Conference Speakers

Diversity Leadership Conference

2017 Keynote Speakers

 Michael Sam

 DLC2017Michael Sam

University of Missouri football star, NFL free agent and trailblazer, Michael Sam is an American football defensive end who made history when he came out as gay ahead of the NFL draft, making him the first openly-LGBT player to be drafted in any major American sport. Since his announcement, through scrutiny, criticism and unreserved admiration, he has become an icon and pioneer for the LGBT community.

Hailing from a tiny Texas town and the 7th of 8 children, Sam endured a childhood overrun with adversity, challenges and pain. With a portion of his early years spent living in a car with his mother, Sam developed steadfast determination to make a better life for himself, identifying sports as his ticket out. With unrelenting athletic aspirations, he went from water boy to star player, earning first-team All-District honors all four years of high school. Presented with offers from numerous leading schools, Sam secured a football scholarship at Missouri and thrived with an exceptional career, culminating in being named a first-team All-American and Co-SEC Defensive Player of the Year. 

Predicted to be drafted early in the 2014 NFL draft, Sam was drafted by the St. Louis Rams as the 249th of 256 players selected, after he came out as gay during an ESPN interview. He is currently an NFL free agent. 

In 2014, he was named one of GQ Magazine’s Men of the Year, was a finalist for Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year and the recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs.

A role model and trailblazer for inclusion in sports, revered for his unswerving courage, graciousness and fortitude, Sam offers firsthand insight into leveraging individual personal strengths to pursue ones dreams, inspiring audiences with perspective on what it means to work hard to define and achieve success.

 James Robilotta

DLC James Robilotta

James Robilotta is an author, professional speaker, personal coach, and entrepreneur.  In July of 2015 James had his first book published, Leading Imperfectly: The value of being authentic for leaders, professionals, and human beings. He also speaks to willing and unwilling audiences internationally about authentic leadership and promoting memorability. As a speaker, he is doing the two things he loves the most: causing audiences to think critically about their leadership journeys and making people laugh! His thought-provoking talks are infused with self-awareness and comedy stemming from his background as a trained stand-up and improv comedian.

In addition to being a speaker, James is a personal coach. He loves helping people get out of their own ways to live the lives they deserve and be the leaders they are capable of becoming. His clients undergo purposeful life-changing and self-affirming transformations. His clientele ranges from CEOs to college students.

Originally from Sayville, New York, James attended the University of North Carolina, Wilmington as an undergrad. After studying marine biology, he then, naturally, pursued his masters in counseling, earning his degree in 2007 from Clemson University. James worked on college campuses for thirteen years, developing student leaders and higher education professionals before going full-time with his speaking and coaching career. James lives in New York and performs around the country with his freestyle rapping improv comedy team, North Coast.

 Zohra Sarwari

DLC2017 Zohra

Zohra Sarwari is the author of 14 books and 3 Homeschooling Curriculums, as well as an international speaker, entrepreneur, publisher,  and mother to 3 children.  She has a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology, a Master's Degree in Business Administration, and she is currently taking classes for a Bachelor's Degree in Islamic Studies.  She spends her time Homeschooling her kids, lecturing, coaching, and working on her curriculums.  She has been seen on nearly everywhere on mainstream TV including CBS, FOX News.  She has also been interviewed in many magazines, newspapers, radio shows, and online publications.  

As an orthodox Muslim, Zohra has faced many challenges. Her passion is to educate others about diversity using humor and personal experiences that leave her audiences transformed from the moment they leave the room. Her speeches promote dialogue and foster tolerance towards people of all races, religions and backgrounds, and her speeches are designed to be inspirational and motivational.

2016 Keynote Speakers

Monti Washington, Ernesto Mejia, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill