TEDxFSCJ Salon: Leonardos of the 21st Century


2019 marks the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, the quintessential Renaissance man or “polymath” whose genius spanned an astonishing array of disciplines.

In today’s digital age, poets and scientists, designers and architects are rediscovering this vision, cultivating expertise in multiple fields and challenging the boundaries that separate the arts and sciences.

Join TEDxFSCJ for Leonardos of the 21st Century, a salon exploring how the Renaissance or polymath ideal is finding renewed expression across the First Coast. Hosted by local artists Princess Simpson Rashid and Mark Creegan, the evening will feature five creative innovators:

  • Ben Atkinson, ecologist and poet at Flagler College

  • Jonathan Cantor, architect and Vice President atRS&H, exploring how built environments impact human health and the health sciences

  • Caitlín Doherty, Director, MOCA Jacksonville

  • Clark Lunberry, UNF Professor of English, interdisciplinary scholar and artist whose work includes poetry installations

  • Kedgar Volta, Creative Director of Castaño Group, connecting digital and physical environments through interactive media

The salon will be held Thursday, February 28,
7-9 p.m. at MOCA Jacksonville.



Ben Atkinson

Ben Atkinson is an assistant professor of natural sciences at Flagler College. In recent years, he has returned to poetry as a creative outlet and tool for understanding the world. Ben’s work ranges from poems published in literary magazines and galleries to published articles on reptiles and amphibians in scientific journals and books. Field research has taken him to Belize, Bermuda, Honduras and across the U.S. Active with Ancient City Poets, Ben shares his work at Corazon Cinema and Café in St. Augustine. He also reads locally in Jacksonville. Last year, he debuted poems for the Southeastern Sister Cities Reading Tour, Sing Out Loud Festival and JaxbyJax Literary Arts Festival. Ben holds a Ph.D. in wildlife ecology and conservation from the University of Florida.


Jonathan Cantor

Vice President and Healthcare Market Leader for RS&H, Jonathan has spent his career focusing on the development of healthcare and life science environments. As an architect, Jonathan understands how the built environment directly impacts the health and productivity of patients, staff and researchers. Over the past decade, he has created multiple design studios that focus on evidence-based design decisions to improve those outcomes. Jonathan served for six years on the Board of Directors for BioFlorida, which focuses on the growth of the life science industry in Florida and is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps.


Caitlín Doherty

Born on South Uist, a small island in Northwest Scotland, Caitlín’s journey to Jacksonville highlights her passion for the arts, community and education. Having acted as the chief curator and deputy director for the Broad Art Museum in Michigan, the exhibitions and speaker curator at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar and the inaugural director of Lismore Castle Arts in Ireland, Caitlín has engaged with and provided leadership to artists, students and communities around the world. Furthermore, Caitlín has taught a variety of courses at Ireland's Waterford Institute of Technology and University College London. Caitlín holds master's degrees from the University of Edinburgh and the University of St. Andrews. Currently, she serves as the Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville.


Clark Lunberry

Clark is a professor of English at the University of North Florida. Along with his interdisciplinary scholarship and teaching, Lunberry creates site-specific “writing on water | writing on air” art and poetry installations, placing large-scale poems on water and windows. Recent installations have been completed in Uppsala, Sweden; Oxford, England; Paris, France; Toronto, Canada; Tokyo and Hiroshima, Japan; Durham, England; Stanford University; the University of Georgia; and at the University of North Florida. To view his work, please visit


Kedgar Volta

Kedgar has been a vital part of the Jacksonville arts and creative community for over a decade. As co-founder and Creative Director of Castaño Group, he uses interactive technology and his talent for design to create innovative ways to communicate in digital and physical environments. After emigrating to Florida from Cuba, Kedgar began his career at Brunet-García Advertising where he created internationally recognized work running the gamut from typography to animation. He has been a featured artist at Art Basel Miami Beach and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and has been awarded multiple National ADDY and Emmy Awards.In 2015, he was named Emerging Artist of the Year by the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville.



Mark Creegan

Mark is an assistant professor of drawing and design at Florida State College at Jacksonville. He is also an artist whose work alternates between various media such as painting, drawing, collage, sculpture, installation and performance. Underlying Mark’s incredibly diverse practice is a thoughtful exploration of abstract form, repetitive mark-making, color, humor, and use of found and discarded materials. Hairnets, shark’s teeth, used watercolor sets and combs are just some of the diverse array of objects Creegan employs into minimalist arrangements or large-scale installations which are often used as spaces for performative action. Creegan currently lives in Jacksonville, Florida, and received an MFA degree from Florida State University.


Princess Simpson Rashid

Princess is an American painter, printmaker, blogger, art activist, competitive sport-fencer and coach. Her work has been part of exhibitions and private collections in museums, art centers and galleries across the United States, the United Kingdom, and Portugal. Locally, Princess has been recognized by various organizations including the Florida Watercolor Society, Tampa Regional Artists and the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville. Princess was born in Georgia and studied printmaking and painting at Escuela de Artes Plastica in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and earned her B.S. in Physics from Georgia State University.

TEDxFSCJ Salon: What are Human Rights?

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Human rights have been called the dominant moral vocabulary of our time—but how do human rights affect the everyday lives of ordinary people?

Join TEDxFSCJ for What are Human Rights?, a salon featuring speakers with first-hand knowledge of how human rights protect us all. Embracing both the local and global dimensions of human rights, we will address such questions as the inherent and equal dignity of individuals regardless of gender expression, race, and nationality; the unprecedented discrimination and violence facing immigrant populations; and how global warming threatens entire communities with irreversible harm.

Our speakers include:

Drew Adams, a transgender student at Nease High School in St. Johns County, who successfully sued for the right to use the bathroom matching his gender identity; and

Charlene Taylor Hill, who as Executive Director of the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission has seen how the civil rights origins of, and recent changes to, the city’s Human Rights Ordinance have strengthened the protections afforded local residents.

We will hear from experts with a keen understanding of the immigrant experience, including immigration attorney Andrea Reyesand ACLU Regional Organizer Samir Gupte.

And Joshua Gellers, Professor of Political Science at UNF, will help us further explore interconnections between the global and local by discussing how the startling pace of climate change has sparked an environmental rights revolution.

Hosted by UNF Associate Director of Diversity Initiatives, Matt Hartley, and FSCJ student Haley Foley, the event is free and open to the public.

The salon will be held Thursday, February 7th,
at the Nathan H. Wilson Center for the Arts Lakeside Room,
FSCJ South Campus, from 7-8:30 pm.



Drew Adams

Drew is an 18-year-old transgender man and LGBTQ+ advocate. He is an International Baccalaureate student, president of his school’s Gay-Straight Alliance and the 2018 recipient of the Matthew Shepard Foundation Spirit of Matthew Award and the JASMYN Diamond Award. When his school denied him access to the men’s room, Drew sued the district with the help of Lambda Legal; his was the first transgender student bathroom case to go to trial. Drew is a past member of the GLSEN National Student Council and the Trevor Project Youth Ambassador Council. Currently, Drew is the Volunteer Intern Coordinator for Point of Pride and sits on the Q Chat Space Youth Advisory Panel.


Joshua Gellers

Josh is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Administration at the University of North Florida, Fulbright Scholar to Sri Lanka and Research Fellow of the Earth System Governance Project. His research on environmental rights and sustainable development has been published in Global Environmental Politics, Journal of Human Rights and the Environment, and Transnational Environmental Law. Josh is also the author of The Global Emergence of Constitutional Environmental Rights (Routledge 2017). He holds a B.A. in Political Science, magna cum laude, from the University of Florida, a M.A. in Climate and Society from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in Political Science from UC Irvine.


Samir Gupte

Samir Gupte serves as the ACLU Regional Organizer for North Florida focusing on voting rights, criminal justice reform, immigration and police practices. After a 26-year corporate career in Operations, HR and General Management, Samir changed career paths to pursue his passion of helping others build better lives for themselves. As the ACLU Regional Organizer, Samir supports this mission through his hands-on volunteer work. In addition to his work at the ACLU, Samir runs a private consulting practice that focuses on organizational problem solving and cultural change. Samir holds a BBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a M.A. from Rollins College, and an MILR from Cornell University.


Charlene Taylor Hill

Charlene serves as the Executive Director of the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission. She is responsible for enforcing the city’s anti-discrimination laws governing employment, housing and public accommodations, and for implementing programs that promote respect and mutual understanding of all of Jacksonville’s diverse population. Charlene also meets with delegations visiting the city through the U.S. State Department’s International Visitors Program and shares information on the city’s work on human rights. She has received numerous awards, including the OneJax Institute’s Silver Medallion Humanitarian Award in April 2015. Charlene is a graduate of Bethune-Cookman University and the American Bankers Association’s Graduate School of Banking of the South at Louisiana State University.

Andrea Reyes

Andrea is an immigration attorney in Jacksonville, Florida and recipient of the 2018 Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Award. Born in Bogota, Colombia, she immigrated to the U.S. as a child. After graduating from Florida State University in 2006, she attended Florida Coastal School of Law. In 2014, she opened her solo practice focusing on immigration law. She sits on the Board of Directors for the Central Florida Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Andrea prides herself on her commitment to justice for the oppressed and underprivileged. To her, no one is “illegal” just in need of legal guidance through the complex world of U.S. immigration law.



Zach Kindy

Zach is an FSCJ student and a gun violence prevention advocate.  He is the executive director of March For Our Lives Jacksonville and secretary for 96 to None (formerly known as National Die-In). Zach is a survivor of the 2012 Episcopal School of Jacksonville shooting, where he was in seventh grade at the time. His transgender identity plays an important role in his activism. Recently, Zach has branched out into other areas of activism, confronting his lifelong medical issues and helping others do the same.  Currently, he is the program coordinator for the College Democrats of America Disability Caucus.


Matt Hartley

Matt is Associate Director in the Department of Diversity Initiatives at University of North Florida. Current leader of the Interfaith Center, he is also Chair of the Atlantic Institute of Jacksonville, an organization that facilitates Interfaith cooperation. He taught for eight years at Sandalwood High School, where he helped launch the AVID Program that empowers students to achieve their college dreams. He has 12 years of ministry experience with youth and young adults, including a $100,000 grant secured for an Interfaith college leadership program through the Episcopal Diocese of Florida. He earned his B.A. from the University of North Florida and M.A. in Religion from the University of Florida

TEDxFSCJ Salon: Fearless Innovation

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The salon was held Friday, November 2, at FSCJ-Deerwood, from 9-10:30 a.m.

The power of innovation reaches beyond mere technology. At its core, innovation is about questioning conventional wisdom, disrupting existing markets, and challenging theoretical assumptions. Innovation requires us to create new networks among people, places, and ideas, and to overcome the fear that inevitably attends change.

Join TEDxFSCJ for Fearless Innovation, a salon exploring how innovators in Central Asia and across Northeast Florida are defying the frontiers of the familiar. In collaboration with the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, we will use live video streaming to connect thought leaders in Tajikistan with innovators located right here in Jacksonville. Co-hosted by FSCJ student Lauren Hutchison, our morning will feature two local innovators, Shiva Robotics Academy founder Kalai Sankar and Chief Technology Officer Jane Landon. Joining us from Tajikistan will be startup guru and salon co-host Parviz Jamalov, cybersecurity expert and social entrepreneur Abdurahmon Abdurashidov, IT project manager and English lecturer Nasiba Mirpochoeva, and financial technology leader Abdullo Kurbanov.

Drawing on their extensive experience challenging the bounds of technology and culture, our speakers will discuss how transformative thinking begins with innovative educators, how technology functions as a catalyst to local and global change, and how technological evolution is changing the way we live as well as the way we do business.

Photos from the Jacksonville Location

Photos from the Dushanbe Location


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Kalai Sankar

Kalai is the founder of Jacksonville’s Shiva Robotics Academy, an institution imparting robotics education to students in grades K-8. As a Carnegie Mellon Certified Robotics instructor and professional LEGO educator, she has introduced afterschool robotics programs in eighteen Title 1 schools. By partnering with organizations like Communities in Schools, Renaissance Jax, and Girl Scouts of Gateway Council, she has helped hundreds of Florida students compete in tournaments as far away as Houston and Costa Rica. Kalai is the recipient of Florida’s Best Robotics Coach award and Jacksonville Business Journal Innovator in Education Award, and her Shiva Robotics camps have been featured in the Florida Times-Union, Folio, and Buzz TV. Sankar holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Fatima College in Madurai, India.

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Abdurahmon Abdurashidov

Abdu is a technology, innovation, and social-outreach change agent. He is the founder and CEO of Durandesh, a Tajik tech-startup company specializing in internet-related services, cybersecurity products, and software engineering. He also founded Durud, a Tajik Customer Relations Management project. Recently, he joined the board of directors at Alif Academy, a fast-growing IT institution in Tajikistan. Abdu has worked as an IT engineer at several institutions, including the microlending firm IMON International, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Aalto University of Finland, and the Swiss subsidiary, Nukrafom. Lastly, he is the founder and president of AIESEC, Khujand, an international nonprofit that provides youth with leadership opportunities, cross-cultural internships, and volunteer exchange experiences. Abdurashidov holds a bachelor’s degree in information technology from Khujand Polytechnic Institute.

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Jane L. Landon

Jane is Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Prior to joining in 2010, she was Deputy Commissioner and Chief Information Officer for the New York City Department of Finance. Her past experience includes Business and Technology leadership positions at Microsoft, where she was General Manager .net Market Development and Chief Information Officer for Public Sector Business Systems Information Technology, as well as Institutional CIO Prudential Insurance of America and General Manager Global Corporate Systems at The Bankers Trust Company. Jane is also on the Board of Directors of STEM2Hub of Northeast Florida. Landon holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from SUNY Fredonia in Fredonia, New York.

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Nasiba Mirpochoeva

Nasiba is a project manager at MicroInvest, MCF and an English lecturer at Khujand State University in Tajikistan. Dedicated to empowering women, youth, and vulnerable communities through the arts, business, and environmental training, she is a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant alumna, a George Mason University Community Leadership Institute alumna, and a recipient of multiple U.S. government grants. She has also participated in the Central Asia Teachers of English Conference, the Central Eurasian Studies Conference, and Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. Mirpochoeva holds a cum laude diploma in English and German languages from Khujand State University and a master’s degree in finance and credit.

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Abdullo Kurbanov

Abdullo is a financial-technology and banking leader. He is the co-founder and CEO of Alif Capital, one of the fastest growing fin-tech organizations in Tajikistan. Alif Capital brought key innovations to Tajikistan’s banking sector by introducing interest-free loans, offering revenue- sharing deposits, and adopting the non-conventional strategy of building key banking software in-house. Abdullo is also co-founder of, a classifieds website that has become the most visited local website in Tajikistan, and he is co-founder of Peshraft, a charitable fund focusing on education. He has worked in private equity, investment banking, and consulting in London, Moscow, and Ulaanbaatar. Kurbanov holds a bachelor’s degree in management from Boğaziçi University in Turkey and a master’s degree in finance from the London School of Economics.


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Lauren Hutchison

Lauren is a project manager at and an honor student in the IT Management Bachelor of Science program at Florida State College at Jacksonville. In April 2018, Lauren spoke at TEDxFSCJ’s annual conference; in her TEDx talk, she explains how she discovered non- technical ways to apply agile concepts to our lives outside the workplace. Hutchison is owner of the blog, an aspiring entrepreneur, a member of STARS Computing Corp, a computer club at FSCJ, and a volunteer at St. Johns Riverkeeper, an environmental nonprofit. She holds an AA degree from FSCJ.

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Parviz Jamalov

Parviz is a Communications and Projects Manager at the British Embassy Dushanbe. As a community leader with extensive experience in public speaking and media marketing, he was the first to bring TEDx to Tajikistan, organizing TEDxDushanbe in 2012. Inspired by his college studies in the U.S., he spearheaded several youth-oriented projects in Tajikistan, including a Youth Peacemaking Leadership Conference, a Model UN Conference, and an English Community Theater initiative. Parviz pioneered the concept of business pitching in Tajikistan, hosting its national pitching competition, Startup Choihona, as well as emceeing the G5 Startup Forum.  For his community service work, he received the Universal Peace Federation’s Youth Ambassador for Peace award. Jamalov holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from the Russian-Tajik Slavonic University in Dushanbe.

TEDxFSCJ Salon: Meklit - Passports in Ethio-Jazz

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2018 AT MOSH 3:00 P.M. - 4:30 P.M.

The music of Meklit Hadero is an invitation to explore. From the melodic soundscapes of her native Ethiopia to the jazz and hip-hop rhythms she heard growing up in New York, Meklit creates music that speaks to the unexpected poetry of everyday sounds, the joy of artistic creation, and the richness of transnational spaces and multicultural identities.

Join TEDxFSCJ for a behind-the-scenes conversation with San Francisco-based vocalist and TED Senior Fellow Meklit Hadero.  Hosted by Avant Arts founder Keith Marks and FSCJ student Eden Molla, the afternoon’s salon will explore several themes central to Meklit’s music and activism: musical cultures of the Nile River region; Ethiopian rhythms and Amharic idioms; multidisciplinary artwork; and the bridging of local and global immigrant communities.




Meklit is an Ethio-American vocalist, composer, and cultural instigator bringing together Ethio-Jazz with a singer-songwriter's storytelling and strum.  Her most recent album, When the People Move, the Music Moves Too, was released last year on Six Degrees Records, and she has been featured in NPR, Vibe Magazine, and BBC World Service.  A TED Senior Fellow, Meklit is the co-founder of the Nile Project, an initiative that helps Nile citizens and musicians ensure the sustainability of their river.



Keith is the founder of Avant, the music-based nonprofit which hosts a concert series, a weekly radio show on WJCT, a new film series launching in March at Sun-Ray Cinema, and an educational outreach program called Passport: Music. A graduate of UNF, Keith received his master’s degree from Tel Aviv University. He has founded a number of nonprofit and community initiatives in Northeast Florida and works as a neuromuscular therapist at his and his wife’s Pilates/Massage business in Avondale.



Eden is a communication student at Florida State College at Jacksonville and a first-generation Ethiopian American. As a columnist writing for Stanton College Preparatory School’s award-winning newspaper, the Devil’s Advocate, she explored local education issues ranging from dress codes to standardized testing. Her five-week travels in Ethiopia have inspired her to become an advocate for Ethiopian identity and culture at home and abroad.

TEDxFSCJ Salon: Rediscovering Space

For millennia, people looked to the stars as a source of awe and inspiration. Today, new ventures between private industry and government agencies like NASA have reignited our sense of wonder, prompting many to ask not only when humans will finally reach Mars, but what careers and businesses are experiencing the greatest growth and how ordinary people and science professionals can get involved.

Join TEDxFSCJ as we partner with the Museum of Science & History (MOSH) in hosting a salon focused on how Florida and the First Coast are accelerating the pace of space exploration. The evening’s speakers will include NASA engineer Kathleen O’Brady, Lockheed Martin engineer Chelsea Partridge, Professor of Astronomy Mike Reynolds, Made In Space CEO Andrew Rush, and hostJennifer Ruliffson, a student at the University of North Florida. 

At the close of the evening, attendees will have the opportunity to look through telescopes positioned atop the museum roof—courtesy of JAX #popscope, the local affiliate of #Popscope, an urban movement of astronomers who host free, “pop-up” events across North America.




Kathleen is Lead Certification System Engineer for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program in which she oversees the certification of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner, a spacecraft for transporting crew to and from the International Space Station.  Kathleen graduated with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a master’s degree in physics from the University of Central Florida. Kathleen considers herself fortunate to have supported the space shuttle program from 2004 until its retirement in 2011.



Chelsea is an engineer for Lockheed Martin Space Systems at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, where she conducts environmental control and life support systems testing on the agency's Orion spacecraft. Chelsea graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of North Florida where she conceptualized CubeSat applications for bone density research. A lifelong advocate for space exploration and science education, Chelsea advises gifted students at The Weiss School, who are currently building a CubeSat of their own. 



Mike is a Professor of Astronomy and Physics at Florida State College at Jacksonville and the Executive Director Emeritus of the Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland, California. His 40-year career runs the gamut from high school and university instructor to planetarium and museum director, researcher, and college administrator. Mike is the recipient of several awards, including the 1986 Florida State Teacher of the Year, NASA Teacher-in-Space National Finalist, and the G. Bruce Blair Medal in Astronomy.



Taylor is a 14-year-old student at The Bolles School in Jacksonville and an accomplished science advocate. Inspired by Dr. Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space, she launched a book drive, entitled Taylor’s Take Flight with a Book, and has read to over 300 children and collected over 5,000 books.  After attending a private screening of Hidden Figures with First Lady Michelle Obama, Taylor helped sponsor screenings across several U.S. states; in April 2017, she addressed the March for Science rally in Washington, DC; and she is a student space ambassador for The Mars Generation.



Andrew is President and CEO of Silicon Valley-based Made In Space, Inc., the first manufacturing company in space. Serving first as general legal counsel during MIS's startup phase and then as CEO since 2015, Andrew envisions a robust interplanetary existence for humanity that unites life and work in space. Andrew holds a B.S. in physics from the University of North Florida and a J.D. from Stetson University, and he currently serves on the Physics Advisory Group at UNF.





Jenn is a NASA Solar System Ambassador and has hosted several events centered on space and space exploration. She earned a Bachelor of Music degree in 2010 and began a career in non-profit arts management. Her passion for space exploration proved so persistent that she quit her full-time job in 2016 to study chemistry at the University of North Florida. Jenn hopes to pursue research at NASA and is currently a research assistant in atmospheric chemistry.

TEDxFSCJ Salon: Common Stories, Uncommon Futures – Youth, Crime, & Community


The headlines are painfully familiar: In January, two shootings rocked the Jacksonville Landing, leaving one teenager dead; Duval County remains among Florida’s most dangerous; and across the city, people worry Jacksonville might become the next national tragedy. But what happens in between the headlines? And what can ordinary citizens and civic leaders do to ensure the youngest among us enjoy greater safety and security across the First Coast?

Join TEDxFSCJ as we host a salon exploring local efforts to address how crime affects our city’s youth. The evening will feature two prominent young leaders, EVAC Movement senior Davin Brown and anti-human trafficking advocate Alyssa Beck, as well as State Attorney Melissa Nelson and New Town Success Zone Executive Director George Maxey. Drawing on their first-hand experience and expertise, our speakers will discuss the often unseen effects of violence and incarceration, the lived realities of racism and gender-based trauma, the economic roots of crime, and innovative policies within the criminal justice system.




Alyssa is the Advocacy Specialist for the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center. In this role, she interacts with leaders in the anti-human trafficking field, experts in girl-centered relations and members of the state legislature to help develop laws and practices that will support survivors of sex trafficking and youth involved in the justice system. Collaborating with several organizations and councils, she brings her lived experience and passion for improving the lives of young women. Her goal is to change the laws around human trafficking and promote justice for children sent to jail.



Davin is a 17-year-old senior at Robert E. Lee High School and a founding member of the EVAC Movement, an award-winning leadership course primarily serving young African-American men. As a juvenile justice advocate, Davin believes Jacksonville can and will be a better place for youth like himself, and he has shared his vision with a number of elected leaders, from President Barack Obama to Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, Sheriff Mike Williams, and State Attorney Melissa Nelson. Raised by a single mother, Davin grew up in Riverside’s Section 8 housing, where he watched close friends enter the justice system and receive prison sentences ranging from 10 to 25 years—circumstances that fuel his commitment to becoming a juvenile defense attorney.



George is the executive director of the New Town Success Zone, a collaboration between public and private groups to increase the well-being of residents—especially kids—in the neighborhood between West Beaver Street and Kings Road. He holds a Master of Science in Education from the University of Akron and a B.S. in Education from Kent State University. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and inspired by his third-grade teacher to pursue a career in education, George spent 15 years working as a school administrator. At Cuyahoga Falls High School in Ohio, he became the school’s first African-American administrator, and in Jacksonville, he served as principal at William Raines High School and Ribault Middle School, where he guided the school from an “F” to a “B” status.



Melissa is the State Attorney for Florida’s Fourth Judicial Circuit, where she leads more than 100 attorneys and 200 staff who represent the people of Clay, Duval, and Nassau counties, primarily in criminal matters. After earning her BA and JD degrees from the University of Florida, she worked 12 years as an Assistant State Attorney from 1997 to 2009, prosecuting capital homicides, white collar matters, sex crimes, and crimes against children. In 2009, she joined McGuireWoods and worked in private practice for seven years. Since taking office, Melissa has pursued several important initiatives affecting public safety, strategic prosecutions, and public transparency. Recognized for her integrity, she was recently inducted into the American College of Trial Lawyers and is a member of the Jacksonville Women's Lawyers Association.




Kimberly is a professor of criminal justice at Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) and advisor of Theta Sigma Chi, the FSCJ chapter of the American Criminal Justice Association - Lambda Alpha Epsilon. Kimberly was a doctoral research fellow at the University of Maryland, where she studied criminology and was sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security to work on the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START). Kimberly earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Alabama, where she studied criminal justice and psychology. Kimberly is passionate about helping students succeed and is dedicated to working with criminal justice professionals and individuals to enhance student learning and improve the Jacksonville community.


Christina Parrish Stone

Christina is the Executive Director of the Springfield Preservation and Revitalization Council, Inc. A long-time advocate for Jacksonville’s urban neighborhoods, with significant experience in historic preservation and the use of arts and culture as tools for community development, she recently retired from a twenty-year career as an attorney specializing in real estate law. After earning her bachelor’s degree from Georgia Southern University and her JD from the University of Florida, Christina began her legal career working as an Assistant State Attorney and volunteered as an attorney ad litem representing children in dependency cases. Uniting her passion for civic and artistic renewal, she is also a founder of Jacksonville PorchFest, an annual music festival that brings thousands of people to Springfield to enjoy dozens of performances on porches and in parks throughout the historic district.

Photos: Duval Eats, Lettuce Grow


TEDxFSCJ Salon: Lift as We Climb: Women, Race & Politics


The salon will be held Thursday, February 16th, 2017at FSCJ-Downtown Campus, Building A-1068, from 6-8 pm.

Jacksonville boasts a rich history of electing African-American women to political office. In fact, the first women elected to the Jacksonville City Council after Consolidation in 1967 were African American.  Breaking the glass ceiling in the world of politics is a legacy women of color proudly leave to our community; it is a bold testament to their resilience and resolve to protect the rights of all.

TEDxFSCJ will host a salon exploring how race and gender intersect along the path to elected political office. The evening will feature a panel discussion with women of color who will share their first-hand experiences working within the political process.  The panelists will address how others may enter the political arena, what it takes to run a campaign, and the challenges and triumphs of a life lived in public service. Rounding out the evening will be the viewing of select TED talks and opportunities for audience participation.



Former Florida Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll has a long and distinguished career in the civil, military and private sectors. As Lt. Governor, Carroll sought to increase military operations in Florida and protect the state’s military bases.  As a member of the Florida House of Representatives, she sponsored a jobs package that provided tax credits to encourage companies to hire out-of-work Floridians. As Executive Director of Florida Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Carroll helped Florida secure two national veterans’ cemeteries, three veterans’ nursing homes and funds for the state’s World War II monument in Tallahassee. And as Chairperson of the Florida Council on Homelessness, she sought to provide enhanced services for solving homeless problems across the state, particularly within the veteran community.



Current Chief Executive Officer of AGAPE Community Health Center, Inc., Mia L. Jones plays a vital role in Duval County’s health community. Prior to assuming her current position, Jones served as Director of Boards and Commissions and the first Health Commissioner under Mayor Alvin Brown. As a proud representative of the state’s 14th District, she spent eight years in the Florida House of Representatives and served as the Ranking Member on the House Select Committee on Health Care Workforce Innovation and Health and Human Services Committee.  Jones is a statewide and national thought leader recognized for her commitment to expanding healthcare for the uninsured and maximizing access to telemedicine in community health centers and in school-based care for children.



CEO and President of the Clara White Mission, Ju’Coby Pittman has spent the past 24 years serving the Jacksonville community. Under her leadership, the Clara White Mission has expanded from a soup kitchen to a one-stop community development center designed to support job training, job creation and housing for the less fortunate. Through her vision and the support of staff and board members, the Mission has developed a Social Enterprise Service for job creation on-site called Ashley Street Catering and Project Clean City. Pittman’s innovative training programs have been featured on the “Today Show” and she is the proud recipient of numerous accolades, including the Leadership Jacksonville Award, The Tillie Fowler Leadership Award and the Jessie Ball DuPont Fund Award.


TEDxFSCJ Salon: Vaccinating The FUTURE



Recent advances in vaccine research have laid the groundwork for addressing many of the key public health issues of the 21st century.  Yet vaccines have also proved a source of popular misunderstanding, and ever-new outbreaks of infectious disease challenge researchers and practitioners alike to keep pace with a globally interconnected health environment.

TEDxFSCJ will host a salon exploring the critical role vaccines play in promoting public health.  The evening will include a panel discussion with Dr. Keith Knutson, a leading cancer researcher at the Mayo Clinic, and Dr. Pauline Rolle, the Medical Director of the Florida Department of Health in Duval County.  Co-hosted by FSCJ professors Dr. Dianne Fair and Dr. Lourdes Norman-McKay, the salon will provide insight into how a vaccine is brought to market, how vaccines are tested for safety, the challenges of getting vaccines to the public, and new hope for using vaccines to fight cancer.  Join the conversation with cutting-edge researchers and dedicated public health workers, committed to growing healthy communities. 




Dr. Pauline Rolle is the Medical Director for the Florida Department of Health in Duval County (DOH-Duval).  She is Board Certified in Pediatrics and Public Health.  A native of Miami, she is a graduate of Fisk University and Meharry Medical College in Nashville, and she completed her Pediatric residency training at the University of Florida Health Science Center in Jacksonville. Before joining the Department of Health in 2003, she was a community pediatrician at West Jacksonville Family Health Center. As Medical Director, Dr. Rolle oversees the clinical, dental, pharmacy and behavioral health programs for DOH-Duval.  She enjoys spending time with her family, outdoor activities, and shopping.  She is married to Harold Rolle Jr. and they have 2 children.


Dr. Keith L. Knutson PH.D.

Dr. Keith L. Knutson is Professor in the Department of Immunology at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville and Director, Mayo Clinic Florida Cancer Research Program. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Georgia in 1995 and completed two post-doctoral fellowships in immunology, one at the University of British Columbia and the other at the University of Washington. Dr. Knutson’s research focuses on the immunology and immunotherapy of breast and ovarian cancers, and he is currently a member of the Tumor Microenvironment Study Section at the Center for Scientific Review at the National Institutes of Health, a member of the Integration Panel of Department of Defense’s Ovarian Cancer Research Program, and a Susan G. Komen Scholar.

Panel Hosts



Dr. Fair is a professor of natural sciences at Florida State College at Jacksonville. Since 1986, she has taught biology and chemistry in its various forms from elementary to middle school, high school to college. Dr. Fair earned her baccalaureate degrees in biology and in chemistry from Jacksonville University and her doctorate in biological sciences/microbiology from Florida State University. Her primary academic interests stem from her dissertation on soil microbial ecology; however, plants, animals, gardening, chocolate, beer, wine, cheese, Hawaiian volcanoes, Star Trek and martial arts all play a role in her wonderful life. 



Dr. Norman-McKay, a biological sciences professor at Florida State College at Jacksonville, earned her doctorate in biochemistry and molecular biology from Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine. During her postdoctoral training, she specialized in microbiology and immunology, with a primary focus studying the role of viruses in cancer. In addition to her 13 years teaching at the collegiate level, she has experience as an administrator of STEM programs and is a signed author with Pearson for her own Microbiology textbook. Dr. Norman-McKay is especially interested in enhancing the quality of STEM education and in promoting the recruitment, retention, and success of students in these areas.

TEDxFSCJ Salon: Our Digital Leaders of Tomorrow


Today’s instant-knowledge generation is already using emerging technologies, and tomorrow’s digital leaders are already mastering new apps and new knowledge to boldly go where no one has dared to go before.

Join TEDxFSCJ for an evening with these digital leaders of the future!  The evening will feature Management Information Systems (MIS) students from FSCJ partnering with local middle and high school students to showcase their experiences developing new technology projects and exploring the latest digital devices.  The event will include brief presentations from these college and youth leaders as well as TED talks, audience participation, and moderated break-out sessions.

TEDxFSCJ Salon: Art (Re)Defines Us


WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2016 FROM 6:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M.

Art (Re)Defines Us: From the Host

Great art transforms the lives it touches.  That’s why we look to art to illuminate who we are, to challenge comfortable fictions and speak uncomfortable truths, and to inspire us to think, see, and hear anew.

TEDxFSCJ is partnering with OneVoice and the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville (MOCA Jacksonville) to host a salon that addresses how art in its many modes—painting, poetry, spoken word, and historic neighborhoods—contribute to the flourishing of communities.  The evening will include music by Mal Jones, creator of the Lyricist LIVE, an open mic street party held the first Wednesday of every month during the downtown Art Walk, as well as TED talks, audience discussion, and four expert panelists who have made lasting contributions to Jacksonville’s artistic community.

The salon will be held Wednesday, September 14th, at the MOCA Jacksonville, from 6-8 pm. Check-in and live music begin at 5:30.




Recording artist, Founder of The Lyricist Live, emceee, award winning Jacksonville Hip-Hop/Folk artist, educator and documentarian Mal Jones hosts The Lyricist Live at downtown vision’s monthly “Jacksonville Artwalk.” A Bronx Born, 23 year resident of Duval County, Mal is a pioneer of the Jacksonville indie Hip-Hop scene and creator of Hip-Hop education based school programs that use hip-hop culture as an educational tool. In 2013 Mal  became the first Hip-Hop artist in Florida history labeled a “Folk Artist” by The Florida Folklife Program and Division of Historical Resources for the traditional skill of improvisational freestyle rapping. In addition to hosting a number of Hip-Hop workshops that focus on writing and literacy, Mal runs a state funded apprenticeship program awarded by The Florida Folklife Program that teaches the traditional skill of freestyle rapping. He's currently in his 2nd year of curating the folk apprenticeship program.




Tiffany is a poet, performer and graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars. An educator as well as artist, she teaches poetry workshops, magazine production and oral interpretation at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts.  Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has most recently appeared in Compose Journal, Coda Quarterly, Bridge Eight and on Swamp Radio, a live radio and podcast experience celebrating the culture, art and history of Northeast Florida, where she is both occasional co-host, interviewer and frequent contributor. She recently completed an audio chapbook for Eat Poems and was previously featured in The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens' exhibit, Reflections: Artful Perspectives on the St. Johns River.



Ebony is a writer, performer, educator, and human rights activist from Jacksonville, where she is a board member of The Performers Academy. She is the first woman to establish her own chapter of the international poetry organization, Black on Black Rhyme. Ebony is a 2015 Southern Fried Poetry Slam double finalist as well as the winner of Florida Urban Culture’s 2015 award for Most Influential Artist.  Her 12 years of professional experience include performances at the New Orleans House of Blues, Essence Festival, Nuyorican Café, and the Denver Mercury Slam. Her discography comprises three critically acclaimed poetry albums, and she is the author of a nationally accredited, artistically centered K-12 STEAM curriculum and children’s book series in use in some 48 programs nationwide.



Christina is a long-time advocate for Jacksonville’s urban neighborhoods, with significant experience in historic preservation and the use of arts and culture as tools for community development.  A resident of Historic Springfield, she recently retired from a twenty-year career as an attorney specializing in real estate law and now serves as Executive Director of Springfield Preservation and Revitalization Council, Inc.  She is a founder of Jacksonville PorchFest, an annual music festival that brings thousands of people to Springfield to enjoy dozens of performances on porches and in parks throughout the historic district.  A board member or chair of several other civic organizations, Christina recently completed her goal of visiting each of the fifty United States and believes Jacksonville is poised to end its reign as America’s most underrated, unappreciated, and misunderstood city.



Roosevelt is a painter working in surreal, abstract, and figurative modes. A native of Jacksonville, he received his BFA from the Atlanta College of Art (now the Savannah College of Art and Design), and his work is currently on display at the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens exhibit, LIFT: Contemporary Expressions of the African American Experience.  he was awarded the Savannah Individual Arts Assistance Grant and has twice placed first in the Jacksonville-area Beaches Fine Arts Series.  His work has been commissioned by the Ritz Theatre and LaVilla Museum in Jacksonville, the Emmanuel Church in Tampa, and the Boys and Girls Club in Hilton Head, South Carolina, and his paintings have been featured on the covers of Savannah Scene, Folio Weekly, and Contemporary Arts Today.

Photos: Art (Re)Defines Us

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Art (Re)Defines Us: From the Host

Why is the topic of this event important to you?

Art exercises a tremendous influence over our personal identity and public values.  Learning to understand, appreciate, and strengthen that influence enriches our lives as individuals, but also and equally important, it helps us take greater responsibility for the character of our communities and determine whether and to what extent our public artistic and cultural spaces embody the principles we profess.

This is what initially sparked my interest in hosting a salon on art and community, but my interest has been spurred on by many of the fascinating, provocative conversations that have taken place in Jacksonville over the past year.  On WJCT’s Community Thread with Melissa Ross, for example, I saw some great conversations about downtown development and arts education.  This summer, I attended the opening of the Cummer Museum’s exhibit, LIFT: Contemporary Reflections on the African American Experience.  I also had the opportunity to attend several public conversations about the exhibit and the subject of race and art, most notably the conversations hosted by Nyah Vanterpool of UNF’s OneVoice.  All of these conversations generated such passion, such engagement, such thoughtful exploration of injustice and hope, inequality and courage, that I simply felt compelled to explore this topic myself.  Continuing this ongoing conversation about how art embodies our shared democratic values seems to me to be a kind of debt we owe to our forebears and fellow citizens, a great unfinished work requiring renewed dedication and engaged devotion.

I’m especially excited that TEDxFSCJ will be partnering with MOCA Jacksonville to host this salon.  This partnership signals the first in what will ultimately be many examples of collaboration between TEDxFSCJ and the wider community.  The spirit of TED and TEDx thrives when it engages real communities, real people, and real issues with passion, dedication, and rigor, and that’s what I hope this salon will help to further.

- Paul Hendrickson