Select a year below to learn more about past speakers.
2022 - Diana Chao
Diana Chao, founder and Executive Director at Letters to Strangers, Ambassador at One Young World, Active Minds speaker and mental health advocate - November 2, 2022
Diana Chao was the keynote speaker for the 2022 Voices of Leadership event, "Let's Talk About Mental Health." Diana is the founder and executive director at Letters to Strangers, a global youth-run organization seeking to destigmatize mental illness and increase access to affordable, quality treatment. Chao also travels nationally as a speaker for Active Minds, an organization with chapters in schools across the country.
Diana spoke about youth mental health and her own experience with bipolar disorder, often sharing her experiences through slam poetry. Over 200 people attended the event and gave Chao a standing ovation for her emotional and moving presentation.
Linda Alvarado, founder, President, and CEO of Alvarado Construction, owner of The Colorado Rockies, and majority owner of Palo Alto Inc. – November 4, 2021
Linda Alvarado broke barriers by becoming the founder, President, and CEO of Alvarado Construction, Inc., in 1976. Alvarado Construction is a commercial general contractor, construction manager, development, design/build, and property management firm. Based in Denver, it is one of the fastest growing general contractors in the country.
In keeping with breaking non-traditional roles, in 1991 Linda Alvarado made history as the first Hispanic (male or female) owner of a major league baseball franchise. As a co-owner of The Colorado Rockies her role is also significant as it marked the first time that any woman was involved in a bid for ownership of a Major League team.
Nilofer Merchant, author and idea activator – September 17, 2020
Nilofer Merchant is ranked among the top management thinkers in the world. During her 25 years in technology, she personally launched more than 100 products, netting 18B in sales. An author and much sought-after speaker, Merchant's keynote for Voices of Leadership 2020 was entitled, "Onlyness: Find your purpose, your people, your power." In it, Merchant reflected on the importance of asking questions that stop putting us at odds with each other and instead, ask questions that will help us to find a new way forward, together.
"Most of us are taught to answer the questions we are asked. Smartly. Crisply. And not enough time is spent on teaching us how to ask a better question," said Merchant.
Jessica Shortall, Social Activist – March 21, 2019
Jessica Shortall is a nationally recognized advocate, author, and speaker, focusing on workplace diversity and the economic case for supporting people to bring their whole selves to work. Jessica's keynote, "What We Tell Ourselves About Gender And Work," delves into the myriad ways in which our culture reinforces gendered roles in work and caregiving - and how the rules we are expected to follow impact all of us.
Julia Landauer, a two-time champion NASCAR driver, knows the importance of being a bold woman. She embraces her competitive spirit – whether she is in a race or faced with the realities of a male-dominated profession. Landauer graduated from Stanford in 2014, earning a BS degree in Science, Technology, and Society. She focused on business and how modern technology can be applied to racing. Ever since, she has purposefully built her brand where technology, community and racing intersect and fuse.
“I love winning, and I think that is not something we encourage girls to say a lot,” said Landauer.
Shiza Shahid, Malala Fund Co-Founder – March 28, 2017
Shiza Shahid is an entrepreneur, investor, and women’s rights advocate who co-founded the Malala Fund with Nobel Prizewinner Malala Yousafzai at the age of 23. Her passion for change has landed her on numerous prestigious lists, including Time and Forbes 30 under 30. Today she supports other change-makers and her new seed-stage venture capital fund, NOW Ventures, funds startups around the world.
2016 - Sr. Josephe Marie Flynn & Shabnam Mogharabi
Josephe Marie Flynn, SSND, Award-Winning Author, Chairperson of Archdiocesan Justice for Immigrants Committee – February 2, 2016 (Studio Series)
Sister Josephe Marie Flynn spoke about her book "Rescuing Regina." This book takes a hard look at America’s immigration system, serves as a quest for justice, and represents a story of friendship and the power of faith.
Shabnam Mogharabi, SoulPancake CEO – March 3, 2016
Shabnam Mogharabi, CEO and executive producer at SoulPancake, spoke about the notion that joy and creativity are invaluable assets. Her inspirational message speaks to the core values espoused by Mount Mary University. And what’s more, Shabnam’s work truly has a rare and transformative power for anyone who seeks meaning, purpose and impact in today’s ever-changing world.
Lori Vance '81, Founder of Express Yourself Milwaukee – February 9, 2015 (Studio Series)
Lori Vance '81, Mount Mary alumna and former adjunct professor, spoke about her experience and impact as an art therapist. Working with children, adults, families and adolescents, Lori has made a positive impact in over 1,000 lives in our community.
Betsy Myers spoke about her leadership style, "leading with love," as well as her experiences with two White House administrations. Doris Christopher was a true entrepreneur and small business owner, growing her business to a multi-million dollar enterprise.
Jessica Disu (aka FM Supreme), Peace Movement Activist, Recording Artist, Educator– April 30, 2015 (Studio Series)
Born and raised in Chicago, Jessica Disu continues to build peace movements and work closely with youth both in Chicago and across the U.S. She is also a international music performer, an activist, and an educator.
Lauren Bush Lauren, Founder & CEO of FEED Projects and Carly Fiorina, Global Ambassador for Opportunity International & Former CEO of Hewlett-Packard – March 5, 2014 (Stage Series)
Lauren Bush, who uses her passion for social good to feed the hungry around the world, spoke about the importance of women's empowerment. Carly Fiorina spoke remotely to the audience about how she believes that women need to be involved in all conversations.
Veronika Scott, Founder and CEO of The Empowerment Plan – March 25, 2014 (Studio Series)
Veronika Scott spoke with our students and faculty in a moderated discussion about how her college design project became a thriving non-profit company that is making huge strides in the fight against homelessness in her hometown of Detroit.
Kathryn Jackson, Founder and CEO of Protect Your Pumps – April 29, 2014 (Studio Series) Kathryn Jackson spoke with our students and faculty in a moderated discussion about how persistence, self-awareness, and knowing where your passion lies turned into a successful business venture.
Claudia Kennedy, Retired Lt. General for the United States Army – September 12, 2014 (Fall Transform)
Lt. General Claudia Kennedy (RET.) was the keynote for the September 2014 Fall Transforum held in downtown Milwaukee. She spoke of her experience as the first woman to receive the rank of three-star general in the United States Army.
Pat Pearman, Executive Director of Oncology & Disease Solutions for GE Healthcare – September 23, 2014 (Studio Series)
Pat Pearman spoke with our students in a moderated discussion about being authentic in every role of your life, having meaning and passion for what you do, and how she overcame many obstacles in her life to find new direction for her career path.
Gretchen Mead, Founder and Executive Director of Victory Garden Initiative – October 29, 2014 (Studio Series)
During the fall Studio Series, Gretchen Mead spoke about her passion for home grown food, its health implications and how the Victory Garden Initiative brings healthy garden food to all neighborhoods around southeast Wisconsin.
Mona Sutphen, Former Deputy Chief of Staff to the Obama Administration – October 11, 2013 (Fall Transform)
Mona Sutphen, Milwaukee native and former Deputy Chief of Staff to the Obama Administration and adviser to the president on domestic policy and international issues, was the keynote speaker at the 2013 Transforum. She shared the story of her varied and intriguing career while urging attendees to “find what they’re good at” and use it to make a difference.
Andreé Simon, President of Women for Women International – September 21, 2012 (Fall Transform)
During the 2012 Transforum, Andreée Simon, president and COO of Women for Women International, an organization committed to helping women survivors of war transform their world, shared stories of small actions by ordinary individuals that have had a positive ripple effect and impacted women's lives across the globe.
Susan Retik, Co-Founder of Beyond the 11th
In 2011, Susan Retik shared information on her efforts to support widows in Afghanistan through grants and skill development provided by Beyond the 11th, which she founded after losing her husband in the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Marie Wilson, Founder of The White House Project
Marie Wilson, founder of The White House Project, shared information from The White House Project Report: Benchmarking Women's Leadership, which looked at 10 different sectors and provided concrete solutions from experts in each for improving women's leadership.