x = independently organized TED event

Theme: TEDxMemphis: Truth or Dare

This event occurred on
February 11, 2023
Memphis, Tennessee
United States

Since launching in 2015, TEDxMemphis has produced more than 100 TED Talks from innovative speakers showcasing groundbreaking ideas that have the potential to shape our city and our world.

Courage looks different for everyone, but it’s something we are all called to display at some point or another. TEDxMemphis Truth or Dare, the 2023 conference theme, will explore bravery through the lens of the classic party game we all experienced in childhood. We might not have realized it then, but the heart-pounding sensation when your turn was called was your first step into the unknown. Those tiny steps forward propelled your thinking and now impact your daily decision-making. Whether you’re choosing to venture into the vulnerability of truth or exploring a new daring opportunity, how will you show your bravery? Join us to be inspired to take a leap forward. This year's conference will be hosted by Ephie Johnson, President/CEO of Neighborhood Christian Centers, Inc.

TEDx Memphis speakers include:

Session 1 (will run from 9:30am-12:00pm. Doors will open at 9:00am.)
Roshun Austin, community and social services visionary
Jennifer Balink, creative strategist and family connector
Kelly English, executive chef, restaurant owner and James Beard Award Semifinalist
Kim Halyak, city champion of garden tourism
Carmeon Hamilton, environmental curator, content creator & HGTV star
David Jamison II, aka “The Dope Educator”
Sam O’Bryant, literacy advocate
Matt Ross-Spang, record producer and Grammy Award-winning engineer & mixer
Lar’Juanette Williams, award-winning singer, dancer, actress, writer and arts administrator

Session 2 (will run from 1:30pm-4:00pm. Doors will open at 1:00pm.)
Janet Boscarino, sustainability supporter + co-founder of Clean Memphis
Fletcher Cleaves, motivational speaker and advocate for accessibility
Dwayne Spencer, affordable housing advocate
Justin Allen Tate, Broadway theatre actor and Mr. Pegasus 2022
Kathleen Terry-Sharp, equine experiential educator
Subha Vadlamannati, teenage nonprofit founder and passionate linguistics scholar
Yancy Villa, socially engaged artist
Kirk Whalum, soulful Grammy-nominated saxophonist and song writer

Crosstown Arts Theater
430 N. Cleveland
Memphis, Tennessee, 38104
United States
Event type:
Standard (What is this?)
See more ­T­E­Dx­Memphis events


Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Carmeon Hamilton

Environmental curator, content creator & HGTV star
I’m Carmeon Hamilton, a Memphis based environmental curator, interior designer, merchandising consultant, blogger and content creator behind the brand, Nubi Interiors. I finished college with a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design, started my career in health care design and was later pulled into the world of residential. But, it wasn’t until I discovered retail, merchandising and environmental design that I was really able to explore my true passion for interior design and decor and apply my analytical thinking to such vast arrays of spaces. As a self-proclaimed modern bohemian, I believe in elevating the everyday and finding beauty in the now. I always seek to not only discover the beauty in all things, but to also help others find that beauty in the things that surround them every day. I’ve been named a rising star in the design world by Architectural Digest, working with both residential and commercial clients.

Darius Wallace

Actor + Public Speaking Coach
Darius is no stranger to stories. He has been in several Hollywood Movies(Nothing But The Truth, Brian Banks and The World We Make). He is a founding company member of Tennessee Shakespeare in Memphis Tennessee and he has performed all over the country in thousands of schools, universities, theaters, libraries as Frederick Douglass. He also has been the TEDx Memphis coach for seven years. Darius has directed his own movie called 100 lives. He is a two time winner of the Ostrander Award in Memphis Tennessee for best actor and best original play. He also has been nominated for the Adelco Award in New York for best actor for his One Person show on the life of Frederick Douglas. He has a TEDx talk that has inspired many lives around the world. Under his coaching and speaking many have gone from the fear of public speaking to becoming successful sales as well as on the speaking circuit.

David Jamison II

The Dope Educator
David Jamison II is known as @thedopeeducator, is an educator, speaker, activist, education consultant, and named GAP Clothing 2021 Teacher Icon & Recruitment Advisor for MSCS. Despite being misunderstood in his early childhood and constantly suspended from school for misbehavior, he always knew his purpose in life was to inspire people. After high school, Jamison went to college and graduated from Tougaloo College with a BS in English. Upon graduation, he had success in various fields including labor coordinator, assistant manager, and actor/model but never felt aligned to his purpose. One day, a fraternity brother asked him the critical question, “Do you still have a passion for teaching?” That single conversation ended with a job offer and Jamison heading into the classroom. To make his classroom unique, Jamison decided to include a customized greeting and encouraged each of his students to devise a special handshake that he would greet them with each day.

Dwayne Spencer

Affordable housing advocate
Dwayne Spencer has worked in nonprofit management for 29 years and led Memphis Habitat since 2001. He has extensive experience working with a wide range of community constituencies to create strategic partnerships and impactful collaborations. Since joining Memphis Habitat, Spencer has grown the organization from a 9-member staff to more than 60 employees; from a $1 million annual budget to $18 million; and from serving 15-20 families a year to approximately 250-plus annually through the launch of the Aging in Place program. Today, Memphis Habitat ranks in the top 45 home producing affiliates and in the top five for home repairs out of more than 1,100 Habitat affiliates in the US. Spencer holds a master’s degree in public administration from The University of Memphis.

Fletcher Cleaves

Motivational speaker and advocate for accessibility
Fletcher Cleaves is a native of Memphis, TN who decided to turn his tragedy into a testimony. As an advocate and motivational presenter, he speaks out against the dangers of texting and driving as well as overcoming adversity. He aspires to share his journey in hopes it will save lives and inspire others to reach their goals, regardless of the challenges they may face.

Janet Boscarino

Sustainability supporter + co-founder of Clean Memphis
Janet Boscarino is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Clean Memphis. Clean Memphis was founded in 2008 to foster a cleaner and greener Memphis. They work to inspire Memphians to be environmental stewards grounded in civic responsibility. Through research of other cities, Clean Memphis developed a strategic plan focusing on engaging and educating communities, providing high-level cleanup of key areas and implementing a comprehensive environmental education program that includes a focus on sustainability for schools and restaurants.

Jennifer Balink

Creative strategist and family connector
Jennifer Larkey Balink stumbled into corporate marketing after a stint teaching middle and high school art, photography, and drama. Her career experience spans for-profit, not-for-profit and public sector involvement in healthcare, education, community engagement, and donor relations. An artist and art historian by education and training, Jennifer brings a creative approach to organizational change, strategic planning, marketing, and professional development. Since 2012 she has written the blog Jenny’s Lark and periodically for The Daily Memphian and StoryBoard Memphis. In 2016 she was tapped to lead an organizational transformation at Kindred Place, a relationship-focused counseling practice. In February 2023, she will join the Semmes Murphey Foundation as its new executive director. Trained as a holistic coach and Gottman 7 Principles leader, Jennifer holds a Bachelor’s degree in art and archaeology from Princeton University.

Kathleen Terry-Sharp

Equine experiential educator
Kathleen Terry-Sharp uses her experience, training, and coaching skills to help executives, teams, and individuals lead more effectively. She integrates Equine-Assisted Learning experiences to illuminate what horses can teach us about ourselves and effective, collective leadership. She facilitates insights that help clients improve communication, trust, and boundary setting to master the key competencies of attention, direction, energy, and congruence to ensure the ability to lead through uncertainty. She founded Equ-Insights, LLC in 2019 and has served as the Executive Director of the ECHO Foundation since 2013. A Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE), she has raised $55M+ for colleges, universities, and small nonprofits. Kathleen is also a Certified Equine Assisted Learning Practitioner with Advanced Certification in Corporate Facilitation.

Kelly English

Executive chef, restaurant owner and James Beard Award Semifinalist
Kelly English cooks at Restaurant Iris, Pantà, Fino’s and The Second Line in Memphis, TN as well as Magnolia House in Biloxi, MS. He really likes doing that and wouldn’t want to do anything else. Sometimes people say nice things about him and his food and they occasionally print it in magazines, like Food & Wine did when they named him a Best New Chef in 2009.

Kim Halyak

City champion of garden tourism
Kim is an avid gardener, community speaker, and retired teacher. In 2016, she co-founded the annual garden extravaganza, Cooper-Young Garden Walk. It celebrates 100 imaginative, private, urban gardens in Cooper-Young. This May, the garden walk expands citywide, featuring 24 days of garden events around Memphis. Kim believes that beautiful spaces have the power to catalyze a city. Her mission is to showcase gardeners and gardens in every neighborhood.

Kirk Whalum

Soulful Grammy Award-winning saxophonist and song writer
Soulful, passionate, stirring...these are the words most often used to describe Kirk Whalum's music. Kirk is the recipient of numerous awards and acknowledgments for his musical excellence including three Dove Award nominations, an NAACP Image Award nomination and has won two Stellar Awards-Gospel music’s highest honor. A twelve time Grammy® Award nominee, Kirk won his first Grammy® Award (2011) for Best Gospel Song (“It’s What I Do”––featuring Lalah Hathaway) alongside life-long friend and gifted songwriter, Jerry Peters. Kirk has also been honored with a Brass Note on the Memphis Walk of Fame and a Star on the Nashville Walk of Fame.

Lar'Juanette Williams

award-winning singer, dancer, actress, writer and arts administrator
Lar’Juanette Williams is a former Broadway Touring Artist most noted for her portrayal of “Effie White” in Dreamgirls, garnering a number of awards and acknowledgments throughout the country. She is a graduate of “Stella Adler” Academy of Acting & Theater and has since Directed and Produced hundreds of artistic experiences in 14 states and 3 countries. She holds a BA in Communications/Speech from the University of North Texas and an MA in Sociology from University of Southern California. She is currently the Executive Director of the Memphis Black Arts Alliance, Inc., engaging and reaching more than 100,000 artists, youth, and participants since 2016.

Matt Ross-Spang

Record producer and Grammy Award-winning engineer & mixer
Over the past decade, Matt Ross-Spang has emerged as one of the premiere record producers and engineers working today across country, folk, rock and roll, and R&B. Known for a philosophy of putting artists first and for a skillset that’s enabled him to capture a vintage warmth and energy without ever sounding stuffy or dated, Ross-Spang has a discography that encompasses production, engineering and mixing for legends, perennial critical favorites and some of his own generation’s most exciting musicmakers: Elvis Presely, Lou Reed, Al Green, John Prine, Jason Isbell, Mountain Goats, Cut Worms, Drive-By Truckers, Margo Price, Lucero, Iron & Wine, St. Paul and the Broken Bones. He has won two Grammy Awards, for engineering Isbell’s 2015 album Something More than Free and again for its follow-up, 2017’s The Nashville Sound.

Roshun Austin

Community and social services visionary
Roshun Austin is an outspoken and tireless advocate for the underserved in Memphis neighborhoods. She has spent her entire career developing hundreds of units of affordable housing; helping thousands of homeowners avoid foreclosure; eliminating blighted conditions; advocating policy change for equitable practices. She has more than 27 years of experience and impactful success providing fiscal, strategic and operational leadership in uniquely challenging situations.

Sam O'Bryant

Literacy advocate
Sam O’Bryant serves as Executive Director of Literacy Mid-South. Over the last 10 years, all in the Memphis area, Sam has been a sought-after community partner and thought leader in the non-profit sector. In meeting Literacy Mid-South’s vision of 100% literacy for the greater Memphis area, Sam looks to focus on the ways that literacy lives in every sector. His vision includes examining and acting on how literacy lives in public education, how literacy exists in economic development, and pushes the ways that literacy can empower historically underrepresented populations. Since being in this role, Sam has led Literacy Mid-South toward record-breaking success. Sam’s proudest accomplishment, to date, is distributing more than 100,000 brand new, culturally responsive books to children, families, schools, and community partners within their fiscal year.

Subha Vadlamannati

Teenage nonprofit founder and passionate linguistics scholar
Subha Vadlamannati is a researcher in the field of data science, Natural Language Processing, and Machine Learning, and the founder of Linguistics Justice League. She is a board member of Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) and Youth Board Member of Invest in Youth, and has been recognized for her work with awards from the Society of Women Engineers Next (SWE), National Center for Women and Technology, and a publication in the Journal of Student Research. Through her STEM after-school programs at local nonprofit organizations, Subha noticed that many children, particularly refugees and immigrants, were unable to participate due to a lack of English skills. To bridge this gap, she created Edulang, a multilingual book library app that uses computational linguistics and natural language processing to help children learn English using their native language and vice versa. Edulang recently won the US congressional app challenge.

Yancy Villa

Socially engaged artist
Yancy Villa is a socially engaged artist and civic design consultant who seeks to create awareness, engage in conversation, and encourage social justice, urban planning, equity, public policy, and community prosperity. Villa is a 2020-2022 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow. In 2019, she was recognized as one of “40 Change Makers Who Have Made Memphis Better in the Past 40 Years.” Internationally, the Mexican Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Culture recognized her as an artist working on binational art initiatives for public diplomacy. She is a recipient of grants and commissions from the Smithsonian Latino Center, the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures, the Tennessee Arts Commission, ArtsMemphis, UnidosUS, the Funders’ Network, the UrbanArt Commission, and the City of Memphis, among others. Her work ranges from civic design and public art to urban planning and activism.

Organizing team