December 4—6 · Palm Springs, CA


Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr

Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone
As mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr is committed to addressing her city's challenges using an inclusive, data-driven approach to community development.

Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, Order of British Empire (OBE) became Mayor of Freetown in May 2018 and dedicated herself to an inclusive vision of the city's renewal. Her three-year "Transform Freetown" plan details 19 concrete targets across 11 sectors and covers issues ranging from tackling environmental degradation to facilitating the creation of jobs in the tourism sector. 

A finance professional with more than 25 years of private sector experience in strategic planning and management, Aki-Sawyerr’s public sector engagement began during the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak. As a leader in the wake of the epidemic, Aki-Sawyerr drove the second phase of a multi-stakeholder programme to energize Sierra Leone's socio-economic recovery.   ·   @yakisawyerr ×

Charlie Jane Anders

Charlie Jane Anders writes speculative fiction about queerness, community, identity, climate change and the absurdity of life.

Charlie Jane Anders's latest novel is The City in the Middle of the Night. She is also the author of The City in the Middle of the Night and All the Birds in the Sky, which won the Nebula, Crawford and Locus awards, and Choir Boy, which won a Lambda Literary Award. She also wrote a novella called Rock Manning Goes For Broke and a short story collection called Six Months, Three Days, Five Others. Her short fiction has appeared in, Boston Review, Tin House, Conjunctions, the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Wired Magazine, Slate, Asimov's Science Fiction, Lightspeed, ZYZZYVA, Catamaran Literary Review, McSweeney's Internet Tendency and tons of anthologies. Her story "Six Months, Three Days" won a Hugo Award, and her story "Don't Press Charges And I Won't Sue" won a Theodore Sturgeon Award. 

Anders also organizes the monthly Writers With Drinks reading series and cohosts the podcast Our Opinions Are Correct with Annalee Newitz.   ·   @charliejane ×

Agnes Binagwaho

Global health fighter
Agnes Binagwaho helped rebuild the Rwandan health care system and will continue to fight for positive change in global health for as long as she stands.

Rwanda's former National AIDS Control Commissioner and Minister of Health, Agnes Binagwaho worked to serve and support the most vulnerable. Today, she pursues change as vice chancellor of the new University of Global Health Equity, located in rural Rwanda. 

Binagwaho's mission is to train rising global health leaders who will promote positive change in their communities, countries and the entire world. She takes great pride in watching their spirited fight to promote social justice and holistic healthcare.   ·   @agnesbinagwaho ×

Gina Brillon

Stand-up comedian, actress
A Puerto Rican actress, comedian and writer, Gina Brillon has been a standup comic since she was 17.
Gina Brillon was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. Her first one-hour special, Pacifically Speaking, aired on NuvoTV. She's made appearances on Comedy Central's Live at Gotham, E!'s Chelsea Lately, The View, Late Night with Seth Meyers and Jimmy Kimmel Live. You have also seen her on Kevin Can Wait on CBS and The Conners on ABC. She became the first (and only) Latina winner of NBC's Stand up for Diversity Showcase. She was selected to be part of Montreal's Just For Laughs New Faces Showcase.
Brillon is also a singer, published writer and poet.  Her pieces have appeared in the New York Post and Daily News, among others. In 2019, she was featured on Gabriel Iglesias's Beyond the Fluffy Tour -- hitting 46 cities around the US and gaining thousands of new fans along the way. Her newest half-hour special, Gina Brillon: Easily Offended, is now streaming on all HBO Digital Platforms.
@GinaBrillon   · ×


Vocal percussionist
Butterscotch uses her powerful voice and sounds to sing about love, life and everything in between. Her mission is to empower and elevate people through music and compassion.

A vocal percussionist virtuosa, Butterscotch began her career in the underground male-dominated beatbox battle scene, where she was crowned the world's first female beatbox champion. She blends hip-hop, jazz, soul and reggae into shows that are emotionally and physically invigorating. Butterscotch is known for her trifecta fusion of singing, beatboxing and playing either piano or guitar simultaneously, creating endless layers on her loop station. With a voice reminiscent of Billie Holiday and rap verses comparable to Lauryn Hill, Butterscotch courageously sings about her love life, depression and daily struggles of being a biracial queer woman of color. Her philanthropic mission is to empower and elevate people through music and compassion.

Butterscotch has opened up for Erykah Badu, Earth, Wind & Fire, Thievery Corporation, Sergio Mendes, Wyclef Jean and other musical legends. Her newest release, Scotch, is testament to her growth as an artist and human.   ·   @scxtchmusic ×

Jasmine Crowe

Hunger hero
Jasmine Crowe is the creator of Goodr, a tech-enabled sustainable food waste management company that strives to eliminate hunger and save food from landfills.

Jasmine Crowe is working to make the world a better place by reducing food waste and ending hunger. She has hosted events in more than 20 US cities and in the UK, South Africa and Haiti. She has collected and donated more than two million food items to causes worldwide and fed more than 80,000 people through the Sunday Soul Homeless feeding initiative. 

Through her years of work feeding vulnerable populations, Crowe saw a great opportunity for technology to solve a real problem: hunger. In January 2017, Crowe founded Goodr, a food management platform that allows users in the food industry to track and redirect surplus food. Under Jasmine's direction Goodr has now diverted nearly two million pounds of food from landfills and serves clients including Atlanta's Hartsfield Jackson Airport, the NFL and Netflix.   ·   @jasminecrowe ×

Eve Ensler

Playwright, activist
Eve Ensler created the groundbreaking "Vagina Monologues," whose success propelled her to found V-Day -- a movement to end violence against women and girls everywhere.

Inspired by intimate conversations with friends, Eve Ensler wrote The Vagina Monologues. The play recounts tender, funny, gripping and horrifying stories she gathered from hundreds of women about their bodies, their sexual experiences and, yes, their vaginas. Since its first staging in 1996, it has been translated into more than 45 languages, performed in more than 120 countries and recreated as an HBO film.

The Vagina Monologues' success allowed Ensler to create V-Day, a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls, which has so far raised $85 million to prevent violence and protect abused women. In February 2011, Ensler received the Isabelle Stephenson Tony Award for her philanthropic work. Ensler has also drawn praise for The Good Body, a play that cuts to women's obsession with their appearance, and her film What I Want My Words to Do to You, which portrays a writing group she leads at a correctional facility for women. Today, she continues to find new projects and push the envelope. Her latest play, I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World, hit the New York Times bestseller list.   ·   @VDay ×

Eva Galperin

Digital security expert
Eva Galperin is security director for the online security organization Electronic Frontier Foundation, safeguarding the privacy of vulnerable populations.

As the Director of Security for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and head of their Threat Lab, Eva Galperin studies how nations and security organs use surveillance to target communities and activists.

Prior to her work for EFF, Galperin worked in security and IT in Silicon Valley. Her best-known work is protecting global privacy and free speech. She organized EFF's Tor Relay Challenge (which helps online activists remain anonymous to the oppressive regimes they fight) and writes privacy and security training materials. When she is not collecting new and exotic malware, she practices aerial circus arts and learning new languages.   ·   @evacide ×

The Surprise Guest

To be announced
A surprise speaker for the TED stage.

Jen Gunter

Medical truth-teller
As a physician who advocates evidence-based medicine, Jen Gunter sets out to correct the misleading information that infects online medical resources.

Jen Gunter believes that patients need reliable facts to successfully direct not only their own treatments but also those of their children. Based on her own experiences navigating online rabbit holes of misinformation, she decided to "fix the internet" and separate medical fact from fiction with her own writing and activism.

In addition to being both a doctor and a mother, Gunter is also a writer, a TV host and (some say) the world's most famous OB/GYN. She is a fierce advocate for facts and tirelessly calls out those who exploit pseudoscience for financial and political profit.   ·   @DrJenGunter ×

Mary Ellen Hannibal

Author, journalist
In her book "Citizen Scientist," Mary Ellen Hannibal traces the origins of today’s tech-savvy citizen science movement back through centuries of amateur observations by writers and naturalists.

Science writer and speaker Mary Ellen Hannibal serves as an ambassador between scientists and a general audience. Her book Citizen Scientist: Searching for Heroes and Hope in an Age of Extinction was named one of the best titles of 2016 by the San Francisco Chronicle. Prompted by her novelist father’s sudden death, she connects the activity of bearing witness to nature today with a broad inquiry into time, place and purpose. 

Hannibal's previous books include The Spine of the Continent. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Science, Anthropocene, Nautilus and many other publications.   ·   @mehannibal ×

Kiana Hayeri

Documentary photographer
Kiana Hayeri is a photojournalist and a regular contributor to the "New York Times" from her current base of Afghanistan.

In her haunting photography, Senior TED Fellow Kiana Hayeri illuminates "those lands that are out of reach, those lands that are ravaged by conflict and yet have remained in the shadow."

Hayeri grew up in Tehran and migrated to Toronto while she was still a teenager. Faced with the challenges of adapting to a new environment, she took up photography as a way of bridging the gap in language and culture. Her work explores migration, adolescence, identity and sexuality in war-ridden countries. Although some of her assignments revolve around dramatic, front-line conflicts, Hayeri often turns her lens behind the lines to document the everyday lives impacted by war.   · ×

Denise Ho

Singer, activist
Hong Kong-based singer and musician Denise Ho (also known as Hocc) is a democracy activist and an outspoken critic of the Chinese government. She is also a fierce champion of LGBTQ rights.

Denise Ho is an award-winning Hong Kong-based singer, producer and pro-democracy/LGBTQ rights activist. She is an accomplished musician who entered the music industry at 19. When Ho publicly announced that she was gay in 2012, she became the first out female singer in Hong Kong. 

Despite being banned and persecuted by the Chinese government, Ho continues to speak out for democracy and LGBTQ rights globally and has been a prominent supporter of the recent Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill in Hong Kong.   ·   @hoccgoomusic ×

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Global leader, Nobel laureate
The former President of Liberia, Nobel laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf promotes freedom, peace, justice, women’s empowerment and democratic rule.

As Africa's first democratically-elected female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf led Liberia's recovery following a decade-long civil war, and helped stem the nation's Ebola crisis of 2014-2015. Recognized as a global leader for women’s rights, President Sirleaf was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2011.

Johnson Sirleaf received the United States's Presidential Medal of Freedom for her unwavering commitment to expanding freedom and improving the lives of Africans. Her many honors include the Grand Croix of the Légion d’Honneur (France's highest public distinction) and being named one of Forbes's "100 Most Powerful Women in the World."

@MaEllenSirleaf   · ×

Smruti Jukur

Urban planner
Smruti Jukur solves urban planning problems by applying unusual and innovative design solutions to dense, complex and neglected city landscapes.

Urban planner Smruti Jukur observes city dwellers to uncover their persistent problems -- and then applies herself relentlessly to invent novel solutions. Since childhood, Jukur has dreamed of improving the quality of lives of the poor, and she became an urban planner to explore solutions that architects in isolation could not provide. 

In her work, Jukur focuses on informal urban habitats, looking for the common-sense fixes that people create for themselves and that, despite their flaws, serve immediate needs in easy-to-implement ways.   · ×

Lucy King

Human-elephant ambassador
Zoologist Lucy King helms the Human-Elephant Coexistence Program for the Kenyan research charity Save the Elephants.

Lucy King first landed on African soil in Mogadishu Airport at the age of ten months, although it wasn't until she left the heat and turmoil of Somalia for the mountain tranquility of Lesotho that her love for the continent took hold.

King's fascination with animal-human interactions led her to zoology, and a critical problem: How can rural farmers learn to live with the immense pachyderms that raid crops and destroy their farms? With the help of her African neighbors and colleagues, she developed a method that reduces elephant crop destruction using bees as a natural deterrent. She helms the Human-Elephant Coexistence Program for the Kenyan research charity Save the Elephants.   ·   @DrLucyKing ×

Noeline Kirabo

Social entrepreneur
Noeline Kirabo self-educated her way out of the slums of Kampala, Uganda. Now she helps vulnerable youth gain skills to turn their passions into profitable businesses.

Despite being a school dropout, Ugandan Noeline Kirabo forged an education via libraries and free online courses, pursuing a dream to cultivate potential in others. Through education, she seeks to inspire young entrepreneurs struggling against the violence and crime of the Kampala slums.

As founder of Kyusa, Kirabo is committed to turning out-of-school youth into business leaders by giving them the tools they need to direct their passions. She is an author, a speaker, a family therapist and the co-founder of Newen Consults, a personal business and development firm.   ·   @noelinekirabo ×

Valorie Kondos Field

Gymnastics coach
Valorie Kondos Field is the retired head coach of the seven-time NCAA Champion, 22-time Regional Champion and 18-time Pac 12 Champion UCLA Women's Gymnastics team.

Valorie Kondos Field (affectionately known by her gymnasts as "Miss Val") is the retired head coach of the seven-time NCAA Champion, 22-time Regional Champion and 18-time Pac 12 Champion UCLA Women's Gymnastics team. In 2010, she was inducted into the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame.

Kondos Field's reputation is one reason that 46 former US national gymnastics team members have come through her program, and why half of the last two Olympic teams have committed to UCLA. Her coaching success is due to her extraordinary mentorship of young student-athletes and to the way she uses gymnastics as a path to learning valuable life lessons.   ·   @OfficialMissVal ×

Priti Krishtel

Health justice advocate
Priti Krishtel is a leader in the global movement to make medications available to all who need them. In 2006, she cofounded I-MAK, a group working alongside patients, advocacy organizations and local activists to increase treatment access, challenge unjust patents and fight exorbitant drug prices.

Priti Krishtel is a leader in the global movement to make medications available to all who needs them. In 2003, Krishtel moved to India, where she helped educate and organize policymakers, media and marginalized communities. Her activism (alongside other health advocacy groups) helped lead to India's passage of a landmark, patient-friendly patent legislation package. 

In 2006, Krishtel cofounded I-MAK, a recognized force in the pharmaceutical access movement that works alongside patients, advocacy organizations and local activists around the world to increase treatment access, challenge unjust patents, and fight exorbitant drug prices.   ·   @pritikrishtel ×

Laurel Lawson

Choreographer, dancer, designer
Laurel Lawson is a choreographic collaborator, dancer, designer and engineer with Kinetic Light.

In addition to her work as a choreographer, dancer and designer, Laurel Lawson is the primary costume and makeup designer at Kinetic Light. In collaboration with Top End's Paul Schulte, she designed the wheelchairs that she and artistic director Alice Sheppard use in performance, as well as contributing other visual and technical design. Lawson is also the product designer and lead for Audimance, the company's app, which revolutionizes audio description for non-visual audiences.

Realizing that dance combined her lifelong loves of art and athleticism, Lawson began her professional dance career with Atlanta’s Full Radius Dance in 2004. She continues to work with Full Radius Dance, as well as Kinetic Light and her independent practice. Her choreography is marked by intensive partnering and grounded technique. Bringing the nuance of disabled artistry, Lawson creates work for all ensembles, including nondisabled, disabled and physically integrated companies. She often weaves together abstract and concrete themes with overarching mythological inspiration, with focus on an engaging and immersive audience experience. Her work was recognized with a 2019-20 Dance/USA Artist Fellowship, which are made possible with generous funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Beyond the studio, Lawson is the CTO and cofounder of CyCore Systems, a boutique engineering consultancy that specializes in solving novel, multi-realm problems of all sizes for a global clientele. A noted public speaker and teacher, she speaks on a range of technical topics as well as on leadership and executive practice, culture and equity, and how to cultivate creativity and drive innovation. Lawson is also a member of the USA Women's Sled Hockey Team.   ·   @worldsoflaurel ×

Joel Leon

Performer, author, storyteller
Joel Leon is a performer, author and storyteller born, raised and still living in the Bronx. He has spoken and performed at the Apollo Theater, Joe's Pub, Rockwood Music Hall and Webster Hall and is the father to Lilah and West.
Joel Leon is a performer, author and storyteller, born and raised in the Bronx, who writes and tells stories for Black people. He's been featured in the Columbia Journal, BBC News, Sirius XM, Forbes, Insider, Medium, Philadelphia Printworks, Blavity and the Huffington Post. He has spoken and performed at the Apollo Theater, Joe's Pub, Rockwood Music Hall, Columbia University, NYU and Webster Hall. He lives in the Bronx and is the father to Lilah and West.   ·   @JoelakaMaG ×

Kelsey Leonard

Water protector
As a water scholar and protector, Kelsey Leonard seeks to establish Indigenous traditions of water conservation as the foundation for international water policy-making.

Dr. Kelsey Leonard represents the Shinnecock Indian Nation on the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body of the US National Ocean Council, which is charged with protecting America's oceans and coastlines. She has been instrumental in safeguarding the interests of tribes during resource management planning, and builds Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge into new solutions for sustainable oceans.

Leonard's recent scholarship explores Indigenous water justice and the defining international legal principle of self-determination under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.   ·   @KelseyTLeonard ×

Renee Lertzman

Climate psychologist
As a researcher studying the impact of climate change on the individual psyche, Renee Lertzman seeks to find new ways to inspire humanity towards positive ecological change.

Dr. Renee Lertzman translates complex research on the negative mental and social impacts of climate change into profound tools for organizations seeking to engage and mobilize global communities and individuals. She blends a variety of scientific approaches into powerful strategies suited for the challenges of environmental work.

Lertzman teaches, presents and produces research for a range of institutions. Since publishing her first interview in 1997 with Ira Glass, she has written extensively about how the combined disciplines of psychology, environmental science and cultural study can illuminate our path to big changes.   ·   @reneelertzman ×

Lola Lewis

Performing artist
Under the stage name Madam Lola, multidisciplinary artist Lola Lewis melds music and dance into mesmerizing performances that shatter the expectations of both genre and gender.

Fleeing persecution in her native Tehran, where the Iranian government views LGBTQ people as criminals, trans artist Lola Lewis landed in Turkey, where she began honing her photographic artistry and her feminine persona -- Madam Lola. Eventually, Madam Lola made her way into asylum in Canada. Since 2015, she has lived in Vancouver where she stages drag performances and shares her story to inspire and support other LGBTQ people suffering under oppressive regimes. 

@madamlolalewis ×

Jiabao Li

Perception engineer
Jiabao Li augments human sensation with her wearables and interactive installations, raising questions about technology's influence on perception, identity, and emotion.

Working at the intersection of emerging technology, art and design, Jiabao Li creates new ways for humans to perceive the world. Her research-based projects range from wearables, projections, drones and installations to scientific experiments, and they explore how technology is transforming our identities, emotions, and sensations.

Li's work has been featured in Domus and TechCrunch. She is currently a prototyping designer at Apple, inventing and exploring new products, interfaces and technologies.   · ×

Heather C. McGhee

Writer, advocate
Heather C. McGhee designs and promotes solutions for inequality in America, showing what individuals, governments and the private sector can do to help the country live up to its ideals.

What if, in the middle of your live TV appearance, someone called in and asked for advice in overcoming their racial prejudice? For public policy expert Heather C. McGhee, the response was natural: she helped. That exchange went on to be viewed over eight million times. 

As the former president of the inequality-focused think tank Demos, McGhee drafted legislation, testified before Congress and became a regular contributor on shows like Meet the Press and Real Time with Bill Maher. A forthcoming book, to be published by Penguin Random House, is set to explore the universal costs of racism.

@hmcghee   · ×

Debbie Millman

Design evangelist
As host of the long-running podcast "Design Matters," Debbie Millman illuminates the creative processes of some of our era's most intriguing artists, designers and icons.

Designer, author, artist and educator Debbie Millman is the host of the award-winning podcast Design Matters, where she's interviewed more than 400 thought leaders, including Marina Abramovic, Steven Pinker, Milton Glaser, Malcolm Gladwell, Shepard Fairey, Barbara Kruger, Amanda Palmer and Alain de Botton.

Millman is the author of six books, including two collections of interviews that explore how design impacts our lives: How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer and Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits. Millman is president emeritus of the American Institute of Graphic Arts, one of only five women to hold the position in the organization's 100-year history.   ·   @debbiemillman ×

Martha Minow

Human rights advocate
Former Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow tackles the unintended effects of technology on those already impacted by discrimination and disadvantage.

Influenced by growing up during the turbulent 1960s in the United States, Martha Minow devoted herself early in her academic career to fighting injustice. She became involved in the school desegregation and school finance equalization battles of the 1970s, and acquired a law degree to "get a seat at the table" to work on these and other issues.

During her law career, Minow has worked for Justice Thurgood Marshall, architect of litigation for civil rights, and Judge David Bazelon, a judicial leader for disadvantaged people. Since leaving law and becoming a teacher, Minow has discovered the joys and challenges of reinventing law in the face of new global challenges to democracy, rights and decency. ×

Pat Mitchell

Dangerous woman
Pat Mitchell is a lifelong advocate for women and girls, known for her work as a journalist, producer, television executive and curator. She launched TEDWomen in 2010 and serves as its editorial director, curator and host. She is the author of the recent memoir "Becoming a Dangerous Woman: Embracing Risk to Change the World."

At every step of her career, Pat Mitchell has broken new ground for women, leveraging the power of media as a journalist, an Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated producer to tell women's stories and increase the representation of women onscreen and off. Transitioning to an executive role, she became the president of CNN Productions, and the first woman president and CEO of PBS and the Paley Center for Media. Today, her commitment to connect and strengthen a global community of women leaders continues as a conference curator, advisor and mentor.

In partnership with TED, Mitchell launched TEDWomen in 2010 and is its editorial director, curator and host. She is also a speaker and curator for the annual Women Working for the World forum in Bogota, Colombia, the Her Village conference in Beijing, and co-chairs the US board of Women of the World (WOW). She partners with the Rockefeller Foundation to curate, convene and host Connected Women Leaders (CWL) forums, focused on collective problem solving among women leaders in government and civil society.

In 2014, the Women's Media Center honored Mitchell with its first-annual Lifetime Achievement Award, now named in her honor to commend other women whose media careers advance the representation of women. Recognized by Hollywood Reporter as one of the most powerful women in media, Fast Company's "League of Extraordinary Women" and Huffington Post's list of "Powerful Women Over 50," Mitchell also received the Sandra Day O'Connor Award for Leadership. She was a contributor to Enlightened Power: How Women Are Transforming the Practice of Leadership, and wrote the introduction to the book and museum exhibition, 130 Women of Impact in 30 Countries. In 2016, she received a Congressional appointment to The American Museum of Women’s History Advisory Council, and in 2019 was named to the Gender Equality Top 100 list of women leaders by Apolitical.

Mitchell is active with many nonprofit organizations, serving as the chair of the boards of the Sundance Institute and the Women's Media Center. She is a founding member of the VDAY movement and on the boards of the Skoll Foundation and the Acumen Fund. She is also an advisor to Participant Media and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Mitchell is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Georgia and holds a master's degree in English literature and several honorary doctorate degrees. She is the author of Becoming a Dangerous Woman: Embracing Risk to Change the World. She and her husband, Scott Seydel, live in Atlanta and have six children and 13 grandchildren.


Lisa Mosconi

Researcher Lisa Mosconi studies the brains of living patients with cutting-edge brain-imaging technology -- and uses the data to understand brain health. She leads the Women’s Brain Initiative research program at Weill Cornell Medical, where she also serves as Associate Director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic.

For as long as Lisa Mosconi can remember, she wanted to be a brain scientist -- and as she witnessed her grandmother and her two sisters spiral into dementia, her motivation grew stronger. Mosconi now dedicates her entire career to studying brain health -- and how it plays out differently in women than in men. 

Mosconi currently leads the Women’s Brain Initiative research program at Weill Cornell Medical, where she also serves as Associate Director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic, the first of its kind in the United States.   ·   @dr_mosconi ×

Zanele Muholi

Visual activist
Zanele Muholi composes a new narrative of the queer and trans community in South Africa through their photographic works of visual resistance.

Zanele Muholi is a photographer born in Umlazi, Durban who now lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. Their self-proclaimed mission is "to re-write a black queer and trans visual history of South Africa, for the world to know of our resistance and existence," even as hate crimes against South Africa's LGBTQ community mount. They co-founded the Forum for Empowerment of Women (FEW) in 2002 and in 2009 founded Inkanyiso, a forum for queer and visual activist media. They continue to train and co-facilitate photography workshops for young women throughout the townships around Johannesburg.   ·   @MuholiZanele ×

Angeline Murimirwa

Education activist
As leader of the Campaign for Female Education, Angeline Murimirwa is determined to remove the considerable hurdles faced by schoolgirls in Africa seeking an education.

Angeline Murimirwa (née Mugwendere) was one of the first secondary schoolgirls in Africa to receive support from the Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED). She is now CAMFED's African executive director, overseeing their mission to secure every girl's right to an education.

In a spirit of solidarity with those facing the same struggles she has overcome, Murimirwa is a founding member of CAMA, a pan-African network of young educated women. CAMA members are united by a background of rural poverty and are stepping up as a new generation of leaders and entrepreneurs in their communities, their nations and the world.   ·   @AngieMurimirwa ×

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim

Environmental activist
Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim advocates for the wider inclusion of indigenous people, knowledge and traditions in the global movement to fight the effects of climate change.

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim is a member of the Mbororo people in Chad, who face a dire situation: Lake Chad, a water source for 40 million people, has lost 90 percent of its surface area in 40 years, sparking conflicts along its shoreline. Ibrahim began the first major dialogue among the area's numerous communities and, together they are mapping the environmentally fragile region to conserve its precious resources.

Ibrahim's work with indigenous communities at the local, regional and international level gives a voice to the voiceless, forcing governments and the private sector to listen. Her advocacy for indigenous interests has won her numerous honors, including an appointment as a UN Sustainable Development Goals Ambassador.

@hindououmar ×

Colette Pichon Battle

Climate justice activist
A Louisiana native with a deep connection to things that burrow in the mud, Colette Pichon Battle fights for the Gulf Coast's place in the struggle against climate change.

As the founder of the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy, Colette Pichon Battle raises awareness on equitable disaster recovery, migration, economic development, climate justice and energy democracy. With the help of elected officials and national funders, Battle helps local communities continue to recover from Katrina and the BP catastrophe of 2010. 

In addition to developing advocacy initiatives that intersect race, systems of power and ecology, Battle manages GCCLP's legal services for immigration law and disaster law. In 2019, Battle was named an Obama Fellow for her work with Black and Native communities on the frontline of climate change.   ·   @CPichonBattle ×

Norma Pimentel

Religious leader
Norma Pimentel is a sister with the Missionaries of Jesus and a licensed professional counselor.

As executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, Norma Pimentel oversees the charitable arm of the Diocese of Brownsville, providing oversight of the different ministries and programs in the areas of emergency assistance, housing assistance, counseling and pregnancy care to all four counties in the Rio Grande Valley.

Norma Pimentel chairs the local Emergency Food and Shelter Program that distributes federal funds to local agencies providing assistance to the area's poor. She also leads efforts in the community that responds to emergency needs and provides relief in times of disaster and crisis. She was instrumental in organizing community resources to respond to the surge of Central Americans seeking asylum in the United States and setting up Humanitarian Respite Centers in McAllen and Brownsville, Texas in June 2014. These efforts brought Pimentel recognition as a recipient of the 2015 Martin Luther King, Jr. "Keep the Dream Alive" award from Catholic Charities USA and a nomination for "Texan of the Year."

In March, 2015, Pimentel spoke at the UN Headquarters in New York City at the invitation of the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations. During the US. Papal visit,  Pimentel met with Pope Francis in New York City and presented him with one of her original paintings which depicted an immigrant mother and child. She was first introduced to Pope Francis in August 2015 via a "virtual town hall" arranged by ABC news, which later aired in a one-hour special edition of 20/20. In December 2015, Our Sunday Visitor named Pimentel as one of eight "Catholics in the Year," awareded to "men and women, religious and lay who made an indelible mark in 2015."

Before overseeing Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, Pimentel was one of the leaders who directed Casa Oscar Romero, a refugee shelter in San Benito and later Brownsville for Central Americans fleeing their war-torn countries in the 1980s. The shelter provided emergency relief and temporary housing for hundreds of thousands of refugees. Pimentel received her bachelor's degree in fine arts from Pan American University in Edinburg, Texas; a master's degree in theology from St. Mary's University in San Antonio, Texas; a master's degree in counseling psychology from Loyola University in Chicago, IL; and an honorary PhD in humane letters from Holy Family University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.   ·   @nspimentel ×


A big soul voice led by a passion for using music for empowerment, singer/songwriter Shawnee is giving back music as medicine.

An undeniable stage presence, Two Spirit artist Shawnee blends her soul power voice with blues tones to create dynamic, punchy, powerful songs. She was recognized by Billboard as one of their "Artist To Watch For," and MTV named her one of their "Top Gender Bending Artists." Her songs "Mirror Me" and "Warrior Heart" have become empowerment anthems, internationally reaching out to inspire, empower and give strength. "Shawnee carries a unique charm," explains Exclaim Magazine.   · ×

Alice Sheppard

Artistic director
Alice Sheppard creates movement that challenges conventional understandings of disabled and dancing bodies.

Alice Sheppard is the artistic director of Kinetic Light, as well as a choreographer and dancer in the company. Sheppard took her first dance class in order to make good on a dare: after his final performance, disabled dancer Homer Avila challenged Sheppard to begin to dance. She did, and she loved moving so much that she resigned her academic professorship at the Pennsylvania State University in order to begin a career in dance.

Sheppard studied ballet and modern dance with Kitty Lunn and made her debut with Infinity Dance Theater. After an apprenticeship, she joined AXIS Dance Company, where she toured and taught in the company's education and outreach programs. Since becoming an independent artist, Sheppard has danced in projects with Ballet Cymru, GDance and Marc Brew Company in the United Kingdom and Full Radius Dance, Marjani Forté, MBDance, Infinity Dance Theater and Steve Paxton in the United States. Her choreography has been commissioned by Full Radius Dance (2019), CRIPSiE (2016) and MOMENTA (2019, 2016 and 2014).

A Bessie award-winning choreographer, Sheppard creates movement that challenges conventional understandings of disabled and dancing bodies. Engaging disability arts, culture and history, she is intrigued by the intersections of disability, gender and race. In addition to performance and choreography, Sheppard is a sought-after speaker and has lectured on topics related to disability arts, race and dance. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times and in academic journals.   · ×

Jeannie Suk Gersen

Legal scholar, writer
Jeannie Suk Gersen writes on the legal complexities of the United States's evolving attitudes towards women's rights, sexual harassment and the interplay between law and politics.

Born in South Korea, Jeannie Suk Gersen immigrated to the US in 1979. She joined the Harvard Law School faculty in 2006, and in 2010she became the first Asian American woman at the school to receive tenure. She has taught courses on various facets of law, sexual assault and harassment, and campus misconduct, and is a contributing writer for The New Yorker.

Before joining the Harvard faculty, she served as a law clerk to Justice David Souter on the United States Supreme Court. She served as an Assistant District Attorney at the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.   ·   @JeannieSuk ×

Rayma Suprani

Political cartoonist
An award-winning satirist, Venezuelan cartoonist Rayma Suprani's life's work is speaking truth to power -- even when being outspoken comes at a steep price.

Rayma Suprani is a Caracas-born cartoonist who has published her work in various Venezuelan newspapers, including El Diario Economía Hoy and El Diario de Caracas. She is one of three recipients of a 2019 Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent. For 19 years, she drew cartoons for El Universal, but in 2014 she was fired for authoring a cartoon that tied Hugo Chávez's legacy to Venezuela's ailing health care system. Over the years, her life has been threatened numerous times by opponents of her satire.   ·   @raymacaricatura ×

Yifat Susskind

Women's rights activist
By partnering with community-based, women-led organizations on the frontlines of war and climate breakdown, activist Yifat Susskind is fighting for global rights for women.

As executive director of MADRE (a humanitarian organization dedicated to women's rights), Yifat Susskind combines human rights advocacy with international feminism to meet urgent global needs and create lasting solutions to humanity's most pressing problems.

Under Susskind's leadership, MADRE continues to embody and advance the political principles that have always been at the organization's heart: the vision of a world where all people enjoy the full range of human rights -- and resources are shared equitably and sustainably.   ·   @MADREspeaks ×

Cara E. Yar Khan

Human rights and disability activist
Cara E. Yar Khan is an international human rights advocate promoting the inclusion of people with disabilities within all facets of society.

Born in India and raised in Canada, Cara E. Yar Khan has always loved helping people in need, spending time with loved ones, traveling and Latin dancing. Leveraging a knack for languages and a curiosity for different cultures, she earned a Master's degree in public policy and went on to live in Ecuador, Panama, Angola, China, Madagascar, Mozambique, Thailand and Haiti. At age 30, she was diagnosed with a rare muscle-wasting disease. Nevertheless, she continues to live an active life and shatter the stereotypes of people with disabilities. Today, she works at the International Human Trafficking Institute, an initiative of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta.   ·   @carayarkhan ×

Jennifer Zhu Scott

Entrepreneur, technologist
As an AI researcher and specialist on digital assets, Jennifer Zhu Scott has her finger on the pulse of technologies that are poised to change our economies and our lives.

Jennifer Zhu Scott is the CEO and co-founder of Radian Technologies, a firm specializing in high-tech investments. Born and raised in extreme poverty, Scott worked her way up from a tiny village in Sichuan, China to become one of Forbes World’s Top 50 Women in Tech in 2018. In 2019, she's planning to launch Theta AI, which will uses off-the-shelf AI solutions, academic research and in-house software to help traditional industry join the AI transformation.

Scott is a frequent public speaker and opinion writer on AI, blockchain, digital currencies and data ownership. She debated Nobel Prize winner Robert Shiller on the crypto-asset bubble at Davos in 2018. In her spare time, Scott cooks, skis, reads and is a senior technical advisor to the HBO series Silicon Valley.

@jenzhuscott   · ×

Denise Zmekhol

Visual storyteller
Documentarian Denise Zmekhol lives to tell the real-world stories of marginalized communities through the lens of photography and film.

In her documentary projects, Brazilian-American journalist, photographer and director Denise Zmekhol focuses on the challenges faced by vulnerable communities in Brazil and the United States. With deft storytelling and an elegant visual style, her film Children of the Amazon relates the struggle to protect the world's largest tropical rainforest and its inhabitants.

Zmekhol's film Skin of Glass is the story of São Paulo’s tallest highrise favela, a daring modernist building designed by her father in the early 1960s. The film follows Zmekhol's journey to discover her father's threatened legacy as an artist, as she confronts the harsh inequality destroying the city he loved.   ·   @denisezmekhol ×
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