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TEDxColumbus Honor Roll 

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In addition to our amazing organizational sponsors (see a whole page here for their listing), every year it takes literally dozens of individuals and in-kind partners to make TEDxColumbus a true success. Below is but one small way for them to be recognized.


Event Experience

Event Coordination – Jen Kerns, Kim Goldsmith

Event Experience – Tanya Irelan

Registration Software and TroubleshootingPrevedere Software

Registration Volunteers – From TEDxCardinalHealth, the TEDx club at East High School and TEDxOhioStateUniversity organizing team

Event Ambassador – Morgan Howard

Disruption Gift Shoppers – Melissa Crum and Bill Litfin

Painting those X’s! – Jim Stillwell and Dave Daiber

Happy Hour Food SponsorFUSIAN Sushi

Break Food Sponsor KIND Bars

Coffee and Tea SponsorCrimson Cup

Sponsor and Ticket Coordination – Kim Goldsmith



Marketing / Digital Assets

BrandingFort Design (Drue Dixon)

WebsiteBonFire Red

Mobile SitePrevedere

Social Media Team – Allyson Kuentz, Sarah Takieddine, Jay Donovan and Christian Long

Marketing Coordinator – Jen Kerns

Online Story SharingCAPSTORY



Speaker Curation – Judi Stillwell, David Staley, Julia Applegate, Mike Bills, Nancy Kramer, Ruth Milligan

Speaker Coaches – Meagan Buren, Angie Santo-Walter, Ruth Milligan

Speaker Hosting – Mike Bills, Nancy Kramer, Ruth Milligan

Speaker Hospitality – Judi Stilwell



CAPA Production Staff – Lead by Chris Skinner and Derek Warner

Video Capture, Post-Production Team – Lead by John Prosek at WOSU Public Media

Stage Manager – Donna Raque

Visual (Slides) Coordinator – Jane Lewis

Livestream Host – Ty Debevoise and Whitehall City Schools

Sponsor Thank you Video – LaChandra Baker, Aujie Baker, Maggie Daiber, Langston Crum, Sophia and Luke Barnes (and their moms, Melissa and Amy who drove them!)

Photographers – Meghan Brouillette, Tammy Criner and Molly Valdiviez, Shelagh Conley





May 28, 2015

9am – 5pm

Southern Theater, Downtown Columbus

If you haven’t bought your ticket yet, you still may do so here. We will  keep the box office open until the program begins if you want to bring a last-minute guest!.


If you have your ticket, please pre-register here. We need to know your name and email address to accept you into the theater. Deadline for pre-registration is Tuesday, May 26 at 6pm. 

The 3 most important details:

1.  Dress casually. As in…jeans are OKAY! We want you to be comfortable, especially at the picnic lunch.

2.  Bring a box of tampons to donate to ORW’s Tapestry Program. We want to donate at least 100 boxes.

3.  Come with an curious mind, open heart and willingness to have rich conversation.

How the day will roll

Parking is most available across the street from the theater at the Columbus Commons lot. There are also nearby surface lots.

Registration opens at 8am. If you haven’t pre-registered here, it will take you a few more minutes to access your seat than others who have.

We will have coffee and tea service upon your arrival.

Program begins promptly at 9am with local talks for two sessions. We’ll have one break for snacks and conversation.

Around noon we’ll break for lunch (box lunch, picnic style at Columbus Commons).  Plenty of vegan and GF options will be available.

After lunch back in the theater from 2-5pm, we’ll show two sessions of from California of TEDWomen (we will decide that day which sessions are ready to view on the time-delay).


No videos may be taken, certain talks are prohibited from photography (we’ll let you know which ones). No flash photography. All seats are general admission. If you want to tweet, post or blog during the show on your laptop, please take a seat in the back row as to not disturb other participants or speakers.

You may come and go as you desire, but we hope you can at least see all the local talks. The speakers and performers have been preparing incredibly hard, we appreciate your support of them and TEDxColumbusWomen overall! We look forward to seeing you Thursday!



In a few weeks at TEDxColumbusWomen 2015 among other thoughtful speakers and performers, we’ll be showcasing the Inside/Out Choir, a joint project of the Tapestry Program, a therapeutic community at the Ohio Reformatory for Women, and The Harmony Project.  While you may have seen them perform once or twice at other events, we wanted to help raise their voices even broader.

But two things happened recently which has led me to make a special, small appeal to our community.

First, we decided to host a tampon drive at the TEDx event on May 28th. The Free The Tampon campaign has been featured recently in the New York Times and the writer of those stories inspired us to have an actual drive, to bring the social awareness to a simple, actionable step. But we hadn’t yet decided the beneficiary.

Then I went to ORW to visit the women in the choir we will be showcasing. I remember hearing Orange is the New Black author Piper Kerman’s moth recording how she was given free tampons during her stay in prison. So during my visit, I asked Tanya, the woman sitting next to me, how she accessed sanitary products.

“Everyone gets free pads. But we have to pay for tampons,” she said.

I asked how much they were, not expecting the rapid response.

“They are $2.31 for a box of 10. And they are the cardboard applicator Tampax brand.”

She continued, “Most women don’t have a lot of family support. And the little money they make at their job isn’t enough to cover them.”

No matter how you feel about the crimes these women may have committed, I would hope you agree with me that they have the right to access the most basic of sanitary products, which in turn is access to basic human dignity.

When I asked the director of the Tapestry program if it would be acceptable to donate tampons. She said people donate goods all the time – but not often tampons.

The women of the Tapestry program who are also in the choir will be watching the livestream of our event. And we’ll be enjoying their song and talent without the chance to tell them thank you in person, like we will the other speakers.

So please help show our appreciation by bringing a box of tampons (or 2!) so that we may send the choir a very little gesture of appreciation in return.  If you cannot attend and would like to contribute a box, you can have them delivered to RESOURCE/AMMIRATI, 343 North Front Street, Cols 43215 before May 27. And there’s nothing keeping you from dropping off any supply straight to the guard desk at ORW.

And if you want to come to the event on May 28th, tickets are still available here. We’d love to have you.

– Ruth Milligan


Please help us congratulate the following speakers and performers who have been selected to present at TEDxColumbusWomen: OWN IT – The Power in Our Story on Thursday, May 28th at the Southern Theatre. This spectacular lineup of all local talent will take the stage from 9am – noon, while we will stream the global TEDWomen conference from 2pm – 5pm after a picnic lunch for all attendees at Columbus Commons (weather permitting).

It is important to know that men are welcome to attend and as you can see, we’ve included a few in our lineup as speakers. Our world needs the full participation of women and their talents, and we recognize that men have a role in that process.

TEDxColumbusWomen 2015 speakers and performers:

Jennifer Adams, The Beauty of the Black Man

LaChandra Baker, Use that voice!

Liz Balk, Living in the Middle

Casey Brown, Valuing Ourselves

Melissa Crum, Educating on Racism through Art
Theresa Flores, Are we halting human trafficking?

Ladies of Longford, Performers

Lauren Kinsey, Breaking through the Tech Ceiling

Mark McNaughton, Through the eyes of my daughter

Inside/Out Choir, Performers

Amanda Scott, The challenge in owning your story

Larry Smith, A story in six

Natalie Spiert, Sexual Assault on Campus: Where it starts.

Joanne Ruthsatz, Connections between prodigies and autism

Erin Upchurch, Living in fear: Transwomen of Color
Biographies for all speakers can be found here.

Tickets are now on sale for $45/each (plus $3 theater restoration fee) by calling CAPA at 614-469-0939 or visiting ticketmaster (additional fees apply). 

There is no ticket limit for this event but if you buy for a group, we will ask you to register your attendees the week before the event. You will receive a separate email with a registration request.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at

With gratitude to LeaderOPTICS, Carol Andreae, and OCLC for their generous partnership in helping to underwrite this event.  And many thanks to the curatorial committee who helped to make the tough choices for the speakers and performers for this event. We are grateful to all of our supporters! As always, contact us ( if you are interested in a partnership.


 by Ruth Milligan

Within 24 hours of our initial announcement, our 2013 TEDxColumbusWomen event sold out. Albeit, the tickets were free, but we had a waiting list as long as the attendee list. The day of the event, the seats were filled. Struck by this enthusiastic response, I thought about other women-focused events that happen in town. Thinking about TEDx within this context, and certainly with no intention of criticizing these valued events, I find that they all have three things in common:

One, they are important events for THAT organization, in terms of raising money and delivering a message.

Two, they are short in nature without a lot of time to meet other people (go in, sit down, eat for 5 minutes, listen to a speaker, leave). Certainly some events have a networking period, but in my experience they are often short and that means most of us connect and “catch up” with those we already know.
And third, for table captains or members of the committee, the task is to “bring 10 friends.” Hmmm. I feel that on points 1 and 2 TEDxColumbusWomen offers something different and valued—information sharing that is not bounded by a particular cause, as well as time and opportunity to connect and make new connections. But, “bring 10 friends . . .” It’s not our policy, but it made me think about how it is we do bring people into the TEDxColumbus community, and whether or not we are inadvertently stuck inside our own inner circles. This began to bother me (more on that in a minute).

When TED announced TEDxWomen 2015 would be on May 28th, we knew we would host another local event and, this time, at a larger venue. The Columbus Foundation has been a lovely venue for the last 4 years, but it’s time to move to a theatre, so off to the Great Southern we go—where we can host more talks with a higher production value and, in turn, spread more ideas. (Note: the morning will be local talks, the afternoon a livestream from the global TEDxWomen).

But the part about diversity continued to nag at me. I decided it was time to be active about it, not passive. Here’s the thing: The purpose of our events are not to find new avenues to raise money. We raise just enough to cover costs—it’s in the TEDx bylines. And we don’t just want to spread the “message of TEDx,” nor are we interested in the “appearance” of diversity. We seek a deeper cross section of the community for more connection, sharing and engagement. Diversity of ideas and stories makes for a better event. Sharing those ideas and stories with a diverse audience makes for a better city.

So, if I asked 10 of my friends to bring 10 of their friends, how diverse would it really be? Have any one of those 100 people immigrated to America? Lived on minimum wage? Have any earned a PhD? Been a single mom (by choice)? Been to war? Are any CEOS of large-cap companies? Are any transgendered? Maybe, but unlikely.

So that’s where the Ambassador role enters the picture.

What if we invited people to help spread the word about TEDxColumbusWomen with one intent: Reach BEYOND your circles of influence. Invite acquaintances, once-met people, colleagues in other buildings, people from neighborhoods across town, churches across the street, parents you see only on drop-off at school, maybe whose names you don’t even know. As an ambassador, sure, go through your contacts and invite the 10 friends who recently invited you to a fundraiser, but the promise is to make a stretch and invite 10 that aren’t in your rolodex.
Then at the event during our picnic lunch, the hope is that these loosely connected acquaintances will meet and find deeper connection, learn something new about each other, and broaden their empathy and knowledge. Or maybe just attending the event itself and listening to the talks will achieve that goal.

The theme of TEDxColumbusWomen this year is OWN IT: The Power in Our Story. So while the curatorial team eagerly makes decisions about who will be on the stage presenting formal ideas, the Ambassadors will be eagerly working to assure those in the audience have come from every corner of our community. And the intersection of the two may produce 100 more ideas worth spreading.

To be an Ambassador, we ask that you attend one orientation session on April 17th at 9am. Facilitated by Suzanne Roberts, we’ll have a quick study in inherited privilege and how we can achieve far more as a collective, crossing boundaries and perceived barriers. To volunteer, email Morgan Howard at  And if you are wondering, we have some sponsors offering partial and full scholarships that the Ambassadors will be able to offer to individuals, to assure that economics is not a barrier to sharing and spreading good ideas. If an Ambassador wants to sponsor an attendee, that is welcome too, but is not expected.

Here’s to sharing and spreading great ideas from Columbus on May 28th! We look forward to seeing you there as a speaker, attendee, partner or Ambassador!


As you prepare for Friday’s TEDxColumbus: STEAM at the Capitol Theater, 77 South High Street, here are some specifics you will need to make it a spectacular day.

11:30 am – Registration Opens (pre-registration encouraged – see below)

Noon – Lunch

12:45 pm – Doors Open to Capitol Theater

1:00 pm – Program Begins

1:00 pm – 5:30 pm Three sessions of speakers and two breaks

5:30 pm – Program Ends, Happy Hour!

Our hashtag is #tedxcbus.


We are encouraging everyone who has purchased a ticket to pre-register by filling out this form with your name and email. Because CAPA/Ticketmaster could only capture the “purchaser” names – we don’t have everyone’s participants names. If you don’t pre-register, it’s okay, we can take care of you when you arrive. (If you have purchased for a group, you may send us a list to DEADLINE for pre-registration is Wednesday at 6pm.

If you don’t pre-register, not to worry, we can register you at the door (just please be patient).

Where to park. 

Please consider using COTA, Car2Go or CoGo first!

If you are driving, we encourage parking at Columbus Commons. Everything within immediate proximity to the Riffe Center will be full.

How to arrive.

1. Curious and open. The speakers are coming prepared to provoke, it is your role to let them!

2. Willing to meet a stranger – or two. And have some amazing conversations.

3. By noon for lunch.  (Options for all dietary types and preferences – Vegan, GF, Carnivore). If you don’t want to have lunch, make sure to arrive by 12:45pm when the doors open for seating. All seats are general admission. We will begin very promptly at 1pm.

4. In comfortable clothes (seriously, jeans are encouraged).

5. With a creative name tag!  Of course we’ll have name tags for everyone – but judges will be roaming the breaks looking for creative expressions that you made with your own hands – and awarding drink tickets for ones they love.  (Check out the 2011 archive for inspiration). It is an awesome way to spark conversation, trust us.

If you want some reading preparation.

Take a look at the speakers’ profiles. It will help you understand their license to share their ideas. If you have seen a TED / TEDx talk, you know there isn’t any reviewing of biographies inside a talk – and we don’t do it in their live introductions either.

If you want to read more about the TEDx experience, here are some TEDxColumbus Follow This blog posts about who you might meet, why people came last year (with event reflections) and if this is your first time, some history on the origin of the event.

If you know someone that wanted to attend but can’t since we are sold out.

Please encourage them to attend the free Livestream viewing event at McConnell Arts Center in Worthington. No registration is necessary.

What you can do after TEDxColumbus. 

On Saturday, November 8th from 9am – noon, tune into TEDxYouth@Columbus. This partner event will be live streamed from COSI featuring ideas worth spreading from local High School speakers.

We will send you a link to a very important evaluation. Please take the 5 minutes to fill it out and be totally honest.  Many of the changes we made to this year’s event came from those evals last year.

The talks should be posted by Thanksgiving (no promises, but that’s our goal). We encourage you to share those ideas that provoked you.

All of the photos from the day will be posted to our Flickr account, which also is an archive of the past five year’s events.

If you want to be involved in any future TEDxColumbus or TEDxColumbusWomen planning, please email us

And we love to partner with other TEDx programs at schools, universities, corporations and of course, prisons! The more good ideas we can spread, the better.

See you Friday! As always, let us know if you have questions –

TEDxColumbus Organizing Team


After TEDxColumbus (no. 5) in 2013, we were going to take a “pause” and skip this year. We wanted to re-tool and return in 2015 with a new venue, tighter program, different participant engagement activities and some new energy. So, you can tell how that worked for us as we are announcing the 2014 speakers and performers today — in our new venue, shorter program and with morning experiences.  No pause needed! And we couldn’t be more energized.

So with that, we are elated to announce this year’s speakers and performers who collectively will provoke, challenge and inspire us like never before now on the stage of the Capitol Theater on November 7th.

We looked at “STEAM” through several lenses in selecting this year’s speakers: through the commonly known STEAM as in Science-Technology-Engineering-Arts-and-Math; through anger, energy, transportation and the staying power of ideas and passion. Those presenting, in alphabetical order, include:

Chad Bouton, on the new medical bypass;

Brad Bushman, on today’s self-control challenges;

Jay Donovan, on the Columbus start-up culture;

Cindy Foley, on Changing the chant of art education;

Jim Fowler, on the humanity of Calculus;

Nick George, on the mystery of a photo;

Brooke Ignet, on raising her parents;

Srikanta Mishra, on the threats of fracking;

Katherine Prince, on a new learning ecosystem;

Stu Nicholson, on trains through Columbus;

Ken Rinaldo, on a robotic intersection of nature and technology;

Jim White, on preventing another Ferguson;

Jessica Winter, on nano-technology and cancer.

And our performers:

Damn the Witch Siren and students from Transit Arts.

You may access each participant’s abstract and biography on the website.

Tickets will be available beginning September 30th at 8am by calling CAPA at 614/469-0939 or Ticketmaster via (Note: Service fees are much less if you show up in person to the CAPA box office or call). If you would like group tickets for 3-20 persons, please email us at tedxcolumbus (at)

TEDxColumbus 2014 is made possible with support of the following partners:

Lead Sponsors, The Columbus Foundation and Resource/Ammirati.

Event Partners, The Doug and Monica Kridler Fund of the Columbus FoundationLimited Brands Foundation, Cardinal Health, Leader Optics and The Ohio State University.

Presenting Sponsors, Kaufman DevelopmentOlogie, Crane GroupGlimcherHuntington Bancshares Incorporated and Barnes and Thornburg LLP.

Media Partner, WOSU.

Creative Support is provided by Fort and BonFire Red.

Coffee provided by Crimson Cup. Transportation provided by Car2Go.

TEDxColumbus 2014 Experience Partners are BESA and the Columbus Idea Foundry.



TEDxColumbus is tackling STEAM this year. For our 6th annual event on November 7, 2014 (noon-6pm) at the Capitol Theatre at the Riffe Center, speakers and performers will be invited to tease out the spokes of STEAM: education, energy, food, and emotion as fuel for creativity and innovation. As is tradition, speakers and performers will present inspiring, mind-grabbing, and sometimes heart-tugging talks and performances around these themes in 18 minutes or less.

“We’ve been blessed with a passionate collection of curious learners that has taken TEDxColumbus from a modest gathering of conversation seekers to a highly anticipated and celebrated event for our community,” said Ruth Milligan, Founder and Co-Organizer, TEDxColumbus. “The impact of giving a TEDx talk is indeed powerful for that individual, but the collective experience from 900 attendees hearing the ideas together from local thinkers, researchers, designers and creators has unparalleled ripple effects throughout our community.”

TEDxColumbus will return to a half-day event of speakers and performers on the stage, while curating optional “TEDxColumbus Experiences” for the participants in the morning. Details will be announced this summer, but they expect to include a tech-adventure, community service project and live-art installation.

“What happens off the stage is as important as on,” said Milligan. “Our desire is to enhance the shared experiential moments. What could be better than taking some of our collective, creative, innovative steam into the community?”

 Speaker nominations are now open until June 1; details and the nomination form can be found here. The best ideas will play on the theme, not repeat ideas presented in past events, and bring deep passion and experience / data to make a strong talk.

An open call for speakers will be held on June 3 at MindMarket at CCAD from 7pm-9pm. Prospective speakers and performers will be given three minutes to make their pitch to a panel of judges. No pre-registration is required. Additional details can be found here. 

Also new this year will be a WOSU TV special on TEDxColumbus set to air June 25 at 10pm.  WOSU TV viewers will be able to watch in this hour special four talks from the 2013 TEDxColumbus stage: Gabrielle Burton on gender fluidity; Dax Blake on smells in the city; Mohamed Ali, on entrepreneurship as a strategy for peace in Somalia; and Austin Channel, on how taking choir prevented him from being a valedictorian at his high school. The ability to broadcast talks is new to TEDxColumbus and is a result of a new license allowed only to a highly-vetted group of experienced TEDx organizers.

“We are constantly inspired by the provocative ideas of those in the Columbus community, which is why we are so excited to partner with TEDxColumbus, to further illuminate them through this local special,” said Tom Rieland, General Manager, WOSU Public Media. “This show was a natural extension of our growing local relationship with TEDxColumbus to create more conversation and dialogue across the community.” 89.7 FM NPR News also airs the national broadcast of The TED Radio Hour every Saturday at 3pm.

TEDxColumbus was founded in 2009, since organized by Ruth Milligan and Nancy Kramer, and is one of longest-continuously running TEDx programs in the world. The TEDx program was founded by TED, the worldwide conference where riveting and provocative ideas are shared, and features over 30,000 talks from 10,000 events in 150 languages and 800 cities.  TEDxColumbus has featured over 100 local speakers and performers to date; all of their videos can be found at


A limited number of partnership opportunities are available, click here for details.

Summary Event Details:

TEDxColumbus 2014: STEAM

November 7, 2014

Capitol Theatre, Riffe Center (77 South High St)

Noon – 6pm


New this year!

TEDxColumbus Experiences

Adventures, service projects and more

Locations to be announced

9am – noon



On March 20, 2014 at COSI (333 West Broad Street), we will be streaming a day of the 30th Anniversary TED conference. This means you can come watch what a live TED event is like (unedited, before the talks get prettied-up for YouTube) with friends and colleagues (old and new) at a local venue with free admission.

Lunch is on your own which you can purchase in the COSI cafe; and parking is available at nearby meters or in the COSI lot.  You can come for one or all of the sessions.

Here’s our local schedule of the sessions we will be streaming.

(If you research into the website, you will notice these talks are happening on a different day, but because of the time zone difference and large breaks they take at the actual conference, we “tape delay” them for a more accommodating event for our community. )

No registration is required. When you arrive, look for the signs to the Galaxy Theater on level 2 where the stream will take place.

If you have any questions, please email us at We hope to see you on Thursday, March 20!


10:00 – 11:45 am


(Lunch Break – 11:45 am- 12:45 pm)

Session: Retrospect
  • Technology designer
  • Architect
  • Documentary filmmaker
  • Music Producer and DJ
12:45 pm – 2:30pm Session: Reshape
  • Plasma physicist
  • Urban planner
  • Cruciverbalist
  • Type designer
2:45 pm – 4:30 pm Session: Wish
  • Climate scientist
  • Philanthropist
  • Philanthropist
  • Peace activist
  • Wishmaker
  • Composer, singer, author, actor, activist

On December 5th at The Columbus Foundation, we’ll be hosting the 3rd Annual TEDWomen Livestream from San Francisco along with a live / local session of TEDxColumbusWomen talks.  If you know you want to attend, here’s the registration link – tickets are free but seating is limited.

If you need more details…

TEDWomen is a one-day global TED conference co-sponsored by TED and the Paley Center for Media and hosted by Pat Mitchell. As a local TEDx licensee, we are able to stream this event to one location for free. This year’s theme is INVENTED HERE. For more details (including speakers when they are announced), you can visit their website.

TEDxColumbusWomen is a TEDx event (independently organized) featuring local talks in the traditional TED-style format. We will host this hour of local talks during the break in the livestream of TEDWomen, also around the theme INVENTED HERE. These talks will be posted online like all other TEDx talks.

The event will take place at The Columbus Foundation, 1234 East Broad Street in Davis Hall. We are grateful to the Foundation for their generosity in hosting us for the day. Parking is free.

The schedule will run:

1pm – 2pm – Doors Open, Conversation, Networking

2pm – 3:30pm – Session 1: TEDWomen (Livestream from San Francisco)

3:30pm – 4pm – Conversation, Networking with light refreshments

4pm – 5pm – TEDxColumbusWomen: An hour of provocative local speakers (TBA)

5pm – 6:30 pm – Session 2: TEDWomen (Livestream from San Francisco)

(We will not be streaming Session 3 from TEDWomen due to time zone differences.)

If you cannot stay the entire duration (2pm – 630pm), that’s perfectly fine. Please register even if you plan to come for even an hour or so.

We hope you will consider joining us for this afternoon of dynamic talks and dialogue!

Please register by visiting and let us know you are coming also on the Facebook event page!