TEDxSantaBarbara Furthers Conversations on Race, Justice, Pandemic Impacts


Dialogue with Local and International Thought Leaders Encourages Action to Disrupt Racism, Promote Social Justice

August 20, 2020, Santa Barbara CA  – TEDxSantaBarbara, a locally organized offshoot of the international TED nonprofit, announces new speakers for its thought leadership series, Making Waves: Conversations with Influencers and Disruptors, a series of virtual talks to address two major issues facing society today – COVID and systemic racism. The online events are free to attend and will broadcast live on Zoom and Facebook on Wednesdays at 4 p.m. beginning through December 2020, with occasional special edition sessions at different times.

“These 30-minute conversations get right to the heart of today’s challenges and, more importantly, the solutions that are within reach,” stated Mark Sylvester, TEDxSantaBarbara Executive Producer. “We are honored to be able to lift up these critical voices at this moment.”

The high-caliber of the conversations includes distinguished experts like Dr. Harry Grammer, a 2017 CNN Hero and inaugural Obama Foundation Fellow, who stated:

“Having had an exceptionally gratifying experience as a featured speaker with TEDxSantaBarbara in 2018, I was thrilled when Mark and his team recently invited me back to their stage (albeit a virtual one) for their “Making Waves” series of conversations with ‘influencers and disruptors.’ Unsurprisingly, they have maintained their professionalism, purposefulness and passion through these unprecedented times.” 

Grammer continued, “It was an honor to contribute, once again, to the profoundly vital discussions the TEDx Santa Barbara team hosts, initiates and propagates with unparalleled integrity and consistency. I’m grateful for their great work and encourage all who haven’t checked it out yet to do so ASAP!”

It also includes celebrity figures, like actress Mariel Hemingway, a mental health advocate whose famous family has suffered from extreme mental illness and been plagued with suicides – and who produced a mental health documentary with Oprah in 2013. She will join Making Waves for a special edition on September 9 at 5 p.m., during National Suicide Prevention Week (Sept. 6-12), to speak to severe mental health threats presented by COVID – including the fact that, in the state of California, more people have suffered at the hands of depression and suicide attempts since the pandemic began than from the coronavirus itself. 

TEDxSantaBarbara’s other recent racial justice conversations have delved into:

  • How we can achieve radical healing from the combined impacts of COVID-19 and racism with Dr. Wizdom Powell, recently named one of the 25 Essential Black Voices on Mental Health and Wellness by Relevant Magazine); 
  • Racism as a public health crisis with Dr. Yonette Thomas, Strategic Advisor for Health of Women & Girls to the Women’s Economic Imperative; and
  • Navigating uncomfortable conversations about race with James Joyce III, District Director for State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson.

To attend upcoming events, register for the Zoom call at TEDxSantaBarbara.com or tune in to the livestream at Facebook.com/TEDxSantaBarbara

Upcoming Event Schedule – For full details visit TEDxSantaBarbara.com.

  • Simone Akila Ruskamp and Krystle Farmer Sieghart  We Do This Work for the Love of Black People
    – Wednesday, August 26, 10:00 AM **Note Special Time **

    • Simone and Krystle led efforts, including marches and demands to City Council over the past several months, for Healing Justice Santa Barbara, a Black-led and Black centered organizing collective in Santa Barbara County.
  • Than Baardson – Accelerating the Fight Against Human Trafficking and its Root Causes – Wednesday, September 2, 4:00 PM 
    • Than Baardson is the CEO and Co-Founder of Unseen, a nonprofit that accelerates the fight against human trafficking and its root causes.
  • Lisa Jones – COVID-19 and Race: Double Emergencies for Women of Color.
     – Wednesday, September 9, 4:00 PM 

    • Lisa Jones is a healthcare expert and clinician at the Bear Institute for Pediatric Health Innovation at Children’s National Hospital (CNH) and Cerner Corporation.
  • Mariel Hemingway – Lives at Stake: Suicide and Mental Health During COVID.
    Wednesday – Wednesday, September 9, 5:00 PM **NOTE: This is a special edition in honor of National Suicide Prevention Day on September 10)

    • Mariel Hemingway is an actor, best selling writer, and advocate who co-founded the Dead Poets Foundation to turn the trajectory of suicide downward.

Future speakers and topics include:

  • Keith Witt – Cultivating a Post-outrage Consciousness
    Dr. Kyra Gaunt – Agree to be Offended and Stay Connected
    Jan Campbell – Finding a Vaccine for Violence
    Kerri Murray – The Role of Shelter During a Pandemic
    Lisa Biggs – Building Emotional Resilience in our Children
    John Greathouse – Looking Around the Corner: The Zoomers Role in the Post-COVID Success
    Katie Hershfelt – Making It Worth It to Plant the Next Harvest: Reinventing Community Supported Agriculture
    Andreas Forsland – Connecting Intentions to Outcomes: Reinventing Interpersonal Communications
    Shannon Kenney – Social Justice is on the Front Lines of Sustainable Change
    Jackson Gillies – New Year’s Musical Celebration

To register for events and learn more about Making Waves: Conversations with Influencers and Disruptors, visit TEDxSantaBarbara.com. While there, sign up to volunteer for TEDxSantaBarbara, watch past speakers, and listen to podcasts on past and future topics. To discuss community partnership opportunities, contact Executive Producer Mark Sylvester at [email protected].

About TEDxSantaBarbara
Since 2010, TEDxSantaBarbara has created space for amazing speakers to deliver ideas worth spreading, with over 100 speakers and 18.1 million video views in that time. This year’s Making Waves series of conversations is empowering individuals to present, learn, and advance ideas into action in lieu of our annual Fall conference in downtown Santa Barbara and monthly small-group experiences, which are postponed until 2021 due to COVID. These ideas creatively and positively impact the Santa Barbara community and the world at large. Organized by husband and wife team Mark Sylvester (Executive Producer) and Kymberlee Weil (Speaker Strategist and Curator), the event is 100% run by volunteers and financed by community partners. 

For more information, visit TEDxSantaBarbara.com, like us on Facebook.com/TEDxSantaBarbara, and follow us on Instagram at @TEDxSantaBarbara.


Our mailing address is:


720 E. Haley St.

Santa BarbaraCA 93103




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