TEDxDayton 2020 Hosts, Speakers, & Performers

HOST: Lisa Wagner • Night 1 (Nov. 10th)

Lisa Wagner is the Executive Director for the Levitt Pavilion Dayton, which opened in August of 2018.  Previously, Lisa spent the past 15 years of her career working for the Victoria Theatre Association, most recently as the Vice President of Ticketing and Hospitality. Levitt Pavilion Dayton has created a space to bring our community together with the power of free, live music, for all to enjoy with at least 50 concerts annually and has proven to be an integral element to invigorating our inner core.

HOST: Josh Stucky • Night 2 (Nov. 12th)

Joshua Stucky is a graduate of Wright State and the University of Dayton with a Masters in Children’s Literature. Josh is a founding member of Dayton’s Beloved ‘RubiGirls,’ a performance group that has raised over $2,000,000 for local charities. Josh is one of the owners of Square One Salons located in the Dayton and Columbus Areas. His love for dogs, gardening and the pursuit of LGBTQ rights keeps Josh very busy. Josh delivered a TEDx Talk in 2015 about ‘Using your Difference to Make a Difference.’ Today, he teaches Democracy at Wright State and has a continued love for Education.

HOST: Dr. Karen Townsend • Night 3 (Nov. 17th)

As a recognized subject matter expert and award-winning entrepreneur, Dr. Karen works with leaders to create inclusive environments and build strong teams so that they can effectively meet the needs of their diverse clients. As an advocate for women and founder of About My Sisters, Dr. Karen is on a mission to empower one million women and girls.  Her annual conference—Sister to Sister—celebrated its “Silver Anniversary” in 2018 and was recognized as one of the longest-running women’s events in The United States. Her book—It All Started When I Stopped Using Lotion:  One Woman’s Journey From Chaos to Calm—is currently being used by organizations across the globe to support the professional development and career advancement of high potential women leaders.

HOST: Neal Gittleman • Night 4 (Nov. 19th)

Neal Gittleman has been lucky enough to serve as Conductor of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra for 25 years. Though COVID has made the second half of year 25 and the start of year 26 a challenge, working with his colleagues in the DPO (and with Dayton Opera and Dayton Ballet) has been the great joy of Neal’s life. Another joy: speaking at TEDxDayton in 2017 (“The Power of Silence”). But he catches grief from his wife every time he listens to stuff on headphones during household tasks: “Didn’t I once hear someone talk at TEDx about how wonderful silence is?”

SPEAKER: Charlie Campbell • Retired College Professor

Sharing his personal experience with downsizing and saying goodbye.

Charlie Campbell is the creator of the weekly blog, It’s Great In Dayton, where he informs his 7,000 “best friends” of what’s going on in the Dayton area. Since 1972, Charlie has been living in Oakwood with his family and working in downtown Dayton. His grandfather established Miami-Jacobs College and Charlie was the third generation to “…keep things going.” During those years, Charlie was tagged, “The Mayor of Webster Station.” In 2000 he retired, but he never took his eye off downtown Dayton. To receive his blog, sign up at: http://www.greatdayton.com. GOOD-BYE!

SPEAKERS: Dana Clark & Ryann Mescher

Talking about the non-profit they created to address “period poverty.”

Dana Clark loves cats and baking. She also cheers and runs track. She has a great love of public speaking. She was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio and loves the Dayton community. She especially loves how everyone manages to come together in times of need.

Ryann Mescher is a creative with a passion for photography. She doesn’t see limits— only opportunities to be a part of creating change for her community. When she isn’t advocating for social change, you can find her on the court playing basketball, on the sidelines cheering or running for her school’s track team, and being her school’s mascot. Ryann hopes to pursue a career in Psychology with a focus on trauma and Veterans.

SPEAKERS: Conor Crippen & Anne Marie Romer

Discussing Conor’s traumatic brain injury and giving up the burden of trauma.

TBI Survivor (Traumatic Brain Injury). Conor Crippen, born in Dayton, Ohio, is a survivor of a catastrophic traumatic brain injury from being hit by a drunk driver. Despite this incident, Conor has a persistent belief that recovery is always possible, no matter the circumstance. He has a loving sister and brother and ended up right in the middle of them. His favorite things are curiosity in the unknown, big laughs and finding the opportunities to engage and befriend as many people as possible. So, if you meet him, pull up a chair.

Writer, Aunt. Anne Marie Romer is a writer inspired by family connection, grief, and fleeting moments of serendipity. She articulates the language of the heart in a way which binds the human experience, and highlights connections that are relatable to all. She is propelled by the relentless quest to highlight good that rises even amidst debilitating pain. Anne Marie lives outside Dayton, Ohio with her husband Mark, and is a Community Contributor to the Dayton Daily News. Along with her essays, she is also the author of the book, Just Give Me the Road. Her writings can be found on her website, annemarieromer.com.

SPEAKER: Daj’za Demmings • Executive Director, Hope Dealer

Discussing intergenerational mentorship.

Daj’za Demmings, named in Dayton Business Journal’s 2020 Class of 40 Under 40, is a native of West Dayton and is the Executive Director of Dayton Young Black Professionals. Through this role she has worked to create a network that is a safe haven for young, African American career men and women to unite, network, cultivate their resources and thrive, together. Demmings studied at Central State University and Wilberforce University, the only two Historically Black College/Universities (HBCUs) in the state of Ohio. She is committed to a life of service and philanthropy for minority groups and marginalized people everywhere.

SPEAKER: Ronald L. Fletcher, MD • Former Ohio Health Commissioner

Sharing how the AIDS crisis taught us lessons about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ronald L. Fletcher, former Ohio Health Director, is devoted to helping people wherever there is great need and has a vast array of experience. After graduating medical school, he became director of a clinic, through the U.S. Health Department poverty relief program. Ronald worked with groups to send $13 million of medical aid to Hungary, Ukraine, and Romania as they struggled after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Ronald also worked with missionary groups to care for people in the jungles of Belize and Guatemala, as well as initiating a strategy with President Museveni of Uganda to save the endangered Mountain Gorillas.

SPEAKER: Subhashini Ganapathy, PhD • Industrial Systems Engineer

Sharing how industrial systems engineering is actually fun and improves our world.

Subhashini Ganapathy is an educator and a leader in the area of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Wright State University (WSU). Her interests are in exploring fundamental and applied research in the area of Human Computer Interaction. Subhashini has published over 50 articles in premier journals, conferences, and as book chapters. She holds 3 patents in the area of mobile augmented reality. Prior to joining WSU, she was a senior user experience researcher at Intel Corporation.

SPEAKER: Jodie Mader • Old School Techie

Talking about how it feels to be a Luddite in a high-tech world.

Jodie Mader is a history professor, faculty developer, and mom. Her appreciation of the past and all that is historical grew from a family trip to Europe in the late 1980s. Despite refusing to believe her dad’s prediction for many years, she eventually became a professor. She is always curious and sees another career ahead of her, either in or outside of academia. In her free time, she likes to paint on canvas and dabble in crafts. She and her husband Chris live in Fort Thomas Kentucky with their two sons, Jeffrey, and Christopher.

SPEAKER: Joshua Montgomery • Computer Science Professor

Discussing how building “Star Wars” droids made him a better teacher.

Joshua Montgomery is an Associate Professor at Southern State Community College and Director of Technology at the Chillicothe City School District. He is the co-founder of SOMACC (Southern Ohio Makers Against COVID Coalition). This grassroots group built 4,500 3D printed face shields for first responders at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Josh is working on his Doctorate at Colorado Technical University in Computer Science. One of his most significant accomplishments is building R2-D2, a droid that took him 2.5 years to complete. Josh and his wife, Brandy, reside in Southern Ohio with their two children and three dachshunds.

SPEAKER: Elijah Muhammad • Labor Trafficking Survivor

Sharing his personal experience with labor trafficking.

Elijah Muhammad is an aspiring motivational speaker who is truly an example of the saying, “succeeding against all odds.” He spent his childhood and early adulthood in a human trafficking cult, that dictated every aspect of his life. Elijah’s story was told for the very first time when he served as a contributor on A&E’s “Cults and Extreme Beliefs.” He has aided in freeing others from similar enslavements and volunteers a great deal of time advocating for other victims of human trafficking.

SPEAKER: Timothy Nevius College Athlete Advocate

 Discussing the exploitation of college athletes. 

Timothy Nevius is a sports attorney and former NCAA investigator. While at the NCAA, Tim led investigations into top athletic programs for violations of NCAA rules. Thereafter, he switched sides and helped initiate a landmark class action against the NCAA to challenge athlete compensation restrictions. Since then he established a one-of-a-kind sports law practice representing college athletes, and founded the College Athlete Advocacy Initiative at the Urban Justice Center in New York City. Tim graduated from the University of Dayton, where he played college baseball.  He also graduated first in his law school class from the University of Dayton and earned an LL.M. with honors from Columbia Law School.

SPEAKER: Jacquelyn Wright Palmer • Educator, Genealogist

Discussing genealogy and her family’s history of enslavement.

Jacquelyn Wright Palmer, an educator who retired from teaching at Wright State University and a former administrator at Dayton Public Schools, embraces what it means for her to lean on her genealogy to connect to her ancestors in a way that would keep her family’s history alive and well. Her passion for this came from her own mentor and uncle, Walter L. Wright Sr., who instilled in her what the stories behind the documents really mean. Jacquelyn received her master’s degree in teaching from Andrews University and her PhD in business administration from University of Cincinnati.

SPEAKER: Shomari Payne • Educator

Discussing the inheritance of poverty.

Shomari Payne, born in the Gem City, is the author of the memoir, Pain is a Stimulus, which chronicles his oppressive childhood, disinvested neighborhood, and experience navigating a high-poverty school system. He is passionate about social justice, affordable housing, anti-gentrification efforts, education reform, and fostering community. He is motivated to revitalize the region of the U.S known as the “Rust Belt.” He has served the city of Dayton as an advocate for first-generation college students at Sinclair Community College since 2014. Shomari earned his MBA at Miami University and is currently pursuing a PhD at Miami University in Educational Leadership. He is also the Head Varsity Golf Coach at Stivers High School.

SPEAKER: Ann Puckett • Lifelong DIY’er

Sharing how DIY isn’t about doing it yourself and actually builds community.

Ann Puckett, mom of 4 boys and the wife of a coach, grew up building with her Dad and crafting with her Mom. She spent over 25 years in the corporate world, but always loved the time to step away from tech and build something with her family. Ann loves to help and empower others while building confidence and unleashing creativity, and she has always dreamed of opening a shop where others can come together to create. She invites you to come and try a DIY project yourself at her boutique AR Workshop Centerville: www.arworkshop.com/centerville.

SPEAKER: Amy M. Riegel • Housing Advocate

Discussing affordable housing and how our zip codes define our opportunities.

Amy M. Riegel, Director of Housing at CareSource, works tirelessly for the underserved within the community. She is focused on building collaborative partnerships to address affordable housing through development, financing, and policy with an emphasis on improving health outcomes. Amy has served on numerous Boards within Ohio and nationally that are focused on poverty elimination, affordable housing, and neighborhood revitalization. She is a graduate of Wright State University, and proudly lives in Dayton with her husband and three young daughters.

SPEAKER: Kathleen Wiant • Anti-Hazing Advocate

Discussing the dangers of hazing and bullying, and how it affected her family.

Kathleen Wiant, mother of five children, had her world change forever in November 2018 when her 18-year-old son, Collin, died from fraternity hazing at Ohio University. This motivated her to learn about hazing and in the process, she discovered a critical remedy for it…courage. She now speaks at universities across the country to share her findings and lobbies for anti-hazing legislation on a national level. She is also progressing with Ohio’s anti-hazing & anti-bullying law, Collin’s Law. Kathleen has spent her career in professional training and leadership development. As a board member of The Collin Wiant Foundation, she is passionate about its mission to “bring more Kindness + Courage to the world.”

SPEAKER: Christopher Wyatt, PhD • Associate Professor of Neuroscience

Discussing how opioids, overdoses and breathing are connected.

Christopher Wyatt is originally from Manchester, England. He has a PhD in Neuropharmacology and for the last thirty years has researched the neuronal control of breathing with particular interest in how disease states and medicines alter breathing. He has over fifty publications on the control of breathing and his laboratory has been funded by NIH, The American Heart Association, and the pharmaceutical industry. Chris lives in Yellow Springs, is married to Karen, and has two teenage sons: Bob and Morris. To relax during this pandemic, he walks his two crazy little Patterdale Terriers: Betty and Archie.

PERFORMER: Ted Yoder • Night 1 (Nov. 10th)

Ted Yoder is the perfect musician for the 21st century; his passionate playing style and easy-going personality make him a natural live and online star. Why? Because until you hear Ted Yoder, it’s impossible to imagine that one wooden stringed instrument can sound like an entire rock band or a whole symphony orchestra all in one. A national champion and sure virtuoso labeled, “The Bela Fleck of the hammered dulcimer”.

PERFORMER: Rodney Veal, Brianna Rhodes, & Josh Strange • Night 2 (Nov. 12th)

Rodney Veal, an independent choreographer and multi-disciplinary artist, serves as adjunct faculty and a Career Community Coordinator for Sinclair Community College. He has a B.S. in Political Science and Visual Arts from Eastern Michigan University, and an M.F.A. in Choreography from The Ohio State University. Rodney serves as the President of Ohio Dance’s Board of Trustees, and is on the boards of Levitt Pavilion Dayton, HomeFull, Dayton Live! and WYSO. He is the recipient of several Montgomery County Arts and Cultural District grants and fellowships, and has choreographed and presented several performance installations throughout the Miami Valley. Rodney is currently the Host of the Emmy© Award winning television series THE ART SHOW on ThinkTV Channel 16.

Brianna Rhodes is a freelance dance artist, and a dance teacher for several dance studios and summer camps in Columbus, Ohio. She graduated with a degree in Dance from The Ohio State University in 2019, and is a former dancer of Dayton Contemporary Dance Company. Brianna focuses on educating herself on equality of any sex, race, sexuality, and profession through the lens of African & African American history and activism. She has recently utilized the art of poetry and combined it with dance to further her creative voice towards social equality. Constantly keeping the stories of the ancestors close, Brianna lives through her favorite African Proverb, “I am because we are, and because we are; therefore I am.”

Josh Strange was born in Dayton, OH and grew up in Kettering. Beginning as a guitarist, Josh quickly branched out to play a multitude of instruments. Today, Josh has transferred his musical skills into an impressive live jazz career in the city of Cincinnati. He also composes for marching bands, makes beats for rappers, and teaches drumlines around the area.

PERFORMER: Jim McCutcheon • Night 4 (Nov. 19th)

Ohio Arts Council Touring Artist Jim McCutcheon received the 2017 Governor’s Award for the Arts in Arts Education.  He is Artist-in-Residence at the University of Dayton and adjunct faculty at Wright State and Miami University. He presents “Guitar Man” and “Science of Music” performances and residencies to schools K-12 across Ohio. He has been the Guitar Advisor to the National Federation of Music Clubs for over three decades, and has hosted “The Intimate Guitar” weekly on Discover Classical since 1986. He reviews guitar CDs for Soundboard and the American Record Guide, and owns and teaches at McCutcheon Music, a music store and teaching facility in Centerville.