Category Archives: Attendee Profile

Sue Wollan Fan’s TEDActive-inspired Career Shift

SueThis week, meet Sue Wollan Fan, who caught our eye with her application to TEDActive: She transformed her experience at TEDActive 2014 into an entirely new career for herself!

After working on digital innovation in a series of large companies, Sue decided to come to TEDActive to explore new ideas last year. Sue is now a Digital Kindness Entrepreneur who believes in using technology to amplify creativity, passion, empathy and innovation around the world.

We spoke with Sue to learn what brings her back to TEDActive, uncover some of her favorite memories and find out what she hopes to experience at TEDActive 2015!

TED: What made your first TEDActive experience different from other conferences and events you have attended?

Sue: The first thing I noticed was the room full of thoughtful introverts who made eye contact immediately. There are no fronts. Everyone has this “fluidness” to ask what is on the tip of somebody’s tongue. Finding myself with people like that for a week … I have never experienced something like that on this scale before!

It was also the content. Edward Snowden’s talk was amazing and a total surprise! I loved the eclectic nature of all of the content. It was about finding ideas in different fields that still connected back to things that I was interested in… a number of things crossed over pretty well into my field in ways I didn’t expect them to.

TED: What brings you back to TEDActive?

Sue: Last year, TEDActive was about a new experience. It was about exploring and experiencing new ideas and ways of thinking. I looked at it like it was a treasure hunt. I would follow leads between different ideas and people, which led to different methods of thinking.

Last year, I was a leader inside a large tech firm. A month into working at the company, I quit. At TEDActive, I gained a better sense of what I wanted and needed to accomplish. TED became my research base. TED is a small world and TEDActive was a good place for me to gain a foothold in the network.

This year, I am going back to connect with people and build out my new project. I am bringing my husband with me! He is connected to the national education movement, and connecting him with the innovation movement will be exciting!

TED: Tell me more about your project. What are you building now?

Sue: I believe that the more technology we use and gain access to, the more permission we have to become more human, more creative, more empathetic and more relational. Technology amplifies our human traits.

I am working on a platform that connects professionals with students who seek mentors. It’s called MENTORME and it facilitates engaged, personalized mentorship to leverage social capital, provide advice and open doors for students as they transition from their studies to their first careers.

MENTORME is data-driven and on-demand. It builds meaningful connections between students and mentors at scale without labor-intensive processes. It satisfies our desire to belong, to “pay it forward,” and to help people get to where they want to go.
We should be collaborating and growing together!

TED: How do you think this year’s TEDActive can be transformational for you?

Sue: I am looking to connect with lots of different people at TEDActive. I am looking for people innovating in the digital community space. People working on facilitating community and working in analytics. I want to test my hypothesis: it takes two seconds to connect with people about ideas and see what they think. I learn the most interesting things when people start talking. But really, it’s a scavenger hunt instead of a destination. It’s about finding what each person has to contribute and building from that!

By Diana Enriquez

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

trent photo

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!