TEDxLancaster 2015


Innovation, invention, and growth are all borne by those that go beyond the ordinary and pioneer a new approach. They ignore the naysayers, unlock the shackles of conventional wisdom, and blaze a new trail. Their vision transcends perceived borders and creates a new status quo. Without their passion and courage we would never know what lies beyond the edge. We honor those that pursue a new path and encourage us to dream, to dare, and to think without boundaries.


To see pictures from our 2015 event, click here.

To view or download the official program from TEDxLancaster 2015, click here.


Here's what it means to TEDxLancaster 2015 attendees

That was the question that was posed to our attendees.  Many took to our banner that was displayed at TEDxLancaster 2015.  They wrote their very inspirational messages on the banner, which is shown below.

Speakers for TEDxLancaster 2015

Here are our speakers from TEDxLancaster 2015.  Each of these speakers has an idea worth spreading that is Without Boundaries.  Their messages will educate, motivate, and inspire.  Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "Once the mind has been stretched by a new idea, it will never again return to its original size."  Attend a TEDxLancaster and be changed for life!

Rubi Nicholas - Emcee

We are thrilled to announce that our emcee for TEDxLancaster 2015 is Nick@Nite’s “Funniest Mom in America,” Rubi Nicholas! As a first generation Muslim woman of Pakistani descent, Rubi Nicholas is the antithesis of what one would expect with such a strong ethnic background. Born to a culture steeped in the tradition of the quiet, compliant female, Rubi breaks the mold. Far from choosing the typical life as an obedient wife, she has walked a variety of career paths, chosen a non-traditional family route and now, has succeeded in breaking even more rules. She is the epitome of our theme Without Boundaries!

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Don is a 1981 graduate of J.P. McCaskey High School in Lancaster and a 1985 graduate of Pennsylvania State University in Industrial Engineering.  He worked at RCA New Products Division and Kunzler Meats in Lancaster before moving to Hershey, PA in 1992 to work for the Hershey Company.  Don eventually sold all his belongings, left his lifestyle of material wealth and abundance, and moved to Mozambique to prove that building the right kind of food factories in developing nations can bring lasting economic transformation. He now ships cashews to retailers worldwide through his business, The Sunshine Nut Company.  His company has a social bottom line as it helps transform the lives of his workers.  Don now resides in Mozambique Africa since 2011 with his wife, Terri.  They have three children, Cassandra (23), Brent (21), and William (17), who travel to Mozambique often but reside in the USA. 

Don is President and CEO of the Sunshine Nut Company, whose business model/philosophy is incorporating food processing factories (engines of transformation) in third world countries to jumpstart lasting economic transformation.  It’s a quadruple bottom line business model: Financial, Environmental, Social, and Transformational. This model brings lasting economic transformation to third world nations by providing world class, competitive food products, lifting communities through social and transformative programs, supporting the farmers through vertical integration and higher than Fair Trade practices, and by giving back 90% of proceeds to support this model.  The Sunshine Approach incorporates orphan and vulnerable children transformation. They hire young adults who have mostly come out of the orphanages which they support and work to make them leaders in business.  Their model has been praised by the G8’s GrowAfrica summit and Technoserve as a lasting solution to extreme poverty.


Santanu Majumdar is an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at Georgia Southern University's Betty Foy Sanders Dept. of Art.  He believes contemporary design education requires an innovative and collaborative approach between various disciplines.  Santanu has received several national and international awards and has presented papers on design education, sustainability in design, collaborative research projects and mentoring in several distinguished national and international design conferences.

Santanu feels that 21st century students are more example-driven and research is reduced to browsing pre-existing solutions through search engines, thus making them only surface level problem solvers instead of creating the in-depth process and method driven design solutions. To overcome the challenges he saw in graphic design at GSU, a collaboration occurred with Computer Science, Information Technology, Engineering and Business to conduct classes and team-teach with the real industry challenges.  This kind of activity not only allows them to participate, but also helps them to broaden their knowledge and critical thinking skills.  As a part of the initiative, international internship and student exchange was introduced. This not only provides a life changing exposure but also makes the students more focused once they encounter hardships, challenges, and competitions.  It's an example of breaking the boundaries of traditional education.


Gary Oppenheimer's accomplishments include being a CNN Hero, World Food Prize nominee, lecturer and keynote speaker, 2014 Yahoo! News/ABC News “Best Person”, 2014 Google Tech Talk speaker, 2013 Encore Purpose Prize Fellow, Points of Light winner, Huffington Post's “Greatest Person of the Day” and “2011 Game Changer, winner of the Russell Berrie Foundation's "Making A Difference" award, winner of the Glynwood 2011 “Wave of the Future” award, winner of the 2012 Elfenworks “In Harmony With Hope” award, Echoing Green semifinalist and founder of AmpleHarvest.org. He now makes his home in the mountains of northern New Jersey after having lived on a boat on the Hudson River in Manhattan since 1978. He is also a Master Gardener, Rutgers Environmental Steward, former community garden director, Environmental Commissioner in northern New Jersey, an avid gardener, dancer and long distance cyclist. 

Gary feels that we often attack problems by reacting to them instead of actually solving them. Think of bailing water from a sinking boat rather than actually plugging the leak.  For example, he says to think of hunger as being solved by buying more food, feeding people, and then buying more food… over and over.  The idea of allowing America’s 42 million gardeners to share their excess harvest was always thwarted with the “jars, cans, boxes-no fresh food” mantra.  The creation of AmpleHarvest.org, a digital “pipeline” that opened the floodgate of locally grown fresh food as well as the growers’ goodwill, is now increasingly giving those with the excess food the opportunity to share it with the needy in the community by way of a nearby food pantry.  Gary hates waste and is the founder of this nationwide program that created a virtual pipeline for the excess food in millions of home and community gardeners to local food programs. The fact that AmpleHarvest.org has been a widely well received entity, yet struggles for support, speaks to a problem other innovative non-profits also experience.


Ms. Katzenmoyer has been the Director of Public Works for the City of Lancaster since May 2001. She graduated from the University of Akron; Akron, Ohio with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and graduated from Lehigh University; Bethlehem, PA with Master of Science in Environmental Engineering. Ms. Katzenmoyer spent the first 10 years of her career working for an environmental consulting firm near Philadelphia. As the Director of Public Works with the City of Lancaster, she has responsibility  of approximately 200 employees with an annual operating budget of $50 million and a capital budget of $50 million.  The water and wastewater systems of the City serve not only the City proper, but nine municipalities surrounding the City with a population of over 140,000 residents. She is responsible for managing a new stormwater management fee program based on impervious area of each property and generates an annual budget of $5 million to meet the Chesapeake Bay pollution reduction program and other CSO efforts.

What if government was run more like a business that valued creativity over conformity;  focused more on the customer and less on the bureaucracy; and was viewed as a model of cost-effective service delivery?   Think this can't be done?  Learn how the City of Lancaster has continuously done just that, and is now poised to be one of the first municipal governments to build and use a broadband fiber network and WIFI to improve efficiency, lower costs, and expand the scope of City services.


Ricky Staub is the Founder of Neighborhood Film Company - a community of filmmakers that believes there is a soul to every story. He has served as the company’s Chief Creative Director and personally directed projects all over the world for clients such as Nike, Anthropologie, and Coca-Cola. Recently shortlisted for two projects at the Cannes Lions Young Director Awards, his company has additionally garnered numerous attention and awards across the globe. Ricky currently lives in Philadelphia with his wife Katie and dog Whiskey.

One might think that Neighborhood Film Company in Philadelphia is just another company that makes films.  However, creating beautiful films for brands is not only what Neighborhood does. Creating opportunities for adults in recovery is why they do it. Every year, Neighborhood selects 3 adults coming out of incarceration or homelessness to engage in an eight month paid apprenticeship at the company.  Working on real projects with real risk and reward, apprentices are run through a gauntlet of business skill development, career mentorship, and holistic life change. They aren’t developing them to be directors or editors, but high-level project coordinators with a versatile skill set that can translate into many diverse work environments.


Jeff Swarr is the Chief Competition Officer of the Heart of a Competitor, motivating and encouraging competitors of all ages to perform at their best. He has coached at all levels of sport, including youth football and basketball, Junior High basketball, High School baseball, and NCAA Division II and III baseball. Jeff is a veteran Special education teacher, impacting countless students to overcome adversity and achieve their dreams. He has presented and spoken at numerous high schools and colleges including Muhlenberg College, York College, Millersville University, and Columbia University. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Millersville University. Jeff's mission is as follows, “I strive to dominate each day with endless enthusiasm. In doing so, I will prioritize my time and energy on the priorities in my life. Through this prioritization, I will impact the lives of those around me to achieve their goals and dreams, helping them create their heart of a competitor.”

Technology has placed immense power in our hands. We have the power to instantaneously communicate with people around the world and those in which we have never met face to face. However, with this power comes great responsibility and the first responsibility is to understand that we are in charge of our minds and how we respond to any message, notification, interaction, or situation.  To control our response, we must understand the GAP. The GAP is the time between a stimulus and a response and we control the GAP. A notification pops up on our “smartphone.” This is a stimulus. What is our response? Frequently, the habit is to immediately respond to this notification. We have been trained to shorten this GAP and make an immediate response. Being mindful of our thoughts allows us to lengthen the GAP and to make intelligent and informed decisions.


Erich Goldstein is a mathematician and chemist by schooling, an educator by profession, and a playwright by passion. Working at several science museums throughout his career, he has been able to infuse his enthusiasm for science and math to children and adults.

Science is a game and it is a game for everyone at every age.  America has a problem: We produce fewer scientists than ever. We deny science. To change America's relationship with science, we need to change our children's relationship with science.  If we taught sports in the way we teach science, if we limited access to playing it, no one would ever grow up to play a sport. Science is a game, with competitions, with miracle moments, with adrenaline. We need to break the boundaries, and institute a huge science project, county-wide to start, state-wide as it grows, nation-wide in its fullest form. This is a science project that every child in school gets to be a part of, and which provides important data for the county or state or country.


Aryanna Hunter grew up the youngest of ten children in a family that lived below the poverty line. In 2001 she joined the United States Army just weeks after the attacks of 9/11 and is an Iraq War veteran having served with the 18th Airborne Corp. She is the mother of two and is the Founder and President of One Push Up, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating an environment of better food throughout our communities while empowering veterans through the path of becoming farmers; all to ensure we are protecting our national security. Aryanna holds a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration-Operations Management, and two Master's degrees one in Project Management and another in Public Administration. In 2012, Aryanna won the Democratic Party's nomination to become the congressional candidate for the 16th district of Pennsylvania, is a member of the Truman National Security Project, and in 2014 she was named to Governor Tom Wolf's transition team.

Our military is fat, our children are obese, and we have the solution for both on the thousands of acres of Pennsylvania farms.  Two months after 9/11, Aryanna enlisted in the United States Army and was considered overweight and struggled throughout her military career with her weight. It didn’t matter that she could run 2 miles in 14:50 or knock-out 43 push-ups in 2 minutes, she was overweight. Not until years and two children later did it occur to her that it wasn’t her level of fitness, but her level of nutrition. When it came to knowing how food was meant to fuel her body, she was ignorant...and for good reason, she never learned.  Aryanna feels that the education of nutrition has to start when our kids are young.


Shohini Banerjee is a sophomore at Warwick High School. In her free time, she is an Indian Classical dancer, focusing on the Bharatnatyam style since she was six. She graduated as a classical dancer in 2012 after years of vigorous training and continues to do many local performances today. She also loves playing the flute, performing for both the school, Lancaster Symphony Youth Orchestra, and the PMEA band at county, district and regional levels. Shohini is a meticulous student in her studies and maintains her position in the top five in her class. Apart from her passion for science, she also has particular interests in the arts and religion. She loves traveling to India and expressing her heritage. Shohini’s lifelong goal is to become a better person everyday by adopting more altruistic ways of life.

Shohini Banerjee has a family friend with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.  It’s a motor neuron degenerative disease which cuts off the signals that go from your brain to your muscles.  Since a staggering 50% of ALS patients die within the first two years of diagnosis, Shohini was motivated to increase the lifespan of those afflicted with ALS.  The high school sophomore entered Lancaster's North Museum Science and Engineering Fair, with a project entitled "Effect of L-Arginine on Cisplatin with hSOD1 Disaggregation." Using a readily available over-the-counter product, she has found what could be a promising protocol for patients.  For her efforts, she was named the Fair’s Grand Champion and earned entry into the International Science and Engineering Fair.


Martina Lynch is a Hip Hop/Spoken word artist from Baltimore MD, who has been performing and perfecting her craft since 2005. She specializes in being a MC and working every crowd like a true “lyte”. Martina has performed in over 8 states and has completed 2 mixtapes, that are now available on sound cloud and datpiff.  She has reached stages such as BET’s 106 and park, and  had radio spins on Baltimore’s station 92Q. In 2013, Martina Lynch competed in Chicago’s international MC Olympics and took home 2nd place. In 2014 ,  Ms. Lynch competed in the Baltimore MC Olympics and took home 1st place.  Martina Lynch is an underground , hard working artist , who believes that Hip Hop and poetry can be used as a way to change the world for the better.

Racial divide is a very sensitive and relevant subject.  Hip hop word artist Martina Lynch's performance is about putting aside the differences of citizens in America that continue to cause separation between races and different religions. It's about peace and social justice.  Martina delivers a powerful message in a concise and very moving format.  This is one performance you won't want to miss.


Kerry Briggs of the North Museum of Nature & Science in Lancaster taught middle school science for two decades and now gets to have fun engaging audiences in informal STEM education! Through the Museum, Kerry coordinates the regional science fair (the North Museum Science & Engineering Fair) involving over 1000 students who vie for 400 allotted places, competing countywide for the top two places to go on and compete worldwide at Intel ISEF. Earning a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Elementary Education from Millersville University and a Master’s Degree in Science Education from Lebanon Valley College, Kerry resides in Lampeter with her family.

TEDxLancaster is proud to announce that attendees will see a QUANTUM LEVITATOR in action during our event! The Quantum Levitator will be demonstrated by Kerry Briggs of the North Museum, the ONLY science education center in the United States with this device!  The Quantum Levitator is a demonstration in superconductivity. This newest technology uses neodymium rare-earth magnets, a superconductive metal disc and super-cold liquid nitrogen. The disc is not magnetic, but uses the magnetic field when cooled to -320 degrees F to lock into place and levitate (only while it’s cold). The disc is made of a superconductive metal with properties that are activated by the liquid nitrogen, thus creating superconductivity…temporarily. This technology is currently being researched as scientists discover practical uses, and an explanation for how this phenomenon works. Witness what could be the future of transportation!


Teacher at Penn Manor High School and Independent Educational Consultant for The McGough Group. Gregg is an English Language Arts teacher at Penn Manor High School who believes in the radical transformation of public education through the leveraging of everyday digital technologies. Authentic learning, with high academic rigor, can be realized when students learn to nurture collaborative relationships while seeking unique solutions to relevant, real world problems.


Students who join and regularly participate in virtual communities of practice (VCoP) understand how to give back to a technologically connected world that is truly without boundaries.  On Saturday, March 8, 2014, a Boeing 777, carrying 12 crew members and 227 passengers from 15 nations lost contact and disappeared forever. Within fifteen minutes, Gregg was on the Tomnod site and prepared a new lesson to include his 10th grade students in the largest virtual search and rescue mission in human history.  His students used their technologies to search thousands of satellite images looking for debris, oil slicks, and survivors. This was not a simulation, but an actual collaborative practice of a community of concerned citizens. Gregg's students were no longer just consumers...they were contributors to human kind. Their energy and passion for helping the global community made them a part of a powerful virtual community of practice.  A technologically connected world ceases to have boundaries and Gregg feels that students need to be taught how to actively participate in the new virtual communities that are forming.


As a professionally trained ballet dancer, Marie’s life focus has been on creative expression through movement. She believes that movement is the key to a fulfilling life and that there is a movement style for everyone. This commitment to movement and wellness led her to develop her own barre class, Move It Barre, in addition to certifications in Pilates. She recently opened Move It Studio, Lancaster's first barre studio and only movement gallery. She also teaches dance and arts management at Messiah College as well as at Susquehanna Dance Center. Her dance training includes programs at North Carolina School of the Arts, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and American Ballet Theatre. Marie holds a Master of Nonprofit Administration from the University of Notre Dame (cum laude, '11).  Along with teaching, she applies her nonprofit expertise as a consultant to various arts organizations, helping to launch the Dance for Parkinson’s-Central PA program with Cobalt Dance Company.

Marie believes in the power of movement "without boundaries". That power can change your body, your mind, and even your relationships. What better way to show this power than by a demonstration? Marie will bring movement to the stage through dance and she will explain how this affects our brains and possibly our lives.


Judge David L. Ashworth was elected to the bench of the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas in November, 1999 and was retained for a second 10 year term in November of 2009. He received his B.A. in English from Gettysburg College and graduated with honors from the Delaware Law School of Widener University. Prior to going on the bench, Judge Ashworth was a trial attorney for twenty years. He is a Senior Adjunct Professor at Franklin and Marshal College and a Drug Court Technical Consultant with the Federal Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) in cooperation with American University.   He is a member of the Lancaster County and Pennsylvania Bar Associations, the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges and the National and Pennsylvania Associations of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP & PADCP) and served as President of PADCP. He was appointed to the Statewide Drug Court Accreditation Committee by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. He presides over Civil Court, Criminal Court, Drug Court and Discovery Motions Court. He is a past president of the Rotary Club of Lancaster.

Drug addiction is a prevalent issue in virtually every community.  Current court programs aren't necessarily successful in preventing repeat offenders.  Judge Ashworth's innovative Lancaster County Adult Drug Court program has just concluded its 10th year of operation, and has improved thousands of lives with over 120 graduates and more than 20 "drug free" babies.  Yet it remains one of Lancaster's best kept secrets.  The Drug Court is successful in improving the lives of those that come before it.  Hear how this program came to be and how it can be a model to other communities.


A high school junior, Janelle Evans represents a core group of students forging new paths in education.  She is a passionate advocate of equitable employment for women in third world countries, and seeks ways for American teens to be involved as ambassadors for these women.  Janelle enjoys studying music and the arts, learning Arabic, and upon graduation hopes to offer her skills in the fields of International Relations and Linguistics.

Nine homeschooled students in Lancaster County have formed “The Independent Project” to design and direct their education. The Independent Project (TIP) is a student-directed learning group based on accountability and creativity, and is one possible way to give students charge over their education. The students met and designed TIP to include three main parts: posing and answering questions within designated subject areas (social sciences, logic, natural sciences, visual arts), reading and responding to literature, and pursuing a yearlong individual endeavor that develops a skill the student is passionate about mastering.  Student-directed learning groups can collaborate to design and run their own education with excellence. The Independent Project exemplifies this idea in our community.


TINA DAVIDSON, a highly regarded American composer, creates music that stands out for its emotional depth and lyrical dignity.  Lauded for her authentic voice, the New York Times praised her “vivid ear for harmony and colors.”  OperaNews called her works "transfigured beauty."  Tina Davidson has been commissioned and performed by well-known ensembles such as National Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, OperaDelaware, VocalEssence, Kronos Quartet, and Cassatt Quartet, and most recently by Grammy Award-winning violinist,  Hilary Hahn. Ms Davidson’s talents have been recognized through the awarding of a number of grants and fellowships, including the prestigious Pew Fellowship, the largest such grant in the country for which an artist can apply.  She was born in Stockholm, Sweden and grew up in Oneonta, NY, and now lives in central Pennsylvania.

A classical music musician, composer and innovator in her field, Tina Davidsons inspirational and moving talk will encompass her work in the last twenty years with inner city schools and community organizations.  She will be joined by musicians to illustrate her points first hand - but we don't want to reveal too much right now as we want you to experience what she has in store.