We are proud to partner with The National Society of Leadership and Success to bring award-winning journalist Anderson Cooper to our opening session. Additional featured speakers include Professor Adam Habib, Julian Castro, artist and activist Bree Newsome and founder of transathlete.com Chris Mosier. Click the button below to view their full bios.

Anderson Cooper

The National Society of Leadership and Success

Anderson Cooper

Anchor, Anderson Cooper 360°

Anderson Cooper is the anchor of CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360°,

a nightly newscast that goes beyond the headlines –keeping politicians and policy makers honest with in-depth reporting and investigations. The show airs weeknights at 8:00pm ET on CNN. Since the start of his career in 1992, Cooper has covered nearly all-major news events around the world, often reporting from the scene. Most recently, he has extensively covered the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Egypt, the riots in Baltimore, MD and Ferguson, MO, Pope Francis’s U.S. visit and the terror attack at Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Cooper has also played a pivotal role in CNN’s political and election coverage. He has anchored from conventions and moderated several presidential debates and town halls. In addition to his shows on CNN Cooper is also a regular correspondent for CBS’s 60 Minutes. Thank you to The National Society for Leadership and Success for providing Anderson Cooper as a part of our strategic partnership. www.societyleadership.org

Bree Newsome

Sponsored in part by EverFi

Bree Newsome

Community Organizer and Activist

​Born with an artist’s soul and spirit, Bree Newsome has always been sensitive to the essential role that art and symbols play in shaping culture and consciousness. As she watched the funeral of Rev. Clementa Pinkney, one of 9 people slaughtered in the name of white supremacy at Mother Emmanuel Church in Charleston, SC, she recognized the message being communicated clearly by the US flag and the SC state flag at half-mast while the Confederate flag remained fully furled. Refusing to accept the premise of this image – that white supremacy is supreme, untouchable and invincible – she scaled the 30ft flagpole in front of the SC statehouse and removed the “stars and bars” declaring, “This flag comes down today!” Bree’s intention was to create a new image, a new symbol and a new consciousness of the power inherent in direct action. The iconic picture of her on the pole, flag in hand has become a touchstone of empowerment for disenfranchised people around the world.

A graduate of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, Bree is an award-winning filmmaker (“WAKE”), writer, composer, singer, community activist and organizer but she does not see these as separate endeavors. “Art is activism and activism is art”, she insists, as she seamlessly blends her talents in pursuit of social and economic justice. Currently, she works as a western field organizer for IgniteNC, a project of the Southern Vision Alliance and she is a founding member of Tribe, a grassroots organizing collective dedicated to empowering underserved communities in Charlotte, NC. She has an unwavering belief in the power of the individual to make a difference and the utter inability of hate, injustice and inequality to survive the tidal wave that can be created by the collaboration and united action of individuals and groups committed to creating a better world.

Chris Mosier

Sponsored in part by eCHECKUP TO GO

Chris Mosier

Athlete, Coach, Educator

​Chris Mosier is an athlete, coach, and educator, and the founder of TransAthlete.com. In 2015, he became the first openly trans man to make a Men's US National Team. Following the national championship race, he was instrumental in getting the International Olympic Committee policy on transgender athletes changed, and in June 2016 he became the first trans athlete to compete in a world championship race under the new rules, where he was the second fastest American man in his group. Chris is a two-time member of Team USA, representing the United States in the short course and long course duathlon, which is a run/bike/run event. 

Chris is also a nationally recognized three-time Ironman triathlete, and inductee into the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame. He was featured in a Nike commercial which aired during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Chris has been featured in publications including ESPN The Magazine, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, and Esquire, and has written about his experiences for publications includingThe Advocate, the Pride Network, OutSports, and Compete Magazine. 

Chris was a silver medalist in triathlon at the 2014 Gay Games. He has been named to The Advocate Magazine's 40 Under 40, the Trans 100 list, the GOOD 100 list, and is featured in the 2016 Out 100 list. He is a Nike sponsored athlete. 

Chris currently works as the Vice President of Program Development and Community Relations for You Can Play. Previously, Chris served as the Executive Director of GO! Athletes, and worked in higher education.

Professor Adam Habib

Professor Adam Habib

Vice-Chancellor and Principal

Professor Adam Habib is an academic, an activist, an administrator, and a renowned political media commentator and columnist. 

A Professor of Political Science, Habib has more than 30 years of academic, research, institutional and administration expertise. His experience spans five universities and multiple local and international institutions, boards and task teams. His professional involvement in institutions has always been defined by three distinct engagements: the contest of ideas; their translation into actionable initiatives; and the building of institutions.

Professor Habib is the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the Witwatersrand, a position that he assumed with effect from the 1st of June 2013. 

Prior to this, he served as the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation, Library and Faculty Coordination at the University of Johannesburg. He also served as the Executive Director at the Human Sciences Research Council and as a Research Director on Governance and Democracy. He has held several academic, research posts at the University of Natal, including serving as a Professor in the School of Development Studies and as Research Director of the Centre for Civil Society. 

He was instrumental in transforming the University of Johannesburg following the nationwide mergers of tertiary institutions in 2005 and played a key role in increasing research output at UJ. 

Professor Habib holds qualifications in Political Science from three universities including the University of Natal and Wits. He earned his masters and doctoral qualifications from the Graduate School of the City University of New York. 

Transformation, democracy and development are fundamental themes of Professor Habib’s research. He is well-published and renowned as a key leader in higher education and political studies in South Africa and around the world.

Indeed, his latest book, South Africa’s Suspended Revolution: Hopes and Prospects, launched in August 2013, has already made huge waves both locally and internationally. The book focuses on the country’s transition into democracy and its prospects for inclusive development.

Julián Castro

Julián Castro

Former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

Even before he burst onto the national scene in 2012 as the Democratic Party’s first Hispanic keynote convention speaker, Julián Castro was already the embodiment of the American dream. The grandson of an orphaned immigrant from Mexico, Julian and his twin brother (current U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro) often accompanied their mother, Rosie, as she worked on behalf of their community as a political activist.

In 2001, at age 26, Castro became the youngest elected city councilman in San Antonio history at the time. In 2009, he was elected Mayor of San Antonio (the youngest mayor of a top-50 American city). As Mayor, Castro became known as a national leader in urban revitalization and for expanding educational opportunities for the city’s low-income students. 

TIME magazine placed him in its “40 Under 40” list of rising stars in American politics and he was named to the World Economic Forum’s list of Young Global Leaders. Appointed the 16th Secretary of HUD by President Barack Obama in 2014, Castro launched many new initiatives that help people achieve a better quality of life. President Barack Obama said of Castro: "Julián is a proven leader, a champion for safe, affordable housing and strong, sustainable neighborhoods." His strong track record of accomplishments in such a short time has made him an inspiring leader and example of what DOES work in government and communities.