x = independently organized TED event

Theme: Education, Innovation & Science

This event occurred on
November 23, 2019
Boston, Massachusetts
United States

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized (subject to certain rules and regulations).

WGBH Studios
1 Guest Street
Boston, Massachusetts, 02135
United States
Event type:
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Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Aaron Engelhart

Aaron Engelhart is an expert in molecular evolution on Mars and elsewhere in the Solar system. He’s looking into how could Martian life start, is there any chance life survived on Mars until present day, how would we go about looking for it, and what could finding life on Mars teach us about life elsewhere. Aaron is also a consultant on a sci-fi movie about evil empire attacking Earth from Mars. Mars biology in popular culture has been dominated by one famous potato farmer. The reality is very different, and while first human missions will not farm Mars, we might possibly find remnants of extant life there. We need to know how and where to look for it, which is the problem Aaron is working on. His research has practical application for designing Martian rover landing sites and deciding what experiments we’ll perform with Martian soil samples. He sent some samples up to the orbit last year (Earth orbit, for now), and he recreated Martian soil for experiments in his lab. What he does is fascinating to me not only because of the research value, but also for the education and outreach value of his work. He’s leading an “Aptamers for all” initiative, sending reagents for biochemical experiments to classrooms in several countries. He is using the cool factor of “we’re looking for life on Mars” as a tool for getting people interested in science in general. Aaron can show that studying something as abstract as life on Mars can be tied to very practical terrestrial applications in medicine and biotechnology. Aarons lab works on ways to use DNA and RNA in ways beyond their well-known role in biology as information carriers. These molecules can also act as “aptamers” – DNA or RNA molecules that bind a specific target, such as a small molecule, or even a specific type of cell. Our lab uses aptamers as tools to study biology and human disease. We use aptamers in a range of applications. Two current projects include 1) fluorescent aptamer probes to track RNA in cells and sense signaling molecules between populations of cells and 2) using aptamers to target specific cell types (e.g., cancer cells) in order to treat disease.

Aaron Hertzmann

Aaron Hertzmann received a BA in computer science and art & art history from Rice University in 1996, and a PhD in computer science from New York University in 2001. He was a Professor at University of Toronto for 10 years, and has also worked at Pixar Animation Studios, University of Washington, Microsoft Research, Mitsubishi Electric Research Lab, and Interval Research Corporation. He is an Affiliate Professor at University of Washington, an ACM Fellow, an IEEE Fellow, and the Editor-in-Chief of Foundations and Trends in Computer Graphics and Vision. - Adobe Research

Ben Mezrich

Author of twelve books, Ben Mezrich has created his own highly addictive genre of nonfiction, chronicling the amazing stories of young geniuses making tons of money on the edge of impossibility, ethics, and morality. Mezrich is best known for Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions, which was his first book. It tells the story of a group of students from MIT using a sophisticated card counting system at casino to bet on blackjack games, winning millions of dollars. In 2008 the story was made into the movie “21”. In 2010, Aaron Sorkin adapted Mezrich’s book, The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding Of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal, the movie The Social Network. The book, written in 2009, debuted at No. 4 on the New York Times Nonfiction Bestseller List, and No. 1 on the Boston Globe Nonfiction Bestseller List.

Bill Brett

"I love what I do and I love this city. I feel that I have a front row seat in history – even as I preserve that history for Boston through my photos." ~Bill Brett Bill Brett started his news career hawking the Boston Globe on the street corners of his native Dorchester, Massachusetts. He first worked at the Globe as an 18-year-old part-time photographer, learning the art of photography and the business of news at the same time. In 1977, he was named chief photographer at the Globe. He was the photography-member of the Globe team nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism in 1978 and 1979. Under Bill’s leadership, staff photographer Stan Grossfeld won the only two Pulitzer Prizes ever awarded to the Globe photo staff. In 1999, Bill became Director of Photography, a position from which he retired in 2001. His weekly “Party Lines” column continues in the print version of the Globe, together with his “The Seen” on Also, since retirement from the Globe, Bill has published four books that include portraits of the heart and faces of Boston. His first book, Boston, All One Family, received the 2006 President’s Award from the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts. He also won an Award of Excellence for Photography in the 27th annual creative competition of the Society for News Design, for his portrait of Stephan Ross at Boston’s Holocaust Memorial. In his 50 years of chronicling the life and people of the city, Bill has photographed literally thousands of events and fundraisers, with his coverage helping to raise awareness for and bring donations to the many organizations whose events he has shot. In 2009, Bill received an honorary degree from the Franklin Institute of Technology, the school at which he took his only class in photography before becoming famous as the man who shoots the faces of Boston. Bill lives in Hingham, Massachusetts, just south of Boston.

Chris MacAskill

Co-founded four successful companies: PSI (geophysics), (which went public on the NASDAQ), SmugMug, and now

Christina Matteucci

Executive Director of David Beahm Experiences, Christina Matteucci pioneers an integral role within the special event industry as Number Two to celebrity event designer David Beahm. Now approaching her eighteenth year of collaboration with David, Christina has spent almost two decades skillfully executing unfathomably complex soirées all over the globe. Christina credits her rigorous conservatory theater training at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts (2001) with her ability to conceive and produce lavish event experiences. She also asserts that her finesse for the fantastic has been enhanced and honed through wholeheartedly embracing the position of Number Two—a role that has blossomed into an esteemed symbiotic partnership with David. By exemplifying the time-honored model of apprenticeship and mentorship, Christina cultivates a robustly innovative workplace that thrives on deeply rooted collaboration; as such, she is a champion of egalitarian business principles. Her bohemian theories on how we define professional success earn her coveted speaking opportunities within the global special events industry, inspiring and captivating audiences with her no-nonsense, comedic, and self-effacing style. By virtue of her particular aptitude for team building, Christina is uniquely qualified to counsel both emerging professionals embarking on their career paths (thus earning her the moniker TeucciMama: Mother Hen of the Number Twos) as well as CEOs who value synergistic, cooperative corporate cultures.

Dave Troy

Dave Troy is a serial entrepreneur and data activist in Baltimore, Maryland. He is currently CEO and product architect at 410 Labs, maker of the popular e-mail management tools and Chuck. He has been acknowledged by the founding team at Twitter as the first developer to utilize the Twitter API, with his project “Twittervision,” which was featured in the 2008 MoMA exhibition “Design and the Elastic Mind,” curated by Paola Antonelli. His current projects use social network data to map cities and analyze disinformation campaigns. He is also organizer of TEDxMidAtlantic in Washington, DC, and lives in Baltimore with his wife and two children.

David D'Alessandro

David A. D’Alessandro, MD is a Member of Faculty at Harvard Medical School. He is also the surgical director of Heart Transplantation and Ventricular Assist Devices in the Division of Cardiac Surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital. Before joining, Dr. D’Alessandro was on the faculty of the Montefiore Medical Center in New York where he served as the surgical director of the Heart Transplantation Program. Under his leadership, the program experienced consistent growth and led the region in survival outcomes. In 2013 he was named the Erika and Jay Abramson Distinguished Surgeon in recognition of his scientific contributions to the Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery. Dr. D’Alessandro received his undergraduate degree from Cornell University and completed his medical education at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons where he was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He completed his residency in general surgery, a fellowship in renal transplantation and clinical and research fellowships in cardiothoracic surgery at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York. Dr. D’Alessandro has focused his clinical interests on surgical treatments of end stage heart failure including mechanical assistance and heart transplantation. He has broad experience with all aspects of adult cardiothoracic surgery including on and off pump coronary artery bypass surgery, valve repair and replacement, and the treatment thoracic aneurysms. Additionally, he has extensive experience with acute and chronic mechanical circulatory support devices including the latest generation of mechanical assist devices.

David Kong

David Sun Kong, Ph.D. is a Synthetic Biologist, community organizer, musician, and photographer based in Lexington, MA. He is the Director of the MIT Media Lab's new Community Biotechnology Initiative. Our mission: empowering communities through biotechnology. David conducted his graduate studies at MIT’s Media Lab, receiving a Master's degree for developing technology for printing nanostructures with energetic beams and a Ph.D. for demonstrating the first gene synthesis in a microfluidic (“lab-on-a-chip”) system. He was recognized as an emerging leader in synthetic biology as a "LEAP" fellow, served as a guest faculty member at the Marine Biology Lab in Woods Hole, MA, and is co-founder and managing faculty of "How To Grow (Almost) Anything," an international course on synthetic biology. He founded and chaired new Microfluidic and Hardware Tracks for the International Genetically Engineered Machines Competition (iGEM) and is the official iGEM DJ. He was Technical Staff in the Bioengineering Systems & Technologies group at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory and a founding member of the synthetic biology team.

David Lindell

David is a 4th year PhD candidate in the Electrical Engineering Department at Stanford University, advised by Professor Gordon Wetzstein. His research interests are in the areas of computational imaging, remote sensing, and applied mathematics. Most recently, he has focused on developing advanced 3D imaging systems to capture objects hidden behind occluders and around corners. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Brigham Young University in 2015 and 2016.

Dena Shahriari

Dena Shahriari works on finding a cure for traumatic nerve injuries especially spinal cord injuries. She aims to introduce approaches and tools that are accessible to other researchers and clinicians to join forces in repairing damaged nerves. Her work has resulted in a technique to mass-produce implants that mimic nerve shapes and dimensions to bridge nerve gaps. Her research has also led to the development of a fully implantable device to study the effects of stimulating selected neurons on nerve repair using optical stimulation. The device can be shared with and built by laboratories with minimum resources and will provide tools for other researchers to join in finding a cure for nerve injuries. She is a postdoctoral research associate at MIT and the recipient of the NSF graduate student fellowship and the Craig Neilsen Spinal Cord Injury postdoctoral fellowship.

Don Eyles

Don Eyles joined the Draper team in 1966 and worked on the software programming team that was responsible for the on board computer of the Apollo Space program. With a computer designed to be one cubic foot and not the size of an entire room, there was limited memory to work with to program a piece of equipment that would prove to be extremely important. Eyles was responsible for writing the software for the lunar descent and landing beginning with the Apollo 5 mission and continuing on through Apollo 17, moving fully to NASA’s space program after 1972. Eyles and his team developed the sequencing system, Timeliner, while working at the Instrumentation Lab. This system runs on the International Space Station even today. When Apollo 14’s “Abort” switch jammed before the Lunar Excursion Module was getting ready to land on the moon, Eyles had limited time to write a new batch of code that would instruct the computer to ignore the switch and allow the module to land without issue. Otherwise the module would abort the moon landing and return home. His success earned him accolades for saving the Apollo 14 mission. As the Apollo project progressed, Eyles and the other software programmers tweaked the code and adapted it to better help the astronauts with successful landings. He retired in 1998 after continuing to work on NASA projects. His book Sunburst and Luminary: An Apollo Memoir debuted in March 2018. Eyles also has a series of kaleidoscopic photographs taken around the world.

Eliza Reid

Eliza Reid has been First Lady of Iceland since August 1, 2016. She is also co-founder of the acclaimed Iceland Writers Retreat. In this capacity, she has been active in helping to promote Icelandic writers and literary heritage abroad, especially in North America. She was previously editor for Icelandair’s in-flight magazine, and before that a staff writer at Iceland Review magazine. She is a member of the Association of Women Business Leaders in Iceland. As First Lady, Eliza Reid is patron of several organizations in Iceland, including the United Nations Association Iceland, the Alzheimer’s Society, and the National Chefs’ Association. She is also a goodwill ambassador for SOS Children’s Villages Iceland. In September, Eliza visit the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan at the invitation of UN Women and she is active in promoting the issue of gender equality. Eliza loves to travel and has made solo trips to many countries. In 2017, she was named a United Nations Special Ambassador for Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals. Eliza was born and raised near Ottawa, Canada. She has a BA Hons in international relations from the University of Toronto and an MSt in modern history from Oxford University. Eliza and President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson have four children together.

Elizabeth Rowe

Elizabeth Rowe is the principal flutist of the world-renowned Boston Symphony Orchestra. Called a “divine flutist” by the New York Times, you can hear her on numerous Grammy-award winning recordings with the ensemble. Elizabeth attracted international attention in 2018 when she filed an equal pay lawsuit against the orchestra. The lawsuit—considered the first of its kind in her industry—received extensive national and international news coverage, culminating in a heavily researched article by the Washington Post that exposed a significant gender pay gap within the orchestral music industry. Following this, the Boston Globe recognized her in its annual Bostonian of the Year feature, calling her “The Fighter.” Elizabeth and the BSO successfully mediated the case in 2019, and she remains a dedicated member of the orchestra. By shining a light on pay practices within her industry, her actions continue to raise important questions within her profession, and she continues to embrace opportunities to advocate for change. Along with her performance and advocacy work, Elizabeth is committed to mentoring the next generations of musicians and artists, empowering them to courageously lead their industries. She is also deeply interested in building bridges and fostering connections among people in all fields who seek to have an impact in their places of work.

Inmo Yang

Korean violinist Inmo Yang has been hailed by the Boston Globe for his “seamless technique and a tender warmth of tone,” combined with “an ability to project an engaging sense of inner sincerity through his playing.” In March 2015, he won the 54th International Violin Competition “Premio Paganini” in Genoa, Italy, marking the first time since 2006 that the Paganini Competition jury awarded First Prize. He also garnered the following special prizes: youngest finalist, best performance of the contemporary original piece, and performance most appreciated by the audience, confirming The Violin Channel’s praise of Inmo as “one of the new generation’s most talented young string virtuosi.”

Jasmine Roberts

Jasmine Roberts is a researcher, engineer and lecturer raising questions about intentionality of emerging technologies specifically virtual reality. Named to Forbes 30 Under 30 for Games in 2020, Roberts combines her disciplinary knowledge of physics, engineering, cognitive science and philosophy to develop and architect digital systems for future use.

Jason Redman

Jason Redman is a retired Navy Lieutenant who spent eleven years as an enlisted Navy SEAL and almost ten years as a SEAL officer. After being severely wounded in Iraq in 2007, Redman returned to active duty before retiring in 2013. In 2013 he launched SOF Spoken LLC, a speaking and consulting company which focuses on inspirational presentations on leadership, teamwork and the “Overcome Mindset” helping individuals, companies and teams to “GET OFF THE X” ™ from “Life Ambushes. Redman additionally provides, workshops, online programs, executive coaching and business consulting to businesses around the world and group coaching through his “Get off the X Training and Overcome Army™ group coaching programs. He is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir The Trident and Overcome. He lives with his family in Virginia.

Jenny Johnson

Emmy Award-winning television producer Jenny Johnson, 31, recently launched a new food and sports show, Dining Playbook, on NESN, co-hosting with Billy Costa. For eight years, Johnson and Costa co-hosted NECN’s TV Diner, for which she also served as executive producer. A Marblehead native, she’s an honors graduate of the University of New Hampshire and spent a summer after graduation volunteering at an orphanage in Cape Town, South Africa. Her extensive charitable involvement includes riding in the Pan-Mass Challenge and hosting Dana-Farber’s annual gala. She worked as an entertainment and news reporter before finding her niche as New England’s most telegenic foodie. She lives in Back Bay.

Jiabao Limulti

Working at the intersection of emerging technology, art and design, Jiabao Li creates new ways for humans to perceive the world. Her research-based projects range from wearables, projections, drones and installations to scientific experiments, and they explore how technology is transforming our identities, emotions and sensations.

Jon McNeill

Serial Entrepreneur & Former President Tesla, Former COO at Lyft Jon McNeill has deep experience as both an entrepreneur and an executive at scale. Jon has founded and scaled six companies, led teams creating tens of thousands of jobs and multi-billion dollar returns for investors. He is the 2012 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and in 2013 he was named “Most Admired CEO” in Boston. He was President at Tesla from 2015-2018 (where revenues grew from $2B to $12B during his tenure), before becoming the COO at Lyft in 2018 to help bring the company public (revenue growth from $800M to $2B). He began his career at Bain & Company. He serves on the boards of Lululemon, TruMotion and the Brigham & Women’s hospital in Boston. McNeill is a graduate of Northwestern University.

Jordan Harrod

I’m a Ph.D. student in Medical Engineering and Medical Physics at the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program. My research focuses on deep learning and neurotechnology for brain stimulation and control systems.

Keisuke Wakao

Assistant Principal Oboe, Boston Symphony Orchestra
Keisuke Wakao was appointed assistant principal oboe of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and principal oboe of the Boston Pops Orchestra in the fall of 1990. He was previously a member of the New World Symphony from its 1988 inaugural season. A native of Tokyo, Mr. Wakao performed with the New Japan Philharmonic under Seiji Ozawa in 1985 and made his concerto debut with the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra under Kazuyoshi Akiyama in the summer of 1989. He made his Tokyo recital debut in 1997 and performed with pianist Christoph Eschenbach in a recital at Sapporo’s 1998 Pacific Music Festival.

Krystyn Van Vliet

Krystyn Van Vliet is the Michael and Sonja Koerner Professor of Materials Science & Engineering and Biological Engineering, MIT Laboratory for Material Chemomechanics, MIT Lead, SMART CAMP*, Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research & Technology *Critical Analytics for Manufacturing Personalised-Medicine

Leonard Kleinrock

Dr. Leonard Kleinrock pioneered the mathematical theory of packet networks, the technology underpinning the Internet. For his enormous contribution to understanding the power of packet networks he was honored with the Charles Stark Draper Award as one of the fathers of the Internet, along with Vinton Cerf, Robert Kahn, and Larry Roberts. He is a developer of ARPANET, the seedling that grew into today’s global Internet, and his laboratory’s UCLA Host computer became the first ARPANET node in September 1969. A month later, he directed the first transmission to pass over the blossoming network. Dr. Kleinrock received his Ph.D. from MIT in 1963. He currently serves as a Distinguished Professor of Computer Science at UCLA. He has published over 250 papers and authored six books on a wide array of subjects including packet switching networks, packet radio networks, local area networks, broadband networks, nomadic computing, peer-to-peer networks, and intelligent software agents. Dr. Kleinrock is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an IEEE fellow, an ACM fellow, an INFORMS Fellow, and an IEC fellow. Among his many honors, he is the recipient of the Ericsson Prize, the NAE Draper Prize, the Marconi Prize, the Okawa Prize, and was further recognized when he received the 2007 National Medal of Science, the highest honor for achievement in science bestowed by the President of the United States.

Linnea Olson

Linnea Olson was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer in April of 2005. In addition to being a vocal advocate for cancer patients, Linnea is a mother, artist, writer, friend, adventurer. She refers to herself as a terminal optimist; someone who is living (each day to the fullest) with stage 4 lung cancer.

Mel Schwartz

Mel Schwartz LCSW MPhil is a psychotherapist, marriage counselor, author and speaker. He’s in private practice in Westport, CT and NYC and also works with individuals globally. Mel is the author of The Possibility Principle: How Quantum Physics Can Improve the Way You Think, Live and Love and The Art of Intimacy, The Pleasure of Passion. He is one of the first psychotherapists to integrate the basic principles of quantum physics into a therapeutic approach, enabling people to overcome their challenges and live to their potential.

Nitish Padmanaban

Nitish Padmanaban is a fifth year PhD candidate at Stanford EE, supported by an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. He’s advised by Prof. Gordon Wetzstein as part of the Stanford Computational Imaging Lab. His research is focused on using optical and computational techniques for improving visual perception, including building and evaluating displays to alleviate the vergence–accommodation conflict (VAC) and addressing presbyopia in both real and virtual settings.

Ofer Levy

Ofer Levy MD, PhD; Director, Precision Vaccines Program, Boston Children's Hospital

Patrick Hunter

Patrick is co-founder of STEAM Revolt, an initiative that exposes students to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics through the use of the arts to underrepresented populations in STEM.

Ramesh Raskar

Ramesh Raskar is an Associate Professor at MIT Media Lab and directs the Camera Culture research group. His focus is on Machine Learning and Imaging for health and sustainability. They span research in physical (e.g., sensors, health-tech), digital (e.g., automated and privacy-aware machine learning) and global (e.g., geomaps, autonomous mobility) domains. In his recent role at Facebook, he launched and led innovation teams in Digital Health, Health-tech, Satellite Imaging, TV and Bluetooth bandwidth for Connectivity, VR/AR and ‘Emerging Worlds’ initiative for FB. At MIT, his co-inventions include camera to see around corners, femto-photography, automated machine learning (auto-ML), private ML, low-cost eye care devices (Netra,Catra, EyeSelfie), a novel CAT-Scan machine, motion capture (Prakash), long distance barcodes (Bokode), 3D interaction displays (BiDi screen), new theoretical models to augment light fields (ALF) to represent wave phenomena and algebraic rank constraints for 3D displays(HR3D). Before MIT, he co-invented techniques for AR, Computational Photography, Shader Lamps (projector-AR), composite RFID (RFIG), multi-flash non-photorealistic camera for depth edge detection, quadric transfer methods for multi-projector curved displays. He received the Lemelson Award 2016 and ACM SIGGRAPH Achievement Award 2017, Technology Review TR100 award 2004 (which recognizes top young innovators under the age of 35), Global Indus Technovator Award (top 20 Indian technology innovators worldwide) 2003, Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship award 2009 and Darpa Young Faculty award 2010. Other awards include Marr Prize honorable mention 2009, LAUNCH Health Innovation Award, presented by NASA, USAID, US State Dept+ NIKE, 2010, Vodafone Wireless Innovation Award (first place) 2011. His work has appeared in NYTimes, CNN, BBC, NewScientist, TechnologyReview and several technology news websites.. His invited and keynote talks include TED, Wired, TEDMED, Darpa Wait What, MIT Technology Review, Google SolveForX and several TEDx venues. His co-authored books include Spatial Augmented Reality, Computational Photography and 3D Imaging (both under preparation). He has worked on special research projects at Google [X] and Facebook and co-founded/advised several startups. He launched, a platform for young innovators to explore AI-for-Impact. He frequently consults for dynamic organizations to conduct ‘SpotProbing’ exercises to spot opportunities and probe solutions. He holds 82+ US patents. [Personal webpage] Specialties: Health-tech, Digital health, Computer Vision, Machine Learning, Imaging, Optics, Displays, Sensors, Medical Imaging, RFID, Projector, VR-AR, Computation Photography, HCI, Tech-Transfer, Ventures, Startups

Reza Khorasaninejad

Reza Khorasaninejad is co-founder and CTO at BRELYON, where he works on the next generation of immersive displays. Before that, he was a Research Associate at Harvard University where, for the first time, he demonstrates a highly efficient flat lens (meta-lens) in the visible spectrum. This work was featured on the cover of Science Magazine also selected as one of the Magazine’s top 10 breakthroughs of the year 2016.

Robbie Samuels

Relationship-Based Business Strategist
Robbie Samuels is a keynote speaker and relationship-based business strategist who has been recognized as a “networking expert” by Inc., Harvard Business Review Ascend, and Lifehacker. He is the author of the best-selling business book Croissants vs. Bagels: Strategic, Effective, and Inclusive Networking at Conferences and has been profiled in the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Fast Company. His clients include associations and corporations including Marriott, AmeriCorps, Hostelling International, and General Assembly.

Sameena Shah

Sameena Shah is a Managing Director in the AI Research group at J.P. Morgan Chase. She is a highly accomplished technology leader who created some of the top AI technologies for financial, risk, news, and legal businesses. Previously, Sameena was Managing Director, Head of Data Science at S&P Global Ratings. She is also the Founder and CEO of Aylan Analytics LLC, an AI consultancy firm serving financial and risk industries. Previously, she worked at Thomson Reuters, Yahoo! Research, several hedge funds and a global startup. Sameena has a PhD in Distributed Machine Learning and a Masters in Computer Science from IIT Delhi. She has 41 publications, 11 patents, and has received several awards and recognitions.

Sheila Hemami

Dr. Sheila Hemami is the Director of Strategic Technical Opportunities and joined Draper to launch its Global Challenges initiative in 2016—applying Draper’s capabilities and expertise to challenges for humankind and the planet. She has built Draper’s Global Challenges program through the strategic selection of projects, partners and funders to design solution-oriented programs for impact, deployability and sustainability. Current projects in her environment and conservation-oriented portfolio span a broad range of cross-sector partners and include coral conservation, microplastic measurement, and counting hippos from space. Sheila’s experience in developing interdisciplinary teams for impact was gained in her roles as a professor of electrical and computer engineering and academic leader at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., and more recently as Chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Northeastern University, Boston. She has also served in various leadership roles for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the world’s largest technical professional organization. She is an alumna of the University of Michigan and Stanford University. In her spare time, she enjoys spending as much time as possible outside in all seasons with her beagle Sam.

Sylvia Ruth Gutmann

I am an author, public speaker, and contemporary witness. I am a Hidden Child survivor of the Holocaust. Through my speaking engagements, I am committed to the work of memory, healing, and reconciliation. My work encourages people to shed the guilt and shame of their pasts, and to help us all see our responsibilities to each other. It is my hope that the future will be filled with more love. I was born in 1939 in Antwerp, Belgium, where my Jewish parents had fled to from Berlin. After living as a Hidden Child in Europe until I was seven, I have lived in New York City, San Diego, Dallas, and Berlin, Germany. I now live in Framingham, MA. Like my late father, I am a great fan of classical opera and am an avid reader of books of all kinds. My memoir, A Life Rebuilt: The Remarkable Transformation of a War Orphan, is being published by Epigraph Publishing in Rhinebeck, NY.

Tom Roston

Tom Roston is a journalist and author of The Most Spectacular Restaurant in the World: The Twin Towers, Windows on the World, and the Rebirth of New York.

Yordanos Eyoel

Yordanos is a Partner at New Profit, a pioneering venture philanthropy organization that invests in breakthrough leaders and systems change initiatives to break down barriers to opportunity in America. In her role, Yordanos leads the vision, strategy development, and management of early-stage investments. This entails developing a pipeline of high potential organizations, leading investment selection, and designing and facilitating cohort-based learning communities to build the capacity of portfolio organizations. The capacity-building model is anchored in three pillars: peer community that serves as a support and an accountability system; roadmap for building a high performing organization at various stages of development; and adaptive leadership skills to create strong teams and expand one’s network of champions. The early-stage portfolio currently has three cohorts: Proximity, Unlocked Futures, and Civic Lab. Originally from Ethiopia, Yordanos is the co-founder and international spokesperson of the Sister March Network that mobilized more than 4 million people across all seven continents for the 2017 Women’s March. She has served as an Aspen Institute Women’s World Leaders Fellow to South Africa as well as a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar to Venezuela. Yordanos’ previous experiences include working with the Ethiopian Embassy and the United States Congress. Yordanos holds a B.A. in Economics and Political Science, Honors, Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Florida, where she was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame. She also has an M.P.P. in Business and Government Policy from Harvard Kennedy School. Yordanos’ writing has been featured in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, The 74 Million, Huffington Post, Blavity, and Bold.

Organizing team


Brookline, MA, United States
  • Caty Byerly Rezendes