Ellen Agler is CEO of The END Fund, an initiative to catalyze progress, innovation and action toward ending five neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) that affect over 1.5 billion people globally. These diseases include blinding trachoma, intestinal worms, lymphatic filariasis, river blindness and schistosomiasis. With focused attention, local and global coordination, and additional targeted resources, each of these diseases could be controlled or eliminated in the next decade.
In addition to her work with the END fund, Agler works with World Economic Forum Global Health Security Council to be better prepared for epidemics. As a board member of the Legatum Institute, she studies pathways from poverty to prosperity. She is a member of Uniting to Combat NTDs, a collective of organizations fighting to defeat ten neglected tropical diseases. She is the coauthor with Mojie Crigler of Under the Big Tree: Extraordinary Stories from the Movement to End Neglected Tropical Diseases.
Ella Al-Shamahi sometimes calls herself an "adventure-scientist" -- but to her, it's less about the adventure of working in places like Yemen, Iraq, the Nagorno-Karabakh and northern Cyprus. She believes in using expeditions to shed light on some of the most misunderstood and disadvantaged people and places on earth.
Al-Shamahi is a TV presenter and stand-up comic, partly because she realized that it was an incredible way to communicate science. She performs stand-up and nerdy-science stand-up in the UK and internationally. She was named a 2015 National Geographic Emerging Explorer.
As Wajahat Ali writes: "I'm a left-handed son of Pakistani Muslim immigrants who is still trying to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up -- but once in a while, I can tell a great story and amuse people. Now, I get paid to write and tell stories that are by us, for everyone. As a father of two caramel-mocha skinned babies with multi-syllabic names, I often ask myself, 'What's my role as a parent? How do I protect my children from unique challenges and horrors they will have to face?'
"Even as the doubts and worries multiply, my wife and I still believe having kids was the best decision we ever made. Not only have they brought us considerable joy, but they have inspired me to try to fix as many of the problems we face today, so all of our children can emerge as the protagonists of an evolving American narrative."
Constance Stamatiou began her dance training at Pat Hall's Dance Unlimited and North Carolina Dance and Theatre. She graduated from NorthWest School of the Arts and studied at SUNY Purchase before becoming a fellowship student at The Ailey School. In 2009, Stamatiou received the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the performing and visual arts. She performed at the White House Dance Series and has been a guest performer on So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing with the Stars, Logo's Trailblazer Honors, and The Today Show. Stamatiou has also danced in the films Shake Rattle & Roll and in Dan Pritzker's Bolden. Stamatiou was a member of Ailey ll a guest artist for Darrell Grand Moultrie and Caroline Calouche and Co. She is a certified Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis instructor and a mother of two. Stamatiou first joined the Company in 2007 and rejoined in 2016.
Solomon Dumas was introduced to dance through AileyCamp. He later began his formal training at The Chicago Academy For The Arts and the Russell Talbert Dance Studio, where he received his most inﬂuential training. Dumas studied at New World School Of The Arts and was a fellowship Level 1 student at The Ailey School. He has performed with companies including Garth Fagan Dance; Ronald K. Brown/Evidence A Dance Company; and Labyrinth Dance Theater and was a member of Ailey II. Mr. Dumas joined the Company in 2016.
Samantha Figgins began dancing at Duke Ellington School of the Arts under the tutelage of Charles Auggins and Sandra Fortune-Greene and attended summer intensives at Dance Theatre of Harlem under the direction of Arthur Mitchell. She continued her education at SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance. There, she performed works by George Balanchine, Bill T. Jones, Paul Taylor and Twyla Tharp. Upon graduating cum laude, Figgins became a member of Complexions Contemporary Ballet, performing works by Dwight Rhoden, Jae Man Joo and Camille A. Brown. She also performed at the 2014 DanceOpen Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia. Figgins was featured both on the cover of Dance Spirit magazine and in Pointe magazine's "10 Careers to Watch" in 2013. She has worked with Beyoncé and can be seen in the film Enemy Within alongside Tiler Peck and Matthew Rushing. Figgins joined the Company in 2014
Chris Anderson is the Curator of TED, a nonprofit devoted to sharing valuable ideas, primarily through the medium of 'TED Talks' -- short talks that are offered free online to a global audience.
Chris was born in a remote village in Pakistan in 1957. He spent his early years in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, where his parents worked as medical missionaries, and he attended an American school in the Himalayas for his early education. After boarding school in Bath, England, he went on to Oxford University, graduating in 1978 with a degree in philosophy, politics and economics.
Chris then trained as a journalist, working in newspapers and radio, including two years producing a world news service in the Seychelles Islands.
Back in the UK in 1984, Chris was captivated by the personal computer revolution and became an editor at one of the UK's early computer magazines. A year later he founded Future Publishing with a $25,000 bank loan. The new company initially focused on specialist computer publications but eventually expanded into other areas such as cycling, music, video games, technology and design, doubling in size every year for seven years. In 1994, Chris moved to the United States where he built Imagine Media, publisher of Business 2.0 magazine and creator of the popular video game users website IGN. Chris eventually merged Imagine and Future, taking the combined entity public in London in 1999, under the Future name. At its peak, it published 150 magazines and websites and employed 2,000 people.
This success allowed Chris to create a private nonprofit organization, the Sapling Foundation, with the hope of finding new ways to tackle tough global issues through media, technology, entrepreneurship and, most of all, ideas. In 2001, the foundation acquired the TED Conference, then an annual meeting of luminaries in the fields of Technology, Entertainment and Design held in Monterey, California, and Chris left Future to work full time on TED.
He expanded the conference's remit to cover all topics, including science, business and key global issues, while adding a Fellows program, which now has some 300 alumni, and the TED Prize, which grants its recipients "one wish to change the world." The TED stage has become a place for thinkers and doers from all fields to share their ideas and their work, capturing imaginations, sparking conversation and encouraging discovery along the way.
In 2006, TED experimented with posting some of its talks on the Internet. Their viral success encouraged Chris to begin positioning the organization as a global media initiative devoted to 'ideas worth spreading,' part of a new era of information dissemination using the power of online video. In June 2015, the organization posted its 2,000th talk online. The talks are free to view, and they have been translated into more than 100 languages with the help of volunteers from around the world. Viewership has grown to approximately one billion views per year.
Continuing a strategy of 'radical openness,' in 2009 Chris introduced the TEDx initiative, allowing free licenses to local organizers who wished to organize their own TED-like events. More than 8,000 such events have been held, generating an archive of 60,000 TEDx talks. And three years later, the TED-Ed program was launched, offering free educational videos and tools to students and teachers.
David Baker is fascinated by biological self-organization. For example: How does the information stored in DNA translate into the intricate world of proteins and cells? The DNA code was solved more than 50 years ago, but the protein folding code has remained one of biology's greatest challenges. Starting 20 years ago, Baker's research team began using computers to model the structures of proteins. His work has advanced to the point where he can now not only predict the shape of natural proteins but also design completely new ones. In recent years, he's designed new experimental cancer therapies, vaccines, nanomaterials and more. He believes that the emerging field of protein design will fundamentally change how people make medicines, materials and more around the world. Now that the protein folding code is solved, the sky's the limit.
Baker is a Professor of Biochemistry and the Director of the Institute for Protein Design at the University of Washington in Seattle. He's also an Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Adjunct Professor of Genome Sciences, Bioengineering, Chemical Engineering, Computer Science, and Physics at the UW. With his colleagues, he developed the Rosetta Commons, the Rosetta@Home project and Foldit, a science video game. He has also launched more than ten companies that are seeking to bring designed proteins into the real world.
Peter Beck is on a mission to lift human potential by opening access to space for small satellites that perform vital services, such as weather monitoring, communications and Earth-observation.
After a childhood spent making homemade rockets in a small New Zealand town, Beck founded Rocket Lab, where he led the development of the Electron rocket. Throwing the rocket-building rule book out the window, Beck and his team developed the world's first fully carbon-composite launch vehicle, powering it with 3D-printed, electric turbopump-fed engines. He also oversaw the development of the world's only private orbital launch site. In January 2018, Rocket Lab (now a billion-dollar company) staged the first of many orbital launches.
As Asmeret Asefaw Berhe tells it: "My research investigates: 1) how the soil system controls the earth's climate, in particular how otherwise thermodynamically unstable organic compounds can remain in soil for up to millennia, and 2) the dynamic two-way relationship between human communities and the soil system that we depend on for our food and nutritional security, and the socio-political implications of land degradation.
"I have a strong commitment towards education, outreach and mentoring. I am driven to ensure that scientific education and careers are equally accessible to people from all walks of life, and that academic workplaces are free from bias and harassment."
Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio is a public servant who thinks the boldest question he can ask to transform his country is: "Why not?" Bio is currently serving as the fifth democratically elected president of Sierra Leone.
Prior to his election as president, Bio proudly served Sierra Leone as a school teacher, soldier and Head of State. As Head of State in 1996, he ushered in multiparty democracy after decades of one-party and military rule in Sierra Leone. He is currently completing a PhD in Peace Studies at University of Bradford in UK. He is one of 35 children born to Paramount Chief Charlie Vonie Bio II, Sogbini Chiefdom in Sierra Leone.
"His playing will astound you, but his voice ... his voice will haunt you," says Quincy Jones about Grammy-winning musician Richard Bona. Bona's seemingly effortless voice, fierce skills on the bass, unique songwriting/arranging expertise and ability to learn just about any instrument simply from watching have made him a commonly used secret weapon by legends and stars alike.
Philosopher Nick Bostrom envisioned a future full of human enhancement, nanotechnology and machine intelligence long before they became mainstream concerns. From his famous simulation argument -- which identified some striking implications of rejecting the Matrix-like idea that humans are living in a computer simulation -- to his work on existential risk, Bostrom approaches both the inevitable and the speculative using the tools of philosophy, probability theory, and scientific analysis.
Since 2005, Bostrom has led the Future of Humanity Institute, a research group of mathematicians, philosophers and scientists at Oxford University tasked with investigating the big picture for the human condition and its future. He has been referred to as one of the most important thinkers of our age.
Nick was honored as one of Foreign Policy's 2015 Global Thinkers .
His recent book Superintelligence advances the ominous idea that “the first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make.”
David Brooks became an op-ed columnist for the New York Times in September 2003. He is currently a commentator on The PBS Newshour, NPR's "All Things Considered" and NBC's Meet the Press.
Brooks also teaches at Yale University, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He graduated with a bachelor's in history from the University of Chicago before becoming a police reporter for the City News Bureau, a wire service owned jointly by the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times.
He worked at The Washington Times and then The Wall Street Journal for nine years. His last post at the Journal was as Op-ed Editor. Prior to that, he was posted in Brussels, covering Russia, the Middle East, South Africa and European affairs. His first post at the Journal was as editor of the book review section, and he filled in as the Journal's movie critic.
He also served as a senior editor at The Weekly Standard for nice years, as well as contributing editor for The Atlantic and Newsweek. His latest book is The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life.
Derren Brown redefines magic through must-see TV and stage events, exhilarating audiences for 20 years in the UK and now worldwide with his brand of psychological illusion. He has gained a reputation as a performer consistently prepared to break down boundaries.
Amid a varied and notorious TV career, Brown has played Russian Roulette live, convinced middle managers to commit armed robbery, led the nation in a séance, stuck viewers at home to their sofas, motivated a shy man to land a packed passenger plane at 30,000 feet, hypnotized another to assassinate Stephen Fry, persuaded a racist to change his ways and lay down his life for an illegal immigrant, and created a zombie apocalypse for an unwitting participant after dramatically ending the world.
Brown's most recent special, Sacrifice, is currently streaming on Netflix, and his show Secret will be playing on Broadway at the Cort Theatre from September 6, 2019 through January 4, 2020. He is the author of Meet the People with Love, Happy: Why More or Less Everything Is Absolutely Fine and Confessions of a Conjuror.
Carole Cadwalladr is a journalist for the Guardian and Observer in the United Kingdom. She worked for a year with whistleblower Christopher Wylie to publish her investigation into Cambridge Analytica, which she shared with the New York Times. The investigation resulted in Mark Zuckerberg being called before Congress and Facebook losing more than $100 billion from its share price. She has also uncovered multiple crimes committed during the European referendum and evidence of Russian interference in Brexit.
Cadwalladr's work has won a Polk Award and the Orwell Prize for political journalism, and she was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist for National Reporting in 2019. Of her award-winning work, judge Sir David Bell wrote: She "deserves high praise for the quality of her research and for her determination to shed fierce light on a story which seems by no means over yet. Orwell would have loved it."
Rafael Casal is currently writing and preparing his feature directorial debut, First Sight, for Lionsgate. Casal will next be seen in Cory Finley's Bad Education opposite Hugh Jackman. He's well-known to audiences for his work on HBO's Def Poetry, and his theatre-in-verse works and music have gained millions of views and listens. They have been presented at venues worldwide and featured on MTV, Showtime and at the SXSW and the Sundance Film Festivals.
Casal is the cofounder and the artistic director of the landmark Bars Workshop at the famed Public Theater. He served as the creative director for the University of Wisconsin-Madison's First Wave Undergraduate Arts Program and as the curator for the Line Breaks Festival. He is also developing his most recent theatre piece, The Limp, into a musical.
Joanne Chory grew up in Boston in a close-knit Lebanese-American family who helped her develop the self-confidence to venture into the unknown -- college away from home (where she fell in love with genetics) and graduate school where she learned the value of doing a good experiment and the joy that brings. Over three decades, she's built a career at the forefront of plant biology, pursuing fundamental questions of how plants perceive and adapt to changing environments.
Chory is the Director of the Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. She's received many of science's top distinctions -- she is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and a 2018 Breakthrough Prize winner, as well as winner of the 2018 Gruber Genetics Prize. Recently, she realized that her work could address the critical problem of climate change. Plants already take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere; we just need to help them adapt to storing the CO2 in a more stable form. With support from the Audacious Project at TED, she and her Salk colleagues are taking on this challenge in a project she sees as the culmination of her career. Chory is excited to take one more step into the unknown, with a chance to change our planet's future.
Jon M. Chu is known for his visually stunning blockbuster films, as well as his kinetic work across various genres, from groundbreaking series to commercials and films. Most recently, Chu directed the worldwide phenomenon Crazy Rich Asians, which has earned more than $175 million in the United States alone. The film is the first non-period studio picture in more than 25 years to feature an all-Asian cast, and it represents a new chapter in Chu's 10-year career.
In the commercial/digital/music video space, he broke new ground by creating the Legion of Extraordinary Dancers (The LXD) and broke records with videos for Justin Bieber and the unforgettable Virgin America Safety Video. In the summer of 2019, Chu will helm his most ambitious project to date: the highly anticipated adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical In the Heights for Warner Bros.
Julie Cordua is driven by a desire to break down traditional silos and barriers and bring the resources and talent of the private sector to bear on some of our society's worst social problems. In 2006, she left the wireless technology industry to work on AIDS in Africa and other pressing global problems. In 2011, she joined co-founders Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore to create Thorn, a technology-led non-profit that builds products and systems aimed at eliminating online child sexual abuse. Today, Thorn's tools are deployed in more than 30 countries, having helped to identify more than 30,000 victims of abuse and reduce investigative time by more than 65 percent.
David Deutsch is a physicist and author who is, as he puts it, "interested in anything fundamental." He discovered the first quantum algorithm and is the codiscoverer, with Richard Jozsa, of the first quantum algorithm that could solve certain problems exponentially faster than anything available to classical computer science.
Deutsch has proposed constructor theory, which postulates that all laws of nature can be expressed in terms of whether a task is possible or impossible -- a theory that extends not only to computation, but also into everything that exists. He is a proponent of the multiverse interpretation of quantum mechanics, which has the startling implication that every physically possible event exists somewhere within an infinite fabric of co-existing universes.
Es Devlin is an artist and stage designer. She is known for creating large-scale performative sculptures and environments that fuse music, language and light.
Devlin has conceived touring stage sculptures for Beyoncé, U2, Adele, The Weeknd and Kanye West as well as two decades of design for opera, drama and dance worldwide.
She is supported by a small team of talented designers at Studio Es Devlin who help develop and execute the design work as well as supporting Es’s expanding practice as a solo exhibiting artist.
Devlin's fluorescent red Fifth Lion roared AI-generated collective poetry to crowds in London's Trafalgar Square in September 2018. The 2016 MIRRORMAZE in Peckham, London, and ROOM 2022 at Miami Art Basel 2017 both explored reflective labyrinthine geometries and narratives. In 2018 she collaborated with theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli on an interpretation of The Order of Time read by Benedict Cumberbatch.
Her practice was the subject of the Netflix documentary series Abstract: The Art Of Design, and she has been named artistic director of the 2020 London Design Biennale. Devlin has been awarded the London Design Medal, three Olivier Awards and a UAL fellowship. She has been named RSA Royal Designer For Industry and was made OBE in 2015.
Studio Es Devlin is designing the UK Pavilion at The World Expo 2020. The Poem Pavilion will continue Devlin's work in AI-generated collective poetry first conceived with Hans Ulrich Obrist at the Serpentine Gallery In London.
Since he was 18, Rick Doblin has devoted himself to becoming a legal psychedelic psychotherapist. In 1986, he founded a nonprofit psychedelic pharmaceutical company -- the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) -- which he has grown from a one-man project to an international psychedelic pharmaceutical company.
Doblin's professional goal is to become a legally licensed psychedelic psychotherapist by developing legal contexts for the safe uses of psychedelics and marijuana as prescription medicines and also for personal growth, spirituality and creativity. Today, MAPS is designing or sponsoring psychedelic psychotherapy drug development research in over a dozen countries and has raised more than $70 million in donations.
Doblin received his master's and PhD in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and he was in the first group to be certified by Dr. Stanislav Grof as a Holotropic Breathwork practitioner.
Sheperd Doeleman is the project director of the Event Horizon Telescope and an astrophysicist with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. His research focuses on problems in astrophysics that require ultra-high resolving power. His work employs the technique of very-long-baseline interferometry (VLBI), synchronizing geographically distant radio dishes into an Earth-sized virtual telescope. In addition to his work at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and for the Event Horizon Telescope, Doeleman is a Harvard senior research fellow and a project coleader of Harvard's Black Hole Initiative.
Doeleman's research includes work at the McMurdo Station on the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica and as assistant director of the MIT Haystack Observatory. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and was the recipient of the DAAD German Academic Exchange grant for research at the Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie. He leads and coleads research programs supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory ALMA-NA Development Fund, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, the MIT International Science & Technology Initiatives (MISTI), the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the John Templeton Foundation. Doeleman received his BA from Reed College and completed a PhD in astrophysics at MIT.
When Elizabeth Dunn got her first job, she wondered what to do with the money that was suddenly appearing in her bank account. So she teamed up with her friend Mike Norton (at Harvard) to figure out how people could use money to buy the most happiness. She and Norton wrote a book called Happy Money, which presents five research-based principles designed to help individuals and organizations use their money in happier ways. It was selected by the Washington Post as one of the "top 20 books every leader should read."
Recently, her work has focused on how people navigate trade-offs between time and money, and how mobile technology can both support and undermine human happiness. Dunn is an avid skier and surfer, and she survived a shark attack.
Kristie Ebi has been conducting research and developing practice on the health risks of climate variability and change for over 20 years, understanding sources of vulnerability, estimating current and future health risks of climate change, and designing adaptation policies for countries in Central America, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Pacific.
Ebi is the author of multiple national and international climate change assessments, including the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5C. She co-chairs the International Committee On New Integrated Climate change assessment Scenarios (ICONICS).
America Ferrera is an award-winning actress and producer known for her breakthrough role as Betty Suarez on ABC's hit comedy Ugly Betty. For her performance, Ferrera was recognized with a Golden Globe, Emmy and Screen Actors Guild Award, as well as ALMA and Imagen Awards. She currently produces and stars in the NBC workplace comedy Superstore, which is in its fourth season.
Ferrera recently released her first book, American Like Me, landing on the New York Times best-seller list. The book is a vibrant and varied collection of first-person accounts from prominent figures about the experience of growing up between cultures in America. A longtime activist, Ferrera co-founded HARNESS with her husband, Ryan Piers Williams, and Wilmer Valderrama in 2016. HARNESS is a community of artists, influencers and grassroots leaders that provides education and engagement opportunities to amplify the work of organizations and individuals working on behalf of social justice. In July 2016, Ferrera spoke at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on behalf of women's rights and immigration in support of Hillary Clinton. She was a chair for the Artists' Committee for the Women's March on Washington and spoke at the historic Women's March the day after the 2017 Presidential Inauguration. In 2006, Ferrera founded her own television and film production company, Take Fountain.
Comprised of sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg, First Aid Kit have been making music together for over a decade. They gained international acclaim while still teenagers for their otherworldly harmonies and timeless songwriting, taking multi-genre inspiration from folk, country and the classic singer-songwriters of the 60’s and 70’s.
Now four albums and two EPs into their career, in 2018 First Aid Kit released the critically and commercially celebrated Ruins and its companion EP, Tender Offerings. Written during a breakup and recorded in Portland, Oregon, with producer Tucker Martine, it is their most mature and personal record to date, for which they were honored with a Swedish Grammy and Brits awards nomination. For International Women's Day 2017, the duo released "You are the Problem Here" as a charity single -- a searing takedown of misogyny and rape culture, donating the proceeds to Women for Women International.
First Aid Kit have performed sold-out shows at many of the world's most iconic venues, inclduing Royal Albert Hall, The Sydney Opera House and the Globe Arena in their native Stockholm. They have been honored with multiple Swedish Grammys and Music Publishers Association awards and, in 2015, Sweden featured them on a limited edition postage stamp. Already music business veterans in their twenties, Klara and Johanna are thrilled to perform at TED2019.
Freestyle Love Supreme has performed on stages from Cape Town to Melbourne to NYC -- and practically everywhere in between. Members include Utkarsh Ambudkar, Andrew Bancroft, Daveed Diggs, James Monroe Iglehart, Chris Jackson, Arthur Lewis, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Bill Sherman, Chris Sullivan and Anthony Veneziale.
Adena Friedman assumed the role of President and CEO of Nasdaq on January 1, 2017. She brings more than 20 years of industry leadership and expertise and is credited with significant contributions that shaped Nasdaq's strategic transformation to a leading global exchange and technology solutions company with operations on six continents.
From 1993 to 2011, Friedman was a key member of Nasdaq's management team, serving in a variety of roles. She played an instrumental role in the company's acquisition strategy, overseeing the acquisitions of INET, OMX and the Philadelphia and Boston Exchanges.
How would Hannah Gadsby describe herself to a teenager at a dinner party? "I am a stand-up comedian from Tasmania. Courtesy of my Netflix special, Nanette, released last year, I have found some rather sudden fame, and I am deeply uncomfortable with so much positive attention. Prior to said special, I had spent a decade or so quietly working my way round the live stand-up circuit in Australia and the UK and had thought of my career as a reasonably successful situation. I am yet to recalibrate my definition of success since the event known as 'said special.'
"I am on the spectrum. I have two dogs whom I love deeply. I enjoy gardening. And I am so sorry you are sitting next to me, teenager."
Gadsby is also on the cast of Please Like Me on Hulu.
Self-proclaimed "justice nerd" Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff devotes himself to understanding how people think and talk about racism in order to prevent racist behavior -- particularly in policing. He identifies the need to shift how we define racism: not as a defect of character, but rather a pattern of behaviors that are measurable and changeable.
Goff is the president and cofounder of the Center for Policing Equity, an organization that diagnoses the roots of disparate policing in order to eliminate them. As a professor, mediator and translator, Goff helps communities and law enforcement understand each other and address problems that have for centuries felt unsolvable.
In Joseph Gordon-Levitt's own words: "I'm lucky. I found a creative outlet young. I started working as an actor when I was six years old. When I was 19, I quit acting to go to college. And a few years later (yes, I dropped out) when I tried to get back into it, nobody would give me a part. That really hurt.
"I realized my old creative outlet wouldn't work anymore, because it depended too much on other people. I had to be able to express myself on my own. And my personal metaphor for this was the REC button. 'HIT RECORD,' I'd say to myself. Push the button. Get started. Make something.
"What started as a private rallying cry became a humble website, which grew into a worldwide community of hundreds of thousands, an Emmy-winning production company, and now a new collaborative media platform. Irony is, today's HITRECORD is not about expressing yourself on your own. What we've found over the years is that the best way for many people to find their creative outlet is through collaborating with others."
Jon Gray is interesting because he's interested. His curiosity has taken him around the globe and has had him seated across the table from world renowned thinkers, artists and chefs, but he's most passionate about home. A cofounder of the Bronx based collective Ghetto Gastro, he's building his own proverbial table, to which he'd like to invite the world. Founded in 2012, Ghetto Gastro honors the block to block shifts and overlap in international cuisine and culture that happens in his borough. The collective is committed to feeding, inspiring and growing young entrepreneurs in the Bronx.
According to Roger Hanlon, "The diversity and sophistication of marine animals fascinates me, and my cornerstone passion is animal behavior. I particularly enjoy diving in different ocean habitats and studying animals that change color and pattern -- especially octopus, cuttlefish and squid, but also various coral reef fishes.
"I stumbled on to this journey while casually diving in Panama as a college junior and, decades later, I am still striving to figure out how these magnificent animals do what they do -- and why they do it. I am keenly interested in the 'visual ecology' of rapid adaptive coloration used for both camouflage and communication."
As CEO of the One Love Foundation, Katie believes that healthy relationship education is a "simple but shockingly nontraditional solution that can impact millions and drive meaningful change. The problem is hard, but the impact of a scalable prevention approach that talks to young people in a language they can hear at the earliest stages of their dating lives could be massive."
Safeena Husain is the Founder and Executive Director of Educate Girls, and she's well acquainted with the problem she's trying to solve. As a girl in Delhi, she found refuge and opportunity in her studies -- and while she later dropped out of school, a loving parent helped her to return to her education and go on to graduate from the London School of Economics. After working at a startup in Silicon Valley, Husain felt called to social impact. She led the US-based organization Child Family Health International for seven years, and in 2004, returned to India to take on the issue closest to her heart. In 2007, she launched Educate Girls in Rajasthan, a region of India where women and girls face some of the greatest disparities in the country. She has shepherded the organization through dramatic growth.
As Bjarke Ingels writes: "Hoping to become a cartoonist, I enrolled into architecture school at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts to improve my drawing skills. I immediately developed an interest in architecture and later studied at the Escola Tècnica Superior d'Arquitectura de Barcelona, where I won my first competition with a few friends.
"I cofounded PLOT Architects with Julien De Smedt in 2001. I founded BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group in 2005. We are a team of architects, designers, urbanists, landscape professionals, interior and product designers, and inventors" who utilize information -- "local culture and climate, changing patterns of contemporary life, the ebbs and flows of the global economy"-- to drive the design process.
Ingels grew up in Copenhagen, Denmark. He is the author of HOT TO COLD: An Odyssey of Architectural Adaptation and Yes Is More: An Archicomic on Architectural Evolution.
Judith Jamison joined Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1965 and quickly became an international star. Over the next 15 years, Ailey created some of his most enduring roles for her, most notably the tour-de-force solo Cry. During the 1970s and 80s, Jamison appeared as a guest artist with ballet companies all over the world, starred in the hit Broadway musical Sophisticated Ladies and formed her own company, The Jamison Project. She returned to Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1989 when Ailey asked her to succeed him as Artistic Director. In the 21 years that followed, she brought the Company to unprecedented heights, including two historic engagements in South Africa and a 50-city global tour to celebrate the Company’s 50th anniversary.
Jamison is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, among them an Emmy, an American Choreography Award, the Kennedy Center Honor, a National Medal of Arts, a "Bessie" Award, the Phoenix Award and the Handel Medallion. She was also listed in TIME's list of The World’s Most Influential People and honored by First Lady Michelle Obama at the first White House Dance Series event. In 2015, she became the 50th inductee into the Hall of Fame at the National Museum of Dance. Jamison continues to dedicate herself to asserting the prominence of the arts in our culture.
When Suleika Jaouad finally walked out of the hospital -- after countless rounds of chemo, a lifesaving clinical trial and a bone marrow transplant -- she was, according to the doctors, "cured." But as she would soon learn, a cure is not where the work of healing ends; it's where it begins. She set out on a 100-day, 15,000-mile road trip across the country to meet some of the people who had written to her during her time in the hospital. Her extraordinary journey resulted in her debut memoir, Between Two Kingdoms.
Jaouad is an Emmy-winning journalist, author, teacher and activist. Her career aspirations as a foreign correspondent were cut short when, at age 22, she was diagnosed with leukemia. She began writing the acclaimed New York Times column and video series "Life, Interrupted" from the front lines of her hospital bed and has since become a fierce advocate for those living with illness and other forms of adversity.
Jaouad served on Barack Obama's Presidential Cancer Panel, and her advocacy work, public speaking and reporting have brought her everywhere from the United Nations and Capitol Hill to a maximum security prison and a two-room schoolhouse in rural Montana.
Sarah Kay has shared her poetry in 30 countries on six continents: in the middle of cornfields in Iowa, an orthodontist office in Nepal, a viking ship on a fjord in Norway, an LGBTQ community center in India, a church in New Zealand, a nightclub in Singapore, the Royal Danish Theater in Denmark, a public square in Estonia, Carnegie Hall in New York City, the back rooms of bars, juvenile detention centers, middle school gymnasiums and everywhere in between. Her poetry can be found on Netflix TV shows, Uniqlo T-shirts and bookstore shelves. She is the author of four best-selling books of poetry including B, The Type, No Matter the Wreckage and All Our Wild Wonder.
Kay holds a Masters Degree in The Art of Teaching from Brown University and an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Grinnell College. She is the founder and codirector of Project VOICE, an organization that uses spoken word poetry to entertain, educate and empower students and teachers worldwide.
Barbara J. King writes and speaks about the thinking and feeling abilities of animals ranging from our closest living relatives, monkeys and apes, to orcas and octopuses. In her own words: "After 28 years of teaching anthropology at the College of William and Mary, I’m now a full-time freelance science writer and speaker. My husband and I care for homeless cats and spend all the time we can in nature. For work, I’ve observed baboons in Kenya, and gorillas and bonobos in captivity, and for pleasure bison in Yellowstone. I focus on how the science of animal cognition and emotion might help animals.
"My books take up topics ranging from animal grief to who (not what) we eat and how religion evolved, tied together by my focus on animals. I wrote weekly for six years for NPR about science, and my work has appeared in Scientific American, Aeon and Undark magazines. I love giving public science talks and I am active daily on Twitter @bjkingape."
As she tells it, Juna Kollmeier believes "all humans have an inalienable right to know about their world. For the past two decades, I have been studying the cosmos -- from planets to galaxies to black holes. I am currently making a new map of the sky -- the fifth generation of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey."
Led to a career in astrophysics by "a STEM camp in Michigan," Kollmeier is currently an astrophysicist at the Carnegie Institution for Science. Her research focuses on the emergence of structure in the universe on multiple scales and how the tiny fluctuations in density that were present when the universe was only 300,000 old became the stars, galaxies and black holes that we see now. Her goal is to complete this new SDSS sky map and to make sure these data remain available to the public for study.
Daniel Lismore is known for living his life as art. His elaborate and extravagant ensembles brilliantly combine haute couture with vintage fabrics, found objects, chainmail, ethnic jewellery, millinery and more in an expression of eccentric, creative energy.
Lismore has been named by Vogue as England's most eccentric dresser. A prominent fixture on the London fashion and art circuits, he is both a tastemaker and friend to artists ranging from Stephen Fry and Debbie Harry to Boy George and Edward Enninful. In 2016, he was the face of H&M's "Close the Loop" Campaign to help encourage recycling of clothes. Lismore's personal wardrobe archive highlight his commitment to sustainable fashion.
Lismore is the author of Be Yourself, Everyone Else Is Already Taken.
During his PhD research at Berkeley, David R. Liu initiated the first general effort to expand the genetic code in living cells. As a professor at Harvard and the Broad Institute, Liu integrates chemistry and evolution to illuminate biology and develop next-generation therapeutics. He has published more than 170 papers and is an inventor on more than 65 issued US patents.
Liu's major research interests include development and use of genome editing technologies to study and treat genetic diseases; the evolution of proteins with novel therapeutic potential; and the discovery of bioactive synthetic molecules using DNA-encoded libraries. Base editing, phage-assisted continuous evolution (PACE) and DNA-encoded libraries are three technologies pioneered in his laboratory that are now widely used in the biomedical sciences. Liu has also cofounded six biotechnology and therapeutics companies, including Editas Medicine, Beam Therapeutics, Pairwise Plants and Exo Therapeutics.
Liu grew up in Riverside, California, where playing with insects in his backyard crystallized his interest in science. He also is passionate about photography and has been banned from playing blackjack at virtually every major casino in Las Vegas after developing a creative and highly advantageous card-counting system.
Eric Liu says that "I write, speak, teach and create joyful programs to spread the belief that a strong democracy requires strong citizens."
As the founder and CEO of Citizen University, Liu is working to spark a civic revival in the US and beyond. As he tells it: "I've served in government, from the White House to the Seattle Public Library Board. I've been a leader in local and national citizen reform movements. I've written books about democracy, power and race. And I felt I should not hoard this knowledge of how to make change happen; I should circulate it.
"That's why I founded a nonprofit called Citizen University to foster a stronger culture of civic responsibility. Our team works with people from the left and right to teach civic power and cultivate civic character -- and to remind people that democracy works only if most people believe democracy works."
Karen G. Lloyd is fascinated by what microbes are doing out in nature, so she applies molecular biological techniques to environmental samples to learn more about microbes that have thus far evaded attempts to be cultured in a laboratory. She and her colleagues have adapted novel techniques to quantify and characterize these mysterious microbes while requiring minimal changes to their natural conditions. Her work takes her on exciting field excursions to study deep oceanic subsurface sediments, deep-sea mud volcanoes and cold seeps, terrestrial volcanoes and hot springs, serpentinizing springs, Arctic marine fjord sediments and ancient permafrost. She is currently an associate professor at the University of Tennessee.
According to Beau Lotto, "I have pretty much two aims: to create doubt through the awareness of perception, and to create space for holding that uncertainty. At its core, that's what science is: it celebrates not knowing in an attempt to find better questions.
"What if we could apply the same way of being to everything we do? What might happen if we entered conflict with a curiosity instead of an anger? The barrier to doing so is that we hate not knowing. But fortunately, evolution gave us a solution to that fear: namely, awe. Understanding how awe and wonder facilitate perception and our perceptual creations is what [my] work in neuroscience is all about."
Lotto recently collaborated with Cirque du Soleil to conduct an ambitious study on the emotion of awe, proving that experiencing it has far-reaching psychological and behavioral benefits. At TED2019, he'll be joined on stage by Cirque du Soleil performers in a unique performance that explores the transformational power of awe.
Frank Luntz's focus groups have become so influential that presidential candidate Barack Obama had this to say following the PBS presidential debate: "When Frank Luntz invites you to talk to his focus group, you talk to his focus group."
He has been a guest on virtually every talk show in America, including multiple appearances on The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and Real Time with Bill Maher. Since 2007, Luntz has been the 'Focus Group Czar' for Fox News, conducting over 100 sessions in more than 20 states.
Luntz's New York Times best sellers include What Americans Really Want... Really, "which addresses the private hopes, dreams and fears of the American people," and Win: The Key Principles to Take Your Business from Ordinary to Extraordinary.
Kishore Mahbubani is a Distinguished Fellow at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore (NUS) and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was the Founding Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, NUS. From 1984-1989 and 1998-2004, he was Singapore's Permanent Representative to the UN, and served twice as President of the UN Security Council during the second term.
Since 2016, Andrew Marantz has been at work on a book about the perils of virality, the myth of linear progress and the American far right. To report the book, he spent several years embedded with some of the conspiracists, white supremacists and nihilist trolls who have become experts at using social media to advance their corrosive agendas. He also watched as some of social media's earliest and most influential founders started to reckon with the forces they'd unleashed. The book, forthcoming in October from Viking Press, is called Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation.
Marantz is also a contributor to Radiolab and The New Yorker Radio Hour, and has written for Harper's, Mother Jones, the New York Times and many other outlets. He holds an undergraduate degree in religion from Brown University and a master's degree in literary nonfiction from New York University. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, who is a criminal-justice reformer; his two-year-old son, who is an excellent dancer; and an endless supply of peanut butter.
Rahul Mehrotra is an architect working from Mumbai and Boston, where he also teaches at Harvard University. His work covers a range of buildings, from houses to institutional to office buildings. A recent project was a housing estate for 100 elephants and their caretakers in Jaipur, India.
Mehrotra is passionate about writing. He's written several books on the history and architecture of Mumbai, including Architecture In India Since 1990. He's also written on urbanism in India and is currently working on a book on his experiences as a practitioner in India.
Each year, 2.2 million four-year-old children in the United States do not have access to publicly-funded early education. More than half are from low-income families who have no early education options at all.
Claudia Miner and her team at Waterford UPSTART want to change that. They believe no child should start school behind their peers. Waterford UPSTART has one goal: to ensure that every child arrives at school on day one ready to learn.
As Miner writes: "Twelve years ago, I joined Waterford.org after I heard about the organization's mission of serving children. It spoke to me in a way no other work had. Working with great people, we charted a course to serve children in the home to get them ready for school. This was a radical move -- especially since we were putting our faith in parents -- but it fit my beliefs and has become my passion. Parents have proven they are up to the task. Knowing I have a role in helping children set the stage for success in life gets me up in the morning with a great and powerful purpose."
With support from The Audacious Project, Miner and her colleagues are expanding the program to reach even more families, filling early education gaps across the nation.
According to Herman Narula, "I have always been interested in how technology can enable creativity and solve tough problems, and I've always loved video games." With co-founder Rob Whitehead, "who shared my excitement ... [for] creating the next generation of games and virtual spaces," he founded Improbable, which created SpatialOS.
SpatialOS is a tool for developers and gaming studios like Midwinter Entertainment, Klang Games and Bossa Studios to "add innovation to online games -- from short, team-based matches to huge, persistent shared environments. Our goal is to help build the complex, interactive and highly connected virtual worlds where billions of people will meet, play and find real meaning in the near future."
In her own words, Brittany Packnett is "a disciple of radical, productive candor. I found, through prayer and practice, that truth provokes change like nothing else ever will. We owe truth our fiercest loyalty.”
Packnett cohosts the award-winning Pod Save The People and has penned her first book, We Are Like Those Who Dream, due to be published in spring 2020. She writes for Teen Vogue and other publications, speaks to live and television audiences across the world, and coleads Campaign Zero. Everyday, she uses platforms on and offline to activate people toward action and equip them with the skills and mindsets to make disciplined social change.
As director and founder of Reconfigurable Robotics Lab (RRL), Jamie Paik taps a deep knowledge of fabrication and unique actuation solutions to create astonishing folding robots -- or, as she describes them: "robogamis. These self-morphing robotic origami transform their planar shapes to 2D or 3D by folding in predefined patterns and sequences, just like the paper art, origami.
Paik is an active promoter of soft robotics that combines multi-discipline engineering expertise. Her soft robots have commercial applications, including a robotic surgical tool and a haptic joystick that can render realistic force feedback beneath a user's fingertip.
Yeonmi Park's escape from North Korea has given the world a window into the lives of its people. At the 2014 Oslo Freedom Forum and the One Young World Summit in Dublin, Park became an international phenomenon, delivering passionate and deeply personal speeches about the brutality of the North Korean regime. Her address to One Young World on the horrors of detention camps, political executions and sex trafficking has been viewed over 320 million times on YouTube. The BBC named her one of their "Top Global Women."
In 2017, Park joined the Tory Burch Foundation's Embrace Ambition campaign, a global effort to dispel the double standard of ambition as a positive trait in men and a negative trait in women. Her searing memoir, In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom, was released in the fall 2015, and now she's urging the world to recognize the oppressed people of Kim Jong-Un's reign. She believes that change will come through young people like herself, whose exposure to capitalism and Western media is eroding the authority of the Kim dynasty.
Currently a student at Columbia University, Park has published an op-ed about North Korea's "black market generation” in the Washington Post and has been featured on CNN, CNBC and the BBC, as well as in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. She serves on the executive board of directors of the Human Rights Foundation, the world's preeminent organization devoted to disrupting dictatorships.
Priya Parker is helping us take a deeper look at how anyone can create collective meaning in modern life, one gathering at a time. A group conflict mediator, she's spent 15 years helping leaders and communities have complicated conversations during times of heat and transition. Frustrated by dull and disappointing gatherings, Parker set out to rewrite the rule book for creating transformative group experiences.
Parker interviewed more than 100 gatherers and wove together their wisdom and her own experiences in her acclaimed book The Art of Gathering. She has worked on racial dialogues on American campuses and peace-building projects in India, Africa and the Arab world.
Prior to joining TED as current affairs curator, Whitney Pennington Rodgers produced for NBC's primetime news magazine Dateline NBC. She earned a duPont-Columbia award and a News & Documentary Emmy or her contributions to the Dateline NBC hour "The Cosby Accusers Speak" -- an extensive group interview with 27 of the women who accused entertainer Bill Cosby of sexual misconduct.
Pennington Rodgers has worked at NBC's in-house production company Peacock Productions, The Today Show, Nightly News, Rock Center with Brian Williams and New Jersey-centric public affairs shows Caucus: New Jersey and One-on-One with Steve Adubato. Prior to beginning her career in media, she had a short stint as a fourth-grade teacher through the Teach for America program.
Pennington Rodgers received her Bachelor's in journalism and media studies from Rutgers University. She completed her Master's of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley, where she produced a documentary about recruitment of nonblack students at historically black colleges and universities.
Ivan Poupyrev has invented, developed and brought to market a number of breakthrough technologies that allow for blending of digital and physical interactivity in devices and everyday analog objects.
Now Director of Engineering in Google ATAP, Poupyrev leads a team of designers and engineers who are inventing new technologies that will redefine how we interact with both our physical and digital lives.
In 2013, Fast Company recognized Poupyrev as one of the world's greatest interaction designers. His most recent work was acquired for the permanent collection of the Smithsonian's Cooper Hewitt Design Museum.
In conjunction with his novel After On, Rob Reid also launched a podcast with the same name. Its episodes feature interviews with world-class thinkers, founders and scientists on topics including synthetic biology, super-AI risk, Fermi's paradox, robotics, archaeology and lone-wolf terrorism. Reid's earlier work includes the New York Times bestseller Year Zero, in which an awkward young copyright lawyer has two days to save the earth from an alien horde, which has been ruined by its addiction to American pop music. He has also written a cover story for Wired, plus major pieces for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and others.
Earlier, Reid was the founder, CEO and chairman of Listen.com, the first online music company to secure full-catalog licenses from all the major labels. Listen created Rhapsody, the world's first unlimited on-demand streaming music service. Rhapsody's model was later adopted by Spotify, Apple and many others.
Earlier still, Reid was born into the New York City foster care system, was adopted with merciful speed, then grew up in a peaceful New York suburb. He studied modern Middle Eastern history and Arabic at Stanford, then spent a year in Cairo, Egypt as a Fulbright scholar. He also earned an MBA at Harvard, and he worked at Bain, Salomon Brothers and a venture capital firm you've never heard of.
Doug Roble has really only had one job in his life. After getting his PhD in Computer Science from the Ohio State University in 1992, he joined Digital Domain, a visual effects production company. Once there, he found a unique place where art and technology collide. Now he builds new tools for artists to use and they, in turn, use the tools in surprising and unexpected ways. The feedback loop between art and science is completely addicting. And, the byproduct of this are movies that the whole world enjoys.
Roble's work outside Digital Domain reflects this passion. He was the Editor and Chief of the Journal of Graphics tools for more than five years. He's currently the Chair of the Motion Picture Academy's Sci/Tech Awards and a member of the Academy's Sci/Tech Council. And two of the tools he's built over the years have won Sci/Tech Academy Awards themselves.
Emeli Sandé's 2012 debut album, Our Version of Events, was the biggest selling album of the year in the UK and the second biggest of 2013. It broke the chart record for the most consecutive weeks inside the UK's Official Albums Chart Top 10, breaking the 50-year record previously held by The Beatles. Sandé has won numerous accolades including four Brit Awards (Critics Choice, Best Album and Female Solo twice, most recently in 2017 for her second album, Long Live the Angels). In 2018 she was awarded an MBE for services to Music.
Having initially made her mark as a songwriter in the UK urban scene via acts such as Wiley, Wretch 32 and Chipmunk, the multi-instrumentalist’s solo success saw her became a highly sought-after writer for an array of international acts. Sandé wrote and cowrote tracks for Alicia Keys, Rihanna and Katy Perry. She's also performed at both the opening and closing ceremonies of the London Olympics and at the White House for Barack Obama.
Janelle Shane's humor blog, AIweirdness.com, looks at, as she tells it, "the strange side of artificial intelligence." Her upcoming book, You Look Like a Thing and I Love You: How AI Works and Why It's Making the World a Weirder Place, uses cartoons and humorous pop-culture experiments to look inside the minds of the algorithms that run our world, making artificial intelligence and machine learning both accessible and entertaining.
According to Shane, she has only made a neural network-written recipe once -- and discovered that horseradish brownies are about as terrible as you might imagine.
Emmett Shear has lead Twitch -- a service that's helping to change the way people create, consume and participate in their entertainment -- since its founding in 2011. While it's known for gaming live-streams and esports, Twitch creators and communities have expanded to include music, traditional sports, cooking, the creative arts and more. Today, more than a million people, on average, are tuning in to Twitch at any given time to watch, chat and connect with people who share their passions.
Shear's unique perspective combines his experience as both an entrepreneur and part-time partner at venture capital firm Y Combinator, where he advises startups on product and strategy. He graduated from Yale University in 2005 with a degree in computer science.
Jonny Sun never felt that the multi-hyphenate description of screenwriter/humorist/author/artist/researcher/technologist made much sense. He is a writer for the Netflix original series BoJack Horseman and is currently writing the screenplay for an original idea with Fox Family and Chernin Entertainment. He also wrote and illustrated the best-selling graphic novel Everyone's a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too, illustrated Lin-Manuel Miranda's GMorning, Gnight! and regularly writes online.
Sun is currently pursuing a PhD at MIT, where he's studying social media communities and making art about artificial intelligence with the metaLAB at Harvard. He helped develop The Laughing Room, a self-aware sitcom set that plays a laugh track based on what participants say in the room. His work explores how technology interfaces with our lived, human experiences, believing that this critical eye on technology is essential to the stories we tell about contemporary life.
Sun's work comes from deeply personal places, asking: "Does anyone else feel this way too?" He seeks to feel less alone in the world and to try to help others feel less alone, too -- by making things that connect to people, and then connect people; by making work that helps people feel seen and find each other.
Sarah Sze's work questions the value society places on images and objects and how they both ascribe meaning to the places and times we inhabit. Widely recognized for expanding the boundaries between painting, sculpture, video and installation, Sze's work ranges from intimate paintings that collapse time and space to expansive installations that create complex constellations of materials and public works that scale walls and colonize architectures.
Sze was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2003 and a Radcliffe Fellowship in 2005. In 2013, she represented the United States at the Venice Biennale. Her work is exhibited in museums worldwide and held in the permanent collections of prominent institutions such as The Museum of Modern Art, New York, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and The Tate Modern. Sze has created many public works including pieces for the Seattle Opera House, The Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York and The High Line in New York.
When Edward Tenner cites "the advantages of creative mistakes and serendipity," he speaks from the experience of shifting from the fast track to the scenic route after receiving his PhD during the academic retrenchment of the 1970s. After a scientific publishing career leading to a university press executive editorship, he finally decided, with help from the Guggenheim Foundation, to begin writing his own books as a visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study.
Tenner's books -- including Why Things Bite Back, Our Own Devices, and his 2018 book, The Efficiency Paradox: What Big Data Can't Do -- reflect his faith that sometimes things can go right only by first going very wrong.
Mark Tercek is CEO of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the world's largest conservation organization, and author of the best-seller Nature's Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature. After a 24-year career at Goldman Sachs, where he served as a managing director and Partner, Tercek became an "investment banker for nature." He brings deep business experience to his role at TNC, where he leads the organization's efforts to bring together diverse groups to find pragmatic, common-ground solutions to protect nature at scale. He is a champion of the idea of natural capital -- valuing nature for its own sake as well as for the services it provides for people, such as clean air and water, productive soils and a stable climate. Growing up as a city kid in Cleveland, Tercek was a late-bloomer to conservation. It was becoming a parent that sparked his passion for nature. "I want to be able to look my kids in the eye and tell them I did all I could to leave the world a better place," he says.
With support from the Audacious Project at TED, Tercek and his colleagues at TNC are launching a bold plan that could protect 4 million square kilometers of ocean over five years.
Baratunde Thurston has worked for The Onion, produced for The Daily Show, advised the Obama White House and cleaned bathrooms to pay for his Harvard education. He's the host of the iHeartMedia podcast Spit, wrote the New York Times bestseller How to Be Black and serves on the boards of BUILD and the Brooklyn Public Library. He makes media, delivers keynotes and promotes action with his unique blend of criticism, humor and optimism. He's most invested in topics of race, technology, democracy and climate, because the hard stuff has already been solved.
On November 8, 2016, Michael Tubbs was elected to serve as the mayor of the City of Stockton, California. Upon taking office in January 2017, Michael Tubbs became both Stockton’s youngest mayor and the city’s first African-American mayor.
Included in Fortune's 2018 "40 under 40," Forbes' 2018 list of the "30 Under 30" and The Root's 100, Tubbs's leadership, paired with an ambitious agenda, has received national recognition.
Tubbs has secured over $20 million in philanthropic capital to launch the Stockton Scholars, a place-based scholarship that aims to triple the number of Stockton students entering and graduating from college. Tubbs also brought Advance Peace to Stockton, a data-driven program that works to reduce gun violence in communities. Additionally, with an innovative public-private partnership supported by a $1,000,000 seed grant from the Economic Security Project, Tubbs launched the nation’s first municipal level basic income pilot, the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration.
Before becoming mayor, Tubbs served as Stockton's District 6 City Councilmember. Elected at age 22 in 2013, he became one of the youngest city councilmembers in the country. As a councilmember, Tubbs created the Reinvent South Stockton Coalition, championed the creation of the City's Office of Violence Prevention and was part of the council that led the city out of bankruptcy as Chair of the Audit and Legislative Committee.
Tubbs graduated from Stanford University in 2012 with a bachelor's and master's degree with honors. He has been a college course instructor for Aspire Public Schools and a Fellow at the Stanford Institute of Design and the Emerson Collective. He is a Stockton native and product of Stockton public schools.
Hamdi Ulukaya was raised in a dairy-farming family in a small village in eastern Turkey. He launched Chobani in 2007 with the mission and vision of making better food more accessible. In less than five years, Chobani became the number-one-selling Greek yogurt brand in the US, with more than a billion dollars in annual sales.
An advocate of reducing income and wealth inequality nationwide, Ulukaya implemented innovative profit-sharing and paid parental leave programs for Chobani's 2,000 employees. He founded the Tent Partnership for Refugees to improve the lives of more than 25 million refugees around the globe. He also signed the Giving Pledge, committing the majority of his personal wealth to the cause.
Anthony Veneziale cofounded Speechless with Sammy Wegent and Scott Lifton, using improv thinking to help people be themselves and be heard. He has used improv techniques for endeavors with Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton, In The Heights, The Electric Company), Daveed Diggs (The Freeze) and on numerous networks like HBO, TBS, MTV, Nickelodeon and PBS. Veneziale co-founded "Freestyle Love Supreme," an improvised, hip hop, live musical performance with Lin-Manuel Miranda and Thomas Kail, which will appear on Broadway in the fall of 2019.
For more than six years, Bina Venkataraman has been traveling around the world studying how people and communities think about the future. Her curiosity as a former journalist, and her firsthand experience in the Obama White House, led her to question whether the shortsightedness rampant in today's societies is inevitable -- or actually "a choice we're making."
During the Obama years, Venkataraman built partnerships among communities, companies and government to prepare for coming pandemics, wildfires and rising seas. In 2014, she launched the White House Climate Data Initiative to bring actionable climate science to people making decisions around the globe. Previously, she was a science journalist for the New York Times and the Boston Globe. Now, she teaches students at MIT to use scientific knowledge in service of society.
As Venkataraman writes: "For as long as I can remember, I have suspected that the future of humanity depended on the future of the planet. I have since found this to be the most compelling story of our time. As I imagine what lies in our shared future, from gene-editing to the climate crisis, I see both dangers and extraordinary potential."
Venkataraman wrote her first book, The Optimist's Telescope (to be published by Riverhead on August 27, 2019), to help people today better shape their own future and that of coming generations.
The Five Deeps Expedition was envisioned and sponsored by Texas native Victor Vescovo, who will solo pilot the submersible on each of its main dives. In 2017, Vescovo became the 12th American to complete the "Explorers Grand Slam," which requires climbing the highest peak on all seven of the world's continents, including Mt. Everest, and skiing at least 100 kilometers to both the North and South Poles. He recently became the first person to the bottom of the Atlantic and Southern Oceans, and in 2019 could become the first person in history to have climbed to the top of all the world's continents as well as descended to the bottom of all its oceans, including the Challenger Deep.
For more than 20 years, Vescovo served as an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve, retiring in 2014 as a Commander (O-5). He served at various times on extended active duty, primarily onboard the USS Nimitz, USS Blue Ridge and ashore in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where he was posted to serve for more than a year after the 9/11 attacks as a counter-terrorism specialist. In the civilian world, he is a cofounder and Managing Partner of private equity firm Insight Equity, an industrial buyout firm with over $1 billion in capital, where he focuses on growing and enhancing aerospace, defense and electronics firms. Vescovo is also certified as a jet fixed-wing aircraft and helicopter pilot, as well as a submarine test pilot.
Matt Walker's research examines the impact of sleep on human health and disease. He got his PhD from the Medical Research Council in London, UK, and subsequently became a Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He's currently a Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and Director of the Center for Human Sleep Science.
Walker has received funding awards from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, and he's a Kavli Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences. He has shared his research on the importance of sleep on television and radio outlets including CBS's "60 Minutes," National Geographic, NOVA Science, NRP and the BBC. He is the author of the international bestseller Why We Sleep.
Claire Wardle is the Executive Chair of First Draft, a nonprofit dedicated to educating journalists about reporting in an age of information disorder. Previously, she was a research fellow at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School; the research director at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School; the head of social media for the UN Refugee Agency; and director of news services for Storyful. Wardle holds a PhD in communication and an MA in political science from the University of Pennsylvania.
Despite being raised by "old-school Southerners" who would've preferred she embarked on a sensible career, award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson tells us that "I've known I wanted to be a writer since I was around seven years old. I loved everything about stories -- how they made me feel and think, the joy good ones brought both the listener and the teller, the double and deeper meanings ... I knew writing made me happiest, and wrote as often as I could.
"Now, when I'm not writing, I'm out speaking about writing. I write for young people and old people. I write for magazines, newspapers. I write speeches and plays. I do this because it's never not joyful for me."