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Creating Community Conversation…Ideas Worth Spreading


I consider myself one of the lucky ones that had the opportunity to participate in the first TEDx held in Reno at the University of Nevada. I didn’t know what a TEDx event was, but happened to run across it on a LinkedIn message from Bret Simmons, University of Nevada College of Business associate professor and TEDxUniversityofNevada event organizer. I jumped on it and bought a ticket. It sold out within 24 hours.

Ideas worth spreading

17 speakers were selected from 70 proposals. These great stories are depicting what is happening in our community. And imagine, if these were only 17 out of the 70,  how many more are out there. Most, if not all of these speakers have a local connection, either as UNR graduates or current members of our community.

The speakers were divided into four areas:

Session #1 – Health and Hope:

Shawna Korgan, wife of author and motivational speaker Grant Kogan; Matt Bernardis, COO of First Warning Systems, Inc., a software and medical device company addressing early breast cancer detection; Michael Morkin, M.D.,  an ER physician at Renown Hospital who was on duty the day of the Reno Air Races crash; and Leilani Schweitzer, using her own experience with medical errors to become a patient liaison at Stanford Hospital.

Session #2 – Education:

Pedro Martinez, Lauren Ford and Deyanira Baca; superintendent for Washoe County School District, principal at Hug High School and a senior at Hug High School determined to succeed despite her difficult circumstances; Deanna LeBlanc, 2012 Nevada Teacher of the Year; Veronika Scavacini, an eighth grader with a mission to continue delivering LifeStraws to Kenya; Logan LaPlante, a 13 year old taking a different path he calls “hackschooling”; and Grant Davis, a singer/songwriter and survivor of the impact of his sister’s drug addiction on the family unit.

 Session #3 – Business and Entrepreneurship:

Ryan Dolan, General Manager of Dolan Automotive Group; James Kosta, CEO of 3G Studios; Laura Zander, Co-owner of Jimmy Beans Wool and Mark Estee, chef/owner of Campo Reno.

 Session #4: Bold Ideas Worth Spreading:

Brian Williams, youth motivational speaker challenging schools to compete in acts of “Kindness”; Robb Smith, a social entrepreneur and Grant Korgan, recovering from a spinal cord injury to trek to the South Pole.

Creating Community Conversations

So as a community let’s focus on the positive things that bring us together. What we can do individually and collectively to improve the Reno Tahoe area. Let’s keep the conversation going. I’ve tried sharing the stories from my TEDx experience but it’s tough to convey the depth of enthusiasm and emotion of those on stage. You might not want to miss the next Reno-area TEDx event that will take place on April 26th. Details:



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