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TEDxSMU announces 2012 speakers

Last presenter to be chosen at October 19 audition event

October 10, 2012

DALLAS (SMU) – TEDxSMU 2012 will guide its audience through a crowd-sourced hunt for Genghis Khan’s tomb, a bio-anthropological search for love in all the right places and demonstrations of science and eye-popping gadgetry. The fourth annual event returns from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 1 at a new, larger venue - Dallas City Performance Hall.

Tickets are available at

Charley Johnson
Lesli Rotenberg
Will Power
Speakers include New York Times Magazine-lauded playwright Will Power,  PBS KIDS marketing guru Lesli Rotenberg, “Pay It Forward” leader Charley Johnson and dozens of other speakers. The TEDxSMU program of “Ideas Worth Spreading” is built around rapid-fire, highly visual talks and performances, all wrapped around a theme this year of re:THINK.

The last speaker for the Dec. 1 event is still a question mark, scheduled to audition for his or her spot on the TEDxSMU stage at 5 p.m. October 19 at Union Station. Anyone can attend the auditions, and the audience and celebrity judges (KERA’s Anne Bothwell, D Magazine’s Zac Crain and former TEDxSMU audition winner Will Clarke) will vote on as many as a dozen, pre-screened hopefuls to select the speaker with the best idea worth spreading. Previous audition winner Jasmin Brand of Brandpointe will emcee and a cash bar will be available. Tickets are available for $10 at

“We are just pumped about the speakers and topics we’ve already confirmed,” said TEDxSMU Executive Director Sharon Lyle. “And the auditions are a wild card for us because we just don’t know what to expect!  We had so many terrific auditions last year that we added three people to the program instead of the one we had planned for.“

This is the first year that TEDxSMU tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis. TEDxSMU audiences previously were required to apply for ticket options, a process designed for the first three years to include as many thought leaders from as many backgrounds as possible in the experience. Building on the larger venue, the more widely available ticketing is designed to help the conversations that start at TEDxSMU get bigger, travel further and find new audiences. 

Tickets, which are $150, include full-day conference attendance, a light snack breakfast, lunch, snacks throughout the day, and access to the Saturday evening after-party. Tickets may be purchased at

Full 2012 TEDxSMU Speakers and Talks

  • Willie Baronet – Rethinking how we define home
  • Luke Barrington - Crowd-sourcing the search for Genghis Khan’s tomb
  • Molly Bingham - Revamping the way media works
  • Courtney Ferrell - Prophet, teaching girls how to live extraordinary lives
  • Helen Fisher - Biological anthropologist, helps us look for love in all the right places
  • Dave Gallo - Underwater explorer and researcher
  • Christian Genco - SMU engineering student who believes the world needs to learn to program
  • Brett Giroir - DARPA, biomedical researcher, innovator
  • Greg Harper - Blow-your-mind gadget guy
  • Charley Johnson - Head of the worldwide Pay it Forward movement who wants to help bring back simplicity in a complex world
  • Katrina Leshan - SMU Meadows student and guitarist extraordinaire
  • Klaudia Oliver - Ambassador of the cultural zeitgeist
  • Will Power - Playwright, performer
  • Krisha Prabhu - President and CEO of AT&T Labs
  • Susana Rodriguez de Tembleque - Designing the future for firms
  • Lesli Rotenberg - Educating kids and adults through public television
  • Byron Sanders - Education fanatic and all around great dad
  • Louie Schwartzberg - Slow motion cinematographer
  • Kyle Stewart – Tea-obsessed devotee of caffeinated cultures
  • Terry Stewart - Loves to rock, loves to roll
  • Jeremi Suri - Global humanist


Bringing together ideas and interesting people from around the world and around the corner, TEDxSMU and TEDxKids @SMU are single-day conferences in Dallas, TX. Now in its fourth year, TEDxSMU is jointly produced by Southern Methodist University and Dallas IdeaSpace, a nonprofit dedicated to positively impacting the intellectual infrastructure and creative capacity of Dallas through investing in ideas and curating experiences.

TEDxKids @SMU (the first TEDx event designed for students) hosts 450 middle school students for a free four-hour conference, in exchange for completing four hours of community service. TEDxKids @SMU is scheduled for Nov. 30 at City Performance Hall.

TEDxSMU programming ranges from personal discussions of physical and mental journeys to demonstrations of high-tech gadgetry and inspirational musical performances and great visuals are the common denominator. Modeled on the TED (Technology, Engineering and Design) conference mounted annually in Long Beach, Cal., TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience.

About TEDx, x = independently organized event

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

About TED

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 26 years ago, TED has grown to support those world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives. At TED, the world's leading thinkers and doers are asked to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. Talks are then made available, free, at TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Benoit Mandelbrot, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Isabel Allende and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Two major TED events are held each year: The TED Conference takes place every spring in Long Beach, Cal. (along with a parallel conference, TEDActive, in Palm Springs), and TEDGlobal is held each summer in Edinburgh, Scotland.

TED’s media initiatives include, where new TEDTalks are posted daily; the new TED Conversations, enabling broad conversations among TED fans; and the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as the ability for any TEDTalk to be translated by volunteers worldwide.

TED has established the annual TED Prize, where exceptional individuals with a wish to change the world are given the opportunity to put their wishes into action; TEDx, which offers individuals or groups a way to host local, self-organized events around the world; and the TED Fellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to become part of the TED community and, with its help, amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.

For information about TED's upcoming conferences, visit

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