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TEDxJacksonville Conference 2021: Embrace


TEDxJacksonville Conference “Embrace” Features National and Local Speakers at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts

Join us Saturday, October 23 at The Times- Union Center for the Performing Arts for TEDxJacksonville 2021 “Embrace.”


For too long, it’s what we haven’t been able to do.

Its stand-ins — virtual hugs, air kisses over Zoom, smiles beamed to satellites before they can be seen — have been woefully inadequate in the face of so much loss, disruption, and grief.

But over the last 18 months, we’ve learned that “embrace” is about more than just holding someone close.

It’s the act of holding one another up, of leaning in, of creating space to be heard and drawing on our shared strength to power necessary change.

As we rebuild, let’s embrace new opportunities. To hold. To accept. To connect. To discover. To acknowledge different truths. To be honest about where we are, and work together toward something better: a more resilient and equitable world where each of us can thrive.

Embrace today. Create tomorrow.

This year’s conference speakers and topics:

• What’s In a Name? Insights into Renaming Efforts at Jacksonville Schools: Deyona Burton, Jacksonville — Why should a 21st-century, predominantly Black student body be forced to honor as its namesake the commander of the Confederate Army? Deyona Burton, the senior class president of Robert E. Lee Senior High School (now Riverside High), asks that and answers with insights into the renaming efforts and the backlash students faced. She issues a call to action to give youth a seat at the table.

• America’s Workplace Mental Health Crisis: Dawn Emerick, EdD, Jacksonville — The American workplace is in the midst of a mental health crisis, one exacerbated by COVID, which has impacted each member of the workforce in unique ways. Dawn Emerick, EdD believes we need a mental health revolution — one that starts with all of us demanding trauma-free leadership and a safe workplace culture.

• Violence Is Not Inevitable: Nicol Headley, Jacksonville — As a survivor of 30 years of abuse, Nicol Headley knows what it’s like to live in and through domestic violence. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, and it’s past time to examine how the blows issued behind closed doors are felt throughout our communities. Headley wants us to lift the feelings of shame and find community solutions that allow us to work together to stop the violence before it ever starts.

• Building Patient Research Partners: Delaney Liskey, Virginia Beach, Virginia — Delaney was diagnosed with pediatric-onset multiple sclerosis (MS) when she was 11 years old — a rare form of a commonly diagnosed disease. Today, as a graduate student in the inaugural class of the Regenerative Sciences PhD track at the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Delaney is passionate about empowering patients to become researchers of their own conditions. Providing patients with the platforms to learn experimental skill sets can lead to substantial contributions towards research into their own disease.

• Philanthropy Must Be Decolonized: Michelle Ramos, JD, PhD, New Orleans — Our systems of giving are broken. The “giving architecture” of American philanthropy — knowingly or not — lifts up and doubles down on entrenched privilege and power, contributing significantly to the disparity of funding allocations in the non-profit sector. Michelle Ramos calls for a shift to what philanthropy should have been all along — a resource for all, not just for some, and a force for good that shares money and control equitably

• Changing the World One Story at a Time: Vishavjit Singh, New York City — Narratives built around our perceived differences are tearing us apart. But healing begins with acknowledging our own vulnerability to bias and prejudice. Accepting this truth opens us to learnings, unlearnings, and choices we get to consciously make toward becoming a better version of who we are. Vishavjit Singh uses storytelling as a tool to create space for challenging conversations, and turn our vulnerability towards bias and prejudice into personal innovation, courage and compassion.

• Know Pain, Know Gain: LaTonya Summers, PhD, Jacksonville — As a species, we’ve become adept at avoiding pain. We repress it with medications, dull it with alcohol, food, shopping and other crutches, and even deny that it’s a lived reality for others. We used to know pain as a great teacher, but somewhere along the way we internalized that it was not OK to hurt. LaTonya Summers, PhD, a mental health therapist, argues that acknowledging pain is not only necessary, but also the conduit to greatness. We must relearn how to hurt if we want to live our best lives.

• Advancing Equity through the Arts: Sara Ting, Boston — Sara Ting has dedicated her life to advancing the power of poetry. Poetry, she believes, does what little else can. Whereas laws and policies cannot remove prejudices or biases from one’s mind or heart, poetry can empower people to become more self-aware of their biases without judgment and forge a deeper connection with our shared humanity.

And two live performances:

• Bronero, Jacksonville — Musician, keyboardist and producer Bronero is a solo, electronic music artist combining the energy and sophistication of hip-hop and jazz, performed live with an array of analog synthesizers, drum machines, samplers and keyboards. By spontaneously mixing technology with instrumental prowess, Bronero is able to create, in real-time, a complete musical narrative of rhythm and melody akin to both DJ sets and jazz improvisation. Combine pianistic elements with deep synth bass, blazing leads and thoughtful, historically aware lyrical samples, and you get the powerful mixture at the heart of the Bronero sound.

• Good Pluck Trio, Jacksonville — In 2020, Good Pluck Trio was formed by Millie Hudson, Joe Henderson and Alex Downs. The group performs an array of genres ranging from classical to jazz to pop. Currently, GPT performs throughout Jacksonville at various venues. GPT scheduled the release of its first original single “You Got That Sunshine” for August 2021, available on multiple platforms.

Keeping You Safe

The safety and comfort of our TEDxJacksonville family is our top priority, so we’re doing everything we can to welcome you back safely. We are working diligently to create a hybrid event that will allow those who wish to attend in person the opportunity to do so, while also presenting a virtual experience for those who prefer that format.

We will be following CDC health and safety guidelines for in-person events. Since Jacksonville is currently an area of substantial COVID transmission, to maximize protection from the Delta variant we will be requiring that all in-person attendees wear masks, regardless of vaccination status. Seating will be socially distanced, and the audience will be limited to 250 attendees, half the Terry Theater’s capacity.

Additionally, there are over 50 high-grade MERV-13 air filters throughout the building that are checked and changed regularly. For those who’ve ordered lunch, catered lunch boxes will be distributed in a COVID-safe manner. Hand sanitizer stations will be located throughout the lobby area. Additional information about the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts COVID safety protocols may be found here:

The annual conference, now in its 10th year, began as the TEDxRiversideAvondale conference in 2012.

Only events occurring within Downtown Jacksonville will be accepted.
If you have any questions pleascontact us.
Submit Event

Only events occurring within Downtown Jacksonville will be accepted.
If you have any questions please email lexi@dtjax.org.