x = independently organized TED event

Theme: Changing the Current

This event occurred on
September 16, 2018
Sun Valley, Idaho
United States

As many rivers and streams run through our valley fueling life, so do agents of change, challenging what is tried and true and pushing forward for a brighter tomorrow. As society attempts to overcome a complex set of challenges, the current way of thinking is sometimes not sufficient to get us there. This year’s speakers are “Changing the Current” by exposing us to innovative concepts and electrifying ideas worth spreading. We are excited to bring you thought-provoking talks focused on ideas that range from modernizing the educational system, to fighting fire with finance, to using cannabis to help society.

Sun Valley Opera House
1 Sun Valley Road
Sun Valley, Idaho, 83353
United States
Event type:
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Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Alex Weber

Motivational Comedian, World Record Holder, American Ninja Warrior, US Lacrosse Coach of the Year, and Award-Winning Host for NBC, FX, etc.
Alex Weber is a Motivational Comedian, World Record Holder, American Ninja Warrior, US Lacrosse Coach of the Year, and Award-Winning Host for NBC, FX, etc. As a social experiment, Alex and his best friend video chatted 24 hours a day for 14 days straight to set a first-ever World Record. The live stream was broadcast to anyone in the world at all times. Continuing in new social experiments, Alex went around the country giving out Free Compliments to complete strangers as a positive exploration of connecting with people. With American Ninja Warrior, Alex was challenged to tackle many of the toughest obstacles in the series. Alex evolved from barely being able to begin obstacles to ultimately completing acrobatic aerials on the Vegas National Finals. Upon coming to Los Angeles, Alex coached Harvard Westlake HS. The team had never won a playoff game and in Alex’s first year, the team won the LA Championship, garnering Alex US Lacrosse Coach of the Year.

Alison Poulsen

Psychologist and author
Alison Poulsen’s PhD in Psychology, JD degree, and Masters in Philosophy provide distinct lenses through which to view conflict and resolution. In her work as a lawyer and a relationship counselor, she found that unnecessary suffering often results from ineffective communication or mistaken beliefs about relationships. By becoming aware of how we react to others, whether we tend to be compliant, aggressive or avoidant, we can learn how to express ourselves more effectively. The quality of our communication determines the quality of our lives and relationships. Alison is the author of the internationally-acclaimed blog “Couples Solutions” and two books, “So What I REALLY Meant,” and “Desire and Desirability: Transform the Pursuer/Distancer Dynamic into a Mutual Loving Relationship.” Married for 30 years with two children, she loves Sun Valley, skiing and dancing, and is a three-time National Water Ski Champion.

Ann Janikowski

Brand strategist
For the past 15 years, Ann Janikowski has been a market researcher, business strategist, and armchair anthropologist to brands large and small looking to build stronger communities with their audiences. By day she is a Brand Strategist at Phinney Bischoff in Seattle. By night she helps build community at her local Crossfit gym. Ann’s career trajectory has progressed from moody teen poet to disgruntled bookstore employee, ticket-taker to paralegal, nonprofit fundraiser to marketing manager. What permeated those experiences, and ultimately inspired her leap into the world of brand, was a deep fascination with the everyday lives of ordinary people. It’s an obsession she still cultivates, which undoubtedly stems from growing up as a first-generation Polish kid in Chicago, carefully observing others in hopes of fitting in, while leaning on her heritage to stand out. Ann holds a B.A. and M.A. in English from DePaul University. She lives in Seattle with her husband and special needs pit bull.

Avery Frazier

Avery Frazier, 17, has defined her life by rising above generic expectations. Born and raised in Meridian, Idaho, Avery grew up in a loving household with her mother and father. However, it was apparent early on to the Frazier family that something was different in their only child. Beginning in third grade she was placed in gifted and talented programs at her elementary school and continued on to be placed in advanced courses throughout high school, culminating in graduating one year early. Avery is currently planning to study forensic and mortuary science, planning to attend an ivy league college after completing her general education credits at Salt Lake Community College, and has a passion for motivating American youth to rise above the expectations which older generations have set for them.

Blair Brown

Alchemist and energy guide
Blair Brown is an alchemist and energy guide using ritual as a practice to host and facilitate a greater connection to inner strength and personal values. Rooted in the land, with a modern approach to our vital energy, she identifies the light in the dark: guiding to find a place of truth and deepened personal support. Known for her alchemist craft of talismanic jewelry and plant medicines, she offers these items as tools to assist in ritual. Employing Sadhana philosophy with Alpha and Theta energy, as well as Ayurveda and cannabis medicine, Blair uses these experiences to explore and broaden opportunities. Blair will hold the space in ceremonies and on stage as a speaker, often speaking on land stewardship, true conservation and catalytic relationships. She is also the founder of Blair Lauren Brown fine jewelry & Verte Essentials wellness products.

Cary Dakin

Cary Dakin has worked as a psychotherapist for twenty years, working with adult individuals and couples grappling with relational issues in personal and professional environments. She researches addiction recovery and the role of the non-conscious psyche in everyday life. Prior to completing her Ph.D., Cary acquired skills in finance and business at an investment banking firm. Drawing on her expertise in psychology, business, finance, and strategic communications, Cary conducts workshops aimed at issues in the workplace. She also routinely consults with upper management of organizations on developing stronger teams and clarity of mission and objectives to better serve their vision and goals. Based on her study of human behaviors causing the sixth mass extinction, she writes and does speaking engagements related to that topic. Cary has served as a board member for the N. California Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology, the Access Institute, Women’s Trust, and One World Children’s Fund.

Chris McAvoy

Educator & co-founder, Sage School, Hailey, Idaho
Chris McAvoy co-founded The Sage School in Hailey, Idaho. His work with adolescents began by leading students on journeys of self through the natural landscapes of the Rocky Mountains. He taught middle and high school students in Charter, Montessori, College Preparatory, and Expeditionary Learning formats, using his Undergraduate work at The University of Vermont in Psychology, Sociology and Political Science to help students understand and analyze the big trends in history and society. He has a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Colorado Boulder. Through a quarter of a century of work, he has been a stalwart voice helping schools to understand that it is the vital developmental task of adolescents to construct their identity, and thus it is our duty to design schools to specifically support that task. He and his wife Carolan, a Montessori teacher, are raising 2 kids in Hailey with 2 cats. He is also President of Sun Valley Youth Hockey.

Doug Greene

Media consultant & producer
Doug Greene is an online media consultant, digital content producer and award-winning author of “From Grief to Grace” – his story about losing most of his vision to glaucoma, entering into a prolonged depression that nearly ended in suicide, then – thanks to a profound experience deep in the Grand Canyon – enabled him to find his way back out. He has explored ways to more successfully manage depression, heal trauma and use the experience as a springboard to create a deeper and richer life: “Deal, Heal and Release.” He’ll be sharing his personal experiences with an experimental drug that “lifts away” suicidal thoughts in days, learning how to manage depression through natural means, using practices to heal trauma and gain a deeper understanding of how to turn trauma into transformation. Doug is looking forward to returning to the Wood River Valley, where he lived for two decades, working as a newspaper photo editor, magazine editor, freelance photojournalist and outdoor adventurer.

Elizabeth Sawin

Co-Director, Climate Interactive
Elizabeth Sawin is Co-Director of Climate Interactive, a think tank that applies systems analysis to climate change and related issues. A biologist with a Ph.D. from MIT, Beth trained in system dynamics and sustainability with Donella Meadows and worked at Sustainability Institute, the research institute founded by Meadows, for 13 years. Beth’s work focuses on helping people find solutions that prevent future climate change, build resilience to unavoidable climate impacts, and provide opportunities to people who need them most. She writes and speaks on this topic to local, national, and international audiences. She is a member of the Council on the Uncertain Human Future, a continuing dialogue on issues of climate change and sustainability among humanities scholars, writers, artists and climate scientists. Beth’s work also focuses on capacity building, helping leaders achieve bigger impact. She has trained and mentored global sustainability leaders and Dalai Lama fellows.

Gini Ballou

Civic leader
Gini Ballou has been a resident of the Wood River Valley for nearly 40 years. She and her husband, Jeff, have four children and three grandchildren. Ms. Ballou was born to serve—her mother stopped to vote for JFK on the way to the hospital for her birth! Fourth of seven children, including three adopted siblings, she was raised in Westchester, NY where her father wrote and taught computer science. Over the years Gini has been involved in many different businesses—from retail to hospitality, from office management to subcontractor support staff. She is also active in civic organizations locally, statewide and nationally, including: past Chair of county chapter of Mothers of the Military and Planning & Zoning Comissioner, Hailey, Idaho; Associate Director of United Vision for Idaho; President of the Idaho Democratic Women’s Caucus; and proud member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Otherwise you can find her and her husband on either the golf course or the dance floor.

Krista Burns

Certified postular neurologist and doctor of chiropractic
Dr. Krista Burns, co-founder of the American Posture Institute, is a Certified Postural Neurologist, Certified Posture Expert, and Doctor of Chiropractic. Dr. Krista’s work has been featured on Fox News and Global Woman Magazine and she has presented at the World Congress of Neurology and Neurological Disorders. Through her teaching at the American Posture Institute she has impacted thousands of patients achieve better posture. She is also the author of the textbook The Posture Principles. To spread awareness of proper posture for health and wellbeing, Dr. Krista created and implemented a publicly recognized postural hygiene program called “Better Posture for Brighter Futures” throughout the Italian school system. Dr. Krista has always had a love for fitness and was a member of the United States Freestyle Development Ski Team. Dr. Krista was also a nationally-recognized fitness competitor in the category of Bikini Bodybuilding and was the Italian Grand Prix Overall Champion.

Leigh Madeira

Conservation finance pioneer and investor
Leigh Madeira is a reformed investment banker turned impact investor committed to developing financially sustainable solutions to the world’s most pressing environmental challenges. Her experience with investments both large and small — from multi-billion dollar deals in the energy and consumer sectors to $300 microloans while serving as a Kiva Fellow in Ecuador — makes her uniquely positioned to understand the financial needs of a diverse set of stakeholders. Leigh is Co-Founder and Partner of Blue Forest Conservation, a mission-driven financial startup that is developing the Forest Resilience Bond to address severe wildfire risk across the Western U.S. Through public-private partnerships and innovative investment structures, the Forest Resilience Bond finances forest health treatments while providing investors a competitive return. Leigh earned an MBA with honors from UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, holds a BBA in Finance from the University of Notre Dame.

Majeed Mogharreban

Author and storyteller
Majeed Mogharreban believes that stories have the power to change the world. Majeed has worked with the United Nations, Fairtrade, celebrities, a senator, an olympic gold medal winner, CEOs and top entrepreneurs to give speeches and tell stories that change the world. Majeed is an international best-selling author and the founder of The Expert Speaker Institute.

Michael Marlin

Author and perfomer
People describe Marlin as a cross between “Doc Brown and Willy Wonka” who embodies the essence of a pioneer. A circus runaway at age 18 tending elephants, he graduated from Clown College and went on to created the ‘comic juggler’ genre in the late 70’s that paved the way for a generation of jugglers who followed. Disillusioned by show business and LA, he dropped out in 1986 and moved to the jungles of Hawaii, where he founded a community where he lived for five years with no electricity in a tree house he built. Inspired by moon, stars and glowing lava, Marlin set about to create another first of its kind, LUMA: Theater of Light, a live production he's performed in 15 countries on 5 continents. Marlin still juggles and is also a film actor, satirical essayist, cartoonist, and an inventor of toys and games. His book, “The Contemplative Navel” has been reviewed as “a cross between Will Rogers and Sophocles.” He received the Presidential Volunteer Service Award from Barack Obama.

Organizing team


Sun Valley, ID, United States


Sun Valley, ID, United States
  • Andrew Castellano