MAY 7, 2014
What’s Connected?

More than you think. Our 2014 speaker lineup has been announced.

2014 Speakers

True to this year’s theme, our speakers will share reflections on the nature of being connected and the surprising ways people and things connect. We’ve worked to bring experts from across the world to Grand Rapids for what might be the most provocative, engaging TEDxGrandRapids event to date.
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RICHARD SAUL WURMAN
FAIA ARCHITECT / FOUNDER, TED

Widely known as the founder of the TED conference, Richard Saul Wurman is the inventor of the field of information architecture (IA). He has written, designed and published 83 books on topics from health care to cartography and received numerous awards for his work in IA.
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BOB BAIN
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
Bob Bain is an award-winning associate professor at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor with joint appointments in the history, educational studies, and museum studies departments. Bain is also chair of the university’s secondary teacher education program and a faculty lead for the Big History Project, an international research and design group that has developed an online curriculum, assessments and professional development to enable high school students to study 13.82 billion years of cosmic history – from the Big Bang to the Future.
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RACHEL SEGAL
DIGITAL STRATEGIST

An accomplished digital strategist, Rachel Segal has spent more than a decade working with some of the largest brands in the world on their social media and content marketing programs. In 2012, Rachel and her partner Scott moved out of the city and onto a remote island homestead, where she continues to freelance for a number of agencies and companies…in between milking goats, feeding chickens and planting seeds.
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SHARNITA JOHNSON
PROGRAM OFFICER, W.K. KELLOGG FOUNDATION

Sharnita Johnson is a program officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Mich., where she provides leadership and oversight for on-the-ground execution of program efforts in Detroit. Johnson holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Michigan-Dearborn and a Bachelor of Arts from Marygrove College in Detroit, where she was recognized with the Distinguished Alumna Award in 2008.
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DAN KLYN
CO-FOUNDER, THE UNDERSTANDING GROUP
As co-founder of The Understanding Group (TUG), Dan Klyn leads structural design practice. He began working as an information architect in 1997, and has worked in a variety sectors, including agency, e-commerce and non-profit for the past 17 years.
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CLEMENT CHIWAYA
CHIEF WHIP, UNITED DEMOCRATIC FRONT

At the age of two, Clement Chiwaya contracted polio and lost the use of his legs. Through assistance, he moved from Malawi to Grand Rapids, Mich. where he graduated in 2002 from Aquinas College. He currently serves as a member of parliament and chief whip of the United Democratic Front.
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DOUG FITCH
CO-FOUNDER, GIANTS ARE SMALL

Doug Fitch is a visual artist, designer, director and co-founder of Giants Are Small. He has received accolades and praise from prominent publications, such as The New York Times, New York magazine and TimeOut New York for his 2010 Giants Are Small production of György Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre for the New York Philharmonic.
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MARGARITA (MAGGIE) ANDERSON
FOUNDER, THE EMPOWERMENT EXPERIMENT

Margarita Anderson and her family were featured in national headlines as they lived exclusively off Black businesses, professionals and products for an entire year. Her stand, chronicled in her book, “Our Black Year,” was called The Empowerment Experiment.  Now, she tours the country to increase awareness about economic inequalities that starve Black neighborhoods and deny Black businesses, and how proactive support of these businesses can create jobs and curb crime in America.
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MICHAEL DOWD
BIG HISTORY EVANGELIST
Michael Dowd returns to the TEDxGrandRapids stage after delivering his popular talk in 2012, “Why We Struggle Now.” He is a bestselling evolutionary theologian and evangelist for Big History and what he calls “an honorable relationship to the future,” known for his book, “Thank God for Evolution.”
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ROBERTO RIVERA
PRESIDENT/LEAD CHANGE AGENT, THE GOOD LIFE ALLIANCE PBC

Rivera leads The Good Life Alliance PBC, an organization that publishes multi-media educational tools and trains educators, youth workers, and parents to connect positive youth development to community development. Rivera’s community-based popular education experience has won him awards from former president Bill Clinton and Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, and was recently named one of the “Top Young Change Agents in America” by the Search for Common Ground Coalition.
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PAUL RINN
CAPTAIN, UNITED STATES NAVY

An accomplished naval leader and successful businessman, Paul Rinn’s career in the U.S. Navy spanned almost three decades and encompassed challenging positions in a multitude of key operational assignments, combat encounters as well as significant Pentagon postings. After retiring from the U.S. Navy, Rinn joined Whitney Bradley and Brown (WBB) where he worked in a variety of positions, including vice president. Now retired, Rinn speaks to public and private sectors for military, government, educational and corporate audiences.
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JEFF KLEIN
CEO, WORKING FOR GOOD

As CEO of Working For Good, Jeff Klein leads marketing and business development campaigns working with the principles of Conscious Capitalism. He also serves as executive director of The Baumann Foundation and director of marketing & business development for Conscious Capitalism, Inc.
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JASON SOSA
FOUNDER/CEO, IMRSV

Sosa is the founder and CEO of IMRSV, a computer vision and artificial intelligence company and was named one of “10 Startups to Watch in NYC” by Time Inc., and one of “25 Hot and New Startups to Watch in NYC” by Business Insider. He has been featured by Forbes, CNN, New York Times, Fast Company, Bloomberg and Business Insider, among others.
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JULIANNE WURM
FOUNDER, R3

As founder of R3, Julianne Wurm leads a consulting firm that works to create digital content and live experiences. She received her doctorate in education from Columbia University and is the founder of TEDxEast, the first TEDx event in New York City.
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WAYNE CURTIS
FREELANCE JOURNALIST / CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC

Wayne Curtis writes the “Drinks” column for The Atlantic and the “Behind the Bar” column for Imbibe magazine. He’s also written about cocktails, spirits and bars for many other publications, including Men’s Journal, American Scholar, Forbes Life, Sunset, the Wall Street Journal and Liquor.com. Curtis is the author of “And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails” and the forthcoming book, “The Last Great Walk: The True Story of a 1909 Walk from New York to San Francisco and Why It Matters Today.”