2019 KEYNOTE SPEAKER:
President & CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund & Victory Institute,
the Honorable Mayor Annise Parker
Victory Fund and Victory Institute President & CEO Annise Parker is the first former elected official to lead the organizations, having served six years as a Houston City Council member, six years as City Controller, and six years as Mayor of the city. She is one of only two women to have been elected mayor, and is the only person in Houston history to have held the offices of council member, controller and mayor. She was the first openly LGBTQ mayor of a major American city.
She currently serves on the Policy and Global Affairs Committee of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine and the boards of Houston Botanic Garden, Houston BARC Foundation, Patient Care Intervention Council, and the Climate Disclosure Project (CDP).
Prior to joining Victory Fund and Victory Institute, she was Senior Vice-President and Chief Strategy Officer of BakerRipley, a community development non-profit. She was also a Fellow at the Doerr Institute for New Leaders and Professor in the Practice at Rice University. She served on the boards of FirstNet – created by Congress to implement a nationwide broadband network for first –responders and the Airbnb Mayor’s Advisory Board.
In 2010 Time magazine named Mayor Parker one of the 100 most influential people in the world. She was named top US mayor and seventh ranked world mayor in 2014 by City Mayors Foundation. She has received numerous awards during her career, including Scenic Houston’s Scenic Visionary Award, Guardian of the Human Spirit Award from Holocaust Museum Houston, Guardian of the Bay Award from Galveston Bay Foundation, Rice University Distinguished Alumna for 2011, and Local Arts Leadership honoree by Americans For the Arts.
In addition to her duties as mayor, Mayor Parker was a member of President Obama’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, chaired the U.S. Conference of Mayors Criminal and Social Justice Committee, was a steering committee member of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, and served on the boards of the Texas Environmental Research Consortium and Houston Galveston Area Council. She is a past Fellow of the Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
Mayor Parker has been involved in Victory Fund and Victory Institute since its founding. She was endorsed by Victory Fund in all her successful campaigns for elected office, served on the board of directors, is an alum of Victory Institute’s Candidate & Campaign Training, and is a former Victory Institute David Bohnett Leaders Fellow. Her first LGBTQ organizing event was the Texas Gay Conference in 1975, and she was a founding member of the Rice University Gay and Lesbian Support Group in 1979. She served as an officer or board member of dozens of organizations, including President of the Houston Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, Co-Chair of the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas, Co-Chair of the Lesbian and Gay Democrats of Texas and Treasurer of the Names Project Houston. She was a community liaison to the Houston Police department for many years, and created and taught an LGBTQ human relations module to cadets.
Mayor Parker graduated from Rice University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree. In the private sector, she spent 20 years working in the oil and gas industry, including 18 years with Mosbacher Energy Company. She also co-owned Inklings, a lesbian/feminist bookstore for 10 years.
Mayor Parker and her wife Kathy Hubbard have been together for more than 28 years and are advocates for adoption, with three daughters, a son and a grandson.
Past Keynote Speakers
Transgender Fashion Model & Activist
Fashion model, Geena Rocero became a new kind of model when she revealed that she was transgender for the first time publically on the renowned TED stage. Now, as she continues to tell her story and discuss the challenge of living a life true to one's inner self, she serves as a symbol of strength, pride and acceptance in and outside of the transgender community.
Growing up in a working-class neighborhood in the Philippines, Rocero was 5 when she realized that the way the world perceived her—as a boy—was not how she felt inside, a revelation that was met with full support from her family. She continued to gain confidence, also due to the transgender community’s lengthy cultural history in the Philippines and at 15, competed and placed in one of the most prestigious transgender pageants in the country. The first victory of many, Rocero was soon a pageant celebrity.
At 17, she moved to the states and got a driver's license as a female—finally obtaining an official document stating what she'd always felt about herself. At 19, Rocero fulfilled her dream and had sex reassignment surgery, but kept it secret from her friends and colleagues in New York City, as she continued to build her career in modeling, working with global lifestyle brands such as Rimmel Cosmetics, Marriott and Hanes.
In 2014, in honor of International Transgender Day of Visibility, Rocero stepped on the TED stage and—in the most visible way possible—came out as a proud transgender woman, outlining her commitment to help others live their own truth without shame and terror; her talk went viral and has since generated more than 2.5 million views.
Now a dedicated activist, Rocero is an active cofounder of Gender Proud, an advocacy & awareness campaign that aims to advance the rights of all transgender individuals. Rocero is also a host of USA's reality feature news show ASPIREist.
Director, The Same Difference
Nneka Onuorah started her career at Viacom by being dubbed the "Super-Intern" at BET Networks by The New-York Times in an article "Dancer at Heart CEO in the Making". Only three months after beginning her internship with Stephen Hill President of Programming, Nneka got hired for being innovative and forward thinking.
After closely studying the interdepartmental operations of the network, Nneka saw a void in the connection between the company and its Millennials. In an attempt to fill that void, Nneka created the "Junior Executive Board" which is an internal resource group that is designated to give an executive from each department a mentee that actively studies the millennial patterns of the demographic. After moving her way up from Intern, to coordinator, to producer Nneka used her television experience and personal story to create her very first film "The Same Difference", a documentary about lesbians who discriminate against other lesbians based on gender roles, which is playing in main stream theaters like AMC as well as winning the audience award for Best Documentary in HBO's Newfest film festival selling out theaters in a record time of two minutes.
With press outlets like Huffington Post, Black Enterprise, NBC, Fox News, Cosmopolitan, and more endorsing the film Nneka is on a sure path to diversifying the stories told in mainstream media. Nneka for the past 5 years has been an Associate Producer on the Black Girls Rock Awards. She is also the founder of the "We are All Women Campaign" a campaign to stop the injustice in the Black LGBT Women Community. She is GLAAD award nominated. She has dedicated her life to making the invisible visible and giving a voice to the voiceless.