About Kate


Hello. My name is Kate and I write things. Often. As TED's staff writer, I edit the TED Blog, where I peel back the curtain on TED's inside workings and share the amazing things happening in our global community. I also write many of the stories you see in our online magazine, Ideas.TED.com, and create headlines and blurbs for talks. To contact with me with a comment or story tip, please write me at kate (at) ted (dot) com. As a journalist, I am continually fascinated by people and their passions. I've written about bike polo diehards and karaoke regulars as a reporter for The New York Times, and female cab drivers and professional roadies as an associate editor at Jane Magazine. My articles have also appeared in Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, The New York Observer, Glamour, Page Six Magazine and many other publications. My book, CHEER!: Inside the Secret World of College Cheerleaders, was heralded as a "a spirited, fascinating, at times disturbing and always absorbing book" by Joyce Carol Oates and as “a fist-pumping, Astroturf-banging tribute to the women and men who make up the in-world of competitive college cheerleading,” by The New York Post. The book was the inspiration for The CW series, Hellcats, for which I served as a consulting producer. Overall, my writing is fueled by a general curiosity for what is, and a sense of awe for human beings and their quirks.

TED Conferences

TEDWomen 2015, TED2015, TED2014, TEDWomen 2013, TEDGlobal 2013, TED2013

An idea worth spreading

That absolutely everyone has a story that could not only help you see inside their world, but help you better understand your own.

I'm passionate about

TED, listening to people's stories, chocolate, penguins and seas turtles

Talk to me about

The big challenge in your work — or life — that is often on your mind.

People don't know I'm good at

I bake a mean pecan pie and can solve a Rubik's Cube in 1 minute and 50 seconds. Or at least, did once at Rubik's Cubing Nationals.

Favorite talks

Comments & conversations

Kate Torgovnick May
Posted over 2 years ago
Join TED Speakers John Bohannon and Carl Flink Monday, 12/17 to delve into the super-awkward world of "The Facts of Life"!
I have an awkward "Fact of Life" story for you! When I was in 5th grade (this was 1992, I believe), I had the awkward experience of being in a sex ed class composed of mostly girls, but taught by a male teacher. On the day our syllabus read "menstruation," he couldn't bring himself to talk. So instead, he showed a film strip! A really, really old film strip -- from the 1970s if not earlier. In the film strip, a women demonstrated how to use a "menstrual pad belt," a horrible looking metal device that one fitted a sanitary napkin onto and clamped around her hips. Every girl in my class had a look of utter horror on her face as she watched the demonstration. As an early developer, who had already started getting me period, I had to speak up. I swallowed every once of pride and raised my hand, and let the class that this was horribly outdated and that really, you just stick a pad onto your panties—no metal belt needed. Every female face in the room looked relieved. I wonder what other misinformation the girls in my class received being taught by someone not of our gender who seemed terrified by the idea of talking about any of this stuff in the first place.
Kate Torgovnick May
Posted almost 3 years ago
What were you like as a teenager?
When I was a teenager, I needed a lot of attention. This meant having bright blue hair and wearing the most outlandish things I could find -- bonus points if it was sparkly. I once found a very '80s wedding dress in a thrift shop ... and wore it to school. It definitely took me until my 20s to realized I shined for being an interesting, smart, kind person rather than becoming a caricature.