Get to Know Your Catalyst Speakers
Catalyst is an event packed with excitement for everyone attending Phi Theta Kappa’s international convention, and one of the most exciting parts of attending is getting to listen to the keynote speakers.
President and CEO Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner and Co-International Presidents Keziah Christie Ancheta and Dayriana Sanders will be familiar faces for many attendees. However, PTK is also welcoming two speakers from outside the PTK family to speak at convention. Although, you’ll likely recognize them too. This year’s Catalyst Keynote Speakers are Academy Award-winning actor Geena Davis and former 8-year NFL veteran and All-American linebacker for the University of Notre Dame Manti Te’o!
Before we hear them speak at convention, let’s get to know them a little better.
Geena Davis has played many roles throughout her life: journalist Veronica Quaife in The Fly, deceased Barbara Maitland in Beetlejuice, Thelma in Thelma and Louise, baseball star Dottie Hinson in A League of Their Own, mouse-mom Eleanor Little in Stuart Little, and President Mackenzie Allen in Commander in Chief to name a few.
However, she is preparing for her next and perhaps most exciting role yet as one of PTK’s 2023 Catalyst Speakers!
Geena Davis’s personal philosophy is: “If a human being can do it, I can do it.” Her résumé is proof of that.
She is an Academy Award-winning actor, a world-class archer (having once competed at Olympic qualifiers), a talented pumpkin carver, a member of the genius society Mensa, a newly published author, and a tireless activist.
Additionally, after noticing the disparity between female and male characters in children’s media, she decided to run the numbers. Finding that her observations were correct, she took her findings to the makers of children’s entertainment. Afterward, she created the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, a non-profit that conducts research and offers insights into onscreen biases in family media and entertainment.
Geena Davis is also the Chair of the Bentonville Film Festival. Its mission is to “influence mainstream media to immediately increase diversity in the content that is produced because if they can see it, they can be it.” The BFFoundation promotes underrepresented voices of diverse storytellers. The foundation works alongside the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. They conduct research and education on creating change in how gender and diversity are reflected in media and entertainment.
If you are interested in learning more about Geena Davis, read her memoir. It is called Dying of Politeness: A Memoir, and in it she writes about her life and career.
Manti Te’o is a former 8-year NFL veteran and All-American linebacker for the University of Notre Dame. He garnered national attention during his collegiate career playing football. In his final college season, he went on to finish 2nd in the Heisman Trophy race. He also led the team to a national championship appearance.
Now, he is taking the stage as one of the Catalyst Keynote Speakers.
While in college, Te’o faced adversity when it was discovered that his girlfriend, who he had thought had died, had never actually existed. While Manti Te’o thought he was dating Lennay Kekua, a Stanford student, he was being deceived and catfished.
It turned his life upside down. He went from being one of the most admired college football players to being viewed with suspicion and derision.
Te’o had to learn the importance of being yourself and maintaining faith and self-esteem in the face of adversity.
Despite the challenges he faced, Te’o went on to be drafted into the NFL in the second draft round and continued his NFL career for eight years.
Over time he also learned to make peace and forgive the person who deceived him.
Te’o was also determined to let go of his shame over the incident. This led him to tell his story in the Netflix documentary Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist.
Now, a retired NFL free agent, Te’o has married and had two children. He was also recently inducted into the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame.
Register to see Geena Davis and Manti Te’o at Catalyst 2023!