2024 Speaker Information

July 21 – 25, 2024
Unicoi State Park
Helen, GA

Feminista Jones

Showing Up with Fearless Authenticity


Feminista will lead us in exercises that challenge and encourage us all to consider the ways we show up (or can show up) as our most authentic selves. This will allow Ridgers to reflect on what we’ve been doing and what we can improve on. It will involve group work and sharing, as well as the development of a solid plan to implement more fearless authenticity in our work back home.

Feminista Jones is an educator, writer, public speaker, community activist, and semi-retired social worker. She is an award-winning writer and the author of the critically acclaimed Reclaiming Our Space: How Black Feminists Are Changing the World From the Tweets to the Streets (Beacon). Her work centers around diversity, inclusion, and equity in media representations, queer identity, race and culture, feminism and intersectionality, mental health, and social work.

Jones obtained her Ph.D. from Temple University where she also teaches courses on the African American LGBTQ Experience, The Black Woman, Race and Mass Media, and others related to the intersections of race, gender, sexual identity, and media. She holds an MSW from Hunter College (CUNY) where she studied organizational leadership and management, and she is an alumna of the University of Pennsylvania where she obtained her B.A.

Jones’ passion and talent for writing have led to her being featured in the New York TimesWashington PostTimeEssenceOutComplexThe Philadelphia InquirerSalon, and EBONY magazine to name a few publications. She currently operates her own subscription-based platform and contributes to various publications as a freelancer and commissioned writer. She’s also been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network, MSNBC, Huffington Post Live, and more.

Because of her work as an activist, Jones has been extensively featured in publications around the world, including The Boston GlobeDetroit Free PressThe Guardian, Ms.The New York Times, NBC News, Newsweek, NPR, The Washington PostUSA Today and The Intercept.

Since 2013, Jones has presented and lectured at various colleges and universities, including Princeton, Cornell, Columbia, Boston University, UC Berkeley, and The University of Pennsylvania. Represented by the American Program Bureau, Jones is a highly sought-after lecturer, panelist, and keynote speaker for major conferences and has been a featured speaker at several, including Stanford’s Online Feminism Conference, Drexel’s Racism in Medicine Conference, the Society for Social Work and Research Conference, Netroots Nation, SXSW, and more. In 2018, she was honored to give the Baccalaureate speech during Vassar College’s Commencement weekend.

In 2014, she launched a global anti-street harassment campaign (#YouOKSis) and a National Moment of Silence protesting police brutality (#NMOS14), both of which received international media attention. That year, she was named one of the Top 100 Black Social Influencers by The Root. In 2015, she co-founded and served as General Director of the Women’s Freedom Conference, the first all-digital conference completely organized by and featuring only Women of Color. For her work, she was named one of SheKnows 2015 “Voices of the Year”. In 2017, Jones was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Philadelphia by Philadelphia magazine and was later featured in Philadelphia Style magazine for her community work. In 2020, Jones was named one of the “Bitch 50”, honoring the work of feminist women around the world, and one of the 76 Most Influential People in Philadelphia.

In 2019, Jones joined two of her closest friends to create Black Girl Missing, a true-crime podcast that focuses on the stories of missing African American girls in the United States. In 2020, Jones founded Sankofa Summer School, a virtual Afrocentric community school for students and adults aged 14+.

Jones is also a mom, a consultant in organizational leadership, management, culture, and diversity, a mentor to young girls and women, and an outspoken advocate for the homeless, people living in poverty, and those living with psychiatric disabilities. And, Feminista loves cats.

Website: https://www.feministajones.com/
In the news: https://www.utimes.pitt.edu/news/feminista-jones-channels
YouTube sample OWN episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7ibwuakjZM

Dr. Jessica Sharp

“Authentic Leadership with the Brain in Mind”


Dr. Sharp will discuss personal values, neuroleadership, safety, and building trust through empathy. The presentation plus smaller group discussions and personal reflections will help Ridgers prioritize belonging and employee well-being in their own workplaces, through neuroscience-based organizational development.

Dr. Jessica Sharp, who uses she/her pronouns, is a sought-after leadership development consultant and speaker working to transform organizations through leadership excellence. She has a Doctorate in Leadership Psychology from William James College and a Master of Public Affairs from the University of Missouri. Jessica is living out her life’s purpose through her organization – Sharp Brain Consulting which works with organizational leaders who want to create stronger cultures.

Working to create what the late great John Lewis called good, necessary trouble, Jessica is committed to voluntarism, promoting social justice, and creating spaces for voices of those who have been historically and systematically marginalized. She is a Board Member with the Association of Junior Leagues International and the Vice President of the Houston Urban League Young Professionals. Prior to moving to Houston, Jessica volunteered at a high level with several organizations in Greenville, SC, and has received numerous awards for her service and leadership. When she’s not working, Jessica can be found learning, resting, or spending time with people in her “village” and is found on Instagram at @jessica.e.sharp.

Website: https://www.sharpbrainconsulting.com/

YouTube sample: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HVsjpu4vQw&t=8s

Benjamin Lloyd

Real. Human. Connection.


Benjamin Lloyd and his team will use applied improvisation and the Power of Play to co-create new pathways of relationship, help Ridgers build emotional intelligence and use deep listening to further develop as nimble, adaptable, authentic leaders.

Benjamin Lloyd runs bxlloyd consulting, a learning and development practice that uses the power of play and applied improvisation to support extraordinary companies, nonprofits, and communities.

One of his specialties is creative work with people with disabilities, and he has presented on that work at both global and national conferences. He is the author of several articles on creativity and spirituality through Cambridge University Press, and two books: The Deception of Surfaces, and The Actor’s Way: A Journey of Self-Discovery in Letters, published by Allworth Press in 2006.

He has acted and directed at most major theaters in Philadelphia, as well as in New York, regionally in the U.S., and in Europe.

Website: www.bxlloyd.com