General Sessions

Golden Olympians

Golden Olympians

Highlighting our Opening General Session will be a special panel featuring two renowned Olympic athletes: track and field superstar Jackie Joyner-Kersee (bottom right) and gymnastic champion Shannon Miller (top right). In retirement these distinguished athletes have been fervent advocates for children and women, and they will share their reflections on health, wellness and physical activity. This exciting panel discussion will be moderated by Rowdy Gaines, an American former competition swimmer and three-time Olympic gold medalist.

Sports Illustrated’s “Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th Century,” Jackie Joyner-Kersee earned six medals at four different Olympics. Today, she is a philanthropist and advocate for children, health issues and women’s rights. Joyner-Kersee established a foundation to provide youth in Greater East St. Louis with the dream, drive and determination to succeed in academics, athletics and leadership. As a child, Joyner-Kersee benefited from school lunches, and she well understands their value in children’s success.

At the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Shannon Miller led the “Magnificent Seven” to the U.S. Women’s first-ever Team Gold, earning an individual gold medal, too! Her tally of 16 World Championships and Olympic medals ranks her as the most decorated gymnast, male or female, in U.S. history. Miller successfully transitioned from Olympic athlete to advocate for the health of women and children, including through her personal foundation, which is dedicated to fighting childhood obesity.

Carla Hall

Chef & Television Personality
Carla Hall is a co-host of ABC’s popular lifestyle series “The Chew,” and may be best known as a competitor on Bravo’s “Top Chef,” where she won over audiences with her fun catch phrase, “Hootie Hoo,” and her philosophy to always cook with love. Hall’s approach to cooking blends her classic French training and Southern upbringing for a twist on traditional favorites.

The chef’s first restaurant, Carla Hall’s Southern Kitchen, is slated to open soon in New York City, and will feature iconic Nashville Hot Chicken and southern sides, anchored by Hall’s family recipes. Hall is also the owner of Carla Hall Petite Cookies, an artisan cookie company that specializes in creating sweet and savory “petite bites of love” and other desserts. She is the author of two cookbooks, “Carla’s Comfort Food: Favorite Dishes from Around the World” and “Cooking with Love: Comfort Food That Hugs You.”

A Nashville native, Hall received a degree in accounting from Howard University, but traveling through Europe awakened her passion for food and inspired a new career path. She attended L’Academie de Cuisine in Maryland where she completed her culinary training, going on to work as a sous chef at the Henley Park Hotel in Washington, D.C.

John Quiñones

Broadcast Journalist and Television Host
A fifth-generation San Antonian, John Quiñones is the Emmy award-winning co-anchor of ABC newsmagazine “Primetime” who has been with the network nearly 30 years. He is the sole anchor of the “Primetime” series “What Would You Do?,” one of the highest rated newsmagazine franchises in recent years. During his tenure, he has reported extensively for ABC News, predominantly serving as a correspondent for “Primetime” and “20/20.”

Having grown up in a poor family of migrant workers to eventually become ABC’s first Latino correspondent, Quiñones shares his powerful story with audiences around the country, encouraging them to pursue their dreams regardless of socioeconomic barriers, emphasizing the role education played in his own success, captivating and inspiring audiences to strive for their goals, and challenging his audience with the all-important question of what would you do to achieve them.

Quiñones’ new book, “What Would You Do? Words of Wisdom about Doing the Right Thing,” forces readers to take a good look in the mirror. What do we do when we witness injustice, racism, bullying—as an individual—as a nation? Do we step in or, do we step aside?

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