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Meet the TEDxMileHigh RECONNECT Speakers and Performers!

(And there’s more to come! Stay tuned for future announcements.)

Desert Atlas

HE/HIM
Singer-Songwriter X See Desert Atlas Perform

Multi-instrumentalist Mark Ramirez, who performs and records under the name Desert Atlas, writes what he calls lowercase songs, which document a preoccupation with time and place: geography and geology, weather and the seasons, and, always, the past. Originally from the Philippines, Ramirez arrived in New Jersey at 17. After a couple of decades in the Northeast, he moved to Denver in 2015 and has been greatly inspired by the scale of the American Southwest, releasing his first solo full-length album‚ “The Great Plains are an Ocean‚” in June 2021.

Francis Agyakwa

HE/HIM
Trauma Healing Expert X See Francis Speak

Talk therapy is a great way to heal from abuse, neglect, or abandonment. But some things are hard to talk about, especially when you’re a kid, and you’re still learning to talk! That’s where traditional therapies, like drumming, can help.

Francis Agyakwa is a first-generation Ghanaian immigrant, the father of two amazing boys, and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Denver, Graduate School of Social Work. As a Trauma-Informed Specialist and certified Compassion Fatigue Trainer, he’s held various positions in child welfare, including nine years at the Denver Department of Human Services. His research-based therapeutic program, “Drumming Out Stress,” is deeply rooted in the traditional Ghanaian belief system of using music to drive off bad spirits and celebrate life.

Meca’Ayo Cole

THEY/THEM
Writer & Artist   X  See Meca’Ayo Perform

Meca’Ayo Cole (aka Tameca L Coleman) is a singer, multi-genre writer, itinerant nerd, massage therapist, and point-and-shoot art dabbler in Denver, Colorado. Their creative work explores heartbreak and healing, finding the words for our experiences, familial estrangement, being “in-between” things, finding beauty even during times of strife, and movement towards reconciliation. Their writing and photography have been featured in literary magazines, art exhibits, and other venues and publications. Their first book, “an identity polyptych,” debuted from The Elephants on the Salish Sea in Fall 2021.

KC Davis

SHE/HER
Home & Self Care Expert X See KC Speak

If you’re depressed, disabled, or grieving, keeping up with basic household chores like laundry, meal prep, and cleaning might seem impossible. That’s why we need a new, more compassionate approach to self and home care.

KC Davis is a licensed professional therapist, author, speaker, and founder of Struggle Care. KC Davis began her therapy journey at 16 when she entered treatment for drug addiction. Today, she teaches a compassionate and practical approach to self and home care for those dealing with mental health, physical illness, and hard seasons of life. Her methodology has attracted 1M+ followers on social media in less than a year. Her Amazon bestselling book, “How to Keep House While Drowning,” has sold 40,000+ copies. KC lives in Houston with her husband and two daughters.

Charlo G. W.

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Visual Designer X See Charlo Speak

At the beginning of the pandemic, new Denver resident Charlo G.W. offered his skills as a muralist to Denver homeowners. 100+ garages later – and he’s learned a lot about art, community, and humanity.

Charlo G.W. is an artist, visual designer, and muralist from Monterrey, Mexico. He immigrated to the United States in 2013 to work as the principal designer of an art collection. Today, he is the Head of Visual Design at PARDON. Using symbols, letters, and lines, his monochromatic two-dimensional works are a space for exploration and discovery. The interwoven shapes, words, and symbols foster a sense of community interaction, collaboration, and optimism. In his native language of Spanish, the equivalent of “experiencing joy” is “alegría,” and it is this experience of joy he wishes to share with the world through his works.

Olga González

SHE/HER/ELLA
Nonprofit Leader X See Olga Speak

Too often, nonprofits perpetuate white saviorism by providing services for a local community without engaging them as leaders or experts. Instead, we should follow the Promotora model.

Olga González has worked in the nonprofit sector for 28+ years. She is currently the Executive Director of Cultivando, a nonprofit that cultivates leadership in the Latinx community to advance health equity through advocacy, collaboration, and policy change. As CEO of O.G. Consulting Services, she facilitates trainings and workshops on equity, racial justice, and healing. Olga was born in Mexico and is the proud descendant of Indigenous Yaqui/Otomi people. She, along with her husband, is raising their children to be the next generation of fierce and compassionate social justice warriors.

Martin Lockley

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Paleontologist X See Martin Speak

Paleontologists and museum visitors alike obsess over dinosaur bones. But how much can skeletons reveal about an animal’s behavior? Some – but footprints and tracks can reveal even more.

Paleontologist Martin G. Lockley is best known for his work on fossil footprints. He grew up on a nature reserve in Wales. After getting a BSc, a Ph.D., and a post-doc in Geology, he moved to the U.S. in 1980. For 30 years, Martin was a professor at the University of Colorado, Denver. He’s the former director of the UC Denver Dinosaur Tracks Museum and current associate curator at the University of Colorado Museum and the Museum of Western Colorado. He has published 1000+ papers, books, book reviews, reports, and abstracts on paleontology, geology, and evolution.

Janet L. Marling

SHE/HER
Transfer Student Advocate X See Janet Speak

1 in 4 college students is a transfer student, but universities do little to support them, even though transfer students are disproportionately BIPOC, disabled, or low-income. If we want equity in higher education, we must rethink transfer.

Janet L. Marling, Ph.D., is the Executive Director of the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students (NISTS), an advocacy organization striving for equitable and inclusive accesses to higher education opportunities and resources for today’s diverse, mobile learners. She is leading the charge to develop a cadre Transfer Champions ready to challenge the status quo and improve the transfer student experience. Her proudest accomplishment is parenting three amazing children, Jackson, Cooper, and Andersen, alongside her rock, David.

Lucy Molina

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Environmental Activist X See Lucy Speak

Commerce City, Colorado, is one of the most polluted areas in the country. How do we hold government and big businesses accountable for the damage? How can we prevent environmental racism in the future?

Lucy Molina grew up in the most polluted zip code in the nation and is now the single mother of two teens, Omar & Hannah. For years, she has fought to protect her community from some of the worst cases of environmental racism in Colorado’s history. She recently ran for City Council in Commerce City to work for a Just Transition away from fossil fuels – one where we mitigate the climate crisis without leaving anyone behind. She says, “Justice is long overdue for frontline communities literally at their last breath. Justice is not charity.”

Paula Stone Williams

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Emcee X See Paula at RECONNECT 

Paula Stone Williams is an internationally-known speaker on gender equity, LGBTQ advocacy, and religious tolerance. She has been featured in TEDWomen, TEDSummit, the New York Times, Red Table Talk, TEDxMileHigh, the Washington Post, NPR, Good Morning America, CNN, ABC News, PBS, and scores of other media outlets. Her TED talks have had over seven million views. Paula’s memoir, As A Woman – What I Learned About Power, Sex, and the Patriarchy After I Transitioned was published by Simon & Schuster in June of 2021.

Join us for TEDxMileHigh RECONNECT on August 6!