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VOL. 130 | NO. 143 | Friday, July 24, 2015

Speakers Set For Inaugural TEDxMemphis Event

By Andy Meek

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A few weeks from now, Memphians will have a chance to hear from Kimbal Musk, the brother of billionaire Tesla founder Elon Musk, about his plans for the restaurant and garden concepts he’s bringing to Memphis.

Musk, a co-founder of the Boulder, Colo.-based restaurant concept The Kitchen, is one of the now confirmed speakers who are part of the inaugural lineup for TEDxMemphis, a new one-day event that’s a local version of the global TED (technology, entertainment and design) conference.

The emphasis for TEDx events is on engaging, compelling speakers, and the first roster for TEDxMemphis – which is set for Aug. 29 at the University of Memphis’ Rose Theatre – aims to provide that. Its theme is “What’s Next,” and TEDxMemphis executive director Anna Mullins said organizers are looking forward to sharing the bounty of ideas and talent that already are plentiful in Memphis.

“For this first event, we were really committed to this concept of presenting ‘ideas worth sharing,’ and it was also important for us to feature diversity in backgrounds as well as disciplines,” Mullins said. “The theme has to do with what’s next for cities like Memphis.”

Talks at the Memphis event will tackle topics that include education, urban development, songwriting and social activism, from both local and out-of-town speakers. The lineup includes: Musk; award-winning screenwriter, film and music video director Melissa Anderson Sweazy; FedEx chief information officer Rob Carter; Gabriel Fotsing, founder and CEO of The College Initiative; Dr. Kathleen Gallagher, clinical assistant professor in the School of Education at the University of North Carolina; and songwriter, producer, engineer, author and educator Cliff Goldmacher.

Also scheduled to speak are Memphis Grizzlies president of business operations Jason Wexler; Rhodes College associate professor of chemistry Dr. Loretta Jackson-Hayes; Church Health Center founder Dr. Scott Morris; hip-hop artist Marco Pave; and Neighborhood Christian Center president and CEO Ephie Ballard-Johnson.

Rounding out the list are New Ballet Ensemble founder, CEO and artistic director Katie Smythe; New Direction Christian Church senior pastor Dr. Stacy Spencer; Gestalt Community Schools co-founder and CEO Derwin Sisnett; Crosstown Concourse co-leader Dr. Todd Richardson; Volunteer Odyssey founder and CEO Dr. Sarah Petschonek; and Lt. Col. Jon Jackson.

Jackson, a Memphis-trained lawyer, is deputy chief defense counsel for all assigned U.S. Army personnel and during his career has served as lead defense counsel for Mustafa Ahmed Al-Hawsawi, one of five men charged in the 9-11 attacks, as well as other defendants before the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The one-day TEDx event is open to the public, and tickets will be available via the event website, www.TEDxMemphis.com, starting Aug. 1.

Support for TEDxMemphis is provided by SouthernSun Asset Management, Duncan-Williams, Inc., Brad Martin Family Foundation, First Tennessee, Hyde Family Foundations, PeopleCap, Diversified Trust, Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Advisors, SSM Partners, Baker Donelson, Kemmons Wilson Cos., Red Deluxe, Memphis University School and New Memphis Institute.

The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. Still, they adhere to organizing rules, like the mandate they last no longer than one day.

They also must adhere to “the spirit of TED itself: multidisciplinary, focused on the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. TEDx events are not agenda or single-topic driven.”

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