TEDxWVU returns, featuring speakers who offer solutions to ‘Bridging the Gap’

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WVU TEDx
Emily Calandrelli, Space Girl/Scientist, addresses the audience at the Reed Media Innovation Lab Evansdale Crossing during last year's TEDxWVU event. Calandrelli is the executiveproducer and host of FOX's Xploration Outer Space and a correspondent for Bill Nye on his new show Bill Nye Saves the World on NETFLIX.

Following a successful debut at West Virginia University, TEDxWVU returns March 2 at 9 a.m. in the Gladys S. Davis Theatre in the Creative Arts Center with five speakers who will support the theme “Bridging the Gap,” challenging people to look at their similarities instead of their differences.

Dr. Ali Rezai leads the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute and serves as the associate dean and John D. Rockefeller IV tenured professor in neuroscience at the School of Medicine. Rezai was named one of the best doctors in America in Castle and Connolly’s Guide to America’s Top Doctors from 2001-2017. He is the past president of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, the largest neurological society in the world. He has received numerous awards such as the Congress of Neurological Surgeons Clinical Fellowship Award.

Emma Harrison, a 2018 Truman Scholar, was born and raised in West Virginia. She is a member of the West Virginia Innocence Project, the Inside-Out Prison Exchange, and is a teaching assistant at the Federal Prison Camp Hazelton, as well as a volunteer teacher at the U.S. Penitentiary Hazelton. She plans to pursue a law degree so she can continue her work with incarcerated individuals.

Shan Cawley is currently an English student at WVU. She is the author of Depression is a thunderstorm and I am a scared dog and Kingdom now, both published by Maudlin House Press. Much of Cawley’s work deals with growing up in an abusive household and overcoming trauma through a literary lens. Cawley is also the recipient of the WVU NAACP’s Image Award Rising Mountaineer and the Jon Scott Nelson First Year Writing Award.

Anthony Zolezzi currently serves as the CEO of Twinlab Consolidated Holdings, leading nutritional supplement company. He co-founded Code Blue Recycling, which was created to further plastics reclamation and recycling goals. For 30 years Zolezzi has played a major role in leading and advising corporations in uncovering new innovations. He is the author of numerous books including, “Uncharted Waters,” “Do Something: Leave Your Mark on the World,” “The Detachment Paradox” and “Chemical-Free Kids: How to Safeguard Your Child’s Diet and Environment.”

Amanda Messer is the co-founder of Because I said I would, an international movement and nonprofit dedicated to the betterment of humanity through promises made and kept. Since September 2012, Because I said I would has distributed more than 10.3 million Promise Cards to more than 153 countries. Because I said I would’s work has been featured on CNN, ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, the Steve Harvey Show and other programs. 

The event is limited to 100 attendees. Tickets will be $12 and go on sale through the WVU Arts and Entertainment Box Office Monday Feb. 11 at 10 a.m. Those who do not get tickets will be able to watch on live stream

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, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. 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. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

About TED

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, usually in the form of short, powerful talks delivered by today’s leading thinkers and doers. Many of these talks are given at TED’s annual gathering in Vancouver, Canada, TEDWomen and TEDGlobal conferences, and thousands of independently organized TEDx events around the world, then made available, free, on TED.com and other channels. 

TED’s open and free initiatives for spreading ideas include TED.com, where new TED Talk videos are posted daily; TEDx, which provides licenses to thousands of individuals and groups who host local, self-organized TED-style events around the world; the TED Fellows program, which selects innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities; and the educational initiative TED-Ed.