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Speaker Orientation Blast!

The TEDxBeaconStreet Team met up at MIT MediaLab with a number of this year’s prospective TEDx Talk presenters on the evening of Tuesday, September 22nd to run through many of the talks currently in the middle of development for this November’s weekend-long event.

Starting off the evening of talks was Joe Goodwin, an Iraq veteran and a graduate of both Harvard University and Harvard Law School. His talk reflects personally on his public service to the nation with the U.S. Army over in Iraq as part of the U.S. response to the September 11th attacks, and some of the less-expected lessons he learned overseas. He’s bringing these important lessons back to the States through this talk, as a way to inspire a deeper social connections as well as ways for all of us to more actively contribute to restoring and strengthening our nation’s culture and character. Very powerful messages relayed by Goodwin.

We also discovered a powerful running thread of talks coming together this year in the area of education. We heard talks from both Kandice Sumner from Boston Public Schools and special guest Nick Donahue, dropping in from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, each of whom discussed academics with greater empathy and emotional consideration focused on the experience of the students. While Sumner delved into the industry’s educational gap — or as she called it, our educational debt — Donahue talked about the latest endeavors to improve overall student readiness within our modern day context. As the labor market grows and changes, students will need to be prepared with skills to meet it, and debate continues about the best way to approach this need.

Others joining the session on Tuesday evening included: Salva Dut, founder of Water for South Sudan; Hiawatha Bray, life-long journalist and current reporter at The Boston Globe; Andrew Gardner, the founder of Scratch; Shad Deering, maternal fetal medicine physician; Brian Hoffman, Managing Fellow with Intuitive Surgical; Dr. Agnis Stibe, Postdoctoral Associate of Changing Places group at MIT Media Lab; Leila Mankarious, Pediatric Otolaryngologist at Mass Eye and Ear; Susan Callender, Social Savvy Etiquette Training Expert for Oh My Gauche!; Suezette Robotham, founder of The Higher & Hire Group; and Ron Danowitz, director for The Clay Center Observatory.

Two very idealistic and hopeful talks about innovation and awareness for building toward a better future nicely rounded out the night. Wayne Moses Burke — a famous futurist representing NASA, DARPA and Open Forum Foundation — presented on ‘How to Save the World,’ by discussing myriad civic design initiatives underway, empowering a whole new generation of better change advocacy and open-source inspired action. Rebecca Ryan — a futurist and founder of Next Generation Counseling — gave an equally compelling and intriguing talk around seasonal change in America, compelling us all to consider our societal intergenerational contract with the future generations of leaders and guardians of our nation and the world.