TEDx

Ten innovative thinkers and doers will talk about issues such as poverty, sustainability and education at this year’s TEDxPittsburgh. Announced this week, this diverse group of educators, founders, physicians—there is even a comic—will take the stage at the event themed “Bridges: Ideas that Connect Us” from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on May 23 at the Byham Theater.

“We chose to focus on regional speakers—not fly in people—and highlight those who are doing work in the community,” says co-organizer Kacey Wherley.

Host for the day is Katie O’Malley, assistant communications manager in the Office of Mayor William Peduto. NEXTpittsburgh is media sponsor.

Chosen from over 100 applicants, the group was selected based on the unique nature of their talk, how it relates to Pittsburgh and ultimately how the topic relates to other parts of the world, says Chris Daley, co-organizer.

“If you have a good idea at one location in the world, it can be replicated to another,” he says.

The seven- to 18-minute presentations will be live-streamed and posted on the TED global website to be shared with the rest of the world.

“We encourage engagement and we’re hoping we have an idea presented that someone will tweet about or put a note in their own notebook about something they want to try for themselves,” says Daley.

TED, which stands for Technology, Education, Design, is a model that started in Long Beach, Calif. 25 years ago when an audience of open-minded influential individuals first gathered to hear presenters from various disciplines. TEDx gatherings have expanded to communities nationwide, sparking conversations at the local level. The “x” means that the event is independently organized.

Here in Pittsburgh, the TEDx talks grew from 100 attendees in 2013, when it was called TEDxGrandviewAve, to a sell-out audience of 500 last year. Attendance at this year’s event will be capped at 650, says Wherley.

“We chose to not quadruple the growth again and to focus on the content and help keep it intimate,” she adds.

“We know that a special responsibility comes with having the city’s name attached to our TEDx. Our goal is to represent the people, ideas and energy of Pittsburgh and to do it all justice,” says Daley.

Tickets to hear this ensemble of inspiring speakers are available now. Here’s the lineup:

Samantha Bushman, founder of Talk, The New Sex Ed, a social enterprise that prepares young people and adults to effectively navigate a complex sexual world.

Andrew Butcher, co-founder of GTECH and social entrepreneur who has worked in the fields of renewable energy, resource management, public policy and community development.

Michelle Fanzo, president of Four Corners Consulting and World Policy Institute Fellow who has worked as a United Nations staffer, founded PUMP and graduated from GSPIA.

Dr. Jim Withers, an internal medicine physician who has been providing medical care to Pittsburgh’s unsheltered homeless since 1992; he founded Operation Safety Net, a street medicine program in Pittsburgh. His model is practiced around the world through his nonprofit, International Street Medicine Institute.

Lawrence Ian Reed, Schenley High and Pitt grad with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and visiting assistant professor in psychology at Skidmore College who focuses his work on basic and applied research related to facial expression, emotion and cooperation.

Gabrielle Bonesso, stand-up comic, storyteller, motivational speaker and frequent “Best Comedian” winner in local publications.

Diane Turnshek, faculty member of the Department of Physics at Carnegie Mellon University and science fiction author who runs Alpha, a residency workshop program for teens who write speculative fiction.

Josie Badger, certified rehabilitation counselor who works at the Parent Education Advocacy Leadership Center as a youth coordinator for the Family-to-Family Grant. She is a founding member and president of the Pennsylvania Youth Leadership Network.

Aislinn Slaugenhaupt, high school student and socioenvironmentalist and Jane Goodall Institute National Youth Leader who is nationally active in empowering young people, women and citizens of underserved or disadvantaged communities.

Michelle King, middle school teacher who teaches cultural literacy at The Environmental Charter School and is partnering with the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project, Carnegie Science Center, HearMe, The Kids + Creativity Network and more to create learning experiences for all Pittsburghers.

Laurie Bailey

Laurie Bailey is a freelance writer who has reported for many local publications. When she isn't writing she serves as a media consultant for nonprofits and other local companies.