model, you know you’re off to a good start. But Lisa Leslie, the most-recognized player in the WNBA and Team USA brought considerably more than a stunning visage and statuesque body to the court. She was the most dominant player in the women’s game. She was a member of the gold-winning U.S. Olympic teams in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008. She is the first team sport athlete to win four consecutive Olympic Gold Medals. In 2001, Leslie was the first WNBA player to win the regular season MVP, the All-Star Game MVP and the playoff MVP in the same season. In Lisa’s off-season she became an author, and released her book, Don’t Let the Lipstick Fool You. In her own words, she points the spotlight onto her remarkable life off the court, where being a confident champion was not always simple.
Meryl Streep is considered one of the greatest actresses working today. A graduate of Vassar College and Yale Drama School, she is equally adept at performing on stage or in front of the cameras. Streep began her career on the New York stage in the late 1960s and appeared in several Broadway productions, including a 1977 revival of the Anton Chekhov drama The Cherry Orchard. In February 2016, Streep was president of the main competition jury at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival. In April 2017, Streep again worked with Rob Marshall and Emily Blunt, in Mary Poppins Returns, playing the title character’s cousin Topsy. She also committed to portray Kay Graham to Tom Hanks’ Ben Bradlee in Steven Spielberg’s drama The Papers, which centers on The Washington Post’s publication of the 1971 Pentagon Papers. Streep is also an activist for women’s rights and other philanthropic causes close to her heart.
Advocate for Civil & Human Rights and Author
Time, Inc., Newsweek, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and Ms. Magazine have published Professor Hills commentary and she has appeared on national television programs including Good Morning America, Meet the Press, The Today Show, The Tavis Smiley Show and Larry King Live. A teacher, speaker, researcher and writer, Anita Hill has earned international prominence as an authority on race and gender issues, especially as they affect the workplace. Professor Hill has received numerous honorary degrees and civic awards. She has chaired the Human Rights Law Committee of the International Bar Association. In addition, she is on the Board of Governors of the Tufts Medical Center and the Board of Directors of the National Womens Law Center and the Boston Area Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights.
TV Host, Producer
It was DeGeneres’s work in the hit show Ellen that cemented her place as a pioneer in the world of television. The sitcom’s critically acclaimed “The Puppy Episode” marked DeGeneres’s character’s coming out as a lesbian to a record 46 million viewers, effectively changing television history. Since then, DeGeneres has appeared in numerous films (including as the voice of “Dory” in the Pixar hit Finding Nemo); become a New York Times best-selling author with her books The Funny Thing Is… and Seriously… I’m Kidding; enjoyed a judging stint on American Idol; and hosted the Oscars, Emmys, and Grammys. Most recently, she can be seen as a spokesperson for Cover Girl Cosmetics. In her enlightening, hilarious presentations, DeGeneres shares the personal stories and insights she has gleaned from her years as an actress, television personality, and comedian. Audiences will walk away delighted and inspired by her pioneering rise to success.
Former President & Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post Media Group and Bestselling Author
Arianna Huffington is the former chair, president, and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, a nationally syndicated columnist, and author of fourteen books. In May 2005, she launched The Huffington Post, a news and blog site that quickly became one of the most widely-read, linked to, and frequently-cited media brands on the Internet. In 2012, the site won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. She has been named to TIME magazine’s list of the World’s 100 Most Influential People and the Forbes Most Powerful Women list. Originally from Greece, she moved to England when she was 16 and graduated from Cambridge University with an M.A. in economics. At 21, she became president of the famed debating society, the Cambridge Union. Founder and CEO of Thrive Global. Founder of The Huffington Post. Mother. Sister. Flat-shoe advocate. Sleep evangelist. Author of 15 books, including international bestsellers Thrive and The Sleep Revolution. Serves on numerous boards, including Uber and The Center for Public Integrity.
Feminist Writer, Activist, & Organizer
Gloria Steinem is a writer, lecturer, editor, and feminist activist. She travels in this and other countries as an organizer and lecturer and is a frequent media spokeswoman on issues of equality. She is particularly interested in the shared origins of sex and race caste systems, gender roles and child abuse as roots of violence, non-violent conflict resolution, the cultures of indigenous peoples, and organizing across boundaries for peace and justice. As a writer, Ms. Steinem has received the Penney-Missouri Journalism Award, the Front Page and Clarion awards, National Magazine awards, an Emmy Citation for excellence in television writing, the Women’s Sports Journalism Award, the Lifetime Achievement in Journalism Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Society of Writers Award from the United Nations, and most recently, the University of Missouri School of Journalism Award for Distinguished Service in Journalism.
Co-Founder of “The Malala Fund” & Founder of “NOW Ventures”
Shiza Shahid is an entrepreneur, technologist, investor and impact leader. Shiza co-founded the Malala Fund with Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, and led the organization as founding CEO. She focused on creating access to high quality education for all children around the world. Shiza launched NOW Ventures in Silicon Valley, in partnership with AngelList, the largest Venture Capital Platform in the world. She invests in mission-driven technology startups, that are solving the world’s most pressing challenges through technology, innovation, and high-growth business models. Shiza is the founder of The Collective, a community of leading entrepreneurs that come together to build collaborative change. Shiza is passionate about the future of impact through technology; she studied exponential technologies at Singularity University, which is dedicated to applying futuristic innovations to advancing humanity.
Creator, Orange is the New Black
Jenji Kohan is the creator and Executive Producer of Orange is the New Black. Kohan began her writing career on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air after graduating from Columbia University. Her series writing credits include Mad About You, Tracy Takes On, Sex and the City and Gilmore Girls. In 1999, she was honored with an Emmy Award for ‘Outstanding Comedy Series’ for her work on Tracy Takes On. She has developed and produced multiple pilots and series, including Showtime’s Weeds, which ran for eight seasons and garnered her the Writers Guild Award for ‘Best Episodic Comedy’ for the pilot entitled ‘You Can’t Miss The Bear.’ In 2014, Jenji was named one of TIME magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World.”
Venus Williams is an athlete, entrepreneur, best-selling author, Olympic Gold medalist, activist, designer, and tennis champion. Williams entered the pro ranks of the Women’s Tennis Association when she was 14 years old. Soon, the whole world was watching her rack up 43 WTA Tour titles and three Olympic Gold medals, break the record for fastest serve ever recorded (129 mph), and compete in the longest finals match in Wimbledon history (two hours and 45 minutes). In her keynotes, Venus Williams inspires audiences through her tireless energy and dedication to every endeavor – from launching EleVen, her line of fashionable sportswear, and V*Starr Interiors, a company that specializes in commercial and residential interior design, to continuing to fight for gender equality on and off the court.
President & CEO, Grameen America
Jung is a powerful speaker on leading a global business, business strategy and innovation, marketing and branding, and motivating teams. During her time at Avon as chairman and CEO, she was responsible for developing the company’s strategies, brand initiatives, and economic opportunities model for women, expanding around the world into more than 100 countries. She is credited with defining Avon as more than just a cosmetics company, leading it to become the company for women and enabling economic independence and self-sufficiency for millions of women worldwide. Jung is lauded globally for her passionate dedication to empowering women, through economic earnings opportunities and through her pursuit of public-private partnerships to end violence against women and to stem the breast cancer epidemic.
Award-Winning Actress, Dancer & Singer
Octogenarian Rita Moreno still remains one of the busiest stars in show business. This past June, she served as the 2015 Grand Marshal of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade and come September, Rita will be the voice of “Abuelita” in the new animated series, Nina’s World, on NBC-TV’s Sprout Network. Last year, Rita was the voice of Aunt Mimi in the animated film, Rio 2. Her first book, Rita Moreno: A Memoir, published by Celebra Books, instantly became a New York Times Bestseller. In 2011, she premiered her one-woman show, Life Without Make-up, an original stage production about her life and also appeared as a season regular on the TV Land series Happily Divorced, playing Fran Drescher’s mother. Over the decades, she has collected dozens of other show business awards, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1995.
World Champion Boxer, Television Host, Fitness & Wellness Expert, Author, and Speaker
As the daughter of Muhammad Ali, the legendary former heavyweight champion of the world, Laila Ali’s name was instantly a focus in the world of boxing. Laila Ali, an athlete and champion of health and fitness, is a perfect role model for today’s healthy, on-the-go woman. The youngest daughter of Veronica Porsche Anderson, and of the legendary Muhammad Ali, she is a strong, intelligent, woman, daughter, and wife. Equally as important, Laila possesses a unique blend of personality and celebrity status, yet retains an innate sense of being “every woman.” Laila also authored a motivational book titled Reach! She wrote the book in an effort to help young women who may need to be inspired in life; using her own experiences and challenges as an example for her readers.
Author, Adventurist, Eco Activist, Healthy Lifestyle & Mental Health Advocate
Renaissance woman Mariel Hemingway is not only an iconic Academy Award nominated actor from a celebrated family, she is a prolific author, adventurist, eco activist, healthy lifestyle and mental health advocate, yoga video star, a food brand entrepreneur, and a much sought after keynote speaker focused on mind-body-spirit optimization and purposeful living. In a high-tech world, Mariel is considered an expert in offering high-touch solutions to finding the greatest sense of balance, peace, joy, fitness, integration, and authenticity possible. She is both a devoted teacher and a student in this holistic concentration. Like the creatively blessed Hemingways before her, Mariel loves the outdoors. She thrives when exploring nature in order to amplify her sense of purpose and peace.
When Simone Biles was six years old, she went on a daycare field trip to Bannon’s Gymnastix. She was having fun and started copying other gymnasts in the back of the gym. One of the coaches, Ms. Ronnie saw her and told Coach Aimee. They sent a letter home to her parents. Simone started taking recreational classes and the rest is history. In March 2015, Simone competed at the American Cup in Arlington, TX. She won the all-around title ahead of USA teammate MyKayla Skinner by 4.467 points, a largest margin of victory in history of the American Cup. A few weeks later, she traveled to Jesolo, Italy for the City of Jesolo Trophy where she placed first in the all-around and helped the USA team to win the team gold medal. Simone qualified to three event finals where she brought home three more gold medals on vault, balance beam and floor exercise.
All American Entertainment (AAE) is a full-service talent booking agency dedicated to representing the interests of meeting and event planners. AAE has helped thousands of the most respected companies, organizations, and universities identify and secure high-profile keynote speakers and celebrity talent for personal appearances, speaking engagements, promotional campaigns, and a wide range of other functions. AAE’s talent base includes professional business and motivational speakers, best-selling authors, top athletes, award-winning comedians, TV personalities, musicians, celebrity chefs, and many others.