Meet the speakers and performers who will take the stage at TEDxMileHigh: Uncommon!

Here’s an official sneak-peek into the speakers and performers for TEDxMileHigh: Uncommon! Although we don’t reveal the nature of their talks (it’s top secret), you can discover more about the individuals on their profiles.


KerrieJoy is a spoken word artist and aspiring author from Brooklyn, New York, who enjoys challenging the beliefs of her audience. After suppressing her identity for almost two decades, she found her voice and started speaking her whole truth. Since moving to Denver in 2017, KerrieJoy performed at the MLK Parade and the Denver Women’s March. “I don’t just speak to be heard,” she says, “I speak to be felt and hope that feeling is transformed into action and love. I speak to remind others of the power of their unique voice.

Elise Legendre

At just 7-years-old, Elise Legendre wrote her first song on the piano: Boris, The Bulgarian Dancing Bear. It wasn’t very good, but it sparked her lifelong passion. Since then, Elise has appeared at Boulder Arts Week, the Boulder International Film Festival, the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, and twice on the TEDxMileHigh stage. She studies songwriting at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and has released several singles with Birdland Records. She is a voracious reader and would love to hear your book recommendations.

Dr. Kim Gorgens

Dr. Kim Gorgens is a professor of Psychophysiology, Clinical Neuropsychology, and Psychology of Criminal Behavior at the University of Denver. She manages a portfolio of brain injury-related research—studying the reported history, cognitive function and brain biomarkers of probationers, inmates, and college athletes. Her mission is to better understand the short and long-term impacts of injuring our most vital organ. She has a fridge filled with human brains and a love of zombie movies (coincidence?). Simply put, Kim cares more about your brain than you do.

Lisa Raville

Lisa Raville is the Executive Director of the Harm Reduction Action Center, a public health agency that works with people who inject drugs. Her experiences as an overnight homeless shelter coordinator, a County Supervisor campaign manager, and an AmeriCorps volunteer at an HIV/AIDS agency cultivated her activism. She holds leadership positions on the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition and the Colorado Consortium on Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention. In 2014, Lisa won the Colorado Public Health Association Award for Excellence in Policy.

Sarah Konradi

Sarah Konradi is a landscape architect working at the intersection of design, conservation, and health. As Program Director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Early Childhood Health Outdoors program, Sarah works with underserved communities to re-envision outdoor spaces used by children and families, creating playgrounds that support child development and connection to the natural world. Sarah lives with her German husband, 9-year-old son, and a cat named Chuck Norris. She is an amateur meteorologist, obsessively following the weather forecast.

Gerardo Lopez

Gerardo “Clever” Lopez has worked in gang intervention for over two decades. Formerly of the notorious Los Angeles gang MS-13, Gerardo escaped gang life and now ensures that at-risk youth from making the same mistakes. He is Executive Director of the Denver chapter of Homies Unidos, a nonprofit dedicated to ending violence and promoting peace through gang intervention and prevention. Gerardo is an avid baseball fan waiting for the Dodgers to win the World Series, and the subject of the award-winning, short documentary CLEVER.

Aviv Ovadya

Aviv Ovadya is Chief Technologist at the Center for Social Media Responsibility. By mitigating the indirect harms of social media and related technologies, he works to ensure that our online information ecosystem has a positive impact on society. He co-instigated Credibility Coalition standards work, consults for a prominent fact-checking organization, and was a Knight News Innovation Fellow. His work in software engineering, product design, and research spans Amazon, Morgan Stanley, Quora, and Google. Aviv is the proud co-author of the broccoli emoji.

Duane Topping

After a decade of military service and multiple deployments, Duane Topping was haunted by PTSD and struggled to adjust to civilian life. To escape the darkness, he learned how to sew and launched Topping Designs. Now a successful fashion designer, Duane notes, “Clothes allow us to be who we want to be, to transcend the barriers placed around us. I want the people wearing my garments to follow my footsteps from the darkness into the light.” Duane lives in Denver with his loving and supportive wife, Jamie. He is a biker and a feminist.

Jed R. Brubaker

An Assistant Professor and founding member of the Department of Information Science at the University of Colorado-Boulder, Jed R. Brubaker is best known for his research on digital afterlives, interactions with post-mortem data, and how to improve the management of accounts and personal data after we die. He was the lead researcher on Facebook’s post-mortem solution, Legacy Contact. In the physical world, Jed’s life is full of adventure — he has camped at National Parks with his cat and spent weekends with elephants in Sri Lanka.

P.J. Parmar

Physician P.J. Parmar founded Ardas Family Medicine, a private practice that serves resettled refugees, and Mango House, a home for refugees with activities and services that include dental care, food and clothing banks, churches, scout troops, and afterschool programs. Before studying medicine, P.J. was an environmental engineer, a backpacking guide with the Boy Scouts, and a world travel junkie. He is the son of Punjabi immigrants and stay-at-home dad to a four-year-old. P.J. owns just two identical pairs of pants and enjoys his oatmeal lumpy.

Pat Ferrucci

As Assistant Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado-Boulder, Pat Ferrucci focuses on media sociology — specifically, how economics and technology influence digital news. He was a journalist for nine years, covering pop culture, primarily music, for newspapers, magazines, and online publications in the Northeast. His work is published in numerous peer-reviewed journals, NPR, Slate, and ESPN the Magazine. He collects vinyl and CDs, and will root for any Boston sports team; yes, even soccer.

Jake Weidmann

Jake Weidmann is a self-taught artist and certified Master Penman. The youngest in history among twelve Masters today, Jake received his certificate from the International Association of Master Penman, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting (IAMPETH) in 2011. He uses traditional calligraphic flourishing and hand lettering across many different artistic mediums. Jake draws inspiration from the Colorado outdoors and is a self-prescribed closet-bodybuilder. His growing family is his greatest joy and most delightful pursuit.

William Woodard

William Woodward is a faculty member at the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence (CSPV) at the University of Colorado-Boulder. He co-authored the Report on the Arapahoe High School Shooting and trains schools in the Safe Communities Safe Schoolsmodel developed by CSPV. He is a faculty member for the National Sheriffs’ Institute Leadership training academy. He was Staff Director of The State of Colorado’s Division of Criminal Justice and served in law enforcement for fifteen years. In his free time, Bill enjoys road trips with his loving wife.

Romain Sepehr Vakilitabar

Romain Sepehr Vakilitabar is an artist and the founder of Pathos Labs, a non-profit focused on using technology to accelerate understanding across lines of difference. From a young age, empathy became a fascination, and he has made himself the subject of experiments worldwide to see how empathy can be achieved in difficult circumstances. Through innovative technologies and visual storytelling, Romain’s work challenges our deepest convictions about those who are “different.” Romain is a big fan (and expert) on two things: gummy bears and people watching.


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