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2018 Speakers

Shift Forum is hosted by John Battelle, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of the Web 2.0 Summit. Forum speakers are drawn from the top echelons of the world’s most admired companies along with the world’s most challenging and controversial academics, journalists, and authors. Our initial line-up of speakers is below – new speakers are added weekly, so please check back for updates.

Click on any of the speakers below for a full bio.

Mohammed Ashour

Mohammed Ashour

Co-Founder and CEO
Aspire Food Group
Pat Brown

Pat Brown

CEO and Founder
Impossible Foods
Cindy Cohn

Cindy Cohn

Executive Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
John Chambers

John Chambers

Executive Chairman
Cisco
Rana Foroohar

Rana Foroohar

Global Business Columnist and Author of ‘Makers and Takers'
Financial Times
David Gelles

David Gelles

Reporter / Author
New York Times
Kirsten Green

Kirsten Green

Founder & Managing Partner
Forerunner Ventures
Nick Hanauer

Nick Hanauer

Venture Capitalist
Second Avenue Partners
Traci Des Jardins

Traci Des Jardins

Chef/Owner/Partner
Mijita Cocina Mexicana, The Commissary, Arguello, Transit, Public House
Kevin Johnson

Kevin Johnson

CEO
Starbucks
Aileen Lee

Aileen Lee

Founder
Cowboy Ventures
Karen Lynch

Karen Lynch

President
Aetna
Ray Mabus

Ray Mabus

Former Secretary of the Navy
Advisor to Google Ventures
Tim O'Reilly

Tim O'Reilly

Founder & CEO
O'Reilly Media
Jennifer Pahlka

Jennifer Pahlka

Founder and Executive Director
Code for America
Lata N. Reddy

Lata N. Reddy

Senior Vice President, Diversity, Inclusion & Impact Prudential Financial, Inc.; Chair and President, The Prudential Foundation
Prudential
Mohammed Ashour

Mohammed Ashour

Co-Founder and CEO

Aspire Food Group

Mohammed Ashour is the co-founder and CEO of Aspire Food Group, an agtech company that addresses food sustainability by developing the most advanced insect farming technology in the world. Aspire was founded in 2013 after Mohammed led his team to win the largest business prize in the world -- the prestigious US$1 million Hult Prize. A Forbes 30 under 30 honoree, Mohammed is a highly sought-after public speaker and is widely regarded as a leading voice in social enterprise and food sustainability. He has been featured in major publications and media interviews, including the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Fox Business News, the Economist, Wired, CNET, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Fast Company. Mohammed pursued MD, MBA, and MSc (neuroscience) degrees from McGill University and holds a B.Sc. degree from the University of Toronto.

Pat Brown

Pat Brown

CEO and Founder

Impossible Foods

Dr. Patrick O. Brown, M.D., Ph.D is CEO and founder of Impossible Foods. He was previously a Professor of Biochemistry and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator at Stanford University School of Medicine. Pat’s Stanford research group discovered the biochemical mechanism by which HIV inserts its genes into human cells; developed tools that enabled the expression patterns of whole genomes to be detected and profiled; and pioneered the use of gene expression patterns to improve classification, diagnosis and individualized treatment of human cancers. Pat is a co-founder of the Public Library of Science (PLOS), a nonprofit publisher of open-access scientific and medical research. Trained as a pediatrician, Pat was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2002, and is a member of the Institute of Medicine. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the American Cancer Society Medal of Honor, and the NAS Award in Molecular Biology.

Cindy Cohn

Cindy Cohn

Executive Director

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Ms. Cohn first became involved with EFF in 1993, when EFF asked her to serve as the outside lead attorney in Bernstein v. Dept. of Justice, the successful First Amendment challenge to the U.S. export restrictions on cryptography. From 2000-2015 she served as EFF’s Legal Director as well as its General Counsel.

The National Law Journal named Ms. Cohn one of 100 most influential lawyers in America in 2013, noting: "[I]f Big Brother is watching, he better look out for Cindy Cohn." She was also named in 2006 for "rushing to the barricades wherever freedom and civil liberties are at stake online." In 2007 the National Law Journal named her one of the 50 most influential women lawyers in America. In 2010 the Intellectual Property Section of the State Bar of California awarded her its Intellectual Property Vanguard Award and in 2012 the Northern California Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists awarded her the James Madison Freedom of Information Award.

John Chambers

John Chambers

Executive Chairman

Cisco

John Chambers, Executive Chairman of the Board, is a working chairman with a focus on country digitization and building relationships with government and business leaders, shareholders, and board members. He is also an advisor on the company’s strategy, digital transformation and strategic partnerships. Chambers joined Cisco in 1991, became President and CEO in 1995, and served as Chairman and CEO from 2006–2015. He helped grow the company from $70 million when he joined, to $1.2 billion when he assumed the role of CEO, to $47 billion when he stepped down as CEO.

He has received numerous awards for his leadership and corporate social responsibility over his past 20 years at the helm of Cisco, including Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People.” Chambers serves as Chairman of the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) and is a current member of the board of directors for Airware, OpenGov, Pindrop and Sprinklr.

Beth Comstock

Beth Comstock

Vice Chair

GE

Beth Comstock was named Vice Chair in August 2015. In this capacity, she leads GE’s efforts to accelerate new growth. She operates GE Business Innovations, which develops new businesses, markets and service models; drives brand value and partners to enhance GE’s inventive culture. This unit includes Current, GE Lighting, GE Ventures & Licensing and GE sales, marketing and communications.

Since 2008, she served as GE’s chief marketing and commercial officer. From 2006, she was President of Integrated Media at NBC Universal overseeing ad revenue and the company’s digital efforts, including early development of hulu.com, Peacock Equity, and acquiring ivillage.com. In 2003 she was named the company’s first chief marketing officer in more than 20 years. Previously, she held a succession of roles at GE, NBC, CBS and Turner Broadcasting.

Beth is a member Nike’s Board of Directors and Trustee of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in biology.

Rana Foroohar

Rana Foroohar

Global Business Columnist and Author of ‘Makers and Takers'

Financial Times

Rana Foroohar was recently named global business columnist for the Financial Times, as well as Associate Editor. She will take up her post on 1 March, 2017. She is also CNN’s global economic analyst.

Prior to joining the FT and CNN, Foroohar was for six years the assistant managing editor in charge of business and economics at Time, as well as the magazine’s economic columnist. She also spent 13 years at Newsweek, as an economic and foreign affairs editor and a foreign correspondent covering Europe and the Middle East. During that time, she was awarded the German Marshall Fund’s Peter Weitz Prize for transatlantic reporting. She has also received awards and fellowships from institutions including the Johns Hopkins School of International Affairs and the East–West Center at the University of Hawaii. She is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

In addition, she is an economic and political contributor at New York City’s public radio station WNYC and appears frequently on NPR, CBS, NBC, ABC, MSNBC, and the BBC. She has appeared numerous times on programs such as “Real Time with Bill Maher,” “Face the Nation,” “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Foroohar graduated in 1992 from Barnard College, Columbia University, which she attended after leaving her hometown of Frankfort, Indiana, in the heart of the rural Midwest. She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband, the writer John Sedgwick, and her two children, Alex and Darya.

David Gelles

David Gelles

Reporter / Author

New York Times

David Gelles is a reporter for The New York Times’s Sunday Business section, writing about tech, sustainability, executive compensation and more. He also writes the Revalued column, which covers social and environmental responsibility in the business world, and is working with the Well team to expand The Times's coverage of meditation.

Before joining Sunday Business, Mr. Gelles was a reporter at DealBook, The Times's Wall Street blog, covering mergers, acquisitions, corporate taxes and inversions. Mr. Gelles joined The Times in 2013 after five years as a reporter for the Financial Times, for which he covered mergers, acquisitions, media and technology from New York and San Francisco. During his time at the Financial Times he conducted an exclusive jailhouse interview with Bernard L. Madoff.

Mr. Gelles is the author of "Mindful Work: How Meditation Is Changing Business From the Inside Out," which was published in 2015 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. He studied at the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and at Boston University. He lives in New York with his family.

Kirsten Green

Kirsten Green

Founder & Managing Partner

Forerunner Ventures

Kirsten Green used a unique and unconventional blend of professional history and acquired investment experience to launch San Francisco-based Forerunner Ventures in 2010, where she currently serves as Founder and Managing Director. Noticing that emerging purchasing processes were linear and ripe for improvement, Kirsten developed a pacesetter mentality and analytical eye to remain ahead of experience- driven retail trends and identify compelling brand platforms and visionary
entrepreneurs. As a founder, Kirsten has lead efforts to raise over $250M from leading investors and has invested in more than 40 early-stage companies. Forerunner Ventures is the only VC firm to invest in both Dollar Shave Club and Jet.com, two of the biggest and highest-profile e-commerce exits in recent years, and counts Birchbox, Bonobos, Glossier, Hotel Tonight, Warby Parker and Zola among its portfolio companies.

She currently serves on the Board of Directors of several Forerunner portfolio companies including Glossier, InTurn, Outdoor Voices, Ritual and Rockets of Awesome among others. In an unpredictable consumer landscape, Kirsten’s 20+ years of evaluation and investment success stems from a combination of product savvy, retail acumen and a thesis-driven approach that has been the basis of all Forerunner investments — from pre-revenue startups to multi-billion- dollar enterprises- to date. She’s been honored in Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World 2017, named VC of the Year at TechCrunch’s 2017 Crunchies Awards, and is part of Forbes 2017 Midas List in addition to being named in the magazine’s roundup of “Top Women Investors in VC.”

Nick Hanauer

Nick Hanauer

Venture Capitalist

Second Avenue Partners

Nick Hanauer is a co-founder and partner in Seattle-based venture capital firm, Second Avenue Partners. Second Avenue provides management, strategy, and capital for early stage companies. Hanauer is one of the most successful entrepreneurs, investors and managers in the Northwest with over 30 years of experience across a broad range of industries including manufacturing, retailing, e-commerce, digital media and advertising, software, aerospace, health care, and finance. His experience and perspective have produced an unusual record of serial successes. He has managed, founded or financed over 30 companies, creating aggregate market value of tens of billions of dollars. Some notable companies Include Amazon.com, Aquantive Inc., (purchased by Microsoft in 2007 for $6.4 billion), Insitu group (purchased by Boeing for $400 million), Market Leader (purchased by Trulia in 2013 for $350 million). Some other companies include Marchex, Newsvine, Qliance, Seattle Bank and Pacific Coast Feather Company.

Traci Des Jardins

Traci Des Jardins

Chef/Owner/Partner

Mijita Cocina Mexicana, The Commissary, Arguello, Transit, Public House

A California native of a small central valley agricultural community, Traci Des Jardins has been a part of the San Francisco food community for 22 years and has opened many great San Francisco restaurants including Jardinière, Mijita, Public House, The Commissary and Arguello. Traci is also the culinary advisor to Impossible Foods which launched the Impossible Burger in the summer of 2016. The Impossible Burger is a revolutionary plant based meat. The Impossible Burger is currently only offered in four restaurants in the United States with Jardinière being one of them.

Traci is a dedicated philanthropist, sitting on the board of the local non-profit La Cocina, and has been a longtime supporter of the farm to table movement and sustainability. Known as one of the top female chefs in the country, Des Jardins is a two-time James Beard award-winner and has earned a number of industry accolades throughout her career.

Kevin Johnson

Kevin Johnson

CEO

Starbucks

Kevin Johnson is a passionate servant leader, he proudly carries on Starbucks legacy of human connection, driving the company’s core strategies for growth, and being of service to the more than 330,000 partners who wear the green apron around the world. Transitioning from the board of directors, Kevin took on the role of President and CEO In March 2015, leading the company’s global operating businesses across all geographies, as well as the core support functions of Starbucks supply chain, marketing, human resources, technology and mobile and digital platforms. His career spans more than 30 years, scaling global businesses, including 16 years at Microsoft and five years as CEO of Juniper Networks. In 2008, he was appointed to the National Security Telecommunication Advisory Committee where he served presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Kevin's commitment to innovation and following his heart extends beyond the world of business. He was a founding board member of NPower, an organization that provides nonprofits with access to technology and the skills needed to fulfill their social missions. He is involved with Catalyst, a leading nonprofit focused on expanding opportunities for women in business. Kevin also supports Youth Eastside Services, one of the largest providers of youth and family counseling in the Seattle area. At Starbucks, Kevin is passionate about continuing to nurture what’s at the heart of the company’s success: human connection - the tens of millions of interactions large and small that happen between partners and customers every week, and make a meaningful difference in the communities around the world where Starbucks does business.

Aileen Lee

Aileen Lee

Founder

Cowboy Ventures

Aileen is the founder of Cowboy Ventures, a fund that backs seed-stage techonology startups. Cowboy Ventures seeks to back exceptional founders who are building technology products that “re-imagine” work and personal life in large and growing markets, what they call “Life 2.0”. Cowboy-backed companies include August, Branch, Brandless, DocSend, Dollar Shave Club, Guild Education, Lending Home and Lightstep. Prior to Cowboy, Aileen was a partner with Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers for over a decade, and also founding CEO of RMG Networks, a leading venture-backed digital out-of-home media network. Aileen has experience working hands-on with a range of consumer, enterprise, media and greentech companies, and previously held operating roles at Gap Inc. and as an analyst at Morgan Stanley. Aileen has degrees from MIT, Harvard and Millburn High School, and is mom to 3 kids and wife to the co-founder/CTO of startup Renovo Motors.

Karen Lynch

Karen Lynch

President

Aetna

Karen S. Lynch (formerly Rohan) is President of Aetna, a Fortune 50 diversified health care benefits company. She is responsible for driving the strategic execution of Aetna’s vision through her leadership of the company’s commercial, government and specialty businesses, representing 95 percent of Aetna’s revenues. Ms. Lynch assumed the role of President in January 2015. She is the first woman to serve in the role in the company’s 164-year history.

Ms. Lynch joined Aetna in 2012 as executive vice president and head of Specialty Products. In 2013, she assumed management of Local and Regional Businesses, a combined business unit dedicated to serving the varied health care needs of individuals and employers. Ms. Lynch successfully led Aetna’s integration efforts for its 2013 acquisition of Coventry Health Care. Ms. Lynch has nearly three decades of experience in the health care industry. Prior to joining Aetna, she held executive positions at Cigna and Magellan Health Services, where she served as president. Ms. Lynch began her career with Ernst & Young as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). In 2016, Ms. Lynch was named one of Fortune’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business for her leadership and contributions to improving the health care system. She was also recognized by Modern Healthcare as one of the 2017 Top 25 Women in Healthcare, highlighting her role in transforming health care delivery across the country.

Ray Mabus

Ray Mabus

Former Secretary of the Navy

Advisor to Google Ventures

Ray Mabus has been a change leader throughout his career, attacking entrenched public corruption as Mississippi’s State Auditor in the early 1980s to reviving a bankrupt, publicly-traded manufacturing company to revolutionizing the Navy and Marine Corps as the longest serving Secretary of the Navy since World War I under President Obama. Mabus has also served as Governor of Mississippi and Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Currently, Mabus is CEO of The Mabus Group, a strategic advisory consulting firm focusing on resiliency, helping business, organizations and institutions prepare for, mitigate against and gain competitive advantage from man-made and natural change. Mabus is also an advisor to Google Ventures, and also serves as a lecturer at the Harvard Law School, an executive fellow at the Harvard Business School and as a visiting fellow with the Institute of Politics and the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

Tim O'Reilly

Tim O'Reilly

Founder & CEO

O'Reilly Media

Tim O’Reilly has a history of convening conversations that reshape the computer industry. If you’ve heard the term “open source software” or “web 2.0” or “the Maker movement” or “government as a platform” or “the WTF economy,” he’s had a hand in framing each of those big ideas. He is the founder, CEO, and Chairman of O’Reilly Media, and a partner at early stage venture firm O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures (OATV). He is also on the boards of Maker Media (which was spun out from O’Reilly Media in 2012), Code for America, PeerJ, Civis Analytics, and PopVox. His book, WTF: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us, is coming out from Harper Business in October 2017.

Jennifer Pahlka

Jennifer Pahlka

Founder and Executive Director

Code for America

Jennifer Pahlka is the founder and executive director of Code for America, a national non-profit that believes that government can work for the people, by the people, if we all help. She recently served as the US Deputy Chief Technology Officer in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, where she architected and helped start the United States Digital Service. She is known for her TED talk, Coding a Better Government, and the recipient of several awards, including MIT’s Kevin Lynch Award, the Oxford Internet Institute’s Internet and Society Award, and the National Democratic Institute’s Democracy Award. She spent eight years at CMP Media, where she ran the Game Developers Conference, Game Developer magazine, Gamasutra.com, and the Independent Games Festival. Previously, she ran the Web 2.0 and Gov 2.0 events for TechWeb, in conjunction with O’Reilly Media. She is a graduate of Yale University and lives in Oakland, Calif. with her daughter, husband, and six chickens.

Lata N. Reddy

Lata N. Reddy

Senior Vice President, Diversity, Inclusion & Impact Prudential Financial, Inc.; Chair and President, The Prudential Foundation

Prudential

Lata N. Reddy is Senior Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion & Impact at Prudential Financial and Chair and President of The Prudential Foundation.

In these roles, Reddy harnesses the power of capital markets to drive financial and social mobility. By combining diversity strategies, impact investments, philanthropy, corporate contributions and employee engagement with Prudential’s full business capabilities, she helps position the company to promote economic opportunity and sustainable growth.

Under Reddy’s leadership, Prudential is building an impact investment portfolio with the goal of $1 billion in assets under management by 2020. Additionally, she oversees a yearly grantmaking budget of $40 million through The Prudential Foundation, and a $22 million corporate contributions budget.

Reddy originally joined Prudential in 1997. She left in 2008 to launch a consulting practice and returned to the firm in her current role in 2012. Prior to joining Prudential, she was a civil rights attorney with the U.S. Department of Education. Her dedication to promoting equity has spanned her career in the nonprofit, public and private sectors.

She currently serves on the boards of several national and local organizations including Living Cities, Local Initiatives Support Corporation and the Newark Alliance. Additionally, she serves on the advisory board for the California Organized Investment Network and is a fellow of the Aspen Global Leaders Network.

Reddy holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from the University of Michigan and a law degree from Emory University School of Law.

Follow Lata Reddy on Twitter. To learn more about Reddy, please read more here. To speak with Lata about corporate social responsibility and Prudential's shared value strategy, please contact Caitrin O'Sullivan.

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