TEDxFargo 2019: Forward

Our tenth TEDxFargo event focused around the idea of forward. The emphasis was not just on the word “forward” but specifically the second half, ward. Ward can be defined as “the action or process of guarding.” We wanted to create homes for these ideas we’ve spent the last few years cultivating, and create secure spaces for them to grow and make the impact they were intended to.

TEDxFargo Forward was held on July 25, 2019. Over 25 speakers took the stage to share their ideas and experiences. A few of the topics covered were gaps in the education system, mental health and the importance of finding your community. TEDxFargo 2019 was a sold-out event with over 2,000 people in the room.

July 25th, 2019

Fargo Civic Center

2,030 Attendees


Aneela Idnani

Aneela Idnani is Co-Founder & President of HabitAware. For more than 20 years, Aneela hid her battle with compulsive hair pulling disorder (trichotillomania), a mental health condition. After sharing this secret, HabitAware created Keen, a smart bracelet, that uses gesture detection technology to bring awareness to hair pulling, skin picking and nail biting disorders. With awareness, people can “retrain the brain” to healthier coping mechanisms. Aneela is a mental health advocate, raising awareness of these very common yet unknown conditions. HabitAware is partly funded by an NIH/SBIR research grant and was named one of TIME Magazine’s 2018 Best Inventions.

Annie Wood

Annie Wood is committed to doing community building work in her community and region. As a weirdo, she is driven by the belief that people need meaningful connections to other people in order to find a sense of belonging in the world. Owning our weirdness creates connections with other people.

Annie is engaged in making Fargo-Moorhead the kind of community she wants to live in by contributing, creating, and connecting. Annie’s weirdness is what allows her to contribute in ways that only she can and offer belonging to others. She refuses to think that there are any “boring” places to live – we all have the opportunity to show up and shape our communities. She especially loves events with hints of whimsy and groups that are just a little bit quirky, because the people with the craziest ideas are the most fun to be around.

Ashley Morken

Ashley Morken is the founder and chief coffee drinker at Unglued – a modern handmade gift shop in downtown Fargo with crazy awesome creative workshops and events. A love for event planning and deep desire to work towards helping creatives promote their small businesses and dreams, Ashley began Unglued: Craft Fest in 2011 in Fargo, ND. This spurred her on to create Unglued as a year-round presence through a brick and mortar shop to continue this mission and subsequently leave her cardiac nursing career. Today Unglued supports over 300 local and regional makers through the shop as well as year-round events to inspire creativity like annual adult summer camps, monthly late night craft parties, winter craft retreats, and weekly workshops for kids and adults. When not falling behind on emails and small business life you’ll find her traveling, petting dogs, dreaming of another impossible idea, and spilling the next cup of coffee with her husband Justin.

Bjorn Hunstad | Bloomer

Bjorn Hunstad (Aka Bloomer) is a Professional Beatboxer and Multi Media Artist Currently Based in Manhattan, New York. Originally from Moorhead, MN, Bjorn has been beatboxing for 12 years and has been competing in some of the most prestigious beatboxing competitions both Nationally and Internationally since 2012. In 2016, he qualified for the Grand Beatbox Battle, where he traveled to Basel, Switzerland to compete in the premier international beatboxing competition. After placing in the top 16 beatboxers in the U.S. for 7 years in a row at the national championships, he became the 2019 American Beatbox Champion this past November. Bjorn moved to New York spring of 2016, and has since performed at a number of nyc venues and residencies, often working with The Beatbox House, a collective of 5 champion beatboxers who Bjorn used to live with in Brooklyn. He currently holds a monthly residency with the group in Bushwick called ‘The Beatbox House Party’.

Craig Rupp

Craig has over 30 years of experience in high-volume product development, complex signal processing, technical innovation, and entrepreneurial leadership. He has worked for multiple Fortune 500 companies and have co-founded multiple startups. Craig is currently the co-founder & CEO of Sabanto. Sabanto is a farming company that uses autonomous equipment.

Dave Power

For companies to stay in business, they must stay relevant — and Dave Power has led efforts to accelerate company growth and innovation throughout his career. After studying engineering at Tufts University and earning an MBA at Stanford where he was an Arjay Miller Scholar, Power drove growth at companies ranging from high tech to venture capital, as well as Perkins School for the Blind where he currently serves as president and CEO. Whether you run a start-up or a 200-year-old nonprofit, Power says, the questions necessary for impact, growth and sustainability remain the same: who is your customer, and what problem does that customer face?

David Richman

David Richman is entering his sixth season as the head men’s basketball coach at North Dakota State in 2019-20. He has led the Bison to two NCAA Tournament appearances in five years, including this year’s Summit League Tournament Championship and NCAA Tournament victory over North Carolina Central. A Wahpeton, N.D., native, Richman has spent a total of 14 years at NDSU in various positions on the basketball coaching staff, guiding the Bison to four NCAA Tournament berths in the past decade.

David O'Hara

Dr. David O’Hara is Professor of Philosophy and Environmental Studies and Director of Sustainability at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. At first glance, many of his classes seem unnecessary, but his students are drawn in by the depth and breadth of his teaching, and by the places he takes his students to teach them about fish and forests (like the wilderness of Alaska, the rainforests of Guatemala, and the barrier reefs of Belize.) When they dive in (sometimes literally, when he teaches underwater!) to talking about environmental philosophy, his students quickly come to see that what he teaches is far more necessary than they imagined when they signed up for the class. Dr. O’Hara’s most recent book, Downstream, is about ecology, fly fishing, and brook trout.

Douglas Hanson

Douglas Hanson has worked for over three decades both with globally recognized architecture firms and independently. He has extensive experience in all phases of design, from research through construction, with cultural, commercial, and residential projects of all scales and magnitudes. As a manager of offices and projects alike, he is a practiced leader. He has an appreciation of architecture as a societal art and endeavors to advance the worlds of his projects with thoughtful and engaging design.

Dr. Cory Steiner

Dr. Cory Steiner has been the Superintendent at Northern Cass School District for the past five years. He holds a Doctorate of Education from the University of North Dakota. He is passionate about learner-centered education which supports the whole learner. He believes we are operating in a broken system and it is our moral imperative to transform education so no learners are ever left behind again.

Dziwe Ntaba

Dziwe Ntaba, MD/MPH, is a Co-Founder & Board Member of Village Health Works (VHW), which has been expanding operations in Burundi since 2006. VHW is currently in process of constructing a 150 bed Teaching Hospital & Women’s Health Pavilion, on track to open in early 2020. During the West African Ebola Outbreak of 2014-2016, Dziwe deployed for over a year as Training Director for a multi agency program which helped develop and implement widely successful initiatives in Rapid Response Teams and Health System Reactivation. Dziwe is currently Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

Erika Ebbel Angle

Erika Ebbel Angle, Ph.D., is the CEO and Co-founder of Ixcela, a biotechnology company aimed at developing tests and interventions to improve gut microbiome efficacy and health. She is also the Executive Director and Founder of Science from Scientists, an award-winning National nonprofit focused on improving Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) attitudes and aptitudes for children aged 9-13. Outside of work, Erika enjoys scuba diving, skiing, and classical piano.

Eunice Kayitare

Eunice Kayitare is a Neuroscience student at Concordia college. She is an international student from Rwanda. At Concordia, she is majoring in neuroscience and minoring in international affairs. Eunice finds passion in using the Afro-contemporary dance as a mean to tell a story.

Heather Watson

Heather Watson leads behavioral research and consulting at the Center for Generational Kinetics. As an expert in emerging Gen Z behaviors and behavioral economics, Heather is the go-to brand strategist for Fortune 500 companies wanting to attract and engage this generation, especially in the area of digital experiences and habit formation.

The Center for Generational Kinetics is the premier Gen Z and Millennial research and thought leadership firm. The Center solves diverse generational challenges for clients—from uncovering unique solutions and emerging trends to repositioning established companies to win in crowded markets. Our clients include the biggest brands and companies in the world across every major industry.

Jean Zimmerman

Jean Zimmerman serves as Executive Director for the Offutt Family Foundation, providing leadership and management of the foundation’s strategic plan and partnership activities and serving as it’s spokesperson and ambassador. She brought to this role decades of experience leading medium and large corporations in attracting, maintaining, and motivating teams in support of desired organizational cultures. No matter the role, her passion is assisting people in uncovering and expanding upon their potential and life’s purpose.

John Lettieri

John Lettieri is Co-Founder, President and CEO of the Economic Innovation Group (EIG). Mr. Lettieri is responsible for the executive leadership of EIG, where he oversees the organization’s efforts to study and address regional inequality and the decline of economic dynamism in the United States. Mr. Lettieri’s work and commentary have been featured in a wide range of outlets, including The Economist, The Atlantic, Fox News, The Hill, NPR, The New York Times, The Daily Beast, The Washington Post, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, among others. He has a B.A. in political science from Wake Forest University and serves on the Board of Regents at The Fund for American Studies, the Board of Directors of Lincoln Network, and the Board of Directors for Friends of the National Zoo.

Kent Pekel

Kent Pekel is an educational leader who has worked at the school, district, state, federal, and university levels. Throughout his diverse career, he has sought to bridge research, practice, and policy to help young people from marginalized communities learn and thrive. Kent is currently President and CEO of Search Institute, an internationally recognized not-for-profit organization that conducts applied research and develops practical resources that enhance the capacity of schools, youth programs, and other organizations to help young people be and become their best selves. Prior to joining Search Institute in 2012, Kent served as the founding Executive Director of the University of Minnesota’s College Readiness Consortium, where he led the creation of Ramp-Up to Readiness and the Minnesota Principals Academy. Kent served as Executive Director of Research and Development in the Saint Paul Public Schools from 2000-2005, and from 1995-2000 he served in the Clinton Administration as a White House Fellow assigned to the Director of the CIA, Special Advisor to the Deputy Secretary of State, and Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Education. Kent began his career as a high school teacher in his home state of Minnesota. He holds a B.A. in East Asian Studies from Yale University, a Master’s in Education from Harvard University, and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Minnesota.

Lonnie Dupre

Lonnie was born in 1961 and raised on a Minnesota country farm. He is descended on his mother’s side from Jacques Cartier, the French explorer and founder of Quebec. Lonnie currently lives in Grand Marais, Minnesota enjoying woodworking and back country skiing in the Quetico/Boundary Waters Wilderness of the Minnesota/Canadian border area.

Mark Coppin & Sady Paulson

Mark Coppin is the owner of Prairie Assistive Technology where he provides consultative services in the area of assistive technologies. He has 34 years of experience in the assistive technology field and is a certified Assistive Technology Professional through RESNA. Coppin presents locally, nationally and internationally on accessibility and assistive technologies. He is an Apple Distinguished Educator and in 2013 he was one of 10 educators recognized by the White House and President Obama as a Champion of Change. He has twice presented at the United Nations on accessibility.

Sady Paulson is a film director, editor and presenter who graduated from Full Sail University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Digital Cinematography. Sady also has Cerebral Palsy. Growing up, Sady always wondered if she would ever have a job that she loved. That changed 15 years ago when she met Mark Coppin, an Apple Distinguished Educator and Director of Assistive Technology at the Ann Carlson Center in Jamestown, North Dakota who introduced Sady to the technology that has helped her access the world.

Marshall Johnson

Marshall Johnson is the Executive Director of Audubon Dakota and the Vice-President of the National Audubon Society. For the past decade, his team has built rural and urban community-focused habitat and ecosystem programs. His work in the Dakotas brings farmers and ranchers together with grasslands, herds, and birds into win-win alignment. Audubon’s radical, market-based Conservation Ranching Program now enrolls more than 2,000,000 acres across 60 ranches. Under his leadership, Audubon Dakota’s Urban Woods and Prairie Initiative manages the largest urban conservation program in the Northern Great Plains.

Michelle Kommer

Michelle Kommer serves the citizens of the State of North Dakota as the Commerce Commissioner. Prior to being appointed by Governor Doug Burgum to serve in his cabinet in 2016, Michelle worked for more than 20 years in the private sector, as a senior executive leading human resource, operational and legal functions in the financial services, health insurance and energy/manufacturing industries. She is life-long learner, licensed attorney and self-professed process geek, always seeking to understand “how things work”. She was named one of the “Top 25 Women in Business” by Prairie Business Magazine in both 2014 and 2015.

Officer Michael Bloom

Officer Michael Bloom has been a member of the Fargo Police Department since 2014. Originally from Modesto CA, he has lived in the FM community for the past eleven years. Officer Bloom began his role as a Community Trust Officer in the fall of 2015 alongside Officer Matthew Niemeyer, David Carlson, and Vincent Kempf. The CTO team works to build trust and create transparency with the FM community, and invest heavily into the lives of local area Youth. Youth are the future of Fargo, and the CTO team strives to help mentor youth, and connect them with positive after school programming. Officer Bloom began rapping in uniform in 2016 as a way to connect with youth in the community. Music, mainly hip-hop, has allowed Officer Bloom to have greater relationships with students in Fargo, and has been a great tool to engage and inspire more students. Officer Bloom believes music is the greatest form of communication to inspire youth with a positive message.

Randy Thomas

America’s premiere female live voice announcer Randy Thomas made history as the first woman to announce ABC News Nightline, The Academy Awards©,The Emmy Awards©, The Kennedy Center Honors, The Rock & Rock Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, and The AFI Awards©, to name a few. As the tenth-time announcer of The Oscars©, and twentieth-time Tony© announcer, Thomas has been winning accolades and opening doors for female voice artists for over 20 years in addition to experience as a radio personality in New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, & Miami.

Susan Hyatt

Susan Hyatt is a master certified life and business coach who has helped thousands of women to transform their bodies and lives. Susan is the author of two books, Create Your Own Luck and BARE. Her work has been featured in places like O: The Oprah Magazine, Woman’s World, Cosmopolitan,and The Huffington Post. She’s the creator of The BARE Process, a trademarked system for upgrading your mental and physical health, building more energy and confidence, and creating the life that you want. Learn more about Susan at shyatt.com.