x = independently organized TED event

Theme: It Connects Us

This event occurred on
November 12, 2011
8:30am - 5:00pm EST
(UTC -5hrs)
Elmira, NY
United States

The Chemung River is the convergence of three rivers that eventually go on to connect to one of the most important watersheds in our region. And like these systems of natural beauty, TEDxChemungRiver was the convergence of intellectual thought and creativity from which the attendees had an extraordinary opportunity to share ideas with other thoughtful minds in our small, yet vibrant, community. For its inaugural year, TEDxChemungRiver chose the theme "It Connects Us."

TEDxChemungRiver showcased many amazing and enlightening local speakers and performers. This intimate event brought together an audience of 100 unlikely peers who were excited about giving their voice to innovative and world-changing ideas. At TEDxChemungRiver, 15 live speakers and TEDTalks video combined to spark deep discussion and connection in the intellectually-charged group.

This daylong event took place on Saturday, November 12, 2011 at The Heights Theater in Elmira Heights, NY. The cost to attend was $35, which included a continental breakfast, lunch, cocktail party, and admission to all of the event performances and networking opportunities.

The Heights Theater
210 East 14th Street
Elmira, NY, 14903
United States
See more ­T­E­Dx­Chemung­River events


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

Rich LaVere

Rich LaVere swears he wasn’t born with a camera in his hand, but the near-complete absence of any photographic proof of his existence defies this claim. Preferring to stay behind the camera, Rich is always on the lookout for new and creative ways to express his artistic vision. Rich owns LaVere Media, a photography and video studio in Downtown Elmira. A native of Michigan, he moved to Elmirain 1986, where he worked in the marketing department of Hardinge Inc. for 18 years. He started LaVere Media in 2004; the company was received the Chemung County Chamber of Commerce “New Business of the Year” Award in 2009. As a documentary producer, he recently completed his second local work, “Facing The Wall”. He is also the New York correspondent for PAN Magazine, a cultural biannual based in Australia, a member of the Elmira Kiwanis Club, a member of First Presbyterian Church in Elmirawhere he sings with the choir, and an active participant in various Chamber committees. Rich is the father of three, husband of one, and coexists with a dog, cat, bird, and other small creatures that live in his children’s rooms. In his spare time, he can be found drinking coffee and muttering something about not getting enough sleep.

Kristopher Radder

I was born in Syracuse, NY and the later moved to Horseheads, NY. I took my first photography class in 10th grade and later received a Gold Key award for Scholastic in the region in 2004. I graduated from Corning Community College in 2006 and transferred to Point Park University, Pittsburgh, PA to study photojournalism. April 2007 I got my first front page photo in the Pittsburgh Tribune of a young man who was shot by police after drawing a weapon on them. During my time at Point Park University, I worked on the school’s paper as both a photographer and a photo editor, and covered major presidential candidates that came to Pittsburgh. I graduated from Point Park University in 2009. I interned for The Leader in Corning, covering sports, spot news and general news assignments in Chemung, Steuben, Schuyler Counties and had the opportunity to photograph the G-20 summit that was held in Pittsburgh. In 2010 I was hired to photograph the Assembly members in various settings, from environmental portraits formal and informal groups, debates, events and documenting the members while in the chambers. My photos were published in The New York Times, newsletters, papers in local communities, and websites. In August of 2010, I was offered the opportunity to work with Project HOPE, which conducts humanitarian aid missions with the United States Navy and partner nations in South America. From October to November, I was on the USS Iwo Jima, helping to being care to Guyana, and Suriname. Highly impressed with my work, Project HOPE offered to let me be the Public Affairs Officer for Pacific Partnership 2011. Pacific Partnership 2011 was one of the more successful humanitarian aid missions that the United States conducted. Currently, I am freelancing for The Leader and have plans to be a part of Pacific Partnership 2012.

Sriram Hathwar

Sriram was born in Rochester, NY and has lived and grown up in the Southern Tier Region with his parents for the last ten years. He is currently in his 6th grade at the Chemung Valley Montessori school, where he has been in attendance for the last 6 years. Sriram has participated in the Scripps National Spelling Bee three times: he was the youngest ever to participate, when he entered at age eight, having qualified when he was seven. He went on to place 37th in the national level during the 2009 national finals and sixth at the 2011 national finals. Sriram has successfully placed first in the New York Spelling Bee in 2008, 2009 and 2010 entering at the second, third and fourth grade level competitions. He has also the school level geography bee in 2010 and 2011 and placed first in Steele Memorial Library Poetry contest in 2010. Sriram has won other awards at local science fairs. In his spare time, Sriram likes to play the piano and the oboe. He, also enjoys playing baseball, basketball, skiing, ice skating and swimming. Sriram hopes to become a medical doctor with a particular interest in ophthalmology.

Vincent Chicone

The soft hum of a treadle lathe and the powdery smell of sawdust filled the early childhood of Vincent Chicone. A third generation woodworker he spent his formative years in his family’s shop under the watchful eye of his grandfather and father, both finish carpenters. Here Vincent learned to create with his hands. Wood became his medium as he mastered the traditional techniques used by cabinetmakers for centuries. Vincent is interested in the development of regional furniture forms and the unique style signatures of historic cabinetmakers. He brings his personal interest in historic design, development, and process to all of his projects. He creates bench-made Windsorsin a range of period designs as well as reproduction historic furniture, custom cabinetry, and architectural millwork. His shop, Chicone Cabinetmakers (, is located inMontourFalls nestled in the heart of theFinger Lakes—an area that teems with native hardwoods. Vincent takes advantage of this local resource by producing his chairs and benches out of regionally harvested trees. For the past two years, Vincent has received the highest award as a traditional artisan in Early American Life’s Directory of Traditional American Crafts in three different categories—including formal furniture and Windsors. His work has been showcased in The Directory of Traditional American Crafts in Early American Life magazine, a national magazine focusing on architecture, decorative arts, period style, and social history from colonial times through the mid-19th Century. His handmade historic reproduction furniture is also on display at Thomas Jefferson’sMonticelloestate. The furniture can be found in the Griffin Discovery Room of the newSmithEducationCenter.

Colleen Parsons

Colleen Parsons says, “TED has changed my life in so many incredible ways. Four years ago, I watched a documentary about TED and applied to attend what is now known as TEDActive. Who would have thought I would be accepted?! That is where I learned that TED event attendees are not just an audience. They are participants in the TED experience and just as important as the people on stage. I will be attending my fourth TEDActive conference in February. I am very excited about representing TEDxChemungRiver for the first time at TEDActive!” Colleen is a registered nurse with experience spanning 34-years and has focused on psychiatric/mental health on inpatient units and with adolescents in community/group home settings. Early in her career she also gathered nursing skills in geriatrics and labor & delivery. Presently she is Nursing Team Leader for Southern Tier Hospice and Palliative Care – seemingly a departure from previous experiences. Her résumé also includes business, agriculture, veterinary expertise, and lots of volunteer work. Colleen and her husband work Capricorn Hill Farm in Pine City, NY where they raise meat goats, pasture poultry (layers and broilers) and an assortment of pets (dogs, cats, ducks, geese, burros). This was the homestead to a defunct cow dairy operation – one of the most successful in the county in its day which started back before the Civil War as a tiny three room log cabin. Colleen also runs Inner Decisions as a spiritual life coach and medium helping people connect with their personal “journey into wholeness”. She sees individuals for coaching, readings and past-life therapy sessions. She holds classes on non-religious based spirituality, alternative healing practices, metaphysical workshops and leads a Sunday morning group through “An Hour with Spirit”. Colleen has been studying metaphysical-based spirituality for over four decades and has had considerable success at helping others on similar adventures.

Morris Samit

I have had the fortune to have two careers. After working for a large company and a start-up, I saw that the latter was much more fun. So, I’ve been successful as an entrepreneur and business executive guiding one start-up (Summagraphics Corporation) to rapid revenue growth and public offering; building another start-up (DSP Development) to acquisition stage, each with customers that included Apple Computer, Hewlett Packard, and Tektronix as well as manufacturers such as General Motors and Ford. In between, I established the Computer Business Division for Polaroid Corporation, probably the most difficult task I ever had. I now stay away from big, myopic companies, except as a consultant. Morris L. Samit is an Associate Professor of Management in the Business & Economics Division at Elmira College in Elmira, NY where he also serves as Director of the International Business program. Mr. Samit is Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurship at Copenhagen Mr. Samit holds an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and is currently completing his PhD dissertation. He has served as an adjunct professor at: Suffolk University, Northeastern University, Bentley College, and Florida Atlantic University, and has been a visiting professor at: International School of Management in Paris; ESC-Rennes in Rennes, FR; and ESIC in Madrid. Business School. I now spend every summer in Copenhagen where I serve as Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurship. Mr. Samit has presented research papers at the Academy of Management and the Academy of International Business. His research interests include entrepreneurship in emerging economies, the ethics of entrepreneurs, and the effect of over-optimism on entrepreneurial success. Mr. Samit has traveled extensively establishing his companies’ presence worldwide. He has served as a consultant to: Apple Computer, Hewlett Packard, Eastman Kodak, Polaroid Corporation, Micro-Vector, Wireless School, Bliss Technology, OnFiber, Astro-Systems, etc.

Retha Cazel

She was born in Okinawa, Japan and has a rich history of eastern philosophy, yoga and meditation. She has traveled the world extensively and has lived in Japan, the Philippine Islands and Germany. She holds a bachelors degree in Mathematics and a concentration in Physics. She owns Yoga and More, a studio in Corning, NY and has a full teaching schedule. Retha has practiced and studied yoga and meditation since 1983 and 1995 respectively. In addition to her full teaching schedule, Retha is raising her grandson Zachary who has been instrumental in showing her the ever present need and gift of staying present in the spirit. She is an accomplished artist, in clay, two dimensional media and murals. As an Ayurveda medicine apprentice, she bridges and integrates natural solutions for everyday issues for her clients. She is truly blessed and openly shares her spirit, love and heart.

Rhonda Morton

Rhonda Morton is an artist-entrepreneur with a passion for making ideas manifest. She has created businesses, engineered solutions to societal problems, directed performance ensembles, published three books, and raised a son and daughter into adulthood. Currently, through her business, Savannah Consulting, she works with business people committed to lasting, systemic transformation of their workplaces; social entrepreneurs who are making the world a better place, starting with themselves and their organizations; and artists whose ideas simply must be born. With a whole-brain and whole-body approach, she helps individuals and groups get things done by dissolving old ingrained patterns, imagining a new path, and creating systems and structures to support transformation. Rhonda also leads Alligator Mouth Improv, a four-person ensemble that draws on theatre, movement, vocals, music and storytelling, all created in the moment, often from audience input and interaction. The ensemble works internationally to inspire audiences to imagine their lives differently—seeing opportunity and beauty and strength where they didn’t before. Alligator Mouth believes art-making and community-making are integral to each other, and that artists play a pivotal role in the commerce of ideas and the engine of innovation and inspiration. In 1997, Rhonda founded GirlSmarts®, and until 2009, she led these workshops and retreats to help teenage girls understand who they are and what they want out of their lives. In 2005, in recognition for GirlSmarts and other community service projects, Rhonda was awarded the Arts Partnership Award from The ARTS of the Southern Finger Lakes for “tirelessly supporting others in their artistic endeavors, for encouraging young poets and musicians, and mentoring young women with her passion for and commitment to the arts.” A long-time fan of TED, Rhonda is thrilled to be a part of our region’s inaugural effort.

Willie Davis

I am a Colarado native and moved to Horseheads in 2001. I own SOUNDWORKS MUSIC and have been performing in music groups since 1969. After surviving woodstock and disco, I grew fond of country music in the 1970s. Playing a variety of music styles has given me an opportunity to create music that has a touch of country, rock, blues, bluegrass and rhythm from the islands. Playing the harmonica in a style different from all others has become my passion. My influences when I began playing were Paul Butterfield, Charlie McCoy, Stevie Wonder, Buddy Greene, Toots Theilman, as well as many others. I put to music, stories and experiences I had growing up, on the road, heartaches and wonderful times. I hope everyone can find something they can enjoy in one or more of my songs, and that the songs can be an inspiration to live your life and tell your stories.

Gabriel Ankamafio-Adjei

I was born and raised in the Atlantic coastal town of Labadi in the capital city of Ghana. By the age of 15, I was farming organic vegetables on our family home back yard, and selling the produce to restaurants along the coast. I managed the farm all through my high school. I wanted to expand into poultry and I partnered with a childhood friend of mine to enter into this new venture. We were raising about 500 chickens a year and selling to smaller and bigger restaurants alike within the center cities of Accra, Ghana. We had to close shop during an outbreak of poultry disease which wiped out all our hard work and investment. Being enrolled in a boarding school didn’t help us in starting over either. At 19, I left Ghana to study in Denmark and also play semi-professional soccer. I moved to the U.S. after a three year stint in Europe. I stayed in Bronx, NY for almost a year, saving for college which I did end up completing in Upstate NY. While in college I accumulated patents through my consumer products ideas, which helped me make my move into starting a company. Things did not necessarily go as planned, primarily due to oversight on my part concerning several hurdles, stemming from a lack of maturity as an entrepreneur. I foraged on through another venture, FANSHOES, where I currently am the CEO. FANSHOES was an idea, I conceived in late 2008, after looking at the market availability for branded footwear in the collegiate and pro-sports market. Although, FANSHOES is not the first and would not be the last to tap into this niche market, the possibility of grabbing significant market share was worth pursuing. Since the launch of sales the products in 2009, we have worked with some of the largest national collegiate stores and big-box retail stores in the country, and are considering the potential of moving aboard through international sporting games.

Lee Welles

Lee Welles is the founder/creative director of The Daisyworld Project and the author of the award-winning Gaia Girls book series (Cheslea Green Publishing). Her school presentation aimed for ages 8-24, focus on reading, writing the hero’s journey and living sustainably. Ms. Welles is currently teaching creative writing and yoga classes at 171 Cedar Arts Center in Corning, NY and is a contributing writer to various Gannet health and wellness magazines. Lee often has the opportunity to combine her literary adventures with her previous career as a fitness and wellness entrepreneur in entertaining presentations and keynote addresses to public and private organizations. In addition, Lee is also an elected official, serving Corning, NY as a councilman and Corning’s first woman Deputy Mayor. (Although, she thinks it is much more note-worthy, to be Corning’s first tap dancing deputy mayor!)

Susan Amisano

Susan Amisano is well known in New York state’s Southern Tier as a soloist and teacher. Ms. Amisano completed her Master’s degree in Vocal Performance from SUNY Binghamton at Harpur College in December of 2009 and is a 1999 graduate of the Resident Artist Training Program at Tri Cities Opera in Binghamton, N.Y. Ms. Amisano has sung many leading roles with Tri Cities Opera (TCO), including Norma (Norma), Countess Almaviva (The Marriage of Figaro), Mimi (La Boheme), Micaela (Carmen), and most recently, the mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors. A frequent performer in the New York’s Southern Tier, she has sung title roles in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Candide, The Medium and Hansel and Gretel with Ithaca Opera; as well as performances with the Summer Repertory Company of the Finger Lakes, including As the World Goes Round, Closer Than Ever, and Lili in The Secret Garden. Ms. Amisano has also sung the Countess Ceprano in Rigoetto with Glimmerglass Opera. Her numerous concert credits with the Elmira Symphony include Handel’s Messiah, and his Israel in Egypt and Faure’s Requiem. After graduation from college, Ms. Amisano taught music in the Binghamton/Elmira area for several years. In 1985, she opened her own studio of vocal and piano instruction, which has grown to nearly 50 students.

Brad Treat

Brad Treat is the co-founder and CEO of Mezmeriz, an innovative MEMS company making projectors to embed into mobile phones. Previously, he was the Entrepreneur-In-Residence at Cornell University. Brad was also the co-founder and CEO of SightSpeed, an innovative video and voice communications company. Together with co-founders Aron Rosenberg and Cornell University Professor Toby Berger, Treat grew SightSpeed from a university research project at Cornell into the world’s premier video calling software. SightSpeed was acquired by Logitech for $30MM. Earlier in his career, Treat worked for eight years in the automotive industry at Bowles Fluidics and GKN Automotive, where he was responsible for engineering, operations, and personnel management within the high precision, high volume industrial units. He holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from North Carolina State University and an MBA from the Johnson School at Cornell. Brad lives in Ithaca, New York where in he is a part-time faculty member at both Ithaca College teaching entrepreneurship, and at Cornell University teaching whitewater kayaking. He is also a regular participant in triathlons in the “Clydesdale” division.

Lina Echeverria

A childhood spent surrounded by creative artists and literati, an education as an engineer, a doctorate as a geologist, a talented textile artist and nearly 20 years of managing creative talent and delivering technology in the storied Corning Incorporated, have enabled Lina Echeverria to develop a leadership style that taps creativity and out-creates rivals. Echeverria started her research career exploring for unique lavas in one of South America’s jungle prison islands, before joining Corning as a scientist, where she evolved to develop her understanding of the creative power, as the guardian of one of the great scientific traditions in America—the glass and ceramics research groups—before moving to France to head the European Technology Center. Her experience coalesces the understanding of the creative human drive—whether of scientists, artists or even chefs—with the need to guide and deliver the technology breakthroughs necessary for growth. From single research groups early in her management career to large directorates and laboratories, she has defined and led organizations in the delivery of products that touch our daily lives, from new designs for the venerable CorningWare; to new materials for diesel trucks that clean our environments; to new glass compositions and improved processes for glasses for computer and TV screens; and improved optical fiber for long-distance transmission. Lina’s practice has demonstrated that to excel in today’s world, we must draw on the full knowledge of the best creative practitioners and coach out of them all the driving force to make it happen. We need to motivate and to inspire, to tap intuition and hunches, and to use laughter, anger and sadness to elicit the inexplicable. Whether the setting is corporate, government, or academia, we need to create a culture that understands creativity—the ability to create a vision and the means to achieve it—while giving it the space to flourish and to yield.

Vickie Mike

Vickie Mike graduated from Horseheads High School in 1971; received an Associate’s degree from Corning Community College in 1973; a Bachelor’s degree from Brockport State in 1976; a Master’s degree from State University of New York at Buffalo in 1983; and a Doctorate in Education from Binghamton University in 2000. As an undergraduate and graduate student, she studied abroad at the Universities of Seville, Salamanca, and Madrid, in Spain, as well as at the University of Besançon in France. Vickie Mike was a Spanish teacher for over 30 years in New York State public high schools. She began her teaching career in the Rochester and Buffalo areas. In 1980 she returned to Horseheads and just recently retired from Horseheads High School in June 2010. Vickie continues to work as a public speaker, consultant, and visual artist. She is an active member of local community arts organizations, as well as an active member of the New York State Association of Foreign Language Teachers. Vickie was recently elected to the Board of the Northeast Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, a board that represents world language teachers in 14 states. During her teaching career at Horseheads High School, Vickie Mike received several honors. Vickie Mike was selected as the 2009 New York State Teacher of the Year. She was also the recipient of a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Humanities Award, the Horseheads National Honor Society Teacher of the Year, and the Twin Tiers Outstanding Educator Award. In October of 2007, she was invited to participate as a Delegate of World Language Educators Symposium in China and in December of 2010 she travelled to Egypt on an education and humanitarian trip with People to People International.

Organizing team


Elmira, NY, United States
  • Colleen Parsons
    Team member
  • Joseph Welch
    Team member
  • Ryan Wassink
    Team member
  • Amanda Chafee
    Team member
  • Vishoka Balasubramanian
    Team member
  • Paul Stonier
    Team member