x = independently organized TED event

Theme: Engage

This event occurred on
May 19, 2012
12:00am - 12:00am EDT
(UTC -4hrs)
Portland, Maine
United States

After our events we often hear a common question: What do we do now? Our answer: Engage. We have asked Jan Kearce, executive director of the Institute for Civic Leadership, to guest curate a very special spring event for Maine, TEDxDirigo: Engage. We will hear from a dynamic range of innovators from across Maine who have rolled up their sleeves and made a difference. They choose to Engage, converting their ideas and passion into action and impact. Come and explore how we can collectively and individually Engage to solve today’s and tomorrow’s problems in inspiring ways.

Abromson Center
88 Bedford Street
Portland, Maine, 04101
United States
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Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Robin Alden

Robin Alden is Executive Director of Penobscot East Resource Center, a non-profit organization she co-founded in 2003. Located on the waterfront in Stonington, Maine, the organization’s mission is to secure a future for fishing communities in eastern Maine. Alden was Maine Commissioner of Marine Resources from 1995 to 1997, responsible for Maine’s marine and anadromous fishery management and enforcement and for aquaculture in the state. For twenty years she was publisher and editor of Commercial Fisheries News, a regional fishing trade newspaper that she founded in 1973. She later became publisher and editor of the company’s new publication, Fish Farming News. She was instrumental in starting the annual Maine Fishermen’s Forum in the mid-1970s and received the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment Visionary Award in 1997 and the Maine Initiatives Social Landscape Artist Award with her husband, Ted Ames in 2007. She was a public member of the New England Fishery Management Council 1979-1982 and a member again during her tenure as Commissioner. She was a member of the National Sea Grant Review Panel from 2000-2009. Alden has a B.A. in Economics from the University of Maine. Robin lives in Stonington with her husband Ted Ames.

Joshua Broder

Joshua Broder is President of Tilson. He honed his leadership skills as an Army Signal officer, managing the US communications network in Central Asia, which included satellite, microwave, and fiber optics networks. Josh has worked for Tilson since returning to Maine in 2006, leading a team of consultants who provide IT and telecommunications consulting and project management services for private and public sector clients around the world. Josh finds satisfaction in creating and fostering an environment in which intellectually curious, motivated, and talented individuals are able to work with purpose, mastery, and autonomy, enabling the leaders of businesses, government entities, and non-profits to further their missions through the implementation of technology. Josh is particularly interested in creating solutions that drive the innovation economy. A graduate of Middlebury College and an honor graduate of the University of Vermont’s Military Science program, Josh serves on the boards of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and HealthInfoNet. He lives in Portland with his wife, Eliza Ginn, and Ula, their Brittany Spaniel. Josh and Eliza are eagerly awaiting the birth of their first child in late April, 2012.

Susan Conley

Susan Conley is a writer, a teacher and a co-founder of The Telling Room, a creative writing lab in Portland that believes in the power of stories to transform students’ lives and change communities. Susan served as the executive director of The Telling Room for its first two years of life before moving to China, where she wrote a memoir titled The Foremost Good Fortune (Knopf, 2011). This book chronicles the years Susan, her husband and two young boys lived in Beijing, learned Mandarin, set out on The Hunt for the Greatest Dumpling in China, and contended with Susan’s cancer diagnosis. The book was excerpted in The New York Times Magazine and The Daily Beast and was voted a Goodreads’ Choice Award Winner for Best Travel and Outdoor Books of 2011. Susan has been the recipient of two MacDowell Colony residencies, a Breadloaf Writer’s Fellowship and a Massachusetts Arts Council Grant. Maine Today Media gave Susan a 2011 “Greatest Women of Maine” Award. A graduate of Middlebury College and San Diego State University, Susan has taught creative writing and literature seminars at Emerson College, as well as at Harvard’s Teachers as Scholar’s Program. She continues to teach all flavors of writing workshops at The Telling Room and has a novel forthcoming from Knopf in the spring of 2013. Susan lives in Portland with her husband, Tony Kieffer, and their two boys ages 9 and 11, who are avid story tellers themselves and not at all sick of dumplings.

Bill Cumming

Bill is a thirty-year coaching veteran and Director of The Boothby Institute. He has been a coach, consultant and trainer to CEOs and the executive teams of health care delivery organizations, businesses, school systems and non-profit organizations. He is a key partner in the New Horizons Academy. Bill’s work focuses on creating inspired environments where individuals take responsibility for their lives and the organizations for which they work. He is known for his ability to work and be with people in such a way that they are honored, acknowledged and valued as human beings. He attempts to ask the most important questions no matter how difficult they may seem. Bill helped found a Ford Foundation Project, which became a pilot for Upward Bound. He spent thirteen years as an adjunct member of the faculty in the College of Education at the University of Maine, helping found the University’s Aspirations Four School Project. He was elected twice to the Maine School Union #47 Board of Directors and served as its Chair for three years. He is the creator of “Motivation, What Works,” “Power Within” and “What One Person Can Do,” “Inspired Teaching” and “Inspired Leadership” courses. These programs have been delivered in hundreds of school systems, Job Corps programs, non-profit organizations, corporations, and the Maine State Prison System as part of the New Horizons Academy. Bill was also a founding trustee of the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.

Raphael DiLuzio

Raphael Diluzio is a serial creative artist, entrepreneur and professor. He is currently developing two start-ups, creating a new program in Design Science at USM, while still maintaining his studio practice. His art is centered in visual image making, primarily in the relation between traditional studio art and digital time-based media. His interest lies in reconnecting a historical praxis in painting with technology. The result is live digital performances, time-based projected paintings, installation, and visualization. Raphael actively writes and publishes his theories on, Creative Intelligence, Design Science, working in a time-based medium as well as critically examining how these emerging media affect our culture. His newest work will be on display at the exhibition, “Light, Motion, Sound,” opening at the Ogunquit Museum on May 5th, 2012. He currently resides in Maine.

Mohammed Dini

Mohammed Dini was raised in Somalia and Kenya before moving to the United States in 1997. He has studied political science and international studies at the University of Southern Maine and is deeply involved in Maine activism and politics. In 2010, he became one of the first African immigrants to run for office in the state. He captured 40% of the primary vote for District 119 in Portland. Mohammed is also an active leader in Somali community both locally and nationally. He has served as the President of the national Somali American Students Association, Executive Director of the African Immigrant Association in Maine, and recently founded the African Diaspora Institute. With ADI, Mohammed helped facilitate the “Somalia Speaks” interactive citizen journalism project with Al Jazeera English and Ushahidi. Mohammed is now preparing for his next run for political office in the upcoming election.

Andy Happel

Andy Happel is a violinist and composer who lives in Scarborough, Maine. He is a private and group instructor at 317 Main Street Community Music Center in Yarmouth, Maine, offering lessons in violin, cello, piano, guitar and ukelele. Andy is a certified teacher in the Mark O’Connor American String Method. Andy is also lead producer for PARMA Recordings, specializing in new classical composition. He recently returned from Prague, where he worked with the Moravian Philharmonic. Andy has performed extensively for over 20 years. He played fiddle in the Don Campbell Band and his rock band Thanks to Gravity was signed to Capitol Records and EMI Publishing. He has also had an original symphonic work premiered by the New Hampshire Philharmonic. In November 2012, Andy will make his debut as guest soloist with the Portsmouth Symphony, where he will play “The Fiddle Concerto,” by Mark O’Connor.

Claire Hirschmann

Claire Hirschmann is co-founder of The Field Academy, based in Portland, Maine. In 1996, Claire and her parents spent five months exploring Europe in a VW camper. Her literature course was a study of classic abandoned texts from old bookstores. History class was an examination of surroundings as she explored Olympia, World War I trenches, Auschwitz, Dachau, and the site of the Berlin Wall. Social studies was an immersion in conversation and observation as she talked to a Hungarian peasant about transition from Communism, lived with a rural Swedish family, and watched devout pilgrims celebrate at the Camino de Santiago. Claire learned what it felt like to be sparked by something, to feel the prick of desire to learn something more. Some of the best learning happened at the most unexpected moments, and some of the best teaching came from the most unlikely people. That experience led to her devotion to learning, adventuring, and leading. At Yale University, she was involved in Community Health Educators with high school students and co-directed the Freshman Outdoor Orientation Trips. After Yale, Claire worked at a dude ranch; spent several months in the National Outdoor Leadership School’s Outdoor Education semester; and apprenticed at the High Mountain Institute in Leadville, Colorado. She also spent two years as a teacher and one year as the Academic Program Director at the Traveling School. Claire has a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and studied citizenship at the Tufts Summer Institute of Civic Studies.

John Marshall

John Marshall is the Chief Creative Officer at WPXT-TV and WPME-TV in Westbrook where he writes, produces, directs and hosts a variety of local television shows. Though he loves his job, John recently took six months off to fulfill a live-long dream of traveling around the world with his family. Inspired by the concept of Voluntourism (a growing trend where travelers add service opportunities to their vacations), John, his wife and their two teenaged children volunteered their way from country to country, working with a variety of amazing local people and organizations as they went. And doing it for less than the cost of six months of living in Maine! In John’s words, “We may not have changed the world. But the world definitely changed us.” John is a 7-time Emmy award-winning television producer in such diverse categories as short form writing, set design and musical composition. He was voted Maine’s Broadcaster of the Year in 2008 and is currently working on a book and a TV series about volunteering and world travel. He lives in Gorham, Maine.

Lyn Mikel Brown

Lyn Mikel Brown, Ed.D. is a community activist, Professor of Education at Colby College, and co-creator of the nonprofit Hardy Girls Healthy Women, where she develops strength-based programs and curricular materials that scaffold girls’ social change work and oversees the online media literacy and activism campaign, Powered By Girl (PBG). She is the author of five books, including Meeting at the Crossroads: Women’s Psychology and Girls’ Development (with Carol Gilligan), Girlfighting: Betrayal and Rejection Among Girls, and Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters From Marketer’s Schemes (with Sharon Lamb; winner of a Books For A Better Life Award). In 2010, with Hunter College Professor of Social Welfare and Psychology Deborah Tolman, she initiated the Sexualization Protest Action Resistance Knowledge (SPARK) Summit and movement, a growing coalition of youth, thought leaders, researchers, and partner organizations united in their determination to challenge the sexualization of girls and work collectively to demand girls’ rights to embodiment and healthy sexuality. Lyn received her doctorate from Harvard Graduate School of Education in Human Development and Psychology and was a founding member of the Harvard Project on Women’s Psychology and Girls’ Development.

Daniel Minter

Daniel Minter began working in 1980 as a painter, illustrator, and computer graphics artist. Minter has illustrated nine children’s books, including Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story, winner of a Best Book Award from the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, and The Riches of Oseola McCarty, named an Honor Book by the Carter G. Woodson Awards. Minter’s paintings and sculptures have been exhibited both nationally and internationally at galleries and museums including the Seattle Art Museum, the Tacoma Art Museum, Bates College, Hammonds House Museum and the Meridian International Center. Minter is the founding director and vice-president of Maine Freedom Trails, Inc. He created the markers for the Portland Freedom Trail, which identifies significant sites related to the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad in Portland, Maine. He created the 2004 Kwanzaa stamp and the 2011 Kwanzaa stamp for the U.S. Postal Service. Minter lives in Portland, Maine with his wife, Marcia, and son, Azari Ayindé.

Elizabeth Neptune

Elizabeth Neptune has more than 25 years of experience in delivering innovative health and human services to Native Communities. Ms. Neptune operates her own consulting business that primarily provides technical assistance to Native American Tribes programs across the country. She has become nationally known for her skills in directing programs and facilitating change in health care and child welfare systems. In her capacity as director of health and human services for the Passamaquoddy Tribe, Ms. Neptune created a model of holistic care which won both state and national recognition. She served as the state Child Wellness Coordinator and helped implement Project LAUNCH for the State of Maine. Ms. Neptune’s gift for innovation has changed health outcomes for many and has influenced system changes at the Tribal, State and National level. Ms. Neptune has served on the Passamaquoddy Tribal Council for the past seven years. Ms. Neptune currently serves as part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health Research Advisory Council and the HHS Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Tribal Technical Advisory Committee. She also serves as on the boards of the Maine Community Foundation, Down East Community Hospital and the Children’s Growth Council.

Cathy Plourde

Cathy Plourde is the founder and Director of Add Verb Productions, which is now housed at the University of New England. Trained as a teacher with a background in theatre that goes back to the 8th grade, Cathy has been writing for youth audiences and cultivating youth-devised work since the mid 90′s. With a Master’s degree in Theatre and Social Change, she has productions that have toured to 35 states and internationally, and has had commissions from Maine Women’s Fund, Mainely Girls, Boys to Men, Planned Parenthood Network of Northern New England. She is an Assistant Professor of Integrated Health Sciences at UNE, focusing on using theatre in health and wellness education, as well as for education in the medical and health professions, and has directed high school, college, non-actors, and professional actors for her touring productions. Cathy has a background in non-profit management since 2000.

Bonnie Rukin

Bonnie Rukin is a social change activist from Camden, Maine. She has worked as a teacher, organic farmer, lay homeopath and non-profit leader at varied times in the past several decades. Her values and community actions have focused on sustainability in organizations and their related missions in the areas of health, philanthropy, education, social justice, agriculture and the environment. Since January 2010 she has been the Coordinator of Slow Money Maine, happily finding a match for her skills, interests and life experiences in leading a diverse and inclusive network of over 400 people actively engaged in varied forms of investing in local sustainable food systems.

Ned Swain

Ned Swain runs day-to-day operations of Devenish Wines, a small wine distributor focused on hand made wines that express the environment and culture that created them. He is also a founding partner in Local Muscle Movers, a customer service driven moving company. He builds community and provides much needed service through two organizations he founded – Hash House Harriers and GruntMatch. Hash running is an international phenomenon that originated in Malaysia in 1939. Hash runs are organized on the hare and hounds concept, meaning that someone (the hare) gets a head start and then the rest of the runners (the hounds) give chase, but with no idea where the hare is going, simply following marks left on the pavement – hilarity ensues. GruntMatch grew out of Ned’s experiences organizing hash runs and his enjoyment of lifting large awkward objects and running up and down stairs while on the job with Local Muscle. The thought was “Hey, if I can enjoy something like moving, why couldn’t this be extended to other activities and people in order to accomplish good deeds?” The idea for GruntMatch was shared with his business partner Jake Holz and his friend Liz Trice – both co-organizers. Ned also serves on the boards of several nonprofits, including the community arts group Mensk and the Mount Desert Island Marathon. He is fond of long distance running and open-ocean rowing.

Organizing team


Portland, ME, United States


  • Janice O'Rourke
    Executive Producer