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.

Al Jean, TEDx Detroit speakers

Al Jean

Executive Producer of The Simpsons

Emmy and Peabody award-winning producer, writer, and showrunner of “The Simpsons,” co-creator “The Critic” and “Teen Angel.” Other credits include “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show,” “The PJ’s,” “Alf” and “The Tonight Show.” Al is a graduate of Farmington Hills High and Harvard University.

LZ Granderson, TEDx Detroit speaker

LZ Granderson

Journalist, Commentator, Sports Writer

“Boxes are for shoes” is the mantra award-winning columnist and TV pundit LZ Granderson lives by. African-American, openly-gay, Christian, and a father, the diversity of Granderson’s work – from sports, education, and race to politics, parenting, and dating – made him one of the most popular online columnists for the LA Times, CNN, and ESPN. LZ is a regular contributor on SportsCenter, Outside the Lines, First Take, Newsroom with Don Lemon, Anderson Cooper 360 and hosts an ESPN radio show with Jorge Sedano.

Photo of Dr. Ravina Kullar, TEDx Detroit speaker

Dr. Ravina Kullar

Infectious Diseases Expert & Epidemiologist; CEO of duXsana

Dr. Ravina Kullar is an Infectious Diseases global expert and researcher, who has spent almost 15 years researching in the infectious diseases space.

Dr. Kullar has been a public health advocate during this COVID-19 pandemic, educating the public via various media outlets.

Eric J Thomas

Leadership Strategist at Thomas International

Eric J. Thomas is a sought after inspirational voice, thought leader, and master communicator. He has developed a reputation for being an expert storyteller and brand strategist. His global appeal, resilient personality, and versatile expertise has had global impact, and successfully helped people unlock and reach their full potential.

Jacob Brown, TEDx Detroit speaker

Jacob Brown

Creative Manager at General RV / Founder & CEO of Optimize Agency

Jacob Brown is a former professional athlete turned businessman, entrepreneur, and inspirational speaker. Jacob, born in Saginaw, Michigan, is currently the Creative Manager at General RV. He is a family man – a husband of one, and a father of four.

Jillian Blackwell, TEDx Detroit Speaker

Jillian Blackwell

Enterprise Cloud Consultant at AWS

Jillian started her love for business and entrepreneurship at the age of 10 with a paper route in Detroit, MI. Now with over 20 plus years of professional business development and marketing experience at Xerox, AT&T, and Microsoft. Jillian is currently a business consultant with Amazon Web Service. She is most passionate about helping women and youth find their unique voice in business and technology, which drove her to establish Friends in Technology, Jill Talk, Brilliant in Business ,and The C.E.0. Women organizations.

PJ Jacokes, TEDx Detroit speaker

PJ Jacokes

Owner / Producer at Go Comedy! Improv Theater

Pj Jacokes is the Producer and Co-owner of the Go Comedy! Improv Theater in Ferndale, MI. With the theater temporarily shut down (until COVID sorts itself out), Pj runs school for his 3-year-old and occasionally agrees to make silly videos for large conferences.

Stuart MacDonald, TEDx Detroit speaker

Stuart MacDonald

Magician

Champion Magician Stuart MacDonald was on a world tour when COVID started. It chased him around the globe from China in November. By the time the plane landed in Detroit, the rest of his tour was cancelled, then there was the lockdown. It was in that time Stuart created Richard Preston, the world’s greatest magician (1962). The interactive show is so quirky and amazing it’s unlike any Zoom show out there.

Photo of Timothy Orikri, TEDx Detroit 2020 speaker

Timothy Orikri

Artist

Timothy Orikri is a freelance artist whose style varies from semi-realism to abstract paintings, hand-painted ceramics, and music. He has a Fine Art degree from Delta State University Abraka. His style marries African, European, and American influences with themes of hope, harmony, and the gift of nature. Orikri’s work has been widely exhibited in several prominent museums, colleges, churches, and public buildings.

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.

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.

Photo of Illusionist Jason Hudy, TEDx Detroit 2020 speaker

Jason Hudy

Illusionist

Illusionist Jason Hudy has performed over 8,000 magic shows around the world, having performed for Disney, Hershey, Chevrolet, ESPN, and on the Late Late Show on national CBS-TV. On a global scale, Jason has shared his magic at Studio City Casino in Macau, near Hong Kong, had a 2 year residency performing “The Magic of Saipan” on the island of Saipan, and performed a 30 city tour across China.

Photo of Kylee Guenther, co-founder of Pivot materials and TEDx Detroit 2020 speaker

Kylee Guenther

Co-Founder and CEO, Pivot Materials

Kylee Guenther is the CEO of Pivot Materials, (Pivot), an entrepreneur, international keynote speaker and second generation in her family to work in the plastics industry. She lives in Michigan with her amazing husband and enjoys learning foreign languages, traveling and margaritas.

Photo of Raju Patil, co-founder of Pivot Materials and TEDx Detroit 2020 speaker

Raju Patil

Co-Founder and Head of Engineering, Pivot Materials

Raju Patil is an Entrepreneur, Innovator and Mechanical Engineer. Combining those skills, plus his passion for sustainability, engrained by his upbringing as a rice farmer’s son in rural India lead him to co-found a sustainable materials manufacturer. Pivot’s goals and Raju’s are the same: Change the plastics industry.

Photo of Amer Zahr, TEDx Detroit speaker

Amer Zahr

Comedian and Law Professor

Amer Zahr is a Palestinian Arab-American comedian, speaker, writer, and academic based in Dearborn. He has performed around the world, from Detroit to Jerusalem. Amer has headlined shows at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. In both 2016 and 2020, he served as a surrogate to Bernie Sanders.
Photo of Alecia Gabriel and Deirdre Roberson, cofounders of Motor City STEAM and TEDx Detroit 2020 speakers

Dr. Alecia Gabriel & Deirdre Roberson, MSc

CEO & CTO, Co-Founders of Motor City S.T.E.A.M. & The Lab Drawer

Motor City S.T.E.A.M. Foundation is the brainchild of Detroit-based chemists who came together to fill the void in effectively engaging minority and underrepresented students in science and art education. Dr. Alecia Gabriel and Deirdre Roberson, MSc are passionate about making impacts.

Photo of Cameron Zvara, TEDx Detroit 2020 speaker

Cameron Zvara

Comedy Magician & Entertainer

At the ripe old age of 6, Cameron Zvara knew he was going to become a magician. Since then, Cameron has opened live on stage for the Detroit Tigers Winter Caravan Tour, was named Michigan’s Young Entrepreneur by the National Federation of Independent Business. Cameron’s show always features audience participation, interaction, astonishing magic, and 100% squeaky clean comedy suitable for any professional event.

Photo of Paul Thomas, MD, TEDx Detroit 2020 speaker

Paul Thomas, MD

Physician, Founder

Dr. Paul Thomas is a board-certified family medicine physician practicing in Corktown Detroit. His practice is Plum Health DPC, a Direct Primary Care service that is the first of its kind in Detroit and Wayne County. His mission is to deliver affordable, accessible health care services in Detroit and beyond.

Photo of Mike Ellison, TEDx Detroit 2020 speaker

Mike Ellison

Executive Artist

Mike Ellison is an Emmy® award winning producer; actor, music & spoken word recording artist. His acting credits span film, theater and television, including a recent appearance on NBC’s CHICAGO FIRE. He holds a B.A. in Communications from the University of Virginia.

Photo of Andy Didorosi, TEDx Detroit 2020 speaker

Andy Didorosi

Founder, Detroit Bus Company and Head of Marketing at Basecamp

Andy Didorosi is a serial entrepreneur, race car driver, and philanthropist. As a college dropout with only a high school diploma, he became the founder of The Detroit Bus Company, Eight & Sand, Paper Street, Thunderdrome! racing series, and a handful of other successful small businesses. He also serves as the Head of Marketing at Basecamp. When the pandemic caused a shortage of hand sanitizer, Andy and his team spun up The Arsenal of Clean.