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Speaking Topics

Women’s Voices on the Editorial Pages: A Call to Action

While women are involved in every aspect of reporting the news, they are largely missing from one important area. Where are the female opinion columnists? With only a few exceptions, like the single and childless Maureen Dowd, editorial commentary – the pieces that move policy and influence leaders – is still written almost entirely by men. Former Sun-Times Page 2 columnist Debra Pickett discusses why women’s voices are still largely absent from the Op-Ed pages, why it matters and what can be done to change this.

Media Images of Africa

For many Americans, “Africa” remains an almost purely imaginary place, populated by safari animals, a few violent revolutionaries and a critical mass of starving children. Why does our perception of this vast and complex continent lag remain so removed from reality? What are the key challenges and opportunities facing those who wish to understand it better? Author Debra Pickett talks about her own experiences writing about Kenya as a journalist and fiction writer, offering lessons learned in how to more accurately portray modern African life.

Power of 40: Reinventing Yourself Before Midlife the Crisis

At 38, Debra Pickett was exhausted, overweight and working at a job that could best be described with the motto, “that which doesn’t kill you … was probably due to the client an hour ago.” At home, she found herself yelling at her kids, ignoring her husband and, too often, crying herself to sleep. This year, as she turns 40, she’s 50 pounds lighter, running road races and realizing the lifelong dream of publishing a novel. She started her own business and re-vitalized her relationship with her family. How did she do it? And, more importantly, how can you? It’s all about breaking old habits and inventing new ones.

What Journalists Can Learn from Fiction Writers (and vice versa)

After years of writing on a daily deadline for the Chicago Sun-Times, Debra Pickett left journalism behind and embarked on a career as a novelist. In this talk, she offers advice and perspective for writers of all types, based on her own experience of moving from journalist to fiction writer.

Balance is BS: Making Work Your Life and Making Your Life Work

Writer, entrepreneur and mother of three boys Debra Pickett is the first to admit that she hasn’t found that elusive “work/life” balance everyone seems to be looking for. Instead, work – the work of building a business, creating literature, and raising kids – is her life. And she wouldn’t have it any other way. In this talk, she offers thoughts for busy women on how to make their lives work by abandoning the idea of balance and striving instead for meaning.

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