The History of TEDxLancaster

Laura Kendall - Founder of TEDxLancaster

TEDxLancaster was founded in 2014.  The first license holder was Laura Kendall, who at the time was the Director of Visual & Performing Arts at the Ware Center (downtown Lancaster) and Winter Center (Millersville University).  Laura commissioned a Programming Committee, headed by Jason Mundok and Gail Groves Scott.  The Programming Committee was responsible for virtually the entire event.  From curating speakers to organizing the details of the event, the Programming Committee pioneered new ground.  Aptly, the theme "Break New Ground" was chosen.  On May 3, 2014, the inaugural TEDxLancaster was held at the Ware Center.  It was a half day event with 10 speakers.  Mark Pontz was the emcee.  The event was limited to 100 attendees, per TED rules.  The rules state that a TEDx event cannot exceed 100 attendees if the license holder has not attended an official TED event.  The event sold out in 8 hours.  See details about the speakers and view their talks here.

Speakers at the inaugural TEDxLancaster (2014): (Left to right): Charlie Reisinger, Stacey Irwin, Michael Schroeder, Robin Spielberg, Melanie Snyder, Teman Cooke, Lauren Chaby, Mark Yim, Craig Dietz, (not pictured) Kevin Strauss, MD

TEDxLancaster's original Programming Committee (2014): (Left to right): Gail Groves Scott (Co-chair), Colleen Milligan, Emily Laufer, Jim Corrigan, Barry Kornhauser, Bob Vasile, Sarah Billings, Jason Mundok (Co-chair), Laura Kendall (License holder), Barry Russell, Erich Goldstein (Not pictured: Eboni Bryant)


TEDxLancaster Executive Director Bob Vasile with real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran of ABC's Shark Tank at TEDActive 2015 in Whistler, BC

In 2015, a member of the inaugural Programming Committee took over from Laura Kendall and became the license holder.  Bob Vasile made TEDxLancaster a 501(c)(3) non-profit entity and set out to grow TEDx in the Lancaster area.  He applied for and was chosen by TED to attend TEDActive in Whistler, BC in 2015, which lifted the 100 person cap on TEDxLancaster events.  His first event as the Executive Director had the theme "Without Boundaries."  The event took place on May 16, 2015 at the Ware Center.  Bob expanded TEDxLancaster to a full day event.  There were 16 speakers and the emcee was Rubi Nicholas.  See details about the speakers and view their talks here.

Speakers and VIP attendees of TEDxLancaster 2015


Bob Vasile with TED Curator Chris Anderson at the inaugural TEDSummit in Banff, Alberta in 2016

In 2016, Bob Vasile was one of just 400 TEDx organizers from around the world to be chosen to attend the inaugural TEDSummit, which included the TEDx Global Forum.  The event was held in Banff, Alberta.  Bob and other organizers worked alongside TED Curator Chris Anderson and the rest of the TED staff to help direct the future of TEDx events worldwide.  One of the initiatives to come out of the Summit was to introduce a new speaker format called "direct to camera."  This allowed a speaker to give a TEDx talk without being on the actual stage.  The talk could be either livestreamed or pre-recorded.  A few months later, TEDxLancaster would become one of the first TEDx events in the world to unveil this new format.

TEDxLancaster 2016 took place September 10th at the Ware Center.  The theme was "Connections"  and the emcee was Meredith Jorgensen Cooke.  The event contained a few TEDxLancaster firsts.  The event had its first 2 person TEDx talk, which was given by Haushala Thapa and Amanda Brown.  Another first was a "direct to camera" talk given by Chris Caldwell.  Chris was one of the first TEDx speakers worldwide to give a TEDx talk with this new, experimental format.  See details about the speakers and view their talks here.

TEDxLancaster 2016's speakers and organizers
(Front row-left to right) Alicia Nordstrom, Rubi Nicholas, Beth Valentin, Nga Chau, Grace Buckwalter, Amanda Brown, Haushala Thapa, Lindsey Gruber (organizer), Meredith Jorgensen Cooke (emcee)
(Back row-left to right) Bob Vasile (Executive Director), Aaron Miller, Arfan Qureshi, Michael Parker, Chris Barnabei, Kyle Kuehn, Madap Sharma, Sue Schaffer (organizer), Chris Caldwell (speaker, not pictured)


(Left to right) Salome Heusel (TED's Deputy Director of TEDx), Jay Herrati (TED's Executive Director of TEDx), and Bob Vasile at TEDFest 2017

Bob was selected by TED to attend TEDFest in Brooklyn in April 2017.  This event brought together 400 TEDx organizers from around the world to share ideas, make connections, and discuss initiatives to make TEDx events even better.  The event ran concurrently with TED 2017 in Vancouver and TEDFest attendees watched the TED talks live via livestream.  This was the third year in a row that Bob was selected by TED to attend a TED event.  The knowledge and experience Bob gains from attending these events directly impacts TEDxLancaster and keeps this local event on the cutting edge of TEDx events worldwide.

The inaugural TEDxYouth@Lancaster took place June 17, 2017 at the Winter Center on the campus of Millersville University.  This event featured speakers from 12 to 21 years of age.  The theme was Moving Forward.  There were 12 talks and 2 performances.  The emcee was Elizabeth Raff, a 6th grade teacher in the Penn Manor School District.

This event featured another first for a TEDxLancaster event.  It had an Exhibition Hall.  The Hall allowed attendees to experience 3D Virtual Reality, a Quantum Levitator, a liquid nitrogen demonstration, an interactive booth showing the fun of math, a drum circle, and an obstacle course with Sphero balls controlled by a smartphone.  For more details about the inaugural TEDxYouth@Lancaster, click here.

Speakers, performers, and volunteers from the inaugural TEDxYouth@Lancaster


In April 2018, TEDFest, the annual gathering of TEDx organizers from around the world, took place in Brooklyn, NY.  Once again, Bob was just one of about 400 organizers worldwide selected by TED to attend.  The event ran concurrently with TED 2018 in Vancouver and TEDFest attendees watched the TED talks live via livestream.  This was the fourth year in a row that Bob was selected by TED to attend a TED event.  He collaborated with many of the top TEDx organizers in the world, which helps make TEDxLancaster a high-end, professional, TED-like event.

TEDxLancaster 2018 took place on September 22nd at the Ware Center.  The theme was “Inspiring Change.” The performers and the 10 speakers epitomized the theme.  The emcee was Gail Groves Scott, a co-chair of the Programming Committee for the inaugural TEDxLancaster in 2014.  New to the event this year was a Technology Hall, which featured robots, 3D printing, and Virtual Reality.  See details about the speakers and performers and view their talks here.

The TEDxLancaster 2018 stage


Bob Vasile with Seth Godin at TEDSummit 2019 in Edinburgh, Scotland

TEDxYouth@Lancaster took place June 30th at the Ware Center. The theme was “Rising Above.” All 10 speakers and the emcee were between the ages of 13 and 20. The emcee was 16 year old Ainsley Elkner, a Donegal high school student. There was also an Exhibition Hall featuring technology, therapy pets, African drumming and dancing, the circus arts, and more. See details about the event here.

In July 2019, TEDxLancaster Executive Director Bob Vasile attended TEDSummit in Edinburgh, Scotland. It was the fifth consecutive year that TED chose Bob to attend the worldwide gathering of TEDx organizers. TEDSummit brought together TEDx organizers, TED speakers, TED Fellows, TED Residents, TED Translators, and more. Over 70 counties were represented! During TEDSummit, TED unveiled a new program called TED Circles. Bob was one of just 150 people representing over 40 countries who was selected to be a part of this worldwide pilot program!

The TEDxYouth@Lancaster 2019 stage