Newly announced lineup of speakers ready to ‘Embrace’ TEDxJacksonville stage

“Embrace” will be the nonprofit organization's 10th conference, and the first TEDxJacksonville event to be staged at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – TEDxJacksonville is taking its 10th conference, this year titled “Embrace,” to a new venue stage at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts this fall.

The lineup of eight speakers announced Wednesday will deliver live talks on topics ranging from medical research partnerships and mental health to confronting domestic violence and prejudice, philanthropy and the arts.

According to TEDxJacksonville, the theme for this year’s conference, “Embrace,” goes beyond the need to hold someone close and reaches to creating space for all to be heard so that we can hold one another up with our shared strength and use that power to create change.

“As we rebuild, let’s embrace new opportunities. To hold. To accept. To connect. To discover. To acknowledge different truths. To be honest about where we are, and work together toward something better: a more resilient and equitable world where each of us can thrive,” the nonprofit’s release read.

The organization’s signature event is scheduled for 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 23 -- with tickets available to attend in-person at the T-U Center’s Terry Theater or virtually.

“The opportunity to return to a live event is one we’ve taken with care. That’s why we’re offering live tickets and a fully virtual ticket for attendees for the first time,” TEDxJacksonville organizer and executive producer Sabeen Perwaiz said in a news release. “We’re excited for these speakers and the expertise they’re bringing to our stage and a TEDx audience around the world.”

Those who attend in person will be required to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status, and the audience will be limited to 250 attendees -- half the theater’s capacity, so that seating can be socially distanced.

The theater has high-grade MERV-13 air filters throughout the building that are checked and changed regularly and hand sanitizer stations will be located throughout the lobby are, staff said.

For more on the Times-Union Center’s COVID safety protocols, go to:

Tickets are $99 (in-person) and $59 (virtual). Student tickets are $79 (in-person) and $39 (virtual). If you will be attending in person and would like to order a lunch, catered options will be available from The Bread & Board for $15 per person.

For those who’ve ordered lunch, catered lunch boxes will be distributed in a COVID-safe manner.

For more details and to buy tickets, click here.

This year’s conference speakers and topics:

  • What’s In a Name? Insights into Renaming Efforts at Jacksonville Schools: Deyona Burton, Jacksonville — Why should a 21st-century, predominantly Black student body be forced to honor as its namesake the commander of the Confederate Army? Deyona Burton, the senior class president of Robert E. Lee Senior High School (now Riverside High), asks that and answers with insights into the renaming efforts and the backlash students faced. She issues a call to action to give youth a seat at the table.
  • America’s Workplace Mental Health Crisis: Dawn Emerick, Ed.D, Jacksonville — The American workplace is in the midst of a mental health crisis, one exacerbated by COVID, which has impacted each member of the workforce in unique ways. Dawn Emerick, Ed.D believes we need a mental health revolution — one that starts with all of us demanding trauma-free leadership and a safe workplace culture.
  • Violence Is Not Inevitable: Nicol Headley, Jacksonville — As a survivor of 30 years of abuse, Nicol Headley knows what it’s like to live in and through domestic violence. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, and it’s past time to examine how the blows issued behind closed doors are felt throughout our communities. Headley wants us to live the feelings of shame and find community solutions that allow us to work together to stop the violence before it ever starts.
  • Building Patient Research Partners: Delaney Liskey, Virginia Beach, Virginia — Delaney was diagnosed with pediatric-onset multiple sclerosis (MS) when she was 11 years old — a rare form of a commonly diagnosed disease. Today, as a graduate student in the inaugural class of the Regenerative Sciences Ph.D. track at the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Delaney is passionate about empowering patients to become researchers of their own conditions. Providing patients with the platforms to learn experimental skill sets can lead to substantial contributions towards research into their own disease.
  • Philanthropy Must Be Decolonized: Michelle Ramos, JD, Ph.D., New Orleans — Our systems of giving are broken. The “giving architecture” of American philanthropy — knowingly or not — lifts up and doubles down on entrenched privilege and power, contributing significantly to the disparity of funding allocations in the non-profit sector. Michelle Ramos calls for a shift to what philanthropy should have been all along — a resource for all, not just for some, and a force for good that shares money and control equitably
  • Changing the World One Story at a Time: Vishavjit Singh, New York City — Narratives built around our perceived differences are tearing us apart. But healing begins with acknowledging our own vulnerability to bias and prejudice. Accepting this truth opens us to learnings, unlearnings, and choices we get to consciously make toward becoming a better version of who we are. Vishavjit Singh uses storytelling as a tool to create space for challenging conversations, and turn our vulnerability towards bias and prejudice into personal innovation, courage and compassion.
  • Know Pain, Know Gain: LaTonya Summers, Ph.D., Jacksonville — As a species, we’ve become adept at avoiding pain. We repress it with medications, dull it with alcohol, food, shopping and other crutches, and even deny that it’s a lived reality for others. We used to know pain as a great teacher, but somewhere along the way we internalized that it was not OK to hurt. LaTonya Summers, Ph.D., a mental health therapist, argues that acknowledging pain is not only necessary, but also the conduit to greatness. We must relearn how to hurt if we want to live our best lives.
  • Advancing Equity through the Arts: Sara Ting, Boston — Sara Ting has dedicated her life to advancing the power of poetry. Poetry, she believes, does what little else can. Whereas laws and policies cannot remove prejudices or biases from one’s mind or heart, poetry can empower people to become more self-aware of their biases without judgment and forge a deeper connection with our shared humanity.

And two live performances:

  • Bronero, Jacksonville — Musician, keyboardist and producer Bronero is a solo, electronic music artist combining the energy and sophistication of hip-hop and jazz, performed live with an array of analog synthesizers, drum machines, samplers and keyboards. By spontaneously mixing technology with instrumental prowess, Bronero is able to create, in real-time, a complete musical narrative of rhythm and melody akin to both DJ sets and jazz improvisation. Combine pianistic elements with deep synth bass, blazing leads and thoughtful, historically aware lyrical samples, and you get the powerful mixture at the heart of the Bronero sound.
  • Good Pluck Trio, Jacksonville — In 2020, Good Pluck Trio was formed by Millie Hudson, Joe Henderson and Alex Downs. The group performs an array of genres ranging from classical to jazz to pop. Currently, GPT performs throughout Jacksonville at various venues. GPT scheduled the release of its first original single “You Got That Sunshine” for August 2021, available on multiple platforms.

About the Author:

A Jacksonville native and proud University of North Florida alum, Francine Frazier has been with News4Jax since 2014 after spending nine years at The Florida Times-Union.