Michelle Obama to speak at Elevate 2019

michelle obama

Today at Design Exchange, Elevate announced that Michelle Obama, former First Lady of the United States, will be speaking at its third annual tech festival on September 24.

This year, Elevate is expecting 20,000 guests to be in attendance.

The week-long festival, taking place from September 20 to 26, will feature more than 200 speakers and interactive experiences. This year, Elevate is expecting 20,000 guests to be in attendance. The theme this year will be “moonshots.”

“We are honoured that Mrs. Obama has chosen Elevate as her first Canadian engagement following her incredibly successful book tour,” said Razor Suleman, co-founder and CEO of Elevate. “She has championed women and young people, inspiring millions across Canada and around the world. We are looking forward to hosting Mrs. Obama along with the Elevate community.”

Obama has launched and led four national initiatives including ​Let’s Move!​, created to address the challenge of childhood obesity ​and Joining Forces​, aimed at supporting veterans, service members, and their families. She also launched and led Reach Higher​,​ ​to inspire young people to seek higher education and​ Let Girls Learn,​ ​to help adolescent girls around the world go to school. Obama’s appearance will be moderated by Claudette McGowan, chief information officer at BMO, at the Sony Centre, soon to be named Meridian Hall.

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“It’s the 50th anniversary of JFK’s mission of sending a man to the moon and returning home safely. That happened on July 20, 1969,” Suleman told BetaKit, speaking of the festival’s theme. “And that big moonshot idea really created the tech industry as we know it, all that research and development and investment that went into going to accomplish that moonshot. We wanted Canadians to have their moonshot.”

Other notable speakers at the 2019 festival will include:

  • Chris Hadfield, astronaut
  • Sophia Amoruso, founder and CEO of Girlboss
  • Guy Kawasaki, author
  • Anjali Sud, CEO of Vimeo
  • Todd MCKinnon, founder and CEO of Okta
  • Jen Rubio, co-founder and chief brand officer of Away Luggage
  • Akon, founder of Akoin
  • Shahrzad Rafati, founder and CEO of BroadbandTV
  • Kevin Ma, founder and CEO of Hypebest
  • Ryan Holmes, founder and CEO of Hootsuite
  • Cameron Bailey, artistic director and co-head of TIFF

Last year, former Vice President of the United States Al Gore was among the festival’s initial lineup. Other speakers included Whitney Wolfe Herd of Bumble, Michelle Zatlyn of Cloudflare, Yung Wu of MaRS Discovery District, and Karan Wadhera of Casa Verde Capital.

This year’s festival will be hosted in over 250 venues throughout the downtown Toronto area. More than 200 participating companies will open their doors to festival-goers on September 27 as part of Elevate Talent. Originally launched in 2017, Elevate will continue to host several featured events this year, including Elevate King West, TD Tech Jam, and Main Stage at the Sony Centre.

Image courtesy U.S. Coast Guard. Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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