TEDxCharlotte 2014 Speakers
What can you expect from speakers at TEDxCharlotte 2014? For one thing, it’s certain that they will provide answers, present ideas and raise questions worth sharing. Take a closer look at the list the speakers as they are updated on this section of our website. A final list of eight speakers will be announced in mid-December.
Here’s a list of our speakers from TEDxCharlotte 2013:
Award-winning Chef and Restauranteur and Owner, Grateful Growers Farm & Harvest Moon Grille
Named Restaurateur of the Year in 2011 by Charlotte Magazine, Cassie Parsons has become the city’s biggest advocate for eating locally. In 2004, Parsons began selling locally raised pork from her ten-acre Grateful Growers Farm to high-end Charlotte restaurants. Five years later, she began selling her unique and delicious cuisine from the city’s first upscale food truck. Then, in 2010, she opened Harvest Moon Grille, making it her mission as chef to create one of the city’s best restaurants using items grown or raised locally – all within 100 miles of Charlotte.
Most recently, Cassie took the top prize in the first Global Green USA Citizen Entrepreneur contest. We couldn’t be more proud!
Award-winning Brewmaster, NoDa Brewing Company
Chadwick Henderson is the Head Brewer for NoDa Brewing Company, a young craft brewery based out of the NoDa Arts District in Charlotte, NC specializing in creative and adventurous craft beer. Chadwick is a graduate of Appalachian State University with degrees in Physiology, Biology and Psychology and has spent his professional life working in the medical industry until his current position at NoDa Brewing Co. Through years of working in the medical industry, Chadwick volunteered most of his free time to promoting and working events in the craft beer industry where his true passion was, before being rewarded by being asked to brew for the NoDa Brewing Co while it was in its conception period. Chadwick and the NoDa Brewing team have seen unexpected success since opening in October 2011 and he owes his personal and professional success to dedication to the industry and showcasing this love through their products.
Executive Director of Queen City Forward
Charles Thomas is the Executive Director of Queen City Forward, a non-profit focused on enabling and growing social entrepreneurs and businesses in Charlotte, NC.
Charles is the former Education Director of The Light Factory Contemporary Museum of Photography and Film. During his tenure, he expanded the Museum’s community outreach program, increasing impact and earned revenue.
Charles recently co-published a book of photography and stories with author Valaida Fullwood called GIVING BACK: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists. Giving Back was recently awarded the 2012 McAdam Book Award naming the book “the nation’s most inspirational and useful new book for the nonprofit sector.” Charles owns Sankofa Photography.
Charles graduated from Duke University with a degree in Economics. He started his career as a consultant for Andersen Consulting (Accenture). Charles is active in the community and currently serves on the board of the New Generation of African American Philanthropy (NGAAP) and Conscious Seekers for Intentional Living.
Executive Director, Urban Ministries Center of Charlotte
For more than 30 years I have been blessed with opportunities to be a part of meaningful work with wonderful people trying to serve the common good of Charlotte. Those opportunities included being part of a small group of young pastors who brought Habitat for Humanity to Charlotte, leading the establishment of an organization called “U.S./U.S.S.R. Bridges for Peace in the 1980’s that arranged citizen exchanges between the two countries in the height of the Reagan era of sword rattling and out of control defense spending, the creation of Share-a-Home of Charlotte which provided shared living space for older adults who didn’t need nursing care but who didn’t want to live alone, and McCreesh Place, a permanent supportive housing community for formerly homeless men.
As Executive Director of the Urban Ministry Center it has been my privilege to join with so many members of our community who want to work together to end homelessness. These efforts are known for their innovation and reliance on talented, compassionate people from all walks of life who bring what they are passion about to meet the needs of our neighbors who are homeless. The results have been the formation of Room in the Inn, 130 congregations, colleges and YMCA’s who give shelter to families and individuals who are homeless, the creation of an art studio, a soccer team, a gospel choir, organic garden, and running program all of which are designed to create community among people who didn’t know they had anything in common, all the while empowering homeless people to move toward housing, health and hope.
It is always nice when the community recognizes and values this kind of work, including being named winner of the Mecklenburg Bar Association “Liberty Bell Award”, as well as Creative Loafing’s “Local Hero”, and Mecklenburg Ministries “Community Leader of the Year”.
I am especially blessed to married to the Reverend Jane Summey and to be the father of Aaron and Amanda.
As long as I can remember, my life has always revolved around God, family and music. Growing up in Charlotte during the 1970′s and being raised by a single mom and grandmother I spent the majority of my time in church or hanging out at my relative’s houses. My family always had something going on the record player…I mean ALWAYS! My job, as the youngest of the cousins in the family, was to stop playing, eating or whatever else I was doing and flip or change the record to whatever they wanted to hear next. After time, I became less interested in playing with the other kids or going outside and became fixated on the music. Everything about the records captivated me…the album cover art…the liner notes… even the feel and smell of the vinyl! Eventually, my family even stopped making requests and would just tell me to “put something on.” I guess that’s where it all started for me as a DJ. The seed was planted, but it wouldn’t mature until later.
After graduating from high schooling 1987 I spent the 6 years in the USAF as an aircraft mechanic. During the last two years of my enlistment I was blessed to be stationed in the U.K. at RAF Mildenahall about 1 1/2 hours from London. London, during the early 90s, was an incredible place to be! There was so much going on musically! I was introduced to so many more sights and sounds than I was previously aware existed! When I returned to Charlotte in 1994 I was surprised by the lack of quality electronic music in the city. Luckily, there were a few pioneering friends who felt the same, and were already taking up the challenge of bringing and playing quality alternatives to what was being spoon-fed to us through the local radio stations and club scene. In 1996, I decided to join them in those efforts to free the people from the ordinary and started DJing… thus That Guy Smitty was born!
This lifelong passion for music and dedication to the groove has gone way past hobby for me. I’ve been DJing professionally since 1996 and have been a resident DJ at some of the most iconic venues in Charlotte’s nightlife history. Some of my residencies include; Mythos, Tonic, Tutto Mondo, HOM, Liquid Lounge and The Moon Room. Along the way I’ve been blessed to share the decks with some of the legends of electronic music…Mark Farina, Miguel Migs, Mr. C, LTJ Bukem, King Britt and Terrance Parker as well as others. I have even DJed for brands such as Belvedere Vodka, Aloft Hotels and Lululemon. In addition, I have over 13 years experience branding and programing music for corporate clients. I’ve have had the pleasure of doing the music for brands like Ann Taylor, French Connection UK, Marriott Brands, DKNY, DSW and Ilori to name a few. I’m currently a contracted music programer for Mood Media/Muzak where I continue to meet the music needs of business and brands internationally.
The only things in my life that surpass the love for music are my love for God, my wife, my children…and my friends. I am truly blessed that God has allowed me to do the thing that I love to support the people I love. In return… I give Him all the glory, love my neighbor as I love myself… and rock their faces of every chance I get!
Find me on LinkedIn.
JD, Buck and Jackson Lewis
Founders, Twelve in Twelve
J.D. Lewis is an actor who has appeared on shows such as Friends, ER, Suddenly Susan… all the way back to L.A. Law. He has been seen in hundreds of commercials including Bud Light, Vidal Sassoon, Arco Smog Pros, and as a spokesperson for L.A. Gear with Kathy Ireland. As a celebrated playwright, his works have been produced internationally, headlining The Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland and The UnFringed Festival in Limerick, Ireland. J.D. Lewis is most known for his work as an acting coach in Los Angeles. He started The Actor’s Lab in Los Angeles in 1990, and has worked with some of the top names in the industry. He has been very active, donating his time and energy in the arts working with inner city kids, and kids that would otherwise not be exposed to the arts. His greatest accomplishment is raising his two sons, who he adopted at birth as a single parent.
Jackson was born in Nashville, Tennessee. His interests include surfing, skiing, and scuba diving. He is an avid reader. He has been honored by Duke University for scoring in the 98 percentile in state testing and he is a member of The Duke TIP Program. Jackson currently attends the magnet program at Northwest School of The Arts, in Charlotte, North Carolina. His focus is visual arts and band. In addition to being a talented artist, he is also an alto saxophone player. He is a competitive swimmer and a member of The Shannon Park Swim Team. Jackson is looking forward to discovering the world with his dad and brother. He will be recording his experiences with a video and written blog, which will be available to middle schools and high schools across the country.
Buck was born in Waterloo, Iowa. His interests include baseball, soccer and art. He has enjoyed his third year of Little League and likes playing second base. He enjoys painting, drawing and sculpting. Buck is also a swimmer and is a member of The Shannon Park Swim Team. He is a master Lego builder and his wish is to bring Legos to kids around the globe. He is looking forward to this journey with his dad and brother. “I want to go to each country and see what I can do to help and make people’s lives better.” Buck will also do a video blog documenting his experiences abroad. This program will be available to elementary school kids across America.
She is jocElyn ellis… a Durham, North Carolina, USA native whose musical talent has captured headlines in the region during her climb to the top of its indie music scene.
As an emerging vocalist, songwriter and producer, jocElyn’s thought-evoking lyrics and soulful performances continue to elevate the artistic conscious of her audience and a buzz that has led to performances with 9th Wonder, Chrisette Michelle, Citizen Cope, Raekwon, Wyclef Jean, and concerts in over 100 venues and festivals including several in Europe and 4 major arenas.
Soon after winning her first music award and performing internationally, Jocelyn became the lead singer for rock band The Alpha Theory, headlining shows during an east coast tour, before deciding to merge into a new artistic direction focused primarily on songwriting with her new company, The Apple Seed Society.
Today, jocElyn is currently working on a forthcoming project, a conceptual art album entitled “Life of a Hologram”. Taking into account the experiences and lessons learned along the way, she plans to emerge as a renowned creator, advocating for love, honest expression, and the infinite possibilities of passionate creativity.
Principal, The Williams Group
Ms. Williams is principal of THE WILLIAMS GROUP, a North Carolina firm that serves clients across the country who want to enhance and expand their philanthropic efforts. As an organizational consultant, she works with CEOs and trustees to assess their potential for civic engagement, to create innovative programs and to recruit talented people for key positions.
THE WILLIAMS GROUP mission, Creating Environments for Philanthropy to Flourish, is accomplished by strengthening volunteer and staff leadership; integrating management, marketing, communications, and development; designing and building new philanthropic initiatives; and ensuring short-term and longterm organizational goals through sustainable programs and services.
Client services range from strategic visioning, planning, and marketing; executive director coaching/mentoring; board and staff training; organizational audits; program assessments; constituency analysis; recruitment services; and campaign project design.
In the past 15 years she has assisted over 200 nonprofit entities including national fundraising associations, large social agencies, community foundations, religious organizations, hospitals, medical clinics, universities, zoological parks, botanical gardens, museums and historic cemeteries. Prior to consulting, she was President of the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saint Paul, Communications and Development Director for Children’s Home Society of Minnesota, and Executive Director of the Minnesota Zoological Society.
Founder, Samaritans Feet – Welcome Address
Emmanuel “Manny” Ohonme has achieved national and international recognition as a philanthropist, businessman, speaker, and author. He is the Founder and President of Samaritan’s Feet International, and newly acclaimed author of “Sole Purpose.”
Manny was born in Lagos, Nigeria. His life was changed when a stranger went to Nigeria and gave him hope and a pair of shoes when he was nine years old. Those shoes became a Symbol of Hope to Manny and a catalyst to his love for basketball. Over time, his dreams became reality, and Manny was awarded a scholarship to play basketball in the United States. He earned a Master’s degree in International Business. He began a successful career in the technology field. However, he never forgot the children of his homeland, or the “Good Samaritan,” that gave him hope with one pair of shoes.
Inspired by the events in his own life, Manny and his wife, Tracie, founded Samaritan’s Feet International, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, in 2003 with the purpose of sharing hope with those in need by washing their feet, giving them a new pair of shoes, and helping them to believe that dreams can come true. To date, more than 3 million pairs of shoes have been distributed to needy children throughout the world and in the U.S. As the number grows, so does the passion to see more young people receive a pair of shoes and the message of hope and inspiration that they too can see their dreams become reality.
Manny is proof that, if you dream, and dream big, you can achieve whatever you set your mind to. He used his basketball skills to get a scholarship to pursue his ambitions. He worked hard and studied to obtain his education. He was soon living the “American Dream” . . . he chose to help others and started Samaritan’s Feet. He has been guest speaker and presented motivational messages around the world. He has spoken before presidents of countries, social justice conscious entrepreneurships, Governors of States, CEOs of corporations, educational leaders as well as professional athletic associations. Today, Manny is opening doors for people who come to hear him speak. He is one of the most sought-after and inspiring motivational speakers worldwide. His unique insight to understand his audience and know what they need to hear is unsurpassed.
Manny has had many opportunities to share his story and the life-changing message since 2003. He is a warm, charismatic, enthusiastic, and gifted storyteller. He is one of the up and coming most influential speakers and leaders in America. Manny weaves his inspiring real-life experiences into his presentations to challenge his audience to become all that they can be. Manny’s audiences come away changed – with a new outlook and understanding.
Today, Manny is speaking all over the world inspiring people from all walks of life to dream, and dream big. He is repaying that gift, providing millions of pairs of shoes each year to needy children worldwide through his organization, Samaritan’s Feet International.
Founder, Girls on the Run
Molly Barker, MSW, founded Girls on the Run in 1996 in Charlotte, North Carolina. A four-time Hawaii Ironman triathlete, she used her background in social work, counseling and teaching, along with research on adolescent issues, to develop the program. Today, there are Girls on the Run councils in over 208 cities across North America serving over 160,000 girls and women each year. (www.girlsontherun.org)
The “Girl Box,” a phrase coined by Molly, describes the imaginary place many girls go around adolescence, where cultural and societal stereotypes limit choices as well as opportunities. Starting with this strong foundation, Molly’s idea is, through the strategic launch of a variety of targeted and innovative social media and curriculum-driven projects to create a social movement, which provides girls and women with the tools and the courage to see, unravel from and eliminate their own and often unconscious buy-in to the Girl Box and its limiting messages.
With her recent launch of “The Naked Face Project” (www.thenakedfaceproject.com) in March of 2012, Molly is fast becoming a well-known and innovative social entrepreneur who uses the simplest of actions to create shifts in perception around gender, beauty and power, to fuel the women’s self-liberation movement and hence create a world where girls and women can boldly pursue their dreams and activate their greatest potential.
Molly has been featured in many media outlets including CNN, NBC Nightly News, Runner’s World and O Magazines. Her most recent recognition comes from Fast Company Magazine. Molly, along with Oprah Winfrey, Melinda Gates and Hilary Clinton to name a few, was selected to be a member of the “League of Extraordinary Women—Sixty Women who are having a significant global impact on the status of girls and women. Molly has authored two books, “Girls on Track, A Parent’s Guide to Inspiring our Daughters to Achieve a Lifetime of Self-Esteem and Respect”, and “Girls Lit from Within” which is specifically for 3rd – 8th grade girls.
Molly is a positive role model for girls and women of all ages. She enjoys writing, running and yoga but most enjoys the challenges which emerge in her own personal evolution and deep desire to live life outside the Girl Box.
Founder, Mothering Across Continents
Patricia Shafer is founder and “Chief Catalyst” of Mothering Across Continents (MAC). She was a 2012 Rotary Peace Fellow and a nominee for the 2012 L’Oreal Women of Worth Award. MAC is an innovative non-profit platform through which volunteer catalysts receive consulting, coaching and mentoring to develop dream projects focused on education and life development for at-risk children. Projects are currently underway on four continents. Under Patricia’s guidance, MAC also developed “The Global Class,” and “Any1Can” service-marked programs that assist educators and student leaders engaging in global education and service learning. The “oMa” project of MAC is a social entrepreneurial venture that purchases design elements from women artisans globally and employs women in the U.S. to handcraft ecologically and socially conscious jewelry and accessories. Previously, Patricia was president of two international consulting and coaching practices. She also held positions as Senior Vice President in the Retail Group of Bank One, now part of the retail bank of JPMorganChase, and Director of Corporate Affairs and Communications at Kraft Foods, the world’s second largest food company. Patricia holds an MBA from the Northwestern University Kellogg Graduate School of Management; an MSc in Consulting and Coaching for Change, a joint-venture of Oxford University and HEC France; and an MA in Journalism from The Ohio State University.
Founder, Sow Much Good
After spending 20 years in corporate America, a force inside Robin Emmons tugged at her to leave her job in the financial services industry for an unplanned journey. One week after resigning, Emmons began the unplanned course to save the life of her homeless and mentally ill brother. In doing so, she secured for him transitional housing, counseling and support services. However, despite her best efforts, his physical health became endangered due to high consumption of canned and sugary foods provided to him by the agency responsible for his care. Robin, a gardener, began donating produce for her brother and the 30 or so other residents housed at the facility where he now lived, and saw a dramatic improvement in his physical health.
It was here, in 2008, where Emmons found her passion – using food as a vehicle to promote social justice on important issues such as food access in marginalized communities. The advocate, activist, humanitarian, gardener and now, farmer, dug up her entire backyard and sowed the seeds for the nonprofit, Sow Much Good. Since then, she dedicated herself to eliminating systemic barriers in the food system that disproportionately affect the working poor and underserved populations.
Since the launch of Sow Much Good, the activist has worked tirelessly to raise awareness about inequities in the food system that eliminate the basic human right of a significant number of people to access clean, healthy food through workshops, farm stands and speaking opportunities.
The farmer is an alumna of the McColl Center for Visual Art’s Innovation Institute, a William C. Friday Fellow for Human Relations (2011 – 2013 Class) and a graduate of UNC Charlotte with a degree in Political Science. She has been featured in the local and national media for the organization’s work to alleviate nutritional starvation in low-income communities through gardening and micro farming. Emmons, is a native Bostonian and a NC transplant of 20 years who resides in Huntersville, NC with her husband.
Writer, Project Strategist and Award-winning Author of Giving Back
An “idea whisperer,” Valaida brings unbridled imagination and a gift for harnessing wild ideas to her work around philanthropy, social innovation and education. She consults with people and organizations to drive ideas forward by guiding their projects and writing their stories.
Her book Giving Back reframes portraits of philanthropy with compelling stories and artful photography. Developed in collaboration with photographer Charles Thomas, Giving Back is among the 10 Best Black Books of 2011 and winner of the prestigious 2012 McAdam Book Award, which recognizes the best new book for the nonprofit sector.
During 2012, Valaida was named a Charlotte Catalyst by Uptown magazine and selected the 2014 Lake Distinguished Visitor by the Center on Philanthropy at UIPUI. She is a founder of New Generation of African American Philanthropists and a contributing writer forBlackGivesBack.com.