2015 Speakers

2015 TEDxProvidence Speakers & Videos


posner-headshot-sm TEDxProvidence Finance Emcee Andy Posner  Founder, Capital Good Fund Andy Posner founded Capital Good Fund while getting his Master of Arts in Environmental Studies at Brown University, where he was studying financing mechanisms for clean energy. Capital Good Fund is a rapidly nonprofit that provides financial services--one-on-one Financial and Health Coaching and small loans--to impoverished Rhode Islanders. He has published his ideas in the Huffington Post, Treehugger.com and the Stanford Social Innovation Review, to name a few examples. He was also selected as a 2013 American Express Emerging Innovator (one of 45 globally). When pressed to describe himself, he'll say that he is a pragmatic idealist who believes that creative business models, advanced data analytics, and a mix of market and mission-centered forces can lead to dramatic social change. When not at work, Andy likes to blog, write poetry,read and bike ride; in fact, in 2005 rode his bicycle 3,800 miles across the United States.

mary_burkeDr. Mary Burke  Senior Economist, Research Department, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Dr. Burke joined the research department at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in 2005. She previously taught economics as an assistant professor of at Florida State University and a visiting professor at Grinnell College. Among other research projects, she is currently working on papers that aim to explain disparities in obesity by race and gender and to measure the influence of peers versus teachers on academic achievement. Her research has been published in American Economic Review, Journal of Monetary Economics, and Economic Inquiry. Dr. Burke holds a B.A. in mathematics from Brown University, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in economics from Johns Hopkins University.

malcom (1)Malcom Davidson - Musical Writer A former Vice President at Sony Music New York, Mr. Davidson has long been concerned about wide extremes in the socio-economic structures of the US and other countries.  He has expressed and shared these thoughts through poetry and a musical comedy entitled “Company Matters.” Malcolm earned a BSC (Hons) in Electrical Engineering from Huddersfield Polytechnic England in 1972 and an MSC in Computer Science from University of New Haven.  He is an active member of Ocean State Poets.

sekarAnisha Sekar - Student, Finance Blogger Ms. Sekar was the first employee of the personal finance website NerdWallet.com and helped it grow from a credit card recommendation app to a center for answering money questions. She has written for Forbes, and U.S. News and served as a media expert in interviews with Bloomberg Businessweek and ABC's "Real Money.” Anisha is currently pursuing a degree in Computer Science at Brown University and will graduate in May 2015.

norbNorb Vonnegut - Author, Finance Blogger @norbvonnegut Mr. Vonnegut is the author of The Trust and other thrilling novels. He writes a regular column in the Wall Street Journal and is currently working on The Dirty Little Secrets of Money, non-fiction for anyone who wants to avoid financial mistakes. He previously spent twenty years on Wall Street.  Norb is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Business School.


Janet_Coit_2010_0148 TEDxProvidence Environment Emcee Janet Coit - Director, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Janet Coit is Director of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM), a position she has held since 2011. Coit serves as chair of the State’s Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council and the Rhode Island Seafood Marketing Collaborative.  Prior to coming to RIDEM, she worked for ten years at The Nature Conservancy as Director of the Rhode Island Chapter. Before that, Coit served as counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works.  Coit’s background also includes working for three New England Senators and stints at the Department of the Interior and the Department of Justice. Coit is dedicated to protecting the quality of the environment and the natural systems critical to the health, safety and well-being of Rhode Islanders as she leads the RIDEM.  She serves on the board of the Boy Scouts of America’s Narragansett Council.  A graduate of Dartmouth College, Coit holds a J.D. from Stanford Law School, where she was president of the Environmental Law Society. She is married with two children.

Leo Pollock - Social Entrepreneur Leo Pollock is a co-founder of The Compost Plant, which has diverted nearly 400 tons of food waste from going to Rhode Island's Central Landfill since it launched in 2014. Leo was one of the key architects in its design and development of the Rhode Island Food Policy Council, pushing for a stronger food system in Rhode Island, and serves as the Network Coordinator. Leo holds a Master's degree in Sustainable Development and Environmental Policy from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, and is a 2015 Wild Gift Fellow for his work with The Compost Plant.  Leo lives with his wife in Providence, where they raise chickens and tend numerous home compost piles.

willem_smWillem van Rijn - Climate Change Activist Willem van Rijn was the Chief Operating Officer of Greenpeace International, the head-office of the global Greenpeace organization, based in Amsterdam. He came to Greenpeace after a career in finance, increasingly concerned about Climate Change and determined to make a difference for his children, grandchildren, and the planet. He retired from this position two years ago. Currently, he is active as an investor, active advisor and board member in an environmental remediation technology company, and in a start up internet-based data company in the health care sector. He is a Board Member of a leading think tank in Germany working for German and EU- governments in the area of socio/economic policy towards a cleaner environment. He is a personal coach to a number of senior professionals in environmental NGOs. Willem and his wife Kathleen have five children and seven grandchildren.  They live in Newport, RI and New York City.

sheri_smSheri Griffin - Nonprofit Leader After establishing a farm stand and mail order citrus business with her parents and grandparents after high school, Sheri Griffin earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and biology from the University of Rhode Island. After graduation, Ms. Griffin entered the nonprofit world, as Director of Development and Publicity at AS220, a nonprofit arts center in Providence. Since then, she has worked at a range of nonprofits of various sizes and has become active in her neighborhood, working with other volunteers to keep a library branch open and starting a community garden. Sheri has been with working for Farm Fresh since 2005 and has been Co-Executive Director since 2013.

lucy_smDr.Lucy Spelman - Doctor of Zoological Medicine Dr. Lucy Spelman is one of 156 board-certified zoological medicine specialists in the world. She has an undergraduate degree in biology from Brown University and a degree in veterinary medicine from the University of California, Davis. Animals have always been part of her life, and her experiences with them include taking care of giant pandas in China, mountain gorillas in Rwanda, and river otters in Guyana. She has worked as a zoo veterinarian, a zoo director, a wildlife veterinarian, a media consultant, a writer, and an educator. In addition to various scientific articles, she is the author of the “National Geographic Animal Encyclopedia,” and co-editor of a book of short stories, “The Rhino with Glue-on Shoes.” Dr. Spelman currently practices in Rhode Island and teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design. In 2015, she launched Creature Conserve, an online gallery of works by student artists and designers researching and responding to the problems facing animals today.


Len_smallTEDxProvidence Entertainment Emcee Len Cabral - Storyteller Len Cabral is an internationally acclaimed, award-winning storyteller and author who has been engaging and entertaining audiences with his storytelling performances for over 30 years. He has performed at festivals in the United States, Ireland, Belgium, England, Wales and Austria, as well as Amsterdam, Bali and Singapore. The recipient of the National Storytelling Network 2001 Circle of Excellence Oracle Award, Len has also been honored to grace a page of Stephan Brigidi‘s book, ‘Remarkable People’. Len is one of the founding members of Providence Inner City Arts/Roots Cultural Center. Founding member of the performing group The Sidewalk Storytellers, The storytelling collective, The Spellbinders, and the Rhode Island Black Storytellers (RIBS).

shura-rs Shura Baryshnikov  Choreographer, Dancer, Educator Shura Baryshnikov is an artist committed to the process of creating, producing and performing movement.  With a background in physical theatre, contemporary dance and a range of improvisation practices, Shura seeks the creative space where these mediums overlap to inspire somatic exploration and performer versatility.  She is a Teaching Associate in the Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies at Brown University and has also taught movement and choreography for students at MIT, Dean College, Rhode Island College, Salve Regina University and at Earthdance in Plainfield, MA. Shura's performance work has been presented by the RISD Museum, Festival Ballet Providence, the Providence Fringe Festival, Brown University and in Earthdance's Moving Arts Lab.

hood_smAnn Hood  Author, Essayist Ann Hood is the bestselling author of the novels The Knitting Circle, The Obituary Writer, An Italian Wife and the memoir Comfort: A Journey Through Grief, which was named one of the top ten non fiction books of 2008 by Entertainment Weekly and was a NYT Editor's Choice. She's won two Pushcart Prizes, Best American Food Writing Awards, and Best American Spiritual and Travel Writing Awards.

vatic-rsLarry Miller, aka "Vatic" - Slam Poet, Rapper A vatic is a peculiar thing. The moment they are defined, is the same moment they're meaning shifts. Vatic is a philosopher poet, a promoter of justice and an admirer of the absurd. Building on the inspiring energy of the Providence Poetry Slam community, Vatic is leading an effort to empower rappers by holding them accountable as artists.

km_smKristen Minsky - Flapper, Tapper, and Gal About Town Kristen Minsky is probably best known as one half of New York's “1920s tap sensations”, The Minsky Sisters. In addition, she is the Director of both Chifferobe Events and Providence Rhode Island's only vintage dance company, The TropiGals. Her background includes a BFA in Studio Art and Performance Studies from NYU, an MFA in Sculpture from RISD, and work with the production team for PERFORMA, New York's world-class biennial focused on visual arts performance. She has been written about in The New York Times, RI Monthly, Providence Journal, Providence Monthly, illustrated in The New Yorker, and pictured in The New York Post, among others.

End of the day performance by Extraordinary Rendition Band (ERB)!

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