You likely know Dee Wallace as Mary -- aka, the mom from Steven Spielberg’s ET: The Extra-Terrestrial. (Ahem, the woman who knocked America’s favorite alien with a refrigerator door.) But this Kansas-teacher-turned-prolific-actor is also an internationally acclaimed speaker who knows a thing or two about perseverance -- when she booked her first of more than 200 commercials, she had only $4 in her bank account. “I left for New York, and my mom thought I’d be a goner in a week,” she said on the talk-show circuit following the release of ET. Instead, she went on to make 130 films, author five books and, now, grace the stage of TEDx Cape May.
A satellite capable of harnessing solar power from outer space and beaming it back to Earth may be the tense sci-fi plot of the James Bond film “Die Another Day,” but if spacecraft engineer Paul Jaffe has his way, this uber-tech could become reality. Paul, who has held major roles in dozens of space missions, has a plan for implementing a space-based solar program that could result in the world’s only clean, constant and global energy supply -- rainy days bedamned. In other words: Houston, we have power. And Cape May? We have a seriously engaging talk.
The #metoo campaign launched a social media movement. So… now what? Enter Debjani Biswas, an Amazon #1 bestselling author and executive coach who regularly appears on CBS, ESPN and iHeart Radio. Her latest book, #Ustoo, centers on ways all of us -- yes, ALL of us -- can recognize gender biases and smash them with the contempt they deserve. Her frameworks for increasing inclusivity have been implemented in more than 20 countries, her insights are fresh, and her TEDx Cape May talk promises to be -- hashtag -- brilliant.
While it’s impossible to know the exact number of birdwatchers in America (estimates range from 45 million to upwards of 60 million), it’s safe to say the hobby has… taken flight. And Richard Crossley, internationally acclaimed birder, has key insights into why. The award-winning author and photographer knows just how minimal our differences with other animals are -- despite what society believes -- and he advocates connecting with nature in order to rediscover our common ground. His lessons from the birding frontlines promise to engage not just those enamored by all things avian, but those who can’t tell the difference between a warbler and a wren. The fact that the talk is happening in Cape May, major migratory route and internationally renowned birding destination? That’s enough to put anyone in fine feather.
Jenn Graham has a clear passion for raising awareness, understanding, and collective action around important issues from racial equity to transportation to early childhood education. This civic focus is on display throughout Civic Dinners and Aha! Strategy, the two companies she serves as founder and CEO. Her latest endeavor, Civic Dinners is an award-winning civic engagement platform that brings diverse voices together for conversations that matter. More than 500 dinners have taken place worldwide, from Atlanta to Auckland, and have sparked real and lasting change, including the launch of several nonprofits, new companies and newly elected civic leaders. Jenn has received numerous accolades for her innovative approach to business and civic matters.
Professor Mark Rahdert is a member of the Beasley School of Law faculty where he specializes in the areas of constitutional law, torts, and comparative constitutional law. He is an award-winning author of scholarly books and is often called on by local and national media to comment on a variety of topics including issues surrounding recent Supreme Court nominations and decisions. He is a graduate (J.D.) of Yale Law School, where he was Note Editor for the Yale Law Journal, and a summa cum laude graduate (A.B.) of Harvard University. In addition to Constitutional Law, Comparative Constitutional Law and Torts, Mark’s teaching s include Political and Civil Rights, Federal Jurisdiction, Freedom of Religion, and the Supreme Court.
Michael Eagle is a new voice in the revolution in education. Having taught for nearly 20 years in US public schools and academia including the University of Texas, New York University, and Stony Brook University, Michael left what he describes as the "exhausted" traditional system to design and develop innovative educational products that combine accessible technology with personal interaction.
"To innovate inside the classroom, we must realize how we learn outside of the classroom."
Michael believes that it is up to each of us to change our educational systems by demonstrating our natural ability to learn and grow through experience and creation. Discovering our passion-driven purpose gives us meaning and becomes our identity. We are the system, and this realization will lead to the greatest impact on the institutions of education.
Michael is also a World Champion drummer and percussionist who teaches and performs all over the world focusing on cultural reflections in music. He is also the Co-Founder & CEO of Rhythm Monster, an online education company quoted as "The Khan Academy of Drumming and Percussion."
Jame’s Mtume’s name means “messenger” in Swahili, which is a bit on-the-nose for this Grammy Award-winning musician. A former percussionist for Miles Davis, the prolific songwriter also headed the band Mtume, a group that helped define R&B’s jazz-funk roots. (Parts of their song “Juicy Fruit,” which you may recognize from the Grand Theft Auto soundtrack, have been incorporated into recordings by Snoop Dogg, Alicia Keys, Faith Evans, Jennifer Lopez and many more.) While the Philadelphia native’s pedigree also includes composing for motion pictures and producing for the likes of Mary J Blige and R Kelly, he’s equally well known for his activism. Formerly the host of the number one black talk radio show in New York, Mtume uses his platform to promote the role of music in defining a generation and advancing social progression, one song a time.
If the children are our future, then the future’s looking bright. At least, that’s the case with Katya Simonsen, president of the junior class at Lower Cape May Regional High School. An honorstudent and three-season athlete, Katya is also an entrepreneur who sells her own paintings. It’s not just a side hustle -- it’s a business that thrusts the local community into greater identification with the power of art to connect: classmates, neighbors, even generations. Katya will take a break from dismantling millennial stereotypes to share her insights on the TEDx stage. Kids these days.
Born and living in a predominantly white town, Logan Thomas is aware of how a small difference in skin tone can grow into large misconceptions and stereotypes about race. While promoting equality throughout society, however and wherever she can, she’s on a mission to find common ground in all corners of the world. Logan embraces her culture in just about everything she does. In deconstructing how African-American music, food, style, and even physical appearance influence society, her ultimate goal is to underline the intrinsic value of black lives.
Logan is a senior at Middle Township High School. She is an active member in her school’s Key Club, Red Cross Club, Student Council, Class Office, as well as the Soccer, Basketball, and Golf teams. As a young passionate activist, she uses her platform in her community to illustrate racial equality and recognize how African-Americans are a powerful force that cannot be devalued. She is also an active member in Jack & Jill of America, Inc., a family organization dedicated to nurturing future African American leaders by strengthening children through leadership development and volunteer service. She aspires to study aerospace engineering and pursue a career in the commercial space field.
Sofia Graziano is a senior at Absegami High School in Galloway, New Jersey, who plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Astrophysics. Sofia founded a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Outreach Program at her high school that conducts science demonstrations and experiments for students in the community and the Boys and Girls Club of Atlantic City. She completed a Texas Space Grant Consortium NASA Internship this summer and is currently a New Jersey Governor’s STEM Scholar. Most recently, she was selected as a Student Ambassador for a new documentary television series called Back to Space, whose mission is to rejuvenate interest in space exploration and make STEM a part of pop culture. Sofia’s TEDx talk is about how to ignite STEM curiosity in kids of all ages and backgrounds. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist; you just need to be willing to make science rock!
Sanjana Buddi is a senior at Notre Dame High School in Lawrenceville, NJ. Other than her involvement with the non-profit PUREYouth, Sanjana is a varsity tennis player, plays double bass, volunteers at RWJ hospital, and is a Girl Scout working on her gold award, so volunteering has always been a part of her life. With the assistance of PURE, Sanjana is able to work with schools all over the world in makings sure that they get the assistance that they need. About two years ago, Sanjana and her mom started a branch and through this, she has spent countless hours fundraising and spreading awareness for schools in many countries, including rural schools in south India and inner-city schools in North America.
After funding and witnessing the success of various dining halls, online facilities, libraries, and other supplies, it inspired her. How could a small group of teenagers in New Jersey change the lives of countless others? While working with PURE, she understood the true power of the youth and how, yes, we can change the world despite what we have been told.