x = independently organized TED event

Theme: Resilience: How do we survive and succeed in a world of change?

This event occurred on
March 3, 2020
Paramus, New Jersey
United States

1. Miryam Z. Wahrman, Ph.D.

MIRYAM Z. WAHRMAN is Professor of Biology at William Paterson University of New Jersey, where she directs a research laboratory in microbiology, studying bacteria on environmental surfaces. An expert in Bioethics, Professor Wahrman has developed and teaches graduate courses in Bioethics and Research Methods, and is a pioneer in Biotechnology education, having developed and directed one of the first Biotechnology programs worldwide. An award-winning science journalist, Wahrman has been interviewed by the media for print articles, TV, and radio appearances across the country.

Wahrman is author of The Hand Book: Surviving in a Germ-Filled World (University Press of New England/ForeEdge Press) that makes the case for handwashing to reduce the risk of infectious disease. Wahrman’s book, Brave New Judaism: When Science and Scripture Collide, (University Press of New England/Brandeis University Press), presents the Jewish perspective on medical bioethics and biotechnology. Genetic screening, reproductive technology, genetically modified plants and animals, embryonic stem cells, human cloning and sex selection are explored. The book received many accolades, including a starred review (awarded for book of outstanding quality) from Publishers Weekly. Miryam Wahrman is also the award-winning science correspondent for the New Jersey Jewish Standard.

After graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Hunter College of the City University of New York, Wahrman completed a Ph.D. in biochemistry at Cornell University. She did postdoctoral research at Sloan-Kettering Institute, Cornell University Medical Center, and Rockefeller University, and was an Instructor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York where she was a member of the In Vitro Fertilization team that produced the first test-tube baby in New York State. She has published dozens of articles in academic journals and over 200 articles in the media on topics in science and health, including numerous articles on the interface of biotechnology, genetics, and medical ethics.

Talk: The brave new world of Direct-to-consumer DNA Tests
The use of direct-to-consumer (DTC) DNA testing has increased exponentially since 2012, with now well over 26 million people using such tests. People are intrigued by the prospect of learning about their ancestry, connecting with long lost relatives and even finding clues for their risks of future health issues.
DTC DNA tests are performed by privately held companies such as 23andme and, the two companies that lead the field in numbers of tests performed. These companies make various claims regarding their services, which may or may not reflect customer experiences. For instance, the 23andMe website states that the data is “private and protected,” and declares, “We're all about real science, real data and genetic insights that positively impact people's lives.” Despite these claims, there have been controversies surrounding DNA testing services with regard to the accuracy of tests, privacy and confidentiality, and sale and use of data. The multi-billion-dollar industry has been charged by critics with using shaky science, and less than effective measures to protect privacy.
The millions of people who have taken DTC DNA tests put their faith in these private companies to maintain confidentiality and provide data of value about their family trees/pedigrees and, more importantly, information on increased risk of genetic diseases for themselves and family members. DTC DNA testing customers need to consider what they are likely to learn and how to best understand and manage the information that is revealed by testing. It is crucial that people who are considering DTC DNA tests be made aware of the privacy issues, the questions regarding accuracy of tests, and the possibility that they will learn something surprising or disturbing.
This talk will explore the controversies surrounding DTC DNA testing and how applying bioethics principles can help individuals utilize genetic technology wisely. The use of DNA testing can be a positive experience, but one that is also stressful. Resilience, the ability to healthfully adapt to difficult situations, includes the ability to make difficult choices with integrity, guided by accepted principles. The analysis of the risks and benefits of DNA testing is paramount for making decisions that can be life-changing and can help to buoy moral resilience in a brave new world of genetic testing.
2. Marisa Santoro

Marisa Santoro is a Leadership, Diversity & Inclusion Trainer and Career Coach. She guides professionals in applying a Gutsy Leadership™ method to their careers, shifting the business paradigm on how to develop as a leader of influence through an intuitive, mindful approach. She is an honoree of the “Women of Influence” award by New York Business Journals, given her years of mentoring and delivering leadership programs for workplace professionals. Marisa is also a national career columnist for American Business Journals with articles published in 43 cities across the US.

Talk: Speaking Without Apology
Discover how your dialogue and internal self-talk impact how you are perceived and is affecting your assertiveness and confidence levels. Learn to recognize ways in which you can detach from the language which feeds into the “Sorry Syndrome” – apologetic words that imply inadequacy rather than exemplifying strength. Learn how subtle tweaks in your speech can springboard you from diluting your value to spotlighting your assets. This talk will empower you to master your mindset on how you see yourself, instinctually speak with intention and clarity, upgrading your communication style and positively influencing how others respond to you immediately.
3. Monte Williams

Monte Williams, Senior Director of Client Service | TaskUs
Monte believes that every problem in the world can be solved through an investment in people.
Throughout his 15+year career, he has built multiple high-performing teams, mentored countless
employees at various levels and generated millions in revenue. He is currently Senior Director of Client Services at TaskUs, a progressive, new age outsourcer that sits at the intersection of people and technology to deliver deep expertise in cloud-based digital customer services. Monte engages and empowers the TaskUs Client Experience team to deliver best-in-class service through every touch point of the client journey while consistently identifying new ways to create efficiencies and scale.

Most recently, Monte was Vice President of Customer Experience At Away and prior to that, Senior Director of Customer Experience at Rent The Runway. Before holding senior leadership positions as these billion-dollar startup unicorns, he held senior management roles at companies including Poppin and HALO Recognition (formerly Michael C. Fina). He studied psychology and religion at Duke University and received an MBA from Felician University.

Monte knows his purpose in life is to add value to the lives of others by inspiring passion through the leadership of self and others. As a result, he consistently strives to transform his values of honesty, integrity, and passion into a value-added experience for all those he encounters. He chose the field of customer experience and relationship management because it perfectly blends his purpose in life with his keen sense of strategy and love of people. Monte lives in New Jersey, has been married for 11 years to his wife Jessica and has two children Logan & Magnus.

Talk: Get In The C.A.R. | The Keys To Sustainable Leadership

What do Gandhi, Sean “Diddy” Combs and Alex Honnold have in common? They lead themselves effectively. Reflecting on some of my most trying leadership moments makes me wonder if there is a way to simplify leadership. Could there be a way to reduce the practice of leadership to a set of intangible values that produce tangible, sustainable results? Many people have tried. Some have made significant strides. I’ve read countless books, listened to numerous discussions, and taken some the best seminars money can buy. Through all my efforts there is still a void. Why is it so difficult to simplify leadership?
Here are the premises that I believe:
1. We are all humans. That is to say – we all have the ability to think and rationalize our emotions and/or feelings.
2. We are all leaders. Whether we lead others or whether we are leading just ourselves – we are
still leading.
3. We are all universally connected by the experience of being human.
If the 3 aforementioned premises hold true, then I believe that there is a commonality of finite values practiced, which are scalable and repeatable that can lead to the sustained effective leadership of self
and others on the journey of life. With that said, I’d like to invite the audience to get in the C.A.R. by allowing me to demonstrate how the consistent practice of Courage, Agility & Resilience can lead to the effective leadership of self and limitless possibilities for all.

4. Jordan Gross
Jordan is a Northwestern and Kellogg School of Management graduate, a corporate escapee, a startup founder, a TEDx speaker, and a #1 best-selling author. His upcoming book, The Journey to Cloud Nine, provides a new approach to the personal development world by using fictional storytelling to reveal some of life's most meaningful principles. Jordan has been blazing new trails for people around the world, and he cannot wait to share his findings.

Talk: Why Self-Help Doesn’t Work
The primary argument of my talk is that traditional self-help advice is outdated. It is not actually the best way to help yourself and improve your life. It may be necessary for some who have no sense of where to begin, but in order to maintain personal growth, we must make decisions for ourselves and not follow advice aimlessly. This is why I believe that personal development through storytelling, through fiction and allegories, is the best approach for long-term self-improvement.
The talk will start with a fictitious character, let’s call her Jenny, and it will outline the problem by discussing all the self-help she has read in an effort to improve her life. I will provide examples of different books whose perspectives contradict one another, ultimately sending Jenny down a rabbit hole of personal development doom. This is the main problem. Too much information, too many options, too many different ways that people are telling you how to live your life, but it’s a life that these authorities know nothing about.
I will then make the case for personal development through creative storytelling by highlighting books like The Alchemist, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, or The Journey to Cloud Nine, and I will explain how these books help with personal development by adding 3 key elements:
1. Emotion Appeal – feeling the advice, not just reading it
2. Holding Attention – More likely to finish a book with a great story
3. Imagitivetation – Imagination + Creativity + Interpretation + Implementation
I will then break down the concept of Imagitivetation for creators of personal development as well as consumers of personal development. This is the solution for the talk. This is how we overcome the anxieties associated with self-help and become the pilots of our planes throughout life.
I will then end by coming back to Jenny in a real-life situation, after having used her imagitivetation. It will revolve around the concept of receiving advice and understanding it, but only listening to her own intuition as opposed to following the advice aimlessly like she did in the beginning of the talk.
5. Carli Bushoven

Carli Bushoven is the Director of Communications for the Madison Holleran Foundation which was established in early 2014 when her sister, Madison Holleran, died by suicide. Carli runs all communication aspects of the foundation including social media, marketing and speaking events where she shares Madison’s story and the impact it has had on her and her family. Passionate for suicide awareness and prevention, Carli shares Madison’s story in an effort to inspire others to speak out about mental health and end the stigma.

Talk: How the desire to be perfect is killing us
Sometimes the people who seem to have their lives most together are the ones who are actually falling apart. Living in an age of social media and intense comparison, many young adults today are obsessing about keeping up or achieving unrealistic goals of perfection. There are real effects that social media has on a person’s brain and how it affects their communication skills. At just 19, Madison Holleran, known to have both beauty and brains, had also earned a coveted spot on UPenn’s ivy league track team and won multiple academic and athletic awards. Madison may not have realized the real danger in her pursuit of perfection. She struggled immensely with her sense of failure and it ultimately ended her life in early 2014. Carli challenges others to ask themselves is this life worth dying for.
6. Erin Palinski-Wade

Erin Palinski-Wade is a nationally recognized nutrition, diabetes and fitness expert who shows busy individuals how to make time for health. She is the founder and owner of the New Jersey based Vernon Nutrition Center, a nutrition counseling group specializing in weight management, diabetes, and family nutrition.
She is the author of multiple publications including the “2 Day Diabetes Diet,” (Reader’s Digest), “Love Your Age” (Prevention/Rodale), and the “Belly Fat Diet For Dummies,” (Wiley). She is also a regular contributor to publications including Diabetes Forecast, Diabetes Self-Management Magazine and A frequent guest expert, Erin has appeared on broadcast media such as the “The Dr. Oz Show,” “The Doctors,” “The Early Show,” Fox News, Food Network, and MSNBC.
Erin speaks at venues ranging from local school events, to Fortune 500 companies, to the Rose Bowl Stadium. She shares real life nutrition advice on her blog, Healthy Mom, Happy Family and has over 100,000 followers on her combined media channels. Her work can be viewed at

Talk: Resilience is Not a Piece of Cake When Perfection is the Baker
Picture this: A determined woman eats perfectly for a year and loses over 100 pounds. She is so successful her diabetes goes into remission. But then, one day, in a moment of weakness, she takes a few bites of cake. Suddenly she turns into a different person – she is a total failure! She drastically condemns herself and within a few months, she regains the weight she lost and puts on even more.
What went wrong? How could her self-perception instantly shift from a perfect dieter to a complete failure? It comes down to this. She didn’t have the mental and emotional resilience to stand up to her relentless drive for perfection.
As a nutrition professional, I have seen the drive for perfection sabotage even my most motivated clients. That’s because improving health and losing weight is much more than diet and exercise. For many people, the tougher challenges are stopping all-or-nothing thinking, turning self-hatred into self-compassion, and facing the fear of failure.
So, how can people face these challenges? By accepting failure as a natural part of growth. Studies show that learning to tolerate setbacks helps people develop the resilience to make real and lasting changes.
As a recovering perfectionist, I understand the pain of self-sabotage. My own history of disordered eating gave me a first-hand understanding of the all-or-nothing diet mentality. And early in my career when I was also a new mother, I felt crushed by the weight of my impossibly high expectations.
It took my four-year-old son’s simple words, ‘Mommy, you are perfect to me,’ to help me see how perfection was already contaminating my children’s life. I didn’t want them to take the damaging path to perfection. It took shifting my mindset. But now I’m raising resilient rather than perfect kids. Things are going much better!
So, I ask you to think about this:
• Why is it that as children we embrace failure, get up, brush ourselves off and try again. But when we become adults, we insist that we get it right on the first try? Why do we give up if we fail or decide we are complete failures?
• How much more could you achieve if you viewed perfectionism as the enemy and failure as the teacher? If you embraced every failure with open arms and learned from it?
• How different would the health of our country be if we realized there is no such thing as ‘perfect’ eating? What if we instead shifted our view of improving health as a journey and not a destination that must be achieved at all costs?
7. Katie Elevitch
Katie Elevitch is a queer feminist artist, musician, curator, educator, single parent, and the Founder & Director of 95 ½ MAIN ARTS, a former Art Gallery & Creative Community Arts Space in Nyack, NY, 2017-2019. 95 ½ MAIN now offers art workshops, creative coaching, consulting & fine art advisory services to individuals, small groups, schools, and non-profit organizations.
In January 2018, Elevitch was the recipient of a Rockland County DEC Arts Grant Award (NYSCA/ArtsWestchester) for her 2018-2019 multi-media Women's Storytelling Project, a series of workshops, events & exhibits featuring the oral storytelling of local area women. Her work has been featured at Garner Arts Center, 95 ½ MAIN Gallery, Arts Council of Rockland, Rockland Center for the Arts, and internationally at the July 2018 International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam, NL as an invited facilitator and presenter.
The techniques and healing justice work of the WSP originated in 2017 when Elevitch organized, hosted & curated several Women's Storytelling Events called “Nevertheless, She...” in response to the election of President Trump, his misogynist, homophobic and racist comments and policies, and the #MeToo movement.
95 ½ MAIN was born of this process, becoming the physical home of community storytelling for creatives, women, youth, and members of the LGBTQ communities through mission-driven, collaborative multi-arts exhibits, programs, workshops, and events, inspiring and restoring a sense of personal and collective healing, empowerment and agency despite the difficult political climate.
Elevitch resides in Nyack, NY with her 6-year-old daughter and 12-year-old mini doxie, Hazel.

Talk: Community Story Space as Revolution:
Why Compassionate Creative Space Holding is Key to
Cultivating Authentic Connection & Change
Artist, educator and single mom Katie Elevitch tells the story of how she transformed on-going personal and collective societal grief, depression and hopelessness, into deep wisdom, power and healing through helping to tell the stories of those around her through creative expression and storytelling.
In 2017, Elevitch founded and directed a storytelling project for women in response to the election of Trump, and then opened a community art space for all, in a narrow storefront on Main Street in Downtown, Nyack, NY.
Over the course of two years, the space organically became a volunteer run incubator space for artists and a physical home of community storytelling for creatives, women, youth, and members of the LGBTQ communities through mission-driven, collaborative multi-arts exhibits, programs, workshops and events.
This was Community Space as Inspiration – energizing and restoring personal and collective healing, empowerment and agency despite the difficult political climate.
This was Community Space as Intimate Revolution – a safe place to take pause and open to renewal, revelation, and authentic becoming for all.
This was Community Space as Art – an imperfect, human process of Compassionate Space Holding – Deep, Active Listening; Seeing and Being Seen.
Through her story, Elevitch teaches us that we too, can create our own story spaces to help cultivate community and affect real change for ourselves and others.
8. Fei Fei


Fei Fei is the Managing Vice President at Gartner, the world’s leading research and advisory company. Prior to that, she held key positions in some of the world’s most prestigious companies, including McKinsey and Google. She’s also a Harvard graduate and author of the forthcoming memoir FIGHTING TO FLY.

Talk: What I Learned Growing Up in Industrial China

Growing up in one of the poorest provinces of China, at the height of China’s One Child Policy, Fei Fei had all the cards stacked against her. Before she was ten, she was plumbing toilets and selling medicinal herbs on the street. As a teenager, she stopped at nothing to gain the edge in a brutally competitive academic environment. With limited resources, only the richest, or the most determined students, were afforded a path to a better life. While she certainly wasn’t the former, she was committed to be the latter.

Fei Fei tells the story of how that young girl was able to make it to the United States, graduate from Harvard, and go on to become a successful business woman. In her talk, she discusses some of the lessons she learned along the way.

9. Ellen Feig Gray

Ellen Feig Gray, M.A., CPPC is a certified positive psychology coach who specializes in parenting and family life coaching, facilitating flourishing and cultivating whole-being wellness. She is the founder of Parent with Perspective, offering coaching, mentoring and consulting services, as well as workshops and learning opportunities to those raising and educating children and teens. She is co-author of Hacking School Culture: Designing Compassionate Classrooms (Times 10 Publications, 2018), part of the Hack Learning series for educators.

Ellen earned her Master’s degree in developmental psychology from University of Michigan, and received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Brooklyn College of C.U.N.Y., where she graduated Summa Cum Laude and was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa and Psi Chi honor societies. She became certified in positive psychology and coaching from the WholeBeing Institute and Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. Ellen also is a certified Let Your Yoga Dance instructor and draws much of her inspiration from the wisdom traditions. Her practical wisdom as a parent and family coach is a result of her experience raising her own child to become a resilient and thriving adult.

Talk: A Compassionate Approach to Raising Resilient Kids

How might we raise our children to become resilient? We often equate resilience with toughness. But research from the science of happiness and well-being suggests the more emotionally agile we become by allowing ourselves to experience a full range of human emotions, the more prepared we are to mindfully navigate the ups and the downs that life inevitably brings. Rather than toughening them up, the best we can do for our kids is to treat them with empathy and compassion. A compassionate approach to raising resilient kids invites us to understand our children’s needs, interests and passions, focus on and nurture their strengths, and facilitate the cultivation of tools that foster well-being and success. In this way, they become equipped to meet challenges, overcome obstacles, and bounce back from adversity. We know that many of today’s young people are suffering, whether from anxiety, depression, trauma, or difficult personal circumstances. Regardless of the nature or severity of their struggles, all of our young people deserve our compassion.

When we create emotionally safe spaces for learning, and offer opportunities to experience and cultivate well-being, happiness and success, at home and at school, we are providing a solid foundation that our children can draw upon throughout their academic, personal, and work journeys. This talk outlines guiding principles for raising resilient kids through a compassionate approach, and offers evidence-based practical tools, derived from positive psychology, for use outside and inside the classroom.


10. Kyle Kane

Kyle Kane is an award-winning entrepreneur, founding principle and CEO of 180 South Group, overseeing the multimodal marketing and production efforts, as well as client relations amongst many of the world’s premier artists and brands. As a thought leader in digital marketing and experiential brand integration, Kyle has budgeted, coordinated, and executed strategic branding and positioning campaigns for clients such as Universal Music Group, Capitol Records, MetLife Stadium, Samsung, Piaget, LVMH, and Brown-Forman.

Talk: From Rap to Riches: the Ebb & Flow of the Entrepreneurial Spirit
Robbed, left for dead, and bi-polar; learn the three syllables that saved the life of celebrity brand-builder Kyle Kane, as he discusses the topics of mental health and spirituality through his journey from broke songwriter to award-winning entrepreneur.
As a candid confession of catastrophe and resilience, Kyle provides a refreshing framework for mental fitness, including tools for self-care, the power of being kind, the importance of giving back, and a unique system for effectively managing thoughts.
Join Kyle Kane and discover the techniques credited as the catalyst for his success.
11. Justin Barker

As the great Chance the Rapper once said, “Call me Mr. Mufasa, I had to master stampedes.” By overcoming a learning disability at a young age, Justin’s life has been one long stampede to master, which culminated in him being the first person from his family to earn a Master’s Degree in Higher Education/Student Affairs from Western Carolina University.

Over the span of ten years, Justin worked in a variety of different higher ed departments including Orientation, Residence Life, Admission, and Family Programming. You name it, he’s done it. Through his work, he’s deepened his passion for helping college students succeed.

Justin is now a Lead Facilitator at Swift Kick, a company that has won 6 national speaking titles and worked with over 650 organizations all over the world including Disney, Nike, and Apple.

On a personal note, Justin’s journey has led him from the land of Bojangles and Cookout in North Carolina, to Illinois, Texas, and finally following his dream of living in the hustle of New York City. In his free time, he loves to dance and dream about the day he will moderate the Hot Topics table at “The View”.

Talk: “Overcoming Rejection; Because They Swiped Left, I Became My Best”

We’ve all felt it, the pain that comes from a rejection - a significant other breaks up with you, your first college choice denies your acceptance, or a job says, “thank you, but no thank you.” Wallowing in the sting of a “no” can oftentimes hinder us from maximizing our full potential or open us up to ultimately becoming our biggest blessing and best self. The choice is yours and, in this talk, Justin shares how a series of rejections led him to his best learning moments of growth.

Ciccone Theater
Bergen Community College
400 Paramus Road
Paramus, New Jersey, 07652
United States
Event type:
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