TEDxLancaster 2016

THANKS to all that attended our 2016 event.  We'd like to thank our speakers for telling us all about their ideas worth spreading.  Thanks also to our partners, volunteers, and organizing committee members.  TEDxLancaster 2016 was one for the ages.  To view the program from the event, click here. View pictures from our event here.  See the article from LNP Lancaster Online here.

TED sends a survey to all TEDx attendees to gauge their feedback of the event.  On a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest rating, 86% of respondents rated TEDxLancaster 2016 a 9 or a 10!  That's high praise for our speakers!  Read some of the comments from our attendees here.  See why TEDxLancaster 2016 was so magical.  View the videos and get ready to be inspired!

Our event on September 10, 2016 sparked connections in many ways.  Attendees connected with the speakers and their ideas.  They also connected with each other.  When like-minded people get together, especially in an inspirational atmosphere like a TEDx event, magic happens.  We encourage you to keep those connections going long after they were first made.  You are all a part of the TEDxLancaster family.  Thank you for attending and being a part of a VERY special day.


Chris Barnabei is the librarian/technology integrator at the Career Magnet School in Chambersburg. While there, he became involved with computer coding instruction despite a lack of background in computer science. Working alongside his students, he helped to develop and publish an app for the school, and in June 2016, Chris was one of 50 educators from around the world who received a scholarship to attend Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco, California. This is a prestigious event held for software and app developers. Chris has a special interest in connecting with and advocating for teachers who, like himself, offer coding instruction yet do not have a background in computer science.


For the first time in TEDxLancaster history, there will be a two person talk!  Amanda Brown and Haushala Thapa believe that education is both a fundamental human right and a crucial vehicle for creative, sustainable change. Their work with Children and Youth First (CYF), a school in Nepal, is changing lives.

Haushala Thapa Zimba graduated from St. Xaviers College in Nepal with a Bachelors Degree in Social Work, and is currently earning a Masters Degree in Sociology from Tribhuvan University. She founded Children and Youth First in 2008 at 21 years old, after discovering and shutting down an abusive orphanage in Kathmandu. Haushala has been named in VOW Magazine's Top 10 College Women of the Year, and has twice been named on their annual "Women to Watch" feature. Under her direction, CYF educates and encourages more marginalized children and teens each year at the Life Vision Academy boarding school in Lalitpur, Nepal.

Amanda Brown graduated from Colgate University with a Bachelors Degree in Peace and Conflict Studies, and is now pursuing a Masters Degree in Social Policy from London School of Economics. She joined Children and Youth First in 2014 at 20 years old, after studying human rights in Nepal and meeting Haushala through a random homestay match. Amanda received Colgate University's 2015 Entrepreneurs of New York award after developing Children and Youth First through the university's Thought Into Action incubator.


Grace is a sophomore at Hempfield High School and was inspired to do a project in neurology because her mother suffers from migraines. She saw the constant pain her mother was in and the numerous trial drugs she had to take in order to decrease the pain.  She wanted to be able to help her and others that have to live with similar neurological disorders.  So, Grace combined fashion and her motivation to make a piece of wearable technology…a dress.  It’s not just any dress.  Fiber optics built into the dress change color as the wearer’s brainwaves change.  It can be used to possibly detect brain waves that are a precursor to a migraine.  Grace will be wearing this dress during her TEDxLancaster talk and will demonstrate how it changes colors as her brainwaves change.


Chris is an avid proponent of bikes as transportation. Following an uninspiring college career, Chris split his time between working construction, traveling and being a ski bum.  After many different business ideas, Chris finally followed through on one, starting The Common Wheel, a nonprofit community bike center in Lancaster, Pa. This idea was able to combine Chris' love for bikes, his city, community building, adventure and a never-ending curiosity and willingness to try new things.

Chris is one of the first TEDx speakers in the WORLD to do a "direct to camera" talk.  One of the innovations to come out of the TEDx Global Forum in June was a new speaker format called “direct to camera.”  This new format allows the speaker to either livestream their talk or record it and play it at the TEDx event.  This is in lieu of having a speaker deliver their talk live on stage.  It provides more flexibility with the speaker’s content.  TED is allowing one speaker per TEDx event to participate in this experiment.  Chris is truly a pioneer by participating in this groundbreaking format.


Nga Chau is a neuroscientist and works in research at Johns Hopkins Hospital. With a team of neurologists and engineers, they are studying transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), a form of brain stimulation technology, and its potential to treat symptoms of Parkinson's Disease. Nga's path and passion is largely influenced by her life experience caring for her mother, who suffers from Young-Onset Parkinson's. She is able to bring her academic and intimate understanding of the disease to contribute to the science and bridge a special connection with patients.

Nga's empathy and affinity to help others is dichotomous. When she is not in the hospital researching, she works as a first responder with The First Response Team of America, helping families and communities recover from tornado, hurricane, flooding, and other natural disaster strikes.


Kyle began experimenting with drugs and alcohol at a young age and struggled with addiction until he was 27 years old. On January 21st, 2015, he overcame his drug addictions, including alcohol and cigarettes, all on the same day… while working at a bar! Kyle believes that our culture of excessive consumption, leads to a loss of connection, relationship, and life.  He believes that as we engage in relationships that are not dependent upon substances, we will develop the ability to lower our own inhibitions and experience deep human connection.

With over a decade of restaurant/bar experience, Kyle has seen a need in the community for people who wanted to socialize, build relationships, and enjoy entertainment free from the temptation of drugs and alcohol. He is now the founder of SOBERBARS, an organization that promotes substance free living in the community through entertainment, events, and nightlife.


Aaron Miller has spent his career at the Hershey Company working in various engineering roles as a Process Design Engineer, Plant Engineer and Project Manager developing and executing projects for new products and margin improvements. He is currently a member of the Supply Chain Innovation team that explores feasibility of front of funnel new product concepts. In addition, Aaron is also a part of a small team which investigates the future application of cutting edge technologies to business and manufacturing through proof of concept investigation.

Aaron feels that progress is rarely the product of a miraculous breakthrough, as we often envision it in our minds; it is actually a culmination of many small steps forward. The technological advancements occurring around us contain evidence of this evolutionary process and point to an abundant future for mankind. Applying this evolutionary mindset to our personal development can help us achieve extraordinary results in our own lives.



As a stand up comedian, former professor, single mom and first generation American of Pakistani Muslim descent, Rubi Nicholas is the antithesis of what one would expect with such a strong ethnic background. Selected Nick@Nite's Funniest Mom in America, Rubi uses humor to break down barriers between people. Rubi will provide a first-hand account of what it's like to be stereotyped. By focusing on words and language, she demonstrates how our choices affect each other, create unity or division, and how choosing our words to promote inclusion is paramount to building community. She will also share how it negatively affected her views towards others and what she did to overcome that. Rubi was the emcee at our 2015 event and we are thrilled to have her back this year as a speaker.


John Nieves is a Heads Up Artist Mentor who teaches Break Dance, DJ 101, Junkyard Drumming and other urban arts programs to students.  He is a founding member of Break Free Crew and his choreography and crew has been featured on various TV shows and movies.  John believes that the passions of youth that are expressed through dance, hip hop, and music give a glimpse into God’s fingerprints of their potential.  You can learn more about Heads Up’s nonprofit work at WeAreHeadsUp.org


Alicia is a Psychology professor and Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Misericordia University.  She received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 2004 from The Pennsylvania State University.  Her research interests include classroom interventions to reduce stereotypes and prejudice as well as social anxiety and mental health in college students.

Stereotypes play an unfortunate role in today’s divisive climate.  Alicia will address stereotypes and will apply psychology research and concepts to explore the evaluation and consequences of different social identities across race, religion, social class, gender, disability, sexual orientation, age, and more.  She will cover strategies to monitor and reduce stigma.  She is the creator of The Voices Project, an award-winning, empirically-supported program to reduce stereotypes of stigmatized social groups.  Her documentary, The Voices Project: Disability reflects her passion for social justice and background as a theater and film actor, director, and writer. 


Michael is currently a PhD Candidate in the Department of Immunobiology at Yale University where he studies how infected cells mount immune responses to viruses. He holds a Bachelor’s in Biology from Millersville University and a Master’s in Immunobiology from Yale University. Throughout his scientific career, he has worked in a variety of fields including plant genomics, bioinformatics, microbiology, immunology, and virology.

In his TEDxLancaster talk on September 10th, he will explore the question “What makes us human?” from both a historical, biological, and philosophical perspective. This discussion will be rooted in the interaction of humans with the microbial world. Michael feels that our connection with these unseen entities is not only a modern revolution of science, but is an indispensable tool for learning more about ourselves as humans.


Reflecting on a journey across a wide-ranging career that included crushing his biggest fear, moving 7,800 miles away, working in 10 countries, and learning a new language, Arfan Qureshi will share snapshots of key decisions that put him in positions of maximum learning.  His talk is aptly entitled, “Leaving yourself no choice but to grow.”

Arfan is a Senior Talent Consultant at The Hershey Company.  He has led Leadership and Organizational Development programs across industries and across the world.  Proficient in 4 languages, he holds two master’s degrees from the University of Oxford and Michigan State University.


Madap Sharma will present one of the most compelling life stories ever told on our stage.  He is a former refugee from the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. He fled his home country in 1992 to escape the Drukpa regime’s cultural and ethnic cleansing policy of “one nation, one people.”  He pursued higher education while living as a refugee, became an educator, and founded an English school primarily for educating girls. He was the recipient of one of the highest civilian honors, conferred unto him by the State Head of Nepal.  All the while, he was surrounded by hardship and atrocities.

In his talk, Madap narrates his painful personal story as a young boy from Bhutan, spending 19 years of his life in refugee camps in Nepal.  He details his struggles along the way in pursuit of higher education and his success story as refugee resettlement director in Lancaster.  Throughout his struggle, Madap always saw hope amid hardship and possibilities amid predicaments.  His message is that no problem is permanent.  After you hear his story, you’ll be amazed at how he can be so positive, hopeful, and driven.  This is one talk you won’t want to miss.


Beth Valentin is a mentor in the North Museum's STEM Sisters program. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Her talk, “Inspire, Empower, Ignite. Girls in STEM”, follows her journey from a young girl stumbling though school, to a sought-after woman in the male dominated STEM field. Beth explains why she is lucky and how we all can connect, support, and inspire future generations of women to “be the boss of their own lives” through a career in STEM.

Beth is a Quality Control Supervisor at DentalEZ Integrated Solutions. She earned not one, but two associates of applied science degrees from Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology. A dedicated volunteer, Beth serves on the board of multiple organizations including the Junior League of Lancaster, Clare House, and the Daughters of the American Revolution.

TED Talk videos that were shown at TEDxLancaster 2016

video Block
Double-click here to add a video by URL or embed code. Learn more