ideas worth spreading

Meet the speakers who will light up the stage at TEDxDetroit this year

TEDxDetroit features the best and brightest minds sharing their passion, insights, and ideas worth spreading.

Our speaker roster balances left brain and right brain – academics, artists, investors, entrepreneurs, and innovators.  Each speaker only has a short block of time to share their positive idea for the world.

Rob Paulsen

Rob Paulsen

Voice Actor, Singer, Dancer, Author, Podcaster & Red Wings Fan

The Emmy and Annie award-winning voice actor behind hundreds of your favorite characters from Pinky and Yakko from Animaniacs to Raphael from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Rob is the host of the Talkin’ Toons podcast and the author of Voice Lessons chronicling his battle against throat cancer.

Portia Powell

Portia Powell

Vice President – Manager of Municipal Banking Operations at Chemical Bank

A 15+ year banking veteran on the rise with deep ties to the community and a passion for teaching financial literacy. Portia has been recognized by Crain’s, and Michigan Chronicle, DYP for her impact and community service on numerous boards. Outside of the office, she’s a Mompreneur and raising her daughter.

Swamy Kotagiri

Swamy Kotagiri

Chief Technology Officer at Magna International

As Magna’s CTO, Swamy is responsible for driving all aspects of the company’s product and innovation strategy, as well as R&D activity. he wears many hats – but they are all united by one common goal: cementing the company’s position in the new mobility landscape through the power of disruptive thinking.

Ebony Roberts

Principal/Founder of QualOne Research

Ebony Roberts is a writer and ethnographer. The Detroit born, Spartan grad has worked in the food justice and prison abolition movements for nearly 20 years. She is the co-founder of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, former co-chair of Helping Our Prisoners Elevate. Her bestselling book “The Love Prison Made and Unmade” was named a Notable Memoir by The New York Times.

Brian Calley

The former Lieutenant Governor, started his career in the mailroom of a small bank while working through college. Within a decade, Brian was a VP of commercial lending working with small business. He turned his sights on elected office and served at the local and state levels. His bid for Governor in 2018 came up short. He’s a husband, father, marathon runner, and pianist.

Nicole Curtis

Home Renovation Expert

Nicole Curtis a NY Times best selling author and the high-energy, charismatic star and Exec. Producer of Rehab Addict, the hit HGTV show that has run for 8 seasons. The self-taught home renovator, designer and tireless champion of saving and restoring old houses is famous for her extraordinary home transformations and unbridled passion for rebuilding neighborhoods. The Michigan native is hands-on with all her projects and is currently in development on another show for HGTV, all while running her foundation and raising two sons.

Bob Fish


Bob has been in the coffee business as a franchisor of coffee shops since 1999. BIGGBY COFFEE has sold nearly 17 million pounds of coffee (and counting)! Bob and his wife Michelle are on a journey to discover and unite us with the lands and the people that make this unbelievably great and natural product that we all love. Together, we will explore what it means to be on our “One BIGG Island in Space”… oneness without boundaries. Bob’s Moonshot is to personally change the lives of one million people in a positive multi-generational way.

Melissa DiVietri

social media consultant / digital media marketer and manager for a techno music label that designs promotions and advertisements for integrated marketing communications.

Melissa DiVietri reshapes how we think about disability by sharing the challenges yet brighter side of being a unique person. “I’ve seen my life slip away because of restrictions. However, I Kindly educate and inform to make changes for a balanced lifestyle.”

She is an abstract artist / painter that creates monthly series of live music and art venues in underground locations that stream across social media channels to connect the world.

Quan Neloms

Educator/Counselor at Detroit Public Schools

Quan Neloms is a 17 year educator whose work focuses primarily on boys and men of color and community partnerships. Quan is the founder of Lyricist Society, a program that uses creative mediums to uplift student voice and In Demand, an initiative with the goal of attracting more Black men to education as volunteers, mentors and teachers.

Michael J. McFall


Mike is the Everyman CEO. He doesn’t have a yacht, a podcast or an MBA, and you won’t hear him talking about being disruptive,
leveraging assets or changing paradigms. He is, however, the founder of Global Orange Development and the co-CEO of BIGGBY COFFEE, a fast-growing $100-million-dollar coffee franchise with 250+ locations across the Midwest. Mike’s remarkable life journey from minimum-wage barista to business leader has given him a very different outlook. Mike is the author of Grind, a book which focuses on early stage businesses and how to establish positive cash flow.

J Chris Newberg

writer, producer, comedian

J Chris Newberg is funny. Ask him. He will disagree, but in a way that is probably humorous. He has performed on America’s Got Talent, but lost to dancers that sparkle. He has also been on the Tonight Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live & Comedy Central. He has toured with Dane Cook and written songs for American Idol. He has written jokes for some of your favorite comedians who have used them on SNL, Late Night With David Letterman, Chelsea Lately and The Conan O’Brien show.

Sarey Ruden

Founder/Creative Director of Sareytales

The Detroit-based artist known as Sareytales turns adversity into empowerment via her project “Sareytales: The Art of Online Dating”. Her work is a collection of art and installations, all inspired by the creepy, cruel, misogynistic and REAL messages she has received during her online dating journey.

Shaka Senghor

Author, Speaker, Mentor, & Leader

Shaka Senghor is a leading voice in criminal justice reform. His memoir, Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death and Redemption in an American Prison, debuted on The New York Times Best Seller List. He is co-host of the a16z podcast Hustlin’Tech. Shaka is a former MIT Media Lab Director’s Fellow. Today, Shaka’s priority is shifting societal narratives by creating content with deep social impact and high entertainment value.

Tracie Baker

Biologist, Environmental Toxicologist, Educator

Dr. Baker is faculty at Wayne State University and has earned degrees in marine biology, veterinary medicine, and environmental toxicology. She is the director of WATER lab which focuses on multidisciplinary, translational research that bridges human, animal, and environmental health.

Luis Resto

Musician & Songwriter

Luis Resto is a Oscar and Grammy award-winning musician and songwriter with a recording resume that ranges from Patti Smith and Iggy Pop to chart-topping hip hop artists such as Jay Z, B.o.B. and 50 Cent, and Eminem.

A seminal member of the groundbreaking Was (Not Was), Resto as lent his talents to a wildly diverse collection artists including Stevie Nicks, Mel Torme, Anita Baker and the legendary Highwaymen.

Najah Bazzy

Critical Care Nurse, CEO,
Author & Humanitarian

Najah Bazzy is a Transcultural Clinical Nurse Specialist and Diversity Specialist. She also is the Executive Director and Founder of Zaman International. She is CEO of Diversity Specialists and Transcultural Health Care Solutions. Bazzy has an extensive background in critical care nursing with special expertise in Cross Cultural health care, beliefs and practices. She is a global leader in Medical Ethics, Philanthropy, Nursing and Interfaith Dialogue and brings an ambassador style of diplomacy to her projects and life work.

Ahmar Zaidi

Pediatric Hematology, Oncologist, and Researcher

Dr. Ahmar U. Zaidi is an opinionated blood doctor at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan where he oversees the care of almost 700 sickle cell patients. He is determined to generate awareness for this debilitating disease by all and any means necessary. His research focuses on using wearable technology and social media to drive care forward for these patients.

Kalin Sheick

Floral Designer and Creative Entrepreneur

Kalin Sheick is an award winning floral designer specializing in weddings & workshops. At her tiny farm in Petoskey, Sweetwater, Kalin & her family grow lavender, flowers & host events. A few of her favorite things; early mornings, fabulous lighting & champagne.