Featured Speakers

  • Adora Svitak

    Adora Svitak


    Author, teacher, and student

    Since the age of four, Adora Svitak has been exploring what she can do with the written word: everything from championing literacy and youth voice to working with the UN’s World Food Programme to raise awareness about world hunger. Hoping to instill her love of writing in others, she taught her first class at a local elementary school the year her first book, Flying Fingers, debuted; since then, she has spoken at hundreds of schools, classrooms and conferences around the world. In 2010, she delivered the speech “What Adults Can Learn from Kids” at TED. The speech received over one million views online and has been translated into over 40 different languages. That same year, Adora started organizing TEDxRedmond. Over the course of years of speaking, her audiences have included teachers, CEOs, entrepreneurs, artists, students, and delegates at the United Nations. She will be a senior in high school this fall.

  • Kathy Eldon

    Kathy Eldon


    Raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and educated at Wellesley College, Kathy Eldon has worked as a teacher, journalist, author, film and television producer in England, Africa, and the United States. She is the founder of Creative Visions Foundation, a global organization that supports “creative activists” who use their creative talents to change the world around them and also launched Creative Visions Productions, which produces entertaining, socially conscious documentaries and films.

    Kathy is the co-founder of Sanctri, a new Facebook application that enables individuals to not only remember those who have passed on, but also to celebrate their lives through creating enduring memorials and tributes.  Kathy is the author of seventeen books, including her new memoir, “In the Heart of Life,” coming out in September 2013

  • Cédric Villani

    Cédric Villani


    Cedric Villani’s research and work has won him many national and international prizes, in particular the Fields Medal, usually regarded as the most prestigious award in mathematics, which was given to him at the 2010 International Congress of Mathematicians in Hyderabad (India), by the President of India. Since then he has served as a spokesperson for the mathematics community in media and political circles

    Born in 1973 in France, Cédric Villani studied mathematics in École Normale Supérieure in Paris, from 1992 to 1996, and spent four more years as assistant professor there.

    In 1998 he defended his PhD on the mathematical theory of the Boltzmann equation. Besides his advisor Pierre-Louis Lions (Paris, France), he was much influenced by Yann Brenier (Nice, France), Eric Carlen (Rutgers, USA) and Michel Ledoux (Toulouse, France).

    From 2000 to 2010 he was professor at École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, and now at the Université de Lyon. He occupied visiting professor positions in Atlanta, Berkeley and Princeton. Since 2009 he is director of the Institut Henri Poincaré in Paris; this 80-year old national institute, dedicated to welcoming visiting researchers, is at the very heart of french mathematics.

  • Kary Mullis

    Kary Mullis


    Kary received a Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1993, for his invention of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The process, which Kary Mullis conceptualized in 1983, is hailed as one of the monumental scientific techniques of the twentieth century.



  • Lisa Kristine

    Lisa Kristine


    Lisa Kristine, Humanitarian Photographer

    Acclaimed humanitarian photographer Lisa Kristine creates more than images, she inspires change. A master storyteller, Lisa documents indigenous cultures in more than 100 countries on six continents, instinctively identifying the universal human dignity in all of us. Awakening compassion and igniting action in a worldwide audience with powerful, broad-sweeping images of courage and tender, intimate portrayals, Lisa elevates significant social causes—such as the elimination of human slavery and the unification of humanity—to missions. Her work resonates in the hearts of us all and moves us to act.

     Lisa has gained broad recognition for her collaboration with the NGO Free the Slaves. This breathtaking body of work, illuminating human enslavement, is brought together in Slavery, published in 2010. Lisa receives global attention across media platforms, including CNN and Reuters while also speaking at TED events, museums, NGO’s, business conferences, colleges and universities.

    Lisa was the sole exhibitor at the 2009 Vancouver Peace Summit, attended by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and other award winning Nobel Laureates. Lisa has enabled new social and financial capital for the causes she champions. Christie’s New York, in celebration with Kofi Annan, has auctioned her images to benefit the United Nations. The Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Queen Mother of Bhutan and Amnesty International, have all endorsed her work. Her photographs inspired the Make a Stand Lemonade movement, which has raised more than a million and reached over 100 million people toward the eradication of slavery

    Lisa has published 5 books and has been the subject of 4 documentaries. Her work on Slavery will be featured in two films to be released in 2014. One of these films, SOLD the movie, made by Oscar Award winning team, Emma Thompson and Jeffrey Brown, include a character inspired by Lisa and played by Gillian Anderson.

    Currently Lisa is producing two exhibitions, one entitled Enslaved, a visual story of modern day slavery, and the other Pillar of Spirit, which explores the living history of Bhutan in the face of modernity swiftly impacting its borders. Just as she hopes these bodies of work will inspire awareness and change, she continues to seek out projects in which her images can have a positive impact in our world.

    Lisa’s purpose-driven interactions with diverse cultures, her passion-driven sensitivities about the human condition, and her finely-tuned craft produce truthful, harmonious images of the beauty, suffering, compassion—and above all—the dignity of men, women and children around our world. Lisa Kristine awakens compassion and ignites action in us all.

  • Jeremy Hunter

    Jeremy Hunter


    Jeremy Hunter, Ph.D. is the great-grandson of a sumo wrestler as well as an Assistant Professor of Practice at the Peter F. Drucker School of Management.

    His Executive Mind courses challenge leaders to relentlessly transform themselves to face the demands of complex and volatile world.   His work is informed by the experience of living day-to-day for 17 years with an incurable terminal illness.  When Hunter needed life-saving surgery, more than a dozen former students volunteered as organ donors.

    He has been voted Professor of the Year three times and featured in the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times and National Public Radio’s Morning Edition.  He holds degrees from Wittenberg and Harvard Universities as well as the University of Chicago.

    He and his wife dutifully serve two house cats who live in Los Angeles.

  • Sara Volz

    Sara Volz


    A senior at Cheyenne Mountain High School, Sara Volz, 17, was recognized in March as the 2013 Intel Science Talent Search winner. The U.S. competition recognizes the nation’s top young scientists. At the event Sara presented her ongoing work to improve algae biofuels.

    She says her ultimate goal is to “understand the universe” and remembers always being an avid reader (often late at night under the covers) and “fascinated by how things worked.” Sara grew up in Colorado going to science camps, national parks and on many outdoor family adventures which fostered an appreciation for the environment. A musical theatre aficionado from early on, Sara had her first of many paid roles at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at age 6. By age 11, she dreamed of performing on Broadway, but was also competing and winning events such as the local or state spelling bee, knowledge bowl, and geography bee. She read early and was always a year or two ahead in math (Now, she is taking college math since she has surpassed what her school offers.) She did her first science project in kindergarten (What Freezes First: Water, Milk or Juice?) but discovered the regional and state science fairs in 6th grade which finally allowed her to challenge herself in a way that school never did.

    In 7th grade she started investigating biodiesel as an alternative to fossil fuels, making her own diesel in the kitchen with various recycled vegetable oils, testing emissions and the next year, making a solar still in the backyard as she looked at different ways to improve the transesterification process. When she learned the drawbacks of conventional oil sources (low oil yields and pressure on land needed for food crops), she discovered the potential of algae as an oil source and began looking at ways to improve that possibility. She started out investigating nitrogen stress as a way to increase oil yields from algae and eventually tried to explore genetic manipulation, but given the limitations of being a high school student with limited lab access she decided she had to find another way to augment the oil yields. That’s when she thought of trying to manipulate natural methods to get the results she wanted: she learned a common herbicide attacks the enzyme she had been studying that is critical to algae’s oil metabolism. She decided to use that herbicide to kill off algae with low levels of the enzyme, leaving algae with higher levels of the enzyme and therefore, higher oil production. Her technique worked and subsequent testing has shown future cell lines to maintain the higher oil yields.

    Being the only kid in her school district pursuing independent science research, Sara’s work was never guided by her school or teachers. Instead, she read scientific literature, contacted researchers for advice and begged for lab access when needed. Initially, she built her own photobioreactor for algae culturing, then gradually accumulated supplies (flasks, micropipettes, centrifuge and microscope) for the algae lab she has built underneath her loft bed. This work has dominated her life for the last four years and helped her realize her passion for scientific inquiry. It’s the reason she’s colloquially known as the “algae girl” and recent birthday gifts have included an algae piñata, algae stuffed toys, DNA earrings and a hemocytometer. Sara has thoroughly enjoyed high school, a leader on her Science Bowl, Science Olympiad and Debate teams as well as in the drama department, even performing the lead role in the school’s play last fall.

    Her science awards include a first place category award at the International Science and Engineering Fair in both 2012 and 2011 as well as the Grand Award of the Hong Kong International Science Fair in 2011 and a first place at the 2013 National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. She won the Grand Award at the Colorado Science and Engineering Fair and at the Pikes Peak Regional Science Fair for 3 of the last 4 years. She is one the designees to attend this summer’s National Youth Science Camp.

    She plans to pursue scientific research, beginning her undergraduate work at MIT in the fall. While she thinks she will major in biochemistry or molecular biology, she wants to explore a variety of sciences as well as other passions along the way such as philosophy, mathematics and theatre. Sara is planning to get a PhD in her chosen field, hopefully help solve an important global problem through research and help mentor others as a professor. Already, she has started a science outreach program in her community encouraging students and teachers that more kids can do their own research. She says “science should be a verb – something you do,” and that there is a misconception in society about science: “It’s too often viewed as something complex and strange, shackled to a laboratory, when it’s really the process of questioning. Curiosity and stubborn determination to get your questions answered are the traits needed for science.”

  • Gesine Thomson

    Gesine Thomson


    “By creating life through architecture, good architecture creates a platform for human wellbeing.”– Gesine Thomson

    Gesine Thomson is an internationally recognized Architect and Speaker specializing in large scale Community Planning and Sustainable Commercial Growth.

    She has worked on projects in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South Korea, China, Japan and India.

    Mrs. Thomson believes in sharing her knowledge and experience in sustainable community planning and the creative process. She lectures extensively around the world.

    The heart of all of Gesine Thomson’s Architectural and Community Planning projects is set deeply in the roots of each culture and community.  While integrating thought breaking innovation to ensure a healthy environment for community growth and social stability, her work reaches into the heritage of each local region to allow a sense of belonging and purpose.  These elements are guided to enable a harmonious future existence for the population within their social and natural environments.

     “Creativity is a process of blending influences, dreams and realities.  This is how I strive to create projects which are timeless.”

    -Gesine Thomson



  • Max Cougar Oswald

    Max Cougar Oswald


    In 2012, Max earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Stanford’s Product Design Program, where he fell in love with the institution’s signature, empathy-driven design methodology. He has since chased his passion for human centered product innovation from Bejing to Los Angeles, designing toys, medical devices, and remote collaboration platforms along the way.

    Now, halfway through a 2-year Masters of Science degree in Stanford’s Mechanical Engineering Design Group, he is finding new ways to harness his creative energy towards creating impact.

    Max believes that great products foster an emotional response with their user, and behaviorally informed design can empower users to live up to their ideals without compromising their experience. This spring, Max teamed up with seven other design/engineering students to form the inaugural Interaction Design Team for Stanford’s Solar Decathlon project.

    Solar Decathlon is a national competition funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, in which twenty qualifying universities each design and build a 1,000 sq. ft. solar-powered home. Over the past three months, Max and his team have designed and manufactured a suite of innovative, sustainable household appliances for the house that allow users to develop their own sustainable lifestyle and become more aware of their role in the energy / water life cycle. Projects include a knee-operated sink that prevents accidental water waste, a dynamic installation art piece that responds to the house’s real-time energy consumption, and a capacitive, gesture-based “Roomswitch” that controls not only the lights but also the electrical outlets in every room.

    When he’s not sketching on a whiteboard or lasercutting a prototype, Max is doing improv comedy. He is a senior performer in Stanford’s improvisational acting troupe, the Simps, and he shows it with a demonstrable love for the stage and an infectious enthusiasm for everything he does

  • Robert E. Grant

    Robert E. Grant


    Robert Grant is Chief Executive Officer of Alphaeon

    For over 20 years, Mr. Grant has played a pivotal role in the development and success of products and technologies in the pharmaceutical, medical device, and healthcare markets. He currently serves as Founder and Chairman of Strathspey Crown LLC, a growth equity firm based in Newport Beach, CA as well as CEO of Strathspey Crown’s principle operating company focused in lifestyle healthcare, ALPHAEON Corporation.

    He was formerly CEO and President of Bausch and Lomb Surgical. Prior to this, he led Allergan Medical as President from 2006 to 2010.

    Mr. Grant holds a BA from BYU and an MBA with Honors from Thunderbird School of Global Management. He has lived and worked in nine countries and speaks five languages fluently.

  • Rick Warren, PhD

    Rick Warren, PhD

    Organization: Global Strategist, Saddleback Church


    Rick Warren, Ph.D., is a global strategist, pastor, author and philanthropist. He has lectured at numerous universities, world forums and the United Nations, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

    Rick founded Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, which today has over ten locations throughout Orange County with over 400 community ministries. He the founder of the PEACE Plan which has sent more than 14,000 people to every nation of the world to serve in communities where the greatest needs are: reconciliation, training, poverty, illiteracy and sickness.

  • Shira Lazar

    Shira Lazar


    Shira Lazar is the Host and Executive Producer of the  Emmy nominated  live interactive daily show show and 24/7 news hub,  “What’s Trending”. She is also the Host and Creator of the talk show of YouTube,  “Partners Project”, interviewing the biggest YouTube stars. Named one of Fast Company’s 2011 Most Influential Women in Technology and Huffington Post’s “Women in Tech to follow on Twitter” , Shira has been the face of the biggest live-streams on the web including, The Oscars and The Grammys among many others. Lazar is a Webby Awards Honoree and 2 time IAWTV Winner For Best Web Series Live Host.

    A digital trailblazer, she speaks at conferences around the world, is a regular contributor on The Huffington Post and appears frequently on networks like Bloomberg TV, CNN and Fox News Channel discussing Internet culture and digital trends. You can read Shira’s weekly posts covering the intersection of business and social media on Entrepreneur.com.

  • Adrianna Svitak

    Adrianna Svitak


    Piano and violin performer

    17-year-old Adrianna Svitak employs over a decade’s worth of experience in piano and violin to create artistic experiences influenced by both classical music and the avant-garde. She has also co-published a poetry book “Dancing Fingers” with her sister Adora Svitak.

    Adrianna’s senior year of high school was spent studying classical piano at Interlochen Arts Academy. During this time, she auditioned for a multitude of music conservatories–she is now a student of Dr. Philip Kawin’s at Manhattan School of Music.

    For piano, she has received numerous awards from competitions including the Seattle Young Artists’ Festival, MTNA (Music Teachers’ National Association), the Northwest Chopin Festival, and the October Bach Festival. Adrianna has also performed piano internationally at events including Ciudad de Las Ideas, the INK Conference, and several TEDx conferences across the nation.

    On violin, Adrianna held the coveted position of “concert-mistress” of her local school orchestra for the duration of her time there. In 9th grade, she was also concertmistress of the Junior All-State Orchestra in Washington State. Following that, Adrianna participated in WMEA All-State, and subsequently auditioned into WMEA All-NorthWest.

    When she’s not practicing piano, she’s practicing violin. When she’s not practicing violin, she enjoys an array of activities, including writing poetry, sketching faces, reading (David Sedaris) vignettes and VICE, and listening to entire Michael Jackson albums in one sitting.

    She is also a devout supporter of feminism and veganism.

  • Nicole Mitchell

    Nicole Mitchell


    Nicole Mitchell is a creative flutist, composer, bandleader and educator.  As the founder of Black Earth Ensemble, Black Earth Strings, Ice Crystal and Sonic Projections, Mitchell has been repeatedly awarded by DownBeat Critics Poll and the Jazz Journalists Association as “Top Flutist of the Year” for the last three years. Mitchell’s music celebrates African American culture while reaching across genres and integrating new ideas with moments in the legacy of jazz, gospel, experimentalism, pop and African percussion through albums such as Black Unstoppable(Delmark, 2007), Awakening (Delmark, 2011), and Xenogenesis Suite: A Tribute to Octavia Butler (Firehouse 12, 2008), which received commissioning support from Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works.

    Mitchell formerly served as the first woman president of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), and has been a member since 1995. In recognition of her impact within the Chicago music and arts education communities, she was named “Chicagoan of the Year” in 2006 by the Chicago Tribune. With her ensembles, as a featured flutist and composer, Mitchell has been a highlight at festivals and art venues throughout Europe, the U.S. and Canada.

    Ms. Mitchell is a recipient of the prestigious Alpert Award in the Arts (2011) and has been commissioned by Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, the Ravinia Festival, the Chicago Jazz Festival, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), the Chicago Sinfonietta Orchestra and Maggio Fiorentino Chamber Orchestra (Florence, Italy).  In 2009, she created Honoring Grace: Michelle Obama for the Jazz Institute of Chicago. She has been a faculty member at the Vancouver Creative Music Institute, the Sherwood Flute Institute, Banff International Jazz Workshop and the University of Illinois, Chicago. Her work has been featured on National Public Radio, and in magazines including Ebony, Downbeat, JazzIz, Jazz Times, Jazz Wise, andAmerican Legacy.

    Nicole MItchell is currently an assistant professor of music, teaching in “Integrated Composition, Improvisation and Technology,” a new and expansively-minded graduate program at the University of California, Irvine. Her recent composition, Flight for Freedom for Creative Flute and Orchestra, a Tribute to Harriet Tubman, premiered with the Chicago Composers’ Orchestra in December 2011.

    Among the first class of Doris Duke Artists (2012), Mitchell works to raise respect and integrity for the improvised flute, to contribute her innovative voice to the jazz legacy, and to continue the bold and exciting directions that the AACM has charted for decades.  With contemporary ensembles of varying instrumentation and size (from solo to orchestra), Mitchell’s mission is to celebrate the power of endless possibility by “creating visionary worlds through music that bridge the familiar and the unknown.” She is endorsed by Powell flutes. 

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