x = independently organized TED event

Theme: Elevate

This event occurred on
September 7, 2014
1:00pm - 5:00pm CDT
(UTC -5hrs)
Huntsville, AL
United States

Elevate: This year we’ll lift our ideas, our dialogue, our work, and our world to a higher level.

At TEDx Huntsville 2014, we identify individuals who are truly making a difference, making the Tennessee Valley better. Their acts, big or small, move us and get us thinking about our community–they touch our lives and make us better. There is a place where ideas emerge and resonate, and that place is TEDxHuntsville.

4915 Garth Road SE
Huntsville, AL, 35802
United States
Event type:
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Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Antonio Montoya

Antonio Montoya has been involved with high tech for over 20 years in consulting, sales, product development and marketing. An entrepreneur at heart, he started his own consulting practice in 1994, which took him to the Caribbean, and Central and South America. When he relocated to Huntsville in 2003, he joined the product management team at Intergraph (now part of Hexagon). In 2007, he joined AeroMetric (now Quantum Spatial) where he directed all marketing online and offline activities, and led the implementation team for Google Apps and Antonio founded Rocket Hatch to promote and support entrepreneurship in the Northern Alabama region. His mission is to connect local startups and entrepreneurs with the startup communities around the US and beyond, showcasing this community, and bringing the best people, programs and global resources to this area. He also advises several early-stage companies.

Debra Jenkins

Debra hopes that her TEDxHuntsville talk will leave audiences inspired to find their own life’s calling as they hear about the unconventional way that she found hers. By working with people who have special needs, and surviving her son’s journey through addiction and into recovery, Debra has learned that we are all more alike than we are different, that it’s never too late to find your life’s calling and that the biggest risk in life is being afraid to take a risk.

Don Wilcher

Don Wilcher’s talk will explain his journey to education, even though his training and experience is that of an Electrical Engineer. While in college, he noticed that the methods his professors used to communicate complex/abstract concepts in electrical engineering were not ‘user friendly.’ Because of their complicated teaching methods, he wanted to figure out a way to convey complex subjects to where anyone could understand them. Thus, his personal journey into education began when he developed his first weekend enrichment program for kids titled “Electricity and Robots.” From there, his energies and focus are to help kids as well as adults learn about technology through hands-on building and experimenting with electronics and robotics.

Joe Martin

At one point in Joe’s life, he was overweight, depressed, and had basically given up. At the present time, Joe is a successful business owner, devoted husband, loving father, best selling author, follower of Christ, and a fitness professional who gets the opportunity to help others change their lives every day. Joe’s life changed by doing three things that every person is capable of doing. Joe would like to share those three things. Joe Martin is the owner of Huntsville and Madison Adventure Boot Camp. He has won several awards, including Huntsville’s Healthiest Trainer, and Huntsville’s Healthiest Male. Adventure Boot Camp was voted the best place in Huntsville to workout, and his book The Wellness Code hit the Amazon Best Sellers list. He prides himself on his ability to make exercise fun, safe, and effective for everybody no matter what size they are or what kind of shape they are in.

Karen Wynne

Karen Wynne has made a career of playing in the dirt, as a farm worker and manager, a soil mapper, a wetland delineator, a perc tester, and organic farm planner. After clinching fourth place in a collegiate soil judging competition at Ohio State University, she knew she was destined for great things in soil science. She has focused her efforts on the southeastern United States, working primarily with small farmers to develop alternative production and marketing options that support more sustainable approaches to farming. In addition to her work with individual farmers and on her family’s own semi-neglected farm, Karen has worked with many partners to build other key pieces of the puzzle for local food systems in the area, including the Madison City Farmers Market, the North Alabama Food Policy Council, Southern Fresh Produce, and the Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network.

Kelvin Wooten

Kelvin Wooten intends to show how technological advances are asset to the creation of music. The face of popular music has changed through these advances, making it accessible to anyone who wants to create. With this, however, there is more of a chance for those who are at heart not true musicians a hand at creating as well. This over-saturates the market with sub-par quality. The expectation for quality music as a whole diminishes. This is because the technology is not used as a tool, but rather a crutch. The soul of music should not be sacrificed by the methods in which we create and distribute the art. Kelvin has played, written, arranged or produced for Earth, Wind & Fire, Mary J. Blige, Al Green, The Bee Gees, Anthony Hamilton, Nappy Roots, Jill Scott, Macy Gray, the Isley Brothers, Tony Toni Tone and TLC to name a few.

Lori King-Taylor

In this journey through life, each of us deal with some form of human tragedy, pain, or loss. Many stumble through the predictable stages of grief until they fall into a black hole of depression. For 20 years, Lori King-Taylor and her husband actively pursued building their family, and for 20 years they suffered through infertility and failed adoptions. During her darkest moments, Lori questioned “Is there a reason for the pain?” Eventually, she realized that she could help more children than she could ever adopt, serving the underserved. For the last several years, Lori has traveled to the ends of the earth to care for orphans and has found a joy and purpose for her life in serving others.

Lysa Parker

Parents around the world are hungry for information on child development and they want support for their parenting choices. They not only want to be better parents but they intend to create a more compassionate, empathic world one family at a time. Lysa Parker is a parenting educator, writer, social entrepreneur and most importantly, a mother. When she became a mother for the first time, she thought she was educated enough that she would have an easy go of it, but was quickly proved wrong. Her experience taught me many lessons, that created many opportunities for personal growth and the desire to give back to humanity. Twenty years ago she cofounded a nonprofit organization called Attachment Parenting International to promote secure parent-child attachment relationships through education and community support groups. Their goal is to cut through the myths and misinformation about childrearing practices by providing the best research-informed best practices.

Margaret Hoelzer

Margaret Hoelzer is an Olympic medalist, winning two silver medals and a bronze medal during the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Originally from Huntsville, Alabama, Margaret swam during the summer for Jones Valley Recreation Association (JVRA), Space City Swim, and for her team at Huntsville High School. Margaret later swam on the team at Auburn University, where she earned a degree in psychology, with a minor in criminology. Margaret is a public speaker on child abuse issues, and is the national spokesperson for the National Children’s Advocacy Center. In 2009, Margaret relocated to Seattle, Washington, and then to Fullerton, California, where she trains at Fullerton Aquatics with Coach Sean Hutchison.

Mark Noble

While co-owning a physical therapy clinic, Noble saw frequently engineers as patients, and noted that the initial evaluation measurement values of maximal joint strength were more subjective than purely objective. He often challenged them to help develop more objective and precise technology. One engineer finally took up the challenge. They are developing technology that uses optical siting principles and merges that data stream with a NASA-funded dynamometer required for deep space flight and extended stays aboard the Space Station. The optical element will standardize measurements, and will be valuable for insurance, court cases, military and other applications. The dyno will also objectively measure strength of the complete kinetic chain and demonstrate torque curves, critical for athletes trying to avoid steroids. For people relearning walking skills or to prevent osteoporosis, the identical NASA technology, for the prevention of osteoporosis acquired in extended periods of zero gravity, is being considered for general use. History demonstrates that what is learned in sports medicine has many spinoff capabilities to the general public. Consequently, this new technology will be an innovative leader in many industries.

Niki Werkheiser

Any remote location, whether it is the middle of the desert or the surface of Mars, presents a challenge in terms of obtaining the resources one needs to thrive. Analogous to the way the printing press evoked the Renaissance and generated a middle class by making information accessible to everyone, 3D Printing will do the same by providing the individual with the capability to produce on-demand goods wherever and whenever they might be needed. This is particularly meaningful when applied to space exploration where the supply chain has been severely constrained due to the dependency on launching everything that might be needed from earth. This year, we will make history by launching the first 3D Printer to the International Space Station. This technology will forevermore improve the way we live and operate in space and ultimately provide the much-needed solution for sustainable human exploration.

Philip Kovacs

The educational reforms of the last 100 years are predicated on information scarcity. Today, not unlike the early 1900s, Children go to schools where they download facts that administrators then ask them to regurgitate, sometimes using computers. The world we live in now is information dense. We no longer need fact-distribution centers. We need spaces where children learn to identify, access, and utilize information from various knowledge systems in order to create change in a given space over a given period of time. This talk addresses the limitations of current educational practices and presents a compelling vision of how tomorrow’s schools will operate. Unlike many TED talks covering education, Dr. Kovacs closes with a pragmatic, immediately implementable, cost saving example of a transformational global space for student development and growth.

Stephen F Black

Stephen Black studied American History at the University of Pennsylvania, receiving his Bachelor’s degree in 1993, magna cum laude, and attended Yale Law School, graduating in 1997. Following law school, Black moved to Birmingham, became involved in public affairs and practiced law at Maynard, Cooper and Gale. He spent a year serving as an assistant to the Governor, researching policy issues and economic development projects. Leaving the Governor’s Office in 2001, he returned to Maynard, Cooper and Gale. In 2004, Black was appointed to the University of Alabama faculty, and was asked to create, and then direct, a new Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility. Also in 2004, he founded Impact Alabama: A Student Service Initiative; he currently serves as its President and Board Chairman. In 2013, Chancellor Robert E. Witt asked Black to serve as Special Advisor to The University of Alabama Chancellor for Outreach and Community Engagement.

Watters/Felts Project

The group is three years old, Hunstville-based, and involved in the UAH jazz program as well as Grissom High jazz band. They are dedicated to investing in their community to support local young musicians. Ken Watters spent years performing in NYC, where he was infused with deep rhythms of traditional jazz, plus over 50 trips to Haiti, where his flugel and trumpet matured to encompass complex world beats from the island’s Zouk style. Abe Becker graced Indiana University’s prestigious music program, to follow by teaching at UAB and then UAH. His bass lines form the basis of many of the group’s originals. He has co-written with lead singer Felts, as well as arranged for Birmingham’s String Theory, and also plays with top 40 band Bonus Round. Darrell Tibbs has recorded and toured with Donna Summers among other world renowned names, and adds tasty sauce to all the right jazz dishes. He is known for his surprising gift of humor and lyrics. He is about to release his own long-awaited album of originals. Keith Taylor has his own CD of originals out, and shares his talents outside the group with his home church as well as the UAH jazz program. Eloquence defines his signature voice on keyboards, yet during more driving diversions, he becomes a heavy part of the rhythm section. Marcus Pope runs a relentless drum school and clinic for young up-and-comings, and is the backbone of each WFP tune. His comic and lively interaction with percussionist Tibbs is the main draw for returning audiences. Pope is responsible for the “feel” of each piece. Singer Ingrid Felts has been produced by LA’s In Sync Music for her first solo record, Manna, an indie pop album. Her pop, gospel, and rock background influence jazz vocals for a unique interpretation of jazz standards and on-the-spot lyrics within Watters/Felts’ live compositions.

Kisha Freed

What is that special thing that makes some of the world’s greatest heroes so ah-mazing? The late South African President, Nelson Mandela, survivors of Nazi concentration camps, Harriett Tubman, and Ghandi, for examples? They all possessed a Superpower! But what is this Superpower, and how do we get it? It’s really simple. You already have it! And once you become mindful of it, you will have the opportunity to use it with greater consciousness. Kisha will share some examples of everyday people who have used this Superpower to change or redirect the course of their lives, and inspired the lives of others. Kisha is the CEO of Word-Xpress.Com and Publishing. Word-Xpress recently launched a breast cancer support community campaign which offers emotional and mental support to breast cancer survivors, patients, and caregivers. This is one of several artist community projects launched by

Organizing team


Huntsville, AL, United States


Madison, AL, United States
  • Cassondra Sumrall