TEDxKids@SMU 2011 Speakers

Maya Ajmera
Maya is one of the world’s most eloquent voices for children’s rights globally as a social entrepreneur and celebrated children’s book author. She is the founder of The Global Fund for Children, a nonprofit organization that invests in innovative community-based organizations serving the most vulnerable children and youth of the world.

GFC has awarded over $23 million in capital to nearly 500 grassroots organizations in 80 countries touching the lives of over one million children. Maya is an award winning children’s book author including Children from Australia to Zimbabwe, Faith, and To Be a Kid with over two million readers worldwide.

Maya received a master’s degree in public policy from the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Bryn Mawr College.

Elise Ballard
Elise is an actress, independent filmmaker, author and the creator of EpiphanyChannel.com. She started her career in entertainment working as an actress before moving into production work. Her critically acclaimed directorial debut, Lord of the Wiens: A Dachumentary, a movie about the annual Wiener Dog Races in Buda, TX, became a cult hit and still sells to lovely dachshund fans worldwide. Her first book, Epiphany, a collection of fascinating stories of people’s greatest epiphanies in life, was released by Random House/Crown Publishing’s Harmony Books in January 2011. She is currently in development on several projects, including film and television versions of Epiphany and future books for the Epiphany series.

Sharon & Sam Blumberg
Sharon Blumberg is a mom, artist, volunteer, and entrepreneur. She loves hiking, biking, yoga, and the arts. Her passion is to use art to inspire kids to dream big. She is the founder of a new brand called CHOOZE, whose mission is not only to encourage kids to be extraordinary, but to engage kids in using their talents to create a difference in the world. Sharon developed CHOOZE with the understanding that companies have a large influence on society and believes they have a responsibility to use that influence to create a positive impact. After being inspired by a TEDxSMU 2010 speaker, she integrated a new social business model called Good Returns into CHOOZE.

Sam Blumberg is nine years old and is Sharon’s oldest son. Sam loves basketball, reading, and is a talented artist. He enjoys participating in projects that help others. Last year he and his class designed and created bracelets that they sold to raise money for victims of the tsunami in Japan and the fire in Israel. He is currently in fourth grade at Akiba Academy.

Simon Cohen
Simon Cohen is a freshman, majoring in visual arts, at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts in Dallas, Texas.  He has a broad range of interests ranging from architecture to competitive power knitting, but is particularly interested in the integration of engineering and aesthetics in design. Outside of school, he practices tae kwon do and swims on the Bryan Adams swim team.

Scott Douglas
Scott is an SMU professor, researcher, educator and entrepreneur who has had a lifelong passion and interest in sound and music. He developed one of the first successful procedures for the active cancellation of sound in a room over 15 years ago. More recently, he developed mathematical techniques for picking out and recording individual voices in a crowd using several microphones in tandem. Educated at Stanford University as an electrical engineer, Scott co-authored the first engineering textbook for high school students for The Infinity Project, a national award winning middle school, high school and early college engineering curricula, and he led the initial development of training materials for the curricula. He has given lectures on digital music and sound engineering to audiences young and old across the US, and has been featured in live and recorded radio and television shows including NPR and WFAA-TV. An avid singer and musician, Scott’s preferred instrument is the saxophone, and while he loves all forms of music, his favorite is jazz.

Juan Enriquez
Juan is an experienced business leader, author, and academic who is recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on the economic and political impacts of life sciences. He is a Managing Director in Excel Venture Management, a venture capital firm that invests in companies that apply transformative life science technologies to solve problems in healthcare and beyond.

He was the founding director of Harvard Business School’s Life Sciences Project. He then founded Biotechonomy LLC, a life sciences research and investment firm, where he remains as Chairman and CEO. In July of 2005, he co-founded Synthetic Genomics, Inc., a synthetic biology company focused on developing and commercializing genomic-driven solutions to address global energy, medicine, clean water, and food challenges. He has been an active investor in early-stage private companies in the biotechnology and information sciences sectors.

He earned a BA and MBA from Harvard, with Honors.

Jeff Fulgham
Jeff recently joined Banyan Water as the CSO (Chief Sales, Service, Strategy and Sustainability Officer). Banyan Water is a private equity-backed firm transforming the water management landscape. Banyan is building an enterprise water management platform—addressing water scarcity and infrastructure damage—for private customers at the end points of the water grid. Banyan is accelerating its go-to-market efforts by aggregating an existing pipeline of acquisition targets, predominantly technology-enabled water service businesses.

Prior to this role, Jeff was the Chief Sustainability Officer and ecomagination Leader for GE Power & Water. Jeff has spent the last 30 years working to help solve the world’s energy and water crises’ and create a more sustainable future. Through his extensive background in addressing water challenges, he helps global customers build and execute thoughtful plans to reduce consumption, upcycle low quality water sources, aggressively improve overall water stewardship and re-think waste streams as valuable assets. Jeff is a salesman, marketer, strategic planner, technologist, thought leader & entrepreneur with a passion for proving that “Green is Green” – that doing what’s right for the environment is also economically smart.

Mant Hawkins
Mant Hawkins is the CEO of Enoetics, LLC a high performance energy reduction company that designs and constructs buildings, campuses, and facilities that make more energy than they use. Recently his work has been focused on a disruptive business model that dramatically changes the energy services industry making “net zero” (no utility bill) facilities a reality. Mant is President of the National Defense Industry Association Lone Star Chapter and a member of the Dallas Committee on Foreign Relations and DFW World Affairs Council.

As a Marine, Mant flew FA-18s all over the world, and completed ground assignments in Iraq and the greater Middle East. His military background includes international operations in Asia, Europe, and Central and Southwest Asia leading, planning or designing business excellence and sustainability into organizations, projects and programs. Key assignments include TOPGUN Instructor pilot and operations practitioner at all levels of Marine aviation, ground and service support organizations.

Bo Hughes
Bo Hughes, a current ninth grader at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin, TX, attended TEDxKids @SMU last year with St. John’s Episcopal School in Dallas. While here, he heard Will Watson, an ambassador for Falling Whistles, speak and share his inspiring story. Falling Whistles is an organization that works to eliminate and rehabilitate child warfare victims in the Congo. Will spoke about how he biked across the U.S. spreading the awareness about the conflict in the Congo. Captivated, Bo and his classmates came together to raise over $6,000 and organize a whistle blowing ceremony to help make their community aware of the atrocity in Congo. They were also asked to help start the first middle school Falling Whistles Circle in the nation. As a result of their success, they were published in the Dallas Morning News and other local newspapers. Since then, Bo continues to support Falling Whistles by telling anybody that asks him about the whistle he proudly wears around and turning others on one by one into whistle blowers for peace.

Dominic Jackson
Dominic is a senior at Skyline High School in Dallas, Texas, where he is active in the Advanced Social Sciences magnet program and the Skyline HS Green Team. Dominic is the Founder and Executive Director of Student Impact Dallas. Student Impact Dallas serves to produce agents of change within Skyline High School in order foster change for the future of Dallas and the world. He is also interested in social innovation, entrepreneurship, and education reform.

Vladimir Jovanovic
Vladimir is an immigrant to the US. He has lived in the DFW Metroplex area for the past 15 years, and goes to college at Southern Methodist University. He studies Computer Science and Psychology with plans to further his education in graduate school.

His academic interests vary from astronomy to data mining and biology. He has and continues to conduct research in the computer science, physics and psychology departments. He recently was accepted to present a paper on a hurricane intensity prediction in Vancouver, Canada, and his research in bioinformatics has led to two poster presentations. His main concentrations lie in variable star classification in physics, aptamer classification in bioinformatics, and testing his device in psychology.

Lisa Loeb
Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Lisa Loeb started her career with the platinum-selling No. 1 hit “Stay (I Missed You)” from the film Reality Bites and has parlayed that early success into a multi-dimensional career encompassing music, film, television, voice-over work and children’s recordings. Her acclaimed studio releases include the Gold-selling Tails and its follow-up, the Grammy-nominated and Gold-selling Firecracker.

A strong believer in the importance of helping others, Lisa created the Camp Lisa Foundation, which raises money to send children to experience summer camp who otherwise would not have the opportunity.

This fall, Lisa brought her celebrated sense of style to the world of designer eyewear with the introduction of the Lisa Loeb eyewear line. Lisa also released her first book with Sterling Publishing, Lisa Loeb’s Silly Sing-Along: The Disappointing Pancake and Other Zany Songs, in October 2011.

Tali Marx
Tali is 18 and a senior at Thomas Edison State College. She is a self-proclaimed adventure seeker, super-nerd, and idealistic dreamer. She has a diverse background in the arts and is passionate about historical reenactment, cultural studies, and European folk music. A lover of world travel, she has visited 14 countries. Since childhood, Talitha has taken part in service trips abroad. She thought she’d seen it all- until a trip to East Africa shattered her preconceived notions about life and forced her to reconsider … everything. Along with a team of doctors and their families, she spent two weeks in remote Tanzania establishing cultural understanding, conducting education, working through the weirdest red tape you could imagine, and receiving on-site training as a medical assistant in the Open Arms Clinic her team established.

Peter Thum
Peter is the founder of Fonderie 47, a company transforming perspectives and saving lives in Africa by disarming conflict zones and remaking AK47s it destroys into jewelry, watches and accessories. To date, Fonderie 47 has destroyed over 3,000 guns in DR Congo.

As the founder and president of Ethos™ Water, Peter turned his idea of getting clean water to children into a successful social venture that changed an industry, generated millions of dollars, and improved hundreds of thousands of lives around the world.  Ethos™ Water was acquired by Starbucks in 2005. Peter led Ethos as an executive at Starbucks and a Director of the Starbucks Foundation.

Peter serves as a board member at USA for UNHCR, the Fund For Global Human Rights, the Wagner School of Public Service at NYU, and Impossible to Possible Ultra Athletic Adventures.

Tierney Thys
Tierney is an ardent ocean scientist, conservationist, media producer and National Geographic Emerging Explorer. After receiving her PhD studying fish biomechanics at Duke University, she became enthralled with the power of film to teach science and convey conservation messages. As Director of Research at Sea Studios Foundation in California, she made films for National Geographic Television for more than ten years. Her film and outreach projects included the eight-hour Shape of Life series, and six-hour Strange Days on Planet Earth project which garnered the environmental Oscar at the Wildscreen Festival in Bristol, England.

She has led and served as an expert on numerous expeditions around the world from Alaska to Antarctica, Bali to Baja, Taiwan to South Africa. Founder of the Adopt a Sunfish Project dedicated to researching and conserving the giant ocean sunfishes, she has tagged giant sunfish around the world as a member of the Census of Marine Life-the largest oceanographic project in the history of humanity.

Trigg Watson
Trigg Watson has already made his mark on the world of magic by the age of 21. Since moving from his hometown of Townsville, Australia, to the United States in 2001, Trigg has travelled across the nation and internationally with his original magic and energetic stage presence. Trigg has received several awards for his magic, most notably placing as the highest scoring American magician at the World Magic Contest in Las Vegas, and recent winner of the Texas Magicians Stage Contest. Trigg is currently a student at Southern Methodist University where he is pursuing a double major in Business Management and Theater Studies … a combination he likes to call “Show Business.”

Our Hosts

Flat pages can’t contain Rives’ storytelling, even when paper is his medium. The pop-up books he creates for children unfold with surprise. On stage, his poems burst in many directions, too, exposing multiple layers and unexpected treats: childhood memories, grown-up humor, notions of love, of what is lost forever, and of what’s still out there waiting to unfold. On his Bravo special, Ironic Iconic America, he and co-star Bar Rafaeli toured the United States looking for wonderfulness, on “A Roller Coaster Ride Through the Eye-Popping Panorama of American Pop Culture.”

Kelly Stoetzel
As the TED Content Director, Kelly spends most of the year assembling TED’s speaker program and finds that working with 60 of the most interesting and relevant people in the world is at least as much fun as it sounds. She got to do it one extra time this year when she launched TED’s inaugural youth event in NYC last month. She is also the Director and co‑host of TEDActive (with Rives), the intimate, relaxed and very, very fun event in Palm Springs featuring special workshops, immersive, multi‑sensory experiences, and a live simulcast of the live speaker program in Long Beach.

Before TED, Kelly was the Director of Mixed Greens, a contemporary art gallery with the goal of making contemporary art a little more accessible. Most of her career before that was spent in the art world in one way or another, but the job that had the most influence was camp counselor, and she did that for much longer than she should probably admit. A fan of Adair’s burgers and the State Fair of Texas, Kelly is a native Dallasite and SMU grad.