ideas worth spreading
Meet the speakers, performers, and exhibitors who will light up 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.
The main stage isn’t the only place to experience big ideas at TEDxDetroit. TEDxLabs and TEDxMarketplace showcase homegrown tech, art, and small businesses right outside the theatre. It’s part business expo, part art gallery, and part science fair. You can demo new tech, sample local cuisine, buy from local artisans, and meet the speakers in between sessions during TEDxDetroit.
Fox 2 Detroit
After four decades in broadcasting, Huel Perkins retired from Fox 2 News. During his career, he interview icons from Nelson Mandela and Pope John Paul to Rosa Parks and Andrew Young. As the host of one of the metro region’s most popular programs, “Let It Rip!”, Huel used his legal and journalistic training to bring eloquent, opinionated people together to discuss the issues of the day. Along the way, Huel has won three Emmy awards and been honored by more that 60 civic, charitable, and government organizations for his lifelong commitment to education and financial empowerment. Yet, his biggest reward comes from the lives he’s changed and the career doors he’s opened for the next generation of journalists.
Chief Culinary Officer
Partner at Marrow; Co-Owner of Mink
Chef Sarah was raised between Jamaica and Michigan surrounded with culture, cooking, and eating. After graduating from Michigan State, she trained in the culinary arts at New York’s French Culinary Institute. Today, Sarah is the Executive Chef, founding member and equity partner at Marrow. She is also the co-owner of seafood-centric restaurant Mink. Marrow was voted a semi-finalist for Best New Restaurant in the country by the James Beard Foundation (JBF) and was named one of the top new restaurants by Eater. Sarah has been nominated twice by the JBF as one of the best chefs in the Great Lakes region. She was a finalist on Top Chef. Sarah’s time in Detroit has yielded close connections with the local farming community.
CEO & Founder,
Our Next Energy
Mujeeb Ijaz is a battery systems engineer with over 30 years of experience in the development of electric vehicles and battery systems technologies. His career work has focused on furthering the adoption of electric vehicles through advancements in battery safety, range, and cost. Mujeeb led teams at Ford Motor Co., where he developed Ford’s Edge with HySeries Drive, the Ford Fusion Hydrogen 999 that set a land speed record at Bonneville in 2007, and the Chrysler ENVI project. He was president of A123’s Venture Technologies unit and more recently, a senior director at Apple. Mujeeb holds 31 patents in the field of battery technology and energy management systems.
FOX 2 NEWS
Roop Raj is evening anchor at Fox 2. He joined the station in 2009 as weekend morning coanchor. The Troy, Mi native also anchored the news in Lansing, Flint and New Orleans. Raj was anchoring the news when Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana back in 2005. The broadcast journalist has reported on nearly every shift at Fox 2 before landing the evening spot. He was recently voted as one of Detroit’s best news anchors.
CEO, Castle Risk Management & HR Consulting and Founder, Cibeles Beauty
Princess Castleberry is a native Detroit West Sider; an accomplished global risk and wellness leader; speaker; author; and pro makeup artist. She is CEO of both Castle Risk Management & HR Consulting and Cibeles Beauty, following a 20-year corporate career with Fortune 500 firms. She created ‘Every Leader is a Risk Manager’ – the world’s first wellness-centered risk competency model and is a Christian wife and mother. You’ll spot her signature red lipstick with a fired-up personality to match!
Vice President, Business Development at Electreon
Stefan defined the concept of Electric Road Systems (ERS), and it is no surprise that he is well rehearsed in the opportunities and challenges of commercializing ERS in Europe and the US. Stefan also holds expertise on business models, sustainable transition, policy, and systemic innovation and has previously worked as a Senior Researcher at RISE Research Institutes of Sweden. Stefan holds an M.Sc in Mechanical Engineering and a PhD in Industrial Economics and Management, both from KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden.
Daniel Martin has quickly become one of the most sought after performers & presenters in the world. His high-energy presentations are a thrilling fusion of Incredible Sleight of Hand & Playful Sleight of Mind that has broken box office attendance for theaters, corporations & upscale events worldwide and his Drinks & Deceptions hosted in Michigan. His awarding winning magic has been featured on the BBC, Netflix, CBS, NBC, Discovery plus as a consultant on hit shows such as Scam School and Magic for Humans.
Director of Arts and Culture for the City of Detroit
Rochelle Riley is best known as an award-winning Detroit columnist. Currently, she serves as Detroit’s Director of Arts and Culture guiding the city’s investment in the creative economy and transformative innovation. The essayist, keynoter, world traveler, and arts advocate is the author of “That They Lived: African Americans Who Changed The World” and “The Burden: African Americans and the Enduring Impact of Slavery.” She’s been a frequent guest on NPR and other outlets. Rochelle has been honored by the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, Society of Professional Journalists, and the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame.
Director of Partnerships,
Pensole Lewis College
Dion Walcott is the founder of MARTK’D and is a highly sought-after speaker, strategist, and curator who has used his passion for sneakers to create a notable career in the marketplace. Dion’s first break came when he was chosen as the Director of Programs and Partnerships for North America’s first-ever sneaker exhibit at The Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. Dion’s doing “Well and Good” approach has helped him empower creative communities globally.
Money Matters For Youth
Gail Perry-Mason is a respected authority in the financial industry, bestselling author, and sought after speaker. She’s an advocate for financial literacy and a frequent guest on media networks from BET, Fox News, CNN, CBS, CNBC, and NPR Radio as well as her own show “Building Wealth” on iHeartRadio. While juggling her demanding financial career and public appearances, Gail also serves on boards of many local and national organizations, including DMC Harper-Hutzel Hospital, Detroit Music Hall, Detroit Development Fund, Nevada Women’s Money Council and Morgan State University. She founded the original Money Camp for Teens and the first youth investment club in 1996. Gail is a mother of three terrific sons.
CEO – Qualigence International,
Steve Lowisz is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, and keynote speaker on all things people. As the son of immigrants, Steve was recognized as a Michigan Small Businessperson of the Year, and has led Qualigence International to being named a Best & Brightest Place to Work in the Nation. But it was a rocky road. After more than 2 decades as a leader, Steve now shares his own journey of growth focused on getting the best FOR team members, not just the best FROM each employee.
Founder, Detroit Buss
& EV Startup Mutiny
Andy is a doer. A serial entrepreneur, Andy opened a small business incubator in Ferndale at age 22. A few years later, he took on public transportation and The Detroit Bus Company was born. In the pandemic, he started The Arsenal of Clean to help schools, hospitals, and Detroit get good, safe, effective hand sanitizer. In between, he’s run several charity initiatives for kids, Now, he’s bought an entire car factory in Detroit and he getting it started again – he’s building 4×4 EV light trucks from the ground up that are affordable and fixable.
Founder & CEO
Sydney is the Founder of NixCode, an Artificial-Intelligent (AI) assisted no-code app development software company. She is dedicated to supporting non-technical entrepreneurs, helping them launch their first successful mobile app & software companies. Sydney has been recognized as one of 30 Influential Women Advancing AI and a Forbes Next 1000 Entrepreneur Honoree. With over a decade of entrepreneurship and tech experience, Sydney encourages diversity of thought among community leaders and equity among underrepresented founders.
Teacher by day, comedian by night, Tim has traveled and performed on as many stages as his wife has given him permission to. His musings on family life, distaste for other people’s children, and being a dad will make you wonder if having kids is right for you…or him. Despite his constant lack of sleep, Tim brings a farcical energy to the stage that sheds light on the dark side of middle-aged modern parenting that no one is willing to confess. Tim’s the creator of Laughs 4 Wishes benefit for Make-A-Wish. He also teaches a Teen Comedy Class at Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle. He teaches positive mental health and resiliency through the power of laughter.
RENEE WALKER & ASSOCIATES
Renée is an award-winning brand and marketing strategist who honed her expertise through executive positions with multimillion and billion-dollar brands in the private, public and nonprofit sectors. Her passion is helping organizations and executives communicate strategically to achieve higher performance, productivity and profits. She is the author of “Brand Power for Small Business Entrepreneurs,” a Newsweek Expert Forum contributor, and a featured contributor to industry publications.
Co-Founder & CEO,
Kwaku Osei is CEO of Farmacy Food & Chairman of Cooperative Capital. He was previously at Rock Ventures where he worked on special projects with Dan Gilbert and served as CEO to Project X LLC, a tech spinout of Rock Ventures. He started his career at Deloitte Consulting. Kwaku earned his BS in Marketing from VCU with University Honors and currently serves on the boards of The Economic Development Corporation of the City of Detroit, CDAD, The Detroit Community Wealth Fund and Bridging Communities.
Chiropractor & Nutritionist
New Hudson Chiropractic
Dr. Paula Ruffin is one of the most sought-after health and wellness coaches and speakers. She is the founder of New Hudson Chiropractic Wellness Center and CEO of Butta’ for Play ~ a personal moisturizer for women. For 25 years, her holistic approach to health restoration through custom nutrition coaching and spinal balancing has transformed lives. Her goal is to inspire people to stop being spectators in their declining health, get off the sidelines, and take action to win the game of maximizing their health span so they can squeeze out all the greatness this life has to offer!
Jacob Barr is a Michigan stand-up comedian. Despite his age he has been performing all over the midwest for 7 years. Jacob has a rare disability that gives hima unique perspective on the world around him. This perspective is used to entertain audiences at comedy clubs, festivals, colleges, or any place that will allow him to scream at a crowd. In the past Jacob has worked with comedians such as Chris Gethard, Joe List, and Tim Meadows from SNL.
Comedian, Actor, Writer
As an Ivy League dropout and community college graduate from Pontiac, MI, Mike brings a pointed look at life, family, and relationships that few others can…or should. From his upbringing in a family with 17 children to discussing his life as a father, Mike’s comedy is jagged wit mixed with a smooth delivery. Mike was featured on Hulu and Fox Television’s comedy showcase “Laughs” (Season 1) and the Detroit episode of “Kevin Hart Presents: Hart Of The City 2” on Comedy Central (Season 2).
Mike’s first full length comedy CD “The Charm Offensive” available on all digital platforms.
Michael Angelo Caruso teaches presentation skills. His keynotes are a combination of your best teacher and your favorite comedian. Michael gets fast results with clients on five continents and in 49 of the 50 states. He’s worked with Hallmark, Bank of America, Verizon Wireless, Rayovac, Citgo, Nissan, and the United States Navy. Michael is author of Work Hacks and Dear Michael Angelo — A Father’s Life Letters to His Son. He also has a highly rated speaker coaching class titled, Present Like a Pro. A lifetime Rotarian, Michael enjoys exercise, movies, non-fiction books and travel.
Entrepreneur / Film & TV Producer,
Parliament Studios Inc
Jenny Feterovich is an award winning TV & film Producer, a lifelong entrepreneur founding two production houses, and small business advocate, focusing on empowering women and immigrants. Jenny is also known in the music world as the globetrotting DJ LaFemme. Jenny arrived in the US with only a suitcase and $100 after her family fled their native Soviet Union in 1989 and landed in Detroit. In a new phase of her journey, Jenny has become a motivational speaker and is now the President of EO Detroit.
CEO and Founder,
Justin Turk is leveraging over 25 years of experience and is using technology to automate processes, build sustainability, and revolutionize the construction industry. Livegistics has grown to 30 employees from four last year. The firm’s growth was helped by a $1 million “Black Ambition” grand prize pitch competition in 2021 and recently closed a $6 million seed investment. Justin holds a degree in computer science from Bowling Green University and a master’s in construction engineering from Lawrence Technological University. Justin is dedicated to ensuring that minorities have a sustainable place at the table as both construction and tech entrepreneurs.
Chairman / Co-CEO, Champion E- Commerce
Ian Prukner is a Best Selling Author, Entrepreneur and Consultant and has built 7/8/9 figure businesses in finance, real estate, e-commerce and intellectual property spaces including a multiple 8 figure exit. Born and raised in Royal Oak Michigan, Ian currently resides in Siesta Key Florida with his wife Jessica and 3 children, Kayley, Zac, and Zoey.
Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology
University of Michigan
Aya M. Waller-Bey is a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of Michigan, studying trauma narratives in college admissions. She is a decorated scholar and researcher who’s shared her research at the University of Amsterdam, op-eds in publications like Forbes, and invited talks, including the Aspen Center of Physics Winter Conference. Aya is a proud Detroiter and first-generation college student whose work challenges how organizations commodify the stories of the most marginalized. She holds an undergraduate degree in Sociology from Georgetown University and graduate degrees from the University of Cambridge in England and the University of Michigan.
President & Artistic Director,
Music Hall Center
Mr. Paul is one of the country’s leading performing arts managers. Currently managing Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, he presents some of the biggest names in show business as well as the world’s most renowned attractions in theatre, music, puppetry, circus and dance, to an audience of more than 250,000 each year. He is responsible for producing, developing, and programming over 400 performances and special events annually, including the Detroit Music Weekend downtown festival. In addition, he oversees the nine performing arts education outreach programs that engage 22,000 students annually, mainly in the Detroit schools.
Executive Director – Gas Strategy, Consumers Energy
Craig Degenfelder has 25 years of combined experience in the construction and utility industries, including over 10 years with Consumers Energy, where he is currently the executive director of gas strategy. In this role, he leads the Company’s long-term investment strategy for the entire natural gas system to best serve its 1.8 million gas customers.
Prior to this role, Craig was an executive director of enterprise project management. Craig holds an associate’s in business administration, a bachelor’s in construction management, a Project Management Professional certification, and an MBA.
Multidisciplinary Performance Artist
Flint Steam Society
At 13 years old, Quinton Robinson was invited to join the international award-winning Steel Pan Orchestra known as The Steelheads and performed at National Jazz Festivals and events for thousands of people. He has taught music to hundreds in the US and in Asia. Currently, he’s booking live concerts across America as a soloist and with select guest artists.
Quinton is also a Master Magician, Poetry Slam Champion, Composer/Band-Leader, Author, Educator, and Emcee. Just before the pandemic, Quinton was invited to Asia to design and implement a Youth Magic Camp for 700 Chinese age schoolchildren. The work continues here stateside anywhere there are people.
VP – Commercial Real Estate Broker, Colliers International Detroit
Benji is a founding board member of the Coffin Siris Syndrome Foundation, which provides support and research for families affected by the rare genetic condition that his daughter Ellah has. He & his wife Sarah are passionate disability advocates. They have two amazing daughters, Na’amah and Ellah. Benji is a live music enthusiast and channels his passion into running the music programs for young adults at the Friendship Circle of Michigan. In his professional life, he is a VP and Commercial Real Estate Broker with Colliers International Detroit, where he has helped hundreds of businesses and investors all over Detroit buy, sell and lease commercial property.
Manager of Gas Strategy, Consumers Energy
Neal Dreisig is a Manager of Gas Asset Strategy for Consumers Energy. In this role, Neal leads the development of decarbonizing our gas system including renewable natural gas, hydrogen, carbon capture and other new technology end uses. Prior to this role, Neal spent 12 years as an engineer working on air quality control retrofits and other industrial projects.
Neal holds a master’s degree in Management, a bachelor’s degree in Construction Management, and also a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.
Well before the world knew me I was just a street performer but as the years went by I got better and better now it’s time for the world to see.
Art Is In Market
Almonds R Nuts Inc