SLI 2017 Speakers and Keynotes
Thursday General Session Speaker
In 1995, Sam Glenn took ownership of a successful company that his grandfather had run for more than 30 years. It seemed like a lucky break, until the warehouse that stored and assembled his products burned to the ground. Just about everything Sam Glenn owned, including his pride, went up in flames. For two years, he lived on the borrowed floor space of friends and family. But one day, a friend invited him to have a cup of coffee and said these words which he never forgot: “Sam, you don’t have a hard-knock life problem, you have an attitude problem.” At first, he was offended by this statement. People are very protective of their attitudes; his was miserable, and he was recruiting. He wasn’t open to change. Sam began to volunteer working with teens and was asked to teach Sunday school. He agreed, only reluctantly, because of his huge fear of public speaking. It was a rough start, but the message of encouragement came through strongly. Soon, teens were asking Sam to speak at their clubs and schools, and his calling was revealed. About a year and a half later, he was speaking for the Billy Graham Evangelical Association and eventually to audiences as large as 75,000. Today, Sam gives close to 100 speeches a year and loves it! He has a passion and purpose to drive him. He has authored 16 books, all of which have a strong emphasis on attitude. Sam and his wife and two girls currently reside in Carmel, Indiana, but are originally from Minnesota.
Friday General Session Speaker
As an educator, Nadia Lopez is pioneering a path of inspired leadership to show the world how underprivileged communities can beat the odds and create positive institutions that have a global impact. As the founding principal of Mott Hall Bridges Academy, a New York City Public School, Nadia became internationally known after the popular blog, Humans of New York (HONY), featured one of her students. This student told HONY founder, Brandon Stanton, that the greatest influence on his life was his principal, Nadia. Nadia’s story became a viral sensation as millions of people around the world were inspired by the positive learning environment, high expectations, and growing success rate at a school right in the middle of one of the most underserved communities in America. Two days later, Stanton launched a fundraiser that raised $1.4 million to take Nadia’s students on college trips. The success story was shared and resulted in Nadia guest appearing on the Ellen show, visiting President Barack Obama at the White House, and receiving the Medal of Distinction from Barnard College. In addition, Nadia was honored alongside First Lady Michelle Obama with the Change Agent Award at BET’s Black Girls Rock show. Nadia’s passion, belief in children, and strong conviction to lead has been unwavering. Despite the adversities she faced in opening Mott Hall Bridges Academy in 2010, Nadia is encouraged and inspired to see children overcome the “beautiful challenges” of Brownsville, ensuring that they are admitted into some of the most competitive high schools in New York City. Understanding the power of programming, Nadia continues to impact the lives of children through her “She Is Me” and “I Matter” initiatives, which have served thousands of youth throughout Central Brooklyn.
Saturday General Session Speaker
Regardless of your age, gender, ethnicity, or profession, we all understand the importance of a promise. A promise is elemental to humanity. Alex Sheen would come to realize this after a tragedy in his life. On September 4, 2012, Alex would hold his father’s hand as he passed away from small cell lung cancer. Alex was asked to deliver his father’s eulogy. His father’s best quality was being a man of his word. When his dad promised, he delivered. At his father’s funeral, Alex spoke about the importance of a promise and delivered a eulogy titled “because I said I would” that sparked an international social movement. He encourages people to make commitments on “promise cards” that the organization sends to anyone anywhere in the world at no cost. Since the day Alex’s father died, the organization has distributed over 1.3 million “because I said I would” promise cards to over 105 different countries. Alex believes in leading by example and makes his own promises to help others. He raised money to send 100 kids with cancer to Disneyland; he drove through the night to New York City with disaster relief supplies to help those in need during Hurricane Sandy; and he even walked over 240 miles across the entire state of Ohio in 10 days as part of a promise he made to raise funds for the three Cleveland women who were held captive for 10 years. Alex delivers passionate and thought-provoking speeches about the importance of keeping promises to audiences across the country. He is a two-time TEDx speaker, and his work has made national headlines on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, CNN, TODAY, The Los Angeles Times, Steve Harvey, NPR, and many other programs.