"I came to the field of conservation quite late in life, by way of previous careers in education and design. After returning to school in my 50's to complete a master's in resource management, I began working on various projects in a number of African countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia and Mozambique. I currently work as a consultant with Fauna and Flora International on a project to save the last remaining herd of elephants in the Republic of Guinea.
When not in Africa I divide my time between the UK, where I am originally from, and a remote region of Iceland."
Actor, Playwright, Magician
Ben Whiting is an award-winning actor, playwright and magician whose career spans from the Las Vegas strip, to New York’s off-Broadway playhouses. When he’s not traveling the country representing major corporations, such as American Express and GE, at trade shows and client events, you’ll find him traveling the world with Crystal Cruise Lines as one of their premiere entertainers, or astonishing private clients such as Oprah’s HARPO Studios. Known for his humor, originality, and ability to connect with audiences, Ben combines these skills with world-class sleight of hand and mind reading to give his clients an entertainment experience second to none. See benwhiting.com.
I envision new ways to use technology to engage and educate young people and adults in science, including games, simulations, and mobile applications, as well as more traditional electronic media like radio, television and film. As Program Director for Technology and Learning at the AAAS, I launched and now oversee the Science NetLinks digital STEM learning project and website, I am executive producer and host of the daily AAAS radio feature, Science Update, and creative director/executive producer of the Peabody Award and Codie Award winning Kinetic City series, including games, simulations, radio, animation, books and after school products. Most recently, I developed and launched the Active Explorer smart-phone application and website ( www.active-explorer.com ), that lets adult Leaders (educators, scientists, parents and others) build their own smartphone Quests and invite young Explorers to participate. active-explorer.com
Brooke Warner is the co-founder and publisher of She Writes Press, a community-driven publishing house for women writers. She is an author advocate and change-maker with a mission to level the playing field for independent authors. shewritespress.com
At only 18 years old, Claudia Mintz is making a boom as one of ReverbNation’s Top 40 Singer-Songwriters in Chicago right now. Recently having played sold out shows everywhere from Uncommon Ground to SPACE in Evanston, Claudia’s profound story telling and charming performances are leaving a mark on her followers. Claudia is currently studying songwriting at Interlochen Arts Academy. She has experience recording her music with grammy-nominated engineers, and performing with and for renowned musicians like Malik Yusef, Andrew Dost, Bob James, and more. Claudia's two favorite things are to write, and to connect with and move people through her stories and songs.
ELIZABETH WINTHROP (www.elizabethwinthrop.com), the author of over sixty works of fiction for all ages, describes herself first and foremost as a storyteller. Writing as Elizabeth Winthrop Alsop, she has published an e-book memoir piece entitled Don’t Knock Unless You’re Bleeding, Growing up in Cold War Washington, which hints at the underground life she lived as the daughter of a famous journalist during the McCarthy era. She tells the story in more detail in her current project, a memoir-in-progress, entitled The Daughter of Spies. In this book, she views her family history through the lens of her relationship with her mother, a British war bride who, at the age of eighteen, married an American parachutist who would become the world-renowned, syndicated columnist, Stewart Alsop. Even though she has spent a lifetime creating stories for readers of all ages, Winthrop has found the story of her own life to be the hardest one to tell.
Model with a Message of Hope and Compassion for Today's Youth
Giuseppe Pizano was abandoned by his mother at the age of 14. When he came home, the house was completely empty. Having only lived in Las Vegas for 6 months, he went to the only place he knew—his high school. He lived for the next several months in his high school’s bleachers, never wanting anyone to know he was homeless. He graduated high school with honors and received a track scholarship to Northern Arizona.
His amazing story is best told in a letter that he wrote to his mother—a letter of forgiveness. Now based in New York, Giuseppe is a model and has worked with many of the major brands—but his passion to speaking to the youth of today and delivering a message of hope and compassion as he recites the very letter he wrote to his mother.
When asked what message he would leave with a 14 year old that may find themselves in the same situation he says “I would tell them what I told myself every day ‘Get up!’
Musician. Speaker. Entrepreneur.
brotha James is a musician, a speaker and an entrepreneur. Utilizing the many powers of individual empowerment and mindfulness, he’s built a life full of passion, power and purpose. His passion is to create and present musical messages all over the world: “It’s been living inside of me since I can remember. I consider myself very fortunate to have re-united with it in my late 20’s,” brotha James reveals. brothajames.com
Only two things intrigue Jon Berghoff more than the art of asking a beautiful question.
The first: possibilities. Possibilities for how questions might cause our human systems to come alive, be at our best, play to our strengths, innovate from everywhere, deepen our sense of purpose or even, dare we say, save the world.
The second: science. The data-driven, scientifically informed craft of designing questions in a way that makes what is possible become probable.
Early entrepreneurial ventures served as a “way out” for Jon, diagnosed with ADHD and rejected from every college he applied to. Eventually, his insatiable curiosity propelled him to lead the meteoric sales growth for Vitamix Corporation, from $40 million to $175 million in just four years.
Today, Jon and his team at Flourishing Leadership Institute are guided by one question: What causes a human system to come alive faster, more effectively, and more naturally than ever before? The answers might surprise you. lead2flourish.com
Educator, Author: Children and Healthy Media Choices
My passion is to help parents of young children trust their own instincts, know that their attention is most important to the child and help them see where and how to bring that attention within their busy lives. I founded and direct the non-profit Healthy Media Choices and teach Children and Media at Fordham University. Whether speaking at a conference, creating custom workshops for schools, communities and teacher training institutes, or working with an individual family, my work is infused, not just with research, but with personal experience as a parent and grandparent seeing the stress that conflicting information and the demands of everyday life can put on parents who are trying to be intentional and caring with their young children. http://www.healthymediachoices.org
Nik Carman is a bluegrass musician from Northern Michigan. He is partial to instruments with strings, and currently plays guitar and mandolin. Nik has busked in Rome, been called up onstage by Donna the Buffalo in Miami, performed on the live radio show “The Blue Plate Special” in Knoxville, and delivered a speech about his life journey to a receptive audience at “Fulfillament” in Traverse City. He is excited to be performing for you today at TEDx. Nik is 11 years old and lives with his family in Leelanau County, Land of Delight. nikcarman.com
Counselor for Addiction Recovery
Steele grew up in a privileged community and home. Her family afforded her the opportunities to be whatever she chose. She was given a good education, was able to travel, and fulfilled her dream of being a wife and mother of three wonderful children. She spent her adult years raising her family in the Traverse City area. She was happy with her life until the disease of alcoholism destroyed it. She was lucky enough after many difficult years and many attempts to find recovery. She has been sober for almost nine years. Today she has a new purpose. She is employed in the addiction field. She is working towards a degree in addiction that will allow her to counsel substance abusers. She speaks with the recovery community and their families about addiction being a disease and regaining hope. She tries to carry this message to communities so that they will know how to offer help to their loved ones. Addicts are not weak or morally bad people, they are sick. They need the chance to recover.
Teacher, Connector, Leader
Paul Hernandez earned a PhD in Sociology, specifically the sociology of education, social inequality, and diversity. His book, The Pedagogy of Real Talk: Engaging, Teaching, and Connecting with Students at Risk, focuses on creating learning experiences to build rapport and meaningful relationships with students. He is a recognized speaker, leader, and consultant in college access and success, community outreach, and pedagogy for educators working with underserved/underprepared students and those at risk of dropping out of school. His expansive work connects to higher education, K-12 and non-profit organizations further developing and evolving work with students and communities. Prior to college, he was engulfed in gang culture and deep poverty, surviving on the streets of Los Angeles. He shares his unique story of being a youth at risk and how his path has influenced his work. Dr. Hernandez was awarded the National Education Association Reg Weaver Human and Civil Rights & other awards.
Born and raised on Earthwork Farm in rural northern Michigan, Seth Bernard was brought up in the folk and farmstead culture with an enriching integrative experience of the arts, agriculture, and community. In 2001, Seth founded Earthwork Music, a Michigan-based collective of independent musicians who focus their efforts on environmental advocacy, social justice, creative empowerment and community building. As the Artistic Director of “The Quest”, Seth has partnered with SEEDS, the Library of Congress and the National Parks Service to bring experiential arts and ecological education to children in Northern Michigan in after-school programs and summer camps. As the Director of the Musical Ambassador Program for On the Ground, Seth has helped cultivate partnerships and cultural exchanges between communities in southern Mexico, Ethiopia and eastern Congo and communities in Michigan with a focus on direct collaboration between youth. samuelsethbernard.com
Musician, Educator, + Founder of Play On, Philly!
Stanford Thompson is a musician and educator who is passionate about using music for social action and serves as the Founder and Executive Director for the El Sistema-inspired program, Play On, Philly! Recently recognized as a TED Fellow, Stanford also serves on the boards of the Interlochen Center for the Arts, Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia Chapter of the American Composers Forum, and El Sistema USA. He is a native of Atlanta, GA and holds degrees from The Curtis Institute of Music and the New England Conservatory’s Abreu Fellows Program. playonphilly.org
Multipotentialite, Humor Advocate
The need for more humor when discussing race.
Too often, race is viewed under a microscope through a lens of negativity. Drawing on his own unique perspective as former assistant men's basketball coach at Hampton University, thus making him one of a handful of whites on a 5,000-member Historically Black College and University (HBCU), multipotentialite Steve Zengel draws not only from this experience, but also from his experiences as a business owner, doctor, and educator to make a case that there is something more all of us can be doing to help ease racial tensions in America by simply changing the lens.
Activist. Professor. Therapist. Writer.
My passion is helping people be of value to themselves and their communities through love, justice, strong relationships, resourcefulness, character, imagining and hard work.
As the eldest of five, my siblings would tell you that I’ve always taught, created and fought for others.
Currently, I’m in my 29th year of teaching psychology at NMC, tenth year as a TC Record Eagle columnist and fourth decade as a wheelchair user.
One of my great honors was being named the 2010 Sara Hardy Humanitarian of the Year by the TC Human Rights Commission. Since 2015, I’ve served as a HRC commissioner.
Supporters as well as those challenged by me, have said I’m a “fire starter”, “someone with big character”, “speaker of truth to power”, “trail blazer” and “that woman”.
A CEO of one of the many boards I sit on, once remarked “I’d rather hear the tough questions from Susan before I hear them from someone less caring on the outside.”
Physical Therapist + Advocate for Happy Healthy Strong Young People
A Canadian import, Ty came to Traverse City in 2006. Along with his wife, Johanna, a Leelanau County native, Ty founded Norte! in 2013 to advocate for more happy, healthy, strong young people. A recovering Cat 2 road/elite mountain bike racer, Ty now rides at kid pace with his two boys, Carter and Jameson, and loves it. He can often be seen at Munson Community Health Center where he is a part time physical therapist – he job shares with Johanna – or at Carter’s Compost World HQ where he volunteers as a bucket scrubber and pile turner.