x = independently organized TED event

Theme: Unexpected Narratives

This event occurred on
February 22, 2014
10:00am - 4:30pm PST
(UTC -8hrs)
Claremont, CA
United States

Our event features 12 speakers from around the country. As representatives from an array of fields and sectors, they will examine the different ways that they use storytelling and narrative in their life's work. For more information, see:

Garrison Hall
Scripps College
Claremont, CA, 91711
United States
Event type:
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Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Andie Mitchell

“After struggling all my life with weight, seven years ago I lost 135 pounds. I moved more. I ate healthier. Everything--my body, my sense of self, the way I moved through the world--was drastically different. Who am I now? I wondered. In 2010, I started a blog to share my own healthy recipes and my [sometimes brutally] honest reflections on weight loss and body image. I poured all of my energy into it. I wrote daily. I emailed with thousands of readers whose experiences mirrored mine, whose journeys were just starting or ending, who just needed to tell someone, anyone, their story. After a year and a half of blogging, I signed a contract with Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, to pen two books: the first, a memoir, and the second, a cookbook. The memoir will be published in February 2015. My TEDx talk explores what it's taken me seven years, and perhaps all of my life, to fully uncover: the secret to lasting weight loss. “

Robert Rubinstein

Robert Rubinstein is a nationally recognized storyteller and educator from Eugene, Oregon. For 24 years, Robert directed the nationally known Troupe of Tellers from Roosevelt Middle School. Robert’s Troupes performed for some 70,000 Oregon students and at the 1993 National Storytelling Conference at the University of Washington in Seattle. Robert has performed at the New York Public Library, the Boston Public Library, the Northwest Folklife Festival in Seattle, schools in Atlanta, and presented workshops at the National Storytelling Conference. In 2007, he traveled with 41 storytellers from across the nation to China. Robert has authored numerous works of young adult fiction and as well as tutorials for teachers who want to use storytelling and theater games in their curriculum. Robert also originated and directed Eugene's annual Multi-Cultural Storytelling Festival, which, since 1990, brought well-known tellers representing different ethnic and minority groups to the Eugene area to tell to over 7,000 students in the schools annually. During its twenty-year run, 57 storytellers visited over 130,000 students in the schools. For his TED Talk, Robert will be speaking about empowering students through storytelling. His website is

Sean Topkok

“Uvaŋa atiġa Asiqłuq. My Iñupiaq name is Asiqłuq.” He is also called Charles “Sean” Topkok. Sean is Iñupiaq, Sámi, Irish, and Norwegian. His family is from Teller, Alaska, and currently lives in Fairbanks. He has worked at the Alaska Native Knowledge Network (ANKN) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) since April 1997. Through his experiences at ANKN, he continues to work closely with Alaska Native communities and educators, as well as other Indigenous groups worldwide. He has been informally adopted by Yup’ik Elders, and formally adopted by the Tlingit and giving him the name Deikeejaakhw. Sean is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Indigenous Studies at UAF; has a Master of Arts degree in Cross-Cultural Studies and Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities, both from UAF. Not only is he a staff member and a student, he teaches at the university level including: Cultural Atlases as a Pedagogical Strategy, Alaska Native Dance, Native Cultures of Alaska, Indigenous Knowledge Systems, and Alaska Native Education. Sean is the founder and leader of the Pavva Iñupiaq Dancers of Fairbanks. Pavva encourages anyone interested in learning about Iñupiaq culture to participate. Members of the dance group include people from all over the Iñupiaq region including: Seward Peninsula, Northwest Arctic, and North Slope regions of Alaska.

Comicbookgirl 19

Comicbookgirl19 is the host of The Comicbookgirl19 Show on YouTube where she and co-creator Tyson Wheeler produce in-depth analysis of comics, movies, Game of Thrones, and the madness of pop culture in general. Their mission is to teach the abstract thinking required for properly dissecting art in a fun and relatable way because art programs are being cut from public schools left and right and someone has got to pick up the slack. CBG19 has been reading comics since childhood and even graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Sequential Art (a fancy term for Comics) from the Savannah College of Art Design (yes, you can get a degree in Comics but she wouldn't necessarily recommend it). She fights for the legitimization of Comics as Art and enjoys reigniting peoples interest in this unique medium all over the world. In her TED talk, CBG19 will illustrate her personal experiences utilizing comics to find meaning in her own life in order to help teach others creative ways to utilize the transformative potential of storytelling to empower their own lives. To learn more about Comicbookgirl19 and watch her karate chop action, please visit her YouTube Channel at:

Richard Hazlett

Richard Hazlett is a Geology Professor at Pomona College where he coordinated the Environmental Analysis program. He styles himself as transitioning from hard-core geology to environmental studies with a land use/natural resource emphasis. Dr. Hazlett is the winner of Pomona’s 1996 and 2001 Wig Awards for teaching excellence. He credits his academic transition to his efforts to make his courses more interesting for non-majors and general elective students. “How do I make what I’ve learned about the earth meaningful and important for my students?” he asks. “What is the future of geology in the service of society? What can I do, personally, to improve our unfavorable environmental prognosis?” Dr. Hazlett’s research includes work in the eastern Aleutian Islands on volcanic stratigraphy, interpreting the geologic evolution of Secret Spring Volcano and the Klamath River Gorge on the California-Oregon border, studying a plutonic terrane and related volcanic cover in the Eldorado Mountains of southern Nevada, mapping volcanic stratigraphy in northwestern Iceland, and exploration of land use issues focusing on the American West.

Talithia Williams

Talitha Williams is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College. Her professional experiences include research appointments at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the National Security Agency (NSA), and NASA. Dr. Williams develops statistical models that emphasize the spatial and temporal structure of data with environmental applications. She has been recognized for the development of a cataract model used to predict the cataract surgical rate for developing countries in Africa. Dr. Williams will be speaking about how individuals can empower their medical decision-making through personal data collection.

Jackson Darling Palacios

Jackson Darling Palacios (formerly Jackson Darling) works with a team of organizers at the Leadership LAB, the LA Gay & Lesbian Center’s leadership development and community organizing department. Jackson manages the LAB’s local Vote for Equality project, which develops and implements innovative conversation strategies to reduce prejudice against and increase support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Jackson is a queer, transgender man who just legally married his partner of five years last December. He began his work with Vote for Equality in 2008 as a volunteer working to defeat Prop 8 and defend the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. He joined the Vote for Equality staff in 2009 where he spent much of his time recruiting and training volunteers to effectively talk with strangers and people they know who don’t yet fully support LGBT rights. In his TED talk, Jackson will explore an initially unexpected, but ultimately essential piece of Vote for Equality’s persuasion model: listening to and being genuinely curious about those who don’t agree with us. He will highlight how these best practices have worked to increase support for LGBT issues and help the audience consider how to apply them to other issues that matter. For more details on the work of the Vote for Equality and the Leadership LAB, go to: or

Cathy Renna

Cathy Renna is Senior Vice President at Target Cue, a public relations firm providing premiere services for audience-targeted media outreach at all levels. She is nationally recognized as a media relations and communications expert and a leader within the lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender (LGBT) community. Cathy has played a critical role in nearly every issue affecting LGBT populations, including both high visibility issues like marriage equality and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and developing issues such as visibility for older LGBT people, transgender youth, and homeless LGBT youth. Prior to joining Target Cue, Cathy was a founder of Renna Communications. During its seven years of operations, the firm partnered with more than 50 different political and nonprofit organizations. From the 1990s through 2003, she was a major force behind the success and growth of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). With her expertise in crisis and strategic communications, Cathy played a central role in shaping media coverage of the beating death of Matthew Shepard in 1998, a tragedy that became a cultural marker for a shift in the level of media visibility of violence against LGBT people. In her Talk, she will reflect on the aftermath of Matthew’s murder and speak more broadly about helping other people tell their own stories.

Tim Sandoval

Timothy Sandoval was born in Los Angeles and raised in a working-class neighborhood in Pomona, California. He was deeply influenced by the experiences of his mother who worked as a housekeeper for over 30 years and his father who grew up in housing projects and, as a result of Civil Rights victories in the 1960s, went on to college and became a schoolteacher. In Timothy’s talk, he explores the different paths he and his brother took—his brother was arrested when he was 18 years old and has been incarcerated for over 34 years—and how this inspired him to help lift low-income children out of poverty. Now he works with a team of amazing people who are helping low-income students from the Pomona area get into and graduate from colleges all of over the country.

Jose Calderon

Jose Calderon is Professor Emeritus in Sociology and Chicano Studies at Pitzer College. As the son of immigrant farm workers from Mexico, he has had a long history of connecting his academic work with community organizing, student-based service learning, participatory action research, critical pedagogy, and multi-ethnic coalition building. He has been at Pitzer College since 1991. Professor Calderon, a self-described “organic intellectual,” has been honored with numerous awards. For his work in building partnerships between communities and higher education, the California Campus Compact has honored him with the Richard E. Cone Award for Excellence and Leadership in Cultivating Community Partnerships in Higher Education. The United Farm Worker’s Union has honored him with their “Si Se Puede” award for his life-long contributions to the farm worker movement. As a community-based participant ethnographer, he has published numerous articles and studies based on his community experiences and observations.

Andrew Su

Andrew Su is an Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular and Experimental Medicine at the Scripps Research Institute, a non-profit research organization engaged in biomedical science. His research focuses on applying the tools of bioinformatics, statistics, crowdsourcing, and computer science to the pursuit of biomedical discovery. He is the author of over sixty research articles. Prior to joining Scripps, Andrew was the Associate Director of Bioinformatics at the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF) in San Diego, CA. Andrew will be speaking about the massive amount of biological data currently available to scientists and how creating opportunities for annotation by citizen scientists can help make the data more useable. You can learn more about Andrew, and read his blog entries at

Todd Henderson

Todd Henderson is a teacher at Avondale High School, Co-Owner and Director of Play 4 Fun Sports, Summer Operations Director at Upper Peninsula Bible Camp, Mission Trip leader, adoption advocate, husband, and father of five children. Three and a half years ago, Todd took his first trip to Haiti. Since then, he has been back fifteen more times, adopted two Haitian daughters, led five Haitian mission trips with public high school students, worked in some of the Haiti’s most remote regions, and inspired students and families to use their lives and resources to impact the lives of the Haitian people. His work in Haiti has dramatically shaped his perspective on service, missions, and purpose. Todd continues to work in Haiti and will be increasingly focusing on the incredible needs in the remote region of Belle Anse.

Organizing team


Los Angeles, CA, United States
  • Sam Spurlin