“Adaptability, Innovation and the Untapped Potential of Refugees”
Oumar Dieng is a resilience thought leader, coach, author, podcast host and business analyst. As a teenager, he lived in a refugee camp after a deadly mob attacked his home and caused him to be separated from his family. After overcoming life changing hardships and loss, he learned to harness the power of resilience and positive thinking to shed his limiting beliefs and transform his life. Oumar is passionate about helping busy professionals build lasting resilience and positive habits so they can overcome any challenge and reach their goals using FRAMS, a core resilience framework he developed after his time in the camp. Oumar has chronicled the lessons learned from his experiences in an upcoming memoir titled “Awaken Your Resilience: Stories of Resilience from a West-African Childhood.” When he is not busy working, Oumar is learning a new language, playing soccer or board games with his family.
“Sober Not Somber: An Enlightening Way to Evolve Drinking Culture”
Jen Gilhoi (she/her) is an advocate for and creator of healthy social experiences that decentralize alcohol. Her journey spans two decades of alcohol abuse, eight years of an alcohol-free lifestyle, corporate roles, and entrepreneurial ventures. She shatters stigmas around choosing not to drink by inviting others to engage in self and societal inquiry to heal and be well. In her life and work, Jen is fascinated with the art of gathering and intentional conversations. She’s an event experience strategist and founder of Sparktrack; a writer and conversationalist cracking open society’s role in addiction at jengilhoi.com; and founder of Zero Proof Collective, where business leaders and those interested in the non-alcoholic beverages industry thoughtfully connect, collaborate, and share resources to advance zero-proof options, experiences, and social spaces. Jen is also a board member of Dissonance, an organization that promotes mental health and recovery in and through the arts.
“The Faithful Beauty of the Stars: Saving Our Celestial Heritage”
Megan Pickett is a professor of physics at Lawrence University, a small liberal arts college in Appleton, WI. She earned a BA in physics at Cornell University and a PhD in Theoretical Astrophysics at Indiana University, Bloomington, and arrived at Lawrence after four years as a research fellow at NASA Ames and seven years teaching at Valpraiso and Purdue. While her research interest has focused on origins of solar systems, Megan is deeply passionate about amplifying forgotten narratives and histories in physics and astronomy. She is particularly invested in preserving the night sky as a natural resource—one that we can all enjoy, and one that shares a multitude of cultural heritages.
“The Beauty of Bad Ideas”
Caitlin Rogers is the co-founder and Chief Storytelling Officer for Next Day Animations, an explainer animation studio and certified B Corp. In this role, she helps global brands, governments and nonprofits share their messages clearly and persuasively, through the secret weapon of short-form explainer animation. She’s passionate about social impact, entrepreneurship, and the potential of the workplace as a space for joy, connection and meaning. Caitlin is an Earlham College graduate, where she focused on the sociological study of comedy as a tool for social change. She’s also an Edina parent and EHS alumna, and is excited to be back at Fick Auditorium once again (this time without the trombone).
“We Cannot Recycle Our Way Out of Our Waste Problem: Why the Circular Economy Is the Answer”
Melissa has been involved with environmental issues since 2007. She spent years volunteering in Edina Schools in various capacities including serving as PTO President at Concord Elementary and co-creating the organics recycling program throughout the school district. She also served on Edina’s Energy and Environment Commission, and in various volunteer roles with Hennepin County. She recently started a business venture with one of the other co-creators of the organics program after securing a grant from Hennepin County. The goal of Good To Go Cups is to transform how people consume to-go drinks from coffee shops by creating a reusable, compostable cup to be used in a cup exchange system.
“Is Your Brain Deceiving You?”
Dr. Ashley Smith is a licensed clinical psychologist, co-founder of Peak Mind: The Center for Psychological Strength, and a self-proclaimed happiness quester. Since earning her PhD in 2007, she has become a sought-after specialist in the treatment of anxiety disorders. In addition to direct patient care, Ashley has published a book and numerous other writings. She regularly provides workshops and trainings for a variety of audiences and is involved in public outreach through the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Ashley is also open about living – and learning to thrive – with a rare visual impairment. The combination of her professional expertise and personal experiences put her in a unique position to educate and inspire. She is passionate about helping others live vibrant, happy lives through the use of psychology and applied neuroscience, and her ultimate goal is to change the way people think.
Delaine Teabout Thomas
“Yes, Racism Is a Public Health Crisis. Now What?”
Delaine is dedicated to addressing and redesigning inequitable systems that impact health. A graduate of both The Ohio State University’s and University of Minnesota’s public health programs, she is most skilled at developing strategies that move health care anti-racism from conversation to action. Delaine currently serves as a Facilitator and Coach at Turnlane, where she empowers leaders and teams to incorporate anti-racism into their practice and organizations. Additionally, Delaine was recently awarded the 2022 Women’s Health Equity Fellowship at Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, where she will design interventions to prevent and/or treat cardiovascular disease among vulnerable mothers.
“Reshape Your Mind, Not Your Body”
Bridgette is a champion for positive mindset and body empowerment. As a signed curve model across the nation’s largest cities, she uses her social media platforms and podcast “Hey By The Wayy” to inspire others to redefine their self-worth. A trilingual graduate in International Studies and Spanish from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Bridgette seeks to empower people of all backgrounds to celebrate themselves for more than what meets the eye.
“What if the Purpose of School Were Purpose?”
Ross Wehner is a writer, teacher, and social entrepreneur who is Founder of World Leadership School, which “partners with K12 schools to reimagine learning and create next-generation leaders”. Ross also co-founded the nonprofit TeachUNITED, which works to transform learning at rural schools around the world. Ross is guided by the question: how can K12 school become the ultimate platform for launching students into lives of purpose? Ross began his career by working as a journalist in Chile and Peru in the 1990s. He received a Master’s in Latin American literature and has worked as both a classroom teacher and a wilderness educator at the National Outdoor Leadership School. He has worked alongside executive coach Richard Leider, author of Power of Purpose, on leadership development programs for Fortune 50 executives around the world. He lives in Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and two children.
“A Simple Reform that Can Save Our Democracy”
Erin Zamoff is Director of Communications and Public Affairs for FairVote Minnesota, a nonprofit that advocates for election reform. Prior to joining FairVote, Erin led the Minnesota Chapter of Moms Demand Action, the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country. In that role, Erin served as principal spokesperson and media contact, coordinated legislative strategy, and organized rallies and other large advocacy events. Her experiences navigating a polarized political landscape fueled her desire to repair partisan divisions and improve access to voting and accountability through elections – outcomes made possible by Ranked Choice Voting. Prior to her nonprofit leadership, Erin practiced law and provided training on employment laws and practices. A graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, Erin is passionate about helping others find their voice to advocate for effective solutions, whether for an improved workplace, for a safer community or for a more effective democracy.
“Picking up the Pieces”
Following the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, Kenda Zellner-Smith recognized that the boards and murals of social justice street art appearing on buildings and storefronts could disappear as quickly as they appeared. With this understanding, she began collecting boards in her father’s pickup truck and storing them in her garage as part of her emergency preservation efforts. Within a month of Floyd’s murder, Zellner-Smith founded Save the Boards Minneapolis as a community preservation project. It aims to preserve, document, and share boards in the Twin Cities for use as tools of reflection, education, and healing. At present, her work with Save the Boards has contributed to the preservation of over 1000 plywood boards created in honor of George Floyd. She hopes that the boards will keep reform and accountability front and center, and remind us of the power of a community as the 2020 Uprisings did.