Hi, I’m Deborah Westphal
I’m one of the lucky ones. My professional life and my personal life are a single, unified experience. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why Convergence came to be. I’m a bit of a raconteur — a life-long learner who has worked in the military sector and the private sector, and who is as comfortable in blue-chip boardrooms as innovation labs.
I’m honored you’re here.
I moved for the first time when I was five. My dad moved us around a lot. It was just what people did. It’s what I still do. Everywhere I’ve gone, I experience how connected the world is. Parents try to make ends meet and set up the next generation to be better than their own. Young students seek opportunities to learn. Societies document their history in an attempt to preserve their identity.
Our world is changing faster by the moment. Information and ideas spread at an accelerating and alarming pace. And each decision has the power to impact countless outcomes. Through my work and in my personal life, I’ve experienced these realities. You have too. We’re in this together.
My work and travels have taken me to every continent except one (Australia). Everywhere I’ve had the fortune to visit has shown me more of myself through the experience of connecting with others. Regardless of place or language, people of every age and rank share fundamental human spirit and curiosity about the future.
I am, above all else, a passionate humanist.
I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside my heroes and the honor of guiding our era’s top minds and leaders to see and pursue the future with a sense of realistic caution and optimism.
I began my lifelong connection with innovation and the future as a civilian in the United States Air Force. Over 12 years, I worked with small teams to innovate and engineer technology-centered solutions, and worked as a Deputy Director responsible for connecting the future of commercial space to that of society at large.
It was through that role that I met Alvin Toffler, a world-renowned futurist and best-selling author of Future Shock, The Third Wave, and other formative books. He and his wife Heidi were the most fundamentally humanist people I’ve ever known. He launched his eponymous consulting firm, Toffler Associates, in 1996. In 1999, I joined Alvin as one of the first members of the firm, and served as the firm's CEO from 2007 through 2018. Since that time, I have contributed my experience and knowledge as a member of the board.
Working with people and ideas from every corner of the globe and every sector, I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside some of the most impactful leaders in business and government. While each situation was unique, fundamentally, everyone was seeking the same thing — to understand the fundamental realities of change and build resilience for the future.
I have provided future-focused consulting to organizations including Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Marriott, U.S. Air Force, Baxter International, Bayer, Heinz, The Boeing Company, Microsoft, Koppers, PPG, DARPA, Department of Homeland Security, National Security Agency (NSA), Loral Space Systems, NASA, CSX, Verizon, IBM and Westinghouse.
For more than six years, I was a member of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine Air Force Studies Board (AFSB). Since 2019, I’ve served as a consultant for the Karen Toffler Charitable Trust and in various capacities on the board for Toffler Associates, including chairman.
I am an active speaker who has presented perspectives on human-centric leading to numerous organizations. I have authored hundreds of short-form essays and blogs, numerous talks, and the Foreword for After Shock, a collection of future-focused essays.