2014 Keynote Speaker

Michèle Ledgerwood

Michèle Ledgerwood is a Senior Associate with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and a senior speaker in the Abshire-Inamori Leadership Academy's Seven Revolutions lecture series. She also consults regularly with both the Transnational Threats program and the Global Health Policy Center at CSIS.


Michèle has more than 25 years of experience in the U.S. and European defense, healthcare, and scientific research environments. She has directed multidisciplinary research programs and working groups for both government and private sector clients, in areas as diverse as emerging science and technology; global infectious disease research and surveillance; terrorist financing; biological, cyber, and hybrid threats; and trusted international collaborative networks. For more than 12 years, she was the Senior Analyst for the U.S. Department of Defense's (DoD) influential Highlands Forum. She also has served as a Senior Analyst and Program Manager at Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), as a pro bono advisor to the not-for-profit InSTEDD (Innovative Support to Emergencies, Diseases, and Disasters), as a freelance writer for the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), and as a nonresident research associate at Carnegie Corporation of New York.


Michèle has authored publications on topics including global cyber threats; U.S. biological laboratory capacity; complex humanitarian emergency response models; French nuclear deterrence; and the U.S. military's overseas medical research
laboratories. She is a regular speaker on the uses of social media in scientific research and humanitarian operations. She also advises early-stage mobile technology startups on public sector partnerships and networking strategies.


Earlier in her career, Michèle worked for two European defense and financial consultancies, and supported groundbreaking research at the Stanford University
School of Medicine's Section on Medical Informatics. She holds degrees from Stanford University and the Harvard Kennedy School. She has spent more than 20 years of her life overseas, has traveled to 40 U.S. States and more than 50 countries, and speaks six languages with varying degrees of proficiency. In her spare time, Michèle runs a small, boutique fashion business, and directs the French Language Education Program at her children's elementary school in Arlington, Virginia.

2014 Master of Ceremonies/Moderator

Alison Cuddy

Alison Cuddy covers arts and culture for WBEZ, including co-hosting/producing Changing Channels and Strange Brews.


Previously Alison was the host of WBEZ's award-winning weekday newsmagazine Eight Forty-Eight and the creator of Weekender, the weekly guide to events happening in and around Chicago. Alison also served as the senior producer of Chicago Matters, the year-long series examining various topics of broad interest to the region.


Alison joined the staff of WBEZ in August 2001 as associate producer for the nationally-syndicated program Odyssey. In addition to the daily program, Alison produced Odyssey's live national specials, including the two-hour "Dissent and Democracy" and "Wealth and Politics" which broadcast from Memphis, Tennessee. She also programmed the show's Film Forum Friday segment.


Prior to joining WBEZ, Alison worked in the Immigration Department of ThoughtWorks, Inc. in Chicago, and was an adjunct professor at DePaul University as well as a teaching fellow at the University of Pittsburgh. She holds an M.A. in English from the University of Pittsburgh and a B.F.A. in Cinema Studies from Concordia University in Montréal.


Originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Alison currently resides in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood.

2014 Cultural/International Speakers

Carmen Vidal-Hallett

Carmen Vidal-Hallett is Principal of Chicago-based Eco Vidal Design Inc. Carmen is an acclaimed architect and urban planner who specializes in innovative sustainable design. Carmen founded EcoVidalDesign, Inc, in 2008 and has taken her company to work recently on Chicago parks and affordable housing renovations. She has also worked closely with Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) in projects such as the Chicago UNO Natchez School and Rio de Janeiro's LEED Neighborhood Development Green Technology District.


Carmen has been honored the Chicago Mayor's Landscaping Award for Specialist Gardens in 2011 and the Living Building Challenge Design Competition Honorable mention #1 in 2013 to only name a few of her many awards. Specializing in Architecture and Urban Planning, Carmen went to Mackenzie University in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and to graduate school at Polytechnic University of Madrid, Spain where she worked for four years. However, Carmen is not all architecture and urban design; she has an eight year Ballet professional degree from "Escola Municipal de Bailado" Sao Paulo, Brazil and is currently a Flamenco professional dancer with Soul & Duende Spanish American Theater, artists in residence with the Chicago Park District.

Dr. Rasha Mohammed

Dr. Rasha Mahmoud Hussien Mohammed is currently completing her MBA in Healthcare at the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University Chicago. Originally from Giza, Egypt, Dr. Eldeeb served as Head of the Donor Care Department at Elabbasia Regional Blood Transfusion Centre in Cairo. Additionally, she was an Assistant Lecturer at the Hematology Laboratories of the National Cancer Institute.


In June 2010, Dr. Eldeeb was part of a delegation invited to United States through the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) of the US Department of State, locally administered by WorldChicago. During her visits in Maryland, New York, Texas and Washington, she met professionals in the field of oncology, including research, prevention and treatment. Today, she serves as a volunteer helping support other IVLP programs coordinated by WorldChicago.


Among her many academic and professional achievements, Dr. Eldeeb has served as a trainer for the World Health Organization, and is regularly published in the International Journal of Transfusion Medicine. Dr. Eldeeb received her master's degree in clinical pathology and her Ph.D. in clinical pathology and chemistry at Ain Shams University.

Past Speakers

2013 Keynote: Ellen Costello, Chief Executive Officer of BMO Financial Corp. and U.S. Country Head of Toronto-based BMO Financial Group (Topic: A Conversation - The Importance of Diversity and Inclusion and the Impacts of International Roles). BMO is one of North America's leading financial services providers. Ms. Costello is responsible for providing governance and regulatory oversight for all of BMO's U.S. businesses...

2012 Keynote: Sarah Robb O'Hagan, Gatorade president North America and global chief marketing officer, Sports Nutrition of PepsiCo (Topic: "From the Sidelines to the Workplace: The Increasing Relevancy of Female Leadership") PepsiCo owns the world's largest portfolio of billion-dollar food and beverage brands, including 19 different product lines, each of which generates more than $1 billion in annual retail sales each. With net revenues of approximately $60 billion, PepsiCo employs nearly 300,000 people worldwide...