8 Talks Recommended by TEDxDetroit Organizers

From inspiring the next generation of women scientists to how an idea becomes a film, these past talks cover a wide range of topics
tedxdetroit amer zahr
Comedian Amer Zahr presents his talk, We’re Not White, at a previous TEDX. // Screengrab: YouTube

While Detroiters will miss out on seeing this year’s local TEDx talks in person, the good news is the talks will live in perpetuity online — just as presentations from every year do.

Below are a handful of talks from previous years that truly stood out, as recommended by TEDxDetroit’s organizers. 

Wendell Brown and Matt Liston

Making an Extreme Positive from an Extreme Negative

Matt Liston of Strike Media Inc. and a group of strangers teamed up to help free former Detroit high school football player Wendell Brown, an innocent American, from a Chinese prison. Brown shares his story and message of positivity.

Kate Biberdorf

Creating a STEM Army of Women

Kalamazoo native Kate “The Chemist” Biberdorf fires up the TEDxDetroit crowd about science, STEM education, evidence-based conversations, and inspiring the next generation of women scientists.

James Ford Murphy

Reinvention, Failures and Collaborative Inspiration

Born in Detroit and now a director with Pixar Animation Studios, Murphy takes the audience behind the scenes to discuss how an idea becomes a film — and a song.

Christine Gibbons

Using Sound Waves to Destroy Cancer

Gibbons is the CEO of Ann Arbor-based HistoSonics, which uses the mechanical
(not thermal) properties of focused ultrasound to precisely target tissues without damaging surrounding tissue or structures. She talks about how sound energy can destroy cancer.

Amer Zahr

We’re Not White

Raised in Philadelphia but a longtime Detroit-area resident, this Arab American comedian who is the child of Palestinian refugees shares his views on why Arab Americans need their own box on the U.S. Census.

Sam White

Shakespeare in Detroit

Artist, activist, and entrepreneur Sam White founded Shakespeare in Detroit. Her talk — featuring actor Peter Knox as King Lear — explores what it takes to pursue a crazy dream.

Aaron Draplin

That Underdog Spirit: Tall Tales from a Large Man

The graphic designer’s talk traces his own path from growing up in northern Lower Michigan to achieving success with his own business and associated enterprises.

Dr. Rita Fields 

How Eating From the Garbage Can Taught Me How to Lead

Growing up with a mentally ill mother in Detroit, Fields became a homeless, pregnant high school dropout. Today, she’s a consultant and university professor who earned her doctorate.