x = independently organized TED event


This event occurred on
August 19, 2016
Kansas City, Missouri
United States

Who are we? How did we get here? Where are we going? Great questions lead to great answers. TEDxKC 2016 will explore the power of the question.

NOTE: Tickets to the live and simulcast events are SOLD-OUT. Visit our website for information about watch parties.

Kauffman Center For The Performing Arts
1601 Broadway Street
Kansas City, Missouri, 64108
United States
Event type:
Standard (What is this?)
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When asked to describe what kind of music they make, the three members of Thirdstory—Elliott Skinner, Ben Lusher, and Richard Saunders—all respond with a nervous laugh. Known for their sublime vocal harmonies and uncanny knack for reconfiguring the language of pop songs, the music that the trio creates together is fantastically genre defying. “That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?” laughs Lusher, “We usually say it’s pop songwriting mixed with soulful vocals, live instrumentation and elements of folk guitar and electric guitar, with a very hip hop influence on the production. So basically it’s everything.” A collaborative effort in the truest sense of the word, Thirdstory’s forthcoming full-length debut reflects the group’s wide range of influences and diverse backgrounds.

Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado

Molecular and Neuro Biologist
Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado is a researcher at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Sánchez Alvarado's current research efforts are aimed at understanding the molecular and cellular basis of animal regeneration.

Bill Callahan

Formerly performing as Smog, Bill Callahan has perfected a lo-fi indie rock sound that pairs his distinctive vocals and exceptional lyrics.

Denise Lance

Disability Rights Activist
Denise Lance retired from disability research two years ago to focus on living as independently as she could with cerebral palsy. While still a disability rights advocate, she now focuses on writing and artistic endeavors, including folding origami with her feet. Denise questions society's emphasis on independence, especially for those with disabilities, in light of the interdependence of all humans on one another.

Harriet Lerner

NYT Best Selling Author, Psychologist
Harriet Lerner, Ph.D. is one of our nation's most loved and respected relationship experts. A renowned scholar on the psychology of women and family relationships, she is the author of twelve books, including The New York Times bestseller, The Dance of Anger, which has sold several million copies and been translated into more than 35 foreign editions. Her new book is called Why Won't You Apologize: Healing Big Betrayals and Everyday Hurts.

James Hobson

Engineer, Maker, Inventor, YouTube Creator
James Hobson quit his full-time job as a mechanical engineer to pursue his passion as an inventor. With the hope to inspire others to do the same, James documents his innovative creations on his YouTube channel, the Hacksmith. Whether making adjustments to his home-made exoskeletons or creating functional prototypes inspired by fictional ideas in comic books, movies and video games; James is a mashup of MacGyver ingenuity and playful Mythbuster engineering rigor.

Jess Ladd

Founder / CEO / TED Fellow
Jessica Ladd is the Founder and CEO of Sexual Health Innovations and a TED Fellow. She has been honored as a Fearless Changemaker by the Case Foundation, an Emerging Innovator by Ashoka and American Express, and as the Civic Hacker of the Year by Baltimore Innovation Week. Before founding Sexual Health Innovations, Ladd worked in the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, as a Public Policy Associate at The AIDS Institute and as a sexual health educator and researcher for a variety of organizations. She also founded The Social Innovation Lab in Baltimore and a chapter of FemSex at Pomona College. She received her Masters in Public Health at Johns Hopkins and her BA in Public Policy/Human Sexuality at Pomona College. She left a PhD program in infectious disease epidemiology at Johns Hopkins in order to pursue work at Sexual Health Innovations full-time. Ladd has created a platform, Callisto, for students to report assaults online without having to identify their assailant.

Mark Shaw

CEO, Inventor, Entrepreneur
Thirty years of experience in the designing, developing, sales and marketing of environmental products in the fields of spill containment, spill response, stormwater management, construction compliance, facility protection,bio-remediation (microbes), oil spill, radioactive waste management and nanotechnologies. Founded and operated four businesses servicing the environmental, industrial and safety market. Inventor or co-inventor of over sixty patents. Developed over 500 new products. Numerous new product of the year awards, three times named one of the fastest growing companies in NE Florida. Founder and Principal in UltraTech International Inc. and Interpak, Inc. Credited with starting the Spill Containment Industry in the early 1980s. Extensive international business experience covering forty countries. Numerous published articles, speeches and papers. TED Speaker, Long Beach 2013. 2015 EY Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist, Florida 2015 North Florida Ultimate CEO.

Michael Rea

Founder & CEO
Dr. Michael Rea founded Rx Savings Solutions in 2008 after routinely witnessing consumers struggling to pay for their medications. He noticed quickly at that time that consumers were paying much more than they needed to, which was attributable to a lack of information available to them. He set out on his mission to arm consumers with this information and add efficiency and transparency back into the world of pharmacy. Dr. Rea has been involved with research surrounding pharmacy transparency for over 10 years. He received his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Creighton University.

R. Luke DuBois

Artist, TED Fellow, Educator
R. Luke DuBois is a multidisciplinary artist mining the intersection of art, culture and technology, often expanding or contracting perspectives or timespans to accentuate aspects of each work. As a musician, he has produced a spectrum of electro-acoustic works with a multitude of artists, including Bora Yoon, Bang on a Can and the Freight Elevator Quartet. As an artist, DuBois focuses on exposing the long narratives created by arcs of data, in the same way that time-lapse photographs expose long swaths of motion in a single image. As a programmer, DuBois is co-author of Jitter, a software suite that allows real-time manipulation of video and 3D imagery. DuBois teaches at New York University, where he co-directs the Integrated Digital Media program at the Tandon School of Engineering. His artwork is represented by bitforms gallery in New York City.

Rupi Kaur

Author, artist, photographer and poet
Rupi Kaur is a celebrated photographer, illustrator, author and spoken word artists. Her latest work, Milk and Honey is a powerful exploration of femininity, love, loss, trauma and healing.

Stan Tatkin

Researcher, Clinician, Author and Relationship Expert
Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT, is a clinician, researcher, teacher, and developer of A Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy® (PACT). He has a clinical practice in Calabasas, CA, where he has specialized for the last 15 years in working with couples and individuals who wish to be in relationships. He and his wife, Tracey Boldemann-Tatkin, developed the PACT Institute for the purpose of training other psychotherapists to use this method in their clinical practice.

Stephanie Shonekan

Author, Ethnomusicologist, Filmmaker, Educator
Stephanie Shonekan (PhD, Indiana University) is Chair of the Department of Black Studies and Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology and Black Studies at the University of Missouri. Her dual heritage combining West Africa with the West Indies allows her to straddle the black world comfortably. She has published articles on afrobeat, Fela Kuti, as well as American and Nigerian hip-hop. Her books The Life of Camilla Williams, African American Classical Singer and Opera Diva (2011) and Soul, Country, and the USA: Race and Identity in American Music Culture (2015) explore the intersection where identity, history, culture and music meet. In 2008, inspired by the music and revolution of Fela’s mother and the Nigerian market women’s revolution of the 1940s, Dr. Shonekan wrote and produced a short live action film titled Lioness of Lisabi. The film was awarded first prize at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival in 2010 and by the Girls Inc. Film Festival in March 2012.

Organizing team


Telluride, CO, United States


Kansas City, MO, United States
  • Hannah Kerr
    Team member
  • John Mulvihill
  • Nicole Debrick
    Team member