Vice President & Managing Director for Global Intellectual Property Licensing, IBM
Claudia Brind-Woody is currently the Vice President and Managing Director for IBM Global Intellectual Property Licensing. Claudia has been with IBM since 1996, and has held multiple global roles during her tenure including work in Finland and the United Kingdom.
Claudia is an accomplished speaker who has done keynote speeches on LGBT Diversity throughout the world. She has also contributed to the books: Out & Equal at Work: From Closet to Corner Office (2013) and The Glass Closet: Why Coming Out is Good for Business (2014). She is featured in the book Pride and Joy: LGBTQ Artists, Icons and Everyday Heroes (2017).
Claudia serves on the Advisory Boards of WorkPlace Pride in Amsterdam, and The GayStar News. She has also served on the Board of Directors of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, and Lambda Legal.
In 2011, Claudia received the Out & Equal Trailblazer Award and was listed in GO Magazine’s “100 Women We Love.” In 2012 she was included in The Guardian’s WorldPride Power List Top 100. In 2013, she was listed as #6 on The Financial Times LGBT Role Models, in 2014 was #10 on their list, and in 2015 was #5. In 2015, she was also listed as #2 on the Telegraph Media Group’s Out at Work LGBT Top 50 Executives. Most recently, she was included in the Diva Power List and named to the Financial Times LGBT Role Models Hall of Fame for 2016.
Before joining IBM in 1996, Claudia worked for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, as an executive for CenturyLink, and as the Assistant Dean of the College & Graduate School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. She also served as the Assistant Athletics Director at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Tennessee. She was also an Assistant Basketball Coach under Pat Summitt at the University of Tennessee.
Claudia holds a J.D. degree, magna cum laude, from Georgia State University, an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and an M.S. from the University of Tennessee. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Mary Baldwin College where she earned her B. A. summa cum laude. She is admitted to practice law by the State Bar of Georgia.
Ambassador Bushnell (Ret.) promotes the practice of leadership through talks, workshops and the Levitt Leadership Institute which she founded in 2012 at Hamilton College, Clinton, NY. The interest began with a career in management training and grew after she joined the U.S. Foreign Service and held a series of leadership positions, including Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (1993-1996), Ambassador to the Republics of Kenya (1996-1999) and Guatemala (1999-2002), and Dean of the Leadership and Management School at the Foreign Service Institute (2002-2005). Her experiences during the Rwanda genocide (1994) and the al Qaeda attack on the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya (1998) formed many of her insights about personal and policy leadership skills.
Her written works on leadership and terrorism have been published by the New York Times, the Cambridge University Press and the Foreign Service Journal. Sought out as a public speaker, she has frequently appeared as a guest on television and radio news programs.
Born in Washington, D.C., and educated in Germany, France, Pakistan and Iran, Ambassador Bushnell holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration.
Rep. Chandra Dillard was first elected to the South Carolina House in 2008 after serving on Greenville City Council from 1999 to 2008 as the first women to represent her District. Because of her strong work ethic, leadership, and service to her constituents, Chandra has only had nominal opposition three times in her 19 years in office. Currently, Chandra is the first woman to chair the Environmental Sub-Committee for the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee; She is on the House Ethics Committee and serves as Secretary; She is also on the House Legislative Oversight Committee. Chandra has held leadership positions in the South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus, the House Democratic Caucus, and the bi-partisan General Assembly Women’s Caucus. Chandra’s work in education, affordable housing, conservation and community development has not gone unnoticed on the local or state levels as she is the recipient of many honors and awards. When she is not serving the state, Chandra is the Director of Community Relations at Furman University.
Melissa Hederman manages her own fundraising, policy and event management firm. Topping her current client roster are United States Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) and the Southern Legislative Conference. Other recent political clients include Lt. Governor Tate Reeves, Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, State Auditor Stacey Pickering, Supreme Court Justice Josiah Coleman, and the National Republican Congressional Committee. As the State Finance Director for Romney Victory 2012, she shattered all previous Presidential fundraising numbers in Mississippi, and orchestrated the single-largest netting political fundraising event in state history.
Hederman has also been active in policy and fundraising for non-profits including Mississippi News and Information Corporation, International Ballet Competition, Connect MS, Aerospace Alliance, Mississippi Telehealth Association and Mississippi Energy Institute. Additionally, Hederman has directed multiple grassroots campaigns for clients in industries ranging from finance to agriculture to healthcare to telecommunications.
Formerly a lobbyist with Capitol Resources, LLC, she was responsible for multiple corporate clients with special emphasis on fundraising campaigns, grassroots development, PAC development and management, tort reform, and business development. During 2007-2008, she served as State Finance Director for John McCain during his bid for the Presidency. Prior to working at Capitol Resources, Hederman was deputy to the campaign manager during Haley Barbour’s gubernatorial campaign in 2003.
Hederman is an active member of her church and community. She teaches Sunday School at First Baptist Church Jackson and has held various leadership positions within the Junior League of Jackson, Mississippi Symphony League, Jackson Ladies Tennis Association, LeFleur East Foundation, and is an avid supporter of First Presbyterian Day School where her children attend school.
Born and raised in Atlanta, GA her mother was her biggest cheerleader telling her “you can do anything you dream.” Her father believed in her and sacrificed so she could go to college and begin making good on those dreams. Ms.Littlejohn received undergraduate training in Cross Cultural Communications Studies in Seville, Spain and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Intercultural Studies for Business from Wofford College and her MBA from Webster University. She is fluent in Spanish and has studied Japanese.
She currently serves as the first female President and CEO of the Urban League of the Upstate, where she prepares and monitors the annual budget of nearly $2 million. Her role allows her to combine her passion for people and community into a job she loves. She has been known to help nonprofit organizations increase public profile, gain community respect, and become more visible, mission driven and diverse organizations.
She is the youngest member of Greenville City Council, serves as Mayor Pro Tem, and one of two minorities. She also chairs the Public Safety & General Government Committee and has helped to lead efforts towards Affordable Housing. Ms. Littlejohn states, “I’ve learned that you should never let the desire for change wear you out. After all, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Change can sometimes seem too much to bear and you need to remember to take it one step at a time. Even the smallest initial steps can lead to a great impact.”
Community involvement is second nature to Jil Littlejohn she has been actively involved with the United Way, Leadership Greenville, Leadership Spartanburg, Leadership South Carolina, and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
Ms. Littlejohn is passionate about youth development and committed to be the change to engage and encourage young people. She is the founder of the Talented Tenth Conference which connects young minority professionals from the Upstate with established business and civic leaders across the Southeast.
Deb Sofield is a dynamic Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say, Radio Talk Show Host and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.
Recognized for her work for improving the lives of others and her contribution to the state of South Carolina, the southern region, and the nation, Sofield was honored by Leadership South Carolina with Legacy of Leadership Award. Considered one of South Carolinas most formidable women, the Southeastern Institute for Women in Politics awarded Deb Sofield the Leading Women Award. Sofield was also awarded the Order of the Palmetto – the State of South Carolina’s highest honor. She was named “Communicator of the Year” by the Association for Women in Communications and won the prestigious Toastmasters District 58 Communication and Leadership Award for the state of South Carolina. She was also awarded the Strom Thurmond Excellence in Public Service honor and was chosen as the ATHENA Award recipient by the Greenville Chamber of Commerce for her work. Deb Sofield is a Liberty Fellow – affiliated with the Aspen Institute Global Leadership Network, a worldwide community of successful, high-integrity entrepreneurial leaders. Sofield is also a member of the National Speakers Association.
Deb Sofield is a visiting professor, teaching public speaking at Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government, and on the faculty of the Woman’s Campaign School at Yale University (where she is Past President of the Board), she has worked at Loyola University School of Mass Communications, the University of South Carolina’s School of Mass Communications and Clemson University. Sofield also works with the International Republican Institute and is on the board for the Women’s Democracy Network of Washington, DC. Sofield teachings Communications and Media Training for Civil Society around the world and she served as a mentor and trainer for The Center for Liberty in the Middle East.
Actively involved in her community, Sofield represents the City of Greenville as a past Chairman and current Commissioner of Public Works for the Greenville Water System and is the first woman to hold this position since its inception in 1918. Sofield was formerly a two-term member of Greenville City Council.
Debbie Walsh is director of the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. CAWP is recognized as the leading source of research and data about women and politics. CAWP promotes greater knowledge and understanding about women in politics and government and works to enhance women’s influence and leadership in public life. CAWP’s education and outreach programs translate research findings into action, addressing women’s under-representation in political leadership with effective, innovative programs serving a variety of audiences. As the world has watched Americans considering female candidates for the nation’s highest offices, CAWP’s almost five decades of analyzing and interpreting women’s participation in American politics have provided a foundation and context for the discussion.
Walsh manages and oversees CAWP’s multi-faceted programs that include: leadership and campaign training programs that empower women of all ages to participate fully in politics and public life; research illuminating women’s distinctive contributions, roles and experiences in politics and government; up-to-the-minute information and historical perspectives about women as candidates, public officials and voters.
She joined the Center in 1981. She is a member of the Circle of Advisors to Rachel’s Network and was recently named one of the 21 Leaders for the 21st Century by Women’s eNews. She earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from SUNY Binghamton and her M.A. in political science from Rutgers, where she was an Eagleton Fellow.
Beth Wood is a Certified Public Accountant in her third term as North Carolina’s elected State Auditor. She is a long-time public servant with nearly 25 years of auditing experience, having worked in the Auditor’s Office for nearly 10 years before her election in 2008 and also in the State Treasurer’s Office.
Before that, she worked for several companies in the private sector. She is the first woman elected State Auditor in North Carolina.
Through her work as State Auditor, Beth has helped strengthen and improve state government. Audit teams across the state watch every area of state government for potential savings and smart use of taxpayer dollars. The office has focused particularly on healthcare spending and contracting practices that favored vendors at the expense of taxpayers. As a result, audits published by OSA during her tenure have identified millions of dollars of potential savings.
Additionally, the office is following up on prior audits, evaluating the use of best practices by state agencies, and working to attract and retain highly skilled auditors.