2024 Speakers

The TEDxFargo If speaker lineup features thought leaders from the Fargo-Moorhead community and around the country that will share their ideas and perspectives on a variety of topics. Speakers and performers will continue to be added over the coming months.


Dr. William Aderholdt

Executive Director of Grand Farm

Dr. William Aderholdt is the Executive Director of Grand Farm, a non-profit organization energizing and guiding an innovation ecosystem to solve challenges in agriculture. William joined Grand Farm in 2019 as it was getting started, and was the first hire of the initiative. He helped develop and establish the strategic vision and programs that he now has the opportunity to lead through the immense effort of an extremely talented team. Grand Farm, providing a fresh approach to innovation ecosystems, has been the lead, co-lead, and a consortium member on many of the economic resiliency federal programs established in response to COVID-19 – including NSF Engine Type II, EDA Good Jobs Challenge, and EDA Tech Hubs. It has a nearly 600-acre Innovation Campus in Casselton, North Dakota, where the initiative is headquartered, and teams starting in Georgia and Montana.

William is passionate about the process of innovation — how collaboration, competition, and collision work in chorus to inevitably lead to solutions to the world’s largest challenges. A process which has repeated itself countless times throughout human history, all around the world.

William, his wife Lana, and their two children call Fargo, North Dakota home. Fargo and North Dakota captivated Lana and William during the Fargo Marathon in 2016, during which the decision was made to move there from Montana. William was drawn to the community because it was large enough to make a global impact and small enough to have focus.

He earned both his PhD and Master in Education, and a B.S. in Cell Biology and Neuroscience from Montana State University. While completing his dissertation, he learned software development and data science – providing a foundation of understanding in emerging technologies he now uses every day in his work.

Three Words to Describe William’s TEDxFargo Talk: AI, Agriculture, Innovation.
TEDxFargo 2024 speaker Gabe Brown

Gabe Brown

Owner of Brown’s Ranch and pioneer of the soil-health movement

Gabe Brown is a pioneer of the soil-health movement and has been named one of the twenty-five most influential agricultural leaders in the United States. Brown, his wife, Shelly, and son, Paul, own Brown’s Ranch, a holistic, diversified 5,000-acre farm and ranch near Bismarck, North Dakota. The Browns integrate their grazing and no-till cropping systems, which include cash crops and multi-species cover crops along with all-natural, grass-finished beef and lamb, pastured pork, and laying hens. The Brown family has received a Growing Green Award from the Natural Resources Defense Council, an Environmental Stewardship Award from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and the USA Zero-Till Farmer of the Year Award.

Three Words to Describe Gabe’s TEDxFargo Talk: Hope, Life, Regeneration

Jana Bruhschwein

Founder and Executive Director, Peace Academy

Jana Bruhschwein has over 30 years experience in education as a public school teacher, head start director, and preschool director. Jana saw the great need for quality early childhood care in the Fargo-Moorhead community. She is the visionary behind Peace Academy and believes all children deserve to be seen, heard, and loved.

Three Words to Describe Jana’s TEDxFargo Talk: Early Childhood Education
Joe Headshot black and white GANDHI_30_RETREAT_by_MANUEL_GRUBER-461

Joe Burgum

Executive Director, Folkways

Joe Burgum is a community builder who is committed to making Fargo one of the greatest cities on Earth. 

Joe is co-founder of Folkways, a community organization creating experiences to connect people and enhance their quality of life. At Folkways, Joe uses immersive experiences to solve problems like workforce retention, economic vitality, and communal belonging.  One of these experiences, the Red River Market has grown to over 90 vendors attracting over 8,500 people to downtown Fargo every Saturday.

Whether it’s by activating urban areas through projects like the Night Bazaar or offering warmth through his Mobile Sauna, Joe is actively initiating new ways for residents to build the community they’d love to live in.

Three Words to Describe Joe’s TEDxFargo Talk: Community, Belonging, Placemaking
TEDxFargo 2024 speaker Evelyn Chambers

Evelyn Chambers


High school is an exciting time that presents many new opportunities, and Evelyn is going through this process whilst watching the incredible evolution of Artificial Intelligence in real time. She is a three-time sweepstake science fair winner, has a passion for performing, and plays violin in the FM Area Youth Symphony. With an entrepreneurial drive and unwavering determination, she eagerly embraces the dynamic shifts shaping our world.

Evelyn is the youngest solo TEDxFargo speaker we’ve had on our stage.

Three Words to Describe Evelyn’s TEDxFargo Talk: Generational, Future-Focused, Confident
TEDxFargo 2024 speaker Catherine Curry Willams

Catherine Curry-Williams

Co-Founder of the She Angels Foundation

As a dedicated advocate and co-founder of Shane’s Inspiration, established in 1997 in memory of her son Shane, Catherine has led Global initiatives to create inclusive sensory- and literacy-rich playgrounds throughout the world that unite children of all abilities.

In 2020, Catherine expanded her impact by co-founding the She Angels Foundation, which awards monthly grants to grassroots organizations supporting young women and girls. A fervent advocate for women’s empowerment, she shares her wisdom and passion through teaching and speaking.

Catherine’s journey has been marked by numerous honors and awards, reflecting her impactful contributions. Notably, she was chosen as one of L’Oreal Paris’ “Women of Worth.” She received the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015. Women’s Empowerment Network Award in 2022. She has been recognized as one of the “Women of the Year” for the state of California in 2018. Honored with the BRA Visionary Woman of the Year award in 2022. Her achievements have been acknowledged by esteemed institutions such as the March of Dimes, Good Housekeeping magazine, KCET-TV, The Today Show, and LA Lifestyle magazine, to name a few. Additionally, Catherine was featured in an article in Canvas Rebel in 2023 and Bold Journey in 2024.

Four Words to Describe Catherine’s TEDxFargo Talk: From Pain to Passion

Robert Daugherty

Co-Founder and Chief Investment Officer, Holdings Investment Group

Over a 35-year career, Mr. Daugherty has been an investor, board member and advisor across a wide range of asset classes and geographies. As a professor of finance, he has also served as an administrator including as Dean of the Forbes School of Business & Technology and as the CEO of the Jack Welch Management Institute. He started his career at J.P. Morgan where he completed the Morgan Finance Program. He held positions of increasing responsibility at Merrill Lynch, Computer Sciences Corp., and G.E. Capital. Mr. Daugherty holds degrees from Harvard University, Columbia University and Cambridge University, and was a Fulbright Scholar. He currently serves as Chief Investment Officer of the Holdings Investment Group, an investment he co-founded with Ms. Moira Forbes. Through his family office, he owns positions in several private companies and has co-authored two books, How to Build a High Performing Single-Family Office (available on Amazon) and Family Fortunes.

Three Words to Describe Robert’s TEDxFargo Talk: Women, Sports, Investing
TEDxFargo 2024 speaker Craig Dykers

Craig Dykers

Founding partner of the architecture firm, Snøhetta

TEDxFargo 2024 speaker Betsy Fore

Betsy Fore

Co-Founder and Board Member of Native Rising

Betsy is a serial venture-backed founder, product leader and operator with over two decades of experience. She is an Investment Partner at two firms. She is the first Native American – Turtle Mountain Chippewa – to raise a Series A for her company. Betsy is a three time founder of two multi-million dollar brands and a non-profit, Natives Rising. Natives Rising is one of the largest communities of Indigenous Technologists and Indigenous Founders with members representing over two hundred tribes. Betsy is the Managing Partner at Velveteen Ventures, investing in children and planet for the next seven generations. She is also a certified coach, NLP and flow states practitioner.

Four Words to Describe Betsy’s TEDxFargo Talk: Your Deep Inner Why
TEDxFargo 2024 speaker Arianna Genis

Arianna Genis

Organizer-In-Residence and Research Scholar at P3 Lat at Johns Hopkins University

Arianna Genis is an organizer and strategist with a decade of experience in movement building and politics. She has delivered expectation-defying wins locally and nationally that advance equity and systemic change at organizations like Mijente, re:power, and TakeAction Minnesota. Arianna was part of the campaign team that won paid sick time for thousands of workers in Minneapolis; she led campaigns to elect progressive candidates of color into public office; and she oversaw North Carolina’s largest Latino voter mobilization effort in 2020.

Her leadership is centered on building the political power of working-class communities via grassroots organizing, political campaigns, and compelling narrative strategies that spearhead community-driven change in politics and government. Currently, she serves as the Organizer-In-Residence and Research Scholar at the P3 Lab at Johns Hopkins University. In this role, she is designing a new initiative that she plans to launch soon, focused on elevating the power of Latino participation in our political system as key to a more just, multiracial democracy.

Three Words to Describe Arianna’s TEDxFargo Talk: Latino, Power, Democracy
TEDxFargo speaker Stacy Huston

Stacy Huston

Executive Director at Six Degrees

Stacy Huston is the Executive Director of SixDegrees.Org, a nonprofit founded by actor and philanthropist Kevin Bacon that uses social networking to amplify the unsung heroes and causes in communities everywhere. With over seven years of experience in this role, she leads the organization’s mission to connect people to critical resources, share stories from changemakers, and leverage the power of celebrity to make a positive impact.

Stacy is also CEO of Entertain Change, a social impact agency and cohort, at the intersection of entertainment and philanthropy. She co-created and executive produced the #1 nonprofit podcast in the country, ‘Six Degrees with Kevin Bacon’, which features guests from different fields and backgrounds who are making a difference in the world, alongside the celebrities that champion them. She also co-founded and executive produced TEDxTysons, a platform that showcases more than 50 TED talks from innovators and leaders across various sectors.

Three Words to Describe Stacy’s TEDxFargo Talk: Intentional, Altruistic, Actions

Ethelind B. Kaba

Executive Director at Ann Bancroft Foundation

Ethelind Kaba is passionate about many things and wears many hats with one purpose: to spark in others the same curiosity about the human condition that motivates her work and life. In her professional lane, Ethelind is the Executive Director of the Ann Bancroft Foundation, where she champions its vision—a world in which all who identify as a girl have a chance to live their dream and reach their full potential. She oversees and guides the organization’s efforts to expand investments, access, and opportunities for K-12 girls across Minnesota.

Her commitment to advancing human dignity and potential is further demonstrated through her board service, which includes the National Governing Board of The Jeremiah Program, a nationwide organization dedicated to transforming the lives of low-income single mothers and their children. She also serves on the Board of Regents at Augsburg University. Ethelind is a published author and a sought-after speaker on economic mobility, removing barriers for women and girls, breaking generational cycles of poverty, and advancing workplace belonging. In 2024, she was named to the Twin Cities Business 100 List and recognized as one of Minnesota’s 50 Black Leaders to Know. An immigrant from Ghana, Ethelind lives in Edina, MN, with her family.

Ethelind’s TEDxFargo Talk Topic: A World of Good Enoughs: Fueling Innovation and Building Community Through Imperfection

Joe Kirgues


Three Words to Describe Joe’s TEDxFargo Talk: Workforce, Policy, Growth

Pranava Manthena

Student Founder/COO at Solon.AI, Middleton High School

Pranava Manthena is passionate about AI, business, and education tech. As a motivated high school student, he is driven to make a meaningful impact on the world while continually seeking new ways to learn and grow. He has achieved remarkable success in the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) national competition, winning first place in his state and also earning first place nationally. At the age of 16, he founded a website design agency to further explore his interests in technology and business.

Beyond school, Pranava loves participating in educational pursuits that allow him to help others. He has spoken at global conferences regarding AI and education (https://vimeo.com/894627044) and is currently working on a free educational tool to assist students with personal learning. Additionally, he is fascinated by AI and energy, conducting research to deepen his knowledge in these areas.

Outside of academia, Pranava is a die-hard Golden State Warriors fan, enjoys digital drawing, painting, and traveling. Some of his favorite memories come from trips abroad. As a student at Middleton High, he is excited to continue exploring his interests and contributing positively to his community.

Three Words to Describe Pranava’s TEDxFargo Talk: AI, Education, Change

Maddy Matson

Student at Swarthmore College

Maddy Matson is a rising junior at Swarthmore College, charting a unique educational path influenced by her upbringing in rural Gettysburg, South Dakota. Maddy began working multiple jobs at the age of 14, embodying the resilience and work ethic typical of rural America. In 2020 she received a full-ride scholarship to one of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges.

In addition to her academic pursuits, Maddy serves as the front-of-house manager at Sutton Bay, a private golf club where she navigates the dichotomy of catering to a clientele vastly different from the people in her hometown. Her work experience also includes four years as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), which has further enriched her understanding of dedication and community service.

Maddy’s experiences at Swarthmore, work experiences, and recent 4-country international urban studies program across have all contributed to igniting her passion for redefining rural education. In her TEDx talk, she advocates for recognizing the overlooked potential of rural students and harnessing the transformative power of community involvement in education.

Three Words to Describe Maddy’s TEDxFargo Talk: Uplift Rural Education
TEDxFargo 2024 speaker Amanda Schneider

Amanda Schneider

Founder and President of ThinkLab

Amanda Schneider, LEED AP, MBA, is a trailblazing entrepreneur and founder of ThinkLab, acquired by SANDOW Design Group in 2018, where she still serves as President. A dynamic force at the convergence of design and business, Amanda stands out as a captivating thought leader and accomplished author, spotlighted in prestigious publications ranging from Forbes, the Huffington Post, Interior Design Magazine, and many other publications and podcast. Recognized as the compelling host of the acclaimed podcast “Design Nerds Anonymous,” Amanda seamlessly weaves together creativity and data, offering unparalleled insights that captivate audiences worldwide. 

Amanda’s creative process stems from her education in Industrial Design from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, while her natural business sense is augmented by her MBA from the University of Iowa. While her work is founded upon the philosophy that it’s easy to be surrounded by data yet starved for insights, Amanda believes that true value emerges when insights empower actionable change. This philosophy permeates her work as she frequently takes the stage, reaching and inspiring audiences worldwide. 

When she’s not busy working in her suburban Chicago office or visiting clients, you can find her trail running at freakishly early hours of the morning, dreaming about that book she’ll write someday, or ambushing her secret stash of dark chocolate and red wine.

Amanda’s TEDxFargo Talk Topic: Gen Z and the Phygital Future
TEDxFargo 2024 speaker Nick Smoot

Nick Smoot

Chief Executive Officer, Aesop Industries

Nick is a globally respected culture first community and economic strategist. He is a 4x entrepreneur (3 exits), venture capital investor, real estate developer, and ecosystem builder. His work in startup ecosystems has been recognized by organizations like Google, Brookings, Milken Institute, and Bloomberg. He has been interviewed for Bloomberg West, BBC, USA Today, Entrepreneurship Magazine, and Fast Company.

He has developed national job strategies, award winning education/workforce training programs, and youth leadership development programs. Nick is a Milken Institute Young Leader and the founder/CEO of Innovation Collective. He has spent time in over 200 cities in the last decade working with government, education, industry, and in his words, most importantly the community as he focuses in on the reproducible art of community lead ecosystem development.

He is Puerto Rican-English, loves hiking deep in the woods of Idaho and can often be found camping in the woods with his two sons. Nick spends most of his time in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Three Words to Describe Nick’s TEDxFargo Talk: Better is Possible
TEDxFargo 2024 speaker Derek Tournear

Derek Tournear

Director of the Space Development Agency

Dr. Derek Tournear is the Director of the Space Development Agency (SDA). Established in March 2019, SDA is recognized as the Department of Defense’s constructive disruptor for space acquisition. SDA will quickly deliver much needed space-based capabilities to the joint warfighter to support terrestrial missions through development, fielding, and operation of the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture.

Before leading SDA, Dr. Tournear most recently served as Assistant Director of Research and Development for Space within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research & Engineering where he was responsible for coordinating all DoD efforts in space and initiating programs to address critical gaps.

Dr. Tournear previously held leadership roles in industry, most recently the director for Harris Corporation Space & Intelligence research & development. Prior to industry, Dr. Tournear held program management positions at the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). He has professional experience at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) managing intelligence and defense programs.

Dr. Tournear has a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford University and a B.S. from Purdue University. In 2010 he received an Outstanding Alumnus award from Purdue University and a 2008 DARPA award for Outstanding Accomplishments in a Systems Technology Area. Dr. Tournear is a 2011, and 2020 recipient of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service, and a 2012 recipient of the Office of Director of National Intelligence Award for Exceptional Public Service. Additionally, Dr. Tournear is the recipient of a 2021 Space News award, 2021 Theodore Roosevelt Government Leadership award, 2021 Wash 100 award, as well as the 2022 Aviation Week Laureate. He was selected for the Senior Executive Service in 2019.

Three Words to Describe Derek’s TEDxFargo Talk: Inertia, Disruption, Impact
Vanessa Williamson headshot

Vanessa Williamson

CEO & Cofounder, Farmented Foods

Vanessa Williamson, hailing from Eastern North Dakota, found her entrepreneurial spirit at Montana State University while studying Business and Marketing. Collaborating with her co-founder, another Vanessa, in the Farm to Market course sparked their delicious venture, Farmented Foods. Her passion for creating value-added products from “ugly” farm-fresh produce was ignited by the enthusiastic support of local farmers. Inspired by the potential to tackle food waste and promote sustainability, she leaped into the world of small-businesshood with the goal of making a significant impact on the food industry, one ugly vegetable at a time.

Three Words to Describe Vanessa’s TEDxFargo Talk: Ugly Vegetable Certified

2024 Performers

Navy Band Great Lakes

Pride in Service has been the theme for Navy Band Great Lakes for more than a century. From 1911, when the band first formed, to 1917, when Lieutenant Commander John Philip Sousa served as Bandmaster, to today’s Director, Lieutenant Christopher Cornette, our music represents the pride and professionalism that is synonymous with the United States Navy. 

Fred Edwards & Tega Obebeduo

Fred Edwards, a distinguished Creative Director and accomplished teaching artist hailing from the Great Plains, holds a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership, demonstrating extensive expertise and visionary leadership. As a driving force behind groundbreaking initiatives like Umoja and Fred’s Dissonance, Fred has spearheaded transformative programs fostering narrative justice and community empowerment. 

Tega Obebeduo is a poet and music performer originally from Nigeria in West Africa. he briefly worked as a lawyer before heading to Australia to complete a Master’s degree in international business. He relocated to the US in 2015 and has worked as a youth mentor, residential home manager, and currently consults in the social services industry. 





Amanda Booher

Amanda is a certified mindfulness coach, committed to promoting mental well-being through mindful practices. Her expertise in mindfulness enriches her work at Audubon, particularly through her  leadership of the Mindful Birding program, which encourages participants to cultivate a deeper connection with nature and themselves.