Featured Speakers


Hill Harper

Actor, Author & Founder of the Manifest Your Destiny Foundation

Hill Harper, J.D. is an award-winning actor, currently starring as Dr. Marcus Andrews on TV’s #1 new drama The Good Doctor on ABC. Harper has earned seven NAACP Image Awards for his writing and acting and is a 4-time New York Times best-selling author. His most recent book is the groundbreaking Letters to an Incarcerated Brother , which speaks to the current mass incarceration crisis; it was released to critical acclaim and nominated for several awards. Harper is an entrepreneur and humanitarian. He founded the Manifest Your Destiny Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to helping underserved youth  succeed through education, mentorship, and grant programs.

Harper was born in Iowa City, IA, the son of two doctors – his father, a psychiatrist and his mother, an anesthesiologist. He graduated magna cum laude as valedictorian of his department with a Bachelor’s Degree from Brown University and cum laude with a Juris Doctorate degree from Harvard Law School. Harper also holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration with honors from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Harper travels worldwide as a motivational speaker, addressing current affairs and life-awakening topics to a wide array of audiences.

Miss USA & Miss Teen USA

Kára McCullough

Miss USA 2017 & Founder of Science Exploration for Kids

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence!” Kára McCullough lives by this quote by every day.  Kára is a scientist with the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Founder of Science Exploration for Kids (SE4K), and Miss USA 2017.

Her passion for science began at an early age and ultimately lead her to graduate from South Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry with a concentration in Radiochemistry.

Kára has used her platform to share her life experiences and speak motivationally about having the growth mindset. Kára created SE4K as a STEAM organization creating “fun-with-purpose” activities for every grade level through one-day travel workshops and career readiness.

Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff

Miss Teen USA 2017

Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff is a native of Kansas City, Missouri who represented her home state in the 2017 Miss Teen USA pageant and won the crown! She is currently in pursuit of an undergraduate degree in Political Science and International Studies with an emphasis on Latin America. Her future educational plans include attending law school.

With her peers, Sophia created Community and Scholars Cooperatively (CASC), an organization focused on making community service opportunities fun and easy for teenagers. Sophia has dedicated her time to many organizations that support people with disabilities, and has worked with Missouri state legislators to create policies that provide them with the best quality care.

Mayor of Kansas City, MO

Mayor Sly James (Invited)

Founder of Turn the Page KC

Mayor Sly James was sworn in as the 56th Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri on March 22, 2011. Since taking office, he has focused his efforts towards making Kansas City best in four key areas: Education, Employment, Efficiency, and Enforcement. Mayor James’ first major accomplishment upon taking office was the creation of Turn the Page KC, an organization dedicated to mobilizing the community to achieve reading proficiency at grade level or above for all 3rd graders in Kansas City. In his first term, Mayor James visited a total of 90 different classrooms across the city, reading and interacting with the city’s most valuable resource: the students.

Business Leaders

Maxine Clark

CEO of the Clark-Fox Family Foundation & Founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop®

In 2015, Maxine launched Blueprint4SummerSTL, a free and easy-to-use mobile app designed to help St. Louis families navigate the best summer activities for their children.  Maxine was named to the Missouri Public Affairs Hall of Famein 2017 and was named Women of the Year by the Greater Missouri Leadership Foundation in 2015.

Maxine Clark is CEO of the Clark-Fox Family Foundation and founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop®, a teddy-bear themed retail-entertainment experience.

Michele Casper

Vice President of Public Relations & Brand Marketing at Lands’ End

Michele Casper creates opportunities to introduce new customers to the iconic Lands’ End brand as well as deepen existing relationships with loyal customers around the globe. She is responsible for the development of all strategic marketing communication campaigns, corporate messaging, charitable alliances, strategic partnerships, and social media strategies.

Michele is Lands’ End’s primary spokesperson for national news interviews.