Saturday Lunch Keynote

Today's lunch keynote conversations will feature those who are walking their walk towards making the world a better place, and sharing with us how those actions have changed them personally.

The State of Women and Girls, sponsored by Vagisil

We’ll open with Vagisil CEO, Keech Combe-Shetty, a third generation business leader in women’s health. Women’s bodies have long been politicized, with even the anatomical names for our bodies being deemed offensive. Keech is encouraging women and men to remove the stigma and have real, candid conversations about our bodies and their needs. Forty years ago, her grandparents created Vagisil, and today, she’s the CEO. Like her grandparents, she’s shameless about vaginal health. Because back when they first created Vagisil, most women suffered in silence about the common vaginal health issues all of us face and decades later not enough has changed.

Actor, author, producer, and activist Maria Bello has focused her energies on global women’s rights for thirty years. She was voted one of Variety magazine’s most powerful women in Hollywood for her activism with women in Darfur. Maria also traveled to Kosovo during the war to interview women about the genocide and sexual violence against them and lobbied congress to organize the first ever hearing on rape as a weapon of war. She started a women’s clinic in Haiti and holds the title of Ambassador at Large for the women in Haiti. She has spoken at the State Department on women and social business and at the UN on women in media. She is also a ReFrame Ambassador for Women in Film to work towards gender parity in the entertainment industry. Her films in production center on women and diverse voices. For example, Maria is currently producing a VR piece and 2D documentary about an all female militia fighting ISIS.

Yasmeen Hassan is the Global Executive Director of Equality Now, an organization that has been is using the law for 25 years to protect and promote human rights for women and girls around the world. Their motto is that “legal change means social change…and it works”. Prior to joining Equality Now, she was with the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women where she worked on the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Secretary-General’s study on violence against women. She has served on the Council on Foreign Relations’ Advisory Board on Child Marriage, provided expert guidance to the U.N. Trust to End Violence Against Women, and advocates for women’s rights through appearances in numerous media outlets, including CNN, Al Jazeera, the Huffington Post, the New York Times and the Washington Post. Yasmeen holds a J.D., magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School where, among other subjects, she studied Islamic law and women’s rights. For Yasmeen, the law makes a critical difference; it is a statement of your worth as a citizen and influences the direction your life will take. Growing up in Pakistan, her defining moment came at age 10 when her country’s laws were ‘Islamacized’ treating women as second class citizens. Advocating for women’s rights became a major part of Yasmeen’s education and career, ultimately leading her to author the first study of domestic violence in Pakistan which became the nation’s submission to the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995.

Maria and Yasmeen, two warriors for women will talk about the real change they’ve seen, the tactics that have been most effectively…and how they prioritize the work that remains to be done.

Cat Cora and Carla Hall

Next, a little something for the foodie fan in all of us as celebrity chef's Cat Cora and Carla Hall sit down together and chat about keeping it real as a women in the "industry", the illusion of balance, and what it takes to make the tough decision to live your values in the world today.

Carla Hall, is a co-host of ABC’s Emmy award winning, popular lifestyle series “The Chew,” seated alongside restaurateurs and “Iron Chef America” stars Mario Batali and Michael Symon, entertaining expert Clinton Kelly and health and wellness enthusiast Daphne Oz. Hall is best known as a competitor on Bravo’s “Top Chef” and “Top Chef: All Stars”, where she won over audiences with her fun catch phrase, “Hootie Hoo” and her philosophy to always cook with love. As you may remember, she  joined us last Fall in Austin for #BlogHerFood16, moderating a wonderful keynote discussion about how long it takes to achieve “overnight” success (a theme we will be re-visiting this year with another keynote speaker Luvvie Ajayi, by the way). We were hungry for more from Carla (pun intended)! 

Cat Cora, is a world-renowned chef, author, restaurateur. contributing editor, television host and personality, actress. avid philanthropist. health and fitness expert, lifestyle entrepreneur and proud mother of six.  Cat continues to be a leader in her industry as she masterfully synchronizes her award-winning talents with mainstream accessibility, all while she evolves into a space beyond the culinary world.  She brings her own tales of highs and lows to the conversation, as she and Carla dish (again with the puns!) and compare notes on their respective journeys.

We are looking forward to hearing from this amazing group of strong women who are not only living their values every day, but are working to make change both at home and abroad.