« Back to TED.com

Program Speakers A-Z

B
Aspen Baker image Aspen Baker
Listener

As abortion debates have turned black-and-white, Aspen Baker advocates being "pro-voice" -- listening respectfully and compassionately to all kinds of experiences.

When Aspen Baker had an abortion at 24, she felt caught between warring pro-life and pro-choice factions, with no space to share her feelings. So she cofounded Exhale, a nonprofit that offers women and men emotional support after an abortion, free of judgment and politics. After being constantly asked to pick a side in the abortion conflict, Baker and her cofounders started a new conversation.

Leaving the black-and-white debate behind, they embraced the gray areas and personal stories hidden behind the fight. They invented “pro-voice,” a philosophy and practice that uses listening and storytelling to help people have respectful, compassionate exchanges about abortion, and many other controversial topics. Called a “fun, fearless female” by Cosmopolitan, Baker is an award-winning leader and author of Pro-Voice: How to Keep Listening When the World Wants a Fight.
Session 5: Shift
Fri May 29, 2015
8:30 – 10:15
Memory Banda image Memory Banda
Activist

Memory Banda is a tireless leader for girls’ rights, in Malawi and around the world.

Memory Banda is a tireless leader for girls' rights around the world. She is leading Malawi's fight to end child marriage through her work with Let Girls Lead and the Girl Empowerment Network of Malawi.

Only 18-years-old, Memory championed a succesful national campaign that culminated in landmark legislation that outlawed child marriage. Memory works with girl leaders to ensure that village chiefs ban child marriage, end sexual initiation practices, enable girls to finish school and live safe from violence in a country where more than half of girls are married as children.

Memory became an advocate for girls  after her younger sister was forced into marriage at the age of 11. She is now a college student in Malawi.

 

  

Session 4: Sustain
Thurs May 28, 2015
4:30 – 6:15
Maria Bello image Maria Bello
Actor and activist

As an actor, Maria Bello plays powerful, complex women in charge; as an activist, she's a leader in the world of social impact investing and human rights.

Maria Bello is an internationally renowned actor, activist and author. In 2009 she was voted one of Variety magazine’s most powerful women in Hollywood for her activism. She is the co-founder of We Advance, an organization that digitally empowers and connects women throughout Haiti. She has spoken around the country on social impact investing, Haiti, women’s rights, LGBT rights and human rights; in 2012 she was a keynote speaker at the State Department's Forum on Impact Investing and is a partner in the online social impact investment firm Gate Global Impact.

In 2013, her powerful "Modern Love" column for The New York Times detailed her loving, nontraditional family life; a related book, Whatever … Love Is Love, will be out in 2015.

Session 3: Seduce
Thurs May 28, 2015
2:00 – 3:30
Rich Benjamin image Rich Benjamin
Social observer

The author of "Whitopia," Rich Benjamin sharply observes modern society and politics.

In his essays, book reviews and other writing, Rich Benjamin gives thoughtful commentary on the changing nature of politics and culture. For his 2009 book Whitopia, he took a 26,909-mile journey through the heart of America's whitest locales, small towns and exurbs where white populations are concentrating as America, meanwhile, becomes ever more diverse. His book asks America to imagine itself in 2042, when whites are no longer the majority. What form will diversity take?

Benjamin is a senior fellow at Demos, a multi-issue think tank, and is just completing a novel on money, loss and heterosexual melancholy.

Session 2: Surface
Thurs May 28, 2015
10:45 – 12:15
Mia Birdsong image Mia Birdsong
Family activist

Mia Birdsong advocates for strong communities and the self-determination of everyday people.

Mia Birdsong has spent more than 20 years fighting for the self-determination and pointing out the brilliant adaptations of everyday people. In her current role as co-director of Family Story, she is updating this nation's outdated picture of the family in America (hint: rarely 2.5 kids and two heterosexual parents living behind a white picket fence). Prior to launching Family Story, Birdsong was the vice president of the Family Independence Initiative, an organization that leverages the power of data and stories to illuminate and accelerate the initiative low-income families take to improve their lives.

Birdsong, whose 2015 TED talk "The story we tell about poverty isn't true" has been viewed more than 1.5 million times, has been published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Slate, Salon and On Being. She speaks on economic inequality, race, gender and building community at universities and conferences across the country. She co-founded Canerow, a resource for people dedicated to raising children of color in a world that reflects the spectrum of who they are.  

Birdsong is also modern Renaissance woman. She has spent time organizing to abolish prisons, teaching teenagers about sex and drugs, interviewing literary luminaries like Edwidge Danticat, David Foster Wallace and John Irving, and attending births as a midwifery apprentice. She is a graduate of Oberlin College, an inaugural Ascend Fellow of The Aspen Institute and a New America California Fellow. She sits on the Board of Directors of Forward Together.

Session 5: Shift
Fri May 29, 2015
8:30 – 10:15
Linda Briceño image Linda Briceño
Performing artist activist

Linda Briceño is a trumpter, singer and big band leader -- and an advocate for creative change.

Young Venezuelan performer Linda Briceño owns an impressive list of achievements: trumpet player, singer, big band director and composer. Brought up in the El Sistema music education system, she was a leader of the Simón Bolívar Big Band, one of the leading youth jazz ensembles in the world. in 2014, her first album, Tiempo, was nominated for two Latin Grammies, including Best New Artist. Wynton Marsalis once said about her “There is a weight in her sound, weight, weight. This, you either have it or you don’t, and it is very unusual for such a young person to have it the way she does.”

Meanwhile, in 2012 the World Economic Forum named Briceño a Young Global Shaper in recognition of her efforts as a musician and entrepreneur in developing empowerment strategies for young artists, especially musicians, to assert their rights as creative individuals and also as a collective in Latin America.

 

Session 1: Spark
Thurs May 28, 2015
8:30 – 10:00
C
Jimmy Carter image Jimmy Carter
Peace activist

The president of the United States from 1977 to 1981, Jimmy Carter has used his post-presidency years to work for peace, teach, write and engage in global activism.

While in office, Jimmy Carter brokered historic peace deals and treaties. Since the 1980s, he has worked tirelessly for conflict resolution around the globe through The Carter Center, where he has engaged in mediation in Ethiopia, Eritrea, North Korea, Liberia, Haiti, Bosnia, Venezuela, Nepal and the Middle East, among many other countries and regions. Under his leadership, The Carter Center has sent 96 election observation missions to the Americas, Africa and Asia. They're also leading the fight against Guinea worm, on track to be the second human disease in history to be eradicated.

In 2002, Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize "for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development." He's a member of the Elders, a group of independent global leaders working for peace and human rights.

Session 4: Sustain
Thurs May 28, 2015
4:30 – 6:15
Linda Cliatt-Wayman image Linda Cliatt-Wayman
High school principal

Linda Cliatt-Wayman is a Philadelphia high school principal with an unwavering belief in the potential of all children.

Linda Cliatt-Wayman grew up in poverty in North Philadelphia, where she experienced firsthand the injustice being perpetrated against poor students in their education. She has dedicated her career and her life to ending that injustice, working within Philadelphia's fractured public-school system. She spent 20 years as a special-ed teacher before becoming a principal, leading two low-performing urban high schools to success with improved test scores and increased college admissions among students.

Now at Philadelphia's Strawberry Mansion High School, Wayman and her team are once again proving what is possible for low-income children. Test scores have improved every year since Wayman took over, and the school was removed from the federal Persistently Dangerous Schools List for the first time in five years. Diane Sawyer and her team spent the 2012-2013 school year documenting Wayman’s efforts for ABC World News Tonight and Nightline.

Session 5: Shift
Fri May 29, 2015
8:30 – 10:15
D
Jenni Chang and Lisa Dazols image Jenni Chang and Lisa Dazols
Documentary filmmakers

Jenni Chang and Lisa Dazols made "Out & Around" to show the momentous changes in the status of LGBTQ equality -- all around the world.

When Jenni Chang and Lisa Dazols fell in love, they vowed to follow a life of adventure. Their promise led them to leave their 9-to-5 jobs, pick up a video camera and travel to fifteen countries through Asia, Africa and South America in search of "Supergays," the people who are leading the movement for gay, lesbian and transgender equality in the developing world.

While interviewing LGBT leaders across the globe, they realized their journey could have larger impact beyond just self-growth, so they bought a book on how to make a documentary. Out & Around, the resulting film, captures the momentous changes in the status of queer people around the world today. A film in partnership with the It Gets Better Project, the joint mission is to share stories of hope around the world.
Session 6: Share
Fri May 29, 2015
11:15 – 1:00
F
Negin Farsad image Negin Farsad
Comedian, filmmaker

Stand-up comedian Negin Farsad counters Islamophobia in funny and clever ways.

Negin Farsad was named one of the Funniest Women of 2015 by Huffington Post, one of the 10 Best Feminist Comedians by Paper magazine and was selected as a TED Fellow for her work in social justice comedy.

Farsad is the author of the recently released How to Make White People Laugh, a memoir-meets-social-justice-comedy manifesto (published by Grand Central, a division of Hachette). She is also the director/writer/star of the rom-com "3RD Street Blackout," starring Janeane Garofalo, Ed Weeks and John Hodgman, set for a summer 2016 release. She has written for/appeared on Comedy Central, MTV, PBS, IFC, Nickelodeon and others. She is director/producer of the feature films The Muslims Are Coming! starring Jon Stewart, David Cross and Lewis Black, and Nerdcore Rising, starring Weird Al Yankovic. She has sued New York State’s MTA over the right to put up funny posters about Muslims and won! She started her comedy career as a Cornell and Columbia-educated policy advisor for the City of New York. 

Session 6: Share
Fri May 29, 2015
11:15 – 1:00
Béla Fleck image Béla Fleck
Banjo artist

Béla Fleck is a 15-time Grammy winner, a legendary banjo player known for his virtuosic compositions.

Béla Fleck is a legend of the modern banjo -- pulling contemporary sounds out of an instrument with a long lineage. Within the TED community, he's also notable as the husband of TED Fellow Abigail Washburn, a singer-songwriter who uses the banjo to bridge cultural divides. The two have been married since 2009 but only played together casually at a party here, a benefit show there. With the birth of their son in 2014, they decided to record an album as a duo. Using seven banjos in all — including a specially commissioned baritone banjo — Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn weave together the same instrument in different registers, giving new meaning to the words “Dueling Banjos.”
Session 3: Seduce
Thurs May 28, 2015
2:00 – 3:30
Jane Fonda image Jane Fonda
Actor and activist

Jane Fonda has had three extraordinary careers (so far): Oscar-winning actor, fitness guru, impassioned activist.

Jane Fonda is an actor, author, producer and activist supporting environmental issues, peace and female empowerment. She founded the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention, and established the Jane Fonda Center for Adolescent Reproductive Health at  Emory. She cofounded the Women’s Media Center, and sits on the board of V-Day, a global effort to stop violence against women and girls.

Fonda's remarkable screen and stage career includes two Best Actress Oscars, an Emmy, a Tony Award nomination and an Honorary Palme d’Or from the Cannes Film Festival. Offstage, she revolutionized the fitness industry in the 1980s with Jane Fonda’s Workout — the all-time top-grossing home video. She has written a best-selling memoir, My Life So Far, and Prime Time, a comprehensive guide to living life to the fullest.

Session 6: Share
Fri May 29, 2015
11:15 – 1:00
G
Roxane Gay image Roxane Gay
Writer

In "Bad Feminist," her 2014 book of essays, Roxane Gay laid out a wise, funny and deeply empathetic vision of modern feminism, acceptance and identity -- flaws and all.

Roxane Gay is a novelist and essayist whose online essays you've probably had forwarded to you by someone you adore. Collected in the 2014 book Bad Feminist, they posit a world where (gasp!) we can actually talk honestly about searching for identity, being less than perfect, and thinking hard on privilege and acceptance. Kira Cochrane in The Guardian puts it correctly: "In print, on Twitter and in person, Gay has the voice of the friend you call first for advice, calm and sane as well as funny, someone who has seen a lot and takes no prisoners."
Session 2: Surface
Thurs May 28, 2015
10:45 – 12:15
Alix Generous image Alix Generous
Advocate

Alix Generous is a college student and biology researcher with Asperger syndrome. She stresses the importance of building accepting environments for all kinds of minds.

Alix Generous has Asperger syndrome, but was misdiagnosed for years. A student and researcher who is passionate about molecular biology and neuroscience, she encourages people like her to share their intelligence and insights. She is a co-owner of the startup AutismSees, which develops technology tools to help all kinds of people give presentations.

At 19, Generous won first place in a nationwide competition for her work in quorum sensing and coral reefs. Her paper titled "Environmental Threats on the Symbiotic Relationship of Coral Reefs and Quorum Sensing," was published in Consilience. In November 2013, she was a youth delegate for the UN Convention of Climate Change (COP19), where she negotiated technology transfers and issues of medical importance. She has assisted neuroscience researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina, Tufts University School of Medicine, and the University of Vermont.

Session 5: Shift
Fri May 29, 2015
8:30 – 10:15
H
Margaret Heffernan image Margaret Heffernan
Management thinker

The former CEO of five businesses, Margaret Heffernan explores the all-too-human thought patterns -- like conflict avoidance and selective blindness -- that lead organizations and managers astray.

How do organizations think? In her book Willful Blindness, Margaret Heffernan examines why businesses and the people who run them often ignore the obvious -- with consequences as dire as the global financial crisis and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

Heffernan began her career in television production, building a track record at the BBC before going on to run the film and television producer trade association IPPA. In the US, Heffernan became a serial entrepreneur and CEO in the wild early days of web business. She now blogs for the Huffington Post and BNET.com. Her latest book, Beyond Measure, a TED Books original, explores the small steps companies can make that lead to big changes in their culture.

Session 2: Surface
Thurs May 28, 2015
10:45 – 12:15
I
Achenyo Idachaba image Achenyo Idachaba
Green entrepreneur

Achenyo Idachaba is the head of MitiMeth, a Nigeria-based company that makes handicrafts from aquatic weeds and other agro-waste.

In 2009, Achenyo Idachaba bid her corporate career in the United States goodbye and relocated to Nigeria to start a new chapter as a social entrepreneur. She founded Greennovative Chain, which provided research and advocacy services in climate change mitigation, and later founded MitiMeth, a for-profit social enterprise based in Ibadan, Nigeria, which she considers a tangible expression of her research advice.

MitiMeth creates eco-friendly handicrafts like home décor and personal accessories from weeds prevalent on Nigeria’s waterways. The company also conducts training workshops for locals on river handicraft product development.

Session 1: Spark
Thurs May 28, 2015
8:30 – 10:00
Indigo Girls image Indigo Girls
Singer-songwriters

Amy Ray and Emily Saliers are the legendary folk duo Indigo Girls -- who after 14 albums are still going strong.

Twenty years after they began releasing records as the Indigo Girls, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers have politely declined the opportunity to slow down with age. With a legacy of releases and countless U.S. and international tours behind them, the Indigo Girls have sold over 14 million records. Fun fact: They are the only duo with Top 40 titles on the Billboard 200 in the ’80s, ’90s, ’00s and ’10s. Their 15th release, One Lost Day, drops in summer 2015.

The duo has balanced their long, successful musical career with effective and persistent activism, on causes ranging from death penalty reform to the support of Native lands through their Honor the Earth campaign, cofounded with Winona LaDuke.
Opening night: Fiesta!
Wed May 27, 2015
7:00 – 10:00
K
Kakani Katija image Kakani Katija
Bioengineer

Kakani Katija studies how marine organisms interact with their fluid world. Her work involves deploying cutting-edge technology to visualize marine organisms and our oceans in new ways.

On land, animals leave footprints that tell us a lot about their size, form and capabilities. Marine organisms do this too — their footprints are “wake structures,” but they are hard to see since water is translucent. Bioengineer Kakani Katija finds ways to make them visible, using dyes, lasers and more, and thus helps make them measurable. Through this research, she and her intrepid collaborators can understand how sea organisms move, and the complex interplay between how they deal with currents and potentially contribute to them too. Katija is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Moss Landing, California. Katija was named a National Geographic Society Emerging Explorer in 2011 and a National Academy of Sciences Kavli Research Fellow in 2013.

Session 3: Seduce
Thurs May 28, 2015
2:00 – 3:30
Michael Kimmel image Michael Kimmel
Sociologist

The author of "Angry White Men," Michael Kimmel is a pre-eminent scholar of men and masculinity.

Sociologist Michael Kimmel is among the leading researchers and writers on men and masculinity in the world. He's the executive director of the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities at Stony Brook University, where he is also Distinguished University Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies.

He is the author of many books, including Manhood in AmericaAngry White Men, and the best seller Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men. An activist for gender equality for more than 30 years, he was recently called "the world's preeminent male feminist" by the Guardian.

Session 5: Shift
Fri May 29, 2015
8:30 – 10:15
Billie Jean King image Billie Jean King
Tennis legend and activist

Billie Jean King won 39 Grand Slam titles during her tennis career, and has long been a pioneer for equality and social justice.

Named one of the “100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century” by Life magazine and honored with a Presidential Medal of Freedom, Billie Jean King is the founder of the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative and the co-founder of World TeamTennis. She founded the Women’s Sports Foundation and the Women’s Tennis Association. In August 2006, the National Tennis Center, home of the US Open, was renamed the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in honor of her accomplishments, both on and off the court.

King grew up playing tennis in California public parks and won 39 Grand Slam titles during her career. She defeated Bobby Riggs in one of the greatest moments in sports history, the Battle of the Sexes on Sept. 20, 1973. She now serves on the boards of the Women’s Sports Foundation, the Andy Roddick Foundation, the Elton John AIDS Foundation and is a member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.

Session 4: Sustain
Thurs May 28, 2015
4:30 – 6:15
Kaki King image Kaki King
Guitarist

Kaki King combines jaw-dropping guitar work with dreamy, searching songwriting.

Kaki King's percussive technique (guitar geeks compare it to Preston Reed's; everyone else compares it to Eddie Van Halen's) drives her songs forward, while layers of overdubs and her own soft vocals create a shimmering cloud of sound.

King's work on the soundtrack for 2007's Into the Wild was nominated for a Golden Globe, along with contributors Michael Brook and Eddie Vedder. Her groundbreaking multimedia work The Neck Is a Bridge to the Body uses projection mapping to present the guitar as an ontological tabula rasa in a creation myth unlike any other.

Session 6: Share
Fri May 29, 2015
11:15 – 1:00
L
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon image Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Reporter

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon writes about women around the world living their lives at war and in conflict zones.

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon never set out to write about women entrepreneurs. After leaving ABC News for MBA study at Harvard, she was simply looking for a great -- and underreported -- economics story. What she found was women entrepreneurs in some of the toughest business environments creating jobs against daunting obstacles. Since then her writing on entrepreneurship has been published by the International Herald Tribune and Financial Times along with the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation.

Now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Lemmon continues to travel the world reporting on economic and development issues with a focus on women. She is the author of Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield (2014), as well as the best seller The Dressmaker of Khair Khana (2011) about a young entrepreneur who supported her community under the Taliban.

Session 6: Share
Fri May 29, 2015
11:15 – 1:00
Gina Loring image Gina Loring
Poet and vocalist

Gina Loring has performed her honest, soulful poetry and music around the world.

Gina Loring is a poet, vocalist, songwriter and professor. As guest artist of the American Embassy, she has traveled to Kuwait, Russia, West Africa, Denmark, Turkey, Greece, Ireland, England and Tunisia, bringing her brave and personal self-expression to stages around the globe. She was featured on two seasons of HBO's Def Poetry, BET's Lyric Cafe and TVOne’s Verses and Flow, and was one of the winners of Queen Latifah's CoverGirl Persona Contest for female lyricists. Her work is featured on two De La Soul albums and The Brand New Heavies album We Won't Stop, and she was a writer/performer on Norman Lear’s nationwide Declare Yourself poetry tour.

An adjunct professor in the Los Angeles community college school district, Loring is also a volunteer creative writing teacher with Inside Out Writers, working with incarcerated teens.

Session 4: Sustain
Thurs May 28, 2015
4:30 – 6:15
Nancy Lublin image Nancy Lublin
Activist

As the CEO and Founder of Crisis Text Line, Nancy Lublin is using technology and data to help save lives.

Nancy Lublin is Founder and CEO of Crisis Text Line, the nations first free, 24/7 text line for people in crisis. To date, almost 10 million text messages have come through the text line.

Nancy recently left her post as CEO of DoSomething.org, one of the largest global organizations for young people and social change. Previously, she founded Dress for Success, the organization that helps women transition from welfare to work. 

Session 3: Seduce
Thurs May 28, 2015
2:00 – 3:30
M
Christina Mercando image Christina Mercando
CEO

At her new company, Ringly, Christina Mercando merges fashion, design and wearable tech.

Christina Mercando is the founder and CEO of Ringly, a New York City company composed of designers and engineers dedicated to blending fashion and technology in meaningful ways. Their first suite of products integrates wearable technology with beautifully designed jewelry and accessories. Ringly’s core belief is that technology can be more discreetly and smartly integrated into our lives.  

Prior to founding Ringly, Mercando was the VP of Product at Hunch, a social recommendation service aiming to build a "taste graph" of the entire web by intelligently connecting people to the things they love. Hunch was acquired by eBay in 2011, where Mercando played a major role in improving the social shopping and merchandising experience.

Mercando’s passion for art and technology started at an early age. She graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with degrees in both Fine Art and Human Computer Interaction. She has a strong interest in user-centered design and its power to enrich and strengthen both online and offline experiences.
Session 1: Spark
Thurs May 28, 2015
8:30 – 10:00
Lee Mokobe image Lee Mokobe
Poet

Lee Mokobe is a 20-year-old South African slam poet and co-founder of Vocal Revolutionaries.

The volunteer-run organization empowers youth in South Africa to fid their voice through poetry and art, offering free workshops, motivational talks, seasonal slams, national/local performances and mentoring. In his own poetry, Mokobe tackles tough social justice and LGBTQ issues. He has performed across three continents and was the youngest and first African coach at the Brave New Voices Festival, which he won in 2015.

Session 2: Surface
Thurs May 28, 2015
10:45 – 12:15
Robin Morgan image Robin Morgan
Poet and activist

The former editor-in-chief of Ms., Robin Morgan published the classic "Sisterhood Is Powerful" anthologies.

Poet, author, editor and activist Robin Morgan has published more than 20 books, including the Sisterhood Is Powerful anthologies, the best-selling The Demon Lover: The Roots of Terrorism, and six books of poetry. The recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Prize (Poetry) and other honors, and the former editor-in-chief of Ms., she cofounded (with Simone de Beauvoir) the Sisterhood Is Global Institute and cofounded (with Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem) the Women's Media Center.

She hosts Women's Media Center Live with Robin Morgan, a nationally syndicated radio program with a global audience on iTunes and www.WMCLive.com. Her just-finished book, Dark Matter: New Poems, is due out in 2016.

Session 6: Share
Fri May 29, 2015
11:15 – 1:00
Alaa Murabit image Alaa Murabit
Peace expert

Alaa Murabit champions women’s participation in peace processes and conflict mediation.

Alaa Murabit's family moved from Canada to Libya when she was 15. Brought up in a Muslim household where she was equal to her brothers, she was shocked to see how women were viewed and treated in her new country. She enrolled in medical school, but felt frustrated by the gender discrimination she experienced. 

During her fifth year in med school, the Libyan Revolution broke out. Murabit was invigorated by how women were embraced as decision-makers in the movement. She founded The Voice of Libyan Women (VLW) to focus on challenging societal and cultural norms to make that the case all the time. Many VLW programs -- like the Noor Campaign, which uses Islamic teaching to combat violence against women -- have been replicated internationally.

Murabit is an advisor to many international security boards, think tanks and organizations, including the UN Women Global Civil Society Advisory Group and Harvard’s Everywoman Everywhere Coalition. An Ashoka Fellow, Murabit was a Trust Women Hero Award Winner in 2013.

Session 6: Share
Fri May 29, 2015
11:15 – 1:00
Robin Murphy image Robin Murphy
Disaster roboticist

Robin Murphy researches robots -- ground, aerial and marine -- that can help out during disasters.

Robin Murphy imagines how robots can do tasks no human could amid scenes of disaster hard to imagine, from the World Trade Center disaster to Hurricane Katrina to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear emergency. In her recent book, Disaster Robotics, she lays out her research into the problem, which pulls together artificial intelligence, robotics and human-robot interaction.

At Texas A&M, Murphy is the director of the Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue and the Center for Emergency Informatics. She also co-founded the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society’s Technical Committee on Safety Security and Rescue Robotics and its annual conference. Her field work, combined with technology transfer and research community-building activities, led to her receiving the 2014 ACM Eugene L. Lawler Award for Humanitarian Contributions within Computer Science and Informatics.

Session 1: Spark
Thurs May 28, 2015
8:30 – 10:00
N
Elizabeth Nyamayaro image Elizabeth Nyamayaro
Political scientist

Elizabeth Nyamayaro is the Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, as well as head of UN Women's blockbuster HeForShe initiative.

Political scientist Elizabeth Nyamayaro is the senior advisor to the Under Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women. She has worked at the forefront of Africa’s development agenda for more than a decade in both the public and private sector, and has held positions with UNAIDS, the World Health Organization and the World Bank.

Nyamayaro is founder of Africa IQ, an innovative social impact organisation with a mission to promote Africa’s sustainable economic growth and development. She is also the driving force behind the @HeForShe campaign, which mobilized more than 100,000 men in every country around the globe. The campaign created 1.2 billion Twitter impressions in just one week, rallying men as advocates and change agents in ending the persisting inequalities faced by women and girls globally.

Session 2: Surface
Thurs May 28, 2015
10:45 – 12:15
P
Sunni Patterson image Sunni Patterson
Poet

Originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, Sunni Patterson combines the heritage, culture, and traditions of her native town with a spiritual worldview to create powerful music and poetry.

Emerging from the musical womb that is New Orleans, Sunni Patterson combines the heritage of her native town with an enlightened modern style to create music and poetry that is timeless in its groove. She began her career as a full-time high school teacher, and much of her life since has been devoted to serving as a cultural worker and grassroots activist, using art and poetry to encourage dialogue and healing.

She has been a featured performer at many of the nation's premier spoken-word venues, including HBO's Def Poetry and BET’s Lyric Cafe. She also had the privilege of speaking at the Panafest in Ghana, West Africa and has collaborated with artists and performers, including Hannibal Lokumbe (singing lead vocals for his score, ”King and the Crescent City Moon"), Kalamu Ya Salaam, Sonia Sanchez, Wanda Coleman, Amiri Baraka, Mos Def, Eve Ensler, The Last Poets and many more.

Session 4: Sustain
Thurs May 28, 2015
4:30 – 6:15
Erin Pettit image Erin Pettit
Glacier explorer

Using hydrophones, Erin Pettit "listens" to glaciers to understand their movements and help predict how they behave and change -- and how our climate is changing too.

Erin Pettit explores glaciers and glaciated landscapes to help understand and predict changing climate and rising seas. As a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, Wings WorldQuest Women of Discovery Awardee and associate professor of geophysics and glaciology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, she has traveled from the North Slope of Alaska to the interior of Antarctica for research expeditions. Her recent work includes “listening” to glaciers using hydrophones as they calve and melt when they reach the ocean, to learn about ice shelf disintegration, sea-level rise and changes in ocean circulation.

During her graduate work, Erin created and continues to direct Girls on Ice, wilderness science expeditions for high school girls, to inspire girls to see how science helps us explore and learn about the world.

Session 5: Shift
Fri May 29, 2015
8:30 – 10:15
R
Mary Robinson image Mary Robinson
Global leader

Mary Robinson served as president of Ireland from 1990 to 1997, and as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997 to 2002. She now leads a foundation devoted to climate justice.

Mary Robinson is president of the Mary Robinson Foundation: Climate Justice, and the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Climate Change. She was the president of Ireland from 1990-1997 and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997-2002, and is now a member of The Elders and the Club of Madrid. She is also a member of the Lead Group of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement. In 2009, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama, and between March 2013 and August 2014 she served as the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region of Africa.

A former president of the International Commission of Jurists and former chair of the Council of Women World Leaders, Robinson was founder and president of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative, from 2002 to 2010. Robinson’s memoir, Everybody Matters, was published in 2012.
Session 4: Sustain
Thurs May 28, 2015
4:30 – 6:15
S
Pardis Sabeti image Pardis Sabeti
Computational geneticist

Pardis Sabeti investigates the genomes of microbes, including the Ebola virus, to help understand how to slow them.

Pardis Sabeti develops algorithms to detect the genetic signatures of adaption in humans and the microbial organisms that infect humans. Among her lab’s key research areas: examining the genetic factors that drive disease susceptibility to Ebola and Lassa hemorrhagic fever, and investigating the genomes of microbes, including Lassa virus, Ebola virus, Plasmodium falciparum malaria, Vibrio cholera and Mycobacterioum tuberculosis, to help find cures.

She's based at the Center for Systems Biology and Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard and the Department of Immunology and Infectious Disease at the Harvard School of Public Health. Sabeti is a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and was named a Time magazine Person of the Year in 2014 as one of the Ebola fighters.
Session 2: Surface
Thurs May 28, 2015
10:45 – 12:15
Mubin Shaikh image Mubin Shaikh
Anti-extremist scholar

Once a supporter of radical Islam, Mubin Shaikh later infiltrated several terrorist groups to help fight it.

Mubin Shaikh is one of the very few people in the world to have actually been undercover in a homegrown terror cell. As a young man in Canada, Shaikh became a supporter of the militant jihadi culture. The 9/11 attacks prompted him to deepen his knowledge of Islam. He eventually relinquished his violent interpretations of Islam and volunteered with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to fight international and domestic terrorism.

He offered suport to Canada’s largest domestic terrorism investigation, known as the “Toronto 18,” and infiltrated several radical groups and conducted surveillance on suspects as an undercover operative on cases which remain classified. He is an active trainer of military, police and government intelligence on violent Islamist extremists.

Session 3: Seduce
Thurs May 28, 2015
2:00 – 3:30
Somi image Somi
Vocalist, composer and culturist

With her lustrous voice and wide-ranging musical curiosity, Somi spins elegant vocal jazz from African legacies.

In late 2011, East African vocalist and songwriter Somi moved from New York City to Lagos, Nigeria, for 18 months in search of new inspiration. The result: her chart-topping 2014 major label debut, The Lagos Music Salon (Sony Music). The album, with guests Angelique Kidjo, Common and Ambrose Akinmusire, draws its material from the tropical city's boastful cosmopolitanism, urgent inspiration and giant spirit, straddling the worlds of African jazz, soul and pop with a newfound ease and voice that Vogue Magazine calls "powerful."

Born in Illinois to immigrants from Rwanda and Uganga, African and Jazz legacies are crucial to Somi's sound. Referred to as a modern-day Miriam Makeba, JazzTimes magazine describes her performance as "the earthy gutsiness of Nina Simone blended with the fluid vocal beauty of Dianne Reeves," while Billboard remarks that she's "all elegance and awe... utterly captivating." 

In 2013, Somi was invited by Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to perform at the United Nations' General Assembly in commemoration of the International Day of Rememberance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.  

A TED Senior Fellow, inaugural Association of Performing Arts Presenters Fellow, founder of the non-profit New Africa Live, and a two-time recipient of the Doris Duke Foundation's French-American Jazz Exchange Composers’ Grant, Somi began an exploration of African and Arab jazz traditions alongside French-Lebanese trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf, while investigating the role of the female voice during the Arab Spring protests. That body of work was premiered at the Kennedy Center’s 2014 Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival. Somi is a 2015 Artist-in-Residence at UCLA's Center for the Art of Performance and The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.

She is currently working on a jazz opera about the life and legacy of South African singer and activist Miriam Makeba.

 

 

Session 5: Shift
Fri May 29, 2015
8:30 – 10:15
Sara Stevens image Sara Stevens
Singer

Young singer Sara Stevens has a lovely, crystal tone -- and a bright future.

Whether she’s singing an operatic aria, a musical theater standard or a tune she helped to write, Sara Stevens can embody the soul of a song with her pure, warm tone. Growing up in Marietta, Georgia, Sara’s abilities were evident at a very early age, and in 2012, she won first place in the American Protégé International Music Competition, with a chance to perform on the legendary stage at Carnegie Hall. Since then, she has been recording a variety of material and performing across the country at galas, ceremonies, and sporting events. The voice that has carried her to Carnegie Hall is just beginning to reach its full potential.

Session 4: Sustain
Thurs May 28, 2015
4:30 – 6:15
T
Lily Tomlin image Lily Tomlin
Comedian and actor

Lily Tomlin has been honored by the Kennedy Center and awarded the Mark Twain Prize -- and she's still making vital, hilarious comedy.

Throughout her extraordinary career, Lily Tomlin has won seven Emmys; a Tony for her one-woman Broadway show, Appearing Nitely; a second Tony for Best Actress; a Drama Desk Award and an Outer Critics' Circle Award for her one-woman performance in Jane Wagner’s The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe; a Grammy for her comedy album, This Is a Recording; and two Peabody Awards, the first for the ABC television special, Edith Ann’s Christmas: Just Say Noël, and the second for narrating and executive producing the HBO film, The Celluloid Closet. In 2003, she received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, and in December 2014 she was the recipient of the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors in Washington DC.

She made her film debut in Robert Altman's Nashville, and gave a generation-defining performance alongside Dolly Parton and Jane Fonda in the workplace revenge comedy 9 to 5.

Session 6: Share
Fri May 29, 2015
11:15 – 1:00
W
Abigail Washburn image Abigail Washburn
Clawhammer banjo player

Abigail Washburn pairs venerable folk elements with far-flung sounds, creating results that feel both strangely familiar and unlike anything anybody's ever heard before.

If American old-time music is about adopting earlier, simpler ways of life and music-making, Abigail has proven herself a bracing challenge to that tradition. A singing, songwriting, Chinese-speaking, Illinois-born, Nashville-based, clawhammer banjo player, Abigail is every bit as interested in the present and the future as she is in the past, and every bit as attuned to the global as she is to the local. From the recovery zones of earthquake-shaken Sichuan to the hollers of Tennessee, she pairs venerable folk elements with far-flung sounds, and the results feel both strangely familiar and unlike anything anybody’s ever heard before. To put it another way, she changes what seems possible.
Session 3: Seduce
Thurs May 28, 2015
2:00 – 3:30
Y
Sakena Yacoobi image Sakena Yacoobi
Education activist

At the Afghan Institute of Learning, Sakena Yacoobi provides teacher training to Afghan women, supporting education for girls and boys throughout the country.

Sakena Yacoobi is executive director of the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL), an Afghan women-led NGO she founded in 1995. After the Taliban closed girls’ schools in the 1990s, AIL supported 80 underground home schools for 3,000 girls in Afghanistan. Now, under Yacoobi’s leadership, AIL works at the grassroots level to empower women and bring education and health services to poor women and girls in rural and urban areas, serving hundreds of thousands of women and children a year through its training programs, Learning Centers, schools and clinics in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Yacoobi is the founder of the Afghan Institute of Learning, the Professor Sakena Yacoobi Private Hospital in Herat, the Professor Sakena Yacoobi Private High Schools in Kabul and the radio station Meraj in her hometown of Herat, Afghanistan.

Session 4: Sustain
Thurs May 28, 2015
4:30 – 6:15
Z
Marlene Zuk image Marlene Zuk
Evolutionary biologist

Marlene Zuk studies insect behavior -- and how humans use animal behavior to think about how we behave ourselves.

Marlene Zuk is a biologist and writer who researches animal behavior and evolution, mostly using insects as subjects. Zuk is interested in the ways that people use animal behavior to think about human behavior, and vice versa, as well as in the public's understanding of evolution. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at the University of Minnesota -- including a seminar called “What’s the Alternative to Alternative Medicine?”

In addition to publishing numerous scientific articles, Zuk has published four books for a general audience: Sexual Selections: What We Can and Can’t Learn About Sex from AnimalsRiddled with Life: Friendly Worms, Ladybug Sex, and the Parasites That Make Us Who We AreSex on Six Legs: Lessons on Life, Love and Language from the Insect World; and most recently, Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us About Sex, Diet and the Way We Live.

Session 3: Seduce
Thurs May 28, 2015
2:00 – 3:30
d
Nonny de la Peña image Nonny de la Peña
Virtual reality pioneer

Nonny de la Peña uses new, immersive media to tell stories that create empathy in readers and viewers.

As the CEO of Emblematic Group, Nonny de la Peña uses cutting-edge technologies to tell stories — both fictional and news-based — that create intense, empathic engagement on the part of viewers. She has been called “The Godmother of Virtual Reality” by Engadget, while Fast Company named her “One of the People Who Made the World More Creative” for her pioneering work in immersive journalism.

A former correspondent for Newsweek, de la Peña has more than 20 years of award-winning experience in print, film and TV. Her virtual-reality work has been featured by the BBC, Mashable, Vice, Wired and many others, and been screened around the globe at museums and gaming conventions. De la Peña is an Annenberg Fellow at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts.
Session 1: Spark
Thurs May 28, 2015
8:30 – 10:00
e
Rana el Kaliouby image Rana el Kaliouby
Computer scientist

What if a computer could recognize your facial expression, and react to how you feel? Rana el Kaliouby sees big possibilities in making technology emotionally aware.

Rana el Kaliouby, chief science officer and co-founder of Affectiva, an MIT Media Lab spin-off, is on a mission to bring emotion intelligence to our digital experiences. She leads the company's emotion analytics team, which is responsible for developing emotion-sensing algorithms and mining the world's largest emotion data database. So far, they've collected 12 billion emotion data points from 2.9 million face videos from volunteers in 75 countries. The company’s platform is used by many Fortune Global 100 companies to measure consumer engagement, and is pioneering emotion-enabled digital apps for enterprise, entertainment, video communication and online education.

Entrepreneur magazine called el Kaliouby one of “The 7 Most Powerful Women To Watch in 2014,” and the MIT Technology Review included her in their list of the “Top 35 Innovators Under 35.”

Session 1: Spark
Thurs May 28, 2015
8:30 – 10:00