Mary McDonnell is a two-time Oscar-nominated actress known for bringing powerful and complex female characters to the film and television landscape.
McDonnell recently starred as “Commander Sharon Raydor” on TNT’s hit series, Major Crimes, where she earned an Emmy Nomination for her portrayal of a woman at the pinnacle of her career navigating leadership in the traditionally male-dominated field of law enforcement. The series was honored by multiple community organizations including the LAPD, LAPD Reserve Foundation, GLSEN, Imagen Foundation and Covenant House.
McDonnell starred in Syfy’s AFI and Peabody award-winning Battlestar Galactica in her critically-praised performance as ‘President Laura Roslin’ (2008 Saturn Award – Best Actress on Television). An allegory of 9/11 and the War in Iraq, the series was widely acclaimed for its examination of the issues of war and human rights, and in 2009 McDonnell appeared on a panel at the United Nations to discuss the parallels between the show and real-world issues of terrorism, race relations and gender equality.
McDonnell’s Broadway credits include Tennessee Williams’ Summer and Smoke, the title role in Wendy Wasserstein’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Heidi Chronicles and Emily Mann’s Execution of Justice.
Extensive film credits include Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for her portrayals of “Stands with Fist” in the Academy Award-winning film Dances with Wolves and as a paraplegic soap opera star in John Sayles’ Passion Fish. Other films include Lawrence Kasdan’s Grand Canyon and Mumford, Sneakers opposite Robert Redford and Sidney Poitier and Independence Day.
In 2015 McDonnell received the Gina Award from Women in Film, and the Leadership Excellence Advocacy (LEA) Award in 2017 from Women in Cable Telecommunications. In 2018 McDonnell was honored with the Pell Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts, presented by Trinity Repertory Company. Currently McDonnell is producing projects for TV and film, as well as hosting the “Lady Bam Podcast,” exploring conversations at the heart of the matter with an emphasis on women in the entertainment industry.
Reshma Saujani is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Girls Who Code, a national nonprofit organization that is working to close the gender gap in technology. Since 2012, nearly 90,000 girls of all backgrounds have become more interested in computer science or declared it as a major/minor as a result of Girls Who Code program offerings.
Saujani began her career as an attorney and activist, the first Indian American woman to run for U.S. Congress. Her TED talk, “Teach girls bravery, not perfection,” has had more than three million views. She is the author of Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World, the first in a 13-book series that debuted as a New York Times bestseller, Women Who Don’t Wait In Line, which advocates a new model of female leadership, and Brave, Not Perfect: Fear Less, Fail More, and Live Bolder (February 2019).
She holds degrees from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and Yale Law School. Among her many accolades, Forbes named her one of the Most Powerful Women Changing the World. She serves on the boards of the International Rescue Committee and She Should Run, which seeks to increase women in public leadership.
Shelley Zalis calls herself “chief troublemaker, equality leader, innovation junkie, big idea thinker-upper.” Educated at Barnard College, she left the corporate world in 2000 to pioneer online research, creating OTX Online Testing Exchange, which soon became one of the largest and fastest-growing research companies in the world. As the first female chief executive officer to rank in the research industry’s top 25, Zalis championed gender equality within the company.
She sold OTX to Ipsos in 2010 and has devoted herself to being a mentor and advancing women’s equality and diversity across industries and career levels. She launched The Female Quotient, an organization working with companies and business leaders to tackle issues such as the wage gap, bias, and company culture, and founded The Girls’ Lounge pop-up experiences for corporate women worldwide to connect, collaborate, and activate change.
Zalis is co-founder of ANA’s AFE #SeeHer initiative to increase the accurate portrayals of women and girls in advertising and media and a board member of She Runs It. Among her many honors, she was named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
2018 Power Plenary Speaker
Sarita Maybin grew up in a military family and lived for nine years in Germany and many places in the United States. Moving frequently, she discovered the importance of adapting, staying positive, and “playing nicely.” Today, as an international speaker and communication expert, she incorporates the life lessons she learned as she teaches audiences how to stay positive, constructively confront tough communication situations, and work together better. Since 1993, she has spoken at conferences, companies, and campuses in all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico, Mexico, Jamaica, Canada, England, Asia, and Iceland. Her clients include Hewlett Packard, Kaiser Permanente, and the Department of Navy, among others.
Maybin is the author of If You Can’t Say Something Nice, What DO You Say?: Practical Solutions for Working Together Better. A TEDx speaker, she is the recipient of numerous honors and awards and was named a Toastmasters Humorous Speech Contest winner.
She holds a master’s degree in counseling and was Interim Dean of Students at the University of California, San Diego. She is a past-president of the National Speakers Association, San Diego chapter.