Opening General Session

Thursday, November 21               
8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Orange County Convention Center, 415ABCD (Valencia Ballroom) 

The popular Opening General Session brings everyone together to celebrate the speech, language, and hearing professional community and to kick off the ASHA Convention. You'll be welcomed by ASHA President Shari Robertson, who will share her insights about the state of the discipline. Then, Convention Co-Chairs Laurie Sterling and Jessica Sullivan will preview what’s in store for you in Orlando this year—including special sessions, new events, and other not-to-be-missed activities. This year, we welcome special guest Steve Pemberton as keynote speaker to inspire you to “Imagine More.”

Steve Pemberton endured a tumultuous childhood in which he was an orphan who was subsequently placed into foster care. Despite suffering abuse and neglect in his foster parents’ home, a kind neighbor instilled in him a love of reading that would fuel the hope and perseverance he needed to imagine a better life for himself. His memoir, A Chance in the World: An Orphan Boy, a Mysterious Past, and How He Found a Place Called Home—which is now a major motion picture titled A Chance in the World—tells the story of his childhood, his search for his birth parents, and how he overcame his traumatic past to go on to attend Boston College.

Despite his disadvantaged past, Mr. Pemberton found remarkable success in several executive positions at high-profile organizations, including Walgreens and, and currently serves as Chief Human Resources Officer for Globoforce. In his corporate leadership roles, he has focused on the value of increasing diversity and inclusion to improve outcomes. He believes that his past gave him the drive to imagine more for the future and imparted to him the gift of envisioning leadership differently.

Mr. Pemberton is now passionate about creating opportunities for disadvantaged youth. He has served as a volunteer leader for various organizations and established The Pemberton Fund for the Future at The Home for Little Wanderers to provide help and guidance to children aging out of foster care. He also established the foundation, A Chance in the World, which supports aspiring youth in their efforts to reach their goals. His charitable achievements have earned him national recognition, including the Trumpet Award and the prestigious Horizon Award by the United States Congress.

Drawing strength from adversity, Mr. Pemberton has made equality, access, and opportunity key tenets that guide both his professional and personal life. He will encourage you to believe in your dreams, rise above obstacles, create opportunities for others, and, most of all, persevere. In short, he will challenge you to imagine more.

Join us on Thursday morning for an inspiring and uplifting Opening General Session. This event kicks off the ASHA Convention and will get you enthused and excited about the next 3 days!

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About ASHA

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for members and affiliates who are audiologists, speech-language pathologists, speech, language, and hearing scientists, audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel, and students.

About the Convention

The ASHA Convention is one of the largest professional development events for audiologists; speech-language pathologists; and speech, language, and hearing scientists. Bringing together approximately 15,000 attendees, the annual Convention offers more than 2,500 sessions eligible for ASHA continuing education credit covering the latest research, clinical skills, and techniques in communication sciences and disorders.

Contact Us

For inquiries about the ASHA Convention:

The ASHA Action Center welcomes questions and requests for information from members and non-members.

Available 8:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m. ET

Members: 800-498-2071
Non-Member: 800-638-8255

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