Krishanti Vignarajah

  • Former Policy Director for First Lady Michelle Obama
  • Former State Department Senior Advisor under Secretary Clinton and Secretary Kerry

Krishanti Vignarajah is a brilliant and gifted storyteller whose experience and expertise in purpose-driven leadership has enabled her to uplift millions around the world, but her inspiring passion and ability to connect with all audiences is what truly distinguishes her as a speaker.  Just wrapping up at the White House as First Lady Michelle Obama’s Policy Director, Mrs. Vignarajah is a leading authority on public policy, philanthropy, and engaging millennials and can provide unique insight and perspective on what it takes to drive innovation within government and other institutions, enable complex organizations to better leverage diverse talent, and lead successful teams with passion and purpose. 

On the personal side, Mrs. Vignarajah’s inspiring life journey embodies the American dream, from being born in Sri Lanka and escaping a civil war to rising from humble beginnings to succeed at the most elite institutions and forge a career that has spanned business, law and government, including senior White House positions working with some of the world’s most powerful women, including First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton.

 
  

Add to my speaker list
Krishanti Vignarajah headshot
Krishanti Vignarajah, Hood College Commencement Address 2017 - Get Sharable Link
Krishanti Vignarajah, Hood College Commencement Address 2017
(>)
Now
Playing
Krishanti Vignarajah - Let Girls Learn, Social Innovation Summit
(>)
Now
Playing
Krishanti Vignarajah on Let Girls Learn Campaign - Philanthropreneurship Forum
(>)
Now
Playing
Explore Krishanti Vignarajah's Talks
Expand all >

Bringing About Change from the East Wing: The Role of the First Lady’s Office in Presidential Administrations

First Ladies, though not publicly-elected or Senate-confirmed, have often wielded incredible political power and been intimately involved in policy and politics since the days of Abigail Adams.  This speech centers around Mrs. Obama’s transformative role as First Lady, including her national campaig ...

First Ladies, though not publicly-elected or Senate-confirmed, have often wielded incredible political power and been intimately involved in policy and politics since the days of Abigail Adams.  This speech centers around Mrs. Obama’s transformative role as First Lady, including her national campaigns, use of pop culture, and ultimate service as a surrogate for Secretary Clinton, but contextualizes her role alongside previous First Ladies who very publicly championed sometimes controversial political positions from the East Wing, including Eleanor Roosevelt’s fight for civil and women’s rights, Mary Todd Lincoln’s support for freed African-American slaves, Nancy Reagan’s war on drugs, and Laura Bush’s advocacy on gay marriage, abortion and international human rights. 

Marketing to the “Me” Generation: A Millennial’s Insight into Marketing to and Engaging Millennials

With an intergenerational perspective, Krishanti brings both her policy and branding expertise to provide insight into how social, cultural, and technologicalshifts require a complete retooling for how we attract and capture the attention and engage more activist, tech-savvy and ambitious millennial ...

With an intergenerational perspective, Krishanti brings both her policy and branding expertise to provide insight into how social, cultural, and technologicalshifts require a complete retooling for how we attract and capture the attention and engage more activist, tech-savvy and ambitious millennial audiences.  This speech offers a critical road map that can be tailored to industries from financial institutions and health care companies to advocacy organizations and nonprofits to given audiences valuable and operative insight into what invites and incites

Shattering the Glass Ceiling – Women’s Leadership in Education, Employment & the Environment

Drawing from Krishanti’s experiences working for powerful and passionate female leaders like Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton, this timely speech highlights the current trends, challenges, opportunities, and innovative strategies to advancing female talent and guaranteeing gender parity in critica ...

Drawing from Krishanti’s experiences working for powerful and passionate female leaders like Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton, this timely speech highlights the current trends, challenges, opportunities, and innovative strategies to advancing female talent and guaranteeing gender parity in critical areas like education, employment & the environment.  This inspiring keynote addresses why women have hit a glass ceiling of less than 20% leadership roles across all sectors of the economy and offers advice to women on how to get out of their own way and to both women and men on how to build coalitions based on common ground.  [Please note that this keynote can be tailored to be entirely contemporary and US-focused or global and based on Krishanti’s international travel as an American diplomat working to support the causes of other female leaders like Queen Rania, President Johnson Sirleaf and Laura Bush.]

Trump Doctrine & Your Bottom Line

The actions taken during the Trump Administration’s first 100 days will impact every company operating on the global stage.  As organizations and audiences desperately try to navigate this radically new world order, this speech provides unique insights that only a former senior Administration offici ...

The actions taken during the Trump Administration’s first 100 days will impact every company operating on the global stage.  As organizations and audiences desperately try to navigate this radically new world order, this speech provides unique insights that only a former senior Administration official serving at the White House and State Department could provide.  Analyzing President Trump’s initial executive orders, the Administration’s incoming cabinet secretaries, initial conversations with global leaders, and the President’s campaign promises, Mrs. Vignarajah explains the far-reaching implications on everything from business regulations, taxes, and trade, to immigration, healthcare, and climate change.

Managing Millennials in the Marketplace

...

Cause Marketing & Employee Engagement: Mainstreaming Charitable Giving Beyond Corporate Social Responsibility

...

Countering Violent Extremism in the Age of Globalization

...

Learn more about Krishanti Vignarajah
Featured News
(-)
<p><strong>Buzzfeed names Krishanti Vignarajah as one of the most inspiring commencement speakers of 2017 </strong></p>

Buzzfeed names Krishanti Vignarajah as one of the most inspiring commencement speakers of 2017 

Krishanti Vignarajah's powerful and forward-thinking commencement address at Hood college made Buzzfeed's list of the 9 most inspiring commencement speeches of 2017.  A former Policy Director for First Lady Michelle Obama and State Department Senior Advisor, Vignarajah is praised for her purpose-driven leadership. With an incredible story that took her from a war-torn Sri Lanka to the inner circle of the White House, Vignarajah inspires and empowers audiences with her unique perspective and sharp insights on public policy and how to forge a just, innovative path forward. Vignarajah's dynamic commencement instantly drew praise on Twitter:

"@krishantiv's commencement speech to Hood College is fantastic, heartfelt & inspiring, for women & all."; "@krishantiv cannot thank you enough for your commencement speech. It was exactly what I, and many others, needed to hear!"; "By the way, shoutout to @krishantiv for delivering basically the perfect commencement speech on Saturday!
 

Read the article here > >
Articles
(+)
Biography

Mrs. Vignarajah just finished serving as Policy Director for First Lady Michelle Obama, where she led the Let Girls Learn initiative the President and First Lady launched in 2015.  Before the White House, she served as Senior Advisor at the State Department under Secretary Clinton and Secretary Kerry.  In this capacity, Mrs. Vignarajah helped shape White House and State Department initiatives and programs related to entrepreneurship, private sector investment, public-private partnerships, global women’s issues, public diplomacy, engagement with youth and religious communities, development strategies concerning health, food security and climate change, the UN and other multilateral institutions, and regional issues relating to Africa and the Middle East.  Before joining the Obama Administration, Mrs. Vignarajah practiced law at Jenner & Block in Washington, DC, clerked for Chief Judge Michael Boudin on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, worked at McKinsey & Company, where she consulted for Fortune 100 companies, and taught U.S. foreign policy and international law at Georgetown University as an adjunct faculty member.

Mrs. Vignarajah attended Yale College, where she earned a Master’s degree in Political Science and a B.S. in Molecular Biology, graduating magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa.  She was a Marshall Scholar at Oxford University (Magdalen College), where she received an M.Phil. in International Relations.  At Yale Law School, she served as a senior editor on the Yale Law Journal and received the Potter Stewart Prize and the Harlan Fiske Stone Prize for best brief and best oralist during its Supreme Court competition. She has published articles on free trade, judicial scrutiny of political questions, and mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS in, among others, the Journal of World Trade and the Chicago Law Review.  For her scholarship, she has received the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation Prize, the Benjamin Scharps Prize, and the Joseph Parker Prize.