TEDxJacksonville 2015: "Into the Machine" Speakers

TEDxJacksonville announces the on-stage lineup of speakers and performers for the annual TEDxJacksonville conference. The day-long conference, themed “Into The Machine,” will take place Saturday, October 24, at WJCT and will host an audience of more than 300 for live Talks and musical performances.

Published August 23, 2015 in Culture - MetroJacksonville.com

Al Letson, performance poet, playwright and public radio host of the award-winning “State of the Re:union,” and Hope McMath, director of The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, will return as co-hosts. Letson has served as a host each of the past three years and McMath is returning for her second year. McMath has also served as a discussion facilitator during this summer’s TEDxTuesday series.

TEDxJacksonville will sell tickets for the live conference beginning in early September. For the first time, TEDxJacksonville is streaming the event live with free admission at two Jacksonville Public Library locations — University Park Branch Library and Webb Wesconnett Branch Library.

The conference theme, “Into the Machine,” recognizes the essential engines of our future progress, as advances in manufacturing, communications, computer technology and processing power dramatically accelerate our world, fundamentally transforming our lives. TEDxJacksonville’s “Into the Machine” invites attendees to explore machines and systems, and contemplate what role humanity will play in this new, second Machine Age.


Jennifer Adler of Gainesville — Biologist and underwater photographer working on connecting Floridians with the limited underwater supply

Jennifer Adler spent her childhood in a permanently salty state — from exploring tide pools and splashing in the waves, to sailing competitively throughout college, the ocean defined her. This love for the sea also led her to pursue a degree in marine biology, and when she got her first job offer to work as a biologist at USGS in Florida, she eagerly accepted. Two days later, with visions of sandy beaches and palm trees in my mind, she arrived 1,244 miles south… and 74 miles inland. She studied the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and dinosaur-like sturgeon fish in the Suwannee River — it was the sweltering summer field days of netting sturgeon in the foreign fresh waters of North Florida that first acquainted her with the springs. These incredible ecosystems immediately swept her off her feet, and she started exploring, researching and documenting them through photography. To see a little deeper, she eventually earned her cave diving certification and is endlessly fascinated by the winding tunnels of the aquifer. But with this fascination came concern for these fragile, compromised ecosystems. This ultimately led her to pursue a PhD at the University of Florida where she is currently working on a dissertation that blends science with photography and writing to effectively communicate about Florida’s threatened springs and water resources.

Jim Barbaresso of Detroit — Internationally renowned expert in intelligent transportation systems

Jim Barbaresso is an internationally renowned expert in intelligent transportation systems. He has more than 37 years of experience in both the public and private sectors, giving him a unique perspective on transportation challenges and how to overcome them. Throughout his career, Jim has demonstrated leadership in the development and application of emerging technologies to enhance mobility and transportation safety. In recognition of Jim’s career achievements and leadership in intelligent transportation systems, he was selected to chair the 2014 world congress on intelligent transport systems, held last September in Detroit.

Jim will talk about disruptive transportation technologies and their impacts on mobility, safety, and our lives.

Fatene Ben Hamza of Tunisia — French-Tunisian business strategist who manages a coworking community of change-makers and entrepreneurs helping them make things happen after the Arab Spring

A French-Tunisian business strategist who moved to Tunisia in 2009. She is passionate about building spaces for people to create, express and exchange ideas.

After 6 years in the advertising industry as a brand strategist working with many international and local clients, Fatène has joined the managing Cogite, a coworking community of change-makers and entrepreneurs in Tunisia.

She has also recently co-founded the Afkar conference, a think & action tank bridging spaces between government and civil society to provocate concrete solutions to concrete problems in Tunisia. Fatène is also the organizer and co-curator of TEDxCarthage since 2011 and TEDxCarthageWomen.

Peter Carney of Chicago — Professional saxophonist and composer who developed a groundbreaking method for interactive learning

Pete Carney was a music history teacher at Chicago City Colleges from 2007 to 2013, frustrated with the boring textbooks available for his students. Knowing his students would rather read their smartphones than textbooks, Carney worked for two years in his basement to design a new approach that reached and challenged his students. He and fellow adjunct music professor Brian Felix created a groundbreaking new iBook called Interactive Listening that was immediately named by Apple Inc. in 2014 as the #1 Editor’s Choice in all categories of iBooks. It was the first music education method ever to be featured on Apples iTunes website. Created for digital-savvy students, Interactive Listening is now taught in over 100 schools nationwide, featuring Hollywood-style graphics, an orchestra of 3-D instruments, and interactive games. Carney also enjoys a distinguished career as a professional saxophonist and composer who has worked with Grammy winners Kirk Franklin, Tito Puente, the Winans, and the Plain White T’s. His greatest musical experience—touring the Chitilin’ Blues Circuit with Little Milton and opening for B.B. King. He lives with his wife/editor, Caroline, in Chicago where he is currently finishing a doctorate in music at the University of Illinois.

Tessa Duvall of Jacksonville — Reporter for The Florida Times-Union who covers education, children and families

Tessa Duvall joined The Florida Times-Union as the education, children and families reporter in December 2014. She graduated with bachelor’s degrees in journalism and sociology from Western Kentucky University in December 2013 and spent a year reporting on education in the dusty oilfields of West Texas before moving to the Sunshine State. Her reporting focuses on the issues that affect children and families living in Northeast Florida.

Rick DuCharme of Jacksonville — Founder and Executive Director of First Coast No More Homeless Pets

DuCharme came to the animal welfare world with a background in sales, marketing and management working in the heavy equipment industry.  He started in animal welfare by volunteering at various shelters and rescues and spent years observing and researching the issues.  In his travels across the country, he observed what other communities were doing in animal welfare.
In 2001, Jacksonville Mayor Delaney formed a Mayor’s Task Force for Animal Control.  At that time, Jacksonville was reputed to be one of the worst large cities in the nation regarding animal welfare—more than 33,000 animals were entering the shelter each year, and 23,000 (mostly healthy) animals were euthanized.   DuCharme asked to be appointed to the Task Force and was a strong advocate for an effective spay/neuter program.  

When no other agency or group came forward to start a spay/neuter program, in 2002 DuCharme founded First Coast No More Homeless Pets (FCNMHP), an organization dedicated to ending the killing of dogs and cats in shelters in this community, Northeast Florida and the nation.  Later, he left his sales job to run FCNMHP.
FCNMHP began as a small spay/neuter voucher program, but in 2009 it opened one of the largest spay/neuter clinics in the nation, where more than 30,000 surgeries are performed in a single year.  Since that time, FCNMHP has broadened its impact, with programs designed to keep animals in the home and out of the shelters, such as operating a low-cost veterinary clinic, a pet food bank for low-income pet owners and an outreach program in low-income neighborhoods.  FCNMHP also has adoptions programs, organizing and sponsoring quarterly Mega Adoption events, where upwards of 1,100 dogs and cats from shelters and rescues throughout northeast Florida and southern Georgia find homes in a single week-end.  These are among the largest adoption events in the country.  FCNMHP also operates a program called Teaching Animals and Inmates Life Skills (TAILS) where hard-to-adopt shelter dogs are placed in four Florida prisons to be trained, socialized and cared for by inmates.

These programs have made a huge difference.  Euthanasia rates have dropped by more than 95% since FCNMHP’s founding.  Jacksonville and neighboring Nassau County are now no-kill (defined as a 90% or better live release rate).  DuCharme is now focusing on the rest of northeast Florida.  He has formed the Northeast Florida No-Kill Association, made up of animal welfare groups from 12 northeast Florida counties.  

DuCharme is nationally recognized as an animal welfare expert.  He frequently speaks at national conferences, has written handbooks on animal welfare programs and works with animal welfare groups across the country to help them implement in their own communities the programs that have been so effective in Jacksonville.

Jordan Edelheit of Cincinnati — Founder and co-organizer of TEDxOhioStateUniversity and co-organizer of TEDxMarionCorrectional, the first TEDx event held in a prison

While in undergrad at Ohio State, Jordan Edelheit fell in love with TED's mission of "ideas worth spreading" and began organizing TEDx events. In addition to TEDxOhioStateUniversity, Jordan was on the founding team of the first TEDx to take place in an adult prison, TEDxMarionCorrectional. She has since spent the past three years striving to learn and share stories within the justice system and now works with The Mayerson Foundation in Cincinnati, Ohio leading their young professional and social change programs. She is inspired by countless incarcerated men who lead by example that spoken word poetry can be a tool of expression, possibly even the answer to sharing our most random beautiful thoughts. Jordan believes in building empathy by listening to one story at a time. She finds herself smiling most after experiencing shared humanity in unexpected spaces … like prison

Kevin Gover of Washington, D.C. — Director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian and a citizen of the Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma

Kevin Gover is the director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian and a citizen of the Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma. Kevin began as director in December 2007.

Born in 1955 in Lawton, Oklahoma, he is the son of Bill and Maggie Gover, civil rights and Indian rights activists. Kevin left Oklahoma in 1970 to attend St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire. He attended Princeton University, receiving his bachelor’s degree in public and international affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University in 1978. He then attended the University of New Mexico College of Law and received his juris doctor degree in 1981.

Following law school, Kevin served as a law clerk in the chambers of the Honorable Juan G. Burciaga, United States District Judge for the District of New Mexico. He then joined the Washington, D.C. offices of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Kampelman, where his practice was limited to representing Indian tribes, tribal agencies, and Alaska Native corporations.
Kevin returned to New Mexico in 1986, where he established a small Native American-owned law firm that specialized in federal Indian law. Gover, Stetson, Williams & West, P.C. grew into the largest Indian-owned law firm in the country and represented tribes and tribal agencies in a dozen states.

His advocacy brought him to the attention of the Clinton White House, and in 1997, Kevin was nominated by President Clinton to serve as the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs in the United States Department of the Interior. He was confirmed by the United States Senate in November 1997 and served in that capacity until January 2001. As the senior executive of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, he won praise for his efforts to rebuild long-neglected Indian schools and expand tribal and BIA police forces throughout the country. His tenure as Assistant Secretary is perhaps best-known for his apology to Native American people for the historical conduct of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Upon leaving office, Kevin resumed the practice of law at Steptoe & Johnson, LLP in Washington, D.C. In 2003, he joined the faculty at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at
Arizona State University and served on the faculty of the university’s Indian Legal Program, one of the largest such programs in the country. He taught courses in federal Indian law, administrative law, and statutory interpretation, as well as an undergraduate course in American Indian policy.

Throughout his professional career, Kevin has given freely of his time, serving on several committees of the Federal Bar Association and the American Bar Association. He has served as well on a number of non-profit boards, including the Southwestern Association for Indian Art, Futures for Children, and the Grand Canyon Trust. He has also served on the boards of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas and the Salt River Development Company, an enterprise of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

Tim Harris of Albuquerque — Owner of Tim’s Place and one of the first and only men with Down syndrome to own a restaurant; gained national acclaim via a viral video of his work at Tim’s Place

The famous quote from Walt Disney, “If you can dream it, you can do it” has been the driving force behind the life of Tim Harris. Born in 1986 with Down syndrome, Tim’s life has been defined by exceeding expectations an inspiring those around him.

As a 2004 graduate of Eldorado High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Tim was elected homecoming king by the highest margin of votes in school history. During graduation week, Tim was also voted Student of the Year by the administration, faculty, and staff.

In his teen years, Tim began to dream of owning his own restaurant. He began working in local restaurants, including Red Robin, where the management had tangible proof that revenue went up during Tim’s shifts. In the fall of 2004, Tim moved to Roswell, New Mexico to attend Eastern New Mexico University. Tim lived in a college dorm and graduated in 2008 with certificates in Food Service, Office Skills and Restaurant Hosting. After college, Tim worked as a host at Applebee’s restaurant and spent time living aboard a sailboat with his parents and traveling throughout the Bahamas.

In October of 2010, the next chapter began and with the help of his family, Tim’s dream of owning his own business came true. Tim’s Place opened its doors in Albuquerque, New Mexico as one of the first and only restaurants to be owned by a man with Down syndrome. Tim’s Place is open daily, serving breakfast, lunch, and hugs.

Tim’s hugs have reached everyone from music legend Stevie Wonder to the President of the United States. To this day, Tim has given out more than 70,000 hugs and has received wishes from over 38 countries. Tim has also launched a powerful speaking career, travelling across the country telling his story and inspiring all those who cross his path.

Tim’s successful determination to own a restaurant, live a happy life and inspire others has caught the attention of people from all over the world. Tim was recently interviewed on The View and has been featured in People Magazine, CBS Evening News / Sunday Morning, America Online, ABC News, NBC Today Show, NBC Nightly News, National Public Radio, and on CNN News.

In order to truly share his success, in August of 2014 Tim started Tim’s Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), a newly formed New Mexico non-profit corporation that aims to inspire people from all over the world to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives via entrepreneurship and inclusion in their communities. Tim’s goal is to help other individuals with intellectual disabilities start or grow their own small businesses. Tim believes that anyone, with the right support, can achieve their dreams.

Kevin Hyde of Jacksonville — Partner and employment lawyer with Foley & Lardner LLP, former Jacksonville City Council President

Kevin E. Hyde is a partner and employment lawyer with Foley & Lardner LLP. Mr. Hyde represents employers in a variety of human resources matters. His practice focuses on day-to-day employment counseling and workplace safety, and he has represented employers in numerous charges of discrimination, employment-discrimination cases, wage-hour and management-union matters. Mr. Hyde is managing partner of the firm’s Jacksonville office, and chair of the Labor & Employment Practice. He is also a member of the Automotive and Food & Beverage Industry Teams. Mr. Hyde speaks regularly at various programs and seminars, focusing on employment issues. He has served as keynote speaker at more than 30 state, regional, and national business and civic organization conventions.

Mark McCombs of Jacksonville — Engineer, nonprofit founder and affiliate partner for FIRST Lego League North Florida

Over the past 12 years Mark McCombs has been a part of FIRST Robotics as a student on a high school team, as a college mentor, a head coach, volunteer, tournament director, and now Affiliate Partner for FIRST Lego League in the North Florida Region. As a student in the program, mentors and engineering idols profoundly impacted Mark by turning his curiosities towards the field of Mechanical Engineering. As a result he founded a nonprofit with the mission of expanding access to the very program that shaped his experience as a young engineer. Mark believes that all 21st century students deserve a chance at engineering the future.

John Phillips of Jacksonville — Attorney who has represented the family of Jordan Davis and other victims in several high profile cases; has been featured on CNN, HLN and most other national networks  

John Phillips attended the University of Alabama for college and law school and shortly after moved to Jacksonville in 2001, which has become home to not only his own law firm, but his wife Angela and two children — Bennett (age 3) and Weston (age 1).

John is licensed to practice law in Florida, Georgia and Alabama and is the youngest in Northeast Florida to be both Board Certified in Civil Trial law and obtained the highest rating available of AV — Preeminent by Martindale, which has been rating lawyers since the 1800s.  John has also been recognized as one of the best lawyers in Jacksonville by readers of the Folio Weekly, Void Magazine and as the “Face of Justice” by Jacksonville Magazine, as well as many national awards and recognitions.

He is most known for his association with the Michael Dunn / Jordan Davis case, where he represented the family of Jordan Davis who was shot and killed in November 2012, but has represented victims in several high profile cases and has been featured on CNN, HLN and most other national networks.

Peter Rummell of Jacksonville — Real estate developer, entrepreneur and chief patron of One Spark, the World’s Largest Crowdfunding Festival

Peter Rummell has been active in the real estate development industry for over 40 years creating some of the most recognized and interesting projects in the world.  His career began in real estate in 1971 with the Sea Pines Company, developers of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, and Amelia Island, Florida.  In 1977, he became general manager of Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida for the Arvida Corporation.  He joined the Rockefeller Center Management Corporation in New York as vice chairman in 1983, leaving in 1985 to become president of Disney Development Company.  Disney Development Company and Walt Disney Imagineering, the company’s design and creative division responsible for theme park development, were later merged and Rummell became chairman of the combined group, Walt Disney Imagineering.  From 1997 – 2008, Rummell was chairman and chief executive officer of The St. Joe Company.  He is also the founding board chair and chief patron of One Spark, the World’s Largest Crowdfunding Festival.  

Entertainment provided by

Canary in the Coalmine:

'Canary in the Coalmine' is an Americana Folk band based out of Jacksonville, Florida. A haunting quality underscores striking vocal harmonies that provide a focal point for the band’s signature sound. The band released their first full-length album “Who Fears the Devil?” in March of 2015.  Because of the vast collection of musical influences the writers share, Canary’s sound is a melding together of different genres of American roots music, including Country, Bluegrass, Old Spirituals, and Appalachian Folk, tinged with the flavors of blues, soul, and a little bit of rock and roll.

 Canary in the Coalmine has been garnering local and regional attention within the Jacksonville area and beyond, performing at Suwanee Springfest and Magnolia Festival and recently completed a mini tour to support their album release.  Canary has performed for and worked in collaboration with many noteworthy Jacksonville establishments, including the Cummer Museuam of Art and Gardens, MOCA, Springfield Porchfest, and Riverside Avondale Preservation Society, and has plans of continuing to grow and spread their music throughout the Southeast.

Complicated Animals:

Complicated Animals is the Brazilian & American duo of Monica da Silva & Chad Alger. Mixing breezy Indie Pop + Vintage Brazilian Bossa Nova, they've created their own unique genre, Indie Nova. Complicated Animals' music has been featured on ESPN during the World Cup 2014, and licensed by Putumayo World Music for their compilation "Brazilian Beat." They just released a new EP "In This Game," which premiered on PopMatters and NPR.

Wise River

Wise River is a 3-piece dream-pop/synth-pop band fronted by brother and sister duo John and Laura Shannon from Jacksonville, FL. All three members also perform together in the indie-folk band Fort Stories. Wise River focuses on combining digital and analog instruments, effects, noise, and samples to create a sound that is all at once dreamy, experimental, and catchy.

Ritz Chamber Players

THE RITZ CHAMBER PLAYERS, is hailed by The Baltimore Sun as “one of the most interesting and dynamic ensembles to emerge in recent years.” Boasting some of the world’s preeminent musicians spanning the African diaspora, it brings a fresh, new energy to the classical music genre. Its members perform with prestigious organizations such as the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra and the London Symphony. The Ritz Chamber Players made its highly successful début concert at New York’s Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall to a standing room only crowd, with critics proclaiming the group’s performance “extraordinary” and “vital and fresh.”

Kelly Hall-Tompkins – Violin One of New York City’s most in-demand violinists, Kelly Hall-Tompkins’ dynamic career spans solo, chamber, and orchestral performance. Ms. Hall-Tompkins has been a soloist with the Dallas, Greenville, and Monmouth Symphonies, the Philharmonic of Uruguay, the Gateways Festival Orchestra, the Festival of the Atlantic Orchestra, and the Atlanta University Orchestra and her performances in recital have been featured on several occasions on the McGraw-Hill Young Artist Showcase, broadcast in New York by WQXR. She earned a Master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music under the mentorship of Glenn Dicterow, concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic.

Orlando Wells – Violin/Viola A native of Orange, NJ, Orlando Wells began studying the violin at the age of 9. Mr. Wells attended S.U.N.Y. Purchase and Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers. Mr. Wells performs with The Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic, SONYC Chamber Orchestra, The Ritz Chamber Players, Allentown Symphony, Sweet Plantain String Quartet, The Emerald Trio and the Radio City Christmas Show Orchestra. Performing frequently on Broadway, he has played regularly with Phantom of the Opera, The Producers, Spamalot, Wicked and was the violist on the first national tour of the Broadway show, Little Women. Currently he is the violist on the new Broadway show Crybaby.  He has collaborated with musicians of many different genres and styles. Some of the artists he has worked with are John Legend, Mariah Carey, Rihanna, Kanye West, Marvin Hamlish, the Akua Dixon Swing Quartet and Sojourner Strings.

Tahirah Whittington – Cello Tahirah Whittington, originally from Houston, TX, has performed for audiences in the United States, Chile, France, Italy, Spain, Canada, Bermuda, St. Kitts, and Japan. Solo engagements include a performance with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, DC, as a result of winning 1st prize at the 1999 Sphinx Competition. She has played on the recordings of R&B artists Alicia Keys, Angie Stone, and Joe, as well as gospel singer, Donnie McClurkin. Ms. Whittington received her Master’s Degree in Cello Performance from The Juilliard School under the tutelage of Joel Krosnick, and received her Bachelor’s Degree at the New England Conservatory as a student of Laurence Lesser. She is currently pursuing her Doctoral Degree at the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, with Hans Jensen.

This article can be found at: https://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2015-aug-tedxjacksonville-2015-into-the-machine-speakers

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