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.