Wendy Davis and Jeff Flake face off in a civil and enlightening program. Both have deep and substantive understanding of the political dynamics railing America. Both are in-demand for their shrewd and timely commentary.
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Former Texas State Senator and Founder of the non-profit, Deeds Not Words, Wendy Davis is renowned as a passionate advocate for women in social, economic and political spheres. After skyrocketing to near celebrity status through her historic 13-hour filibuster in the Texas Senate to stop a legislative effort that would have dramatically reduced women’s access to healthcare, Davis emerged as a leader in the national conversation surrounding women’s leadership and issues which threaten our individual opportunities. Through Davis’ work at Deeds Not Words, for which she earned a spot on Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People in Business”, she is shaping the next generation of leaders and directly working to foster diversity, inclusivity, and change at the highest levels of business and government. Long before she was a Texas State Senator and Texas’ Democratic nominee for Governor in 2014, Davis struggled with the same obstacles faced by women around the country. Determined to break the cycle of poverty she’d been born into, Davis fought to juggle school, career and single motherhood and uses those experiences to connect with others in order to shape perspective.
At the podium, Davis combines the power of personal storytelling with her deep policy understanding to explain why equitable policies matter in the lives of women as well as the overall health and vibrancy of our economy, guiding organizations across industries toward a better understanding of the institutional value in creating diverse work environments, and key issues such as pay equity, family leave, and harassment policies. A living testament to the ability we each possess to rise above challenges and succeed, Davis demonstrates the power of each of our unique voices, and the value in raising them for what we believe in. Audiences are left inspired to utilize their individual strengths into meaningful contributions, and organizations are left with the tools and insights needed to advance positive change.
Jeff Flake has nearly two decades of experience on Capitol Hill in both the Senate and House of Representatives. Heralded as an "ideal public servant" in The New York Times, Flake is renowned for his bravery in speaking out against the current administration, his principled stands on spending and free trade, and his shrewd negotiations and bipartisanship on complicated issues such as immigration.
A traditionally conservative Republican, Flake defended the core values and principles of his party-- and revealed how they are currently under threat-- in his New York Times bestselling book Conscience of a Conservative, which was described in The Washington Post as, "the single largest act of political bravery in the Trump era." His eloquent, impassioned and headline-making retirement speech, delivered from the Senate floor, further condemned the "new normal" in politics. He is a current contributor for CBS News where he will be launching a new series called Common Ground, which focuses on opposing groups coming together.
A passionate and principled defender of "country over party," Flake famously invited Democratic Senator Martin Heinrich on a six-day survival adventure on an island in Micronesia to develop an idea to end partisan gridlock. Their experiences were featured on a Discovery Channel reality TV show, Rival Survival.
Sought-out to speak everywhere from the Forbes Under 30 Conference to Harvard Law School, Flake shares substantive, candid insights on the current political environment and what is and isn't achievable in Washington, as well as shrewd analysis on foreign affairs, trade and the economy, and more.
Wendy Davis is the founding director of Deeds Not Words, a non-profit that seeks to empower and activate the voices of young women. She is a former Texas State Senator, 2014 Texas Democratic Gubernatorial nominee, frequent public speaker, business owner and author. Davis gained national prominence in 2013 when she held a 13-hour filibuster to protect women’s reproductive freedoms in Texas. Her fight ultimately led to a successful and landmark decision in the U.S. Supreme Court, strengthening the landscape for abortion rights throughout the country.
Raised by a single mother with a ninth-grade education, Davis began working after school at age fourteen to contribute to the family finances. By the time she was nineteen, she was living in a trailer park with a baby daughter and holding down two jobs. Yet Davis became the first person in her family to attend and graduate from college, ultimately graduating first in her class at TCU and with honors from Harvard Law School.
She clerked and litgated before starting her own practice for federal and local government affairs, real estate, and contract compliance. Davis spent nine years on the Fort Worth City Council, focusing on neighborhood economic development.
She was elected to the Texas state senate in 2008. There she sponsored bills on everything from cancer prevention to payday lending to protecting victims of sexual assault to government transparency. In 2011, she lead the fight against a state budget that underfunded public schools by $5 billion, and two years later saw most of the funding replaced. This resulted in the Republican-led house to strip her of her position on the education committee. It was not the only effort to silence her. She narrowly won her 2012 election after federal courts threw out a Republican gerrymandering plan that affected only her district.
In 2016, Davis founded Deeds Not Words to give women the tools needed to make real progress – teaching the skills necessary for legislative victory, grassroots activism, and advocacy success.
Davis is frequently invited to appear on MSNBC and CNN, and contributes regularly to publications such as Time, Cosmo, Teen Vogue, The Hill and many more. In 2014, Davis released her autobiography Forgetting to Be Afraid.
Now, as a tireless and tenacious champion for women’s rights, Davis knows no change comes without walking the walk. From her 13-hour filibuster in the Texas State Senate to her legislative efforts to support the LGBT community, Davis has pushed for progress. Again and again. And she’s still pushing.
“We are no longer used to great Senate speeches,” wrote Lawfare Editor in Chief, Benjamin Wittes, in October of 2017. “And then rises one Jeff Flake and delivers not merely a great speech but also a genuinely important one, perhaps the single most important address given on the Senate floor in my memory.”
Author of the New York Times best seller Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle, Senator Flake has taken a lonely stand for principle and civility in an era of hyper-partisanship.
After serving six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, Senator Flake was elected to the United States Senate, where he served for six years. While in the Senate, Senator Flake chaired the Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology & the Law, which sits at the intersection of innovation and regulation. He also chaired the Africa Subcommittee of the Foreign Relations Committee, where he passed landmark legislation on wildlife trafficking and democratic governance.
Prior to entering Congress, Senator Flake served as executive director of the Goldwater Institute in Arizona. He also directed the Foundation for Democracy in Namibia during that nation’s transition to independence. Senator Flake holds degrees in International Relations and Political Science from Brigham Young University.
Known for his ability to work across the political aisle, Senator Flake was the lead House Republican in the successful effort to prohibit spending earmarks, and the lead Senate Republican in the successful effort to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba.
A sought-after speaker, Senator Flake delivered the 2018 commencement address at Harvard Law School. His 2018 Senate floor speech titled “Truth and Democracy” was carried live on CNN, MSNBC and the FOX News Channel. During his time in the Senate, Senator Flake was a frequent guest on NBC’s Meet the Press, ABC’s This Week, CBS’ Face the Nation, and CNN’s State of the Union.
Senator Flake is currently a contributor to CBS News. He also partners with CBS on a series called “Common Ground.” He will guest lecture at Princeton and speak at Yale in the Spring of 2019, and will be a Resident Fellow at Harvard University during the fall semester of 2019.
Senator Flake and his wife, Cheryl, live in Mesa, Arizona, and are the parents of five children.