TEDxUofL Speakers

The TEDxUofL Team is very excited to host some of the remarkable leaders, thinkers, scholars, and innovators working in our town! 

William Pierce
VP of Research, University of Louisville

A professor of pharmacology and toxicology with a joint appointment as professor of chemistry, William Pierce also serves as the
university’s Executive Vice President for Research and Innovation.

He holds several patents and has also co-founded a biotech start-up company, Pradama. Inc. which is working to develop new treatments for bone metabolic disease, bone infection and bone cancer. 

Andrea Davidson
Louisville based singer/songwriter and humanitarian Andrea Davidson aims to use her soulful folk music for global betterment whether it be awareness in areas of social justice, the environment or through any other forms of activism involving peace/nonviolence movements.

Her music is suffused with a multitude of influences ranging from the melodic vibrations of The Beatles to the lyrical resonance of Bob Dylan, the soulful sounds of Bill Withers and Marvin Gaye, to the acoustic feel of Ray LaMontagne and Patty Griffin.

Appalachian Latin Folk
Appalatin formed in 2006 in Louisville through band members’ mutual love of the folk music sounds of Latin America and the Caribbean. 

Their songs reflect messages of freedom, community, empowerment, human rights, spirituality, and environmental stewardship.

Appalatin’s sound is the unique blend of several cultures: part Latino, part Appalachian, but most importantly world. 

Continue reading about Appalatin

Kevin Connelly
Non-Profit Expert
The founding director of Center for Non-Profit Excellence, Kevin Connelly has been leading the organization in its mission of creating a vibrant, exemplary nonprofit community in Greater Louisville through collaboration, shared learning, advocacy, and the promotion of innovation and excellence.                                                                                                              An expert of non-profits and civic enterprise, Kevin has led many community service organizations such as YMCA Safe Place Services and Southeastern Network for Youth and Family Services.

Continue reading about Kevin Connelly

Lopa Mehrotra
Lopa Mehrotra is a social entrepreneur who is passionate about bringing self-expression, wonder, and fun to education. 

As Founder of TestToob, Lopa is an innovator in the field of intersecting Web 2.0 technologies with education transformation. TestToob combined social networking technology with video sharing to create a unique venue for students to share self-expression and learning around science. 

Continue reading about Lopa Mehrotra

Keely Brandon and Jovan Rebolledo-Mendez
Education Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs and parents of a multi-lingual toddler, Jovan and Keely have created a customizable virtual environment through which children are empowered to explore, play and learn in an online environment suitable for children. 

Continue reading about Jovan and Keely

Matthew Barzun
Matthew Barzun formally served as the United States Ambassador to Sweden. Prior to becoming Ambassador, Barzun had a successful career as technology entrepreneur and business leader.
He joined CNET Networks as its fourth employee in 1993 and stayed with the internet company until 2004. During that time Mr. Barzun served as from Director of Innovation to Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer. Currently, Barzun serves as the National Finance Chair for Obama for America campaign.

Nat Irvin
Nat Irvin's pioneering research on society and demography has created new paradigms for the future of African Americans in business and has made traditional stereotypes of black consumers obsolete.

Irvin founded Future Focus 2020, a futurist think tank dedicated to examining the impact of upcoming, permanent changes in business, social and economic cultures. The organization continues to bring futurist thinking to urban America and minority communities. A Professor at Louisville’s College of Business, Irvin teaches teaches change management, leadership and future studies.

Ted Smith
Economic Developer
In Ted Smith's leadership, Office of Economic Growth and Innovation at Louisville Metro Government seeks to grow our economy through a wide range of means including flexible loan programs, advanced planning activities as well as strategic work in globalization and sustainability.

He is an Open Government champion and an applied researcher on innovation related to open data and a former member of the White House Office of Science and Technology (OSTP) Open Government Team. He is a successful online media entrepreneur. His most recent company provided news about the treatment of chronic disease. 

Mary Gwen Wheeler
Education Advocate
Serving both Louisville Metro Government and the National Center for Family Literacy, Mary Gwen has long been an advocate of education. 

She currently leads 55,000 Degrees, a newly-formed multi- sector public-private partnership dedicated to increasing education attainment in the Louisville region. The bold goal is to move Louisville into the top tier of our competitor cities by adding 40,000 bachelor's degrees and 15,000 associate's degrees by 2020. She has also served in various public service roles such as Member, Kentucky Board of Education, and Secretary, Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Justin Mog
Sustainability Expert
University of Louisville’s Assistant to the Provost for Sustainability, Justin Mog's mission in life is to help people understand that sustainable solutions are not only fun and life-affirming, but they are all around us. 

A fulbright scholar, Justin has focused on assessing the sustainability of international rural development projects, including research studies in Ghana, Costa Rica, Philippines, and Paraguay. Justin seeks an Earth restored and lives his life accordingly, as a car-free, TV-free, vegetarian, beekeeping, gardening Quaker with a fully solar-powered home.

Cathe Dykstra
Chief Possibility Officer
A long serving civic service leader, Cathe Dykstra runs the non-profit organization Family Scholar House in Louisville. Aimed at providing support to various at-risk groups, Dykstra's organization has brought many families from the margins of society into mainstream where they now lead healthy and productive lives. 

As Younger Women's Club noted, she describes her position as chief possibility officer and focuses on seeking a longer term solution to various problems in communities rather than just a short term fix. 

Gill Holland
Entrepreneur, Film-maker
A noted entrepreneur, Gill Holland has been instrumental in turning a formerly economically depressed and run-down east downtown Louisville area into a thriving arts/design and sustainable district, now known as “NuLu”. The Louisville’s East Market District or NuLu is now a burgeoning arts, design, start-up nexus and general center for all things green. 

Alongwith green entrepreneurship, Gill Holland is also an award winning independent with over 70 films and also runs a record label. Among many honors, his films have been recognized at Sundance Fim Festival and Spirit Awards.

Elizabeth Ann Fuller
An eight year teaching veteran and Kentucky's 2012 Elementary School Teacher of the year, Elizabeth Fuller teaches reading and writing to third graders at Atkinson Elementary.

Through the Atkinson demonstration site project, which started with her, she has transformed many struggling children into keen readers. Her success led the project to be replicated in many other schools around the state. She is also a recipient of Louisville Foundation grant and a 2011 Gheens Innovation and Outstanding Young Educator awards nominee.

Continue reading about Elizabeth Fuller

Keith Mountain
A renowned climatologist with a specialty in glaciology and global climate change, Keith Mountain has been part of over 25 international expeditions to study existing glaciers and ice sheets and the Earth’s climate history.

His research has taken place in Antarctica, Greenland, China, Tibet, Africa and South America. His research relates to how glaciers and ice sheets interact with climate system and what the current status of glaciers tell us about prospects for the Earth’s future climate.


David Jones Jr.
Venture Capitalist
David is one of the leading venture capitalists in mid-America and a well-respected voice in healthcare business and innovation.

He founded Chrysalis Ventures in 1993, after realizing that the absence of resident venture capital managers in Mid-America represented an opportunity to find and partner with promising growth companies in the region. He currently focuses primarily on healthcare investing and chairs the management company and funds’ investment committees.

Paul Ewald
Evolutionary Biologist
Recognized as a
 principle founder of the field of evolutionary medicine, Paul Ewald developed the conceptual framework for understanding the evolution of acute infectious diseases. He has also been one of the pioneers in our understanding of the role of germs as causes of cancers and other chronic diseases and in development of new approaches for treatment.

Along with other honors, Dr. Ewald is also the first recipient of the Smithsonian Institution’s George E. Burch Fellowship in Theoretic Medicine and Affiliated Sciences, which was established to foster pioneering advances in health sciences.

Keith Look
As a lifelong educationist, Keith Look has been leading the turnaround of Shawnee High School in Louisville which was once rated last in the state of Kentucky.

A native of Louisville, KY, Keith has had numerous successes in leading improvement efforts in public schools in many states; from leading the reorganization of West Philadelphia High School to his work towards double digit performance gains at Meyzeek Middle School in Louisville. Now, under his leadership, Shawnee's improvement efforts have started to show some early successes.