Category Archives: Attendee Profile

Meet Your TEDActive Hosts! (Part 2 of 3)

Last week we introduced nine of our 30 TEDActive Hosts. Meet nine more this week!

Look out for these friendly faces when you arrive in Whistler next month. Hosts welcome people as they arrive, orient them, and help set the tone of a safe, fun and friendly environment. They keep the community connected throughout the week by facilitating introductions and conversations, and by leading fun activities and workshops. They are our community connectors, experiential guides and TEDActive sherpas.

In fact, you already met our first of this week’s hosts when he wrote a blogpost about travel-hacking tips for your trip to Vancouver and Whistler!

Leigh Rowan


When he describes what makes him thrive, Leigh lists: connecting people, forging new relationships and building amazing products and businesses. “Learning, growing and always smiling at what life brings me.” This TEDActive attendee is back for his seventh year! Leigh is also an aspiring molecular gastronomist and chef. He helps run, a website dedicated to maximizing travel opportunities via loyalty points, education and strategies. He just moved from Oakland, California to Brooklyn, New York with his wife and almost-two-year-old son.

Ashley Marshall


Ashley joined the TEDActive tribe in 2011 and it’s been an annual trip for her and her sister ever since. Ashley is organizing the TEDActive Gift Exchange! (Did you buy your gift yet? Bring something worth around twenty US dollars that represents where you are from or something about you.) She is in the planning stages of establishing a TED-Ed Club in the Dallas School district, where she teaches students who are homebound or in hospitals. Her summers usually include a trip to a new destination, so don’t be surprised if she sends you an email asking about your hometown. She’s probably planning a trip there! And she would love to show you around if you ever come to Dallas! She’ll take you to see Texas Longhorns, eat great barbecue and buy handmade cowboy boots!

Belén Viloria

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Belén cares about children, education and poverty alleviation. She is a mentor with Youth Business International and an entrepreneur launching Ashoka: Innovators for the Public in Barcelona, where she mentors young entrepreneurs and advises cultural and social companies. Proud of her family roots, she has been the organizer and curator for TEDxValladolid, TEDxValladolidSalon and TEDxYouth@Valladolid since 2012. She is excited to be back at TEDActive for her third year!

Aaron “Tango” Tang


Tango likes to solve riddles, puzzles, math problems and all the other things that he comes across as a user experience designer and industrial designer. He is a technology addict, artist, ideas enthusiast and foodie, who can be found making completely homemade pasta for his friends late on a Friday night. Tango is currently on a travel-the-world-rediscover-experiment-do-learn adventure that you can follow, join, or explore at

Urs Bucher


Urs is a hopless optimist. He started with IT back in 1984 (yes, youngsters, this was the dark age of punch cards and Cobol, etc.). Today he is the CEO of Amazee Labs, running a web agency based in Zurich, Switzerland. He was infected with the TEDx virus in 2010, when he helped kick off TEDxZurich. Since then, he co-organized five events in Zurich and ran his very own corporate TEDx at KPMG in 2012. He is excited to be back for his fourth TEDActive.

Chris Carpenter


Chris likes helping people play well together and tell better stories. He is a passionate returning TEDActive attendee and an organizer for TEDxIndianapolis. Chris is an “awesomizer” for a life sciences company. He is excited to encourage you and offer you a great TEDActive experience!

Kara DeFrias


According to her second grade report card, Kara “likes to talk. A lot.” Kara DeFrias speaks fluent user experience and Geek, was a finalist for San Diego Woman of the Year, and is the founder of TEDxIntuit. Described by former Chief Technology Officer of the United States Todd Park as one of “the baddest of the badass innovators,” Kara’s passion lies in creating engaging experiences, both online and off. Her background is a unique mix of private and public sector experience, including four years with TurboTax and an appointment to the first class of the White House Presidential Innovation Fellows. In the latter, she served as entrepreneur in residence reimagining the relationship between the people and the government from a technology perspective. She loves fireworks and show tunes.

Antonella Broglia


Antonella is a lawyer who never exercised as such. She is now a consultant at Infonomia, a think tank based in Barcelona which studies what’s in the edge of the enterprise and the world. She is also an ambassador of Ashoka Spain and the organizer for TEDxMadrid, TEDxYouth@Madrid, TEDxMadridSalon and TEDxMadridChange. She works as an actress at Theatre for the People Madrid. She is also a TED Translator and TEDxSeniorAmbassador for Europe.

Johnny Bosche


Johnny Bosche is the Founder and CEO of Hyper Telecom, a company dedicated to bringing VoIP solutions to businesses and entrepreneurs. Johnny is also one of the founders of He fervently believes that global change starts with an idea, and that there is no better execution than one driven by human warmth. Johnny is an active member and director of multiple NGOs in the United States and Latin America.

We have one more round of hosts to introduce! Stay tuned!

Meet Your TEDActive 2015 Hosts and Ambassadors! (Part 1 of 3)

Every year, we invite members of the TEDActive community to help us craft our shared experience. From pre-conference dinners and post-session discussions to gift exchanges and dance mobs, attendees host, sing, play, perform and teach!

This year, 30 of you will play a major role in the experience of other attendees — especially those who have never attended the conference before — by serving as TEDActive Hosts. Hosts welcome people as they arrive, orient them, and help set the tone of a safe, fun and friendly environment. They keep the community connected throughout the week by facilitating introductions and conversations, and by leading fun activities and workshops. They are our community connectors, experiential guides and TEDActive sherpas.

We want you to get to know all of our amazing TEDActive 2015 Hosts. Here are our first nine: With so much local knowledge of Whistler, they’ve also agreed to serve as TEDActive Local Ambassadors! Feel free to connect with them through the TEDConnect app and in person with your questions about Whistler, Vancouver and Canada. They’re excited to share all that this beautiful corner of Canada has to offer!

Without further ado, please meet:

Carel Nolte


Carel is currently training for his second ultra marathon (60 miles!), consults financial services companies on strategy and brand, loves wine, chairs a school board St. Stithians College, and assists with the growth of a not-for-profit company, and works with the Johannesburg Organization Services for the Homeless. All while learning from the TED community and enjoying life’s rides!

Lynn Yeldell


Lynn co-founded L Style G Style in Texas in 2007, with the mission of telling stories of the LGBT community to break down barriers, open hearts and change attitudes. She’s a New Orleans native, passionate traveler, avid advisor and constant connecter. As the first female student body president at the University of Alabama, she loves politics and SEC football with equal fervor.

Niki Dun

Niki Dun

Super happy to be a TEDActive Ambassador and Host, Niki is a born and bred Vancouverite who loves “design for good,” community building and communications. Passionate about projects that aim to make the world a better place, Niki seeks to make that her life’s work. Like most native Vancouverites, you’ll find that Niki owns a whole lot of waterproof breathable items and cute rain boots, but no umbrella.

Niki Ernst


Niki is passionate about bringing people together and amplifying their voices. A TEDx Organizer and TEDx Ambassador for Europe, Niki has organized, mentored and hosted numerous TEDx events in Austria and is currently organizing a TEDx event in his second home, San Francisco. When not occupied by TEDx, he tours startups, entrepreneurs and curious minds through Silicon Valley and helps people organize and voice their thoughts through his School of Talk. Niki is 42 years young and the father of three wonderful kids.

Rafael Salazar


Rafael is a serial entrepreneur. He has started non-profit projects that give children the opportunity to develop their creative, innovative and entrepreneurship skills. From innovation camps to design mentorship to developing projects that impact children’s education, Rafael has blended his professional career with his greatest passion: developing new ideas with social impact.

“TED has meant to me a great opportunity to broaden my intellectual knowledge and meet amazing people that share common passions with me. At the end people make ideas possible, and that’s what innovation is all about.”

Rysia Wand


Rysia volunteers with the TED Open Translation Project as a Translator and Language Coordinator. She grew up in Poland, but soon started traveling the world as a violinist with various orchestras. For a number of years, she translated fiction, studied linguistics and rode the high-tech wave in Israel. Now she’s raising her family in beautiful British Columbia, where she also teaches English, learns new languages and devotes her time to translating for TED.

Trent Yeo

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Trent is a “happy generalist.” He directs Ziptrek Ecotours in Queenstown, New Zealand, and is a strong advocate of sustainability in tourism. He sees ‘fun’ as the catalyst for anchored and meaningful outdoor experiences to build empathy for the natural world. Trent grew up as a Chinese Malaysian Australian, spending time in Asia and having business partners in Canada to get a diverse view of the world. In his spare time, he’s building an online video platform to help people understand the intricacies of culture and place in New Zealand for Chinese visitors, with the goal of bridging cultural gaps through useful information.

Trevor Maber


Trevor joins us from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, in the middle of the Canadian Prairies. When he’s not busy teaching at the University of Saskatchewan, he’s out adventuring to places far and wide — including his ‘second home’ of British Columbia where he spends several weeks each year. Growing up in Canada (and snow!), one of the things he appreciates most is the diversity of seasons and activities. Winter brings skiing, skating and his latest snow-friendly addiction, fat biking (rentals available in Whistler!), while summer equals hiking, biking, water sports and endless sunshine. He’s also an expert on the best way to stay warm in the mountain snow (hint: it involves a fireplace, friends and other easy-to-find ingredients)!

Will Clarke


Will is the author of two New York Times Editors’ Choice novels from Simon & Schuster. He is currently an Executive Creative Director at Integer \ TBWA, where he’s become a tireless advocate for creative excellence in the field of omni-channel communications. He’s a founding member of Integer’s Retail Arts Lab and his work has been recognized by Cannes Lions, The One Show, Creativity, The Wall Street Journal, Adweek, and The PRO Awards.

… Stay tuned to meet our next group of Hosts!

The Week I Look Forward to All Year Long

We’re all looking for a tribe — a group of people we can talk with, bat around ideas with, make things happen with. And we’re all looking for inspiration — things to spark our imagination, send us off in new directions, and keep us buoyed when things get tough. One week each year, TED hosts a conference where both can be found in spades, against a backdrop of TED Talks (and towering mountains). We’re talking about TEDActive.

TEDActive is an event held in parallel with the annual TED conference that features a simulcast of the full program of TED Talks, and lots of live speakers, while emphasizing connection, conversation and creation in the audience. TEDActive 2015 takes place March 16-20, in Whistler, Canada, and brings together thinkers and doers from more than 60 countries to explore the theme Truth & Dare. We’ll be questioning assumptions, searching for deeper truth and attempting to find richer understanding by asking better questions.

Each year, TEDActive veterans and newbies arrive at the conference to experience a week of TED Talks, workshops, activities, parties and conversations. We wanted to know from past attendees: how has TEDActive affected you? Below, three share their thoughts.


Vico Sharabani has attended TEDActive twice and is returning for 2015. The creative director and producer ofThe Artery, a visual effects studio, he has worked on projects featuring artists like Beyoncé, Bob Dylan and Nicki Minaj. He says that TEDActive has led to many meaningful connections—and given him creative fuel in his work. He says:

“TEDActive is nonstop stimulation, from 8am to 2am—like the best summer camp for adults. I’ve connected deeply with many attendees, and we’ve stayed friends. Some of us meet at events annually, and I’ve gotten together with others in countries around the world. Professional collaborations develop rapidly as well. I have worked with attendees Raghava KK and Marc Azoulay on art projects. Now, going back feels like an opportunity to reunite with everyone. TEDActive exposes you to people who both think and do things differently. When you are immersed in that for a whole week, you get the feeling that everything is possible, on a whole different level.” 


Grace Rodriguez went to TEDActive three times as an attendee—and loved the experience so much that she wanted to be a part of creating it. This year, she returns as TEDActive’s new Creative Director. For her, the best part of TEDActive are the moments that just wouldn’t happen in everyday life. She explains:

“My very first night by the fire pits at TEDActive was magical. It felt like I had gone home and found the other members of my tribe. We stayed up late and enjoyed deep, entertaining, and insightful conversations. Another year, my TEDxHouston friends and I were playing ukulele, and we gathered other attendees around us to sing “Yoshimi” by the Flaming Lips. TED speaker Reggie Watts recorded us on his cellphone and sent the video to Wayne Coyne, the Flaming Lips’ lead singer. Mind. BLOWN. Two days later, a couple dozen of us, led by a physicist, an architect and a military veteran, devoted our collective brain power to form a human pyramid in the pool. As the smallest person, I climbed up to the top of the pyramid and stood up in a moment of victory…only to be barraged by beach balls. All of this to say: I’ve made lifelong friends at TEDActive, and the generous nature and creative spirit of the experience has influenced everything I do. It has taught me to actively seek creative inspiration, embrace long-view strategies, and to savor incredible moments.”


Aaron Tang has been attending TEDActive since 2009 and will be returning in 2015 for the seventh time. He is about to embark on an adventure around the world calledI Said Go! and will be inviting other attendees to travel with him. Because, he says, TEDActive has helped him feel more comfortable getting lost:

“TEDActive is a pollination in diverse cultures and disciplines. It is fire pit conversations, crisp nights with blankets, impromptu music jams, and adventures. From attending year after year, I’ve learned to always have an open perspective about everything in life. One year, I realized, ‘My gosh! Lots of us are lost.’ Lost in a good way—we are constantly seeking, wandering and hoping to learn. This is why we are at TEDActive in the first place; you don’t learn if you are not lost, so you have to make the decision to be okay with feeling lost. I’ve been pretty laser-focused my entire life, so TED has been a great way to try something different. Being part of this community has eased my comfort in diving into the world. Now, I don’t feel too worried about finding a connection in every corner of the globe.”

Interested in attending TEDActive? We’d love to see you in Whistler. Find out more about how to apply »