Entertainer + Deaf Activist + Author
Aarron is an actor, entertainer and activist for the deaf and hard of hearing community. In 2014, Aarron won Mister Deaf United States and went on to become the first African-American to win Mister Deaf International. In 2019, he performed the National Anthem during Super Bowl LIII with Grammy-Award Winner, Gladys Knight, along with rising star duo, Chloe X Halle. Recently, he released his first book aptly titled: My Struggle, My Success. He’s also working to form a foundation called, Believe In YOURSELF, to encourage people around the world, particularly those living with different abilities.
Inventor, Founder + President of LearningPlunge
Alan Fishel was coaching his son’s 3rd grade soccer team 17 years ago when he learned that his players had no knowledge of U.S. geography. He then created an educational geography game called GeoPlunge that has been a big hit in D.C. area schools for 15 years, with two tournaments held each year, usually at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, with hundreds of children playing in teams of 3. Through the years teachers have raved about the impact GeoPlunge has had on students, telling stories about how it has even helped some children completely turn their lives around.
As a result of Alan’s involvement with these games and all the teachers, students and community partners he has worked with, Alan has seen first-hand what types of gamification can reach all students and why, while other types appeal to only a small fraction of children.
Founder + CEO
Bob Dalton is an American activist, speaker, and entrepreneur.
He was inspired to help the homeless population when his mother, a hardworking single mother, found herself living on the streets in 2013.
Because of his mother's story, Bob realized that not all choose to become homeless, but that some people need a second chance. He began to call homeless shelters in his area to ask what they needed most. They all said blankets. That's when he founded Sackcloth & Ashes.
For every blanket you purchase, Sackcloth & Ashes gives a blanket to your local homeless shelter.
In 2018 he created and launched Sackcloth & Ashes’ first major campaign: Blanket The United States. The goal of the campaign is to donate ONE MILLION blankets to homeless shelters by 2024.
Spoken Word Artist + Poetry Specialist
Charity Blackwell is a spoken word artist, host, emcee, and poetry specialist who has spent several years contributing to the arts and soccer scene locally in D.C. and across the nation. Charity’s breathtaking poetry and performance have led her to many hosting opportunities, including events such as the local and national Poetry SLAMS for DC SCORES. She has performed her original work on international networks such as BBC News, D.C. United Audi Field, the Woman's Sports Foundation, The Lincoln Theater, The Kennedy Center, The Hirshorn Museum, Dock 5, Women's World Cup Volkswagen commercial and numerous stages across Washington, D.C. and the east coast.
Regenerating the living crust of the Earth has been Elizabeth Whitlow’s mission since she was first exposed in the 1990s to the harmful practices of industrial agriculture and the power of building thriving food systems. Thus, began the long journey of examining the deeper systemic policies of agriculture and advocating for programs that reward holistic farmers. Now, as the Executive Director of the Regenerative Organic Alliance, Elizabeth is overseeing the launch of a revolutionary certification program, Regenerative Organic Certified.
The term “regenerative” risks becoming the next buzzword as it is adopted by large chemical ag. Elizabeth is leading the charge to ensure that regenerative is intrinsically linked to organic. Regenerative organic agriculture is farming in a way that heals our precious topsoil, draws carbon down, creates thriving ecosystems and equity for those who live and depend on Earth.
TV Host + Author
Ellen Bryan is a television host, author and motivational speaker. Every morning, she helps people start their day on WUSA 9 in Washington, D.C. Ellen released her first book this year, “A Work in Progress," and she also hosts an online series called “Minute Motivation.” A girl from the Midwest, Ellen competed in Miss America 2012 as Miss Ohio.
Manager, Clinical Assessment + Testing
Florence Breslin, MS, CCRP is a co-Investigator at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research site of the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study. Her research interest began in pre-clinical addiction research at the University of Virginia Center for Addition Education. She then moved into adult human neuroimaging research at the Center for Health Behavior Neuroscience at the University of Kansas Medical Center. The ABCD study allowed her to pursue her interests of brain development and function during addiction. In 2017 Florence was award the ABCD Staff Member of the Year by Nora Volkow, MD, Directory of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and George Koob, Ph.D., Directory of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism for her contributions to ABCD both at LIBR and in the consortium. Her current research focuses on contextual factors, such as parenting and screen time, that influence adolescent brain development and mental health.
Josh pioneered Wisdom Capture a new digital and media approach to human development. The Wisdom Capture team has filmed and/or produced media projects for ABC, NBC, BMW, and Facebook to name a few. With expertise in lighting, sound, directing and producing their films have earned over 30 awards including an Emmy-nominated KPBS series, multiple short films and a diverse range of commercial projects for brands like Qualcomm, Taylor Guitars, WIRED magazine, Ubisoft and many others.
Teacher + Men’s Health Activist
Justin Birckbichler was diagnosed with Stage II testicular cancer in the prime of his life, at age 25. After enduring rigorous chemotherapy, he is now in remission and committed to getting the ball rolling on raising awareness of men’s health and testicular cancer through his website, "A Ballsy Sense of Tumor.” Though he no longer has the pair he was born with, his new favorite pairing is humor and education. Justin shares how we can stop dropping the ball on men’s health, even if all of his friends thinks it makes him sound like a nut.
Author + Former Cable Tech
Lauren Hough is the author of the viral essay, I Was A Cable Guy. Lauren was born in Germany and raised in seven countries, and West Texas. She’s been an Air Force Airman, a green-aproned barista, a bouncer, a bartender, a livery driver, and, for a time, a cable guy. Her work can be found in Granta, the Guardian, Huffington Post, Harper’s, and a forthcoming collection of essays from Vintage Knopf. She lives in Austin with her dog.
Matteo Lambert is a 4th grader trying to help peers with cancer. In meeting the founder of Hopecam, Len Forkas, he realized the isolation experienced by kids with serious illness. Matteo believes kids should support other kids. In 2019, he has used his love for running to support Hopecam and kids with cancer by competing in 32 races in 15 states and two countries – totaling 100 miles. In every race, he wore a cape featuring a kid in the Hopecam network. By borrowing these cancer-fighting heroes “superpowers” he has raised awareness and over $55,000.
Associate Professor at Cornell University’s Organic Robotics Lab (ORL)
Rob is an associate professor at Cornell University’s Organic Robotics Lab (ORL), which focuses on using synthetic adaptation of natural physiology to improve machine function and autonomy. His work has been featured in BBC, Discovery Channel, and PBS’s NOVA science documentary series. He has a B.S. and Ph.D. in Material Science & Engineering from the University of Illinois, and an M.B.A. from University of Illinois. At Cornell, he teaches a course on “Innovative Product Design via Digital Manufacturing,” which is intended to teach students about understanding customer needs and quickly prototyping and testing solutions. He has several patents in the space of robotics and materials for 3D printing, and is a founder of Organic Robotics Incorporated, a startup focused on using stretchable sensors in smart clothing for body tracking applications. He also is the recent recipient of both an Air Force Office of Scientific Research and Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award.
Author + Editor
Susan McCorkindale was born and raised in New Jersey. She loves Bruce Springsteen, the New York Giants, and the Jersey shore. A graduate of Marymount Manhattan College, Susan spent five long, hard minutes pursuing an acting career before making a detour into marketing. She has held top spots at Family Circle and Popular Science magazines, and today is the editor of Haymarket Lifestyle Magazine, Gainesville Lifestyle Magazine, and The Business Voice.
Susan McCorkindale is also the author of two memoirs. The first, Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm Girl, is the laugh out loud true tale of her move from the suburbs to the sticks. The second, 500 Acres and No Place to Hide: More Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm Girl, is her funny and very poignant follow-up.
Yasmin Williams grew up in northern Virginia and was introduced to the guitar after playing the video game Guitar Hero 2. Her music has been described as relaxing, uplifting, and thoughtful and has raised the bar of what is possible to play on the acoustic guitar. She uses a combination of fingerstyle guitar and lap-tapping guitar techniques, with percussive sounds to play melody, bass, and drum parts all at the same time, creating sophisticated and intricate compositions. Her first album, Unwind, was released in 2018 and is available on all major streaming services and Bandcamp. Yasmin's music has been reviewed by NPR Music, Acoustic Guitar Magazine, Vintage Guitar Magazine and other publications and has charted highly on iTunes, Amazon Music, and Billboard Heatseekers charts.