Meet Our Speakers

Keynote Speaker

Melanie Whelan, CEO of SoulCycle stands for a portrait at the Greenwich SoulCycle in Manhattan, NY on September 19, 2016. CREDIT: Caitlin Ochs for the Wall Street Journal.

Melanie Whelan is the Chief Executive Officer of SoulCycle. Melanie was appointed CEO of the company in June 2015 and in this role, oversees all aspects of the SoulCycle business. During her tenure, Melanie has driven SoulCycle’s successful growth with a focus on innovation and hospitality. She has increased the company’s geographic footprint to more than 85 studios in 14 markets across the U.S. and Canada. Prior to her role as CEO, Melanie served as Chief Operating Officer for the brand from 2012.

Before joining SoulCycle, Melanie was Vice President of Business Development at Equinox, where she was responsible for developing and executing brand and business extension initiatives. Prior, she also held leadership positions at Virgin USA and Starwood Hotels and Resorts. Melanie has been named one of Fortune‘s 40 Under 40, Crain’s New York 40 Under 40, and Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business. She is also on the board of the GO Project, a nonprofit that serves academically struggling elementary and middle public school students in New York City. Melanie graduated from Brown University with a degree in Engineering and Economics. Melanie lives in New York City, and when not spending time with her husband and two children, she can usually be found riding at SoulCycle.


Clare Bresnahan English works and lives in Washington, DC, where she has dedicated her career to increasing women and girls’ representation through advocacy, political engagement, and social change efforts. Clare joined She Should Run in 2012 as the Programs Director and now as Executive Director, she is responsible for directing the organization’s programs and initiatives that expand the pipeline of America’s future women elected leaders.  She launched her career changing the landscape for women and girls’ leadership at the Girl Scouts of the USA Public Policy and Advocacy Office in 2008. Clare led GSUSA’s legislative and public affairs strategies for advancing the girl perspective in youth policy issues.  She graduated with a Master in Public Management at Johns Hopkins University and graduated in 2008 from American University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, Law, Economics, and Government. While Clare loves the national work she leads in DC, she is a proud Midwest native who hails from Cincinnati, Ohio.

New Endeavors by Women (NEW) Executive Director Wanda Steptoe has more than 20 years of experience working in various residential settings, including group homes for adolescents and adults with developmental disabilities, and has extensive experience in capacity building, supervision, quality assurance, and compliance monitoring for federal, state, and accreditation standards and regulations. Before coming to work with NEW in 2005, Ms. Steptoe worked at Covenant House Washington, where she established a crisis center and transitional living program for youth who were homeless. Under Ms. Steptoe’s leadership, New Endeavors has realized significant growth and expanded its service capacity with the addition of three family housing programs. In addition to her program development, administration, management, monitoring and evaluation experience, Wanda Steptoe brings a strong personal drive to her work with NEW. Ms. Steptoe holds a degree in Special Education from Old Dominion University.


Abby Livingston joined the Texas Tribune in 2014 as the publication’s first Washington Bureau Chief. In this role, she won the 2017 National Press Club Award for Washington Regional Reporting. Previously, she covered political campaigns, House leadership, and Congress for Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper. A seventh-generation Texan, Abby graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. She grew up in Fort Worth and has appeared in an episode of “The Bold and The Beautiful.” Abby pitched and produced political segments for CNN and worked as an editor for The Hotline, National Journal’s campaign tipsheet. Abby began her journalism career as a desk assistant at NBC News in Washington, working her way up to the political unit, where she researched stories for Nightly News, the Today Show, and Meet the Press.