• Connections

  • Intersections

Monday • October 13, 2014

Saint George's School • Founders Theater

Registration CLOSED • Please Come Again

Visit Current TEDxSpokane


Where can you find oenologists, musicians, authors, entrepreneurs, and educators all in one room talking about ideas worth sharing? At TEDxSpokane, of course! TEDxSpokane will be celebrating its 3rd year on October 13, 2014. Speakers will take to the Founders’ Theater Stage on the stunning Saint George’s School campus in Spokane to deliver TED talks inspired by this year’s theme “Intersections and Connections.” Where do the wines of Argentina and Washington State intersect? How does busking in Manhattan connect with the Sundance Film Festival? You can hear some answers to those questions and more by attending.

Our Speakers

Heather Caro
Heather Caro Click here for TEDx YouTube Video

Oncology nurse, cancer patient – A different perspective on the Social Media Social Causes

Heather Caro is a nurse, freelance writer and reluctant member of the club nobody wants to join - breast cancer. In 2012, at the age of 32 she was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and eventually endured an aggressive treatment plan including surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation and a year of targeted therapies. Along the way, Heather lost a great deal - her curves, her hair, her job. But she also gained a unique perspective of the medical system as seen from both sides of the hospital bed.

Since completing treatment, Heather has dedicated herself to speaking out about advocacy related issues and sharing her story on her blog (www.mylifedistilled.blogspot.com). Recently she was nominated as a Young Survival Coalition Western State Leader and in July 2014 served as a DOD Breast Cancer Research Program Consumer Reviewer.

Heather has a diverse medical background with experience in nursing specialties ranging from Oncology to Intensive Care. Today she works as an RN Research Coordinator for Heart Clinics Northwest.

Heather resides in Coeur d' Alene with her husband Chris, their two young children and Finnigan, the World’s greatest dog.

Sonya Elliot
Sonya Elliot Click here for TEDx YouTube Video

Writer, Model, basketball player, survivor, Author – Back on the Court

Meet TEDxSpokane speaker Sonya Elliott. Sonya is a writer, a basketball coach, a fashion model, a wife and a mom. Her memoir, Back on the Court: A Young Woman’s Triumphant Return to Life, Love and Basketball, is her story of surviving and thriving after tragedy. In 1991, just days before her wedding, Sonya and her fiancé were hit by a train. Sonya survived. Her fiancé did not. Sonya’s book is about her return to the basketball court, to her career as a fashion model and to a life filled with happiness.

Sonya’s experience gives her rare insight into survival and healing, and since her accident Sonya has reached out to local grief support groups and spoken with youth, high school and college athletic teams to share her story and inspire others with her “never give up” attitude.

Sonya blogs about writing, basketball and life at www.sonyaelliott.com, and is currently working on a young adult novel and a book about coaching basketball. She and her husband Jason have been married since 1994. They live in Seattle with their daughter Charli, son Cass and their boxer dogs, Sassy and Bruno.

Susan Foster-Dow
Susan Foster-Dow Click here for TEDx YouTube Video

Consultant and International Traveler – Bricolage and parenting Global Citizens

Meet TEDx Spokane speaker Susan Foster-Dow. Susan is captivated by the idea of bricolage – using resources at hand to accomplish a given objective. She brings this “make it work” creativity to her professional life as a consultant helping businesses and organizations adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing and diverse work environment. She is currently a PhD candidate, researching and writing on bricolage as a leadership skill for global business leaders in cross-cultural environments. She worked at Gonzaga University, and also serves as the Chair of Georgetown University’s Alumni Admission Program for eastern Washington and northern Idaho. She is past president of the Spokane-Jilin (China) Sister Cities Association and a past member of the Sister Cities Board for the City of Spokane. Happy to be back in Spokane, Susan is currently involved in a variety of educational and charity organizations in the community.

Natalie Gelman
Natalie Gelman Click here for TEDx YouTube Video

Singer-Songwriter – The Creative Process

Meet TEDxSpokane Speaker and Performer Natalie Gelman. This street performing NYC troubadour has won over hearts across the country with her music, soulful voice and dynamic songwriting. Natalie Gelman has performed everywhere from a subway platform to Carnegie Hall. Finding herself in national publications like the NY Times and Billboard magazine because of it. Often compared to Sheryl Crow, Joni Mitchell and Jewel, Natalie is an artist in her own right - called “Simply Terrific” by the NY Post and named the “poster girl for the solo, storytelling singer/songwriter” by Music Connection Magazine.


Dave Jensen
Dave Jensen Click here for TEDx YouTube Video

Leadership Educator, Author – The Executive’s Paradox

Dave Jensen employs his extensive background in marketing, research, and leadership to transform proven leadership tools into client success stories. His past professional experiences include: becoming an award-winning salesperson for Siemens; publishing and directing research at the UCSD; and serving as an executive at UCLA. For the last two decades, Dave has combined his practical leadership experience and academic expertise to help leaders conquer their numerous challenges and achieve their strategic goals. He has also added published author to his professional accomplishments with the recent release of, The Executive's Paradox - How to Stretch When You're Pulled by Opposing Demands.

Samuel Mahaffy
Samuel Mahaffy Click here for TEDx YouTube Video

Management consultant, workshop leader, and facilitator

Meet TEDxSpokane speaker Samuel Mahaffy. Samuel Mahaffy, PhD is a management consultant, workshop leader, and facilitator who has assisted more than five hundred nonprofit organizations and NGOs around the world. He has worked with institutions of higher learning, community and faith-based organizations, and public and private agencies. As a specialist in conflict transformation, he seeks integral, collaborative, and relational perspectives on human engagement. He earned his Ph.D. from Tilburg University in the Netherlands through The Taos Institute of which he is now an Associate. Born and raised in Eritrea, East Africa, Samuel Mahaffy brings a perspective that is enriched by his encounter with the wisdom of indigenous cultures, relational approaches and the sacred texts of the major religions of the world. Mahaffy is also a consultant to nonprofits and NGOs worldwide and a Saint George’s parent speaking on the intersection of peacemaking and placemaking; "Peacemaking is more than an idea, it is a place. Creating vital community spaces that are safe is an essential aspect of transforming conflicts both locally and globally."

Matt Miller
Matt Miller Click here for TEDx YouTube Video


Matt Miller has more than 31 years experience in education. He currently serves as the Human Interaction Strategist with PRIDE Preparatory School of Science and Technology design team. A co-founder of the Riverpoint Academy, district administrator, technologist, and a teacher in public school systems and private universities, Matt now focuses his professional energy on creating the future of education.

Juan Muñoz-Oca
Juan Muñoz-Oca Click here for TEDx YouTube Video

Head Wine Maker, Columbia Crest – The World of Washington Wine

Meet TEDxSpokane speaker Juan Muñoz Oca. Juan is the head winemaker at Columbia Crest Winery in Paterson, Washington. Columbia Crest is recognized as the leading producer of acclaimed, high-quality wines from Washington state. As winemaker, Muñoz Oca is responsible for producing the winery’s portfolio of Reserve, H3, and Grand Estates wines.
Raised in Mendoza, Argentina, Juan came under the tutelage of his grandfather, cellar master at Bodegas Toso winery, at a young age. The older man instilled in him a love and respect for wine, as well as his family’s Spanish culture, that was to become the root of a lifelong passion for winemaking. He has continued to develop his craft during stints at wineries in Argentina, Spain, and Australia.
Although his winemaking experience stretches across the globe, it is his time in Washington that has been most meaningful. Muñoz Oca says, “Washington state is a very special place for winemaking. We have high quality fruit, ideal growing conditions, and the best viticultural practices. I fell in love with the wine, and the people, and that’s why I’ve been here since.”

Rachel Phillips
Rachel Phillips Click here for TEDx YouTube Video

Scrumpoint, Inc., Interactive Robots

Meet TEDxSpokane Speaker Rachel Phillips. Rachel is a global citizen with roots stretching from Spokane, Washington to Accra, Ghana. Growing up in a family that gave new meaning to the word “diaspora,” she became fascinated by the idea of building communities that transcend geographical and cultural differences. Rachel currently serves as the Communications Coordinator for ScrumPoint, LLC, a software development firm and tech incubator based in Redmond, WA. She is passionate about exploring the ways in which technology can help us to access extraordinary knowledge and develop human connections that extend far beyond the virtual. She also enjoys playing with robots.

Hailey Poutiatine
Hailey Poutiatine Click here for TEDx YouTube Video

Freshman Performer at Saint George's School

One of the musical performers at TEDxSpokane will be Hailey Poutiatine, a 9th grader at Saint George's School. She writes and sings her own compositions in the style of modern folk music.

Ogie Shaw
Ogie Shaw Click here for TEDx YouTube Video

Fitness Guru

Meet TEDxSpokane Speaker Ogie Shaw. Ogie is a native of Raleigh, NC. He is a veteran of the US Army and served in Vietnam. Afterwards, he graduated from UNC at Chapel Hill earning degrees in both Speech and Physical Education, later earning certification as a Health Promotion Director from the Cooper Institute® in Dallas, Texas. He served with the Portland Police Bureau and later joined a national network of medical and fitness leaders dedicated to teaching the health benefits of daily exercise. He has been an author, counselor, seminary graduate and pastor to Portland-area retirement homes. He has trained the Portland Trailblazers and Seattle Seahawks, and he has been asked to write a book on his work providing fitness training for paraplegics.

Ogie has had a passion for fitness, health, business, and music all of his life. His career goal is to establish a model for a fitness lifestyle for Americans that is sufficient to impact physical and mental health. He has given over 5000 speeches on fitness motivation.

Sean Smith
Sean Smith Click here for TEDx YouTube Video

Former Park Ranger, Author – Unleashing Colter’s Hell – Common Ground with National Parks

Meet TEDxSpokane Speaker Sean Smith! Sean is an award winning conservationist and author, whose work has been seen on CNN and heard on NPR, and read in the New York Times and National Geographic.

Sean grew up in Spokane and is a former park ranger who worked at Yellowstone, the North Cascades, Glacier, and with the Forest Service at Mount St. Helens. He's also an accomplished artist, as well as a private pilot. Recently, Sean began writing political thrillers set in National Parks. Unleashing Colter’s Hell, his first novel, is an Amazon “Top 100 terrorism thriller.” His goal is to entertain his readers, but also educate them on the challenges park rangers face every day protecting America's heritage.

He currently lives in Western Washington with his wife and two children.

Simon Tam
Simon Tam Click here for TEDx YouTube Video

“The Slants” lawsuit with US Government – Give Racism a Chance

Meet speaker Simon Tam, Bassist for Asian-American Rock Band, "The Slants." Portland's The Slants are the first and only all-Asian American dance rock band in the world. They offer up catchy dance beats, strong hooks, and a bombastic live show that is "not to be missed" (The Westword). The Willamette Week says "While the band may well be best experienced live, Slants releases always promise a few blistering, note-perfect singles." The music is the perfect combination of 80's driven synth pop with hard-hitting indie, floor-filling beats which fans affectionately dub as "Chinatown Dance Rock."

They've been featured on NPR's "All Things Considered," IFC TV, Huffington Post, MTV, and over 1500 radio stations, tv shows, magazines, and websites worldwide.

Seventeen international tours, including appearances in 46 of 50 U.S states, have led to headlining showcases at major festivals such as SXSW, MusicfestNW, San Diego Comic-Con, Dragon Con. The band has also tour/provided support for The Decemberists, Mindless Self Indulgence, Girl Talk, Apl.De.Ap (of Black Eyed Peas), Blindpilot and Shonen Knife. In 2011, The Slants worked with the Department of Defense for a series of shows at U.S and NATO bases in Eastern Europe, dubbed "Operation Gratitude."

During the past several years, The Slants had to balance a rigorous international touring schedule, a lineup change, writing songs for the album, keeping personal relationships from falling apart, fundraising for the tsunami relief effort in Japan, and a fight with the United States Patent and Trademark Office that made headlines across both legal blogs and Asian culture outlets.

Jeff Thomas
Jeff Thomas Click here for TEDx YouTube Video

Educator and International Executive

Meet TEDxSpokane speaker Jeff Thomas, a highly experienced international executive. For the largest part of his career, he ran one of the largest international student travel companies in the world, Ambassador Programs, which had students from over 100 different countries participating on the programs. As CEO for Ambassador Programs, Jeff worked with a number of educational institutions to ensure that students were learning and developing personally while traveling around the world. Part of that work was developing and documenting “Cultural Intelligence.” Jeff is currently the Founder and CEO of Westminster Lane Capital, a small investment firm. Westminster Lane completed its first investment in July in two training companies that are working to expand from the United States into the Middle East.

Dr Bryan Vila
Dr. Bryan Vila Click here for TEDx YouTube Video

Professor, Sleep Researcher – WSU-Spokane – Sleep Research in Critical Occupations

Bryan Vila, PhD, is a professor of criminal justice and criminology at Washington State University. He pioneered the study of police fatigue, and currently directs the Simulated Hazardous Operational Tasks laboratory at WSU Spokane’s Sleep and Performance Research Center. His research focuses on the impact of sleep-related fatigue, shift work and long work hours on the safety, health and performance of police officers.

Since receiving his Ph.D. in 1990 from the University of California, Davis, Dr. Vila has held tenured faculty positions at WSU, the University of California, Irvine, and the University of Wyoming. Prior to joining WSU in 2005, he directed crime control and prevention research for the U.S. Department of Justice. Before he became an academic, Bryan served as a law enforcement officer for 17 years—including nine years as a street cop and supervisor with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, six years as a police chief helping the emerging nations of Micronesia develop stable and culturally-appropriate law enforcement agencies, and two years as a federal law enforcement officer in Washington, D.C. He has published more than 60 peer-reviewed articles based on his research, as well as 20 articles for lay audiences and four books, including Tired Cops: The Importance of Managing Police Fatigue (2000).

As seen on CNN: http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2014/08/28/preparing-police-for-confrontation/?hpt=ac_bn1 .

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TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Starting as a four-day conference in California 26 years ago, TED has grown to support those world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives. At TED, the world's leading thinkers and doers are asked to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. Talks are then made available, free, at TED.com. TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Benoit Mandelbrot, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Isabel Allende and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Two major TED events are held each year: The TED Conference takes place every spring in Long Beach, California (along with a parallel conference, TEDActive, in Palm Springs), and TEDGlobal is held each summer in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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TED has established the annual TED Prize, where exceptional individuals with a wish to change the world are given the opportunity to put their wishes into action. TEDx, which offers individuals or groups a way to host local, self-organized events around the world; and the TED Fellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to become part of the TED community and, with its help, amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.

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