TEDxAsburyPark “Passion,” amongst the largest and highest-rated TEDx conferences on the east coast, today announced the final line-up of performers set to take the stage at the legendary Paramount Theatre on Saturday, May 19th. Speakers, who will perform for an audience of 1500, will include a supermodel-turned-feminist advocate, elite dancers and choreographers, explorers, a marathon runner, business leaders, an LGBTQ pioneer, a “comic book man,” and more.

Passion drives ideas, people, and communities to action. Passion makes leaders. Passion combined with knowledge creates new ideas worth spreading. Passion can lead both to creation and destruction, to inspiration, suffering, grit, compassion, and extraordinary service. In its sixth year, TEDxAsburyPark will feature a full day of entertainment including TED-style talks by myriad speakers as well as art, musical acts, comedy, dance, and theatrical performances all tied to this year’s theme of “Passion.”

TEDxAsburyPark is an annual volunteer-organized event dedicated to education, community, innovation, and “ideas worth spreading.” Each year, a different theme culminates in a stimulating day of nonfiction theater. Well over 100 businesses, nonprofit leaders, professionals, students from local universities, and sponsors plan, manage, and fund the all-day event.

Tickets are now on sale at TEDxAsburyPark.com

 

Speaker bio information below (alphabetical):

Remy Arnou (Middletown, NJ) “TED-Ed Clubs: Be Heard” Remy, 16, found his passion with TED-Ed Club. As president of the Middletown High School South TED-Ed Club, he has led many projects including the Be Heard board, which gives people a platform to express their different ideas. The Be Heard board is currently on display at the Middletown Arts Center. Passionate and always ready to help, Remy has the “joie de vivre” for spreading ideas. Remy is a bilingual (French and English) and a world traveler. His travels have opened his eyes to the concept that people all over the world need to “Be Heard.”

 

Michael Blake (New York, NY) “LIFE IS A DANCE.”  Dance artists over 50 years of age have withstood the test of time by defying what some see as the limitations of age. For these extraordinary artists, age is not an obstacle when it comes to achieving sustained artistic discovery and excellence. Michael Blake teaches Contemporary Dance in NYC and is a teaching artist in the BA and Graduate Dance programs at Hunter College. He will speak, choreograph and perform with four other dancers over age 50. Michael has his MFA in dance and has won the 2010 Bessie Award. He shares that it is a blessing to continue his dance life for this long. He turns 60 years old this year, has had both hips replaced, and still lives for the chance to dance every day. “Dance is life-affirming, and I am so lucky to have found it, or did dance find me?”

 

Lauren Cox (New York, NY) “A Spark of Passion that Shaped a Lifetime” Using spoken word and dance, Lauren will present the story of her grandparents, Elsa & Eugene, and how their passion for one another challenged the status quo and shaped the life of her mother and herself. An Edelweiss plant has a short but bold life; it’s rare and grows in the harshest environment. Thriving at altitudes of 9,000 ft., it symbolizes sacrifice and opposition, passion to bloom, and strength to survive. Lauren is a performer, teacher, choreographer, and poet from the San Francisco Bay Area and has taught and performed around the world. She currently teaches for the Joffrey Ballet School in NYC and has studied dance extensively.. She has performed with Gwen Stefani, Alicia Keys, Pharrell, in national commercials and off-Broadway, has a degree in sociology, and speaks 3 languages.

 

Sarah DaVanzo (West New York, NJ) “Passionately Curious” While we find passionate people curious, what ignites intensely passionate curiosity in people? And what ignites it in places like Asbury Park? Why are some places magnets for the passionately curious: good and bad? Can a seaside resort really make one “curiouser?” Sarah will answer these questions and challenge the audience to tap both passion and curiosity.  A seasoned public speaker, Sarah delivered the keynote address at the 2017 World Future Society conference in Istanbul. She has worked in 12 countries, circled the globe twice, and embodies passionate curiosity: living as a monk; conducting ethnographic research in the African jungle; met Nelson Mandela; founded the Gold of Africa Museum. She starred in a reality TV show; holds 3 patents; and inspired a South African soap-opera character.

 

Dr. Nicholas Despotidis (Morganville, NJ) “A Childhood Disease Worth Preventing”Nick will discuss how his passion for healthy eyesight lead him to discover that the current myopia epidemic is much more than a vision problem. It’s also a physical manifestation of a broader problem: Social Myopia. His shares his passion by combining expertise with foreboding to enlighten us about the cause and prevention of both myopias.  An optometrist, speaker, author and leader in the field of vision care, Nick is a pioneer in the use of corneal reshaping of contact lenses which are used to slow down or prevent the deterioration of eyesight in children and young adults. He is the lead author of the book My Children Are Nearsighted Too and the newly released A Parent's Guide to Raising Children with Healthy Vision.

 

Arlan Feiles (Matawan, NJ) “Songwriting, Activism and the Passion to Create for a Better World” In the tradition of many great troubadours before him, LA-born Arlan Feiles has made his way across the American landscape playing and recording his own brand of modern folk rock, gospel, and Americana music. With nothing but a piano and guitar, Arlan continues to wow audiences in his adopted home state of NJ and around the world. He is an award-winning musician and songwriter who has shared stages and worked with some of the great legends in music, including The Band, the late Warren Zevon, Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame Producer Tom Dowd, Dave Grohl, Joan Baez and many more. You can find his music in a variety of TV programs and theatrical films and trailers, including the Academy Award-winning movie Dallas Buyers Club. Greg Baker of The Miami Herald said “If songwriters were bad weather, Hurricane Arlan would be a category 5…he’ll blow you away.”

 

Peter Gray (Norfolk, MA) “How Passionate Interests Develop and How Schools Inhibit Them” Professor Gray is a research professor at Boston College (www.bc.edu) whose work focuses on the role of play in human evolution and development. He is author of the book Free to Learn and authors a regular blog for Psychology Today, and is the president of the nonprofit Alliance for Self-Directed Education  (www.self-directed.org). He has conducted and published research in comparative, evolutionary, developmental, and educational psychology. His current research and writing focus primarily on children's natural ways of learning and the life-long value of play. His own play includes not only his research and writing, but also long-distance bicycling, kayaking, backwoods skiing, and vegetable gardening.

 

David Hernandez (Ocean Township, NJ) “How an Immigrant's Bicultural Identity as an American Fuels the Unique Passion to Achieve the American Dream” David is a Cuban-born first generation-immigrant, raised in New York City and educated in private Catholic schools. He is also a professional musician and published composer who has worked and toured internationally. His credits include co-writer, co-producer, and music director for Village People, and recordings with Thompson Twins, Elvis Costello, and Ringo Starr, among others. He is co-founder and managing partner of lotus823, an award winning integrated communications and marketing agency based in Eatontown, NJ. Married and a father of three sons living in Monmouth County NJ, he is still active musically and has played locally with veteran Jersey shore musicians, including Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Vini “Mad Dog” Lopez..

 

Karen Kendra Holmes (Silver Spring, MD) “40 years and Wandering No More” Karen will share her passion for helping others transition and to foster acceptance and support from those around them, and how life can be fulfilled by being true to oneself and to others. Karen educates others who are not transgender to foster understanding that she and others live normal lives, and are doing good things in our community, state, and country. Karen works for the Federal Government as a Safety Officer. She has won many awards as a passionate and highly effective public servant and volunteer in the National and State (MD) Guards, and many national and local community service and first responder organizations.  LGBTQ Nation selected Karen as one of the Top 50 Transgender Americans You Need to Know in 2017.

 

Scott Hopek (Wyckoff, NJ) “Passion Left Unchecked” What happens when your passion is out of control? Scott’s talk will 1) expose the underbelly of passion; 2) demonstrate how quickly passion can turn into addiction; and 3) offer practical advice for how to regain control of your passion. Over the years, Scott has leveraged his unique ability of being able to balance an analytic mindset with creative thinking to drive positive organizational change. This has earned him the reputation of being a turnaround leader. The son of a plumbing and heating contractor, Scott's dad taught him from an early age to always leave things better than the way he found them. His mindset of "making things better" has led to a successful 21-year career, building teams and generating revenue in the media and entertainment industry.

 

Annica Lin (Elmhurst, NY) “What does 26.2 mean to me” Annica spent her formative years in Taiwan, resolving to come to America to provide a better life for her family. To accomplish this, she saved up and bought herself a one-way ticket to NYC, where step by  step, she worked herself up to her version of the American Dream. She earned a Master’s degree at NYU, and rose through the ranks at a stock brokerage on Wall Street. She later fell in love with digital media and decided to pursue it as her new career, becoming a Google-certified partner and working at advertising agencies. Through it all, she kept her passion for living her healthiest life. A self-proclaimed Iron Chef, she unintentionally discovered running in 2011. Struggling to run a mile on a dare, she stuck with the sport, and many enthusiastic years later, qualified for the Boston Marathon. She loves to share her passion for running and wants to help people fall in love with the sport.

 

Karen McCarty (Highlands, NJ) “My Passion for Healthcare Clowning” As the former Creative Director of the Big Apple Circus and Community Programs and now Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Healthy Humor, Karen has performed with and managed hundreds of clowns in leading pediatric hospitals across the country for almost 30 years. A recipient of the Raoul Wallenberg Humanitarian Award. Karen has been featured on numerous tv shows as her clown, “Dr. Ginger Snaps.” She also performed in the first national tour of the Broadway musical Barnum. Karen’s vaudeville theatre company, Serious Foolishness, has performed internationally for over 20 years. Her memoir of the same name focuses on surviving pediatric cancer and her subsequent career as a professional idiot. Karen has a BFA in acting and directing from West Virginia University and is a graduate of L’Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris..

 

Simon Nynens (Little Silver, NJ) “Everyone Deserves a Fairy Tale” Don’t expect a boring presentation.  Expect a true story about struggles, real life tests, vulnerability, and yes, some fairy tales. Simon is a Dutch immigrant who is the CEO of Wayside Technology Group in Wall,
NJ and is focused on forward-thinking and employee-empowered leadership. He is a philosopher and guest lecturer at universities. A graduate of the Harvard Business School, he serves on the board for the New Jersey Technology Council (NJTC) and has received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® 2011 Award in the Technology Services.

 

Olive Persimmon (Brooklyn, NY) “Literary Libido:How Writing About Sex Helped Me Overcome My Fear of Intimacy” After a five-year dry spell, Olive Persimmon embarked on a journey to "get her mojo back" and save her love life by exploring sex and dating in New York City. Her adventures included everything from 20 blind dates in 30 days, exploration of the foot fetish scene, and work with a sex therapist. She chronicled the stories for her second book and in doing so, realized she wasn't the only one who felt insecure, scared, and inexperienced when it came to sex. Olive's talk discusses how both exploring and writing about sexuality unintentionally reignited her long-lost passion and helped her overcome her fear of intimacy. Olive is an author, speaker, and communication coach. Her first book, Unintentionally Celibate, takes a comedic approach to talking about sex. Her second book, The Coitus Chronicles, will be out on Valentine's Day 2019.

 

Paulina Porizkova (New York, NY) “How American Made me a Feminist” Paulina has lived in four very different countries: Czechoslovakia, Sweden, France, and the U.S. She will share the commonalities, differences, and perceptions of women and how these four countries have shaped her as a person and as a woman. A supermodel, Paulina Porizkova was first a cover girl as a child refugee in Sweden before she became one in the fashion business in Paris in 1980. Never content to be just a pretty face, she turned to movies and TV, and later to writing.  You can read Paulina’s NY Times Op-Ed piece "America Made Me a Feminist".

 

Christopher Powell (Gwynedd, PA) “Don't be a Spectator” I’ve been a ‘spectator’ in my life,” says Chris Powell. “Interested in many things, but never passionate about any one thing. To my mother’s great dismay and angst, I had no clear path: I stumbled through life reacting to things as they came to me.” Perpetually seeking opportunities that can become great stories,
Chris pushed himself to new limits in January 2018 by participating in the South Pole Energy Challenge expedition led by Robert Swan. Never one to choose the ordinary path, Chris’ training included dragging a steel sled through his neighborhood and cryotherapy sessions.  “As I found myself stumbling toward the South Pole, I realized that sometimes you find your passion, and sometimes it finds you.” A graduate of Penn State, Chris is Chief Marketing Officer of Commvault, a $2.4B publicly-traded software company headquartered in NJ. A self-described “terrible” athlete, he runs, bikes, and tackles triathlons.

 

Lisa Russell (Brooklyn, NY) “Can Big Data Drive Creativity and Passion to Save the World?” Lisa Russell, MPH is an Emmy-winning filmmaker  with a Master’s in Public Health who has 10+ years experience producing films/creative campaigns and curates artistic performances for UN/NGO agencies. With a diverse portfolio of creative work that spans the arts, social justice and global development, Lisa is on a mission to revolutionize storytelling for the social good. As Founder and CEO of StoryShifter, Lisa is launching a new entertainment portal for the social good, powered by machine learning and data analytics. Her goal is to grow the world's largest roster of international artists, storytellers, and innovators who are committed to using their talents to address racial and gender inequalities, promote health and education, and protect the planet.

 

Felicia Simmons (Asbury Park, NJ) “You see this smile, it was carved with a blade of hard fought victories” Accomplished and energetic with a solid history of achievement in organizing, Felicia has been elected twice as an Asbury Park Board of Education member. She has served as President of the Monmouth/Ocean County National Action Network, Education Chairman of Asbury/Neptune NAACP, is founder of Proper Foundation and above all else, mother, daughter, artist, and friend. Felicia is known as a tireless community organizer and a motivated leader.with strong organizational and prioritization abilities.  She is a devoted mother to her son Zack, who drives her to reinvigorate Asbury Park with a new sense of purpose. She is dedicated to being the new face of Asbury Park, making it into one unified community looking towards the future.

 

David Harry Stewart (Los Angeles, CA) “We are not done yet” It is well-documented that people over 50 are living in radically different ways than their parents, and those who are 50+ are now a critically important demographic. Their political, social and economic standing makes them the most powerful generation to have ever lived. David is founder of media and research company AGEIST, whose purpose is to reinvent how life after 50 is lived, experienced, and understood. He says this is best achieved through design and modern media tactics rather than legislation, and until this is embraced, we will fail to see the real economic, humanitarian, and cultural benefits of increasing longevity.  David suggests that our attitude towards later life needs a reboot at every level. He says that we’ve locked ourselves into a culture that is anti-age and it is evident throughout media, organizations, and even in the language we use.

 

Sebastian Terry (Los Angeles, CA) “100 Things - What's on Your List?” Sebastian Terry is an inspirationalist who, after the loss of a friend, created a list of 100 Things that he wanted to do to find purpose. Known worldwide for pursuing an incredible list of 100 Things that he wants to achieve before he dies, Sebastian Terry’s story is surprisingly not about a bucket list. It’s about something more far-reaching: permission, choice, growth, and connection. “I thought initially that it would take me 100 Things to reach a state of fulfillment, but it’s taken me 72 things to realize that ‘ticks’ are just the beginning. The key to growth and happiness is finding out who you are on a primal level and then being that person, each and every day.” Now an author, TV host, and speaker, Sebastian focuses his time on empowering peer-to-peer altruism.

 

Michael Zapcic (Long Branch, NJ) “A Passion for Pop Culture” Michael Zapcic reveals his "secret origins" as a comic book nerd and pop culture lover. His childhood fascination with classic stories of right and wrong, good vs. evil, all set against a four-color backdrop, has evolved into a life and career of amazing stories and uncanny adventures. His lifelong devotion to the comic book medium allowed Michael to step off an unfulfilling path prescribed for him by family and friends and instead, to pursue a life with meaning, purpose and passion. He is a podcaster, TV personality, and comic book expert and assistant manager at Jay & Silent Bob’s Secret Stash for more than 15 years. Michael’s passion for comics has fueled a career filled with amazing stories and uncanny experiences. His message is broadcast each week through the internet via his podcasts "I Sell Comics" and "The Ming  and Mike Show."

Heather Zeluff (Old Bridge, NJ) “Traveling Within is the Deepest Journey” Heather is 18, a current student at St. John’s University as a Psychology major, and is trained in Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy (ABA).  This means she is skilled in administering brain- training cognitive therapy and social skills for individual with special needs, specifically Autism. She started learning the program when she was 12 and later started her own business. To facilitate her efforts, Heather created a book and curriculum for her clients using ABA therapy—all personalized for their needs. As an aspiring clinical psychologist, she has worked in different areas of mental health, performed ABA, cognitive brain therapy, social skills, motor skills, and other therapeutic techniques used to help the special needs community. Her passion for helping others branches out from her brother who has Autism Spectrum Disorder, and her rocky journey throughout life.  

 

About TEDx, x = independently organized event

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 video 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.

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TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 30 years ago, TED has grown to support its mission with multiple initiatives. The two annual TED Conferences invite the world's leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes or less. These talks are then made available, free, at TED.com. TED speakers have included Robin Hanson, John Werner, Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Sal Khan and Daniel Kahneman.

The annual TED Conference takes place each spring in Vancouver, British Columbia. TED's media initiatives include TED.com, where new TED Talks are posted daily; the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as translations from volunteers worldwide; the educational initiative TED-Ed. TED has established the annual TED Prize, where exceptional individuals with a wish to change the world get help translating their wishes into action; TEDx, which supports individuals or groups in hosting local, self- organized TED-style events around the world, and the TED Fellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.

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