Photos special to Fargo INC!
By Nate Mickelberg and TEDxFargo team*
*This article was produced as a partnership between Fargo INC! and TEDxFargo.
The TEDxFargo team is crafting our community’s ninth TED event, which will be held at the end of this month on July 26 at the Fargo Civic Center. The day will be a chance for our community to share ideas and experiences as the team brings another world-class event to Fargo.
There will be local, national, and global thought leaders who will be sharing their ideas on the main stage to help solve challenges and create possibilities. The idea is to empower people to be solutions-oriented, believing that ideas can change the way the world works. So come listen to new ideas, find a topic you’re passionate about and then take action to enable those ideas. And ask yourself a simple question, “How will I go forth?”
Here, you can meet and get to know the 24 speakers a little better.
Owner, Beyond Buckskin
Dr. Jessica Metcalfe is the owner of Beyond Buckskin, 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.
Founder, Higher Orbits
Michelle Lucas says she’s been inspired by space her entire life. Lucas graduated from university and went to work at Johnson Space Center in Houston. At JSC, she was part of the Payload Safety Review Panel and then worked mission control for the International Space Station as a flight controller. After that, she then went on to become a technical instructor for astronauts, along the way finding a passion for inspiring the next generation.
Leaving JSC to pursue this new trajectory, Lucas founded Higher Orbits, a nonprofit that uses space to excite students about STEM. She runs programs all over the country and world, encouraging students to find and pursue their passions. In her copious free time, Lucas also serves as vice president of industry relations for uniphi (pronounced “unify”) space agency, a management agency for retired astronauts.
The TEDxFargo team expects more than 2,000 attendees this year.
Steven Villescas Jr.
Graduate Student, USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
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 Los Angeles. In March, he traveled to Thailand as 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, California. He is a first-generation college student.
Upon receiving a bachelor’s degree in electrical and electronics engineering from North Dakota State University, Barry Batcheller joined Steiger Tractor as an electronics design engineer. In 1983, he founded Integrated Technical Systems Corporation in Valley City, North Dakota, on behalf of Steiger and served as the company’s chief operating officer. He founded Phoenix International Corporation in 1987 and served as President and CEO of Phoenix until the company was purchased by John Deere in 1999.
Batcheller was appointed director of technology growth at John Deere in 1999 and founded Appareo in 2003, now serving as the company’s chairman. He’s received numerous awards related to his contributions to the state of North Dakota and the city of Fargo and holds more than 30 patents.
TEDxFargo 2018 features 24 main stage speakers and performers.
Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando
Olympic Gold Medalists
Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando are the first North Dakotans to win Olympic gold medals. Originally from Grand Forks, they are three-time Olympians, taking home silver in 2010 and 2014 and most recently capturing gold in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
They’re graduates of the University of North Dakota, both earning a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and a master’s in kinesiology. They say they’re committed to utilizing their platform as athletes to be a part of the more important conversations surrounding gender equality, equal opportunity and inclusion.
Founder, Thrifty Traveler
Jared Kamrowski is the founder of Thrifty Traveler, a leading online source for flight deals, cheap travel tips and maximizing travel rewards. Kamrowski honed his travel skills by traveling more than 100 nights per year while working as a federal bank examiner. He left that job in 2017 to run Thrifty Traveler full-time and now flies more than 100,000 miles per year. You can catch him flying in the fanciest first-class cabins, as well as budget airlines, paying only pennies on the dollar. Kamrowski believes there’s no such thing as a “once-in-a-lifetime” trip and is a firm believer that travel should be cheap and accessible for all.
Nick Ybarra is a self-employed director of adventure. In 2012, he established Legendary Adventures New Discoveries, or L.A.N.D., which 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 have been called “the raddest of races in the baddest of places.”
Ybarra founded the Save The Maah Daah Hey Foundation, a nonprofit that brought our country’s longest non-motorized, single-track trail back from extinction when the U.S. Forest Service lost the funding and staff to maintain the trail. He 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 180 miles of the Maah Daah Hey and connecting trails into a findable, usable and enjoyable condition for all trail users.
Mary Ann Kristiansen
Founder, Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship
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, Kristiansen realized there was a shortage of markets for locally made products, while at the same time realizing 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 locally 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.
This year is part 2/3 in a TEDxFargo trilogy: For, Forth, Forward.
President/CEO, Rapid Packaging
Mike Sime is the president and CEO of Rapid Packaging, a national distributor of packaging materials, shipping supplies and packaging equipment headquartered in Minneapolis. 2018 was the third consecutive year Minnesota Business Magazine named Rapid Packaging one of its “100 Best Companies to Work For.”
Sime is in long-term recovery and has served on the boards of both nonprofit and for-profit organizations, including Hazelden Betty Ford and Augsburg College’s StepUP Program, among others. The keynote speaker at the 2018 North Dakota Governors Prayer Breakfast, Sime and his wife also chaired the 2012 Minnesota Prayer Breakfast.
Owner/Operator, Makaha Mangoes
As program director for Wai`anae High School – Searider Productions in Hawai’i, Candy Suiso oversees one of the most innovative creative media programs in Hawai’i. In 1999, she received a prestigious National Educator Award from the Milken Family Foundation.
Along with her husband, Suiso owns and operates Makaha Mangoes, a mango farm located in Makaha Valley on Oahu, which is home to more than 70 mango trees of a dozen different varieties and numerous other tropical exotic fruits.
In 2003, Mark Sylvester helped create the first social network for the TED Conference. He has created hundreds of communities that include global organizations that want to make a cultural change in how they connect with their audiences.
Sylvester has been on the leading edge of software development for more than 30 years. As a cofounder of Wavefront Technologies, he helped develop the software known as Maya, which revolutionized the way the world is entertained. As a TEDx podcaster and producer of TEDxSantaBarbara, Sylvester is constantly looking for “Ideas Worth Spreading” and believes that helping people make smarter connections is definitely one of those ideas.
TEDxFargo 2016 talk “The Art of Letting Go” by The Minimalists is nearing 2 million views on YouTube.
Thamrong (Keng) Dechawuth
Thamrong (Keng) Dechawuth is a restaurateur. He was born and raised in Chiangmai, Thailand. He received a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California in 2000 and has been involved in restaurant businesses since 2006. He’s opened more than 10 restaurants in North Dakota, Minnesota, California and Georgia.
Dechawuth says he loves traveling and learning about cultures through the diversity of food and that one of his favorite places is Hawai’i, a place he visits almost every year and where he fell in love with the local food, poke. In summer 2017, he started the Poke Bowl food truck in Fargo.
Student, North Dakota State University
Ellen Solberg was born and raised in Fargo and is now attending college at North Dakota State University, where she is pursuing a degree in marketing. In 2015, during her senior year of high school, Solberg joined the North Dakota Air National Guard, where she has since begun to pursue a career.
She’s passionate about education and learning both inside and outside the classroom. One thing she says she’s 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 says she’s realized it’s okay to not know what you want to be and that it’s perfectly acceptable to pursue several different passions. Solberg believes she would love to work with Pixar, in a national security agency, within the creative department of a fashion magazine, or run her own business.
Joseph Schoning is a 16-year-old GED student who was born and raised in Bemidji, Minnesota. He says he didn’t succeed in high school due to anxiety and work ethic but always loved math and english. Since leaving high school, Schoning has pursued music, while also serving as a caregiver to his grandpa.
Doing “everything in his power to make the best music he can,” he plans on going to college next fall to study political science and music theory. All of this is yet to be truly decided, as he says that all he knows is he wants to change the world. He tends to spend his free time writing and hanging out with friends and says he’s honored to take his first step toward the future with TEDxFargo.
Rachel Webb is a singer, actress, and dancer from Dallas. She began singing in church at the age of seven, and one of her most recent credits includes playing a Dynamite in Theatre Aspen’s production of Hairspray in summer 2017. Webb is currently pursuing a bachelor of fine arts in musical theatre from Texas State University, and though she studies musical theatre in college, she says she still enjoys singing and performing all styles of music.
Webb says she’s grateful for all opportunities to share the art of music with people, for “music has always had the capability to heal.”
Now comes an even bigger challenge than hosting 2,000-plus people for a day: putting all these ideas into action. TEDxFargo’s goal is to be the TEDx event in the world best known for going forth and activating ideas in our community. To do that, we need you to join us. We’ve got some fun ways to put these ideas into action and up our sleeves. We hope you’ll count yourself in for viewing parties, discussions and sharing the talks as they are published online.