Alex Linebrink is a Detroit-based serial financial tech entrepreneur, currently the CEO of Passage Inc (powering ticketing and payments for thousands of events around the world), an internationally recognized blockchain evangelist, and a drone enthusiast.
Ryter Cooperative Industries
Ali Dirul is the Founder of Ryter Cooperative Industries, a prominent project management company in Detroit where he was born and raised. Obtaining degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Alternative Energy, Ali works closely with local communities to inspire a new clean energy future for the city.
13-year-old Alina Morse invented Zollipops (and now ZolliDrops and Zaffi Taffy) the candy that cleans your teeth—she is the #1 sugar-free hard candy. The 8th grader will hit $2.5M in sales in 2018. She is women-owned and cause-based…giving away 1 million of her candies this year alone.
Comedian, Writer, Political Activist & Professor
Amer is a Palestinian-American comedian, musician, & writer. As the child of Palestinian refugees, his special brand of comedy is fresh, enlightening, and, of course, hilarious.
He has performed to live audiences throughout America, Canada, and the Arab World, making people laugh in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco, Boston, Toronto, Amman, Muscat, Beirut, Nazareth, Haifa, Yafa, Bethlehem, Ramallah, and Jerusalem.
Entreprenuers, Podcasters & Beer Enthusiasts
Dave Phillips (left) and Bob Waltenspiel (right) have been in the metro Detroit information technology scene for far longer than they care to admit. Bob's the sales guy, Dave's the geek, and together they've become best friends and accidental entrepreneurs along the way. From the IT in the D networking group to a podcast of the same name, the duo built Podcast Detroit, a network that now spans multiple studios in Royal Oak and downtown Detroit with more than 100 shows recording on a regular basis. The Venn diagram of their lives is always entertaining, and they're talking about launching businesses by accident, tripping uphill, making mistakes along the way and yet still somehow building something solid that people want to be a part of on a regular basis.
Wheelchair Ballroom Dance Team
A Paralympic medal winner, World Record holder, and Athletes with Disabilities Hall of Fame inductee are just a few of Cheryl Angelelli’s
accomplishments after a tragic accident in a swimming pool at the age of 14 left her a quadriplegic.
Angelelli is currently the marketing manager for DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan where she serves as a source of inspiration and motivation to patients newly diagnosed with a disability.
2014, she took up wheelchair ballroom dancing. She and her dance partner, Tamerlan Gadirov, are the only IPC ranked Para DanceSport couple in the U.S. In 2017, they were ranked 7th in the world.
Tamerlan started dancing in his native country of Azerbaijan at the age of 11. He moved to the US in 2016 to teach ballroom dancing at Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Bloomfield Hills. He is also specially trained in wheelchair ballroom dancing. Tamerlan is also the lead instructor for Dance Mobility; an adapted ballroom dance program for persons with disabilities.
Goldfish Swim School
Jenny McCuiston realized the demand for quality swim instruction after teaching swim lessons at a local swim club in the summer of 2000.
After the two years of research, and a lot of hard work, Co-Founders Chris and Jenny McCuiston opened the first Goldfish Swim School in Birmingham, Michigan on March 20, 2006. They opened with over 500 students enrolled and, within two years, the business had grown to teach more than 2,000 students per week.
Since opening its first franchise in 2009 in Farmington Hills, Michigan, Goldfish Swim School has continued to grow across North America. There are currently over 80 schools open or in development in more than 26 states and Canada. Today, Goldfish is proud to teach more than 100,000 students per week how to swim and how to be safer in and around the water.
Group Product Manager at Google
Cyrus is the Group Product Manager at Google responsible for Education and SMB Platforms & Ecosystems and holds four degrees from Johns Hopkins with post-graduate work in Natural Language Processing, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence.
Artist Felicia Bowers is talented, witty and determined. She also has cerebral palsy and has been confined to a wheelchair since birth. With the creativity, technology and caring of her team at Soul Studio inside Friendship Circle, Felicia has found a new way to unleash her art. Friendship Circle Director Bassie Shemtov and Exhibitions Manager Anthony Marcellini join Felicia on stage to tell her story.
Co-Founder, and CEO of Warmilu
Grace is a problem solver. She connects Warmilu to the right people to build strategy and infrastructure to share warmth. Having been born preterm, leading Warmilu is an opportunity to give back and transform lives with warmth. She is passionate about getting more young women into the STEM fields and breaking down typical engineering stereotypes.
Neuroscientist and CEO
Greg is a neuroscientist and electrical engineer who loves tinkering with all things electric. He’s developing tools, curriculum, and experiments that allow the general public to participate, hands-on, in neuroscience discovery. He is a senior fellow at TED and an investigator at the National Institute of Health.
Journalists & Columnists at ESPN
Kelley is an Emmy award-winning journalist. Currently, she serves as a senior entertainment writer at ESPN’s The Undefeated. Over the course of her career, the Spartan grad has been a reporter for BuzzFeed, USA Today, The Detroit Free Press, The Chicago Tribune and Ebony Magazine.
Jemele hosted a number of programs at ESPN over the past dozen years from SportsCenter to His & Hers to The Undefeated. Prior to ESPN, she was a reporter and columnist the Orlando Sentinel, Detroit Free Press, and Raleigh News & Observer. In 2018, Jemele was named journalist of the year by the National Association of Black Journalists.
Theatre Bizarre grew out of a simple desire to be fully immersed in an otherworldly environment. To see the world as a child does, if only for a moment. To feel genuine wonder. For almost two decades, Theatre Bizarre has been fulfilling that need on a grand scale.
Scientist, Chemistry Professor, & Pyromaniac
At the University of Texas, Dr. Kate Biberdorf is breaking stereotypes and blowing stuff up—all in a good pair of heels. Through her theatrical and hands-on approach to teaching, Dr. Biberdorf is breaking down the image of the stereotypical scientist, while reaching students that might otherwise be intimidated by science. Students’ emotional responses, rather than rote memorization of facts, is key to Biberdorf ’s dynamic approach to her program, as well as science in general.
Spoken Word Poets
Words and rhythm collide on stage with real and raw stories of survival that speak to the universal heart of people. Kirk Latimer and Gabriel Giron – two men from different walks of life share, with power and raw intensity, their trials and tribulations and eventual triumphs through spoken word poetry and honest storytelling. Having been featured on America’s Got Talent and the Apollo stage, Kinetic Affect moves audiences around the nation with their entertaining and emotional performances.
Out from the quiet orchards of Romeo, Mich., Libby DeCamp has spent an adolescence in close companionship with bodies of music and literature, among hinterlands of horses and history. Driven by a will to connect on a raw, human level, Libby makes folk and roots-steeped music with a lyrical edge, and delivers with a honeyed vocal closeness that reaches listeners of all kinds. The soundscape is captivating; innocently dark and best described as “Broken Folk.”
Speared by her debut six-song EP titled “Cross Sections,” released in March, 2016, (following four years writing and performing in various folk groups right out of high school) the 23-year old has rigorously performed both within her home state and broken into the national market with no time to waste, taking her show on the road extensively with the two-brother rhythm section, Adam and Brandon Schreiber of Jack & the Bear. Her works have scored multiple placements MTV hit shows.
Mahmoud “Moody” Mattan is the Co-founder & CEO of BrandVR, a no-code AR/VR platform. Previously, he founded PowisVR, a multi-million dollar virtual reality headset manufacturer. Before that, he led investments in Meta, Sidecar, and Genius at Fenox Venture Capital.
Lessons From Cardi B- The Power of Giving None
Hailed internationally for her work as a recording artist, arts educator, and US musical ambassador. Since 2013, she has served 18 countries for the US State Department. Recently awarded as 2018’s Detroit Music Award’s 'Outstanding Rap MC', she was a 2016 Kresge Arts Fellow.
The Lip Bar
In 2012, Melissa launched The Lip Bar because she was incredibly frustrated with the beauty industry. Why were most cosmetics filled with unnecessary chemicals? Why did lipsticks only come in a limited range of colors? And more importantly, why was the depiction of beauty so damn linear?
Melissa started making lipstick in her kitchen because I believed beauty shouldn't compromise health and because she was determined to not change the way she looked to fit into some superficial or trendy beauty standard.
She's not passionate about makeup. She's passionate about creating an inclusive narrative on what beauty is and reminding women that they don't have to settle for anything.
Today, The Lip Bar products are found at retailers nationwide and Melissa's mission to challenge the current standard of beauty by creating a lipstick experience that is unsurpassed in craftsmanship, quality and color continues.
Spoken Word Artist, Actress & Writer
“Because you’ve never had to...” Mikhaella’s Freelife brand encourages people to realize they’ve never had to live a life without passion! Her faith has led her to speak in Poland, co-host the upcoming TV show To the Beat, and even perform poetry for the NBA.
Musique Noire is a women-led strings and percussion ensemble performing dynamic world fusion music. The members, residing in Detroit and Chicago, are veteran performers nationally and internationally. Releases include Good Hair (2008), Holiday Dreams:
A celebration of Christmas (2011) and Reflections: We Breathe (2017).C
Music Engineer, Producer, DJ & Recording Artist
Nick Speed is no stranger to the limelight. His first major publicity began when he was only four years old, appearing on the front page of the Washington Post after being honored by President Ronald Regan for his accomplishments as Washington D.C.’s youngest on-air radio personality. As the son of an American music pioneer, Nick Speed has been surrounded by music his entire life.
In the late 90s, Nick began building relationships with local hip-hop acts and developed a reputation as one of Detroit’s hottest dj/producers on the come up. In 2004, Nick’s demo fell into the hands of G-Unit President Sha Money XL, who signed Nick as an exclusive producer to his Money Management Group.
Having established himself as a platinum producer and DJ, Nick now returns to his roots as an artist and is looking forward to launching his solo career and heading to the front of the stage with his one of a kind charisma, energy and most of all, incredible new music!
Infectious Diseases Researcher
Antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest public health threats. Dr. Ravina Kullar, whose recent talk became a viral hit, now stands in the city where her infectious diseases research journey began. She wants to inspire everyone to be a part of the solution by arming them with the knowledge to take action.
Roop started his career at age 19 on CBS & ABC stations in Lansing. By 23, he was anchoring the news in Flint followed by seven years at NBC in New Orleans. After 24 hurricanes including Katrina, Roop moved to Detroit in ‘09 where an economic storm was brewing.
Murals in the Market
As Chief Operating Officer, Roula manages 1xRUN’s staff and the Inner State Gallery. She comes from experience as an entrepreneur, founding Cincinnati, Ohio’s short-lived but beloved “space-age diner,” Vinyl.
After joining 1xRUN in 2014, Roula has headed up the company’s Special Projects initiative, which pairs 1xRUN’s artists with different projects including Murals in the Market.
Over the past four years, 1xRUN and Eastern Market Corporation have produced more than 125 murals in the Eastern Market District.
Shawn Lee studios
Head of Diversity for the Professional Photographers of America (PPA). CEO of Multicultural Association of Professional Photographers (MAPP). Visual Storyteller for Small Business. ROCK THAT Photography Conference & Tradeshow Founder. Community Guy that absolutely loves People!
MacDonald Magic Productions Inc.
Winner of more awards than any magician in history in one international contest, Stuart Fooled Penn and Teller and just returned from the Olympics of Magic in South Korea placing 8th on the world and first in the Americas.
Trevor Pawl is Group Vice President of PlanetM, Pure Michigan Business Connect and the Michigan International Trade Program for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). In this role, Trevor leads the state’s mobility, export and supply chain programming. Since 2013, these three initiatives have collectively facilitated over $8.5 billion in new business for Michigan companies across 20 industry segments.
Trevor enjoys running, and has finished the San Francisco, Detroit and Athens, Greece Marathons. He has also cage-dove with Great White Sharks in Africa, sky-dove over the Alps, and completed the steepest zipline and tallest bungee jump in the world. But, the coolest thing ever was meeting his wife, Jessica, at TEDxDetroit 2013.
The Mack Brothers are pre-teen authors, entrepreneurs and app developers who aren’t waiting for permission. Undra and Austin are the founders of three functioning and operational businesses; Mack Brother’s Lawn Service, Pitcher to Picture Books/Publishing and APPly I.T. Using a Three-Pot Financial structure system design by themselves and their mom, the brothers have been successful in stabilizing one business to fund the next.