2018 #LEADLIKEAGIRL Keynote Speakers

Stephanie Ruhle, Anchor for MSNBC, Correspondent for NBC News

Stephanie Ruhle anchors “MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle” at 9amET and “MSNBC Live with Velshi & Ruhle” at 11amET on weekdays. On Saturdays at 12:30pmET, Ruhle explores the intersection of business, politics and the economy as co-host of “Velshi & Ruhle.”


Previously, Ruhle served as anchor and managing editor for Bloomberg Television and editor-at-large for Bloomberg News, where she co-hosted Bloomberg , Bloomberg TV’s flagship morning show featuring global thought leaders across business, tech and media.

Prior to Bloomberg, Ruhle worked at Deutsche Bank, serving as a Managing Director in Global Markets Senior Relationship Management. Ruhle began her career at Credit Suisse, where she was the highest-producing credit derivatives salesperson in the US.

Ruhle plays an active role in women’s leadership development, having founded the Corporate Investment Bank Women’s Network and co-chaired Women on Wall Street. Ruhle is a member of the board of trustees for Girls Inc. NYC, an organization that provides life-changing programs inspiring girls to be strong, smart and bold; in 2016, she was honored as one of their Women of the Year. Ruhle currently sits on the board and advises for "React To Film," an issue-based documentary film series.

Joanna Vargas, Celebrity Facialist and Founder of Joanna Vargas Salons and Skin Care Collection

Joanna Vargas, esthetician, recognized skin care expert and founder of her eponymous all natural skin care collection, is one of the top celebrity facialists in the industry.

Joanna has worked on celebrities, supermodels, and New York and LA’s discerning elite with her own brand of facials that will deliver youthful-looking, firmer skin without going under the knife. Her non-invasive techniques, paired with her all natural and organic skin care products will result in natural, healthy, and radiant skin.

Since the beginning, Joanna Vargas has been focused on one thing: beautiful skin. Combining her commitment to plant-based ingredients and her passion for science, Joanna’s nature-meets-technology approach has made her one of the most sought out estheticians and experts in the beauty industry today. Bringing her background in photography and women’s studies into the beauty industry, Joanna navigated her way through her early days as a facialist at one of New York City’s first organic spas and a specialist at a top celebrity dermatologist’s office before striking out on her own. In creating her signature services, she combined all natural skincare products with proven techniques including microcurrent, microdermabrasion, oxygen infusions, and LED light therapy to deliver immediate results. As her practice evolved and expanded to both coasts, Joanna was inspired to apply her philosophy to a namesake skincare collection, making it possible for clients and fans everywhere to maintain their skin at home.

Gitanjali Rao, America's Top Young Scientist

Gitanjali was just recently named America's Top Young Scientist of 2017 by the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge with a device to detect lead in water faster than any other current techniques. She is a Davidson Young Scholar since 2012, and has received several scholarships and awards for achievements in science, arts and community service.

She is involved in promoting STEM-based activities in schools and other clubs. Gitanjali has won awards for her writing in national and international contests. She published her first book at age of 9, called Baby Brother Wonders. She is a Times for Kids Kid reporter for the current school year. Some of Gitanjali's hobbies include playing the piano, Indian classical dancing, vocal, swimming, fencing, and baking. She has been playing classical music for 7 years, as well as recently the bass guitar and the clarinet. She has been playing piano in hospitals or assisted living centers from the age of 4.

For the last five years, she has been an active volunteer for the Children's Kindness Network, spreading an anti-bullying message. She conducts workshops in elementary schools, educating children about kindness. She loves to travel. When she grows up, Gitanjali aspires to study genetics and epidemiology.


2018 #LEADLIKEAGIRL Featured Speakers

Courtney Portlock, Director of the National Center for Girls' Leadership

COURTNEY PORTLOCK weaves the framework of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) through all that she does. She is currently in her first year as the Head of Upper School at Stuart Country Day School in Princeton, NJ, where she also serves as the director of the National Center for Girls Leadership. She serves on the planning committee for the #LEADLIKEAGIRL Conference, an annual gathering dedicated to showcasing and inspiring girls’ confidence and creativity in STEM, entrepreneurism, and leadership. Before transitioning to the role of division head, she served as the Assistant Head of Upper School for three years. She feels it is important to remain grounded in practice while working at an administrative level, so has also taught courses at Stuart on leadership and personal development, applied leadership, and Algebra 2.

Prior to working at Stuart, Courtney worked at The Episcopal Academy in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania for nine years. At Episcopal, she was the Director of Diversity and Community Life, taught Algebra 1, American Literature, Diversity Awareness courses, and coached dance.

In addition to her work in independent schools, she has striven to share her passions with other communities through leading workshops, facilitating conversations, guest lecturing, and serving on panels. She has co-taught a course at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education (UPenn GSE) titled, Whiteness: Counseling and Educational Perspectives, and her work has taken her to public, charter, parochial, and independent schools, as well as in other UPenn GSE programs and other organizations. She speaks on topics ranging from Race and Leadership, Women in Educational Leadership, The Use of the N-word in Literature, to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Awareness, Implementation Strategies for Multicultural Competency, and more. She has also presented at four national conferences: the National Association of Independent Schools' People of Color Conference, The White Privilege Conference, The National Coalition of Girls’ Schools Conference, and the National Partnership for Educational Access Conference.

To further her capacity to engage with other communities, she founded The Diversity Quotient, LLC, where she serves as CEO. The Diversity Quotient seeks to empower communities by transforming the thoughts and actions of individuals to incorporate the impact of verbal and non-verbal communication, visible and invisible behaviors, and individual and societal level experiences, thus forging a path to equity and inclusion by challenging and dismantling systems of privilege and oppression. Through the company, she has worked with both public and independent schools all over the US.

Courtney has a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master of Science degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.

Kelli List Wells, Executive Director for Education and Skills at the GE Foundation

Kelli List Wells is the Executive Director for Education and Skills at the GE Foundation. Her portfolio focuses on building education, skills and training initiatives to prepare the next generation for the demands of the workforce and the changing labor economy both nationally and globally. Wells joined GE in 1995 as an Investment Broker with GE Asset Management. In 1996, she was appointed to Quality where she became a Black Belt in Six Sigma. After her role in Quality she managed International Marketing for GE[?]s Retail Services Division. In 2001 she joined the corporate citizenship team at GE Capital where she held responsibilities around global programs. In 2004, she was appointed to her current role at the GE Foundation. Prior to joining GE, Wells spent 5 years as a licensed financial advisor, holding her Series 7 and Series 63 Investment licenses.

Sonya Pryor-Jones, Chief Implementation Officer Fab Foundation

Sonya Pryor-Jones is the chief implementation officer for the Fab Foundation. In partnership with Sherry Lassiter, Sonya is charged with supporting the next iteration of Dr. Neil Gershenfeld's work, and the strategic endeavors of the organization. Sonya manages signature projects for the Fab Foundation including the Brilliant Career Labs, SCOPES-DF, and partnerships with Chevron, The GE Foundation, Adam Savage and Tested.com, The Boston Celtics, and DARPA. Prior to joining the Fab Foundation, Sonya was the founding director for a national placed-based education and community development strategy at the Sisters of Charity Foundation. She also managed a $3.5 million STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) effort as the executive director for Northeast Ohio's STEM initiative at Case Western Reserve University. Her work with several public-private partnerships has included collaboration with a wide range of partners including Policy Link, Battelle, GE, Rockwell Automation, NASA, and The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Sonya received a B.A. in International Studies and History from Kenyon College, and a M.Ed. in Education from Cleveland State University. She also holds Certificates in Executive Education and Appreciative Inquiry from The Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University.

Rakia Reynolds, Founder of Skai Blue Media

Rakia Reynolds is the founder of Skai Blue Media, a multimedia public relations agency with an all-star roster of lifestyle, technology, non-profit and fashion clients. As a leader in the industry, she is highly sought after by companies to provide expertise in creative development, branding, marketing and business communications.

Her path to entrepreneurship started with numerous creative ventures, including producing shows for MTV, TLC and Discovery Health Channel. She was a business major turned TV producer turned PR pro, and the twists and turns have made her into the media mogul and unstoppable trailblazer that she is today. She launched Skai Blue Media in 2008 with one employee, one client and the driving desire to form a PR agency that would break the mold and represent the future of public relations in the digital age. That firm has since grown tremendously to fourteen employees and more than thirty prominent clients.

Julie Carrier, #1 Bestselling Author and CEO of Girls Lead Worldwide

Seen on NBC’s Today Show and in The New York Times and Boston Globe, Julie Carrier is a trusted authority on leadership development and confidence for girls and young women. Julie is also the #1 national bestselling author of Girls Lead and the award-winning book on mind/body/self-esteem, BeYOUtiful. This Emmy-Nominee for positive programming has also reached millions on national TV as a girls’ success and confidence coach featured on MTV’s positive goalsetting show, MADE.

As the CEO of Girls Lead Worldwide, Julie is leading a movement to “empower those who empower girls and empower girls to empower each other.” She supports the world’s leading girls’ schools and girl-serving organizations including serving as a member of the Advisory Council for the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up Program. A former Senior Management Consultant in Leadership Development for the Pentagon, Julie specializes in neuroscience-based leadership education—a powerful framework she leverages to support girl-serving organizations and girls’ schools through innovative and neuroscience-based leadership keynotes, seminars, curricula, and best-practice program consulting. She is also a Fellow at the Institute of Coaching at McLean/Harvard Medical School.

Julie is so passionate about this work because she believes that every girl is just one leadership experience away from her own success story. Julie’s life is also a living example of this. Through the power of leadership development in high school, Julie went on to overcome challenging childhood circumstances, crippling anxiety, and bullying, and started her own successful business as a teen. She became recognized as a Century III Leader—one of the Top 50 Student Leaders in the Nation by NASSP—and a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholar to England. She graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa in Leadership Studies and was hired at the age of just 23 to serve as a Senior Management Consultant in Leadership Development for the Pentagon—and later left her career there because she felt called to become an advocate and change agent for girls and young women.

Because of her work as a speaker, coach, and expert for girls in leadership development, Julie is one of only 100 people worldwide to be named to the Marshall Goldsmith 100 Coaches Program, along with the Dean of Harvard Medical School, the President of the World Bank, and the head of the Rockefeller Foundation. She has reached over a million teens, girls, young women, and those who care about them, worldwide. To learn more, visit: www.girlslead.com.




#LEADLIKEAGIRL® is presented by:

The National Center for Girls' Leadership at Stuart

Special thanks to The Harris B. Siegel Fund and our sponsors.