Keynote Speakers

Waves of Hope May 6-9, 2024
Waves of Hope: Navigating Resilience & Balance
Hilton Galveston Island Resort
5400 Seawall Blvd, Galveston, TX 77551

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

11:30 AM

Opening Keynote: Mercedes Ramirez Johnson
Mercedes Ramirez Johnson In 1995, Mercedes Ramirez Johnson narrowly survived a commercial airplane crash that killed 160 people, including her parents. She presents her proprietary Second Chance Living concept, an innovative mindset and approach with a proven track record, to organizations such as General Electric, ExxonMobil, Microsoft, NASA, Chevron, and the various branches of the US Armed Forces.

Before becoming a speaker, Mercedes spent nearly a decade in high-level sales in the pharmaceutical and medical software industries. A record-breaking, multimillion-dollar producer, she became the youngest female and sole Latino account executive at Cerner Corporation. She is an active leader in philanthropic organizations advocating for special needs children and children’s health initiatives, notably for Make-A-Wish and The National MPS Society.

Mercedes and her story have been the subject of considerable national and international media coverage.

Her extensive media experience includes appearances on The BBC, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Health Channel and as a recurring guest on numerous nationally syndicated daytime talk shows on NBC and ABC. In addition, numerous national magazines and major-market newspapers have run cover stories and special-interest pieces about her, and she was recognized as one of the country’s top young Hispanic up-and-comers by People Magazine’s Spanish edition, People en Español.

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

9:30 AM

Closing Keynote: Darby Lee Young
Darby Lee Young Darby has over a decade of experience working as an accessibility strategist. Through her expertise in universal design and in-depth understanding of building codes and drawings, Darby has been a leader in successfully removing barriers at the municipal and provincial levels, and across North America. In November 2015, she created her company, Level Playing Field (LPF), to mitigate barriers that people like her face every day.

For her work with LPF and in the community, creating a more inclusive and inviting built environment for everyone, Darby has received multiple accolades. In the last three years alone, she has been recognized as one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 and the recipient of Top 25 Women of Influence in Canada.

Given that she’s an ardent hockey fan, it’s not surprising that Darby has lost a couple of front teeth in the last few years – twice. But hockey pucks had nothing to do with it. Darby was born with mild cerebral palsy, which has affected her mobility; that’s why she’s no stranger to falling flat on her face. “We all fall at some point in our lives, whether figuratively or literally”, she says. “But it’s what we do afterwards that counts. I make it a rule to get up – and laugh, every time.”

Bullied at school as a teen, her peers told Darby that because of her disability, she would never be any good at sports. She was scared of heights, too. Well, that did it: she decided to take up skiing. For nine years, she honed her skills and got so good that she became a competitive para-alpine skier. Darby has continued to share her love of sports by being heavily involved in a variety of national and international sports events including the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
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LearningSCAPES 2024


October 16-19, 2024
Portland, OR