In the spirit of “Ideas Worth Spreading,”  TEDxMileHigh was established in 2010 to celebrate  and spread big ideas, stimulate dialogue, and  energize socially-minded action in the Mile High region. We live in an extraordinary state and people here are achieving incredible impact on both a local and global level. TEDxMileHigh events have featured maverick thinkers and doers, impact-driven social entrepreneurs, world-class athletes, civic leaders, environmental changemakers, and talented performers from across Colorado. Since the inaugural event in April 2011, the organization has developed into a community-driven, year-round participant in the lives of Colorado citizens. TEDxMileHigh now has three major events: TEDxMileHigh, [email protected], and its newest event, TEDxMileHighWomen. In 2012, the organization launched the TEDxMileHigh Exhibits Lounge and the TEDxMileHigh Prize. Finally, the organization engages attendees through smaller, hands-on programming throughout the year. On December 1st, TEDxMileHigh will showcase some of Colorado’s most amazing women; I sat down to chat with TEDxMileHigh Founder + Curator Jeremy Duhon to talk about the vision for the upcoming event.
TEDxMH: What initially piqued your interest in an event focused on the women of Colorado? Jeremy Duhon: In 2010, we first learned about TEDxWomen, an event organized by TED, which focuses in part on how women and girls are reshaping the future, as well as the connection between investing in women and girls and economic growth, public health and political stability. TEDxMileHighWomen is an independently organized TED event under license from TED that will feature live speakers as well as a simulcast of one session of the speaking program from TED’s own event, TEDxWomen. The cross-disciplinary, cross-generational program will focus on how women think and work, communicate and collaborate, learn and lead – what that means and why it matters to all of us. One powerful element of the event is that in a single day it connects TEDx organizations from across the world, which all stream in for one or more sessions of TEDxWomen.

TEDxMH: What has the reaction been as you’ve reached out to people about the event? JD: The Colorado community is very excited about the event. It’s clear from the response that people want to see events like this in our state. People are excited to hear about the important role that women play on a local level as well as how women are empowering change on a more global scale. We have had people reach out to volunteer, to nominate, to attend, and participate in a variety of ways. It’s been fantastic – and we’re just getting started! TEDxMH: People have an amazing array of takeaways from TEDx events. For some, it’s a day of inspiration, for others it’s a catalyst for real change. What do you hope people will talk about (or do) following the event? JD: The broad goal is similar to all our events – spread and accelerate powerful ideas and use them as a tool for engagement and involvement in the community. We want people to be uniquely aware of women’s issues and how they affect everyone. There is a great deal of data and research on the power of women to stabilize local and national governments, strengthen public health, and bolster economic growth. Our goal is to celebrate and spread great ideas and promote inspired citizenship among attendees.
TEDxMH: With so many women in this state making a powerful impact, how will the team decide who will speak on December 1st? JD: A key part of the event is the simulcast of one session from TEDxWomen, which is organized directly by TED. For this portion of the event, TEDxMileHigh won’t be involved in selecting speakers. In addition to this component of the event, we will also showcase live speakers just as we do for our other events. We have received nearly 1,000 nominations since TEDxMileHigh was launched in 2010. We are also seeing new nominations come in each week for extraordinary women, as anyone can nominate through our website at www.tedxmilehigh.com/speakers. We encourage individuals to be thoughtful in their nominations and focus on candidates with truly big ideas and new approaches to the way things are done. It’s wonderful that we have so many amazing people in this state—the hard part is for our team to select them!  We conduct a great deal of independent research on individuals across the state to complement the nominations we receive from the community. We review them and speak to as many nominees as possible. We feel that it is imperative to sit down with nominees and ask questions, hear their vision, and learn how their big idea will grow in the future. The focus is on truly great ideas – ideas that have the power to multiply significantly in the coming years. It’s an arduous process but we are lucky to have a number of talented individuals who provide guidance on the program development process.

TEDxMH: Will there be anything unique to the program of TEDxMileHighWomen in comparison to the main event? JD: We believe every event is unique and there is no replacement for the energy and community that comes with a live event. As is true for our other events, the videos will be archived online, so that their power can be leveraged over time. This event will have its own identity, powerful speakers, and fantastic attendees. One special aspect about this event is that we will livestream one session TEDxWomen as part of our program. It will also be global – TEDxWomen events from all around the world will focus not only on issues in their community, but broader issues on a global scale. Also, we have created a TEDxMileHighWomen Advisory Board, which consists of past speakers and other extraordinary women in the community. We have invited this group to advise the TEDxMileHigh team on the topics, themes, and issues that an event like TEDxMileHighWomen should consider.  We are very excited about this new Advisory Board and how it will strengthen the organization.
TEDxMH: By the way, I met your mother at last year’s event – what a wonderful lady! Do you think she’d be a good candidate to speak?
(Laughs) She has a lot of big ideas. I think if you ask her if she’d like to speak, she’d decline due to her very humble nature. Sharing compassion and generosity is one of her big ideas that she spreads daily!