March 8, 2014 • Hotel Paradox • Santa Cruz

From the spark of inspiration to the act of realization, TEDxSantaCruz: Activate featured speakers and performers whose ideas sparked experiences, projects, work, or creativity that is setting in motion a new reality, igniting new connections, or energizing communities.

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Speakers & Performers

CAPT Wayne Porter

Chair, Systemic Strategy and Complexity at Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.

CAPT Porter holds two Masters of Science degrees and is completing doctoral work at Naval Postgraduate School. Military duty included Japan, England, Italy, the Balkans, Bahrain (Navy’s Director of Intelligence in the Persian Gulf/East Africa), and three tours on the personal staff of ADM Mike Mullen, including Special Assistant for Strategy to both the Chief of Naval Operations and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. In 2011, Secretary of Defense directed him to establish a Chair at Naval Postgraduate School. He is a “Walton Fellow” at Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability and is currently Chair, Systemic Strategy and Complexity at Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. Cited in Marquis’ Who’s Who in America, his civilian and military awards include the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the Defense Superior Service Medal, three Legions of Merit, and the NATO Meritorious Service Medal. He co-authored, with Colonel Mark Mykleby, “A National Strategic Narrative,” published by the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars and subsequently cited in numerous journals, televised editorials and radio interviews (www.nationalstrategicnarrative.org). His work has appeared in the Harvard Business Review, Journal of American Foreign Policy Interests, The HotSpring Quarterly, Washington Times, and Naval Institute Proceedings.

Mark Lakeman

urban designer, social catalyst, and a place making pioneer

Mark Lakeman is an unusual urban designer, social catalyst, and a place making pioneer. As founder of the design activist cultures of the City Repair Project, communitecture design collaborative, and Planet Repair Institute, Mark's work challenges conventions of thought and action, and even dares to suggest that much of history, that seems long past, may not yet be settled. His work to transform the American colonial grid into a network of intersections of convergence and cultural expression has become a movement that spans the continent. With more than 350 projects in Portland, Oregon alone, the projects emerge from communities as outrageous fusions of unheard of functions and irrepressible forms, in which design is employed as a means to bring people together. As a son of Portland, Oregon's visionary culture of design activism, Mark helps keep his city on the edge.


Sophia VanKlootwyk-Forde

2011 fellow with the Jack Kent Cooke Association

Sophia VanKlootwyk-Forde sees bicycles as more than transportation: she sees them as vehicles for human connection. Equipped with a camp stove and a tent, she has biked thousands of miles across a dozen countries. Sophia is also fervently involved in bicycle advocacy: she co-founded the Cabrillo Bike Co-op as a community college student, taught bike safety and maintenance classes to fellow students at UCLA, and worked at a DIY Bike co-op in a low-income neighborhood in Los Angeles. Sophia earned her Associates Degree while still in high school and obtained a BA in Geography from UCLA and the University of Copenhagen. She is a 2009 fellow with Young People For, a progressive student leadership program, and a 2011 fellow with the Jack Kent Cooke Association, a private scholarship fund that awards outstanding academic achievement.

Joshua Freedman

CEO and founder, Six Seconds

Joshua Freedman is CEO and a founder of the world’s most extensive emotional intelligence organization, Six Seconds. He leads a network of 50,000 changemakers teaching skills equipping people to be more aware, intentional, and purposeful – so people and organizations do better. Freedman is one of a handful of experts in the world with over 15 years of full-time, proven experience in emotional intelligence development. He is the bestselling author of At the Heart of Leadership and of INSIDE CHANGE, and co-author of seven psychometric assessments in 12 languages (including the SEI Brain Brief and Organizational Vital Signs), working with clients such as the US Navy, FedEx, Make A Wish, the UN, HSBC and Emaar. Freedman is one of the most prolific contributors to making the science of emotional intelligence practical and transformational.


Paul Lee

Philosopher and Theologian

Paul Lee is a retired philosopher and theologian, a homeless advocate and author. He is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School and Harvard University (PhD) where he studied with Paul Tillich and learned the meaning of thymos, the Greek word for courage that has been a guiding force for his life. He recently published: There Is A Garden In the Mind, Alan Chadwick and the Organic Movement in California. He is currently reviving his Circle Trail Project which encompasses the west side of Santa Cruz.


Jessica Delgado

Alternate Public Defender in Santa Clara County

Jessica Delgado, a public defender for sixteen years, works at the Law Offices of the Alternate Public Defender in Santa Clara County. After the 2012 election, Jessica was assigned to work on the Three Strikes Reform Project. She has secured the release of fifteen people serving life sentences for non-violent, non-serious offenses. Dave Gomez was sentenced to life in prison for car theft. He served eighteen years in state prison prior to his release in June of 2013. Dave is currently enrolled in school and mentors several other men who are putting their lives back together. Bilal Chatman was sentenced to life in prison for selling drugs. He served ten years in state prison prior to his release in June of 2013. He is currently working full time, plays softball and serves as a sponsor to five people working through their own recovery issues. Jessica, Dave, and Bilal extend their deep gratitude to the Stanford Three Strikes Project and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund for all of their hard work in securing justice on many fronts.


Cat Willis

Tannery World Dance & Cultural Center

Cat Willis is the founder and director of the Tannery World Dance & Cultural Center. She has lived in Santa Cruz for over 13 years. She is originally from Rochester, N.Y., where she was encouraged from a small age to express herself through the arts. She began her formal dance education with Garth Fagan Dance, with whom she studied extensively for six years. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Dance from SUNY Brockport. Her passion for cross cultural understanding, dance arts research, study, and performance has led her to Central America, the Caribbean, and West Africa. She has taught dance throughout Santa Cruz, including two years with Mountain Elementary School as resident choreographer. Cat has served on the Cultural Council of Santa Cruz Grants Advisory Committee, the Cultural Council of Santa Cruz grants panel, SC Fringe Festival Advisory Board, and was the 418 Project’s 2009 Artist in Residence and the Theatre Bay Area’s CA$H grant recipient in Dance. Her work through her dance company, DIASPORA, has been shown throughout Santa Cruz and the San Francisco Bay Area.


Micha Scott

Dancer and Choreographer

A 13-year senior member with Garth Fagan Dance, Micha Scott has performed and taught master classes worldwide. She has been a soloist with Tandy Beal & Company, and a featured dancer in the PBS special “Griot New York” with famed composer and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. Micha has taught dance at SUNY Brockport, Rochester School of the Arts, SCU, UCSC, Cabrillo College, public schools, and private studios. Her choreography has been commissioned by Santa Clara University, Cabrillo College, and Monterey High School. Micha is co-artistic director of Diaspora Dance Company, resident choreographer at Mountain School, dance instructor at Mount Madonna School and Dancenter, and artistic director of children’s programming at Tannery World Dance and Cultural Center.

Nicole Crane

faculty member, Biology Department at Cabrillo College in Aptos / Senior Conservation Scientist, Oceanic Society

Nicole Crane is a faculty member in the Biology Department at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California. She is also a Senior Conservation Scientist at the Oceanic Society, and is the Project Leader for the Ulithi Marine Management and Conservation Project – focusing on outer island communities to help with sustainable management planning. Crane has more than 20 years experience working with communities and conducting ecological assessments of reefs. She is dedicated to linking rigorous science with cultural knowledge and community leadership in conservation. Nicole has established several science education programs in the United States, with a focus on serving underrepresented students. She was the founder and PI of the National Science Foundation Center for Excellence in Marine Advanced Technology Education (Monterey Peninsula College), and PI for Camp SEA Lab (California State University Monterey Bay). She was nominated for a PEW fellowship, and is a Fellow National at the Explorers Club.


Aliza Weller, MES

Co-Founder of a play-based learning institute

Aliza Weller is a global training Instructional Designer for a well-known tech company in Silicon Valley and Co-Founder of a play-based learning institute. Her central work is to help others develop courage, authenticity, and to aspire toward inner greatness and depth. She taught Zen meditation and yoga in maximum security men’s prisons. She created play-based urban programs that catalyzed policy change and galvanized 30,000 students to walk and bike to school to improve their health and that of the environment. She lived for three years in the high Canadian Arctic Circle, doing cross-cultural resource management work, where playfulness is a survival skill because winters have 24-hour darkness and -70 temperatures, and where she learned to play with the wind, kite boarding on the frozen ocean. With a background in Education, Communications, Biology, Law, and a Masters degree in Environmental Studies, Aliza advises on the Board of Directors of the North American Association for Environmental Education and the Canadian Network for Environmental Education and Communication. Her Arctic writing has been nominated for national literary awards.


Susanna Zaraysky

Author and Documentarian

Susanna Zaraysky speaks eight languages. She is the author of Language is Music (in English, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish) about how to use music & other media to learn foreign languages and the book, Travel Happy, Budget Low (a budget travel guide). The BBC, CBS, CNN, EFE, The Guardian, Univision and Telemundo have interviewed Susanna about how to improve foreign language education with music. She hosted her own segment in Spanish on the Al Despertar morning show on Univision San Francisco called “El idioma es música” where she taught English grammar and pronunciation via songs. She is the co-producer of the documentary, Saved by Language, about how a young Bosnian boy saved his life in the Holocaust by speaking Ladino. The US State Department has organized her presentations about language learning through music in Bosnia, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Qatar and Russia.


Derick Sebastian

Ukelele Artist

Through faith and hard work, Maui born local Derick Sebastian continues to live his dream as an accomplished international ‘ukulele virtuoso. Derick’s critically-acclaimed instrumental album, From His Heart, earned a Na Hoku Hanohano 2010 nomination, has shared the stage with fellow ukulele ace Jake Shimabukuro and opened for R&B sensation Brian McKnight, with notable performances at PIXAR Animation, Grey’s Anatomy, and professional sports industry’s MLB, PGA, ESPN and EA SPORTS. Derick recently broke into the film industry composing movie theme songs to Germany’s Behind The Rainbow and Hollywood’s Life’s An Itch. While garnering these many accomplishments, Derick is humbled and stays true to himself, and continues his dedication to inspire lives through his music and impact the world through the pure sounds he evokes through the ukulele.


Rob Dunn

writer and evolutionary biologist

Rob Dunn is a writer and evolutionary biologist who studies the life inhabiting what he considers to be one of many last frontiers, human backyards, bedrooms and bodies. He does this work by engaging the public in the study of their own homes and bodies through the yourwildlife.org project. Dunn leads projects on the mites found on adult humans, bacteria in belly buttons and guts, fungi in houses, and ants in backyards. Dunn has written three books, Every Living Thing, The Wild Life of Our Bodies, and The Man Who Touched his Own Heart (2015). In addition, he has worked with the public to publish three books based on studies based on public science, Dr. Eleanor's Book of Common Ants, Dr. Eleanor's Book of Common Ants of New York City and The Book of Invisible Life (2015).


Virginia Wright

Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies

Virginia Wright has been working as a director for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelics Studies (MAPS) since October 2011. Prior to her work with MAPS, Virginia was the Principal of Wright & Associates, a firm that provided strategic planning, marketing and fundraising services to nonprofit organizations. Virginia served as the Executive Director of the Santa Cruz County Symphony, and the Development Director of the Carmel Bach Festival, and KUSP radio. Virginia was an early employee of the Global Fund for Women, and co-founded the Soviet American Performing Arts Exchange. She has participated in two international movements that have helped change the world: citizen diplomacy and the woman’s movement. She believes that ending the drug war, and basing drug policy on science, not fear, is one of the next big shifts in thinking that will bring healing and freedom to millions of people. Virginia received her MBA from Santa Clara University, and her BA from SFSU in International Relations and Russian Studies. She danced professionally in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and currently dances for joy.


Wallace J. Nichols, PhD

Scientist, Activist, Community Organizer

Dr. Wallace “J.” Nichols is a scientist, ocean advocate, community organizer, author, and dad. He takes a slow, collaborative approach with leaders in businesses, government, non-profits, and academia to inspire a deeper connection with nature. Sometimes through adventures, or simply by walking and talking. Other times through writing, images, and art. Science and knowledge can also stoke our fires. But he knows that what really moves people is feeling part of and touching something bigger than ourselves. J. is a Research Associate at California Academy of Sciences and co-founder of OceanRevolution.org, an international network of young ocean advocates, SEEtheWILD.org, a conservation travel network, GrupoTortuguero.org, an international sea turtle conservation network, and LiVBLUE.org, a global campaign to reconnect us to our water planet. He has authored and co-authored more than 50 scientific papers and reports and his work has been broadcast on NPR, BBC, PBS, National Geographic and Animal Planet and featured in Time, Newsweek, GQ, Outside Magazine, Fast Company, Scientific American, and New Scientist, among others. J. lives with his partner Dana, two daughters and some cats, dogs and chickens on California’s SLOWCOAST, a rural stretch of coastal mountains where organic strawberries rule, mountain lions roam and their motto is “In Slow We Trust.” Lately he is working on Blue Mind, merging the fields of neuropsychology and aquatic exploration to foster a deeper appreciation of the emotional and cognitive benefits of healthy waterways and oceans.


Me and Mr. Cassidy


The folk-pop duo Me and Mr. Cassidy formed in 2010 and hails from Los Angeles. Consisting of singer-songwriters Hope Leigh Rollins and Scott Cassidy, this rapidly rising twosome is known for gentle and uplifting tunes skillfully held together by simple guitar rhythms, charming lyrics and beautiful vocals. Their latest album I Would Love You So… was awarded the coveted “Pop Album of the Year” at the 2013 Los Angeles Music Awards.


Mikey Siegel​​

Consciousness Technologist

Mikey has worked to advance human-robot interaction at NASA, MIT, Audi, and other leading institutions. Robotics work continued in a professional context until a change in life priorities pointed towards technology’s potential to reduce stress and increase joy by shifting people’s relationship to themselves. Recently in Hong Kong he acted as director of consciousness engineering at the Center for the Study of Non-Symbolic Consciousness where he focused on technology’s role in facilitating extraordinary states of wellbeing. Presently, Mikey is involved in a number of ventures including founding a company called BioFluent Technologies which creates tools designed to point us toward the joy of simply being alive, here and now. He is also actively promoting the idea of Consciousness Hacking which, in the spirit of the Maker Movement, encourages people to build new tools for exploring and altering the way we think, feel and live.


Jasmine Schlafke

spoken word artist

Jasmine Schlafke is a spoken word artist dedicated to social change. She is the executive curator of the Legendary Santa Cruz Slam and teaches poetry to over 800 local youth annually. Jasmine is the 1999 recipient of the National Jefferson Award for outstanding volunteerism for her work with teen parents. As a diversity trainer Jasmine’s clients have included UCLA, Planned Parenthood, the Santa Cruz Police Department and Nativa Foods to name a few. She looks forward to sharing what keeps her activated through poetry.

Evan Thomas, PhD, PE, MPH

Portland State University

Evan A Thomas, PhD, PE, MPH, is an Assistant Professor and Director of the Sweet (Sustainable Water, Energy and Environmental Technologies) Laboratory, at Portland State University. Evan works at the interface of engineering, environmental health and social business. Evan holds a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering Sciences from the University of Colorado at Boulder, is a registered Professional Engineer (P.E.) in Environmental Engineering in the State of Texas, and holds a Masters in Public Health from the Oregon Health and Science University. Previously, Evan worked as an aerospace engineer at the NASA-Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. At Portland State the SweetLab focuses on remotely accessible instrumented monitoring technologies designed to improve the collection of evidence in global health programs. Evan is also the Chief Operating Officer of DelAgua Health, a social enterprise working with the Government of Rwanda to implement a water treatment and improved cookstove program for 600,000 households.


Katherine L Reid, PhD


Katherine Reid, PhD, is an entrepreneur, biochemist, and mother of five. Through her research and trial and error, Katherine determined that certain foods common in the Western diet were associated with her daughter’s autistic behaviors. Seeing the profound effect of diet on the brain, she has become a provocateur questioning medical approaches and food manufacturing practices relating to health. Given the improvements she observed after helping families and friends transition their diets, she started a nonprofit organization, Unblind My Mind (unblindmymind.org), which educates and raises awareness on the links between food and metabolic disorders, particularly those impacting the brain. Unblind My Mind also helps people transition to a life changing diet, which can be overwhelming when plagued with chronic health issues.


Marco Vangelisti

Founder of EK4T

Marco came to the US from Italy as a Fulbright scholar in mathematics and economics at the University of California in Berkeley. After a stint in the financial industry, Marco worked as visual artist on a full-time basis for 5 years and obtained a MFA focusing on the intersection between public art and ecology. He later worked for 6 years managing investment equity portfolios primarily on behalf of large foundations and endowments. In April 2009 Marco left the finance industry and has since been instrumental in the formation and development of the Slow Money Northern California chapter where he currently leads the investor working group. Marco is currently developing Essential Knowledge for Transition, a curriculum for engaged citizens to understand the money and banking system, the economic system and the financial system and how we need to transform them.


Curtis Reliford

Follow Your Heart Action Network

It took a hurricane to wake Curtis Reliford up to the needs of people here in our own country – the wealthiest country in the world. He founded Follow Your Heart Action Network, a grass-roots, non-profit organization started after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. In his travels across this country to make deliveries of donated goods to the displaced people of Louisiana, he witnessed the needs of people on Indian Reservations, ghettos, and the poorest communities. It has been a wake up call for him.


Lynn Rothschild

Evolutionary Biologist and Astrobiologist

Dr. Lynn Rothschild is an evolutionary biologist/ astrobiologist / synthetic biologist at NASA Ames. Her research has focused on how life, particularly microbes, has evolved in the context of the physical environment, both here and potentially elsewhere, and how we might tap into “Nature’s toolbox” to advance the field of synthetic biology. Field sites range from Australia to Africa to the Andes, from the ocean to 100,000 feet on a balloon. Rothschild has brought her expertise in extremeophiles and evolutionary biology to the field of synthetic biology, showing how synthetic biology can enhance NASA’s missions. She is the faculty advisor of the Stanford-Brown award-winning iGEM (international Genetically Engineered Machine) team. Her lab is currently working projects as diverse as recreating the first proteins de novo to biomining to using synthetic biology to make bricks on Mars or the Moon. Rothschild is a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London, the California Academy of Sciences and the Explorers Club.