Selina + The TEDxYouth@Austin Team
Got an idea you just have to put out there about one of our topics?
Learn more about the Event
- Watch the show via Livestream
- Meet your Hosts
- Meet your Speakers and Performers
- Check out our xLabs
- Special Thanks to our Partners
Watch the show via Livestream
Meet your Hosts
SELINA ESHRAGHI is an accomplished senior at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas. This past year she focused on her work with Strongheart Group, designing Sonita Alizadeh’s international youth campaign which launches this September. In addition to her work with Strongheart, she currently leads the 2017 TEDxYouth@Austin team which curates one of the largest and oldest TEDxYouth events worldwide. Selina also participates in her school’s FIRST Robotics Competition team.
MATTHEW KEARNEY is a junior at Westlake High School. He's the Student Council Vice-President, involved in the Challenge Success Initiative and serves on committees focused on revising the GPA system. Matthew is also a highly competitive cross country and distance track runner. Go Matthew, go!
Licensee & Lead Mentor
NANCY GIORDANO brought TEDxAustin to town eight years ago and has been a big champion for this Youth event – eager to join hundreds around the world doing the same. With a passion for seeing the potential in everything, she loves her work as a “cultural acupuncturist," naturally weaving ideas together to build teams and organizations that contribute meaningfully to our futures.
CAROL REESE is an educator in Eanes ISD and an enthusiastic supporter of the idea that TED talks are not just for adults. After years of inviting speakers with “ideas worth spreading” to her classroom, she and a dynamic volunteer group launched TEDxYouth@Austin, building an engaging experience for area youth. An encourager, connector, and catalyst, she is excited about this Common Threads event!
Meet your Speakers and Performers
Groundbreaking Mural Artist
Austin, TX based artist JOSEF KRISTOFOLETTI was born in Nagyvarad, Transylvania. His work is primarily made up of mural paintings related to ideas about nature, technology, space, and architecture. He was an artist in residence at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. As a founding member of the artist collective Transitantenna, he traveled throughout North America as part of a mobile living experiment that engaged local communities through public interventions. He was recently an artist in residence at Facebook and is currently working on his largest project to date, a commission for Austin's art in public places program. His work has appeared in several publications including Wired, PBS News Hour, New York Times, The Guardian, Boston Globe, Fast Company, Huffington Post, and Symmetry Magazine. In 2013 he represented the United States at the Bienal del Sur Panama, in Panama City.
ALAN GRAHAM is the founder and CEO of Mobile Loaves & Fishes, a social outreach nonprofit in Austin, Texas that provides food and clothing, and promotes dignity to homeless men and women. Today, with the support of more than 19,000 volunteers, Mobile Loaves & Fishes is the largest prepared feeding program to the homeless and working poor in Austin. In addition to growing its truck ministry, Mobile Loaves & Fishes has expanded its programs and services to include the development of Community First! Village, a master planned community that provides affordable, permanent housing and a supportive community for the disabled, chronically homeless in Central Texas.
Dancer + Choreographer
SHEPHERD CHASE ALLEN is a dancer/choreographer born and raised in Austin, Texas. From founding his own dance crew, to performing across the United States, to being a finalist for So You Think You Can Dance, Allen continuously inspires and influences the world of dance. His unique style of hip hop is bringing new challenges to dancers everyday and proving that dance is more than just movement, it's a way to connect with people in a way most people can't: through fun and entertainment.
Journalism Professor, UT Austin
A journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin, PAULA POINDEXTER is the author of
Entrepreneur + Communicator
ROBERTO SEGOVIA is the co-founder of Rhea Capital, a private fund that invests in real estate, education, and fintech. He received his bachelor’s degree from the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin and received his MBA from Babson College. As the CEO of Rhea Capital, Roberto actively seeks impact investments in emerging markets, especially in education and technology. Through Roberto’s affiliation with the Michael and Tami Lang Stuttering Institute, he learned the importance of speaking freely. He wants to inspire people who struggle with communication challenges to speak their minds, pursue their dreams, and live their lives to the fullest.
LILI BLESSING is an Austin native who has been fortunate enough to grow up inside of the Austin music scene. She has spent her life working in the creative and commercial sides of the industry, including for Popeyes, Walmart, daisy, Firstcom, and many others. Her mother and local musician, Sara Hickman, helped her realize her passion for music at an early age, and has been a major role in putting together Lili's first album (which is set to release this spring).
Virtual Reality Entrepreneur
BENAMIN DURHAM is a native Texan. He attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he majored in African/African American Studies. While a student he was an active participant in campus activities, including participating on the Debate team and co-authoring the Student Bill of Rights for the entire UT System. Following his graduation, he was selected as a Fulbright-Hays scholar to study the Nigerian language and culture, Yoruba. Since his return from Nigeria, Benjamin has participated in multiple start-ups. In 2015, he founded Thrillbox to focus on generating a sustainable economy for immersive media content creators.
Explorer + Filmmaker
RICARDO PALOMARES is a speaker, coach, explorer, and filmmaker. He immigrated to the United States from Mexico City after graduating from photography school with the singular focus of building a career that would allow him to explore the world. Later, he earned a Film degree at the University of Texas at Austin, and then went on to create documentary work in Mexico and China and make the famous pilgrimage Camino de Santiago in Spain. His most recent project, Pedal South, entailed leading a team on a two-year expedition cycling from Alaska to Argentina. the purpose was to create a documentary that would give a perspective of the people and landscape of the Americas today. His goal is to spread compassion, knowledge, and wisdom gained through overcoming inconceivable obstacles so people can unlock their potential, achieve what seems impossible, and find contentment.
Modern String Ensemble
Described by one pretty important radio guy as “not classical...but not not classical”, bowed and fretted string quartet INVOKE continues to successfully dodge even the most valiant attempts at genre classification. The multi-instrumental band’s other not-nots encompass traditions from across America, including bluegrass, Appalachian fiddle tunes, jazz, and minimalism. invoke weaves all of these traditions together to create truly unique contemporary string quartet repertoire, written by and for the group. Equally at home in a collaborative setting, invoke has performed with musicians from widely varying genres, from the Enso Quartet, to chamber rock powerhouse San Fermin, to beatboxer/rapper/spoons virtuoso Christylez Bacon. invoke’s 2015 debut release “Souls in the Mud” features original works composed by and for the group, and the group’s recording credits appear on bassist/composer Ethan Foote’s “Fields Burning”, singer/songwriter Marian McLaughlin’s “Spirit House”, jazz/soul singer Rochelle Rice’s EP “Wonder”, and more.
ANDRZEJ STEWART is a graduate of the University of Texas right here in the great city of Austin, Texas, and he also holds a Master's degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He's worked as a spacecraft mission controller for NASA's Mars orbiter fleet, the Juno mission to Jupiter, the twin GRAIL lunar spacecraft, and the Spitzer Space Telescope. Andrzej aspires to be a NASA astronaut. In pursuing that goal, he's had the opportunity to become a simulated astronaut, serving as the Chief Engineering Officer of HI-SEAS IV, a year-long Mars simulation on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi and the longest NASA-funded space analog mission ever performed. When he's not helping NASA explore the Solar System, Andrzej enjoys ice hockey, flying airplanes, playing rock guitar, and board gaming.
Hollywood Actress + Supermodel
BROOKLYN DECKER grew up in Matthews, North Carolina where she was scouted in a mall (true story) before moving to New York at 18 years old to pursue a modeling and acting career. She works in Los Angeles on the Netflix show "Grace and Frankie" but lives in Austin with her husband Andy, two english bulldogs, Billie Jean and Bob Costas, and her son Hank.
Check out our Xlabs and Xperiences
We’re changing things up this year and giving you two different experiences during our break:
Xperiences— each of you will receive a ticket for a 30 minute immersion in one of our uniquely designed work sessions; what you get will be a surprise (woot!), so don’t get stressed. Each group is small and the time will fly, so let yourself enjoy this special adventure with an artist, technologist, innovator, or entrepreneur. Xlabs— this is the place where you can grab a snack, say hi to a new person and play! Solve a riddle, take a scavenger hunt, discover what you and others can build with cardboard + duct tape, play ping pong and more! … the choice here is yours. The only rule is to jump in!