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Posted: January 25, 2017 6:00 a.m.

Social activist against online harassment and contributor to Vanity Fair, Monica Lewinsky will speak at the eighth annual Inspiring Leadership Forum.
Social activist against online harassment and contributor to Vanity Fair, Monica Lewinsky will speak at the eighth annual Inspiring Leadership Forum. Photo courtesy of Damon Winter, The New York Times/Redux

Monica Lewinsky is a social activist in the battle against online harassment. A contributor to Vanity Fair, she addresses such topics as survival, resilience, and digital reputation.

Lewinsky’s lens for societal issues is focused by her myriad unique and profound experiences: working in government – both in the White House and the Pentagon; the investigation that resulted from her time in Washington, D.C.; involvement in media projects as both producer and subject; and her experiences as an entrepreneur and designer. She holds a degree in psychology from Lewis & Clark College (Portland, Oregon) and earned a masters degree in social psychology from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

In 2014, after a decade long self-imposed retreat from public life, Lewinsky authored an essay, titled “Shame and Survival”, for Vanity Fair in which she overlapped personal experiences and cultural observations regarding the shift towards, what Professor Nicholaus Mills calls, a “Culture of Humiliation” (June, 2014). The acclaimed piece, which received over two million unique views online and was nominated for a National Magazine Award, was an entry point for her to begin a process she describes as “taking back my narrative and giving a purpose to my past.”

Lewinsky became known to the public in 1998 when it was revealed as part of a federal investigation that she had had an intimate relationship with then President Bill Clinton. Overnight, at just 24 years old, she went from being a private individual to a globally public figure. Being at the center of a legal, political and media maelstrom nearly destroyed her; her survival – despite the odds – is a compelling and inspiring story.

The investigation unfolded against a backdrop of a changing media landscape with the advent of both competing 24-hour News Networks and the Internet. With the birth of social media in recent years, Lewinsky saw the increasing proliferation of the perpetuation of shame and humiliation online. As someone who had experienced both, on the widest scale and at a young age, she saw that she could participate in the public discourse about online harassment and work to effect change.

In October, 2014, Lewinsky gave a speech about the Internet’s reputation shredder at the Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit where she spoke from the perspective of being Patient Zero – having been the first person to have her reputation completely destroyed online. This well received and widely watched speech launched her present day speaking career.

In March, 2015, she was a speaker at the annual TED Conference, the theme of which was “Truth and Dare”. Her speech, “The Price of Shame” was viewed nearly 10 million times since release.

Lewinsky is one of three keynote speakers who will appear at the University of Regina’s annual Inspiring Leadership Forum.

The Forum is an opportunity for people from Saskatchewan and beyond to hear the inspirational stories of internationally renowned leaders.  This year’s theme is: The Strength Within. Keynote speakers, including Lewinsky, will share how they found the strength to overcome adversity and pursue their dreams.

Now in its eighth year, the Inspiring Leadership Forum takes place on March 8, 2017. To register for this signature event, visit: /3da/external/inspiringleadership/registration/index.html

Read complete biographies of the 2017 keynote speakers and follow us on Twitter @UofRinspire.