Honorary Award Recipient: Molly Burke

Molly Burke is a speaker, content creator, model, author, and advocate who has a combined social media following of over 4 million. At four years old, Molly was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a rare degenerative eye disease, causing eventual blindness. She began public speaking at the age of five to raise awareness for her community — not realizing this passion would one day become her career.

Losing the majority of her vision at age fourteen, she faced harsh bullying and struggled with her mental health. Molly not only overcame these hardships, but she turned her pain into purpose— bringing her voice to speak at places like the United Nations and the World Economic Forum in Davos. Seeing the impact of her message, she decided to take her story to social media where there was a clear gap in representation. Molly helped pioneer a space for the disability community online, being the first blind content creator to hit one million followers on social media.

Public speaking throughout her childhood, Molly began touring the world full time as a professional speaker when she was 18. Speaking to audiences as large as 20,000, Molly has spoken alongside fellow changemakers like Malala, Greta Thunberg, Justin Trudeau, Martin Luther King III, and Richard Branson. Her inspiring message is one of resilience and hope that has been heard by hundreds of thousands of people on stages across the globe.

Beginning her social media journey as a viewer at 14, she always knew that she wanted to build a safe space online for people who didn’t feel heard or seen. It wouldn’t be until six years later that she found the confidence to post her first video to YouTube, and she has since gone on to collaborate with fellow creators like Charlie D’Amelio, Casey Neistat, the Dolan Twins, and Lilly Singh, to name a few. Many Fortune 500 companies, like Unilever, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Starbucks and P&G, turn to Molly to elevate brand awareness and create fun and engaging content featuring their products. Molly’s audience comes to her platforms for their daily dose of honesty and enlightenment.

Growing up dreaming of being a model but recognizing the exclusive nature of the industry, Molly’s dreams were first realized when she appeared as the global face of Dove, as both a print and commercial model. She has since gone on to appear in an Oscars commercial for Samsung, be a “Real Role Model” for Aerie by American Eagle, and walk in LA Fashion Week for Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive. While the mainstream media and fashion industry has been slow to embrace diversity and inclusion, Molly is determined to move the industry forward. Named to Allure’s A List in 2022 as one of 19 individuals who are driving and shaping the future of beauty, Molly has since worked with beauty brands from Estée Lauder, to No7 and Too Faced.

Molly is frequently interviewed by national and international press including the Wall Street Journal, Allure, People, Elle, Success and Forbes in addition to broadcast appearances on shows including NBC Today, Fox Business, NPR and CBC. In 2022 Molly appeared on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, a longtime fan of Molly’s work, followed by an appearance on the Rachael Ray Show in January 2023.

In 2019, Molly’s debut book “It’s Not What it Looks Like” was released on Audible. Molly chose to release the book in an audio only format to flip the script on the way that books are traditionally consumed. Growing up as an avid reader with limited audiobook options, Molly wanted to force readers to have a similar experience by only giving the audio option, inviting people into the world of how she reads. This creates an intimate experience between the listener and Molly as she narrates short stories from her life experiences. This NY Times best selling audio journey will make listeners laugh, cry, and learn.

One thing is true throughout all of Molly's work– she is a passionate advocate and ally for minority communities. Whether it's through consulting on accessibility for companies like Meta and Google, or through helping government agencies create better policies and legislation for the rights of service dog users, Molly is a strong force pushing the needle forward to true diversity and inclusion. Molly can provide great insights on industries ranging from fashion, beauty and marketing to technology and media.

Molly Burke leads from a place of authenticity and vulnerability — a relatable approach that balances wit and sass with knowledgeable empathy. Her work bridges gaps in society and gives a voice to historically underrepresented communities. Molly’s impact has empowered people to accept, overcome, and create change.