x = independently organized TED event

Theme: Pioneer Spirit

This event occurred on
March 21, 2014
1:00pm - 5:30pm MDT
(UTC -6hrs)
Bozeman, MT
United States

With a nod to the pioneers of Montana’s history, TEDxBozeman’s 2014 theme, “Pioneer Spirit” emphasizes today’s enterprising individuals who continue in this vein. Showcasing modern pioneers who all share a tie to the state, this year’s line-up of 15 presenters are breaking new frontiers in the Big Sky State and beyond.

The Commons
1794 East Baxter Lane
Bozeman, MT, 59718
United States
Event type:
Standard (What is this?)
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Bobcat Singers

The Bobcat Singers are a group of Native American students and community members from Bozeman and beyond. Revolving membership has allowed for the group to exist, and for over 20 years the inter-tribal singing group has performed for community events and educational gatherings to showcase songs from Native America. Currently, the tribes represented at the drum are Cree, Northern Cheyenne, Eastern Shoshone, Navajo, Crow, and Lakota.

Michelle Larson

Michelle Larson, PhD, is an astrophysicist whose professional passion is enabling engagement and communication between scientists and the public. She currently serves as President and CEO of the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, which attracts more than 470,000 visitors annually. There, Michelle oversees the institution's landmark museum complex, robust research enterprise, and an award-winning education and outreach program.

Greg Gianforte

Greg Gianforte is a serial entrepreneur who founded RighNow Technologies, the only publically-traded technology company headquartered in Montana. Started in 1997 in an extra bedroom of his home, RightNow became the largest commercial employer in Bozeman with over 1,100 employees worldwide and more than $225 million in annual revenue. Greg was selected as the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year for the Pacific Northwest in 2003 and in 2012 went on to sell RightNow to Oracle for over $1.8 billion.

Mary Schweitzer

Mary Schweitzer is a 4th generation Montanan who came to paleontology rather late in life, attaining her PhD from Montana State University at age 40. A strong background in biology and three young children still at home precluded a 'normal' path to the study of dinosaurs, so her research is lab-based and largely experimental. Mary has focused on the recovery of endogenous molecules from fossils, and on the study of the interactions between biomolecules and the environment that lead to both alteration and preservation of biological molecules. Her passion is to understand how extinct organisms functioned in their environments, and what molecular components made it possible for them to succeed.

Basement Jazz

Basement Jazz is a musical group made up of four talented young women. Claire Young, tenor sax, is a music technology major at Montana State University; Amy Guillian, drums, plans to enroll at Brigham Young University in the fall; Colleen Schmidt, bass, attended the 2013 Stanford Jazz Workshop; and Caroline Janssen, guitar, is a three time recipient of the Jazz Montana scholarship whose original songs have been selected to be a part of Hand Me Down Some Silver's Young Songwriters competition and recordings. Jake Fleming, who writes original music for the group and coaches them on their compositions, will join them.

Carmen McSpadden

Carmen has worked, volunteered and lived in Bozeman, Montana for 29 years. She is the Director of the Montana State University Leadership Institute and Leadership Fellows Program. These programs focus on advancing and inspiring students to become catalysts for positive change through effective leadership. For eight years she has been a leadership trainer for Leadership Montana, whose mission is to empower the great leaders Montana deserves.

Gary Robson

Gary D. Robson is a writer and closed-captioning expert from Red Lodge, Montana. He has worked as a software engineer and Silicon Valley entrepreneur, and he brought all of his varied expertise and passion to the field of closed captioning for deaf and hard-of-hearing people. He holds two patents related to broadcast closed captioning and served on the EIA/CEA standards committee that defined how closed captioning equipment works. He has spoken widely about closed captioning and has written over 50 articles and papers about the subject, Including the Closed Captioning Handbook. TDI (Telecommunications for the Deaf, Inc.) honored Gary by presenting him with the Andrew Saks Engineering Award in 1997 for “outstanding contributions in improving visual accessibility to information via real-time captioning for deaf and hard of hearing Americans.”

Rebecca Watters

Rebecca Watters grew up near Boston, Massachusetts, has a BA in anthropology from St. Lawrence University, and did her Master’s in environmental science at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. She was a Peace Corps environmental volunteer in Mongolia and has lived, worked, and studied around the world. She currently directs the Mongolian Wolverine Project, which builds ties between Mongolia and the greater Yellowstone ecosystem for scientific exchange, capacity building, and data-sharing on the social, economic, and environmental effects of climate change in these two similar ecosystems. She writes about her conservation research and experiences online at the Wolverine Blog and in various print publications. She lives in Mongolia during field seasons, and ozeman, Montana, when she is in the US.

Theo Bennett

Theo Bennett has had the opportunity to live and learn all over the world. As he takes steps towards his future, however, he will always collide with the world as a Montanan. Raised in Bozeman since he was 6 years old and currently a senior at Bozeman High School, Theo has been spoiled by lazy summer rivers and the coldest powder in North America. He is an Eagle Scout and is active in a number of athletic, academic, and service organizations within the community such as the National Honor Society, Key Club, and the Hawks varsity Cross Country team. Theo has already received a number of recognitions for academic achievement including being names a candidate by the White House for the distinguished Presidential Scholar award. Traveling and at home, Theo was struck by the universal stigmas that those suffering with mental illness face and aspires to be a part of a much needed change in the American healthcare system. Theo has bright hopes for the future and although his plans may be subject to change, he is currently trying to break into the scientific field and is considering psychiatry or neuroscience as future careers.

Tate Chamberlin

Tate Chamberlin is a Colorado native who attended Montana State University to earn his Bachelor's degree in Graphic Design. Ever since, Tate has made a name for himself pushing the envelope in social, educational and musical events in the region. Among them is INTERCHANGE, an annual festival established in 2013 to celebrate strides in human rights, equality, and the continuing dialogue on a number of important issues. Tate's company, Chamberlin Productions, colorfully defines its mission, saying: "We hope to bring music and expression to a new level by building interest and continually reintegrating new concepts into our arsenal. This arsenal will serve well as he descends upon the world like a platinum-fisted pterodactyl, dropping artistic carpet-bombs carrying the seed of expression and social conglomeration. Crushing underfoot the banality of average events, flying high the mighty banner of unconventional creativity and blasting his mighty war horns across the battlefields of entertainment."

Molly Cross

Molly Cross, Ph.D., is the Climate Change Adaptation Coordinator for the North America Program of the Wildlife Conservation Society. She brings together experts in the fields of climate change, ecology, conservation-planning and land management to help conservation practitioners translate climate change science into on-the-ground actions and outcomes. Molly is leading collaborative climate change planning efforts involving diverse stakeholders at several landscapes across North America, focused on a range of ecosystems and fish, wildlife and plant species. She has been researching, writing reports, and coordinating outreach on the potential ecological, social and economic impacts of climate change for over fifteen years. For her, thinking about ways to help wildlife and wild places cope with and respond to climate change is a challenge, but an inspiring one. Molly’s quest is to enable conservation practitioners to move similarly away from feeling depressed and helpless about climate change, and towards a pro-active, solution-seeking mentality. When not mired in the science and politics of climate change, she can be found hiking, exploring and dancing with her two young daughters and husband.

Craig Beals

Craig Beals is a science teacher at Senior High School in Billings, Montana who has spent his whole life under the Big Sky. He grew up in Billings then moved to Bozeman where he attended Montana State University and earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology. After nearly a decade in Bozeman, Craig moved back to Billings to marry, raise a family, and teach. He later went on to earn a Masters in Zoology from Miami University in Ohio. He has spent time assisting atmospheric chemistry research on Greenland's ice sheet and currently travels the world each summer teaching ecology field courses for Miami University. Craig is passionate about education and its ability to create opportunities for all people, young and old. He continually explores ways to use science education as a tool to inspire creative thinking and encourage the exploration of one's curiosity. Following his own curiosities, Craig's latest journey has taken him deep into the teenage mind where own curiosities, Craig's latest journey has taken him deep into the teenage mind where he has learned the power and importance of compassion in education and in life.

Graham Austin

Dr. Caroline Graham Austin obtained her PhD in marketing from the University of Georgia in 2008 and is currently an assistant professor of marketing at Montana State University, where she teaches principles of marketing and consumer behavior. Originally trained in the humanities, she is especially interested in how people and markets interact and impact each other. Her research examines how consumers communicate among themselves as they form attitudes and behaviors towards brands and products.

Josh Powell

Josh Powell is an eighteen-year-old multi-instrumentalist who is currently studying music technology at Montana State University. Beginning with the trombone and electric guitar in fifth grade, Josh decided to add acoustic guitar to his inventory of instruments when he accidentally won one by eating three animal crackers and whistling at a guitar camp. By the beginning of high school, he had become comfortable playing guitar, trombone, bass, drums, and piano. Josh believes that music can solve a plethora of global problems, and hopes to use music as a bridge between people and the world around them.

Rob Irizarry

I've spent three decades working with hardware and software technology in the finance, garment and automotive industries, with twelve of those years engaged in pioneering multi-tenant Software as a Service for the Customer Experience market. I've been involved in multiple startups in a variety of roles and now spend my time split between investing in and coaching startups and working to improve education at all levels to help prepare America's youth for the technology that will shape their (and our country's) future. I've worked in and with public and private sector organizations from 10 people to the Fortune 10 building systems, processes and teams in the United States, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and South Africa and spent a decade living in Asia.

Organizing team


Bozeman, MT, United States
  • Ken Fichtler
    Sponsorship / Co-Founder
  • Rick Fink
    Volunteer Coordinator
  • Maddie Cebuhar
    Speaker Coordinator
  • Steven Spence
    Technical Director
  • Abby Kent
    Video Producer
  • CeCe Harris
    Sponsorship Coordinator
  • Scott Kundert
    PR & Marketing Coordinator
  • Dylan Weber
    Social Media Coordinator
  • Ryan Walters
    Set & Interior Design Coordinator
  • Lindsay Morse