A Campus of the California State University


Web Content Display Web Content Display

Keynote Speakers

We are pleased to welcome two inspirational women, who will serve as keynote speakers for our First Annual Pearls of Power Women's Conference.

Friday Keynote Speaker 

Captain Deborah Dempsey
Columbia River Bar Pilot

It has been said that Friday's Keynote Speaker, Captain Deborah Dempsey, has salt water in her veins and is definitely more comfortable afloat than ashore. She was among the first women to attend and graduate from a state maritime academy. A 1976 graduate of Maine Maritime Academy, she was one of the first women to serve as Commanding Officer of a cargo ship on international waters. She writes about her experiences working in a traditionally male environment in her book The Captain's a Woman, which she co-wrote with Joanne Foster.  Debbie comes from community sailing programs on the mouth of the Connecticut River. She is a lifelong professional mariner whose non-traditional career has been documented in film, books, and in numerous articles. Debbie has also received numerous awards. She now works as a pilot on the notorious Columbia River Bar. Her passion lies in helping at the Community Boating Center, a non-profit she helped found in 2006 in Bellingham, Washintgon. 

Saturday Keynote Speaker

Sara Laschever
Author, Women and the Power of Negotiation: Learning to Ask

Sara Laschever has spent her career investigating the obstacles, detours, and special circumstances that shape women’s lives and careers. She has written extensively about women in literature and the arts, women in the sciences, women in academia, and women in business. Her work has been published in The New York Times, The Harvard Business Review, The New York Review of Books, Vogue, Glamour, and many other publications. She has taught writing at Boston University and served as a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Work-Life Policy, a nonprofit think tank devoted to exploring the issues that matter most to women at work.

Sara worked as a research associate and principal interviewer for Project Access, a landmark Harvard University study funded by the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, and the Bunting Foundation. Project Access explored impediments to women’s careers in science—the hindrances, both external and internal, that prevent women from rising to the tops of their fields. 

Sara also co-authored two ground-breaking books about women and negotiation with the economist Linda Babcock, Women Don’t Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation—and Positive Strategies for Change; and Ask for It! How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want. She is frequently cited in the national and international media as an expert on the persistence of the wage gap, women and conflict resolution, work-life balance issues, and the multiple factors influencing women’s long-term career success.