2018 Keynote Speakers


MARCH 5, 2018

Barack H. Obama is the 44th President of the United States.

Few presidents have walked a more improbable path to the White House. Born in Hawaii to a mother from Kansas and a father from Kenya, Obama was raised with help from his grandparents, whose generosity of spirit reflected their Midwestern roots. The homespun values they instilled in him, paired with his innate sense of optimism, compelled Obama to devote his life to giving every child, regardless of his or her background, the same chance America gave him.

After working his way through college with the help of scholarships and student loans, Obama moved to Chicago, where he worked with a group of churches to help rebuild communities devastated by the closure of local steel plants. That experience honed his belief in the power of uniting ordinary people around a politics of purpose, in the hard work of citizenship, to bring about positive change. In law school, he became the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review, th en he returned to Illinois to teach constitutional law at the University of Chicago and begin a career in public service, winning seats in the Illinois State Senate and the United States Senate.

On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States, winning more votes than any candidate in history. He took office at a moment of crisis unlike any America had seen in decades – a nation at war, a planet in peril, the American Dream itself threatened by the worst economic calamity since the Great Depression. And yet, despite all manner of political obstruction, Obama’s leadership helped rescue the economy, revitalize the American auto industry, reform the health care system to cover another twenty million Americans, and put the country on a firm course to a clean energy future – all while overseeing the longest stretch of job creation in American history. On the world stage, Obama’s belief in America’s indispensable leadership and strong, principled diplomacy helped wind down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, decimate al Qaeda and eliminate the world’s most wanted terrorists, shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program, open up a new chapter with the people of Cuba, and unite humanity in coordinated action to combat a changing climate.

In times of great challenge and change, President Obama’s leadership ushered in a stronger economy, a more equal society, a nation more secure at home and more respected around the world. The Obama years were ones in which more people not only began to see themselves in the changing face of America, but to see America the way he always has – as the only place on Earth where so many of our stories could even be possible.

Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, are the proud parents of two daughters – Malia, 18, and Sasha, 15.

Honorable Donna Edwards, U.S. Congresswoman (2008-2017)

Donna F. Edwards was the first African American woman elected to represent Maryland in the United States Congress.

Congresswoman Edwards was born in Yanceyville, North Carolina, grew up in a military family, and lived in every region of the country and internationally. A graduate of Thomas Stone High School in Charles County, Maryland, she earned B.A. degree from Wake Forest University, where she was one of only six black women in the class of 1980, and now serves as trustee. She completed her final year of study at the University of Salamanca, Spain, in WFU’s study-abroad program. Congresswoman Edwards was named recently as a Senior Fellow of the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York School of Law. Congresswoman Edwards trains and advises international parliamentarians and nongovernmental leaders as a consultant to the National Democratic Institute. She is the mother of one adult son, who is the light of her life.

After college, Congresswoman Edwards began her career at the United Nations Development Program. In addition to her service at the UN, Congresswoman Edwards worked for the Lockheed Corporation at the Goddard Space Flight Center with the Spacelab program. She earned a Juris Doctorate degree in 1989 from the University of New Hampshire School of Law.

In her distinguished career, Congresswoman Edwards worked as an attorney in private practice, clerked for a District of Columbia Superior Court Judge, and worked as a public interest lawyer. As a nonprofit executive, Congresswoman Edwards co-founded and led the National Network to End Domestic Violence, spearheading the effort to pass the Violence Against Women Act in 1994. She was the executive director of the Arca Foundation and Center for a New Democracy and was a tireless advocate for Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy non-profit organization. Congresswoman Edwards was member of the Diversity Leadership Council for the Maryland Democratic Party, and served on the board of directors for the League of Conservation Voters and Common Cause. She currently serves on the Profiles in Courage Awards Committee of the John F. Kennedy Library and Advisory Board of Rise to Run, encouraging young women in public service.

Elected in a special election in June 2008, Ms. Edwards became Maryland’s first African American woman in Congress, serving five terms. In Congress, she served on the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Committee on Standards and Official Conduct, the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, and the Committee on Science, Space and Technology, serving as the lead Democrat on the Subcommittee on Space. In her last term, Congresswoman Edwards was a member of the Democratic leadership team as co-chair of the House Democrat’s Steering and Policy Committee.

Her first act in Congress was to add Maryland to the Afterschool Suppers Program, ensuring student access to nutritional dinners, and to afterschool and youth development programs in schools located in low-income areas. She secured a provision in the Affordable Care Act to hold insurance companies accountable for unjustified rate increases. She was a strong advocate for investing in historically black colleges, protecting of women’s reproductive rights, and protecting the Social Security and Medicare programs. Congresswoman Edwards championed legislation to reduce opioid overdose, to ensure quality, affordable child care, to end the federal death penalty, and to provide education opportunities to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals. She was the first member of Congress to introduce a constitutional amendment to repeal the Supreme Court’s landmark Citizens United decision. In 2014, as chair of the Democratic women of the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Edwards launched the Women’s Economic Agenda for equal pay, affordable childcare and women’s economic security.

Congresswoman Edwards ran, unsuccessfully for the United States Senate, ending her tenure in the House of Representatives in 2017. Congresswoman Edwards has spent the last couple of months on an epic road trip camping, hiking, fishing and thinking in state and national parks across the country. A progressive champion who has fought for Maryland families in both the non-profit sector and in public office, she is a role model for girls and women who dream of serving their country at the highest levels of government.

Dolvett Quince
Fitness Guru and Trainer from The Biggest Loser

Dolve Quince is a force of nature. As a veteran health and fitness expert and one of the trainers on The Biggest Loser, Quince has dedicated himself to “helping people change their lives, one rep at a me.” During his early years as a trainer at the YMCA, he noticed that by helping his clients shape their bodies, he was also improving their self-esteem, creating an overall desire for better health. Believing in the importance of reshaping one’s self mentally to transform physically is central to Quince’s fitness philosophy. Since his humble beginnings, Quince’s humble beginnings keep him motivated, paying it forward to his clients both mentally and physically. Quince can be seen on NBC’s hit series The Biggest Loser, where in his first two seasons, led his team and contestant to the win.