Below are some of the speakers for this year's conference.
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.
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.
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 and her wife Kathy Hubbard have been together for more than 25 years and are advocates for adoption, with three daughters, a son and a grandson.
Katie Orenstein, founder and CEO of The OpEd Project, writes and speaks frequently about the intersection of media and mythology – that is, what we think is fact or fiction and how that shapes our ideas about politics, culture and history. She has contributed to the op-ed pages of the New York Times, Washington Post and Miami Herald. Her commentaries on women, politics, popular culture, mythology and human rights have been nationally syndicated and appear in anthologies. She has lectured at Harvard and Stanford universities, and appeared on ABC TV World News, Good Morning America, MSNBC, CNN and NPR All Things Considered. A graduate of Harvard (MA) and Columbia (MA) universities, she is the author of Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked: Sex, Morality & the Evolution of a Fairy Tale, which explores stories told about women over 500 years across multiple continents, and how they shape our lives today.
Orenstein has lived and worked around the world and particularly in Haiti, where she traveled as a folklore student and journalist in the 1990s, during a time of political upheaval. As a result of that experience, she has reported extensively on Haiti; organized fact-finding delegations for journalists, scholars and lawmakers; and consulted with the United Nations human rights mission. In 1996, she worked with a team of international human rights lawyers to assist victims of military and paramilitary violence in seeking justice. She investigated tortures, rapes, political assassinations and massacres; interviewed hundreds of victims, witnesses and alleged criminals; and coordinated lawyers’ and victims’ efforts to build cases against their persecutors. She has written about some of these cases and their aftermaths in Haiti and in the United States.
Orenstein has received a Peabody-Gardner Fellowship, Tinker Grant and a Cordier Essay Prize (from Columbia University), and was a finalist for the 2004 Prize for Promise, designed “to identify young women, aged 21-35,of great promise and vision who could... become world leaders in their respective fields.” She is a fellow with The Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership, a recipient of The Diana P. Scott Integrity in Action Award, and a fellow of Echoing Green, which selected The OpEd Project as one of 19 of the most innovative social enterprises worldwide, out of a pool of 1500 applicants.
Tracie McClendon-Cole is the Deputy Directory of Health for the Kansas City, Missouri Health Department. She has more than 20 years of experience brokering government relationships and activities with community residents and organizations, as well as in administering community-focused grants through local government. Her education includes a bachelor’s degree in psychology and an MPA from the University of Kansas as well as a juris doctorate from the University of Missouri Kansas City.
Tracie has received national awards and recognition, including the National Association of County & City Health Officials (NACCHO) Promising Practice award (2011), Missouri Public Health Association’s (MPHA) Group Merit award (2015), Missouri Department of Corrections - Probation and Parole Division’s Community Partnership for Safer Communities award (2016) and National Association of County & City Health Officials (NACCHO) Model Practice award (2016). She is a recent American Society for Public Administration, Public Administrator of the Year recipient; Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Ladder to Leadership Program Fellow; and The Central Exchange, Adele Hall Endowment for Advancement and Development (AHEAD) Program Fellow; and the Black Health Care Coalition’s Leader in Health Equity award.
In 2014, Tracie suffered a massive stroke and feels blessed to have lived to tell the story. Her perfect storm occurred due to a mixture of birth control pills and life stress. However, she knew the signs (FAST - https://www.cdc.gov/stroke/signs_symptoms.htm) and sought medical care immediately. She feels doubly blessed that she had a 100% recovery. It helped her to reshape her journey and perspective toward life and self-care. She truly believes that we “must live in each day” because it is the “present.”
Sally McVey is a licensed master social worker, licensed master addiction counselor, and an experienced registered yoga instructor. Her undergraduate education was a focus on history-social science comprehensive, with an emphasis in psychology and a women’s and gender studies minor at the University of Nebraska, Kearney. She completed her graduate degree in Social Welfare from Kansas University in 2016. This all was accomplished as she managed the responsibility of being a mother of four children—eventually, six, as she became part of a blended family. Subsequently, her understanding of the necessity of daily self-care practice is what has enabled her to balance the challenging aspects of her journey. She is passionate about working with others who wish to explore their inner potential and vitality. With over 15 years of Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness practice, she integrates these skills into her work with the individuals she serves.
Chelsea Ren Morton is a social critic, poet, and artist. Having recently completed her Master’s in Public Administration with honors at the University of Kansas, she comes to you from a background in anti-violence work and libraries and currently serves as the assistant to the executive director at the League of Kansas Municipalities. She has been featured in the Kansas Government Journal, awarded the Outstanding MPA Student Award, is a past recipient of the KU Innovation Award, and contributed to the work of a local domestic violence center that was recognized with the Kansas Outstanding Victims’ Rights Award. She first encountered self-care when experiencing vicarious trauma as a domestic violence advocate. Her experience led her to design and facilitate a two-hour workshop where she worked with advocates and non-profit service providers in managing their secondary trauma through self-care techniques. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her husband, son, two snuggly kitties, and thousands of books. View more of her work at https://searenm.wixsite.com/chelsearenmorton.