x = independently organized TED event

Theme: Get Your Fix

This event occurred on
May 10, 2011
9:00am - 5:00pm PDT
(UTC -7hrs)
San Diego, CA
United States

All around San Diego, technology is being innovated, humanitarian leaders are making real change in people’s lives, and a thriving community of artists and designers are waiting for their chance to speak. TEDxAFC wants to give them that chance, and better yet – give people a chance to hear what they have to say. Our speakers are locals inspired by what they do – with a unique ability to inspire others.

TEDxAmericasFinestCity is a self-organized, invitation-only event featuring a fast-paced afternoon of rapid-fire simulation and thought-provoking content. And true to the format of the TED conference, TEDxAmericasFinestCity presenters give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes or less.

Scripps Seaside Forum
8610 Kennel Way, La Jolla, CA 92037
San Diego, CA
United States
See more ­T­E­Dx­Americas­Finest­City events


Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Larry Rosenstock

Larry Rosenstock is CEO and founding principal of High Tech High, a network of innovative and high-achieving charter schools and is President of the High Tech High Graduate School of Education in California. As the former director of the New Urban High School Project, (an effort funded by the U.S. Department of Education to find and describe new models for urban high schools) Larry Rosenstock and his team created three design principles they found common in successful urban high schools. These design principles are personalization, real-world connection, and common intellectual mission. High Tech High is the first school in the country to be designed based on those principles. Larry and his work as an educational entrepreneur and innovator have been featured on Oprah, Lehrer, Newsweek, and Forbes. He is a winner of the Ford Foundation Innovations in State and Local Government Award, is an Ashoka Fellow, and has won the McGraw Prize in Education

Serge Dedina

Serge Dedina is the author of Wild Sea: Eco-Wars and Surf Stories from the Coast of the Californias and Saving the Gray Whale. He is the co-founder and Executive Director of WiLDCOAST/COSTASALVAjE, an international organization that conserves coastal and marine ecosystems and wildlife. Since 1980, Serge has dedicated most of his time to protecting the coastal wildlands of the Californias. He has successfully worked with fishing communities and grassroots organizations on both sides of the Mexico-U.S. border to preserve more than 1.8 million acres of globally significant coastal and marine habitats. The Surf Industry Manufacturer’s Association named Serge the “Environmentalist of the Year” in 2003 for his work to protect the coastline of Baja California. In 2009 he received the San Diego Zoological Society’s Conservation Medal. The California Coastal Commission and Sunset Magazine awarded Serge the “Coastal Hero” award in 2009 in recognition of his conservation work. Serge holds a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Texas at Austin. He received his Master’s degree in Geography from the University of Wisconsin and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of California-San Diego.

James Brown

Excerpt from “Designing Dignity,” San Diego CityBeat, Dec 15, 2010 by Kinsee Morlan. When James Brown was in his 20s, he walked, on a whim, from his house in San Diego to Tecate, Mexico. Including a quick stop in La Mesa to bowl, the trek took 48 hours. Brown’s drawn to Mexico, but that isn’t really why he got involved in the redesign of Friendship Park, the plaza inside Border Field State Park in San Ysidro, where the United States ends and Mexico begins. His interest in the highly politicized plot of land began in 2008 in Cambridge, Mass., when he was awarded the Loeb Fellowship and spent a year of independent study at Harvard. Those 12 months were the first time in a long time that Brown, who runs Public Architecture with his partner James Gates, had time to take a step back. “The program really challenged me to think,” the soft-spoken Brown says. “I didn’t feel like I’d done much to help my city, as a leader, especially. I’ve done some great buildings, some great art and furniture…. But I wanted to try.”

Scott H. Silverman

President / Proud Founder – Second Chance Scott H. Silverman is the author of Tell Me No, I Dare You: A Guide for Living a Heroic Life. Scott is both locally and nationally recognized as a leader in the field of workforce development. He has received numerous awards and honors including recently being named “CNN Hero of the Week” and the City of San Diego honored him by selecting February 19 as “Scott Silverman Day” for his contributions to the community. He is the President and Founder of Second Chance, a human services agency that is committed to breaking the cycle of unemployment, poverty, and homelessness by offering job readiness training, employment placement assistance, mental health counseling, case management, and affordable housing referrals to people who desire to change their lives. Over the past 15 years Second Chance has assisted more than 24,000 economically disadvantaged and homeless persons in San Diego gain employment and leave poverty, gang affiliations, and crime.

Dr. Mimi Guarneri

Dr. Mimi Guarneri Co-founder / Medical Director – Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine Board-certified in cardiology, internal medicine, nuclear medicine and holistic medicine, Dr. Guarneri is a co-founder and the medical director of the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine. Dr. Guarneri was an English Literature major as an undergraduate at New York University. Her medical degree is from SUNY Medical Center in New York, where she graduated number one in her class. Dr. Guarneri served her internship and residency at Cornell Medical Center, where she later became chief medical resident. She served cardiology fellowships at both New York University Medical Center and Scripps Clinic. Dr. Guarneri served as an attending in interventional cardiology at Scripps Clinic, where she placed thousands of coronary stents. Recognizing the need for a more comprehensive and more holistic approach to cardiovascular disease, she pioneered the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, where she uses state-of-the-art cardiac imaging technology and lifestyle change programs to aggressively diagnose, prevent and treat cardiovascular disease. She is a fellow member of the American College of Cardiology, Alpha Omega Alpha, the American Medical Women’s Association, and a diplomat of the American Board of Holistic Medicine. Dr. Guarneri has authored several articles that have appeared in professional journals such as the Journal of Echocardiography and the Annals of Internal Medicine. Dr. Guarneri participated as a member of the writing committee for the American College of Cardiology Foundation Complementary Medicine Expert Consensus Document. Recently she served on the Institute of Medicine Summit for Integrative Medicine. Dr. Guarneri is the Chair of the Bravewell Clinical Network for Integrative Medicine. On March 27, 2009 the ARCS Foundation, Inc., honored Dr. Guarneri as the San Diego Chapter’s Scientist of the Year.

Howard Blackson

As a Principal & Director of Planning, for PlaceMakers, Howard’s approach to coding allows jurisdictions to design for social, economic, and physical complexity at the neighborhood scale. His current work formulating local development models to leverage economic value engages the California redevelopment debate, mollifying reactive NIMBY fears through an explicit “architecture of community.” A native San Diegan with 20-years of professional urban design experience, Howard is working toward continuing our city’s pivotal role in redefining our nation’s built environment over the last century. From Goodhue’s inventive Spanish Colonial Revival classicism in 1915; to the Federal Housing Authority’s unveiling of subsidized suburban sprawl in 1935; to the triumphant return of mixed-use villages as demonstrated by the Uptown District in 1986, the future of how we build our communities is once again being drawn in San Diego. Howard believes planning means more than just the organization of infrastructure. It’s the art of the process that results in the places we love the most — and that hold the greatest value over time.

Grant Barrett

Grant Barrett Lexicographer / Co-host – Public Radio’s A Way With Words He is a lexicographer specializing in slang and new words, a journalist, and an editor. Grant Barrett is also co-host and co-producer of the nationwide language-related public radio show A Way with Words, which is independently produced and distributed by a nonprofit in San Diego. He’s also engagement editor (a new-fangled op-ed editor) for the nonprofit Voice of San Diego, an innovative source for analysis and investigative journalism. He has worked as a lexicographer for Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and Collins, and compiled and edited the “Official Dictionary of Unofficial English” (2006, McGraw-Hill) and the “Oxford Dictionary of American Political Slang” (2004, Oxford University Press). He’s written on language for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Malaysia Star, the academic journal American Speech, the professional journal Copyediting, and other publications. He serves as an officer of the American Dialect Society, an organization devoted to the study of English in North America. Though born and raised in Missouri, Grant has lived at length in New York City, Paris, and the U.S. Virgin Islands and now lives in sunny California, with his wife—also a linguist/lexicographer—and their son.

David Lecours

Creative Coach / Designer David Lecours uses his graphic design office as as a laboratory to discover the core of creativity. In sharing his findings, he teaches using innovative and interactive approaches to help others unlock their own creative and personal marketing potential via seminars and long-term creative coaching. His highly organized, multimedia approach to mentoring leaves his students with practical goals and steps to realize their creative potential in all endeavors, personal and professional. David uses his powers for good to help people overcome their creative kryptonite, discover the importance of ritual, be guided by intuition, and embrace failure as an essential step in the creative process. Failure, as David puts it, is like spinach for Popeye: it doesn’t kill us and only makes us stronger. David is a member of two Toastmaster Clubs and served as Marketing Chair of the U.S. Green Building Council San Diego Chapter. He is actively involved as a speaker and emcee for The San Diego Architectural Foundation’s ongoing Pecha Kucha Night. He is married and also loves surfing, pickleball and practicing yoga in his hometown of Encinitas.

Xavier Leonard

(Information and Communications Technology) Activist Xavier Leonard works to foster multimedia development and technology-training programs to bridge the gap between the physical world and technology. He founded FAB LAB San Diego in 2007 – a collaboration between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his own non-profit organization, Heads On Fire. FAB LAB is an advanced digital design and fabrication laboratory where community members can utilize high-tech tools to actualize ideas through design and fabrication. In 2010, he created Designers for Humanity, a model for delivering open-source distributed invention aimed at fostering innovation and providing engineering solutions for community-specific problems. Leonard has spoken on the deployment of technology to empower and develop communities at the United Nations’ World Summit; the Air Jaldi Summit on Wireless Technologies, the International Summit for Community Wireless Networks; the Nonprofit Technology Network Conference; and the Community Technology Center Network Conference. He has been honored as a Z-Fellow of the Zero Divide Foundation, an Ideas Institute Fellow of the MIT Media Lab, and a TEC Champion by the United States Congress.

Jeffrey Church

Founder / CEO – Nika Water Mr. Church founded NIKA Water Company three years ago. Nika is a social enterprise that donates 100% of its profits to clean water projects and poverty alleviation projects around the world. Since its short existence, NIKA has completed water well and school projects in Sri Lanka, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Nicaragua and San Diego. Mr. Church speaks passionately and often about social entrepreneurship and how sustainability through a triple bottom line approach is a key towards ending societal problems and challenges. He has spoken recently at the Georgetown McDonough School of Business, the University of San Diego, Harvard College (where he is an alumnus), and Wellesley College, University of Southern California School of Business on subjects including; leadership, finding your passion and the coming wave of social entrepreneurship.

Paula Brock

CFO – Zoological Society of San Diego Paula Brock is the chief financial officer of the Zoological Society of San Diego (ZSSD), Board member of the SDSU Research Foundation, and Treasurer of the International Species Information System (ISIS) Board of Trustees. Ms. Brock has been with ZSSD since June 2001, where she has been instrumental in strategic planning concepts that help to foster research and development in biomimicry – nature’s best ideas translated into smart and sustainable technology. “Nature is our biggest and best R&D library, with 3.8 billion years of evolutionary research,” says Brock. “As stewards of the plants and animals, we want to make our extensive knowledge of them available to inspire sustainable solutions for the thorniest problems.” Biomimicry offers the hope that nature’s exhaustive catalog of evolution-tested examples contains environmentally friendly answers for every design and engineering challenge on earth, enough to transform industry and save the planet.

Capt. Bernardo

Founder / CEO – LEHR Inc. (Environmentally Friendly Technology) Captain Bernardo J. Herzer is an entrepreneur and inventor with a deep passion for helping the environment. He is the life force behind LEHR Incorporated. Founded in 2004, LEHR is dedicated to a cleaner planet through environmentally friendly technology. Inspired by Captain Herzer’s passion and commitment, the current slate of LEHR’s research is focused on the use of clean burning propane to power small engines in lawn and garden equipment. Bernardo J. Herzer is a licensed ship’s captain who has logged more than 40,000 nautical miles while traveling to every corner of the globe. While completing environmental research in the North Sea, Captain Herzer saw firsthand the devastating effects the commercial fishing industry has had on the ocean’s underwater terrain. Searching for a way to make a positive impact on the environment, Captain Herzer began researching ways to effectively commercialize small generators to run on clean-burning propane. At the same time, Captain Herzer discovered that gasoline-powered lawn and garden tools produce up to thirty times more hydrocarbons than a typical automobile emits in an hour. So, once the technology was established and the patent applications were filed, LEHR began working on developing a complete line of propane-powered lawn and garden tools. With more than 25 years experience in successful business operations, Captain Herzer has managed companies in many market sectors, including real estate, financial, technology, import/export, and the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry. His past leadership roles include CEO/owner of a financial services/portfolio management group. Captain Herzer previously owned a business in Argentina that harvested and produced marine algae (sea kelp) for pharmaceutical, veterinary, nutra-ceutical and cosmetic products for domestic and worldwide export. In addition to his stewardship of LEHR, Captain Bernardo J. Herzer is an editor-at-large of Ocean Realm Journal. He lives and works in Southern California and enjoys spending time with family and of course, his first love, the sea.

Bill Wesley

Inventor / Musician – Array Orchestra Bill Wesley was born into a family of scientists, artists, and writers. In this lively intellectual atmosphere, he began to produce shows featuring live musical composition and live visual animation. To facilitate better sound and light in these shows he designed various new types of instrumentation. In this spirit the Array System of note arrangement was conceived. Because of this unique musical arrangement, the experience of playing an Array instrument is that less shifting around of movement is required for playing all chord progressions. With multiple duplications of all notes available, complex voicing of notes are also within reach – allowing the player to access the same notes with each hand in different locations similar to four hands on two pianos. Bill Wesley has invented and manufactured with Patrick Hadley, a wide variety of Array instruments right here in San Diego. These include the Array Mbira, two types of Array MIDI Controllers, the Array Nail Violin, the Array Rasp, the Array Drum, the Array Rhythm Machine, the Array Guitar, the Array Psaltry, and the Array Vina.

transcenDANCE Youth Arts Project

transcenDANCE Youth Arts Project empowers young people to mobilize social change through Performance Arts based community-building, leadership, and service – and a belief that art is not only a privilege, but a necessity of life. Being a creative person fosters self-awareness, connection to humanity, the ability to explore possibilities, think critically, and transcend self-imposed limits. The members of the performance group are drawn from City Heights – a culturally rich and disadvantaged socioeconomic community of San Diego. transcenDANCE is an opportunity for a small group of youth, ages 15-19 years, to go through intensive and meaningful training in dance and choreography, writing, and theatre. They use these art forms as vehicles of self-expression about their life experiences and hope for social change. Youth activism complements their art. They investigate community through lectures, demonstrations, photography and museum exhibits, multi-media forms, and anything else that provokes questions, critical thinking, and personal to global connections. Their involvement encourages an investigation and knowingness of themselves, their values and ethics, and the strengths and challenges of living in inner-city neighborhoods.

Barbarella Fokos

Emcee / Columnist / Journalist – San Diego Reader, NBC/KNSD Barbarella is a socialite, hotel fetishist, fanatical foodie, cork dork and San Diego’s favorite columnist. Her weekly column, Diary of a Diva, has appeared in the San Diego Reader since 2004. In addition to her column, Barbarella has written several cover feature stories, and is responsible for the editor’s picks featured in Your Week and Welcome to It. Barbarella also appears regularly on NBC/KNSD News in the Morning with a segment called “Stepping Out With Barbarella,” during which she shares information and video from local events. She is also a regular guest on NPR/KPBS’s These Days, and is among the “Feasterati” on NBC’s national web site, The Feast. She has lent her public speaking talents to emcee such local events as the San Diego Indie Music Fest, Rockermoms Against Childhood Diseases and San Diego Architectural Foundation’s Orchids and Onions. When she’s not traveling for adventure, Barbarella can be found all around San Diego County where things are happening, but is most often closer to home in Hillcrest, where she lives with her partner, cohort, best friend, and hubby.

Thokozani Mabena

pointer Thokozani Mabena Designer – blokhaus Thokozani Mabena was born in Zimbabwe in 1983 to parents of Bushman and Zulu heritage. An exuberant student of his craft, Thoko (pronounced “To-ko”) started down his creative path when he was just three years old, and continued as he took full advantage of the opportunity to attend a high school that specialized in art and design. While there, he was exposed to drawing, automotive design, metalwork, and music. His academic success allowed him to secure a two year scholarship to Cape Town University in South Africa, where his achievements grew to include a side job creating architectural models for a firm in Dubai. A forced hiatus brought him to the United States on a refugee visa, where he traveled for more than two years across seven states, backpacking and selling educational materials, while learning about the art, architecture and the people of America. After earning enough money to pay for his final two years of university, Thoko completed his degree and then returned to the U.S. permanently in 2006. Thoko’s goal is to push the limits of design in architecture from concept to finish – exploring what connects the built environment with transportation and sustainable design. Through this exploration, he hopes to ultimately find solutions to the issues critical to our changing times, driving change that breaks down the roadblocks to progress.

Organizing team


San Diego, CA, United States


San Diego, CA, United States
  • Terri Mitchell
    Event Director/Designer
  • Yeshua Adoni
    Volunteer Coordinator
  • Todd LaSota
    Technical Director
  • Peter McConnell
    Speaker Coordinator
  • Jackie Lee
    Digital Marketing
  • June Lee Bayha
    Speaker Ambassador
  • Laura McBain
    Interactivity Coordinator & Attendee POC
  • Leslee Schaffer
    Speaker Ambassador & Stage Manager
  • Thanasi Glavas
    Interactivity & Sponsorship