2017 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.