“One of the five most inspiring women in America” – NBC Nightly News
Paralympic Ski Medalist | Fortune 500 Business Consultant | Rhodes Scholar | Former White House Official and Best-Selling Author
Despite having her right leg amputated at age five, Bonnie St. John became the first African-American to win medals in Winter Olympic competition, taking home a silver and two bronze medals in downhill events at the 1984 Paralympics in Innsbruck, Austria. In recognition of this historic achievement, St. John was honored at the White House by President George W. Bush.
In addition to her success as a paralympic athlete, she is a best-selling author, a highly sought after keynote speaker, business owner and a Fortune 500 leadership consultant. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard University, and won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University, taking an Master of Letters degree in Economics. Upon her return to the United States, St. John was appointed by President Bill Clinton as a Director for Human Capital Issues on the White House National Economic Council.
Today, St. John travels the globe as a leadership consultant, keynote speaker and facilitator for international summit conferences for senior-level executives. She frequently donates personal appearances to schools, homeless shelters, community groups and other organizations. In 2010, St. John once again represented the United States as a member of President Obama’s official delegation to the Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver.
The celebrated author of seven books, St. John’s most recent book, Micro-Resilience: Minor Shifts for Major Boosts in Focus, Drive and Energy, outlines a quick, easy and immediately effective program of tools and techniques to give you a competitive edge in today’s dynamic world of changes and challenges.
In 2015, St. John was inducted into the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Hall of Fame.
Special guest keynote
Heather E. McGowan
Future Work Strategist, #1 Voice Globally for Education on LinkedIn
As a Future of Work Strategist, Heather has worked with diverse teams to address these challenges. Recognizing that business innovation begins with education, specifically learning faster than your competition, she has worked with university presidents and C-Suite executives including corporate human resources managers to prepare graduates and workers for jobs that do not yet exist.
At Becker College, she crafted the Agile Mindset learning framework used to prepare students to work in an uncertain future. She assists corporate executives in rethinking their business models, teams, and organizational structures to become resilient in changing markets while helping academic, nonprofit, and foundation leadership rethink education and philanthropy.
Her think tank is called Work to Learn because McGowan believes that in the 3rd industrial revolution we learned (once) in order to work and now, in the fourth industrial revolution, we will work in order to learn (continuously). The Future of Work is Learning.
Special guest speaker
Paralympic Swimmer, Student at Gwinnett Online Campus
McClain has spent the past 11 years dealing with issues related to retina detachments and numerous surgeries in an attempt to save her eyesight. She is now completely blind in the right eye, and only has a limited amount of light perception remaining in her left eye. She has a diagnosis of Wagners Syndrome which not only caused the retina detachments, but also led to her being color blind, completely night blind, having glaucoma, and her progressive vision loss.
McClain has turned her disability of being legally blind into her ability in the pool. She is a Paralympic swimmer that currently holds 20 American Records, 5 Pan American Records, and 1 World Record. At the age of 15, she was the youngest member of the 2016 USA Paralympic Team. In 2018 McClain won 2 gold and 4 silver medals at the Pan Pacific Championships, and she is currently the National Champion in the 400 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke, and 200 IM.
Not only is McClain a talented athlete, but she is an intelligent and motivated student who attends high school through Gwinnett Online Campus, and has accepted a Presidential scholarship to study at Loyola University in Baltimore Maryland beginning the fall of 2019. She is a member of the National Honor Society and named a USA Swimming Scholastic All American.
As a philanthropist, McClain and her father began Shoes for the Souls as a small service project in 2009. That “small service project”, started by an eight-year-old, has now collected and donated over 27,000 pairs of shoes to The Atlanta Mission, which serves homeless men, women, and children.
As a speaker, McClain continues to motivate others to see beyond their perceived disabilities and pursue their dreams with perseverance and dedication. She hopes that other young people hear her message about Shoes for the Souls and realize that it doesn’t take large sums of money or you don’t have to be an adult to make a positive impact on your community.