2013 Workplace Summit Speakers




Kathy Najimy

Actress, Performer, Activist

Kathy Najimy is known for her memorable performances in over 25 films and several TV projects. She recently filmed a Tyler Perry project and was seen in The Guilt Trip with Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen. Najimy debuts in 2013 on the entire last season of The Big C as Laura Linney’s character’s therapist. For TV she voiced “Peggy Hill” (14 seasons) on the Emmy Award-winning Fox hit King of the Hill, for which she received an Annie and 2 WIN Awards.
Najimy is internationally known for her portrayal of “Sister Mary Patrick” in the blockbuster hits Sister Act and Sister Act 2, which won her an American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Actress and the Hollywood Women's Press Club - Female Discovery of the Year.    
Her work includes over 20 films including starring roles in Hocus Pocus with Bette Midler, Rat Race, and Say Uncle (Philadelphia Film Festival Best Actress), Hope Floats, Nevada, Step Up 3D, Cats Don’t Dance, Zack and Reba, This Is My Life, The Fisher King, Soapdish, The Hard Way, Bam Bam and Celeste, Two Sisters, It’s Pat, The Wedding Planner with Jennifer Lopez, Jeffrey, The Big K, and HBO’s If These Walls Could Talk 2 with Ellen DeGeneres. Najimy also recently filmed two indie films, Blowtorch and Clutter.
Additional TV projects include: Five, directed by Jennifer Aniston; Desperate Housewives; Drop Dead Diva; Franklin and Bash; Ugly Betty; Socio; Men At Work; Mr. Sunshine; and a recurring role on ABC’s hit show Make It or Break It. Additionally, she has appeared on CBS’s Numb3rs, portraying the brilliant head of the university, “Millie Finch.” She also starred as “Olive Massery” for three seasons on Veronica’s Closet, for which she received an American Comedy Award. Najimy sang and danced as “Elmo’s” stepmother on Fox’s special Cinderelmo, and also sang and danced her way through the opening number of the 1995 Academy Awards with Tim Curry. In 1993, she starred in the Emmy Award-winning TNT musical special In Search of Dr. Seuss.
Najimy was featured in a three-part arc on Chicago Hope and in Disney’s The Scream Team with Eric Idle and appeared in the television series She TV, Fool for Love, That’s So Raven, and Early Edition, and was featured in three episodes of the hit sitcom Ellen.
In the theater, she starred as legendary “Mae West” on Broadway in the hit play “Dirty Blonde” to critical acclaim and later reprised the role in the West coast premiere at The Old Globe Theater (Outer Critics Circle Best Actress). With Mo Gaffney, Najimy starred in and wrote “The Kathy and Mo Show,” her long-running off Broadway play that won an Obie Award and became two Hit HBO specials: Parallel Lives and Kathy and Mo: The Darkside (for which she won Cable Ace and ACA awards for Actor and Executive Producer). Najimy has performed on Broadway and at Madison Square Garden to benefit V Day in “The Vagina Monologues.” Najimy is currently writing her solo show for the New York City stage, “Lift Up Your Skirt.”
Kathy Najimy directed the east and west coast premieres of the acclaimed off-Broadway hit “Back to Bacharach and David,” as well as several other stage projects.
She starred in Pixar’s animated feature WALL-E and has voiced characters for the animated features Tinkerbell, Brother Bear 2, Cats Don’t Dance, and The Jungle Book. For TV: The Sissy Duckling, Oswald, Hey Arnold!, Pepper Ann, Smart Animals, Hercules, American Dad, Little Bill, and many more.
A first-time entrepreneur, Najimy successfully created, designed, and sells a garment for women: Ch’Arms, nationally and abroad on home shopping and ecommerce venues. She is most proud of being honored as the Ms. Magazine Woman of the Year.
For her over 18 years of AIDS activism, Najimy has been honored with the L.A. Shanti’s Founder award as well as the LA Gay and Lesbian Center's Distinguished Achievement award. She is an enthusiastic supporter of women’s and girls’ rights, AIDS awareness, animal rights, and a woman’s right to choose, and frequently travels around the country to keynote speak on these issues. She is currently helping helm the movement to abolish the New York City carriage horses. Najimy has lent her support to a variety of worthy organizations that include: NYClass, Project Angel Food, APLA, GLAAD, Human Rights Campaign Fund, Broadway Cares, Equity Fights AIDS, The Ms. Foundation, AMFAR, Planned Parenthood, Voters for Choice, and NARAL. As a proud Lebanese American, she has received awards from the ACC and The ADC, and been honored with the Arabic Comedy Lifetime Achievement Award. She has posed twice for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal (PETA)’s popular campaign “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur,” and, in 2000, she received PETA’s Humanitarian of the Year Award from Sir Paul McCartney.
Najimy has been published in The New York Times, as well as several national magazines. She contributed a chapter to the book The Choices We Made, which was released on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. She contributed a monologue to “Standing on Ceremony – The Gay Marriage Plays.” On tape, she voiced Wally Lamb's best-selling novel She’s Come Undone.

She is tournament champion of Bravo Celebrity Poker Showdown, winning $100,000 for V-DAY (dedicating to stopping violence against women) and also won another $100,000 for at-risk teen girls as the first champion of the CBS Game Show Marathon.

Janet Mock

Writer, Activist, Founder of #GirlsLikeUs Project

Janet Mock is a writer, activist and the founder of the #Girlslikeus project. Her memoir, REDEFINING REALNESS: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More, will be published in February 2014 by Atria Books/Simon & Schuster.

While working as an editor at People.com, Janet opened up about her life as a young trans woman in Marie Claire in 2011, which sparked her work as an activist who uses media to expand our idea of womanhood and hold the LGBT movement accountable to all trans and queer folk, specifically those from low-income and/or people of color communities.

Janet has appeared on NPR, the Melissa Harris-Perry show and the HBO documentary The Out List, and has been recognized by the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, the Center for American Progress, the Women's Media Center and GOOD magazine for her work.

Janet is a board member at the Arcus Foundation, a leading global foundation advancing pressing social justice and conservation issues, and an advisor for the {young}ist, a young people-powered media site. She has also advised programming for trans youth at the Hetrick-Martin Institute in New York City and founded the social media project #GirlsLikeUs, a pro-sisterhood visibility project for trans women like herself.

A native of Honolulu, Janet attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa, earned her MA in journalism from New York University and resides in New York City with her boyfriend Aaron and their cockapoo Cleo. Follow her on Twitter @janetmock and Facebook /msjanetmock.

Robert Hanson

CEO of American Eagle Outfitters

Robert Hanson is currently the Chief Executive Officer of American Eagle Outfitters, effective January 30, 2012.

He was appointed Global Brand President for Levi Strauss in 2010, and was a member of the company’s worldwide leadership team, which sets the company’s global strategic direction.  He was previously the president of Levi Strauss North America since 2008. In this capacity, he was responsible for leading the company’s businesses in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Latin America. 

Robert began his career with Levi Strauss & Co. in 1988 as an advertising manager. He held a variety of increasingly important positions in the United States and Europe, including director of marketing, Levi's® kids; vice president, marketing and brand development, Dockers® khakis; senior vice president, brand development, Europe, Middle East & Africa; and president, Levi’s® brand, Europe, Middle East & Africa.
Prior to joining LS&CO., Robert Hanson worked at the global advertising firm, Foote, Cone & Belding.

Robert received a Bachelors of Arts and Sciences degree from Saint Mary’s College in California and attended the Executive Program of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business for Consumer Marketing.

Elaine Kaplan

Acting Director of the Office of Personnel Management

Elaine Kaplan is Acting Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). She began her legal career in the Solicitor’s Office of the U.S. Department of Labor and most recently she served as Senior Deputy General Counsel for the National Treasury Employees Union.

In 1998, Kaplan was appointed by President Bill Clinton and unanimously confirmed by the Senate to serve as the head of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. After completing a successful five-year term at OSC in 2003, she became “of counsel” to Bernabei and Katz, a nationally recognized plaintiff’s side employment law and civil rights firm. Kaplan re-joined NTEU in 2004.

She also served on President Barack Obama’s transition team as an agency review team leader in the Government Operations Group.

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Kaplan earned a J.D., Cum Laude, from Georgetown University Law Center in 1979. She received a bachelor’s degree in History from the State University of New York in Binghamton in 1976.

Kaplan will soon be moving on from OPM as she was nominated by President Obama and recently confirmed by the Senate to be a Judge of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

Tabatha Coffey

Television Personality

An Australian hairstylist, salon owner, and television personality, Tabatha first appeared in front of US audiences as a contestant on the reality television show Shear Genius. She was subsequently given her own television show, Tabatha Takes Over, which airs on the US cable television network Bravo.

Drawing on her years of hands-on experience, Tabatha now travels the country for her show as she helps struggling business owners turn around their lives and businesses. With her signature edgy style, tough love approach and exceptional skills as an artist and as a business person, Tabatha is without question a champion of small businesses. An out lesbian, she proves that her professional instincts transcend the realm of beauty and can transform owners and staffs across all kinds of businesses.


Songwriter and Recording Artist

Songwriter and recording artist, Caleb Flood-Goldstick, who prefers just Caleb as his stage name, released his first album, "Caleb" on January 29, 2013, highlighted by an appearance on the FOX morning show and a feature article in Newsday, New York.

Caleb made his musical performing debut in September 2009, at the “Take Me to the River Music Festival” and in July, 2011, Caleb began recording his original songs with music Producer PJ Bianco (the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato) in LA. Characterized by his own style of indie rock, with compelling lyrics, Caleb’s songs have been on the lips of folks around New York and LA who have encountered the talented young performer.

In February, 2012, Caleb performed at Zsa Zsa Gabor’s 95th birthday party at her Bel Aire mansion for a crowd of 100 and as a result he was interviewed by several television stations. In December, 2012, Caleb placed #1 in the Stars of Tomorrow radio contest in Australia. After his album release, new fans have been checking out Caleb's music in droves. In addition, his song, More Time, is featured in a video in support of anti-bullying released by a non-profit from the UK, the GRIN Campaign.

Steve Grand

Songwriter, Recording Artist

Steve Grand has been writing music since the age of eleven, and dreaming about recording and performing for as long as he can remember. Yet, only recently, did he decide that he was “ready” to take his shot at building a career as an artist. The release of his first original song and music video, “All-American Boy” on YouTube on July 2, 2013, was an overnight success, accumulating more than 1.5 million views in the first two weeks! The song struck a chord with thousands of people who were deeply moved that Steve had expressed so beautifully their personal story of unrequited longing, through the well-written and relatable country-tinged rock ballad.

Born in Chicago and raised in Lemont, Illinois, Steve struggled for many years to accept himself as a gay person. Always feeling like an “outsider,” he turned to music for comfort and strength, taking piano lessons and teaching himself to play guitar and flute. In high school, Steve participated in show choir, and marching band, as well as starting or playing in multiple bands with other music-oriented peers. As a Senior, he was an Illinois Music Educators Association Finalist in voice. With his father and brother, Steve enjoyed scouting, ultimately attaining the rank of Eagle Scout.

Steve completed his Freshman year of college in the music business program at Belmont University in Nashville, before returning to Chicago to attend community college and the University of Illinois at Chicago. With a deep sense that music is the only thing he could ever do in life, Steve put his college career “on hold” in 2011 to focus on writing and recording original music. In the two years since, he has produced a substantial catalog of compositions and recordings, some of which he plans to release shortly—most likely in the form of an independently produced EP.

Steve has held various jobs in restaurants, bars and modeling and, until recently, made his living by performing weekly at Chicago music venue, The Joynt, and as a music leader at four Catholic churches in the Chicago area.

Thelma Houston

R&B Artist

After 45 years of performing, 23 albums and a Grammy, music legend and icon Ms. Thelma Houston continues to celebrate her long and outstanding career and shows no signs of slowing down!

A Mississippi native, Thelma started out in the 60’s performing in gospel music with the Art Reynolds Singers. She then signed to Capitol Records (home of the Beatles, Nat King Cole and Nancy Wilson) in 1967 and had her first hit song called “Baby Mine.”

Soon Thelma was courted by several record labels and signed with ABC/Dunhill where she recorded and released her first solo album called “Sunshower” which was written, arranged and produced by the legendary Jimmy Webb. After this critically acclaimed album was released, Thelma decided to accept an offer from one of the biggest record companies around, Motown Records.

With Motown Records, Thelma claimed the top of the Pop, R&B and Dance charts with her high-powered rendition of "Don't Leave Me This Way". 
That Gold Record classic gave Thelma the distinction of being the first solo female artist at Motown to win the Grammy Award for "Best R&B Female Vocal Performance." Thelma was honored to perform on American Idol for an estimated audience of over 25 million people. Shortly after, Thelma was called to open up the finale of the hit summer show, NBC's America’s Got Talent, for an estimated TV audience of over 18 million people.

With appearances from Tokyo to Las Vegas to London and beyond, Thelma continues to bring audiences to their feet with her dynamic, energetic show. This Diva logs over 200 performances annually and the singer/songwriter is enjoying every moment of her success. "I still feel a tremendous excitement about performing," states the upbeat songstress. "I have so many more things I want to do and I have NO plans to retire.” Thelma's makes her main home in Los Angeles, CA.