TEDxAmherst 2015 Announces Program for April 25 Conference

AMHERST, Mass. – TEDxAmherst 2015 has scheduled 11 speakers for its April 25 conference on the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus, including the most decorated doctor of the Iraq War, the star of the long-running TV hit “Burn Notice” and a former abused foster child who became one of Time’s Top 100 Influential People of 2014.

TEDxAmherst 2015 will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Campus Center Auditorium. Organized and run by UMass Amherst students, TEDxAmherst is an independently organized branch of TED, an organization dedicated to “Ideas worth spreading,” mainly through deeply informative talks lasting less than 20 minutes. TEDXAmherst describes its mission as connecting avant-garde thinkers and modern visionaries with the unique Amherst community.

Previously known as TEDxUMassAmherst, the event was renamed this year to be more open toward the Amherst community.

The TEDxAmherst theme for 2014-15 is “Pioneer,” recognizing the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts and the conference’s hope to bring “pioneering thought leaders to inspire our attendees to pioneer their own change in the world.”               

The TEDxAmherst team will select attendees from online applicants. Student attendees are encouraged to include resumes with their applications to be shared with conference sponsors. Apply at www.tedxamherst.org/attend by April 3. Including speakers and invitees, about 700 people are expected for the conference. The cost to attend the conference is $10 for students, $60 for others.

Confirmed speakers are:

  • Richard Jadick, the most decorated doctor of the Iraq War and author of “On Call in Hell: A Doctor’s Iraq War Story.” Jadick is credited with spearheading an innovative battleground emergency room concept that is believed to have saved the lives of 30 Marines in Iraq.

  • Jeffrey Donovan, star of USA Network’s “Burn Notice.” The UMass Amherst alumnus will speak on “Failure, Impending Success and Survivor’s Remorse.”

  • Withelma “T” Ortiz Walker Pettigrew, one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People for 2014. Raised in foster care and for several years a victim of sexual violence, she is a motivational mentor to other girls and human-trafficking activist.

  • David Raether, former TV comedy writer who completed 111 episodes with “Roseanne.” He described his subsequent experiences as a homeless person in the book, “Tell Me Something, She Said.”

  • Susan Bissell, UNICEF’s chief of child protection. She will discuss her career working to stop child trafficking and domestic abuse in Asia.

  • Shirley Leung, columnist and former business editor at the Boston Globe.

  • John Murray, computational neuroscientist.

  • Scott Specht and Louise Harpman, architects behind the famous New York City “micro-loft.”

Other speakers have yet to be announced.