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Michele Wucker            

Best-Selling Author of "The Gray Rhino", "Lockout", & "Why The Cocks Fight"

Michele Wucker is the best-selling author of THE GRAY RHINO: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore. She also is the author of LOCKOUT: Why America Keeps Getting Immigration Wrong When Our Prosperity Depends on Getting It Right and WHY THE COCKS FIGHT: Dominicans, Haitians and the Struggle For Hispaniola.

Michele received a 2007 Guggenheim Fellowship for her work on changing views of citizenship. She has been recognized as a 2009 Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, a 2008 Young Leader of the American Council on Germany. She also is a 2008 Womens Media Center Progressive Womens Voices alumna and 2010 Womens Media Center Woman Making History.

A sought-after public speaker, Michele has delivered speeches on five continents and frequently addresses global audiences about leadership and strategy, crisis management, the global economy, immigration, and citizenship. She has been a source for major U.S. and international media including The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Reuters, CNN, CNBC, Fox News, MSNBC, and National Public Radio.

In 2015, she founded Gray Rhino & Company to help leaders and organizations to identify and strategize their responses to known risks. Previously, she was Vice President of Studies at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Before that, she was President of the World Policy Institute, a New York based center for global policy thought leadership, and Publisher of World Policy Journal. In 2007, she oversaw the re-incorporation of the World Policy Institute as a free-standing organization after its separation from The New School, a New York City based university. Michele also is a former Latin America bureau chief for International Financing Review; a debt correspondent for Dow Jones Emerging Markets Report; and a general assignment reporter for the Milwaukee Sentinel.

She has written for many U.S. and Latin American publications including AmericaEconomia, CNN.com, Foreign Policy, The Guardian, Huffington Post, Internationale Politik, Newsday, The New York Time, The (New York) Observer, Texas Observer, Valor Economico, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, World Economic Forum Agenda, and World Policy Journal.

Michele holds a bachelor’s degree from Rice University. She also earned a master’s degree and certificate in Latin American studies from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, where she later became an adjunct associate professor teaching writing for international affairs. In addition, she completed a course on global leadership and public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

She is a mentor-editor for The OpEd Project and a founding member of the Border of Lights arts collective. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, PEN, and the Authors Guild, and a member of the global advisory board of Womensphere. She also is an Oxfam Sisters on the Planet Ambassador.

Speech Topics


Gray Rhino Proofing Your Future: Recognizing and Acting on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore

  • Why we neglect, downplay, or outright deny highly probable, often preventable threats — and how much these oversights cost
  • How to avoid “surprise” black swans by looking for obvious but neglected “gray rhino” risks, including common decision-making pitfalls
  • Strategies that you can apply at each of the five stages of a typical gray rhino to rethink risk and make better decisions on investments and financial planning

Beyond Kicking the Can: How to Stop Muddling and Innovate

So you know what your organization’s biggest problem is. So why isn’t it fixed? Kicking the can down the road is human nature — so much so that we often take for granted that problems will persist. But the longer we let a problem go on, the more we lose in opportunity cost and the harder the problem becomes to fix. Learn from an expert on why organizations, individuals and policy makers don’t immediately deal with obvious dangers, how to get out of your own way, and how to turn a crisis into opportunity. In this talk drawing on real-world examples, you will: * Find out why the most obvious problems often get the least attention – at high cost. * Understand how to take off your blinders to obvious but neglected problems * Learn the reasons why decision makers muddle and how to counter them * Get inspiration from stories of business and policy leaders who overcame the urge to muddle * Recognize when it’s time to recognize a problem is unsolvable * Learn to turn frustration into innovation

Demographic Gray Rhinos: Robots Meet Aging and Migration

Tectonic shifts are coming in labor markets and consumer demographics, intensified by recent technological advances in additive manufacturing and machine learning. Together, they are a crash of obvious, highly probable yet neglected “gray rhino” challenges. * By 2050, there will be just one worker for every retiree, less than a third of the current level * Pension shortfalls in the U.S. alone are roughly $20 trillion * By 2044, the United States will be a majority minority country * Close to half of U.S. jobs could be lost to automation of everything from scheduling to driving to legal and financial analysis In this provocative talk, learn about the opportunities and pitfalls that your organization faces amid shifting demographics colliding with increasing automation, and strategies for getting ahead of the game.

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