Main Stage Keynote Speakers

ICAN’s annual Women’s Leadership Conference – held for over 20 years in Omaha, Nebraska – is known to be powerful, insightful and authentic, representative of the leadership trends and transformations present in today’s workplace.
Join us on April 6, 2016 to make SHIFT happen. Our theme is TRANSFORMATION – how women in the United States have transformed the workplace, and the impact this transformation has had in business, philanthropy, and education. We will also offer insight into how women can CAPITALIZE on these transformations and are poised to make even greater transformations in the future.

2016 Main Stage Keynote Speakers

Learn about our Continuing the Conversation Keynote Speakers.  



KEYNOTEPresence – Bringing Your Boldest Self

Associate Professor, Harvard Business School.
Author, Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges.
On Power and Influence. Over 28 million views on
World Economic Forum’s 2014 Young Global Leader
One of Business Insider’s 50 Women Who Are Changing The World

Amy Cuddy is a Harvard Business School professor who studies how we perceive and are influenced by other people and vice versa. Researching social judgments, emotions, nonverbal behaviors, and hormones, Amy explains to audiences the role these variables play in shaping our emotions, intentions, and behaviors in business and society.

Amy Cuddy shows how to channel nonverbal behavior into persuasive leadership. Her work on power posing — brief, nonverbal expressions of competence and power — has won praise worldwide. Her TED talk, “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are”, posted in October 2012, has been streamed over 28 million times and is the second-most viewed talk on the TED site. Mashable. com chose it as one of 15 TED Talks That Will Change Your Life. The Guardian calls it one of 20 Online Talks That Could Change Your Life.  Her work shows that your physical posture not only affects how others see you, but also how you see yourself, your own hormone levels, and your performance and important life outcomes. Power posing — even for as little as two minutes before as stressful social evaluation, like a job interview — can actually alter an individual at the biological level and prepare the brain for stressful, high-stakes situations. In her new book, Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges, Amy reveals how to use this cutting-edge science to become self-assured in high-pressure moments. Amy’s work has been featured on the Today Show, CNN, MSNBC and in Fast Company, Harvard Magazine, Wired, The New York Times, Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, and even as the theme of a Dilbert and Betty comic strips. She appears occasionally on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360. In 2014, Amy was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. TIME magazine named Amy as one of 2012’s “Game Changers” and Business Insider chose her as one of the 50 Women Who Are Changing The World, 2013.

Amy’s groundbreaking research has been published in top academic journals and she has received numerous accolades and academic awards. Her work was featured in Harvard Business Review’s Top 20 Breakthrough Ideas for 2009 (“Just because I’m nice, don’t assume I’m dumb”), Scientific American Mind in 2010 (“Mixed impressions: How we judge others on multiple levels”), and as one of the Top 10 Psychology Studies of 2010 by Psychology Today. She writes and blogs for Harvard Business Review.

Amy holds a PhD in Psychology from Princeton University and BA in Psychology from the University of Colorado. Prior to joining HBS, she was an Assistant Professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. At Harvard, Amy teaches MBA, executive education, and doctoral courses on influence & persuasion, leadership, and decision making. She is also a classically trained (and still practicing) ballet dancer, which informs her research on nonverbal communication.

Curt Steinhorst headshot 1


KEYNOTE: Crossing the Generational Divide

The Center for Generational Kinetics

View Curt’s Guest Video Blog
Curt Steinhorst is a Certified Keynote Speaker at The Center for Generational Kinetics. His clients range from GM and Raytheon to the Naval Academy. Curt is a Millennial himself who has a reputation as a leader among Millennials. At age 20, he was elected President of his 10,000-member class at Texas A&M University. Since graduating from college magna cum laude he has worked extensively to make the most of generational differences for clients around the world. Curt’s entertaining speaking style has wowed audiences of up to 20,000 leaders from California to New York City and Africa. Curt’s personal experiences leading Millennials and serving as a speaking coach for top performers—from executives and TV personalities to helping the Heisman Trophy Winner prepare for his speech—make him a powerful and entertaining communicator on how to bridge generations with employees and customers.

Carla Harris


KEYNOTE: Expect to Win

Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management
Morgan Stanley

View Carla’s Makers Profile Video
Carla Harris is a Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management, Managing Director and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley.  She is responsible for increasing client connectivity and penetration to enhance revenue generation across the firm. She formerly headed the Emerging Manager Platform, the equity capital markets effort for the consumer and retail industries and was responsible for Equity Private Placements.  Ms. Harris has extensive industry experiences in the technology, media, retail, telecommunications, transportation, industrial, and healthcare sectors. In  August 2013, Carla Harris was appointed by President Barack Obama to chair the National Women’s Business Council.

For more than a decade, Ms. Harris was a senior member of the equity syndicate desk and executed such transactions as initial public offerings for UPS, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Ariba, Redback, the General Motors sub-IPO of Delphi Automotive, and the $3.2 Billion common stock transaction for Immunex Corporation, one of the largest biotechnology common stock transaction in U.S. history.  Ms. Harris was recently named to Fortune Magazine’s list of “The 50 Most Powerful Black Executives in Corporate America”, U. S. Bankers Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Finance, to Black Enterprise Magazine’s “Top 75 African Americans on Wall Street”, and to Essence Magazine’s list of “The 50 Women Who are Shaping the World” and was named “Woman of the Year 2004” in 2011 by the Yale Black Men’s Forum.

Ms. Harris began her career with Morgan Stanley in the Mergers & Acquisitions department in 1987.  Prior to joining Morgan Stanley, Carla received from Harvard Business School an MBA and an AB in economics from Harvard University.  Carla Harris is actively involved in her community and heartily believes that “we are blessed so that we can be a blessing to someone else.”

She is the immediate past Chair of the Board of the Morgan Stanley Foundation and sits on the boards of the Food Bank for NYC, The Executive Leadership Council, The Toigo Foundation, Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, A Better Chance, Inc, Mt. Sinai and St. Vincent’s Hospitals, Xavier University, and is an active member of the St. Charles Gospelites of the St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church and the Mark Howell Singers.  She has received the Bert King Award from the Harvard Business School African American Alumni Association, the Pierre Toussaint Medallion from the Office of Black Ministry of the Archdiocese of New York and the Women of Power Award given by the National Urban League. In her other  life, Carla is a singer, and has released her third gospel CD “Unceasing Praise” in 2011.  Her second CD, a gospel album titled, “Joy Is Waiting”, was featured on BET Nightly News while her first CD entitled, “Carla’s First Christmas”, was a bestseller on in New York and in record stores, and was featured on the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather in his “American Dream” segment.  She is also the author of the newly released book, Strategize to Win and of Expect to Win.

Reshma Saujani


KEYNOTE: Remaking America

Founder & CEO
Girls Who Code

Reshma Saujani is the Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, a national non-profit organization working to close the gender gap in technology and prepare young women for jobs of the future.

In her groundbreaking new book, Women Who Don’t Wait in Line, Reshma advocates for a new model of female leadership focused on embracing risk and failure, promoting mentorship and sponsorship, and boldly charting your own course — personally and professionally.

After years of working as an attorney and supporting the Democratic party as an activist and fundraiser, Reshma left her private sector career behind and surged onto the political scene as the first Indian American woman in the country to run for U.S. Congress.

Following the highly publicized race, Reshma stayed true to her passion for public service, becoming Deputy Public Advocate of New York City and most recently running a spirited campaign for Public Advocate on a platform of creating educational and economic opportunities for women and girls, immigrants, and those who have been sidelined in the political process.

A true political entrepreneur, Reshma has been fearless in her efforts to disrupt both politics and technology to create positive change.

Reshma is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and Yale Law School. She was recently named a WSJ Magazine Innovator of the Year, one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in New York by the New York Daily News, CNBC’s Next List, Forbes’s Most Powerful Women Changing the World, Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People, Crain’s New York 40 Under 40, Ad Age’s Creativity 50, Business Insider’s 50 Women Who Are Changing the World, City & State’s Rising Stars, and an AOL/PBS Next MAKER.

MV Headshot CMYK


KEYNOTE: The Changing Face of Philanthropy in America

Georgetown University Institute for Women, Peace and Security

In 2009 Melanne Verveer was nominated by President Obama to be the first ever U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues at the Department of State. She spent the next four years working with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to coordinate foreign policy activities relating to political, economic and social advancement of women, traveling to nearly 60 countries. In such capacity, she worked to mobilize concrete support for women’s political and economic empowerment through public-private partnerships as well by working to fully integrate women’s participation and rights into U.S. foreign policy. President Obama also appointed Verveer to serve as U.S. Representative to the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

Today she is the Director of Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security. The Institute seeks to enhance national and global security by documenting the crucial role women play in peace-building and security through research and scholarship and by engaging global leaders from government, civil society and the private sector in conversations on the urgent issues of out times.

Ambassador Verveer is also the founding partner of Seneca Point Global, the global women strategy firm. SPG partners with leading companies and institutions to design, implement and measure integrated strategies that focus on women and girls and drive sustainable results – whether social, economic or both. She is the co-author of the newly released book, FAST FORWARD: How Women Can Achieve Power and Purpose.
Prior to her role at the State Department, Ambassador Verveer served as Chair and Co-CEO of VitalVoices Global Partnership, an international NGO she co-founded to invest in emerging women leaders. Prior to Vital Voices, she served as Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the First Lady in the Clinton Administration. She also led the effort to establish the President’s Interagency Council on Women and was instrumental in the adoption of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.

She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission and the World Bank Advisory Council on Gender and Development. She has served as the 2013 Humanitas visiting professor at Cambridge University. In 2008, the President of Ukraine awarded her the Order of Princess Olga. She holds several honorary degrees and is the recipient of numerous awards, including the U.S. Secretary of State’s Award for Distinguished Service.