Independent Field Biologist
Alexandra Morton went into the wilderness of the BC coast in 1980 to conduct a long-term study on communication in wild orca. When salmon farms moved into the Broughton Archipelago, she began documenting their devastating impact. First, the whales she was studying left, then the salmon populations crashed. In an effort to protect this remote ecosystem, Morton built a research station, published in leading scientific journals and stood with local First Nations as an activist. Today, Morton sees what happened to her home in the context of the challenges humanity faces today and she finds salmon hold the wisdom we need.
Event designer, author and hospice volunteer
Andrea Driessen is a meeting designer, author, and hospice volunteer. As founder and Chief Boredom Buster at Seattle-based No More Boring Meetings, she teams with companies, nonprofits, and trade associations to secure top-tier speakers, entertainers, and thought leaders, to create fresh meeting formats, content-driven games, and out-of-the-box engagement tools.
Driessen found her heart’s work at Providence Hospice of Seattle, where she has been volunteering since 2016. Through her interactions with people who are dying—and their loved ones who are living—she has developed a powerful, actionable practice for lessening the pain of grief and regret, boosting happiness, and shifting how we move through the world.
Photographer and Filmmaker
Chris Jordan is an internationally acclaimed photographer and filmmaker whose works are exhibited and published worldwide. His work walks the fine line between beauty and despair while exploring the dark undercurrents of our consumer culture’s focus on disposability and mass consumption. Jordan’s first foray into the subject was a project Intolerable Beauty which featured the enormous amount of waste in various areas throughout Seattle. This led to Running the Numbers that used innovative perspectives to demonstrate the enormous magnitude of our mass consumption.
Author, publisher and event producer
David Blatner is a renaissance raconteur, a graphic design guru, and an expert on the infinite. His prolific career spans an array of subjects, but the common thread is his passion for demystifying complex subjects. He is the author of 15 books, including Spectrums: Our Mind-Boggling Universe From Infinitesimal to Infinity and The Joy of Pi, and Silicon Mirage: The Art and Science of Virtual Reality. Blatner is also the co-founder of the Innerfaith Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bridging science and spirituality.
Dr. Hans-Peter Kiem
Director Stem Cell and Gene Therapy program, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Dr. Hans-Peter Kiem, the Director of the Stem Cell and Gene Therapy program at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, is known as a pioneer in the development of new gene-editing technologies. Through his work as an oncologist providing bone marrow transplants to leukemia patients, Dr. Kiem learned it’s possible to modify genes in blood marrow stem cells and convey those genetic changes to a patient.
Dr. Kiem and his team hope to achieve cures for diseases like HIV, cancer, sickle cell anemia and other blood disorders with this ability to repair or modify genes by editing stem cells to carry healthier or disease-resistant versions of genes prior to transplant.
Dr. Sam Sharar
Professor UW Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
Sam Sharar, MD, refers to himself as “an academic anesthesiologist.” He is a board-certified anesthesiologist and cares for seriously injured children and adults at Harborview Medical Center. He is also a Professor of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine at The University of Washington. Dr. Sharar teaches and advises medical students as a College Faculty Mentor and is Vice Chair for Faculty Affairs and Development of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine. Additionally, he is the Associate Medical Director for King County Medic 1, where he provides training to paramedics.
Cartoonist and Mental Health Advocate
Ellen Forney is a cartoonist, teacher, and mental health advocate. She is the author of the New York Times bestselling graphic memoir, Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, & Me, the story of her diagnosis and struggle with bipolar disorder, and Rock Steady: Brilliant Advice From My Bipolar Life, a guide to maintaining mental health. Marbles has been printed in seven foreign editions and translated into six different languages and was selected as the Common Read for the University of Washington’s Health Sciences schools in 2018.
Cellist, composer, performer
Locally grown cellist Gretchen Yanover began playing cello in Seattle Public Schools. She earned a BA in Music Performance and her Washington Teaching Certificate from UW. Gretchen won a position in NW Sinfonietta Orchestra on the same day she taught her first string orchestra classes. Embracing an interwoven path of teaching and performing, Ms Yanover enthusiastically guided students on string instruments in public and private school classrooms
Gretchen performs solo with her electric cello, in addition to her acoustic work. Her music has been featured in contexts ranging from film to dance to podcast soundtracks. Her music is also enjoyed in meditative and healing settings. She continues to play classical music as a member of Northwest Sinfonietta, the region’s premier chamber orchestra. Gretchen also does studio recording work with her acoustic cello, in addition to her own continued solo composing and performing. She has released three solo CDs to date.
Songwriter, musician, speaker and community advocate
Hollis Wong – Wear is a songwriter, musician, speaker, creative generator and community advocate who lives between Los Angeles and Seattle. She was Grammy nominated in 2014 for her work with Seattle’s own Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.
She is a Google Next Gen Policy Leader, an alumna of the Hedgebrook Residency, and is a Humanity in Action Senior Fellow. Hollis has been appointed to several boards and commissions, including the Board of Directors for 4Culture and the Seattle Center Advisory Commission, and is currently an ad-hoc commissioner on the Seattle Music Commission.
Executive Director of Arts Corps and Fresh Professor
James Miles is the executive director of Seattle-based Arts Corps. He works to revolutionize arts education by igniting the creative power of young people through culturally engaging learning experiences. Each year, more than 2,500 K-12 students in South Seattle and South King County experience the transformative power of creativity and gain a deepened belief in their own capacity to learn, take risks, persist and achieve.
Marketer and Co-Founder, TONL
Karen Okonkwo is a Nigerian-American social entrepreneur based in Seattle. She became an avid blogger in 2013 while in college. However, she struggled to find photos that represented the existing diversity she saw in real life around her. Her experience and concern with the disparity of image diversity in the online world impassioned her to provide what the web has been missing.
President of Mercy For Animals, author and activist
Leah Garces is President of the nonprofit Mercy For Animals, one of the world’s largest farmed animal rights organizations and leads a team of 130 staff globally.
“At this point in the history of human society, we’re very polarized. My theory of change is that if we’re going to move the world to a better more compassionate food system, instead of trying to beat down the enemy, we need to sit down with them and have them join us.” On any given day, whether Leah is flying to meet with business executives to discuss moving their company to more plant-based offerings or speaking at a conference about her radical theory of change, she’s ultimately advocating for a win-win between corporate ideals and improving the lives of animals.
Seattle Freeze Buster
Traca Savadogo is a professional social butterfly. She has a passion for driving big ideas and conversation, and her approach is simple: ask questions, be curious. Savadogo is constantly looking for beautiful moments with strangers. She’ll ask people, ”What’s your story?” or “How do you want to be remembered?” and watch their narratives unfold.
Originally from the Midwest, where having conversations with strangers is commonplace and part of the fabric of society, Savadogo strives to give individuals actionable steps they can use to start having interactions of their own.