Available forKeynotes, Workshops and Trainings, Virtual Presentations, Webinars, Fireside Chats, Emcee, Panelist, Moderator / Facilitator
Domestic In-Person (USA): $10,000*
International In-Person: Please inquire
* Ranges are presented as a guideline only. Speaker fees vary by engagement type and are subject to change without notice. For an exact quote, please contact Gravity Speakers.
Traveling FromChicago, IL, USA
Jennifer Brandel is an award-winning journalist, founder and organizer whose work spans journalism, civic engagement, democracy, and entrepreneurship. She’s a dynamic, sought-after keynote speaker and workshop facilitator. The process innovations she’s created have spread globally, inspiring new practices, new units in organizations and even new organizations.
Brandel began her career in journalism reporting for outlets including NPR, CBC, WBEZ, The New York Times and Vice, picking up awards along the way. After launching the most successful experimental news series in WBEZ Chicago’s history, she founded Hearken in 2015, which helps institutions better listen and respond to their stakeholders.
Hearken took home the prize for “Best Bootstrap Company” at SXSW and won the News Media Alliance Accelerator. Brandel is a recipient of the Media Changemaker Prize by the Center for Collaborative Journalism.
In 2020 & 2022 she turned her attention to journalism’s role and relationship with democracy, launching the groundbreaking collaborative called Election SOS, and furthered the journalism systems change work through creating the Democracy SOS fellowship program.
She is a Columbia Sulzberger Fellow, RSA fellow, member of the Guild of Future Architects, and was named one of 30 World-Changing Women in Conscious Business. In her hometown, Brandel co-founded Civic Exchange Chicago which brings together civic startups in a collaborative learning community.
Brandel is also co-founder of Zebra’s Unite, a global movement and network of entrepreneurs, funders, investors, and allies creating a more ethical, inclusive and collaborative ecosystem for mission-based startups.
She’s been a voice and character actor for stories on This American Life, Wiretap, and Love + Radio. For fun, she co-founded Dance Dance Party Party, a worldwide women’s only freestyle dance gathering.
Her career has included grape-picking in Tasmania, ghost-writing for the late film director John Hughes, and traveling around the country interviewing Baha’i communities for the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States.
Brandel holds a BA in Art History and certificate in Integrated Liberal Studies from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a certificate from Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, and studied at the Université de Montréal and University of Melbourne, Australia.
Much of the harm individuals face is the result of poorly designed systems. When systems are built without the benefit of feedback from all stakeholders, they are likely to have negative impacts for those who weren’t heard from when decisions were made. One critically important system that has had devastating consequences globally is the corporate finance system of the USA. For decades, it has prized shareholder value above all else, and the startup ecosystem has mutated accordingly. Jennifer Brandel started her company Hearken in the belly of the hyper-growth culture beast, Silicon Valley, but questioned the logic along the way. She and three other startup founders started dreaming and writing about an alternative model, which has now gone global. Instead of “unicorn” companies, they are building “zebras.” Jennifer will share lessons from her journey and ways to build more inclusive systems.
From Transactions to Relationships: Optimizing Trust and Revenue through Engagement
The research is in and the data is clear: Engaged journalism increases audience trust in journalists, which results in audiences being willing to financially support journalism. To achieve this shift, newsrooms must change how they relate to the public they serve. Jennifer Brandel, engaged journalism pioneer and CEO of Hearken, will share valuable concepts and practical tips for how to shift the mentality and reality of your newsroom toward a relational model.
The Radical Acts of Asking and Listening
The best insights and ideas often happen outside the places they can be realized. Someone has a brilliant idea for a new product but lacks connections to people in that industry. Another person has a smart question for a person in power, but no ability to reach them to get answers. What if every company and institution had a way where useful insights from people outside of that organization could flow into them, be processed, and lead to action? Hearken is trying to make this possible, starting with the journalism industry. CEO and co-founder Jennifer Brandel will share her path and vision toward reimagining the assets of a news organization to be paired with the power and curiosity of the public they serve. She’ll share how with a few shifts in perspective, new potential can be unlocked and top-performing, award-winning stories can result.
Zebras Make Resistance Dazzling (Workshop)
Be unicorns? Now small-scale entrepreneurs are resisting. Meet Jennifer and Mara. The two American founders have started the zebra movement, a counterbalance to macho capitalism.
A Corner Office of One’s Own (Workshop)
When you look up “female CEO” in Google images, you come across a common trope: women – dressed like men in blazers with button up shirts and their arms crossed – trying to look serious but also accessible. What does it look like to lead as a woman? What cultural baggage are you bringing with you and ready to leave behind to step into your leadership style? This interactive workshop will help you re-center around your individuality and the gifts you bring to leading others, so you can better lead yourself.
Let’s Rethink Funding Models for Companies and Startups Alike (Workshop)
As we ask ourselves whether startups have done more harm than good, we have an opportunity to question and understand how that harm happened, and what we can do to prevent it. Companies are born from the capital they take, the corporate ownership structures they adopt, and the community they exist in and contribute to. Together, founders and investors will examine why the prevailing capital systems serve so few and co-create more aligned alternatives. We’ll define what type of support community is needed, and we’ll identify who is missing from ownership and access as wealth is created to design more inclusive structures.
- She’s the Nikola Tesla of journalism. Kristen Muller Chief Content Officer, KPCC
- We are so happy with the success of Brandel’s consulting and workshops. All of our participants expressed great satisfaction, both with the interaction and with the lively presentation. Brandel’s methodologies represent how news organizations are obliged to change in the coming years. Per C. Magnus Director of The Center for Investigative Journalism at the University of Bergen, Norway
- Zebras Unite founders @JenniferBrandel & @marazepeda blew our minds! Techfestival Copenhagen