General Session Speakers

General Session Speakers

General Session Speakers

Alejandra Y. Castillo

ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF COMMERCE FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, U.S. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ADMINISTRATION

Alejandra Y. Castillo was sworn in as U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development on August 13, 2021. She has served in leadership positions for three presidents – Biden, Obama and Clinton. Her professional career spans two decades, focusing on creating equitable and inclusive opportunities for all Americans.

Prior to EDA, Castillo was the Chief Executive Officer of YWCA USA, where she championed the 163-year-old organization delivering critical social, educational, and economic development services throughout its 204 associations.

Anand Giridharadas

AUTHOR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST
EDITOR-AT-LARGE, TIME

Anand Giridharadas is the author of the New York Times best seller Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, The True American, and India Calling. He is an editor-at-large for TIME, an on-air political analyst for MSNBC, and the author of the newsletter The.Ink. He was a foreign correspondent and columnist for The New York Times from 2005 to 2016, and has also written for The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and The New Republic. He is a former McKinsey analyst, an Aspen Institute fellow, a visiting scholar at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University, and has spoken on the main stage of TED. He appears regularly on TV and the radio in the United States and globally, including on CNN, MSNBC, NPR, “Morning Joe,” and “The Daily Show.” He lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife, Priya Parker, and two children. 

Janis Bowdler

U.S. COUNSELOR FOR RACIAL EQUITY, US DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY

Janis Bowdler is the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s first Counselor for Racial Equity. She has spent the last two decades advancing economic equity solutions for communities of color and breaking down the barriers that underpin the disparities in wealth and financial security by race and gender.  Growing up in Northeast Ohio, she saw firsthand how neighborhood conditions impacted the life opportunities of her family and neighbors, often resulting in an uneven playing field that has left communities of color and our most vulnerable communities at a stark disadvantage.  Drawing on her lived experience and two decades of working in coalition with Black, Latinx, and AAPI communities, Janis has dedicated her career to dismantling the structural and institutional racism that has allowed the racial wealth gap to persist and widen.

Jon Meacham

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
AND PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING AUTHOR

Presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning Author Jon Meacham is one of America’s most prominent public intellectuals. A contributor to TIME and The New York Times Book Review, Meacham is a highly sought-after commentator, regularly appearing on CNN and MSNBC.

Known as a skilled orator with a depth of knowledge about politics, religion, and current affairs, Meacham brings historical context to the issues and events impacting our daily lives.

Leslie Odom Jr.

AWARD-WINNING VOCALIST, SONGWRITER, AUTHOR & ACTOR

Leslie Odom, Jr. is a multifaceted, award-winning vocalist, songwriter, author, and actor. With a career that spans all performance genres, he has received recognition with Tony and Grammy Awards as well as Emmy and, most recently, two Academy Award nominations for his excellence and achievements in Broadway, television, film, and music. Odom most recently starred in the critically acclaimed Amazon film adaptation of One Night in Miami…, in which he performed the songs of legendary singer Sam Cooke. His portrayal of the soul icon and musical performance of the original song “Speak Now” was met with widespread praise and critical acclaim, earning him multiple award nominations. He can currently be seen in The Many Saints of Newark, a prequel to David Chase’s Award-winning HBO series The Sopranos that was released in theaters and on HBO Max on October 1st, and also hosted this year’s “Tony Awards: Broadway’s Back!” special live concert event. His upcoming projects include Rian Johnson’s highly anticipated sequel, Knives Out 2; and David Gordon Green’s new Exorcist trilogy.

The Honorable Pete Buttigieg

U.S. SECRETARY, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Pete Buttigieg currently serves as the 19th Secretary of Transportation, having been sworn in on February 3, 2021.

Prior to joining the Biden-Harris Administration, Secretary Buttigieg served two terms as mayor of his hometown of South Bend, Indiana. A graduate of Harvard University and a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, Buttigieg served for seven years as an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve, taking a leave of absence from the mayor’s office for a deployment to Afghanistan in 2014.

 

NLC Leadership

Clarence E. Anthony

NLC CEO AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Clarence E. Anthony is CEO and Executive Director of the National League of Cities (NLC), the largest and oldest organization representing America’s cities and their leaders. Under his leadership, NLC has advanced policies that expand local control and provide direct funding for local programs related to public safety, infrastructure, transportation, and sustainability.

Kathy Maness

PRESIDENT
Councilmember, Lexington, SC

Councilmember Kathy Maness serves on the Town Council of Lexington, South Carolina, and is the president of the National League of Cities. Maness has been an active member of NLC since taking public office in 2004, including serving as president of the Women in Municipal Government (WIMG) constituency group. The councilmember has also served in other roles including NLC’s Council on Youth, Education and Families, the Board Finance and Audit Committees, and the Board of Directors. Her areas of expertise include education, finance and youth civic engagement opportunities.

Vince Williams

FIRST VICE PRESIDENT
Mayor, Union City, GA

First Vice President Vince Williams serves as the mayor of Union City, Georgia, and as the First Vice President of the National League of Cities (NLC). Mayor Williams’ involvement with NLC began after his election to the Union City Council in 2007, and continued when he was elected as mayor in 2013. In addition to his position as NLC second vice president, Williams has served on the NLC Board of Directors, Board Finance Committee, Executive Committee and as a NLC University Leadership Fellow. Williams is also the first vice president of the Georgia Municipal Association.

Victoria Woodards

SECOND VICE PRESIDENT
Mayor, Tacoma, WA

Victoria Woodards has called the “City of Destiny” her home for nearly her entire life. She is a proud graduate of Tacoma’s Lincoln High School and served as a soldier in the United States Army. Before becoming Mayor in 2018, she served for seven years as an at-large member of the City Council. During that time, she launched the City’s Equity and Empowerment initiative which led to the establishment of its Office of Equity and Human Rights. She also brought partner organizations together for then President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, and spearheaded the City’s Project PEACE initiative which bridged community members with the Tacoma Police Department.

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