Announcing the 2016 TEDxRiNo Origins Speaker Line-up

When given the choice between this or that, it’s not always an obvious decision. Mix in good ideas, innovative thinking, and down-to-earth personalities, and the result is a really tough decision.

After sifting through several submissions, deliberating as a team, and getting fired up about all of the great talent this city has to offer, we’re thrilled to share with you our speakers for Origins, TEDxRiNo’s 2016 event on August 24th.

But, before we do, we’ll say this. Origins had the potential to go any number of directions. The word itself holds so much meaning in so many different ways. And, just like any word, means something different to everyone. That’s why we love the word enough to have made it our theme this year. RiNo is full of so much history, and it’s obvious that so much is changing within the neighborhood, that it felt only fitting to honor that. So, when choosing this year’s speakers, it was important to us that we each think about how Origins can take on a life of its own through each talk.

Okay, okay. So, who’s in the line-up and what great idea are they sharing with us? Check them out:


PhD // Chair, Board of Directors The Burnes Center on Poverty & Homelessness at the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver

Don Burnes, the co-editor and contributing author of the new book, “Ending Homelessness: Why We Haven’t, How We Can,” is a local philanthropist concerned with the issues of homelessness and housing, an Adjunct Professor and Scholar in Residence at the University of Denver, and currently serves on the State Interagency Advisory Group on Homelessness for Governor Hickenlooper. Don is a member of Denver’s Road Home Commission and the Colorado Housing and Homelessness Funders Collaborative, and has also been an executive director for various nonprofits, a historian, a researcher and educational policy consultant for the U.S. Congress, a prolific writer, a philanthropic consultant, and active in the faith-based policy community around issues of homelessness and poverty. Don is also the co-author (Alice Baum), of “A Nation in Denial: The Truth About Homelessness,” as well as the author of numerous articles about homelessness. He received a B.A. from Princeton, a MAT from Washington University in St. Louis and a PhD in education from Columbia University.


Founder of Mo’ Betta Greens Marketplace & Seeds of Power Unity Farm

A proud Denver native, Beverly has been an entrepreneur for more than 25 years, and is dedicated to shaping food policy and broadening not only food access, but also food and nutrition literacy. Beverly founded the urban farmer’s market, Mo’ Betta Green Marketplace in June 2011 in Denver’s historic Five Points neighborhood on three principles: Food literacy, environmental stewardship and social responsibility. In October of 2015, Beverly founded Seeds of Power Unity Farm to provide a community learning platform for urban agriculture and design, and also create a small production site for heirloom vegetables sourced directly to Mo’ Betta Greens. Since it’s opening, Seeds of Power Unity Farm and Mo’ Betta Greens Marketplace have improved community connectedness, increased awareness between food consumption and overall wellness, and helped to include disconnected populations to local food.


Founder of Centro Inc. // Executive Director, RiNo Art District

For more than 15 years, Jamie Licko has been shaping the evolution of cities, neighborhoods and districts, as they face change, challenge and growth. Licko has focused her career on nurturing public/private partnerships and utilizing unique approaches to keep local community fabric intact even as places face changing social and economic realities. Jamie’s consulting company Centro Inc. has provided service to clients in more than 50 cities in 15 states across North America, as well as in the United Kingdom and Singapore. Recently, Licko has been leading efforts in the RiNo Art District as it faces unprecedented development pressure, guiding the neighborhood to form special districts and to bolster its efforts to protect the character and creatives that have brought RiNo to the fore.


HR Training & Development Specialist, RANGE Consulting

Rachel Lucas is dedicated to ending LGBT workplace discrimination throughout the state. With a background in HR and adult education and training, Rachel is an advocate of workplace diversity and inclusion, equal employment rights and protection and the LGBTQ community. She holds a B.S. in Business Administration, the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) designation and is a member of the Mile High Society for Human Resource Management.


Founder and Director of NatureSays // Director of IgniteSTEM Denver

Through NatureSays, a consultancy and training company that engages and empowers audiences with strategies employed by the world’s most unique organisms—such as systems and biomimicry—Kurt Macdonald has developed programs that address strategic partnerships, expansion, recruitment, marketing, competition, and other elements central to personal and professional success. Separately, Kurt is the director of IgniteSTEM Denver, an innovative education initiative that brings together STEM and education thought-leaders to inspire, enable, and equip schools to offer students real-world design challenges, collaborative projects, and experiential learning opportunities in science, engineering, and math. Kurt was the honoree and holder of the Kurt D. MacDonald Distinguished Teaching Chair at Kent Denver School, where he was a science teacher and administrator for sixteen years and was recognized by the University of Colorado at Boulder as the Most Outstanding Graduate in the College of Arts and Sciences.


Founder and CEO of Juniper Books

Since 2001, Thatcher has explored the value books bring us, how they take up space in our homes, and how best to feature what we love about books in new, creative ways. Today, Juniper Books crafts specialty book collections and creates and designs custom libraries. Thatcher and Juniper Books have been featured in publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Departures, and his recent projects have included the library for the 2012 Architectural Digest Greenroom at the Academy Awards, the Four Seasons in New York, and Yoo Panama by Philippe Starck.

Coming Soon: Origins–TEDxRiNo's Second Live Event


It's the beginning of new life. It's a reminder of our roots and our history. It's the start of something smart–an innovation; a new idea. The origin is where it all begins.

On Wednesday, August 10th we will host our second-ever live TEDxRiNo event at EXDO Event Center. The theme–Origins–pays homage to the roots of the River North neighborhood in Denver. With the history, roots, innovation, and creativity coming out of RiNo, it only made sense to highlight what makes RiNo, RiNo.

We're currently accepting speaker submissions and volunteer applications. Please be sure to share your ideas with us for a chance to be considered a speaker at this year's event. Speaker submissions will be accepted through early June.

To stay in the loop, attend and learn more about this year's event, be sure to sign up for our eNewsletter.

More information about our live event and viewing party, including ticket sales, will be shared soon. Until then, keep an eye on our social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) for the latest news and happenings around RiNo.

TEDxRiNo reIMAGINE. Re-live the Event.

Six speakers. Two amazing performances. 100 eager and supportive attendees.

Without them (and you), TEDxRiNo wouldn't have been the incredible experience that it was. The innovation lounge was packed with local artists, 3D printing, Oculus Rift, and more. Our speakers rocked the stage with topics from real estate development and community to literacy and our food system, the day was filled with a positive vibe and energy behind our core theme: reIMAGINE.

And, it's with that excitement, that we're thrilled to announce that our event videos are now live! They're the perfect chance to re-live the incredible and whirlwind day that was April 13th. And, for any of you who missed out, a chance for you to experience the great energy from that day.


TEDxRiNo reIMAGINE. A Recap.

It’s been two weeks since the inaugural TEDxRiNo event at Infinite Monkey Theorem in the River North Arts District, and after some time off, the success of the event is finally starting to sink in. We gathered, what we believe to be, a diverse and incredible cast of people to work with and present, and we were happy to meet many of you who joined us and made TEDxRiNo an unforgettable experience.

From city planning and enthomophagy to literacy and healthcare, our speakers delivered on the goods and provided us with a gateway into their innovative thinking that hopefully changed the way you look at the world around you. We were lucky to have a wonderful, talented emcee in Sam Pike, and eclectic performances by The Reminders and Stelth Ulvang.

We will be sharing videos of each speaker’s talk here soon. Until then, here is a recap of what we hope is the first of many TEDxRiNo events to come.

Mickey Zeppelin

Long-time neighborhood champion, Mickey Zeppelin, reimagined what RiNo could be. He is Denver’s original urban pioneer and provided our crowd with historical knowledge and context of RiNo. Where the neighborhood was originally written off as a wasteland, Zeppelin saw something special in it and set out to create a mixed-media neighborhood. His approach to projects is unconventional and he continually collaborates with the arts community. After all, he did have a cubicle burning ceremony for the opening of Taxi.

Mike Biselli

Mike Biselli, a former college athlete, touched upon community and how it first helped shape him in his athletic career, and now is the driving force behind his ideas in the Digital Healthcare industry. He believes in community collaboration is key to transforming our healthcare industry and that everyone has a seat at the table and a voice in the matter. He infuses his appreciation and understanding of his life experiences in to his goal of making Denver Top 5 in Digital health in the world by 2020.

Amanda Cavaleri

At such a young age, Cavaleri has dedicated her life to researching and fighting isolation among older adults. She believes older wisdom is the new big data. She wishes to help connect different age groups through storytelling; identify isolation as an epidemic and collectively honor, leverage, and value the wisdom of our elders; and change the perception on aging.

David Emrich

David Emrich spoke about reevaluation–the importance of taking a step back and looking at your life every few years. That having a cycle and making the decision to go all in is important and is the only way to stay relevant and competitive. Emrich professed that it takes commitment and willingness to alter your original plans, but he suggested that we accept that challenge to encourage ongoing growth.

Amy Friedman

“Hungry bellies equals hungry minds.” Those words resonated as Amy Friedman shared an array of moving statistics on literacy rates among under privileged students in the U.S.  She asked that we consider intellectual deserts the same way we try to fight food deserts. There may be one book for every 300 children in some areas, and we should build up the disadvantaged through literacy and access to learning materials as it is important for fueling the imaginations of children. The ultimate takeaway? Identify intellectual deserts and reimagine them into rich learning environments to promote literacy and learning.

Wendy Lu McGill

Wendy Lu McGill is concerned with the way we eat (as we all should be!). She challenged the audience to take a hard look at our food chain and its impact on our environment. But how? By eating insects. She addressed the fact that insects are certainly an acquired taste and a challenge to mental perception. But, when you take into account the negative environmental affects of traditional livestock (and some of her incredible stats), you might just re-think entomophagy. In first world countries, like the U.S. and Europe, where sustainability, climate change, and the environment are constantly coming up in conversation, there’s a clear lag in the acceptance of entomophagy and other alternative sources of protein.

Who's Performing at TEDxRiNo reIMAGINE?

No TEDx event is complete without the assistance of a few talented artists. With Denver and Boulder serving as a hotbed of musical talent, TEDxRiNo is thrilled to have these two local musical acts for our program this Monday, April 13th.

The Reminders

Since releasing their first album, Recollect, in 2008, The Reminders have forged their own path through the ever-changing modern musical landscape. As a duo, the group has combined the talents of Brussels-born emcee, Big Shamir, and Queens-born emcee/vocalist, Aja Black, to create a sound that blends the soulful heart of roots music and the raw power of hip-hop. Feeding off of each other’s strengths, in both music and marriage, The Reminders have left a lasting impression on listeners and audiences alike. They have been recognized for their work on TV and radio, and have shared the stage with more than a handful of musicians. Beyond the Reminders, Samir and Aja are engaged with community organizations, schools, and universities and have delivered workshops, talks, and specially catered performances. Their latest album, Born Champions, came out in 2012.

Stelth Ulvang

Stelth Ulvang is a force to be reckoned with while onstage, as both a multi-instrumentalist for The Lumineers and as a solo artist. His passion is recognizable to audiences who cheer on as his fingers scale the ivory keys of his piano and his bare feet stomp the ground during his energetic sets of indie folk rock. Stelth, who began his music career after co-founding The Dovekins, is a self-taught musician and a spirited poet and composer of honest, confessional music. He has transformed venues, ranging in size from living rooms and backyards to theatres and beyond, into an intimate storytelling carnivals filled with sing-alongs, dancing, camaraderie, and good times. His new record, And, As Always; The Infinite Cosmos, is a balancing act of heavy truths, humor, and observation. His songs share the wayfaring nature of his heart. Stelth currently tours the globe with The Lumineers.

Announcing the 2015 TEDxRiNo Speaker Line-up

We’re thrilled to announce the speaker line-up for TEDxRiNo’s first event on April 13th. From healthcare to entomophagy (better known as “the practice of eating insects”), our speakers embody our theme of reIMAGINE, and will shed light on a wide range of topics that are shaping the RiNo neighborhood, Denver, and the world. Without further ado, here are our speakers for 2015’s TEDxRiNo reIMAGINE:

Mike Biselli

An entrepreneur by trade, Mike Biselli began his current journey in the healthcare industry in 2003 when he began working with leading medical device companies. His knowledge of the field lent itself to opportunity when he helped found MedPassage, a digital healthcare company focused on building efficient web-based surgery coordination platforms. He is currently working to develop a health technology innovation campus in downtown Denver.

Amanda Cavaleri

After starting a concierge service for older adults, Amanda Cavaleri realized many of her clients were isolated and lonely. She began researching technological solutions to reconnect and engage older adults back into society. In 2014, Cavaleri co-founded Empower Aging, a multi-disciplinary national leadership team aiming to attract, retain, and grow talent with the Longevity Economy.

David Emrich

David Emrich has channeled his love for visual storytelling and history into a career. Having founded his own full-service production and media company, Postmodern Company, Emrich has edited hundreds of TV commercials, an Academy Award winning short documentary, A Story of Healing, and the Gracie Award winning The Other Angels. He has also written a book, Hollywood, Colorado, about the early days of filmmaking in the state.

Amy Friedman

After serving years in various key leadership roles in the Denver Public School system, Amy Friedman, a former teacher, joined Book Trust, a national non-profit literacy organization empowering children from low-income families to become life-long readers. Under Friedman’s leadership as President & CEO, Book Trust has nearly doubled its footprint across the nation and is continuing to inspire a passion for reading among under-privileged youth.

Wendy Lu McGill

Wendy Lu McGill, a social science researcher, has made a name for herself by promoting entomophagy–the practice of eating insects. She is dedicated to educating people concerned about sustainability, future food supplies, and the impact of livestock on the environment, about the health and environmental benefits of insects. She regularly holds bug-eating workshops around town and works to create a sustainable model for future agriculture and food ecosystems.

Mickey Zeppelin

Mickey Zeppelin has been active in Denver real estate development since 1972. Since founding Zeppelin Development in the 1980s, Zeppelin has been active in the community, serving on various boards and steering committees, and has been a leading proponent of urban renewal projects, including RiNo staples such as Taxi and the Source.

TEDxRiNo is Coming To Denver's River North Art District!

Welcome to the new TEDxRiNo website and blog. We are proud to announce our inclusion into the wonderful TEDx network, joining likeminded individuals from around the world, including our friends and neighbors at TEDx Mile High, Front Range, and Boulder. We are committed to bringing you the best information and updates regarding our TEDx event (April 13, 2015 at Infinite Monkey Theorem– mark your calendars!).

Our goal with TEDxRiNo is to provide an intimate and communal experience revolving around the River North Arts District, a neighborhood that has experienced its own fair share of growth over the past couple of years. We are dedicated to bringing you the best speakers we can find to share ideas and start meaningful discussions that can shed new light on local issues faced by a likeminded and global community.

We chose the RiNo neighborhood for its rich history and burgeoning art, food, drink, and start-up scene. RiNo is quickly becoming a go-to neighborhood in Denver for local businesses and start-ups. Though it still maintains its original industrial façade, RiNo is filled with hidden gems and serves as an inspirational model of reimagining a community. After work activities include new breweries and restaurants that aim to compete with old establishments in Denver. RiNo’s thriving, youthful scene is perfect for TEDx, and we hope that we can help bring community members and thought leaders together to share ideas that can shape the future of sustainable and inclusive urban development.

We have chosen to kick off our first TEDx event with a theme that we think captures the RiNo spirit, reIMAGINE. The word “reimagine” feels fresh, building upon old ideas to create new and meaningful advancements in all categories. We are constantly trying to reimagine what we can do and how we can interact with expanding global platforms and ideas. RiNo, to us, exemplifies the theme of reIMAGINE by reinterpreting the urban, industrial environment to create meaningful and locally based businesses and living spaces within the neighborhood’s already existing walls. We hope to contribute to a thriving scene and help maintain an inclusive atmosphere to all, old and new.

We hope you will join us on this journey to bring TEDx to the RiNo neighborhood. Let’s have some fun together! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see TEDxRiNo come together!