2018 Speakers

2019 Speakers To Be Announced


Fellow Ignite Talk Speakers

 


Keynote Speakers

The Honorable Chris Coons
U.S. Senator for Delaware, U.S. Senate

Chris graduated from Amherst College with a B.A. in Chemistry and Political Science, and earned his law degree from Yale Law School and a Master’s in Ethics from Yale Divinity School. A longtime New Castle County resident, Chris grew up in the Pike Creek and Hockessin areas and lives in Wilmington with his wife, Annie, and their three children, Michael, Jack, and Maggie.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations, Foreign Relations, Judiciary, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and Ethics committees, Chris is uniquely positioned to nurture American innovation and make the United States more competitive in the global marketplace. He is the senior Democrat on two subcommittees: the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts, which has jurisdiction over the U.S. court and bankruptcy systems, and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, which funds a broad array of government agencies – including those responsible for carrying out critical Wall Street reforms

Back to Top


The Honorable Hank Johnson
U.S. Representative for Georgia, U.S. House of Representatives

Hank JohnsonNow beginning his sixth term in the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia’s Fourth Congressional District – which encompasses parts of DeKalb, Gwinnett and Newton counties and all of Rockdale County – Congressman Hank Johnson has distinguished himself as a substantive, effective lawmaker and a leading national progressive voice.
A member of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Johnson became a leading national voice for the demilitarization of local law enforcement agencies in 2014 after police donned camouflage tactical gear and climbed aboard heavily armored vehicles to confront peaceful protestors in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, in the aftermath of the shooting death of an unarmed teenager. To help restore trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve, he filed the Police Accountability Act and the Grand Jury Reform Act in the wake of police shooting deaths of unarmed black men across the country.

In 2017 at the launch of the 115th Congress, Rep. Johnson landed a coveted seat on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee (T&I) and was unanimously voted by his colleagues to be Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management. The subcommittee conducts oversight of programs addressing federal management of emergencies and natural disasters including oversight of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and is responsible for programs promoting economic development in communities suffering economic distress. It also has jurisdiction over public buildings, federal real estate programs and the Public Buildings Service (PBS) of the General Services Administration (GSA), which is the civilian landlord of the federal government.
Prior to taking his seat in Congress in 2006, Rep. Johnson practiced criminal defense law in Georgia for twenty-seven (27) years. He served twelve (12) years as a magistrate judge, and five (5) years as a county commissioner.

Back to Top


The Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton
U.S. Representative for District of Columbia, U.S. House of Representatives

Eleanor Holmes NortonCongresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, now in her fourteenth term as the Congresswoman for the District of Columbia, is the Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit. She serves on two committees: the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Before her congressional service, President Jimmy Carter appointed her to serve as the first woman to chair the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She came to Congress as a national figure who had been a civil rights and feminist leader, tenured professor of law, and board member at three Fortune 500 companies. Congresswoman Norton has been named one of the 100 most important American women in one survey and one of the most powerful women in Washington in another. The Congresswoman’s work for full congressional voting representation and for full democracy for the people of the District of Columbia continues her lifelong struggle for universal human and civil rights.

Congresswoman Norton’s accomplishments in breaking barriers for her disempowered district are matched by her success in bringing home unique economic benefits to her constituents. Among them are senatorial courtesy to recommend federal judges, the U.S. Attorney, and other significant federal law enforcement positions for the District; up to $10,000 per year for all D.C. high school graduates to attend any public U.S. college or university and up to $2,500 per year to many private colleges and universities; a unique $5,000 D.C. homebuyer tax credit, which has sharply increased home ownership in the District and was a major factor in stabilizing the city’s population; and D.C. business tax incentives, including a significant wage credit for employing D.C. residents, which has maintained businesses and residents in the District.

Congresswoman Norton also has brought significant economic development to the District of Columbia throughout her service in Congress, creating and preserving jobs in D.C. The most significant are her work in bringing to D.C. the U.S. Department of Homeland Security headquarters compound, now under construction, and is the largest federal construction project in the country; her bill that is developing the 55 acre-Southeast Federal Center, the first private development on federal land; her work that resulted in the relocation of 6,000 jobs to the Washington Navy Yard; and her successful efforts to bring to the District the new headquarters for the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, along with an additional Metro station at New York Avenue, which has resulted in the development of the NOMA neighborhood.
Congresswoman Norton helped end the city’s most serious financial crisis in a century, in the 1990’s,by achieving a historic package that for the first time restructured the financial relationship between Congress and the District, by transferring $5 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and billions more in state costs to the federal government.

The Congresswoman, who taught law full time before being elected, is a tenured professor of law at Georgetown University, teaching an upper-class seminar there every year. After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Antioch College in Ohio, she simultaneously earned her law degree and a master’s degree in American Studies from Yale University. Yale Law School has awarded her the Citation of Merit for outstanding alumni, and Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences has awarded her the Wilbur Cross Medal for outstanding alumni, the highest awards conferred by each on alumni. She is the recipient of more than 50 honorary degrees.

Back to Top


Ambassador Tibor Nagy
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, U.S. Department of State

Ambassador Tibor NagyAmbassador Nagy, a retired career Foreign Service Officer, spent 32 years in government service, including over 20 years in assignments across Africa. He served as the United States Ambassador to Ethiopia (1999-2002), United States Ambassador to Guinea (1996-1999) as well as the Deputy Chief of Mission in Nigeria (1993-1995), Cameroon (1990-1993), and Togo (1987-1990). Previous assignments include Zambia, the Seychelles, Ethiopia, and Washington, DC.
Ambassador Nagy has received numerous awards from the U.S. Department of State in recognition of his service, including commendations for helping prevent famine in Ethiopia; supporting the evacuation of Americans from Sierra Leone during a violent insurrection; supporting efforts to end the Ethiopian-Eritrean War; and managing the United States Embassy in Lagos, Nigeria during political and economic crises.
Following his retirement from the Foreign Service, Ambassador Nagy served as Vice Provost for International Affairs at Texas Tech University from 2003 – 2018. During that time he lectured nationally on Africa, foreign policy, international development, and U.S. diplomacy, in addition to serving as a regular op-ed contributor to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal newspaper on global events. He co-authored “Kiss Your Latte Goodbye: Managing Overseas Operations,” nonfiction winner of the 2014 Paris Book Festival.

Ambassador Nagy arrived in the United States in 1957 as a political refugee from Hungary; he received his B.A. from Texas Tech University and M.S.A. from George Washington University. He has been married to Eva Jane Nagy for 47 years, and the Nagy’s have three adult children – the first triplets born in independent Zimbabwe.

Back to Top


Ambassador Jennifer Zimdahl Galt
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State

Ambassador Jennifer Zimdahl GaltAmbassador Jennifer Zimdahl Galt assumed the role of Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (PDAS) for Educational and Cultural Affairs on November 13, 2017. The Bureau advances U.S. foreign policy objectives through educational, professional, cultural and sports exchanges that promote mutual understanding between the people of the United States and people of other nations and create networks and partnerships to advance U.S. foreign policy goals and address global challenges and opportunities.

Prior to joining ECA, Ms. Galt was Ambassador of the United States of America to Mongolia from 2015-17. A career member of the State Department’s Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister Counselor, Ambassador Galt formerly served as Principal Officer of the U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou, China, where she had the privilege of leading and mentoring a talented team of nearly 500, of whom 62 were first- and second-tour officers. Ambassador Galt’s previous postings overseas have included Belgrade, Taipei with the American Institute in Taiwan, Mumbai, Beijing, Shanghai, and the U.S. Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Brussels. In Washington, Ambassador Galt served as Senior Advisor in the State Department’s Bureau of Public Affairs and as Deputy Director for Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

Ambassador Galt holds Masters’ degrees from National Defense University and Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), as well as a Bachelor’s degree in political science, history and languages from Colorado College in her home state of Colorado. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Juris Prudence from Colorado College in 2016. She is fluent in Mandarin and French, and also speaks Italian, Spanish and Serbian.

Back to Top


Masai Ujiri
President, Toronto Raptors NBA Team; Director, Basketball Without Borders; and Founder, Giants of Africa

Masai UjiriAs the NBA’s first African born President and General Manager, Masai Ujiri has solidified many “firsts” in league history through the course of his unprecedented career. With a celebrated ascension into executive ranks, Ujiri has been recognized for employing a progressive, people-first approach, and youth-focused vision into his work within the NBA, and across the globe. Ujiri has been tireless in his efforts to create pathways for African youth on the continent, leveraging the game of basketball as a vessel for young boys and girls to think and Dream Big. Ujiri has also has served as the Director of the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program since 2002 establishing a significant global footprint and reputation as a successful change agent in communities around the world.

● 2012-13 NBA Executive of the Year
● 2014 FACE Africa Trailblazer Award
● 2014 CBC Sports Most Influential Figure in Canadian Sports
● 2015 The Harry Jerome Award for Excellence in Canada’s Black Community
● 2016 Toronto Life’s 50 Most Influential
● 2016 Sports Media Canada Achievement Awards Sports Executive Recipient
● 2018 FACE Africa Wash Gala Honoree

PRIORITIZING AFRICA:
Ujiri is the Founder of Giants of Africa, which creates unique experiences and opportunities for African youth with an emphasis on hard work, accountability, honest living and positivity. Giants of Africa (GOA) launched the Top 50 and Big Man camps in Nigeria in 2003, and has since expanded programming across the continent including Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda and beyond leaving a life-changing impact on young adults venturing out into the world representing the continent.
● GOA has joined hundreds of local coaches with NBA talent to grow leadership opportunities
● GOA has worked with 3000+ campers in 15 years
● 120 campers having received scholarships to universities in the USA

POWER IN INFLUENCE:
Ujiri leans in on his vast network of influential friends and associates to elevate the impact and precedent being set on behalf of Africa on the continent and beyond.
● Ujiri is in beta on a number of projects with the Obama Foundation on the continent
● NBA All-Stars and coaches attend GOA and BWOB programming every year (e.g. Dikembe Mutombo, Luol Deng, etc)
● World renowned entertainers and media personalities are tapped to perform and attend curated experiences (e.g. Trevor Noah,)

INVESTING IN COMMUNITY:
In a quest to grow the next generation of African leaders, Ujiri continues to invest in the continent and global diaspora through heritage and legacy preservation, community rehabilitation, and breaking ground on new structures and resources.
● In honor of Nelson Mandela’s legacy, an annual, star-studded celebration is held December 5th with proceeds going to the Nelson Mandela Foundation and GOA
● GOA to build a number of elite basketball courts across the continent this summer starting in Kenya in partnership with the Sauti Kuu Foundation
● GOA x Red Cross in support of Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps donating resources to hospitals, families and youth

Back to Top