x = independently organized TED event

Theme: Wisdom, Compassion, Connection

This event occurred on
February 28, 2015
10:00am - 6:00pm PST
(UTC -8hrs)
Berkeley, California
United States

TEDxBerkeley 2015: "Wisdom. Compassion. Connection." was a unique event hosted on the UC Berkeley campus. An eclectic group of over 20 speakers and performers from both UC Berkeley and around the world shared their ideas on how we create and strengthen some of our most fundamental human qualities: compassion and connection. Over 2,000 attendees and volunteers from the Bay Area and beyond partook in the day-long event to capture small pieces of wisdom to implement in their daily lives.

Zellerbach Hall
Berkeley, California
United States
See more ­T­E­Dx­Berkeley events


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

Cal Bhangra

Cal Bhangra was formed in 2009 to promote awareness of the Punjabi Culture at UC Berkeley through the performance of Bhangra, a traditional, folk Punjabi dance. Since then, they have competed nationally, year round, hoping to spread Cal pride to all areas of the United States. Their dancers bring high energy, crowd-pleasing routines that aim to entertain crowds of all ages. Their team of passionate Berkeley students aim to teach all audiences the art of Bhangra so that their passion can spread and carry on.

Cal Raijin Taiko

In the Spring of 2005, a small-but-committed group of students pooled together their resources and formed UC Berkeley’s first taiko group. Since then, Cal Raijin Taiko has gone on to become Berkeley’s premier Japanese drumming performance ensemble. With a repertoire consisting entirely of original compositions, Cal Raijin Taiko performs to spread the knowledge, love, and passion of taiko to both the campus and the surrounding communities. In the decade since it’s inception, the members of Cal Raijin Taiko have composed over a dozen unique and vibrant songs, and performed for scores of audiences large and small. Our alumni have spread throughout the country, many of them founding entirely new taiko groups in the cities where they settle. Every Fall we accept new members to make up the next Generation of our Cal Raijin Taiko family.

UC Men's Octet

The UC Men’s Octet is an eight member a cappella singing group comprised of some of the finest male singers at the University of California, Berkeley. Founded in 1948, the Octet has entertained audiences around the world with its unique mesh of close harmonies and zany stage antics as well as with a wide repertoire of barbershop, doo-wop, contemporary pop, modern alternative, and of course, Cal fight songs, the group has released dozens of recordings over the years. That being said, their most important performances are held on Sproul Plaza each Wednesday at one o’clock in front of our greatest fans, the Cal students. We’re super exited to be performing at TEDxBerkeley this year and hope you enjoy!

Adora Svitak

Since the age of four, Adora has been exploring what she can do with the written word: everything from championing literacy and youth voice to working with the UN’s World Food Programme to raise awareness about world hunger. Hoping to instill her love of writing in others, she taught her first class at a local elementary school the year her first book, Flying Fingers, debuted; since then, she has spoken at hundreds of schools, classrooms and conferences around the world. In 2010, she delivered the speech “What Adults Can Learn from Kids” at TED. The speech received over 3.3 million views on alone, and has been translated into over 40 different languages. Adora is currently a freshman at UC Berkeley, where she is majoring in Political Science.

Alison Meyer

Alison teaches leadership communications at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and around the world. She also consults to individuals and corporations as an executive coach, facilitator, and leadership program developer. A proud UC Berkeley “double bear” (MBA 2011, BA Art History 1987) she helps people find their stories and voice, move through giant obstacles, be curious about the people around them, listen fiercely, open their hearts, and aspire outrageously. Her company is

Carolyn Gable

As the Founder & CEO of a multi-million dollar 3rd party logistics firm, Carolyn’s road to a successful businesswoman was hardly typical. In order to make ends meet, she began waiting tables, a job she held for over a decade. Working in an exclusive restaurant atop of the Hyatt Chicago, wearing the mandatory uniform designed to appeal to the male clientele (including four-inch high heels), she waited on business men & women from all over the country. As a single mother, working for tips and living hand-to-mouth, it was barely enough to cover rent and feed her two kids. Something had to change. The change arrived one day when the roof of the restaurant was damaged in a storm, forcing Carolyn to find work quickly. She walked into an employment office and said she wanted a sales job. The counsellor looked at Carolyn, at her previous work experience, and said the best he could do was a Customer Service position at a freight company.

Dan Garcia

Dan Garcia is a Senior Lecturer with Security Of Employment in the EECS Department at the University of California, Berkeley, and joined the faculty in the fall of 2000. Dan received his PhD and MS in Computer Science from UC Berkeley in 2000 and 1995, and dual BS degrees in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from MIT in 1990. He was chosen as an ACM Distinguished Educator in 2012. He is active participant in SIGCSE (the annual computer science education conference, having presented every year since 2001), and is currently working with the ICSI Teaching Privacy research project. He serves on the ACM Education Board, the Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles Development Committee, is the faculty champion for the local Computer Science Teachers Association chapter, and the faculty co-director for BFOIT, a wonderful Berkeley K-12 outreach effort.

Dan Viederman

As CEO of Verité, Dan Viederman has worked closely with NGOs, governments, investors, and the biggest multinational brands in the world to improve working conditions and eliminate human rights violations across geographies and business sectors. For the impact that Verité has had on the millions of workers around the world, Viederman was the winner of a 2007 Skoll Foundation Award for Social Entrepreneurship, and was named 2011 Social Entrepreneur of the Year in the United States by the Geneva, Switzerland-based Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. Dan has managed NGOs in developing countries since 1993 and worked with internationally-recognized institutions such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Catholic Relief Services. He has lived extensively in Asia and speaks Chinese. Dan is a graduate of Yale University, the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, and Nanjing Teacher’s University.

Emily Levine

Emily Levine was a successful television writer/producer (Designing Women, Love and War, Dangerous Minds) as well as a stand-up comedian on TV (“Late Nite with David Letterman”) and at major clubs around the country. Since then, she’s become the Jon Stewart of science, finding comic gold at the interface of science and society. Her appearances at conferences (including four appearances at TED where she was recently voted one of the 100 all-time favorite speakers); in corporate venues; and onstage (in NY, LA and San Francisco) have received accolades from the press (“One of the new Queens of Comedy”, NEWSWEEK), from the scientific community (“Emily @ the Edge of Chaos” is a brilliant mix of art and science”/BRIAN GREENE and TRACY DAY, co-producers of the World Science Festival); and from her peers. Emily is in the final stages of post-production on “Emily @ the Edge of Chaos”, a film about how science saved her life and how she will now save the world.

Eric Holt-Gimenez

Eric Holt-Giménez has been Executive Director of Food First since 2006. He is the editor of the Food First bookFood Movements Unite! Strategies to Transform Our Food Systems; co-author of Food Rebellions! Crisis and the Hunger for Justice with Raj Patel and Annie Shattuck; and author of the book Campesino a Campesino: Voices from Latin America’s Farmer to Farmer Movement for Sustainable Agriculture and of many academic, magazine and news articles. Of Basque and Puerto Rican heritage, Eric grew up milking cows and pitching hay in Point Reyes, CA, where he learned that putting food on the table is hard work. After studying rural education and biology at the University of Oregon and Evergreen State College, he traveled through Mexico and Central America, where he was drawn to the simple life of small-scale farmers.

Eric Rasmussen

Dr. Rasmussen is a medical doctor and the CEO for Infinitum Humanitarian Systems (IHS), an international social business built on a profit-for-purpose model. By training he is an internal medicine physician with both undergraduate and medical degrees from Stanford University and a Masters degree in disaster medicine from the UN World Health Organization’s affiliate CEMEC (Centre European pour la Medecin des Catastrophes) in Italy. He was elected a Fellow of the American College of Physicians in 1997 and a Fellow of the Explorer’s Club in 2014.

Marc Gopin

Marc Gopin is the Director of the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution (CRDC), the James H. Laue Professor at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University, Arlington, Virginia, USA, and co-owner of MEJDI, a peace tourism business that embraces the multiple narratives of indigenous peoples. Gopin has pioneered projects at CRDC in Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Palestine and Israel. Gopin has trained thousands of people worldwide in peacebuilding strategies for complex conflicts. He conducts research on values dilemmas as they apply to international problems of clash of cultures, globalization and development, and social justice. The direction of his new research and teaching investigates the relationship between global trends in nonviolence and new approaches to global conflict resolution.

Meera Shenoy

Skilled in skilling. Abling the disabled. It is inspirational to help the poor. Or the disabled. Or the young in remote villages of rural India. Meera Shenoy has transformed lives in all three categories. She has pioneered a training model that skills underprivileged youth for jobs in today’s market. She has achieved this, while in leadership positions in the government, the private sector, and presently, in a social enterprise. Meera Shenoy is the Founder-Chairperson of Youth4Jobs (, which focuses on helping companies build an inclusive workforce. In just three years, Y4J has become one of the largest organizations in India in the field. It has reached out to over 100,000 rural households, trained 4500 disabled youth, and placed 70% in jobs, and 40% of these are girls with disabilities.

Mike Robbins

Mike Robbins ( is a thought-leader and sought-after speaker who has spent the past 15 years researching and speaking about essential human experiences in the workplace. His work focuses on emotional intelligence, leadership, and teamwork...and specifically the importance of authenticity, appreciation, compassion, and vulnerability at work and in life. He is the author of three books, Focus on the Good Stuff (2007), Be Yourself Everyone Else is Already Taken (2009), and Nothing Changes Until You Do (2014). His clients include Google, Wells Fargo, Charles Schwab, Gap, eBay, the US Department of Labor, Stanford University, the San Francisco Giants, and many others.

Prasad Kaipa

Prasad is the CEO of the Kaipa Group in California and is a thought leader in the areas of innovation, leadership development and change management. He is considered to be one of the top management thinkers (#21) of Indian origin by Thinkers50 group. He is the co-author of critically acclaimed and international best-seller (#4 in non-fiction books in India) “From Smart to Wise: Acting and Leading with Wisdom” in 2013. He has been a visiting professor and was the founding Executive Director of the Center for Leadership, Innovation and Change (CLIC) at the Indian School of Business (ISB) and raised multi-million dollar funding for the center. He was also a Smith Richardson Visiting Fellow at Center for Creative Leadership between 2010-11 and was an advisor to Business FAC of Fetzer Institute (2011-13). Prasad taught executive education programs organized by INSEAD, LBS, USC, Dartmouth and IIM Bangalore in addition to ISB.

Richmond Sarpong

Richmond Sarpong, who was born in Ghana, West Africa, is a professor of chemistry in the Department of Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has been since 2004. He moved to the United States in 1991 after a childhood and adolescent years in Ghana, Zambia, and Botswana, respectively. He was an undergraduate student at Macalester College, obtained his Ph.D. from Princeton University, and conducted a postdoctoral stay at Caltech. Richmond and his research group at Berkeley are interested in identifying efficient and versatile ways to prepare natural products, which are compounds isolated from living organisms that form the basis for over 50% of the medicines that are currently on the market. His passion to pursue science with potential medicinal value was driven by the scourge of river blindness and AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, which he witnessed first hand.

Steve Wozniak

A Silicon Valley icon and philanthropist for more than thirty years, Steve Wozniak has helped shape the computing industry with his design of Apple’s first line of products the Apple I and II and influenced the popular Macintosh. In 1976, Wozniak and Steve Jobs founded Apple Computer Inc. with Wozniak’s Apple I personal computer. The following year, he introduced his Apple II personal computer, featuring a central processing unit, a keyboard, color graphics, and a floppy disk drive. The Apple II was integral in launching the personal computer industry. In 1981, he went back to UC Berkeley and finished his degree in electrical engineering/computer science. For his achievements at Apple, Wozniak was awarded the National Medal of Technology by the President of the United States in 1985, the highest honor bestowed on America’s leading innovators.

Suzanne Ackerman-Berman

Suzanne graduated from UCT with a BA in French and Politics. Whilst a student, she was the first woman to chair the University Students Fund raising Rag committee 1984, and was elected vice-chair of SHAWCO. After university, Suzanne received extensive training in supermarkets in France and UK. She settled in France, ran her own businesses in restaurants and nightclubs in a French Ski resort for 7 years. Returning to South Africa, she joined the family Supermarket business, Pick n Pay, as a trainee manager. In 2007 she founded the Small Business Incubator that seeks to address the social and economic inequalities created by the Apartheid era, by creating access to the formal market for small and previously disadvantaged entrepreneurs. A passionate proponent for equality, job creation and skills development, Suzanne assists many new entrepreneurs with business and life skills through a mentorship program that ensures their sustainability as suppliers to the broader economy.

Valerie Joi

Valerie Joi’s song delivery is as fluid and focused as her life. She is a minister extraordinaire and her message of unconditional love and acceptance is clear, strong and uncompromising. Listening to her perform is an artistic and healing journey in itself. A gifted and multifaceted musician, Valerie Joi studied classical piano and jazz voice, and has worked with many recording artists as a pianist, vocalist, composer, arranger and producer. She is also a brilliant choir director. She has directed the UC Santa Cruz Gospel Choir for the past eleven years, and was recently named a Porter College Faculty Fellow by the university.

Victoria Kisyombe

Dr. Victoria Kisyombe is a leader who has used innovation, initiative, and determination to empower women in Tanzania to become economically self-sufficient. Given women’s lack of collateral and resulting lack of access to capital, Victoria began pioneering micro-leasing as a solution. Pioneering micro-leasing model as an alternative way to financing women has generated praise beyond Tanzania, and efforts are under way to expand the model to other countries in the region.

Viviana Guzman

Described by the New York Times as "an imaginative artist," Chilean-born flutist, Juilliard Graduate, Viviana Guzmán ( performs over 50 concerts a year throughout the world. Her most recent recording "Traveling Sonata" received a Grammy Nomination. She has been featured on programs for PBS, NBC, ABC, Univision and NPR, seen on the cover of Latina Style Magazine, in COSMOPOLITAN en Español. Viviana has performed in 123 countries, in all 7 continents, often featuring flutes from her collection of over 100 gathered from concert tours. She has performed as a soloist with over 100 orchestras, in such halls as in Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center, and other prominent stages with such artists as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Placido Domingo, and Glenn Close. Last season included concerts in Tokyo, Beijing, Jakarta, Bangkok, Seoul, as well as teaching masterclasses all over the world.

Organizing team




Mountain View, CA, United States
  • Renee Blodgett
  • Chris Lew
    Director of Operations
  • Max Wolffe
    Director of Logistics
  • Lucky Ding
    Director of Information