rgo 2018



July 26, 2018
Fargo Civic Center
2,200 Attendees

The ninth TEDxFargo event in our community was held on July 26, 2018. Over 20 speakers took the stage to share their ideas and experiences. A few of the topics covered were gender equity, compassion fatigue and closing the opportunity gap. TEDxFargo 2018 was a sold-out event with over 2,000 people in the room. The theme for 2018 was ‘forth,’ and attendees were encouraged to take action on the ideas shared and ask themselves the question, “How will you go forth?”


Jerry White

"Manopause" and the Performance Trap

Jerry White, CEO of Global Impact Strategies (giStrat), is known for leading high-impact campaigns, three of which led to major international treaties: the Landmine Ban Treaty, the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and the Cluster Munitions Ban Treaty. He shares in the 1997 Nobel Prize for Peace awarded to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, having worked closely with the late Diana, Princess of Wales. White served as U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State under President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, launching the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations. He writes about how trauma victims become resilient survivor-leaders in Getting Up When Life Knocks You Down. White co-chairs Global Covenant Partners, a nonprofit committed to reducing religion-related violence. He is a Senior Ashoka Fellow and Professor of Practice at the University of Virginia.


Sadiyo Hassan

How a Nationwide Emergency Response Crisis can be Solved

Sadiyo and her family were refugees from Nairobi, Kenya who wanted only to live a better life. As the daughter of a single mother who works night shifts at minimum wage all while raising six children, she’s only ever known a low-income life. There wasn’t much control in her life, so Sadiyo took control of the one thing she could be held responsible for: her education. Sadiyo’s drive for success in her education has not only shown through her academic excellence as she graduated Valedictorian of West Fargo High School’s Class of 2018, but also through her leadership roles in extracurriculars including FIRST Robotics and three service clubs. In this journey, Sadiyo found her passion in engineering which led to her professional success in becoming an Early Talent Intern at John Deere and now an owner of a tech startup company, all before she graduated high school.

Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux

Fighting for Gender Equity: On and Off the Ice

Monique Lamoureux-Morando and Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson were born in Grand Forks, North Dakota and are the first North Dakotans to win an Olympic Gold Medal. They are three-time Olympians winning silver in 2010 and 2014, and most recently capturing the gold in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. They are both graduates of the University of North Dakota getting their undergraduate degrees in exercise science and their master’s in Kinesiology. They are committed to utilizing their platform as athletes to be a part of the more important conversation surrounding gender equality, equal opportunity, and inclusion.

Pamela York

Female Founders: Use Fear as Your Guide

Pamela York is a serial entrepreneur, investor, and inventor with successes in several industries. She is the Founding General Partner of CAPITA3, an early stage venture capital group focused on women-led companies in health sectors.

Previously, Pam pioneered three successful technology platforms and co-founded two high tech startups with successful exits – Orchid Cellmark and Princeton Lightwave. She also led the University of Iowa’s technology commercialization foundation, where she oversaw investment in a 1000 technology portfolio, built a startup ecosystem from scratch, and led the formation of 40 startups that raised $150M in financing with 6 exits totaling $200M to date.

Pam is a co-founder of WEStart.MN for women entrepreneurs, Board Chair for CoreBiome Inc., and adjunct faculty at the University of Minnesota where she teaches the NSF I-CorpsTM programs. She has a PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois.

Ellen Solberg

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Ellen Solberg was born and raised in Fargo, North Dakota and is now attending school at North Dakota State University where she is pursuing a degree in Marketing. She joined the North Dakota Air National Guard her senior year of high school (2015) where she has since begun to purse a career. She is passionate about education and learning inside and outside the classroom. One thing she has noticed is that throughout all levels of school, kids are often expected to have an idea of what they want to be when they grow up. Since graduating high school she’s realized that it is okay to not know what you want to be and it is also perfectly acceptable to pursue several different passions. Ellen believes she would love to work with Pixar, in a national security agency, with the creative department of a fashion magazine, or run her own business.

Michelle Lucas

Failure Must Be an Option

Michelle Lucas has been inspired by space her entire life. After years of hard work in school, Michelle graduated from university and went to work at Johnson Space Center (JSC) to follow her dream. There she was part of the Payload Safety Review Panel, then she worked Mission Control for the International Space Station as a Flight Controller. After that, she then went on to be a technical instructor for astronauts. Along the way she found a passion for inspiring the next generation so she left JSC to pursue this new trajectory. Michelle started Higher Orbits – a non-profit that uses space to excite students about STEM. She runs programs all over the country (and world!) encouraging students to find and pursue their passion. In her copious free-time, Michelle is also the VP of Industry Relations for uniphi (sounds like unify) space agency – a management agency for retired astronauts.


Juliette Watt

Compassion Fatigue: What is it and do you have it?

Born and raised in London, England, Juliette was a stunt horse rider for MGM pictures then later a London Playboy Bunny. From 18 she spent the next 20 years performing a one woman show in cabarets world-wide. In 1971 she moved to Beirut, Lebanon where she lived for 4 years during their vicious civil war.
Moving to NYC in her forties, she thrived as a soap opera scriptwriter, winning two Writers Guild Awards and a nomination for a Daytime Emmy. She then become an ATP pilot and Master Flight Instructor which led her to working for 10 years at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah, eventually flying rescue missions in New Orleans saving abused and abandoned dogs in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Over 6000 animals were saved.
Currently she is on a passionate mission to help and guide people who have lost themselves in who they’ve been for everyone else.

Rich Karlgaard

Why Late Bloomers are Undervalued

Rich Karlgaard is the publisher and futurist of Forbes Media. His writing is known for its keen assessment of technology, economic, business and leadership issues.

Karlgaard’s 2014 book on innovation culture, The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success made the lists of top business books of 2014 for Inc., Time.com, 800-CEO-READ and Huffington Post. His 2015 book, Team Genius: The New Science of High Performing Organizations, was hailed by Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. His next book is titled Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement. It will be published in March 2019.

Karlgaard is an investor and participant in Silicon Valley. He started three organizations and is a Northern California regional winner of E&Y’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Karlgaard holds a B.A. from Stanford University. He and his family live in Silicon Valley.

Mary Ann Kristiansen

Radically Rural Idea Demons

Mary Ann Kristiansen was born and raised in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. She moved to New York City in 1985 and to a farm in New Hampshire in 1991. There she began making soap, building gardens and raising sheep and chickens. Through her soap making, gardening, and farming contacts, she realized there was a shortage of markets for locally-made products, while at the same time there was a shortage of business skills on the part of local producers to enter and succeed in those markets.

She founded Hannah Grimes Marketplace in 1991 as a “retail classroom” providing both a market for locally made and grown products as well as business support to those makers and growers. These efforts expanded in 2006 with the Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship – a thriving entrepreneurial hub with workshops, programs, and networking that helps businesses of all sizes, stages and sectors start and grow.

Smita Garg

Becoming US: Embracing Integration

Smita is a passionate community-builder. Having lived in Italy, India, the USA, Zambia, Canada and China, she understands the value of creating connections, investing in relationships and engaging with diverse peoples. This is reflected in her broad range of community involvements through organizing cross-cultural events, serving on non-profit boards, and volunteer activities. She is a recipient of the ATHENA Leadership Award®.
Smita holds an MBA in International Marketing from Temple University, Philadelphia.

Multi-lingual, with an interest in culture, travel, and unity in diversity, she is a strong believer in the difference that one person can make. She recently moved to Fargo with her husband Adi. Their three daughters, Aditi (Chris), Avni and Aneri who live in Canada are her inspiration.

Jessica Metcalfe

Native American Culture in Fashion

Dr. Jessica R. Metcalfe (Turtle Mountain Chippewa) is the owner of Beyond Buckskin, which is a website and business dedicated to promoting and selling Native American-made fashion. She has co-curated exhibitions and taught college courses in Native American studies, studio art, art history, and literature. Her current work focuses on American Indian art, clothing, and design from all time periods, with an emphasis on contemporary artists.

Mike Sime

We're All In Recovery

Mike is the President/CEO and co-owner of Rapid Packaging, a national distributor of packaging materials, shipping supplies and the packaging equipment headquartered in Minneapolis, MN. 2018 is the third consecutive year Minnesota Business Magazine has named Rapid Packaging one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For”.

Mike is in long term recovery and is, or has been, on the boards of non-profit and for-profit organizations, including Hazelden Betty Ford, Augsburg College’s StepUP, SCSU Recovery Community, Dalco, Spring Hill GC and others. He was the keynote speaker at the 2018 North Dakota Governors Prayer Breakfast

Mike and his wife Pam chaired the 2012 Minnesota Prayer Breakfast and are members of River Valley Church. They have three grown children, two grandchildren and live in Wayzata, MN.

Jared Kamrowski

Life is Short, Travel Now

Jared Kamrowski is the founder of Thrifty Traveler, the leading source for flight deals, cheap travel tips, and maximizing travel rewards.

Jared honed his travel skills by traveling over 100 nights a year while working as a Federal bank examiner. He left his job in 2017 and now runs Thrifty Traveler full time flying over 100,000 miles per year. You can catch him flying the fanciest first class cabins as well as budget airlines, paying only pennies on the dollar.

Jared believes there is no such thing as a “once in a lifetime trip”. He’s a firm believer that travel should be cheap and accessible for all. Jared is a Fargo native, attended the University of North Dakota, and is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). He currently resides with his wife Erica in Minneapolis, MN.

Mark Sylvester

See What You Think: A Recipe for Problem Solving

In 2003, Mark Sylvester helped create the first social network for the TED Conference. He has created hundreds of Communities that include global organizations who want to make a cultural change in how they connect with their audiences.

Mark’s been on the leading edge of software development for more than thirty years. As a co-founder of Wavefront Technologies, Mark helped develop software known as Maya, that revolutionized the way the world is entertained.

As a TEDx podcaster and Producer of TEDxSantaBarbara, Mark is constantly looking for ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’ and believes that helping people make smarter connections is definitely one of those ideas.

Candy Suiso

Student Engagement Through a Different Lense

As Program Director for Wai`anae High School – Searider Productions, Candy Suiso oversees one of the most innovative Creative Media programs in the state of Hawaii. Searider Productions is an integrated program on the island of Oahu that integrates photography, video production, journalism, and graphic arts. Currently, she is focused on increasing the number of commercial and professional projects in which students participate. She also oversees fundraising initiatives, and has successfully spearheaded efforts securing state, federal, and private grants. Candy grew up in Makaha, Hawaii – graduated from Wai`anae High School, received her B.A. in Liberal Arts from the University of Northern Iowa and teaching certificate from Chaminade University of Honolulu, In 1999, she received a prestigious National Educator Award from the Milken Family Foundation. She began her teaching career using a VHS video camera as a Spanish teacher at Wai`anae High before starting Searider Productions in 1993.

Candy owns and operates the Makaha Mango farm with husband Mark, a Financial Planner for First Hawaiian Bank. Makaha Mangoes, located in Makaha Valley on Oahu, is home to over 70 mango trees of 12 different varieties and numerous other tropical exotic fruits.

Hamse Warfa

Creating Economic Identity for Refugees

Hamse Warfa is the co-founder and Executive Vice President of BanQu Inc, an award winning blockchain software company working to connect the poor to the global economy. Hamse works at the intersection of community building, philanthropy and social entrepreneurship for over the past 20 years. He is deeply passionate about changing the social and economic systems that marginalize and exclude people from opportunities to live their lives with dignity. Hamse is both Bush Foundation and global Ashoka fellow.

Thamrong (Keng) Dechawuth

Why Everyone Should Love Poke

Thamrong (Keng) Dechawuth is a restauranteur. He was born and raised in Chiangmai Thailand.

He received a M.S. in Electrical Engineering from University of Southern California in 2000.

He has been involved in restaurant businesses since 2006, and has opened more than ten restaurants in North Dakota, Minnesota, California, and Georgia. He likes traveling and learning cultures through diversities of food. One of his favorite places is Hawaii, where he visits almost every year and fell in love with local food “Poke.” In the summer of 2017, he started a poke food truck and plans to open the poke restaurant shortly after.

Barry Batchellar

How Fargo, ND Could Become Robosention Valley

Barry Batcheller has a B.S. degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from NDSU. Following graduation, he joined Steiger Tractor, Inc as an electronics design engineer. In 1983 he founded Integrated Technical Systems Corporation in Valley City, ND on behalf of Steiger and was their Chief Operating Officer. He founded Phoenix International Corporation in 1987 and was President and CEO of Phoenix until the company was purchased by John Deere in 1999.
Barry was appointed Director of Technology Growth at John Deere in 1999. He founded Appareo Systems, LLC in 2003, and now serves as their Chairman.
Barry has received numerous awards related to his contributions to the state of North Dakota and the city of Fargo. He has over 30 patents.

Steven Villescaas, JR.

We Should Talk

Steven Villescas Jr. is a second-year graduate student in the Master of Communication Management program at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. In March, he traveled to Thailand as a part of a USC student delegation to meet with NGOs and companies to discuss corporate social responsibility and communication advocacy.

Villescas was born and raised in Whittier, Los Angeles County, California. He is a first-generation college student.

Brad Smith

Closing the Opportunity Gap

Brad Smith is Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer. In his role, Mr. Smith is responsible for the company’s corporate, external, and legal affairs and oversees a team of more than 1,400 business, legal and corporate affairs professionals working in 55 countries. In this role, he leads the company’s work on a number of critical issues including cybersecurity, digital privacy, public policy and government affairs, intellectual property, accessibility, philanthropy and environmental sustainability. As president, he has also spearheaded programs and initiatives aimed at increasing economic development and opportunity and to ensuring all of society benefits from technology’s advances.

Joseph Schoning

Addiction: Pop Culture for Native Americans

Joseph Schoning is a GED student, born and raised in Bemidji, Minnesota. He didn’t succeed in high school because of anxiety and work ethic but always loved math and english. Since leaving high school Joe has pursued music while doing PCA for his disabled grandpa. Doing everything in his power to make the best music he can, he plans on going to college next fall for political science and music theory. All of this is yet to be truly decided all he knows is he wants to change the world. He tends to spend his free time writing and hanging out with friends. His close family consists of a brother, a father and a grandpa, but he has friends that he counts as family too. Most importantly he is honored to make his first step towards the future with TEDx.

Nick Ybarra

Choosing to Do Things the Hard Way

Nick Ybarra is a self-employed director of adventure. In 2012 he established Legendary Adventures New Discoveries LLC. L.A.N.D. exists to create legendary adventures for people to experience new discoveries about themselves, the great outdoors and more. Nick is the creator and director of the Badlands Race Series, consisting of eight annual events that are dubbed, “the raddest of races, in the baddest of places.” Nick founded the Save The Maah Daah Hey Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization that brought our country’s longest non-motorized, single-track trail back from extinction, when the USFS lost the funding and staff to maintain the trail. Nick has dedicated his life to saving the Maah Daah Hey Trail from erosion, overgrowth and ultimately extinction by volunteering to annually mow, trim, prune and shovel the entire one-hundred and eighty miles of the MDH and connecting trails into findable, useable and enjoyable condition, for all trail users.