Keynote Speaker Biographies

We’re excited to announce an inspirational line-up of amazing keynote speakers for Cardiff 2017.

President Ann’s theme, Step Up, Lead the Way, was chosen to encourage all of us to lead the way in terms of growing our organisation and securing its future. Our keynote speakers have been selected to stimulate and inspire us through their stories and experiences and ignite our enthusiasm to make change happen.

Michael Kaufman, Ph.D
@genderEQ @WhiteRibbon_UK 

Michael Kaufman is a writer, consultant, and speaker focused on innovative approaches to promoting gender equality and promoting positive ideals of manhood. He is the co-founder of the White Ribbon Campaign, the largest effort in the world of men working to end violence against women. He is a senior fellow at Instituto Promundo (Washington DC).

He has consulted extensively and spoken to audiences within the United Nations, corporations, federal, state and municipal governments, women’s rights groups and other NGOs in fifty countries. He delivered the keynote at the United Nation’s 2016 and 2017 Women Empowerment Principles events. He designed the training to prevent workplace sexual harassment used by tens of thousands of UN staff.

He is the author or editor of eight books on gender issues, on democracy and development studies, and an award-winning novel, The Possibility of Dreaming on a Night Without Stars. His latest novel is an anti-war fable, The Afghan Vampires Book Club. His articles have appeared in newspapers and journals around the world. He is currently writing a book on men and gender equality.

Dr. Kaufman previously taught at York University in Toronto. He lives in Toronto, Canada, is married, and has a grown daughter and son.

Mandy Hickson

Mandy was a Royal Air Force fast jet (Tornado) pilot and is now an inspirational keynote speaker.

One of the first female pilots on her frontline Tornado GR4 squadron, flying multi-million pounds fast jets for the Royal Air Force, Mandy worked in a constantly challenging, yet exhilarating environment. She offers a unique insight into this elite world, supported by anecdotes about her time on the front line. She demonstrates only too well the  importance of remaining calm under pressure and leading, quite literally, from the front, in order to get the best from herself and her team. With frankness and humour, she talks about the strategies she employed to succeed in her high-flying, high-risk role.

She has boundless energy and an overriding purpose of the end goal.

Mandy truly believes that, with hard work and self-belief, anyone can achieve their ambitions. Mandy puts huge energy, creativity and passion into every speech, working with our clients on an individual basis to create an event that is unique and memorable. Mandy brings a wealth of insights from her years serving on the operational front line, where a keen sense of humour has been the key to her success and survival.

Dame Katherine Grainger

Dame Katherine Grainger is Great Britain’s most decorated female Olympian, our most successful female rower and the only female athlete – in any sport – to gain medals in four consecutive Olympic Games.

In 2012 Katherine’s dreams were realised when she won the elusive Olympic Gold medal alongside teammate Anna Watkins in the double sculls in London.

Appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to rowing in the 2013 New Year Honours, she was made a Dame in the New Year Honours List 2016 for her services to rowing and to charity.

During a two-year break from the GB Rowing Squad, when she completed her PhD and wrote her autobiography Dreams Do Come True, Katherine was a BBC presenter and pundit in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Returning to the GB Rowing squad and a demanding training regime at the end of 2014, she qualified for the Olympic Games in Rio 2016 with her new partner in the double scull, Victoria Thornley. On 11 August 2016, Katherine became the most decorated female Olympian of all time winning a silver medal, narrowly missing the gold after leading for three quarters of the race.

Many people had not expected this pairing to even qualify for Rio, so their result was outstanding and propelled Katherine into the history books.

With a natural talent as a speaker, Katherine shares her stimulating and compelling tale of her journey to success.