Musician + Poet
Big Lux is a larger-than-life Hip Hop artist determined to change the way people see the Violin and the world. His music reflects a life spread across five continents and multiple war zones, with original compositions taking audiences from Baghdad to Seoul to his hometown of Westerly, RI. By blending Hip Hop, Blue Grass, Jazz and stories from his own life, he creates an experience for his audience instead of a show. There are lots of ways to listen to a violin, but Big Lux wants people to feel it like never before.
designer + technologist + founder
Brian Boyle is a training designer/technologist, founder of CrossTrainer® eLearning, and Co-Founder of CrossTrainer Mixed Reality. With nearly 20 years in design and 15 years as a Rhode Island business owner, Brian combines his wealth of experience with a wide range of technologies to disrupt the training industry.
In recent years Brian has focused on freeing learners from their desks through mobile learning and gamification. He has designed innovative mixed reality training solutions that engage learners and bolster retention. The next frontier goes beyond training, toward building rich user experiences with the goal of improving quality of life. Brian continues to educate audiences on the vast potential of these emerging technologies, while working with his team to blur the boundaries of the physical and virtual worlds.
Brian is an Alumni of Geneseo State University in NY, and Goldmann Sachs 10kSB program in RI.
education + performer + mentor
Community MusicWorks is a music education, performance, and mentoring program that serves Providence, RI’s South Side neighborhoods and builds lasting and meaningful relationships between children, families, and professional musicians. Founded in 1997 by MacArthur Foundation Fellowship recipient Sebastian Ruth, CMW’s successful model for engaging classical musicians in urban communities was recognized with a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award and two ArtPlace America grants. Over the past 23 years CMW has grown to engage twelve Resident Musicians in sustained teaching, performing and community-building activities deeply entwined with the participating neighborhoods. Resident musicians teach instrument lessons in violin, viola and cello, mentor students, and perform as the ensemble MusicWorks Collective in a robust concert series throughout Providence and surrounding communities.
professor + data scientist + researcher
Elisa Celis is an Assistant Professor of Statistics and Data Science at Yale University. Elisa’s research focuses on problems that arise at the interface of computation and machine learning and its societal ramifications. Specifically, she studies the manifestation of social and economic biases in our online lives via the algorithms that encode and perpetuate them. Her work spans multiple areas including social computing and crowd-sourcing, data science, and algorithm design with a current emphasis on fairness and diversity in artificial intelligence and machine learning.
intersex activist + artist + author
Emily Quinn is an artist, author, and intersex activist. She received her BFA in Animation in 2012 and worked at Cartoon Network on the Emmy Award winning show, Adventure Time. While there she partnered with interACT and MTV to develop the first intersex main character in television history. She came out publicly as intersex in a PSA alongside the character’s debut, which launched her into the national spotlight as an intersex person. She has since been featured in an array of media, including Teen Vogue, the Washington Post, Buzzfeed, Vice, Huffington Post, PopSugar, and many more.
Emily worked as the Youth Coordinator for interACT: Advocates for Intersex Youth before branching off on her own as a freelance activist and artist. She has experience speaking to a myriad of diverse audiences including the American Academy of Pediatrics, San Diego Comic-Con, Harvard University, GLAAD, South by Southwest, the Council of Europe, and, in 2018 she gave a TED talk.
dance + hip hop + b-boy
The Floor Lords is Boston’s oldest Breakin crew, the crew was established in 1981, 38 years ago. Since then, they have played a significant role in the growth of Hip Hop in New England and worldwide. They’ve contributing wholeheartedly by helping to define and ultimately expand upon the art of breakdancing or more commonly known as “Breakin” in their community.
The group focuses on bringing all five elements of Hip-Hop culture to millions of fans and followers through television, films, competition and performances. The Floor Lords also focuses on community outreach in the inner city streets of Boston, using their positive Hip Hop influence to keep kids dancing and off the streets. They’ve racked up many accomplishes over the years including Mayor Menino awarding them with June 25th as official “Floor Lords Day”
designer + innovator
Hannah Chung is the Co-founder and Head of Design of Sproutel, an award-winning company creating products that make meaningful health impact in the lives of patients. She has been recognized by various organizations - including "Top 15 Women to Watch in Tech” by Inc Magazine in 2012, and one of 50 honored makers by the White House in 2014. She has also spoken at numerous conferences like Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit, IDSA, Creative Mornings, and SXSW. Before co-founding Sproutel, Hannah co-founded Design for America, a national student organization that helps students solve local, social problems through human-centered design. Hannah studied Mechanical Engineering at Northwestern University and enjoys challenging herself through working on various illustration projects.
musician + performer + activator
Known for their memorable melodies and haunting, honest lyrics, Homestead Collective is Caitlyn Deviney & Ben Morris - an indie-folk duo based just outside Philadelphia. Having met in high school and grew up playing instruments, the two started collaborating musically in 2015, and began Homestead Collective in 2017. Caitlyn & Ben have crafted a unique sound influenced by artists such as Nickel Creek, Josh Garrels, Drew Holcomb, and Gregory Alan Isakov.
Author + Advocate
Jose R. Rosario is a speaker, author and above all, an advocate. As a member of many diverse identity groups, Jose recognizes that common experiences bring people together and that taking stock of who we are gives us power. Jose wants to inspire others to acknowledge their identities, share their stories and empower those who are underrepresented to rise. As a mental health professional, Jose understands that this empowerment, and the creation of a space to be vulnerable, can lead to individual and group growth, awakening agents for change.
Jose is a Clinical Psychology Ph.D. student at Clark University and CEO of The Phoenix Empowered, an organization focused on mental health disparities in marginalized groups. In addition, he is an Expressive Arts Facilitator through the PeaceLove Studios.
Author + Interviewer
Julian Jacobs is a recent graduate of Brown University and a Fulbright Scholar whose research has focused on the effects of artificial intelligence on income inequality, the future of work, and American democracy. He is the author of 35 articles and essays in 15 different publications, including interviews with Bernie Sanders, David Cameron, Noam Chomsky, Peter Hitchens, Tom Perez, and Reza Aslan. He is the Founding Editor-In-Chief of the Brown University Journal of Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. Julian previously worked at The Brookings Institution and in President Barack Obama's post-presidency office, where he supported the 44th President's correspondence, communications, and speechwriting teams.
doctor + professor + digital health innovator
Dr. Ranney is Chief Research Officer of AFFIRM Research (www.affirmresearch.org), the country’s leading non-profit committed to ending the gun violence epidemic through a public health approach. She is one of the country's leading voices on creating an evidence-based approach to gun violence prevention. She is also a practicing emergency physician and Associate Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Alpert Medical School, Brown University. Her career focus is on developing, testing, and disseminating digital health interventions to prevent violence and mental illness. She is Founding Director of the Brown Emergency Digital Health Innovation program (www.brownedhi.org). She is a Fellow of the fifth class of the Aspen Health Innovators Fellowship and is a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. She is also a mother of two.
strategy consultant + author
A strategy consultant, keynote speaker and author. She consults professionals, athletes, leaders and corporations on goal & change strategy, women empowerment and mastery of mental barriers. Her recent inspirational work includes setting a seemingly impossible world record cycling as the first female in history every mile of the 2000 mi Tour of Spain at the same day as the professionals. Monika has previously worked for the World Bank, IBM and the International Monetary Fund, has lived in five countries and speaks three languages. Originally from Germany, she holds degrees from Bryant University, Georgetown University and University of Minnesota.
Global Media Strategist
Naomi is the founder of The Women With Stories International, an organization that empowers women to find and own their unique stories, discover their cure, and serve others. Naomi uses her knowledge and expertise as a Global Media Strategist to coach personal and corporate brands on how to go from invisible to visible and local to global by leveraging digital media platforms. An alumna of the Dale Carnegie Institute and the Myles Munroe Leadership Mentoring Program, Naomi also serves on the Board of Directors of four non-profits: Hive Africa, Church on the Street, Kiyeseni Foundation and Salt Talks Africa. She is the recipient of the Woman of Excellence Award by the Women’s Economic Forum in New Delhi, India. Her mission is to ‘die empty’ and SPARKLE the world like only she can.
Musician + Educator
Sebastian Ruth is a musician, educator, and organizer whose work explores new roles for music making in contemporary society. He is the Founder and Artistic Director of Community MusicWorks, a nationally-recognized organization that connects professional musicians with urban youth and families in Providence, Rhode Island. Sebastian is a Visiting Lecturer at the Yale School of Music and an Assistant Professor of the Practice of Music at Brown University. He serves on the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture’s cabinet, with a title of Secretary of Music and Society, and the advisory board of the Sphinx Organization. In 2010, Sebastian received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from First Lady Michele Obama on behalf of Community MusicWorks. Sebastian is a recipient of a 2010 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship for “forging a new, multifaceted role beyond the concert hall for the twenty-first-century musician.”
journalist + activist
Steve Ahlquist is a Rhode Island based reporter that runs the independent progressive news site UpriseRI.com. A writer, photographer and videographer, Steve has been honored with awards and recognition from RI Pride, DARE, the RI Homeless Coalition and the Red Bandana Fund, among others. His online publication is entirely supported by the communities he serves.
Student + Speaker + Educator
Taiwo Demola is the co-founder of Diversity Talks, a business that provides student-led professional development for teachers that utilizes restorative justice practices and provides the tools necessary to engage in culturally relevant conversation within the classroom. She is a former delegate for the Providence Student Union. In this role, Taiwo assisted in the development and implementation of an ethnic studies curriculum and educated community stakeholders about the issues impacting Providence high school students. As a member of the Nellie Mae Foundation speaker’s bureau, Taiwo has been able to educate audiences outside of Rhode Island about the importance of empowering young people to be agents of change. Taiwo is currently a sophomore at Mount Holyoke College and remains committed to inspiring and uplifting people through honest dialogue and narrative sharing
founder + innovator
Ted Fischer is Co-Founder and CEO of Ageless Innovation and the Joy for All brand. Inspired by his relationship with his grandmother, Claire, who lived gracefully with progressive dementia, Ageless Innovation is focused on re-imagining how we live and age by unleashing the power of play. Ted has spent his career building, working with and leading collaborative teams that strive to achieve meaningful financial and social impact. After a 25 year career founding or working with early stage companies, in 2015, he joined Hasbro as VP, Business Development and led the launch of the Joy for All brand. Three years later, he and his former Hasbro team founded Ageless Innovation and acquired the Joy for All brand in a friendly management spin-out. Ted holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Boston College and is a graduate of the Program for Management Development at Harvard Business School. He serves on numerous nonprofit boards and as Board Chair of Year Up RI.
TEDxProvidence is part of the TEDx program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. TEDxProvidence first appeared in Providence in 2012 based on a TEDFellow requirement of TEDFellow Peter Haas to create a TEDx event in a city that didn’t already have one. In 2013, Peter Haas, Cat Laine, Michael Gazdacko, Caroline Mailloux and Dani Grodsky formed the Providence Speaking Society (PSS), a Rhode Island non-profit to organize speaking events. PSS’s main role was to plan and execute the TEDxProvidence event. In 2015, Providence Speaking Society was awarded federally recognized 501 (c) (3) tax exempt status. Each event is based on a different theme, featuring between 10 and 20 speakers, performers, and entertainers from throughout Rhode Island. TEDxProvidence and the Providence Speaking Society are completely volunteer run and organized. They are supported by sponsorships, in kind contributions, and from TEDxProvidence event ticket sales.
Public Art Advocate
Yarrow Thorne, Founder and Executive Director of The Avenue Concept. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). While a student, Yarrow established RISD’s first public art policy to create revolving walls for artists to showcase their work. In 2012, Yarrow was selected to receive one of twenty SEED Grants from the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, which he used to found The Avenue Concept. Yarrow’s vision for The Avenue Concept is a private organization that leverages support for public art projects to get off the ground, to jump-start excitement and recognition for art and its value in Providence and everyday life. Yarrow believes his dyslexia is his greatest asset. Through it he has developed his ability to work outside the box in many venues, particularly in finding creative solutions to urban challenges using public art. Yarrow has installed over 150 pieces of public art since 2012.