Keynote Speakers

15th Annual DLC

Keynote Speakers 

Opening Keynote Speaker - Symone Sanders

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A champion for women, Symone D. Sanders is a strategist, communications consultant, CNN Political Commentator and served as a Spring 2018 Resident Fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School.

Symone rose to prominence during her tenure as the National Press Secretary for U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. At 25, Symone demonstrated uncanny command of the issues earning her a place in history as the youngest presidential press secretary on record and a spot on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of 16 young Americans shaping the 2016 election.

However, Symone was not new to presidential politics. When she was 16, she introduced former President Bill Clinton at a luncheon in Omaha, Nebraska. Following her remarks, President Clinton said, “Symone spoke so well I really hate to follow her.” President Clinton went on to write about Symone in his book, Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World.

Now, Symone draws from her experience on the national stage to provide perceptive analysis on political and social issues. Her lively presentations challenge the conventional wisdom that strong communities are only defined by what we have in common. Instead, she outlines the way our differences contribute to effective social movements.

Symone has been featured on NPR, Fox News, MSNBC, NBC, BET, TV One and CNN. She has been profiled in the Washington Post, the New Yorker, ESSENCE Magazine and ELLE.

Symone is currently Principal of the 360 Group, LLC. where she provides strategic communications guidance to organizations, businesses, individuals, campaigns and cndidates and helps clients find sound solutions to tough political and social problems. Symone has also been selected to serve as one of USC Dornsife’s 2019 Fellows. 

Lunch Keynote Speaker - Rafael Matos

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Rafael is an educator with more than 20 years of experience in higher education, which includes residential life, student orientation, conduct, disability services and fraternity/sorority life. He grew up in the South Bronx and attended the University of Southern California, where he earned a BFA in Fine Arts and a Master’s in Public Art Studies. His style is a blend of laid-back Los Angeles attitude and New York City directness – the result is a gentle tough love approach that empowers people around him.

His life motto, “Make what you believe manifest,” reflects his desire to help people achieve their best. Rafael has worked on various college campuses, ranging from small liberal arts to large public institutions, where he effectively connected with students and engaged them in critical conversations. He is a speaker and facilitator who has delivered trainings to hundreds of students across the country. He has served as a consultant to national fraternities and sororities. Currently he is the Director of Education for Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority, Inc., and he is pursuing a PhD in Communication Media and Instructional Technology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Closing Keynote Speaker - Nina Davuluri 

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Nina Davuluri is an acclaimed host, speaker and ardent advocate. Currently, she is the host & producer of the new reality show, “Made in America,” which made its series premier August 2017 on ZeeTV Americas. The premise of the show is to empower young women to discover more about themselves through a series of challenges as they embark on a new journey to fulfill their dreams in America. Nina first gained international acclaim by becoming the first Indian American and South Asian to become Miss America 2014; through her experiences, she realized how much of a need there was in the marketplace for this type of content to be created for young South Asian millennials.

Nina is no novice to the television and media industry. She has been featured on CNN’s Out Front with Erin Burnett, Anderson Cooper 260, LIVE! With Kelly & Michael, Fox & Friends, The View, MSNBC, The Aresnio Hall Show, NPR, BBC World, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Canada’s Breakfast Television & The Morning Show, among many other local media outlets both nationally and internationally.

Since serving as Miss America 2014, Nina has logged approximately 500,000 miles traveling across the world to address an array of audiences on her platform: “Celebrating Diversity through Cultural Competency.” As part of her consciousness-raising efforts on behalf of diversity, Nina also launched a social media campaign, #CirclesOfUnity, to encourage constructive and civil dialogue on diversity issues. Through her social media channels, Nina asks people ot share “representative thoughts and stories about their experiences on how we as a nation can advance cultural awareness.” Nine is proud to have spoken at almost 40 different universities including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Duke, University of Pennsylvania, Cambridge University (UK), and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in both Bombay and Hyderabad, spreading her message of inclusion. Nina has also taken her platform internationally, speaking in the United Kingdom, Philippines, Canada, Kenya, and India.

In addition to her personal platform, Nina has also partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Education promoting women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) related fields. She has also worked with top techonology companies such as Dell & Google in addition to the Sacramento Kings Foundation to further their women in STEM initatives. Furthermore, she has worked with many charities/NGO’s in the U.S. and India advocating for equality and education – most notably Pratham, Magic Bus, Akshaya Patra, and Girl Rising. With her Indian roots and heritage, Nina was the first choice by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office to be the emcee for his historic Madison Square Garden reception in 2014.

Nina’s work in advocacy became apparent when she was first recognized by President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama. In April of 2014, she was invited to collaborate with the First Lady on her campaign, “Let’s Move.” She then went on to help launch “Act to Change,” an anti-bullying campaign led by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI). In July of 2015, Nina was invited to be a speaker at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kenya during President Obama’s historic first visit. She was honored to be the youngest speaker on the main stage sharing her experiences as an entrepreneur & trailblazer in the field of diversity. In March of 2016, Nina embarked on a fourteen day tour in India that was sponsored by the U.S. Department of State promoting education, women’s empowerment, and diversity. Nina was incredibly proud to return to her homeland of India and focus on key issues between both countries. The tour culminated in an invitation from President Obama to the last Women’s History Month reception held at the White House when he served his final year in office.

Previous Keynote Speakers

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