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.