ComNet18

The Communications Network Annual Conference

ComNet — The Communications Network annual conference. 

 

Keynote speakers

 

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 Lena Waithe is one of Hollywood’s most promising up-and-coming talents, who continues to grow her body of work with diversity, charisma, and comedy. One of Hollywood Reporter’s “TV Breakouts”, Waithe expertly taps into emerging cultural sensibilities with a sharp wit, speaking to myriad experiences from her unique perspective and challenging audiences to think outside of conventional norms. 

Waithe first made headlines in front of the camera as Denise, friend to Dev (Aziz Ansari) in the critically acclaimed Netflix series, Master of None, whose second season premiered in May 2017. In a role that was originally intended for a straight, Caucasian female, Waithe has made Denise’s experience as a queer black woman uniquely her own. This season, Waithe co-wrote the “Thanksgiving” episode, which chronicles Denise’s coming out to herself and her family, through the lens of the Thanksgiving holiday over 3 decades. The episode, which was directed by Melina Matsoukas, is largely based on Waithe’s personal experience. Lena’s writing in “Thanksgiving” led to her making history as the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for Best Writing in a Comedy Series. 

She will next be seen on the big screen in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, which Warner Brothers will release in the Spring of 2018. The film, which is based on Ernest Cline’s 2011 science fiction and dystopian novel, follows the players of virtual reality simulator OASIS, who are pitted against each other in the search of fame and fortune that will save them from their declining world. Waithe will appear alongside Ty Sheridan and Olivia Cooke. 

Waithe’s additional acting credits include Amazon’s Transparent and HBO’s The Comeback

As a writer, Waithe is serving as Creator and Executive Producer of The Chi, a relevant, timely, and distinctive coming-of-age story that follows six interrelated characters in Chicago’s South Side. Showtime will premiere the show in January, which was penned for Fox 21 Television Studios. Common will produce with Rick Famuyiwa directing. The Chi will star Jason Mitchell, Sonja Sohn, and Jacob Latimore. 

As a producer, Waithe’s credits include the upcoming film, Step Sisters, a comedic dance film that follows a black sorority girl who agrees to teach the art of Greek stepping to a house of white, party-obsessed sorority girls. She was also a producer on the Sundance darling, Dear White People, and Tiffany Johnson’s short film, Ladylike, which can be found on YouTube

Currently in development is the television series, Twenties, for which Waithe serves as writer and producer. The project is loosely based on her turbulent twenties and how she navigated her first 10 years of Los Angeles living. 

One of Variety’s “Top 10 Comics to Watch” in 2014, Waithe was born and raised in Chicago and currently resides in Los Angeles.


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David Frum is currently a senior editor at The Atlantic.

From 2014 through 2017, he served as chairman of the board of trustees of the leading UK center-right think tank, Policy Exchange. In 2001-2002, he served as speechwriter and special assistant to President George W. Bush; in 2007-2008, as senior adviser to the Rudy Giuliani presidential campaigns.

Frum is the author of nine books, most recently TRUMPOCRACY: The Corruption of the American Republic (HarperCollins, 2018). His first book, Dead Right, won praise from William F. Buckley as “the most refreshing intellectual experience in a generation” and from Frank Rich in The New York Times as “the smartest book written from the inside about the American conservative movement.”

In National Review, John Podhoretz hailed Frum’s history of the 1970s, How We Got Here, as “an audacious act of revisionism, written in a voice and style so original it deserves to be called revolutionary.” Arianna Huffington said of Frum’s 2012 novel, Patriots, “David Frum is someone who fearlessly speaks his mind, regardless of where the chips may fall, so it’s no surprise he’s able to convey so much truth in his fiction.” Frum’s memoir of his service in the George W. Bush administration, The Right Man, was a #1 New York Times bestseller.

He and his wife Danielle Crittenden Frum live in Washington, DC and Wellington, Ontario. They have three children.


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JEREMY HEIMANS

Jeremy Heimans is the co-founder and CEO of Purpose, a company specializing in building social movements around the world. In 2005, he co-founded GetUp!, an Australian political organization with more members than all of Australia’s political parties combined, and he is a co-founder of the global campaigning organization Avaaz and the LGBT rights platform All Out. He is a recipient of the Ford Foundation’s 75th Anniversary Visionary Award for his work as a movement pioneer. He has been named one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business.

HENRY TIMMS

Henry Timms is executive director of the 92nd Street Y, a cultural and community center that creates programs and movements that foster learning and civic engagement. Under his leadership, the 144-year-old institution was named to Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Companies” list. He is the co-founder of #GivingTuesday, a global philanthropic movement that engages people in close to 100 countries that has generated hundreds of millions of dollars for good causes. He is a Visiting Fellow at Stanford University’s Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society.


Past keynotes have included:

  • Civil rights leader and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s personal counsel Dr. Clarence B. Jones

  • Sarah Hurwitz, speechwriter for former first lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama & former speechwriter for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign

  • Michele Norris, former host of NPR’s All Things Considered and founder of the Peabody Award-winning The Race Card Project

  • The New York Times columnist Charles Blow

  • Terry Gross, host of NPR’s Fresh Air

  • Ezra Klein, Editor in Chief at Vox.com

  • Katherine Boo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Behind the Beautiful Forevers

  • Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz