x = independently organized TED event

This event occurred on
June 20, 2018
Rapid City, South Dakota
United States

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized (subject to certain rules and regulations).

Performing Arts Center
601 Columbus Street
Rapid City, South Dakota, 57701
United States
Event type:
Standard (What is this?)
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Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Alex Massa

Rapid City native trumpeter Alexander Massa has been on the move for the past 12 years. Having just turned 30, he has spent his twenties obtaining one and one-half degrees, residing in five different cities in three countries, and most importantly (to him), connected with and been involved dearly with communities during each of his many moments in these places. These have all happened because of, in support of, in spite of, and in defiance of, music. One of the most beautiful things Alexander has discovered, is that the most unapologetically beautiful moments cannot be prepared for. They cannot be rehearsed and they cannot be recreated. Each experience of growth must come from a natural state of curiosity and the desire to listen and understand. That desire to understand and relate, combined with basic human interaction gives us the potential to instantly be attracted or repelled from someone. Do our expectations of one another disallow us the opportunity to relate to one another? It has been a goal of Massa to answer this, and through the concepts of true improvised music, he has learned, and continues to learn, ways to connect to all people, regardless of our outward perceptions and assumptions about each human.

Cubs the Poet

Self-Reliant. Critical thinker. Bringing my generation to the forefront of culture. Reforming and redefining the African American Mind. Black Elitist since birth.

Dan Dolan

I grew up on a small dairy farm in western Minnesota. I spent 2 years at St. John’s University and then completed bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD degrees at the University of Minnesota. I spent a year at the University of Duisburg in West Germany on a Humboldt fellowship. I have taught at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology for 36 years. For the past 20 of those years I have been studying teaming and leadership development in engineering students, and advising intercollegiate engineering design competition teams. I have been humbled by the complexity of coaching over 100 of these teams. I have found a deep interest in the psychology of teaming and leadership. I am equally intrigued by engineering and psychology and music. I completed a graduate psychology certificate program in higher ed assessment from James Madison University in 2017.

Doris Cardwell

Doris Cardwell is a survivor of inflammatory breast cancer. Her diagnosis in 2007 completely changed the trajectory of her life. While undergoing treatment she co-founded a mentor program for cancer patients. Doris created community events designed to educate, encourage and empower those affected by cancer. Doris quickly became a voice in her community regarding cancer. She raised awareness on issues facing survivors and caregivers as well. She co-founded the 'I Will Survive 5K' in her hometown to raise money for the local survivorship fund. Doris was the first Survivorship Community Outreach Liaison for her local cancer center. As such she combined the patient perspective with her professional experiences. She now lives in Spearfish and is a wife, mother of adult children, writer and lover of all things coffee.

Erik Bringswhite

Erik is an organizer, a strong advocate and considers himself a servant and protector of the youth, families, and community. Erik strongly believes that by utilizing education, culture and principles, together, we can be successful in the facilitation of the betterment and uplifting of one another; as well as the safety and wellbeing of community. Erik utilizes his experience and education as he serves on many community groups, committees and conversations. He a 2018 Bush Fellow and serves as the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Pennington County MacArthur Foundation's Safety and Justice Challenge.

Gordon Decker

Gordon Decker is a 20-year law enforcement veteran and 12-year Army National Guard veteran. He holds a Masters Science in Administration with an emphasis in Organizational Leadership from the University of South Dakota and has more than 8 years of experience working with non-profits of various sizes and at different levels of responsibility. He currently owns his own business and was previously a product manager for a software company. Gordon has been married 14 years and has two children (9 and 12 year old boys). He prides himself on being a lifelong learner, passionate about growth and development personally, professionally, and as a community.

Heather Dawn Thompson

Heather Dawn Thompson is a Harvard Law School graduate with extensive expertise in international and domestic law and policy. Heather is a former federal prosecutor and has worked for the Department of Justice, United States Senate, and the Immigration & Naturalization Service in our nation’s capital. She is a nationally renowned attorney with clients throughout the United States. In addition to her law practice, Heather comes from three generations of farmers, is a concealed carry permit holder, and was granted a Bush Fellowship to study off-grid and grid-down survival skills. Heather is going to walk us through some of the challenges of "Surviving an Invasion." Heather and her family live in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota.

Heth Turnquist

Heth R. Turnquist is from a ranch 7 miles south of Winner, SD. After completing bachelor degrees in Biology and Psychology at South Dakota State University and a doctorate in Pathology and Microbiology from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, he resettled in Pittsburgh, PA. Here, Dr. Turnquist leads a NIH-funded research program aiming to understand how signals released early after tissue injury shape subsequent immune responses. His research team is working to translate this knowledge into therapies that improve outcomes after transplantation and trauma by harnessing immune cells with natural protective and reparative functions. When not doing “science” at the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, he works on his old house, mountain bikes, and watches Pittsburgh Pirates baseball and Husker football. Typically, these are done with his twin girls, Lydia and Beata, wife, Rachael, and a corgi-mix named Prince.

Jenn Buell

A graduate of North Central University with a degree in mass communications and theatre, Jenn uses her passion for writing, speaking, and storytelling to encourage single parents, moms, and faith communities. While she only brings out her signature Irish Brogue accent on St. Patrick’s Day, Jenn’s voice is regularly heard on local radio where she’s been a DJ for over a decade. When she isn’t writing, running kids to activities, or brewing that next cup of tea, Jenn enjoys community theatre and blogging, and looks forward to launching her podcast in summer 2018.

Jerry Davis

Jerry Davis grew up on the east end of Long Island, New York. He served for 20 years in the U.S. Navy, spending numerous years underwater in total aboard nuclear powered submarines. During his military service, Jerry developed his passion for occupational safety, and he is often quoted as saying that one can find “every hazard under the sun” in a shipyard. After retiring from the navy, Jerry became a professional ergonomist (CPE) and a certified safety professional (CSP). In his post-military career, he has 17 years of experience in academia teaching and conducting research in ergonomics, occupational safety and systems safety engineering at Auburn University. His most recent research has focused on analyzing the ability of small children to successfully evacuate school buses.

Jon Schaff

Jon D. Schaff is Professor of Political Science at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. He teaches courses on the American Presidency, American Political Thought, and Politics and Film, among other courses. He is widely quoted in media discussing South Dakota politics and presidential politics. He has published on presidential "first hundred days," the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, and the political thought of Alexis de Tocqueville and has contributed to edited volumes on George McGovern and South Dakota political culture. He is author of Lincoln and the Limits of Liberal Democracy: Statesmanship and Presidential Power (forthcoming, Southern Illinois University Press) and co-author of Age of Anxiety: Meaning, Identity, and Politics in 21st Century Film and Literature (forthcoming, Lexington Books).

Lafawn Janis

Lafawn Janis is 99% Seventh Generation member of the Oglala Lakota Sioux Tribe and 1% French decent from the Champagne France region. In depth, this really includes 3 parts Small Business Owner, 3 parts Education Advocate, 2 parts Grant Writer, 2 parts Supporter & Defender of domestic violence and sexual assault victims, 6 parts Mother, 3 parts Friend, 2 parts Water Protector, 2 parts Business Manager, 4 parts Mentor, 1 part Mountain Biker, 1 part Harley rider, 1 part Skier, and All parts a Believer in the greatness of Humanity to come together to thrive.

Mark Vargo

Mark has spent a lifetime pursuing the art of persuasion. A high school and college debater, he and his partner were Team of the Year his senior year at Princeton. After graduating from Georgetown Law, Mark went pro as an Assistant State Attorney for Janet Reno in Miami, Florida in 1988. Relying upon his wife's description of Rapid City as "the banana belt, " he moved to South Dakota, where he served as a Deputy State's Attorney for three years, joined the Rapid City United States Attorney's Office for 15 years, and then, in 2012, was elected as Pennington County State's Attorney. In his copious free time, he has also been a professor of Rhetoric, an instructor for prosecutors around the world, including Tbilisi, Georgia, and Vladivostok, Russia, and was the debate coach for Rapid City Stevens for the last seven years.

Western Dakota Improv

Founded by David Patton who attended Second City. Rag Tag group of hillbillies from the hills of South Dakota where presidential comedy lives.

Organizing team


Rapid City, SD, United States