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2014 Conference Keynote Speakers

Cokie_jpegCokie Roberts, ABC News

Cokie Roberts is a political commentator for ABC News, providing analysis for all network news programming, as well as for NPR. In her more than 40 years in broadcasting, she’s won countless awards, including three Emmys. She’s been inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame, and was cited by the American Women in Radio and Television as one of the 50 greatest women in the history of broadcasting. In addition to her appearances on the airwaves, she’s contributing editor to USA Weekend Magazine, and she co-authored From this Day Forward, an account of her more than 40-year marriage and other marriages in American history. The book immediately went onto The New York Times “best sellers” list, following her number one best seller, We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters, an account of women’s roles and relationships throughout American history. Ms. Roberts' histories of women in America’s founding era, Founding Mothers, published in 2004, and Ladies of Liberty published in 2008, also became instant best sellers. Ms. Roberts holds more than 20 honorary degrees, serves on the boards of several non-profit institutions and on the President’s Commission on Service and Civic Participation. In 2008, the Library of Congress named her a “Living Legend.”


Kat-ColeKat Cole, President, Cinnabon

Kat Cole is the president of Cinnabon, Inc., where she is accountable for leading, evolving, and building the team and multi-channel brand. Her story is often shared for inspiration as she moved up from working as a hostess at 17 years old in restaurants to traveling globally to help open new franchises. At the age of 19, she dropped out of college, advanced to various management and leadership positions, and at 26 became a Vice President at Hooters making her one of the youngest executives in the hospitality industry.

Cole’s personal story, business approach and perspective on leadership has been the subject of feature articles in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune, and many other business publications and she has been a featured guest on CBS, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC and more. She was recently featured on the show Undercover Boss and was named one of Fortune’s “40 under 40.”  She’s a speaker and consultant on leadership development, women in business, change management, and brand innovation and growth, and she is widely known for legacy business-model innovation, building brands, humanitarian work in the U.S. and Eastern Africa and mentorship and development of emerging leaders.

Cole has more than 17 years of multi-disciplined experience in change management, communications, service, sales, operations, multi-channel brand management and leadership. She has lead research, strategy, and integration initiatives for non-traditional brand extensions, franchising, multi-channel brand building, and global business growth. Cole completed her MBA at Georgia State University.

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