Lessons in Leadership from Today's Changemakers

The Lead Now Speaker Series was a series of national, online conversations with leaders who are fundamentally expanding American opportunity through education. Speakers represented the many sectors essential to tackling most any social issue - entrepreneurship, education, technology, and business. Discover the leadership qualities they’ve developed to create change on a national scale - qualities that you can apply to leadership challenges in any context.

Lead Now was free, online, and open to the public. Speakers included David Liu, Tony Hsieh, Cheryl Dorsey, Earl Phalen, and Wendy Kopp

If you missed any of the events, you can access the event recordings below. 

David Liu, COO, Knewton
Sector: Technology

Watch event recording »



David Liu, Knewton's Chief Operating Officer, came to Knewton with over 10 years of senior leadership experience in operational, business development, strategic planning, and start-up roles in consumer Internet and media. As Senior Vice President of AOL, Inc., he oversaw AIM, ICQ, and Lifestream as head of Global Messaging. David and his team created next-gen new media and communications platforms that serve close to 100 million users worldwide. Liu conceptualized, launched and led the growth of the AOL.com into a top 4 global web portal, conceptualized and launched Lifestream into one of the largest social aggregators of content on the Web, as well as relaunched the AOL Toolbar and led its growth to a top 3 toolbar application.

Prior to AOL, David served as a management consultant for A.T. Kearney advising Fortune 500 companies on corporate and operating strategy. He is a board director to PrecisionIR Group, board advisor/angel investor to Assistly, Blockboard, SimpleGeo, and other start-ups. David received a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University and an MBA from Columbia Business School. He has been awarded a patent for web-based content personalization.

Tony Hsieh, Author of “Delivering Happiness” and CEO of Zappos.com, Inc.

Sector: BusinessWatch event recording »


In 1999, at the age of 24, Tony Hsieh (pronounced Shay) sold LinkExchange, the company he co-founded, to Microsoft for $265 million. He then joined Zappos as an adviser and investor, and eventually became CEO, where he helped Zappos grow from almost no sales to over $1 billion in gross merchandise sales annually, while simultaneously making Fortune magazine's annual "Best Companies to Work For" list. Zappos was acquired by Amazon in November 2009 in a deal valued at $1.2 billion on the day of closing.

Tony's first book, "Delivering Happiness", debuted at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list. The book discusses the different ingredients used by Zappos.com to build a long-lasting enduring brand, including the importance of customer service and company culture.

Twitter: @zappos

Cheryl Dorsey, President, Echoing Green

Sector: Social Entrepreneurship


Watch event recording »


Cheryl Dorsey is President of Echoing Green, a pioneer in the social entrepreneurship movement. This global social venture fund has awarded over $30 million in start-up capital to more than 500 next generation social entrepreneurs worldwide since 1987. Dorsey received an Echoing Green Fellowship in 1992 to help launch The Family Van, a community-based mobile health unit in Boston.

Dorsey has served in two presidential administrations as a White House Fellow and Special Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Labor (1997-98); Special Assistant to the Director of the Women's Bureau of the U.S. Labor Department (1998-99); Transition Team Member of the Innovation and Civil Society subgroup of the Technology, Innovation, and Government Reform Policy Working Group (2008-09); and Vice Chair for the President's Commission on White House Fellowships (2009-present).

Dorsey serves on several boards including the Harvard Board of Overseers, the SEED Foundation, and Northeast Bank. In 2009, Dorsey was named one of "America's Best Leaders" by US News & World Report and the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School. For 2010 and 2011, she was named as one of The Nonprofit Times' "Power and Influence Top 50."

Dorsey received her Bachelor's degree in History and Science magna cum laude with highest honors from Harvard-Radcliffe Colleges, her medical degree from Harvard Medical School, and her Master's in Public Policy from Harvard Kennedy School. She completed her pediatric residency at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC.

Twitter: @echoinggreen

Earl Phalen, Founder and CEO of Summer Advantage USA and the George and Veronica Phalen Leadership Academies

Sector: Social EntrepreneurshipWatch event recording »


Earl Martin Phalen is the Founder of Summer Advantage USA, a summer learning program that sees children gain over two months in academic growth during the 5 week program, and the George and Veronica Phalen Leadership Academies, a new network of schools in Indiana that will serve nearly 10,000 children.  Mr. Phalen is deeply committed to the education of children and is a proven leader with a track record of success.  He grew his former organization, BELL, from a community service project educating 20 children to a national non-profit educating 15,000 scholars annually, from an annual budget of $12k to $27.5M. President Obama modeled federal legislation after his summer learning program. Mr. Phalen's leadership has earned recognition from numerous national media outlets, including the cover story of TIME Magazine; feature interview on MSNBC's Education Nation; coverage in Parent Magazine's feature on summer learning slide; highlight of our work using innovative technology in Education Week; and Black Entertainment Television's Shine a Light/Local Hero award for his exceptional contributions to the education of our children, and more. Mr. Phalen is a Mind Trust Fellow and Ashoka Fellow, and holds a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Mr. Phalen is considered one of the nation’s top education leaders in the country. 

Twitter: @SummerAdvantage

Wendy Kopp, Founder and Chair of the Board, Teach For America; CEO and Co-Founder, Teach For All 

Sector: EducationWatch event recording »


Wendy Kopp is founder and chair of the board of Teach For America. She proposed the creation of Teach For America in her undergraduate senior thesis at Princeton in 1989 and has spent more than 20 years working to grow the organization’s impact. Under her leadership, Teach For America’s nearly 38,000 participants have reached more than 3 million children nationwide during their two-year teaching commitments. They have sustained their commitment as alumni, working inside and outside the field of education to ensure educational excellence and equity for all children.

Kopp is also chief executive officer and co-founder of Teach For All, a global network of independent social enterprises working to expand educational opportunity by recruiting and developing their nations’ most promising future leaders to commit to teach for two years in high-need areas and become lifelong leaders for educational excellence and equity. Teach For All seeks to accelerate and increase the impact of network organizations, including Teach For America, by deepening commitment to the unifying model around the world, collaborating to develop and adapt best practices, fostering global networks of staff members, participants, and alumni, and generating access to additional resources internationally.

Kopp is the author of the Washington Post bestseller A Chance to Make History: What Works and What Doesn’t in Providing an Excellent Education for All and One Day, All Children: The Unlikely Triumph of Teach For America and What I Learned Along the Way. She is also the recipient of numerous honorary degrees and awards for public service. She resides in New York City with her husband Richard Barth and their four children.

Twitter: @wendykopp