Speakers and Performers @ TEDxSanDiego 2011

The World In Our Grasp

The ability to change ourselves, and the community around us
clearly demonstrates the fact that world is, indeed, in our grasp.

Check out the event photos on Flickr!

Sekou Andrews

Sekou Andrews is inspiring the business world one poem at a time with The Sekou Effect. An award winning and internationally acclaimed spoken word artist, playwright, actor and musician, Sekou has mastered the art of creating and performing original, custom-written spoken word pieces that electrify the messages and accelerate the missions of global corporations and non-profits, creative and conservative alike. Sekou can be found presenting original pieces and giving keynote speeches around the country.

Dr. Martha Beck

Martha Beck is a writer and life coach who specializes in helping people design satisfying and meaningful life experiences. With a bachelor’s degree in East Asian Studies and master’s and Ph.D. degrees in sociology she worked as a research associate at Harvard Business School, studying career paths and life course changes in today’s economic and social environment. Dr. Beck previously taught sociology, social psychology, organizational behavior, and business management at Harvard.

Alexis Chavez

Based in Bwindi, Uganda, Alexis is the east Africa field specialist, for ECOLIFE Foundation. She graduated with a B.Sc. in environmental conservation and prior to ECOLIFE worked in Indonesia and Namibia successfully coordinating volunteer programs and assisting with the management of wildlife rescue centers. Alexis’s experience with wildlife conservation and wildlife rescue NGOs worldwide helped her determine, with the ECOLIFE Foundation, solutions to the False Dilemmas we face on a daily basis.

Shaney Jo Darden

Shaney Jo Darden is the Co-Founder and Executive Director at the Keep A Breast Foundation. Its mission is to help eradicate breast cancer by exposing young people to methods of prevention, early detection and support. Through art events, educational programs and fundraising efforts, they seek to increase breast cancer awareness among young people so they are better equipped to make choices and develop habits that will benefit their long-term health and well being.

Richard Dreyfuss

Richard Dreyfuss is an activist and a spokesperson on the issue of media informing policy, legislation, and public opinion, both speaking and writing to express his sentiments in favor of privacy, freedom of speech, democracy, and individual accountability. With an entertainment career spanning more than four decades, Academy Award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss has been one of America’s most versatile and individualistic actors. As a Community Leader, his current passion is to revive the teaching of civics in American Schools.

James Fowler

James Fowler is a Professor in the School of Medicine and the Division of Social Sciences at the University of California, San Diego. He was recently named a Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and one of Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Global Thinkers. James’s work lies at the intersection of the natural and social sciences. His primary areas of research are social networks, behavioral economics, evolutionary game theory, political participation, cooperation, and genopolitics (the study of the genetic basis of political behavior).

Fernanda Gandara

Fernanda Gandara is the Senior Vice President of Business Development at Synthetic Genomics, Inc (SGI). Fernanda represents SGI on the board of two subsidiaries: Synthetic Genomics Vaccines, Inc. (focused on new vaccine development) and Agradis (focused on Agricultural biotechnology). Fernanda earned an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Escola de Engenharia Maua in Brazil.

Kurt Gray

Kurt Gray is a social psychologist. He completed his Ph.D. at Harvard University and is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland – College Park. He studies morality and mind perception, and their real-world implications. He has investigated why we torture others, how suffering makes us believe in God and how good deeds make people more powerful. He has published in a variety of academic journals, including Science, PNAS, Psychological Science, and Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Robert Gupta

Robert Gupta is a violinist for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which he joined at 19 years old. At 11 years of age, he had his solo debut with the Israel Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta. His undergraduate degree was premed, but he received his master’s in music from Yale University. He also worked on spinal cord neuronal regeneration at Harvard Institutes of Medicine Center for Neurologic Diseases when he was a Research Assistant at CUNY Hunter College in New York City. He was also Nathaniel Ayers’ violin teacher.

Suneel Gupta

Suneel loves to build stuff from scratch. Prior to serving as Groupon’s very first Vice President of Product Development, Suneel built widely-used products for Mozilla Labs, blogged for MTV, developed television concepts for Sony Pictures, led trade efforts in Ghana, wrote speeches in President Clinton’s West Wing, and produced the Kahani Movement, an interactive film project with his brother, Dr. Sanjay Gupta (CNN).

Ellen Gustafson

Ellen Gustafson co-founded FEED Projects in 2007, creating an immensely popular bag whose profits are donated to the UN World Food Program (WFP). As a former employee of the WFP, she supported their mission to provide school lunches in developing countries so that children could receive both the nutrition and education they need. FEED has also created special bags and a new fund to address the crisis in Haiti, helping the children they once fed at school to rebuild their schools.

Cesar Harada

Cesar Harada graduated from the Ecole Boulle in 2001 with historical results, entered the ENSAD where he studied Animation film. He studied Product design at the ENSCI Ateliers Saint-Sabin Paris, and graphic design in Central Saint Martins London. He worked as a computer graphics teacher in the Architecture school of Versailles, as stage designer, had his films, art and performances in major international Museums and venues.


Born Hargobind Hari Singh Khalsa in Eugene, Oregon, Hargo grew up surrounded by music. His parents, both accomplished musicians, filled his soul with everything from the religious music of their Sikh temple to the classic rock of his father’s youth and everything in between. “Growing up around music from day one, hearing my dad play Beatles songs, Tom Petty, and traditional Sikh songs… there’s a soundtrack to every day of my life that I can remember.”

Dr. Tony Haymet

Tony Haymet has been Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Vice Chancellor for Marine Sciences, and Dean of the Graduate School of Marine Sciences at University of California, San Diego, since September 2006. He is co-founder of CleanTECH San Diego, a business organization devoted to the solution of the climate change problem, and currently serves as Vice-Chair. He was elected to the board of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership (COL) and the Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO).

Mark Hixon

Mark Hixon is a marine biologist at Oregon State University who specializes in understanding the ecology of coral reefs. A Fulbright Senior Scholar and Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow, Mark has published scientific studies of reefs in Australia, French Polynesia, Hawaii, the Bahamas, and the Virgin Islands. In 2003, he was recognized by ISI Citation Index as the most cited American scientific author on coral reefs. Located in shallow tropical waters, coral reefs are both the rainforests and the canaries of the seas.

Dr. Jakki Mohr

Jakki Mohr, Ph.D., is the Regents Professor of Marketing and the Jeff & Martha Hamilton Distinguished Faculty Fellow at the University of Montana-Missoula. She is an international expert on the marketing of technology and innovation, and the co-author of a book on that topic. Motivated by the desire to bring the promise of new technologies to solve social and global problems, she has worked with companies and universities worldwide in strategic market planning to commercialize innovation.

Charlie Morley

Charlie Morley is a Lucid Dreaming teacher and practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism specializing in the use of both Western scientific and Tibetan Buddhist dream practices with the aims of bringing mindful awareness into all stages of dream, sleep and waking life. He is the co-creator of a new holistic approach to conscious sleeping and lucid dreaming called “Mindfulness of Dream and Sleep” which aim to help us sleep better, dream more lucidly and wake up with more awareness, clarity and joy!

Saura Naderi

Saura Naderi is a Team Leader and Founder of UCSD myLab Program. She graduated with a B.S. in engineering physics from the Jacob’s School of Engineering at UCSD. The myLab Program’s objective is to inspire passion in engineering through hands-on projects. By collaborating with the Museum of Making Music, students have been given the opportunity to work together to imagine, design, and implement their engineering and music/art-based ideas.

Viet (Jon) Nguyen

Jon graduated from UCLA’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science in June 2009 with a B.S. Degree in Aeronautical Engineering.  Jon is currently the principal architect and lead programmer for NASA’s “Eyes on the Solar System” software, which uses video-game technology to recreate the solar system and the spacecraft that explore it within a web-browser. He joined the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Visualization Technology Applications and Development group in November of 2009.

John Ohanian

Mr. Ohanian began as CEO of 2-1-1 San Diego in September 2007, just three weeks prior to Firestorm 2007. With the fires launching 2-1-1 into public awareness, Mr. Ohanian worked strategically to build strong and lasting partnerships with top community organizations to better serve the local community, including the County of San Diego, the First 5 Commission of San Diego, the Alliance Healthcare Foundation, the Leichtag Family Foundation, the Parker Foundation, Qualcomm, SDG&E, and Bank of America.

Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan

Dr. Ramanathan is a Professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD. He is a member of various prestigious science academies, including the US National Academy, the Royal Swedish Academy and the Pontifical Academy. In the 1970s, he discovered the greenhouse effect of CFCs and other manmade trace gases. Along with Paul Crutzen he led an international team that first discovered the widespread Atmospheric Brown Clouds (ABCs).

Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Amy Krouse Rosenthal is a New York Times bestselling author of both adult and popular children’s books, a filmmaker, radio show host, and blogger. Krouse Rosenthal is best known for her memoir Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, the film project The Beckoning of Lovely, and her children’s picture books. She is a prolific writer, having published 16 such kids’ books between 2005 and 2011, and has at least five more in the pipeline through 2012.

Jason Russell

Jason Russell is one of the original founders of the media-driven nonprofit Invisible Children. A graduate of USC Production Film School, he’s co-directed a documentary seen by millions and served as the assistant to the director for Disney’s blockbuster Step Up 2. His revolutionary approach to humanitarian work has put Russell at the forefront of a generational movement for peace, and he continues to serve as a keynote speaker across the country, empowering youth to become more involved in the global landscape.

Koelle Simpson

Koelle Simpson is a horse whisperer and life coach. Most recently featured on the OWN Network series “Finding Sarah,” Koelle’s message has made profound impact on leaders, corporations, and change agents around the world. Koelle has had rare opportunities to apprentice with teachers, such as the best-selling author and horse trainer Monty Robert, yet the most life changing teachers of all came from those with four legs instead of two, most especially horses.

Tracy Lee Stum

Tracy Lee Stum is an internationally recognized American street painter who specializes in spectacular, interactive 3D chalk art street paintings. A visionary and master in the chalk art world, Tracy’s mind-blowing dimensional images continue to “wow,” inspire and amaze viewers around the globe.

Jake Wood

Jake Wood is President of Team Rubicon, the organization he co-founded following the earthquake in Haiti. Team Rubicon is a rapid medical response organization that uniquely pairs today’s military veterans with medical professionals. He served in the United States Marine Corps, deploying to Iraq in 2007 as an infantry squad leader and to Afghanistan in 2008 as a Scout-Sniper Assistant Team Leader. In 2007 he was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with “V” for valor in the face of the enemy.

Sekou Andrews (closing)

Sekou Andrews is inspiring the business world one poem at a time with The Sekou Effect. An award winning and internationally acclaimed spoken word artist, playwright, actor and musician, Sekou has mastered the art of creating and performing original, custom-written spoken word pieces that electrify the messages and accelerate the missions of global corporations and non-profits, creative and conservative alike. Sekou can be found presenting original pieces and giving keynote speeches around the country.