TEDxCharleston Announces Presenter Lineup for Fifth Annual Conference

Selection features 18 speakers and performers from Charleston area and beyond

CHARLESTON, SC – August 8, 2017 TEDxCharleston organizers announced today the speaker and performer lineup for its fifth annual event happening Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at the Charleston Music Hall. Tickets will be sold at tedxcharleston.org on a first come, first serve basis beginning Aug. 22.

With the theme of “Shake It Up!” speakers will share their groundbreaking ideas that flip the script on conventional wisdom. Marcus Amaker, Charleston’s Poet Laureate and 2016 TEDxCharleston performer with Quentin Baxter, will emcee this year’s event.

Speakers and performers for the 2017 event include:

  • Dan Bellack: A psychology professor for the past 30 years, Dan Bellack is driven by his curiosity for what makes us human. Through his research for how people think, he helps us learn more about how we naturally operate, and how we can improve our thinking to create deep, lasting impact in the world.  
  • Li Chang: As a Boeing engineer and technical fellow, Li Chang is always asking: how can we do this better? A leader that invokes the leaders within his team, his work is focused on leveraging complementary strengths to build a culture of better products, experiences, and innovations.
  • Edie Cusack: A passionate advocate and educator, Edie Cusack turns disabilities into opportunities. As the founder of the College of Charleston’s REACH Program, she works with universities to build inclusive programs that unlock entire new worlds for students with unique gifts to give.
  • Sarayu Das: This South Carolina-based high school student, researcher, and scientist is on a mission to increase consciousness about water contamination – starting right here in her backyard.
  • Phillip Dustan: Phillip Dustan is a College of Charleston biology professor passionate about spreading the news: the future of Charleston’s underwater ecosystem is in our hands. Equal parts researcher and messenger, he’s shaking up how we see – and save – our reefs.
  • Feral Creative: A child at heart and a fabrication artist by trade, Kris Manning is the fearless leader of Feral Creative, a troupe of professional puppeteers bringing their ‘wild’ side to Charleston and beyond. Appearing with Ms. Manning are Becky Becker, Geoffrey Cormier, Henry Riggs and Maari Suorsa.
  • Jason Kerestes: An engineer and researcher, Jason Kerestes’s days are spent pioneering the next big advance in robotics, while educating his industry about the role they’ll play in the world’s economic future.
  • Michael Kleiss: A Clemson University School of Architecture professor, Michael Kleiss believes that the bridge between present and future is built brick by (Lego!) brick as a way of embracing playfulness in the way we architect our worlds.
  • Jeremy McLellan: Jeremy McLellan knows that a laugh can break the ice and break cross-cultural tensions. A traveling comedian, he visits colleges and universities to forge friendships between racial and religious communities, all through the power of comedy.
  • Steve Palmer: A celebrated restaurateur who began washing dishes at age 13, Steve Palmer knows firsthand how the strains and successes of his industry can drive employees to the darkest of places. With a focus on service, he’s committed to flipping the tables on professional support.
  • Christan Rainey: A full-time father, fiancé, and fire department engineer, Christan embodies commitment in action. Now, he’s calling men to take up the same cause through Men Against Domestic Violence (MAD USA), a grassroots organization that’s putting violence at home to rest.
  • Rene Russell: A professional musician for two decades, Rene Russell lives inside her songs as much as her songs live inside her. Real and raw, her performances remind us of the truth she sings: that with love, we can accomplish anything.
  • Tina Singleton: A fashion executive turned international development aid turned gardener, Tina Singleton is no stranger to reinvention. As the founder of Transformation Table, an organization for inclusivity through food, she’s bringing the city’s diverse neighbors together, one meal at a time.
  • Jake Stauch: A former cognitive researcher, Jake Stauch is now the founder of NeuroPlus, a company helping children find focus and self-control through brain-sensing technology that supports their ever growing, changing nervous systems.
  • Brian Sullivan: A clinical psychologist, College of Charleston professor, and software company co-founder, Brian Sullivan uses his talents and insatiable curiosity for how people think and behave to better understand how technology can bring us together, not push us apart.
  • Ranky Tanky: Get down with Ranky Tanky, a Gullah quintet, celebrating the timeless sounds of the Southeastern Sea Island region with more contemporary arrangements. Group members include: Quentin Baxter, Kevin Hamilton, Quiana Parler, Clay Ross and Charlton Singleton.
  • Emily Torchiana: A former College of Charleston student, Emily Torchiana has emerged from the shadows of cyberbullying and suicide attempts to turn life’s darkest moments into moments of meaning for others who need a mental health hero.
  • Vickie Waller: By using leading edge technology as a constructive business generation and marketing tool, this CEO of SB6Technologies, a local B2B tech business, is out to reposition small and family businesses to capture the benefits of today’s e-marketplace.

“This year’s event features an extraordinary group of idea makers who push boundaries, challenge the status quo, and inspire action within and beyond our communities,” said Edith Howle, curator of TEDxCharleston. “We are shaking up what the audience might know and expect, and the whole day’s experience is sure to keep everyone on their toes.”

Videos of the speakers and performances of previous TEDxCharleston events are available for viewing at tedxcharleston.org.

For more information, to schedule an interview, or for high-resolution images, please contact pr@tedxcharleston.org.