South by Southwest made another significant programming announcement on Tuesday, including a new keynote speaker for the March festival and conference. Jessica Shortall, managing director of Texas Competes, will speak on as part of SXSW’s Social Impact track.
Texas Competes is a coalition of business leaders in favor of “the clear economic and business case for a Texas that offers fair treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people,” according to the organization’s website.
SXSW programming director Hugh Forrest said in an interview that Shortall is a timely speaker for the conference given a so-called “Bathroom bill” that is caused controversy and debate in the Texas legislature.
“We feel very strongly on the bathroom bill,” Forrest said. “First and foremost, we are against discrimination in any form. She may not be as well known as other speakers, but we think she’s a good fit for the event. Jessica is a staunch advocate of equality, fairness and decency. Her relentless pursuit and approach of these values is both influential and inspirational.”
Shortall will speak at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 12. It’s likely to be livestreamed online for the public to watch at sxsw.com/live.
Some of the more well-known speakers announced Tuesday include Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Fleetwood Mac’s Mick Fleetwood, actor/writer Seth Rogen, “Shark Tank” investor Chris Sacca, “Veep” actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, former head of Gawker Nick Denton, “Better Call Saul” actor Bob Odenkirk and U.S. Senator Cory Booker.
Some, such as Louis-Dreyfus and the cast of “Veep” and Booker are return bookings, but seem even more timely for 2017 given the nation’s focus on politics.
Other additions include WWE superstar John Cena, former Barack Obama administration adviser Andrew Coy, Sonya M. Pryor-Jones of The Fab Foundation, authors Tim Ferris and Cheryl Strayed, above-55 driver and musician Sammy Hagar, Fast Company’s Amy Farley, “Muppets” legend Frank Oz in conversation with Leonard Maltin, musician Kesha, PepsiCo president Brad Jakeman, Nirvana guitarist Krist Novoselic, Tinder founder Sean Rad, GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis, Tumblr CEO David Karp, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards, comics scribs Garth Ennis, CNN’s Jake Tapper, B-52 Cindy Wilson, author Bruce Sterling and True Wealth Partners general partner Kerry Rupp.
You can view a video of Shortall’s 2015 TED talk, “The U.S. needs paid family leave -- for the sake of its future,” below:
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