JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – From internationally and nationally recognized experts in artificial intelligence and education, neurobiology and technology, to leaders in resilience and human connection, food and music, the speakers for the 2023 TEDxJacksonville Conference represent a variety of “ideas worth spreading.”
This year’s conference will be Saturday, Oct. 14, at WJCT Studios in Jacksonville. The theme — “Human/Nature” — encompasses both the richness of being human and the intimate relationship between humanity and the natural world. The theme, reflected by the topics for this year’s speakers, celebrates that humanity and nature are not separate — we are interconnected and interdependent.
“We invite you to reflect on both the humanity that unites us and the planet that sustains us,” the organizers said.
“Human/Nature” marks the 11th annual TEDxJacksonville conference to be staged and the 12th conference overall presented by the nonprofit organization. The conference will be from 11 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Oct. 14, followed by the Afterglow party — all at WJCT. Check-in at the conference begins at 10:30 a.m.
Hope McMath — a Northeast Florida cultural leader, educator, artist and the founder of Yellow House — returns for the ninth year to host the conference, which includes lunch, coffee, snacks during breaks, and engagement experiences at WJCT.
Tickets to the conference are $135 for general admission and $70 for a limited number of student tickets (inclusive of ticketing fees).
Tickets may be purchased here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/tedxjacksonville-conference-2023-humannature-tickets-702736573007.
In addition to the talks from 10 speakers, the conference will feature three musical and artistic performances, as well as an array of engagement activities.
“We’re excited to bring these diverse talks to the TEDxJacksonville stage,” said co-organizer and executive producer Jeanmarie Grimsley. “With disciplines as far-ranging and technical as artificial intelligence, neurobiology, and autonomous systems, to subjects as universal as musicianship, food cultures, and human connection, we are exploring humanity’s place in a dynamically changing world. We’re also thankful to return to WJCT Studios — the location of the first TEDxJacksonville conference in 2013 — and to present such incredible musical performances to our audience.”
Grimsley is in her second year as executive producer and co-organizer of TEDxJacksonville. Grimsley and David Johnson are co-organizers of the conference for 2023.
This year’s conference speakers:
Caryn Antonini (Greenwich, Connecticut) — Caryn Antonini speaks five languages and has appeared on CNN, Headline News, ABC, FOX, CBS and NBC as a language and culture expert. This culinary ambassador believes we owe it to our communities and ourselves to both honor the language of food and preserve the critical cultural stories it conveys.
Iva Ballou (Jacksonville) — Iva Ballou is the community development manager for Smile Train, a motivational speaker, cleft confidence coach, and a facial difference advocate who uses her gifts to increase awareness and education for the facial difference community. She is also a co-host of the Love Meets Joy podcast. She discusses her journey and all things cleft in this honest and empowering series.
Matthew Chang (Jacksonville Beach) — Robots used to be the stuff of science fiction. Soon, they’ll be your coworkers. Matthew Chang is a champion for the adoption of “cobotics” — or collaborative robots — and has personally led the engineering teams that have developed the largest cobotic systems in the world. Chang acknowledges the adjustment to this new way of working will not be painless. Will the pain of adoption be offset by the increase in workforce satisfaction?
Anne Coglianese (Jacksonville) — Part of “future-proofing” Jacksonville requires being open to policy proposals that embrace change. Environmental changes like increasing storms and flooding will require redesigning our network of rivers and tributaries to accommodate more water. Anne Coglianese is the Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Jacksonville. Previously, she served as the Coastal Resilience Manager for the City of New Orleans, where she implemented nature-based solutions to sea-level rise and coastal land loss. Her experience also includes serving on the White House Council on Environmental Quality, where she participated in the development of climate resilience policies.
Christi Gendron, PhD (Ann Arbor, Michigan) — Can fruit flies teach us something about how sensory perception impacts human aging? Drosophila melanogaster, also known as the common fruit fly, is the superhero of brain science. Dr. Christi Gendron, a neurobiologist researching the neural underpinnings of how sensory perception impacts physiology and lifespan in Drosophila melanogaster believes her findings could have important implications for our own health and longevity. She holds a PhD from Imperial College London and is a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan.
Diana Greene, PhD (Jacksonville) — Dr. Diana Greene is a leader in K-12 education and the former superintendent of Duval County Public Schools — the nation’s 20th-largest district. She is the winner of both the Florida Association of District School Superintendents’ Florida Superintendent of the Year (in 2021) and the 2022 Star Superintendent of the Year award. During Greene’s tenure, Duval County increased its schools rated “A, B, or C” to 93 percent under Florida’s school grade accountability system. The district also achieved historically high graduation rates.
Alexa Hagerty, PhD (Toulouse, France) — We’re entering an era of ubiquitous AI, but do we truly understand the threats? Dr. Alexa Hagerty is an anthropologist researching human rights and technology, with a focus on artificial intelligence systems. She holds a PhD from Stanford University and is a research affiliate at the University of Cambridge. She is the author of “Still Life with Bones: Genocide, forensics, and what remains,” a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice.
Neil Moore (Los Angeles) — Australian pianist and composer Neil Moore is the founder of Simply Music, an international music education organization. By providing the brain with the critical neurological nutrition of musicianship, Moore believes we can discover and reconnect to our innate creative capability and prepare ourselves for the complex and challenging future we face.
Nadine Salem (Jacksonville) — Growing up, many of us heard the phrases “Stranger Danger” and “Don’t talk to strangers.” While these cautionary phrases may be useful for children, Nadine Salem believes in the power that unfolds when we stay open to chance interactions with strangers. A former CIA analyst and global strategy advisor, Nadine has found that engaging with strangers develops empathy, courage, and new perspectives — if we remain open to the lessons they bring.
Colah B. Tawkin (Atlanta) — Colah B. Tawkin is the creator/voice of the Black in the Garden podcast and the Underground Arborist. She works to foster a deeper connection with plants and nature and to ignite a sense of pride and resilience within the Black community through the act of nurturing and cultivating life. Her talk offers a pathway for individuals to rediscover their roots, reclaim ancestral knowledge, and find solace in the healing embrace of nature.
This year’s conference performers:
95 South — Multi-platinum recording duo 95 South will take the stage at TEDxJacksonville as hip-hop celebrates its 50th anniversary. 95 South first hit the scene in 1993 with the smash hit “Whoot There It Is” from their debut album Quad City Knock, with the song reaching 11th place on the Billboard Hot 100. Today, 95 South’s Mike Mike (Michael Phillips) and Daddy Black (Carlos Spencer), originally from Jacksonville, are still touring with a band. They followed their debut album with more hits, including “Rodeo” and “Tight Work,” and have remixed songs for artists including Jordan Knight, Dru Hill and LFO.
Jesabel — Originally from Georgia, singer-songwriter Jesabel found music in the depths of losing herself as a new mom. She found her way to music at the ripe age of 27, going from not singing in front of another soul, not even her own husband, to now as a full-time musician, songwriter and recording artist. She released her sixth single, and first holiday tune, “Christmas Mood” in November 2022. She blends folk and pop with a dash of country roots and the sprinkle of soulful patina only a life well-lived provides.
LoveReigns — Born and raised in Miami, Taryn “LoveReigns” Wharwood’s love of poetry began with her mother and continued throughout her years in private school. “In Kindergarten, the directors of my school would make us recite a poem every day before we could enter into the building. The rest is history.” LoveReigns is the co-founder of the longest-running open mic in Jacksonville history, The Cypher Open Mic Poetry & Soul. She is a passionate creative who advocates for youth and art daily.
What is TEDxJacksonville?
TEDxJacksonville is licensed under a nonprofit 501c3 organization and managed independently under its license from TED by an all-volunteer team.
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talks videos and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection.
These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)