Security Advisor @ Cisco + Ethical Hacker
Ben Downton has spent the last 10 years as a security consultant, working with companies to protect them from cyber attacks. With a background in penetration testing (simulating real world attacks to test weaknesses), Ben views the world the way a hacker does.
Holding Masters degrees in both Mathematics and Computer Security & Forensics, Ben is constantly looking for new ways to learn. Looking a little deeper into the world around us provides that environment, and Ben is currently writing a book detailing his research on hacking RFID and contactless technologies. He also founded the security group 971sec in the UAE, which brings together technical experts to share research and information.
Believing the hacker mindset to have a positive impact on society, Ben wants to help young minds develop this skill and apply it to our world to solve problems.
Dr. Ronald Lalonde
ASD Middle School Principal + Educational Leader
In the past several years, Ronald Lalonde, the Middle School Principal at the American School of Dubai, has researched and presented extensively within schools about the application of positive psychology to middle level education. He continues to seek ways to reimagine student relationships with schools, and reshape adult attitudes toward adolescents and adolescence. In his 17 years in international education, Ron has held leadership positions at schools in England, the United Arab Emirates, and Mexico, where his interest in school improvement led him to develop a successful Instructional Coaching program. Ron holds a Master’s Degree in Educational Philosophy from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), and a doctorate from the University of Calgary where he focused on critical issues in consulting students. Dr. Lalonde continues to conduct research into student engagement and student voice, while maintaining his commitment to improving middle level education.
ASD Social Studies Teacher + Mindfulness Educator
Mr. Josh Kettell is a high school Social Studies teacher and Mindfulness educator. Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Josh has taught in Spain, Thailand, and now Dubai for the last 3 years. His passion for creating positive learning environments and helping students engage in holistic growth has led to him implementing Mindfulness practices into his classroom as well as the larger ASD community. His goal is to help students, teachers, and parents develop a greater sense of self-awareness, compassion, and empathy. He believes that developing the skills of Mindfulness and these characteristics are essential to meeting the challenges of modern life and being agents of positive change in our rapidly changing world.
June is a freshman at ASD, but was born in Seoul, South Korea. You can usually find her playing a round of golf, participating in MUN, reading a new book, or shopping, but other times she’ll be snapchatting her friends while surfing various Youtube channels. Through the use of Snapchat and other social media platforms, she couldn’t help but notice how social media and technology dictate today’s world, and therefore believes that it is vital to make the right decisions online. In her Ted Talk, she aims to advise and inspire people to make smart decisions with technology. June’s topic for the speech falls under ‘Passion to Empowerment’, but she feels her presentation is worthwhile for anyone and everyone to listen to, as many of the world’s problems today are created through the use of technology.
CXO of Careem
Magnus looks after product and technology. A geek at heart, Magnus started his first company at the age of fifteen. After moving to the Middle East in 2006, Magnus couldn’t wait to ditch his suit and tie and roll his sleeves up. You will often find him picking up a customer phone call, or chatting to a Captain about his day. Careem is his passion and he loves to hear customer feedback at every opportunity.
Megan is a junior at the American School of Dubai. Living in a melting pot of cultures, she is constantly surrounded by intense debate regarding various ideologies. One particular ideology that has always interested her is the movement towards gender equality. She is particularly intrigued by the heated conflict surrounding the concept of feminism in modern culture, and seeks to provide insight on the intense stigmatism behind the word in her talk.
Meher Khatwani is a junior at the American School of Dubai. She is originally from India but has lived in Dubai all her life. Living in the United Arab Emirates has allowed her to interact with people from all over the world with different cultures and ideas. This sparked her interest and passion for foreign language and literature. Meher speaks Hindi and English at home and learns Arabic and Spanish at school. She is fascinated by foreign language and hopes to further her studies by learning French and Russian. As the President of the World Languages Club at ASD, Meher hopes to deliver the numerous positive effects of language acquisition on the individual and society. Her TED talk about language, diversity, and unity, aims to deliver a similar message which is to urge more people to believe in the power of the Arabic in the UAE.
Deputy CEO of ReAble
Paul Safi is a legally blind 20 y.o. Psychology student & Entrepreneur. After technology empowered him to independence, he was inspired to build his startup: ReAble, to develop tech for people with special needs. The ReAble Wallet is a money management app that assists those with Intellectual Disabilities. ReAble won the 2015 Banque du Liban Early Stage Competition. After completing the Techstars Accelerator at Cape Town in June 2016, a Proof of Concept was produced with Barclays Bank, creating an accessible banking app. Safi as the Deputy CEO, shares responsibility for strategy and management. He manages aspects of the company's PR, HR, Marketing, and most critically -product creation. As Head of Research, he conducted market research in 4 countries through surveys, interviews, & focus groups, he takes validation at each stage extremely seriously. Alongside his entrepreneurial endeavours, Paul aspires to earn a doctorate in Clinical Psychology helping people overcome mental illness.
CEO of Global Investment Bank
Reza Dari is a seasoned investment banking executive with over 15 years of experience in alternative investments, structured products, private equity, strategic planning, and business development. As a former executive of High Dominion Capital, he has advised family offices and institutional clients globally on risk management, portfolio allocation and re-allocation strategies, asset consolidation, and private equity transactions. During the course of his professional career he has also advised various US and international oil and gas companies on alternative finance, corporate finance, M&A transactions and business development strategies.
Reza is a contributing author and frequent commentator on general market trends and emerging business models, investment strategies, and financial solutions. Under his leadership, Global Investment Bank has acquired various industry recognition awards for excellence, thought leadership and innovation.
Sana was born on the 21st of April 2001 in Cincinnati, Ohio and moved to Dubai in 2008. In her free time, she likes to watch movies with her family and friends, play basketball, sing, dance, paint, and try out new recipes in the kitchen.
Being a third culture kid in the American School of Dubai has exposed her to an international student body and continues to build her love for traveling and different foods. Sana is very passionate about the empowerment of girls and the way it has taken center of the stage for human rights in the 21st century. In her talk she explains how quality education needs to consist of the teachings in how girls should read what the media portrays online in a responsible, healthy way.
Valentina Rodriguez is a senior at the American School of Dubai who found her unexpected passion on her journey to a healthier lifestyle. First falling in love with running, and soon finding her strength in weight training, Valentina decided her love for fitness would not sit idle. Using her perpetual motivation to hit the gym, Valentina started a platform, VallFitt, through which she inspires and educates others in their quest for a healthy lifestyle. Valentina believes in all passions lies the power of change and seeks to share just how we can tap into the potential of our passions.
Zack Jenio is a Junior at the American School of Dubai, but is originally from America. When he’s not swimming, serving as the Vice President for the Student Government, researching with physicians about regenerative medicine, or studying, Zack enjoys watching Survivor and eating pizza. Zack felt a strange sense of passion after watching the latest season of Survivor, Millennials vs. Generation X, and wanted his voice to be heard on the matter. Not the one to sit quietly, as his voice is heard throughout the community and in Model United Nations, he felt the need to bring up this controversy. In Zack’s Ted Talk, he is going to discuss the endless cycle of criticism passed from generation to generation and how the next generation needs to be the one’s to break the chain. Although Zack’s message falls under the category ‘Dear Future Generation’ he urges everyone to listen to his presentation as the new perspective on a timeless topic can prompt change in everyone.