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Emmy-nominated ‘Top Chef’ host Padma Lakshmi joins bbcon 2020 Virtual lineup

Tech conference for a better world also adds performance by singer-songwriter duo JOHNNYSWIM

Charleston, S.C. (September 30, 2020) Blackbaud (NASDAQ: BLKB), the world’s leading cloud software company powering social good, today announced that Emmy-nominated television host, advocate and ambassador Padma Lakshmi will address bbcon 2020 Virtual, the tech conference for a better world. Because of the impacts of COVID-19, this year’s conference takes place as a global virtual gathering Oct. 6-8 and is free for all attendees.


“Padma Lakshmi takes food, both a basic need and a catalyst for bringing people together, and challenges us to think about history, diversity and the human experience,” said Catherine LaCour, Blackbaud’s chief marketing officer. “Her work as an actress, model, host and author is steeped in advocacy, and we’re thrilled for this opportunity to hear Padma speak directly to the social good community.”

Internationally recognized for her work as a food expert, Lakshmi serves as host and executive producer of Bravo’s Emmy-winning series “Top Chef,” which earned a 2020 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program, the show’s 14th consecutive Emmy nod. She also serves as host and executive producer of the new Hulu show “Taste the Nation,” the network’s first expansion into original food programming. The half-hour series focuses on cultures that shaped American cuisine.

Lakshmi’s writing credits include “Easy Exotic,” a bestseller that won the Best First Book award at the 1999 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, and her New York Times Best-Selling food memoir “Love, Loss and What We Ate.” She is set to publish her first children’s book, “Tomatoes for Neela,” in 2021. 

In addition to being named a visiting scholar at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lakshmi serves as an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) ambassador, focusing on immigrants’ rights and women’s rights. She recently was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Program, where she will work to grow support for the U.N.’s Global Goals, including addressing inequality worldwide.

Lakshmi is the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and the Karma Award at Variety’s “Power of Women” event.

Second Special Musical Performance Added


Blackbaud also announced today a special living room performance from Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter duo JOHNNYSWIM.

Otherwise known as husband and wife Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano, JOHNNYSWIM blends soulful anthems with alternative experimentation and pop energy. The band’s 2014 breakout hit single, “Home” became the theme song to the HGTV reality television show “Fixer Upper.” Other fan favorites include “Don’t Let It Get You Down,” “First Try” and “Moonlight.” JOHNNYSWIM has performed on “Today” and “Conan” and, more recently during social distancing measures, has created a live backyard experience complete with an exclusive virtual merch table.

In its reimagined online format, bbcon 2020 Virtual has already registered over 29,000 participants. Other mainstage speakers and performers includes artist and humanitarian Amy Poehler, professor and activist Dr. Cornel West, author and researcher Marc Brackett, Ph.D., five-time Olympic veteran Dara Torres and author and founder/CEO of FRDM Justin Dillon. (Previously announced speaker Hoda Kotb is no longer able to participate due to a scheduling conflict.)

For information about bbcon 2020 Virtual and to register for the tech conference for a better world happening Oct. 6-8, visit

About Blackbaud

Blackbaud (NASDAQ: BLKB) is the world’s leading cloud software company powering social good. Serving the entire social good community—nonprofits, higher education institutions, K–12 schools, healthcare organizations, faith communities, arts and cultural organizations, foundations, companies and individual change agents—Blackbaud connects and empowers organizations to increase their impact through cloud software, services, expertise and data intelligence. The Blackbaud portfolio is tailored to the unique needs of vertical markets, with solutions for fundraising and CRM, marketing, advocacy, peer-to-peer fundraising, corporate social responsibility, school management, ticketing, grantmaking, financial management, payment processing and analytics. Serving the industry for more than three decades, Blackbaud is headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina, and has operations in the United States, Australia, Canada, Costa Rica and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.

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