x = independently organized TED event

Theme: Serendipity

This event occurred on
April 7, 2023
Boulder, Colorado
United States

Moments of serendipity are unforeseen and we may never have imagined them as possible until they occur. Walking down a path and stumbling across a small cozy coffee shop. Opening your bedroom curtains to fresh snowfall. Talking to a stranger in a grocery store line about a new thing you hadn’t ever thought about. Each of these experiences where we stumble across unfamiliar pleasant things are moments of serendipity.

These special times can only happen when the gates of our minds are left open and curious to potentially fall into something unexpectedly wonderful. We are unable to force serendipity, and are only in control of how much we allow our minds to unfold. It is not something that is coincidental or scientific, but is simply meant to be.

As each speaker of TEDxCU 2023 talks, we ask you to take the leap into a moment of quietness and listening. Remove your preconceived notions and let yourself plunge into new areas of thought, profound ideas, and blissful experiences that you could never have seen coming.

Macky Auditorium
1595 Pleasant St
Boulder, Colorado, 80309
United States
Event type:
University (What is this?)
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Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Alex Catterson

Alex is a Junior at The University of Colorado, Boulder. She is in the process of earning a Business degree with a focus in entrepreneurship and social responsibility. Alex is originally from Stamford, Connecticut but fell in love with the Western US after a backpacking trip in high school. She loves yoga, hiking, camping, podcasts, languages, stand-up, and spending time with her little brother, Zackary. Alex is also passionate about inspiring those who struggle with addiction to gain agency in their recovery.

Amanda McCracken

Amanda McCracken is a journalist passionate about experiences that highlight the intersection of wellness, travel, and relationships. Her work has been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, Guardian, Vogue, National Geographic, Elle, NPR, Outside, ESPN, and Runner’s World. The BBC and Katie Couric have interviewed her about longing. For 15 years, McCracken worked as an instructor at CU’s International English Center. Originally from Cincinnati, Boulder has been home since 2003. When McCracken’s not writing, she’s caring for her daughter, running trails with her husband, or editing her podcast The Longing Lab. McCracken is also a certified massage therapist and triathlon coach.

Austin Leech

First Impressionist
Austin Leech started the first two years of his post-secondary career at a British University in China before transferring to CU Boulder during the pandemic. Since then, he has worked as a software developer at the Outdoor Equipment company, Matador, where he had his most important first impression. He has a passion for rock climbing, home automation, and woodworking. After finishing up his last semester at CU, Austin will go onto work in Management Consulting for Bain and Company.

Carlos Chaverst Jr.

Racial Justice Advocate
Born and raised in Pratt City & Ensley, Alabama, Mr. Chaverst is a serial entrepreneur and currently works as a principal political strategist for his business. His passion lies in civic engagement, and he has had the privilege to use this passion to support many organizations on the local as well as national levels throughout his career.

Evan Thomas

Director and Endowed Chair of the Mortenson Center in Global Engineering and Resilience, University of Colorado Boulder, and CEO of Virridy
Professor Evan Thomas is the Endowed Chair and Director of the Mortenson Center in Global Engineering and Resilience at the University of Colorado Boulder, and is the Founder and CEO of Virridy. The Mortenson Center and Virridy work globally to improve water security for millions of people using climate finance, technology, and experimental studies. Evan has a PhD in in Aerospace Engineering Sciences from the University of Colorado Boulder, a Masters in Public Health from the Oregon Health and Science University, a MBA in Global Business from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, and is a registered Professional Environmental Engineer. Evan’s technical background is in water and air testing and treatment applied in contexts ranging from emerging economies to operational spacecraft.

Jaymi Bauer

Chief Marketing Officer
Some people call Jaymi Bauer a marketing mystic. She has led marketing for an unusual range of brands, including Xbox and its portfolio of games, and Gaia, the conscious media platform. Today Jaymi runs Vaquera, working exclusively in the sweet spot where the practical and the mystical meet - the place where visionary brands are born. She is the creator of Resonance Design, a catalytic brand-building method created from her first-hand understanding of what separates legacy brands from everyone else: a relentless devotion to genius and truth. Jaymi is a mom of three, and lives in Boulder with one child still in the coop and her partner with whom she keeps the mystical fire ablaze.

Kailey Sieja

ASD Activist
Kailey Sieja is a student at the University of Colorado Boulder, where she studies evolutionary biology. Kailey is a passionate autistic advocate and speaker. In her capacity as an engaged political activist, she hopes to utilize her strengths as an autistic person to advance justice, equity, and inclusion.

Orit Peleg

Scientist and Swarm Chaser
Dr. Orit Peleg is an Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado Boulder and External Faculty at the Santa Fe Institute. Her interdisciplinary lab is focused on understanding the generation and interpretation of biological communication signals using firefly and bee swarms as model systems. Dr. Peleg's multidisciplinary background includes a Bachelor's degree in physics and computer science, a PhD in materials science, and postdoctoral experience in chemistry and applied mathematics. Her work has been featured in various prominent outlets such as the New York Times, National Public Radio, Smithsonian magazine, and National Geographic.

Patti Milligan

Saliva Enthusiast
For 40 years, Patti has worked in both the clinical nutrition and integrative medicine/natural foods fields bringing a unique blend of clinical, educational, holistic, consumer, and PR experience. In addition, she has led a high-performance nutrition program for global business executives. Patti’s work in the field of Neuroscience of Taste led her to the field of saliva research and how saliva holds a key to nutritional resilience. Founder of Renewal Kit for Travelers, she created this travel immune and well-being product to take when you fly based on her saliva and immune resilience doctorate research. Her book “Why is Shirley Unusual? inspires kids to thrive eating fresh fruits and vegetables through gardening. Educational Background: Doctorate in Neuroscience of Taste, Registered Dietitian, Herbal Medicine and Botanical Medicine Certificate, Biochemistry Certified Specialist, MS in Sports Medicine, Consumer Sciences, BS in Foods and Nutrition, Sensory/Taste Sommelier.

Peter Genuardi

Health Activist
Peter is a team builder who is dedicated to making the world a more compassionate place. For twenty-five years, he has developed marketing programs for national nonprofit brands and built successful startup companies. Peter is also the founder of Victory Beachwear, a clothing brand for big guys and the people who love them. On the TEDx stage, Peter is excited to share his story and encourage other men battling with disordered eating to find the support they need to improve their mental and physical health.

Organizing team


Boulder, CO, United States