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Every year, the steering committee invites dynamic, accomplished women to be speakers, breakout session presenters, and panelists at the Women's Leadership Conference. These women have broken barriers and made great strides in the world of women's leadership, and are able to impart some of the wisdom they have gained during their careers.

Luncheon Speaker



Grace Speights, GW Board of Trustees

Grace Speights is the Global Leader of the Labor and Employer Practice Group at Morgan Lewis, resident in the Washington office. In that role she manages approximately 300 lawyers and is responsible for setting the strategic vision of the group. Grace handles high profile and high stakes workplace matters for many clients and provides crisis management assistance. Specifically, Grace leads the firm’s multidisciplinary workplace culture consulting team of more than 30 lawyers across offices and practices. Combining employment and workplace law experience with investigative expertise, Grace and her team help employers effectively investigate and defend against claims of sexual harassment, as well as complete organizational culture assessments for diversity and inclusion. In 2018, Grace was recognized for her efforts in spearheading high-profile internal investigations and counseling corporations on navigating the new workplace paradigm in the wake of the #MeToo movement and was named the Attorney of the Year by The American Lawyer. Grace received her B.A. degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1979, and her J.D. degree with honors and as a member of the Order of the Coif from the George Washington University Law School in 1982. She is a member of the George Washington University Board of Trustees, where she serves as Secretary of the Board and Chair of the Governance and Nominations Committee.


Keynote Speaker


Stephanie Schriock, President of EMILY's List

Since Stephanie Schriock became president in 2010, EMILY’s List has seen unprecedented growth, helped elect record numbers of women to the House and Senate, and recruited and trained hundreds of pro-choice Democratic women to run for office, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, whom Stephanie personally recruited to run. Of the more than $600 million the organization has raised to support women candidates since its founding in 1985, more than half has been raised under Stephanie’s leadership — and EMILY’s List is now more than five million members strong.

Today, Stephanie is leading EMILY’s List at one of its most historic moments yet. With an expanded staff and new online training tool, EMILY’s List met the demand and answered the call when more than 46,000 women contacted the organization interested in running for office after the 2016 presidential election. During the 2018 election cycle, under Stephanie’s leadership, EMILY’s List flipped 24 House seats, more than the number needed to flip the House of Representatives, flipped two Senate seats, tripled the number of pro-choice Democratic women serving as governor, and enjoyed more than 300 hundred state and local election victories.

Originally hailing from the mining town of Butte, Montana, Stephanie has now been fighting to elect Democrats for more than 20 years. In 2004, she served as the national finance director for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign, where she was at the center of the team that created the online fundraising model that ushered in the era of digital fundraising, laying the groundwork for President Barack Obama’s and Secretary Hillary Clinton’s future presidential campaigns.

In 2006, Stephanie returned to her home state of Montana to serve as Senator Jon Tester’s campaign manager, and after helping Democrats take back the Senate, served as his chief of staff. In 2008, she joined Al Franken’s historic Senate campaign as his campaign manager, leading the campaign to Election Day and then solidifying her reputation as a major force in Democratic politics by successfully managing the eight-month recount and legal fight that followed. Today, in addition to serving as president of EMILY’s List, Stephanie is also the president of American Women, a research organization affiliated with EMILY’s List which seeks to increase public awareness of the issues impacting women and families, and she regularly appears on TV. Called “one of the absolute stars of American politics now,” Stephanie has also been named by ELLE Magazine to its “10 Most Powerful Women in Washington” list.

Panel Moderator


Cynthia Steele Vance, MVC '79

Cynthia Steele Vance is a sought-after and widely experienced moderator, on-air host, and former news journalist. After she founded CSV Productions, Inc. in 2012, she teamed with TTR Sotheby’s International Realty to create an innovative new way to showcase luxury property using the power of video. Together they launched the Washington Luxury Channel, a web-based program that open doors to some of Sotheby’s International Realty’s most luxurious offerings around the metro DC beltway. In just twelve months, the WLC attracted over 250,000 viewers.  


As a skilled moderator, Cynthia has hosted numerous events keeping thousands of guests entertained, and for charity events – the donations rolling in. In early 2016, Cynthia used her journalist background to appear in two episodes in a minor role in season four of the political drama, House of Cards.


Cynthia is a former co-host of the Emmy award winning television show “My Generation”, a lifestyle TV show that aired on 120 PBS stations nationwide.  Her work on the show earned her the highly acclaimed DC Peer Award, recognizing Cynthia’s “outstanding work in media production”. In addition, the show was awarded a Communicator Award of Excellence and a Telly Award. Earlier in Cynthia’s career, she was a daytime news anchor for Fox News for both the morning and noon news.  During her tenure on the “Fox 5 Morning Show”, it became the number one morning newscast in Washington, DC where she was nominated for an Emmy Award as Best Local Newscaster. Cynthia also worked for Fox News as a news reporter covering Capitol Hill, and the issues affecting the metropolitan area. Cynthia began her television news career at CNN’s Washington, DC bureau, coordinating daily news coverage of Capitol Hill, the White House, and breaking news. She then hit the road as a television news reporter covering local and national news in three major markets across the country. She was nominated for two Emmy’s for spot news coverage and won the Pennsylvania Associated Press Broadcast Award. Cynthia was also the host of BusinessNow, which was distributed by ABC NewsOne.


Cynthia holds a Bachelor or Arts in Communications from Mt. Vernon College for Women, which in 1999, merged with The George Washington University, where she now serves as a Trustee.



Jennifer Lawless, Ph.D.

Jennifer L. Lawless is the Commonwealth Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia. She is the author or co-author of six books, including Women on the Run: Gender, Media, and Political Campaigns in a Polarized Era and It Still Takes a Candidate: Why Women Don't Run for Office. Her research on political ambition, campaigns and elections, and women and politics has been supported by the National Science Foundation, appeared in numerous academic journals, and is regularly cited in the popular press. She is an associate editor of the American Journal of Politics Science, and holds an appointment as a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. She graduated from Union College with a B.A. in political science, and Stanford University with an M.A. and Ph.D. in political science. In 2006, she sought the Democratic nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives in Rhode Island’s second congressional district. Although she lost the race, she remains an obsessive political junkie.


Megan Beyer

Megan Beyer is a journalist, activist, and life-long advocate of women’s rights and gender issues. Ms. Beyer currently serves as an advisor to a range of arts and civic organizations including Civic Nation, the American Film Institute and the Better Angels Society. In 2015 Ms. Beyer was appointed by President Barack Obama to be Executive Director of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. In this role, she led the first official U.S. Cultural Delegation to Cuba in 2016, which included directors of four U.S. cultural agencies and prominent artists, Alfre Woodard, Usher, Joshua Bell, Smokey Robinson, and Dave Matthews.

In 2010 she founded the bilateral Swiss-U.S. project, Sister Republics, which accelerates private market drivers to break the glass ceiling. Ms. Beyer also served as the External Relations Representative for the Swiss-based EDGE Gender Certification, a company that certifies companies achieving a global standard of gender certification.

Ms. Beyer began her career as a reporter covering education and politics for local and national television news programs. She was a regular contributor to Tamedia newspapers in Switzerland from 2010-2013 and in the US, and her essays are found on Motherhood Movement Online, Role ReBoot the Alexandria Times, and the Huffington Post. For the last 15 years she has been a regular panelist on To the Contrary, a women's political talk show on public television stations nationwide.

She serves on the board of the Wilson Center's Women and Public Service Project, the Geena Davis Institute for Gender in Media, the Library of Congress The John W. Kluge Center Advisory Group and Meridian International. Over the last twenty five years she has served on more than a dozen national, state and local boards including WETA- DC's public television station, the national board of Reading is Fundamental, Virginia NARAL and was Finance Chairman of the Virginia Community College System.



Heera Kamboj

Heera Kamboj is a Foreign Service Officer working for the U.S. Department of State, where she is currently the Team Lead for the U.S. Strategy in Central America.  Her past assignments include working as the Cultural Affairs
Officer at the Iran Regional Presence Office in Dubai, and as the Spokesperson at the U.S. Consulate General in Chennai.  Previously, she worked on women’s issues and religious freedom at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, where she chaired the UN Women Committee on Women, Peace, and Security.  She won the 2012 Swanee Hunt Award for Advancing Women’s Role in Policy Formulation for her work in Afghanistan.  Heera has also served at the U.S. Embassies in Mexico City and Cairo. Hailing from Albertson, New York, Heera graduated from George Washington University with a dual major in International Affairs and Political Science, with a minor in Peace Studies.  She is also an alumni of the Women's Leadership Program at GWU. Heera also completed a Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School with a focus on International Security Policy. Heera was a recipient of the Thomas R. Pickering Fellowship and an alumna of the International Career Advancement Program.  She is a 2018-9 Penn Kemble Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy. Heera is fluent in Farsi, Dari, Spanish, and Punjabi.



Jennifer L. Porter

Jennifer L. Porter was appointed to serve as Executive Director of the Mayor's Office on Women’s Policy and Initiatives (MOWPI) by Mayor Muriel Bowser in February of 2019. In this role, she serves as the Bowser Administration’s chief advocate for women and women’s issues in Washington, DC. As Director, Jennifer collaborates with local and national nonprofit organizations and public agencies to address the needs of women. Mrs. Porter advises Mayor Bowser on women’s policy and areas of need for women initiatives.

Director Porter holds a degree in Biology from Howard University; a Masters of Public Health from The George Washington University, Milken Institute, School of Public Health and is a Master Certified Health Education Specialist. Prior to her appointment Jennifer led a public health career in government relations and adolescent health advocacy.

Kathy Tran

Delegate Kathy Tran

Kathy Tran represents the 42nd District, located in Fairfax County. She is the first Vietnamese-American and one of the first Asian-American women to be elected to the Virginia House of Delegates. Kathy is working to strengthen our public schools, honor our veterans and military families, expand access to affordable health care, stand up for women, protect our environment, and create a welcoming and inclusive community where all Virginians can thrive. As a public servant, she has previously worked at the U.S. Department of Labor and National Immigration Forum, devoting her career to building a competitive workforce and helping immigrants reach their full potential.