To ancient humans, the modern era might seem to be all about connecting. Connecting computers, connecting continents, connecting singles in your area. There comes a point when the drive to connect, to intertwine, to entangle goes from good and useful to overwhelming and disruptive. People burn out, privacy is invaded, and we retreat from all connections, even the beneficial ones.
And then, in 2020, a global pandemic severed so many of those connections. As we begin to rebuild connections, it has become clear that some of the ways we were connecting in the past were not helpful. And some of those worthwhile connections are sorely missed.
For the 2022 TEDxEustis conference, we’ve chosen connecting as our theme. To discover the benefits and, yes, the pitfalls of connecting. To explore whether connecting through friendship is just as valuable as romance. To discuss if connecting with the truth, whether in science or history, is truly possible. To reveal the power that etiquette training has in connecting us in a polite society. To find out whether connecting everyone to generational wealth, regardless of race, will change the future for the better.
In a world separated by serious illness and strife, we believe that connecting is the primary way to remind each other of our humanity and to create long-lasting bonds that transcend our differences.
Let’s start connecting.
Wealth Building Advocate
Renée Baker has spent over 20 years in the financial services industry. Her corporate position focuses on leading strategic initiatives to advance representation and drive business growth for diverse financial advisors. She holds a BS in finance from Rutgers University, an MBA from The Pennsylvania State University, a doctorate in business administration from Wilmington University, and holds several securities licenses. Renée has received several financial industry awards, including being named by Financial Planning magazine as one of the “20 People Who Will Change Wealth Management in 2020." When she is not empowering financial advisors and others to reach their full potential, Renée enjoys family time, volunteering, traveling, taking boxing lessons, and pursuing her entrepreneurial endeavors. As an empty-nester, she misses her three daughters but sees them regularly with her grand pets, including one dog and three cats.
Kennan Burch is the Founder of Brand Catalyst Partners. He is a sought-after branding expert known for his positive impact on organizations and individuals who want to live out the highest versions of themselves. He partners with mission-driven CEOs to align and inspire their teams to passionately live and communicate their brands so they can scale faster, make more money, and see the impact they want to have in the world. He uses secrets from his one-billion-dollar branding background from over twenty years in leadership positions at a Fortune 500 company, implementing his unique framework developed from his partnerships with some of the best branding agencies in the world. Kennan is known as a “catalytic connector” of people and ideas.
Connection Thought Leader
Dr. Marisa G. Franco is a professor, speaker, and friendship expert whose forthcoming book "Platonic: The Surprising New Science of How to Make—and Keep—Friends as an Adult" debuts with Penguin Random House in September 2022. She writes about friendship for Psychology Today and has been a featured connection expert for major publications like The New York Times, The Telegraph, and Vice. She speaks on belonging at corporations, government agencies, non-profits, and universities across the country, including Harper Collins Publishers, Cisco, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and The Department of State. You can follow her on Instagram (@DrMarisaGFranco) or sign up for her free quiz (www.DrMarisaGFranco.com) to assess your friendship strengths.
Funny Brown Girl
Shereen Kassam is an internationally touring stand-up comedian, podcast host, and sought-after speaker. A budding entrepreneur, Shereen founded an online health & wellness boutique, My Pain Center, and was recognized by the Orlando Business Journal as a 40 Under 40. She completed her BA at Brown University and her MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and has worked at companies including JPMorgan, Deloitte, Amazon, and Disney. Shereen currently resides in Orlando, Florida and has a hard time saying no to chicken wings.
Tori Kubick aka CONTORITION is a world class performer and world traveler, based in Princeton, NJ. Growing up as an award winning dancer, she later found her true love, the antiquated art form of Mongolian contortion. Many would tell her it was too late and doubted her dreams, she shirked them and hopped on a plane, and then later on horseback to make it all the way to the remote birthplace of contortion: Mongolia. Her full-grown womanly body was morphed day after day as she studied with the dedicated class of five year olds. She kept pushing the odds, and now she tours the world and performs contortion and aerial acrobatics in various theatres, cruise ships, and the world-renowned Cirque du Soleil! Tori recently published an article in SUP International. Finally, Tori opened for Miley Cyrus, was featured on Aruban television, The Tonight Show, Ripley's Believe it Or Not, NYFW, and RHONY. She is also in the midst of writing a book, and creating her own solo one woman show!
Xiang “Leo” Liu is a 14 year old boy who lives in Newton, Massachusetts, and has a great interest in the power of education and debate. He first came to the United States in 2020 from Hong Kong, and since then has witnessed more history than he ever dreamed of. Leo is the president of his school senate, the founder of his school’s debate club, and is currently an advisory board member at the Newton, Massachusetts Youth Commission. Leo’s belief is that the youth are “less than 30% of our population, but 100% of our future,” and he is the youngest speaker to ever participate in a TEDxEustis event. When he’s not doing schoolwork or working with his clubs, Leo enjoys traveling and seeing more of the United States, a country that he has quickly grown to love. His great ambition is to use the power of education to bridge divides, and he is even considering entering politics later in life to help realize this goal.
Kevin Maguire has been a professional music teacher for over 25 years. Starting on the violin from a very early age, he soon found himself on many stages ranging from musical theater to film scoring. He currently teaches violin, piano and voice lessons. He completed his BA at the University of Central Florida in Digital Media. He is an advocate for adoption and believes that every child deserves a chance to have someone who loves them. When asked about what he does in his free time he said that a cup of joe, sunshine on his face and some good conversation with his closest is his first pick.
Katie Nall, Ph.D., is a Florida mathematician, a 2017 TEDx speaker, a professional member of National Speakers Association, a Qi Gong instructor, and an Accredited Master Trainer and Practitioner in Emotional Freedom Technique, also known as EFT or Tapping. As Supreme Commander of NallEdge Co., she facilitates masterminds, conducts Math Tutoring & Tapping, and delves into research papers with a passion. She is also a WAFFLES Dissolver – dissolving worries, anxiety, fear, frustration, lethargy, exhaustion, and STRESS! In a long-term (48 years+) institution of marriage, she has maintained her miserable skills in housekeeping and cooking with no desire for rehabilitation, and yet - he stays. Wife of one suffering husband, mother of three perfect children, and ‘Gummi’ to five adorable granddaughters, she counts her blessings daily.
Upon leaving an extensive career in the corporate world, Michael Ondrasik has, for the past eight years, owned and operated the award-winning Home Video Studio in Mount Dora, Florida. He received his BA from Westminster College in theater arts and speech/communication and went on to appear in numerous theatrical productions ranging from off-Broadway stages to regional and community theater. He also spent a decade writing film critiques under the pseudonym Michael Elliott. This experience led to the publication of two books containing his insights on films and culture. His current passion is to help people digitally preserve their family histories thus enabling them to share their stories with future generations. He can be followed at memories-matter.blog. Michael has worked behind the scenes during past TEDxEustis productions and is thrilled and honored to take the stage in TEDxEustis 2022.
Michael Randolph currently serves as the “Proud” Principal of Leesburg High School, and has worked in Education for over 15 years. As principal, Michael and his team have increased the school’s graduation rate by 21% over four years by strategically-scheduling, tracking, and inspiring students to find their joy in education. Michael and his team established Leesburg High School as the first Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) school in Lake County where students have the opportunity to earn an International High School Diploma alongside their State High School Diploma, and has created a culture of community partnership and mentorship through various programs pairing community leaders with students from the school. When Michael is not leading students and teachers, he can be found spending time with his wife (Megan) and daughter (Rylee and Peyton) at the pool, Disney, or at a Cheer competition.
Terese Roth is an Emergency Medicine physician who worked at AdventHealth Orlando for 10 years before starting her entrepreneurial journey. She has a BA in Criminal Justice and Law Studies from Marquette University and an MD from Creighton Medical School. She did her medical residency in Detroit, during which she had the first of her three sons. After retiring from medicine, she created a successful bakery/cafe in Mount Dora, Florida, called ‘Allyson A Bake Shop’ which features traditional, baked-from-scratch desserts. When she is not busy creating interesting new desserts, she enjoys spending time with her teenage sons and husband, as well as traveling to California to visit her oldest son in the Marines. She finds great joy in creating an enjoyable and relaxing escape from everyday life for each guest at her bake shop.
Elizabeth Tran is the founder of the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Teens Go Green. She started the program when she was 12 years old to promote minimal waste practices. Through her work in sustainability and trash fashions, she has been part of the Disney Friends for Change and TLC reality series, So Freakin Cheap. Together with her mother, she also co-directed the Model4Miracles charity modeling event, where they have raised over $140,000 for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals over the last 12 years. Elizabeth received her Bachelors in Marketing at the University of Miami and Masters in Web Design at the University of Florida. She is currently the Marketing Coordinator for Resident Experience at AHS Residential property development firm. In her spare time she enjoys pageants, coordinating events, and spending time with her family.
Tia Young has been teaching in the areas of etiquette, education and air travel for over 30 years. She completed her BA in Communication Studies at the University of Florida, her Teacher Certification at Pasco-Hernando State College and her Etiquette Certification at the Academy of Etiquette & Protocol. After traveling around the world as an International Flight Attendant & Trainer for 14 years, Tia decided to leave flying after the tragedies of 9/11 occurred, to start her etiquette business. She also enjoyed her roles as an Elementary School Teacher, Modeling Coach and Ms. Mompreneur Queen. The proud author of "How to Navigate Premium Experiences with Confidence. Your Guide to Social Success", Tia is also the host of "Normal to Formal" Podcast. On her time off, Tia enjoys international travel, playing tennis, and spending quality time with her husband and daughters. Tia’s passion is to help others polish their social skills for success and bring back the lost art of etiquette.
Damián J. Sanchez is a woodwind artist, vocalist, teacher, chef, writer and actor. He grew up in Little Havana, a subsector of Miami, Florida. Damian J is a polyglot of Cuban descent and is fluent in Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Japanese. His Master of Music is in Oboe Performance, Jazz Studies and Woodwind Doubling from the University of Memphis. Teaching several years at the Kendall Conservatory of Music led him to creating an online virtual studio offering lessons on all the woodwinds, guitar, piano, voice, music theory and his various spoken languages during the pandemic. His online cooking series, "Quarantine Cuisine," debuted him as the "Saxchef," focusing on empowering viewers wanting to eat healthier during the COVID-19 crisis. He is the author of "Closer Than You Think." Damian J acted in the Nashville-based independent film entitled, "Ariadne’s Thread" in 2009. His extensive musical career has had him performing all over North and South America, Europe and Japan.
Angelo Jannotti is a Guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and engineer. Angelo’s music has been heard on Fox Sports, NFL, NASCAR, Boxing, Tokyo Evening news, to hit shows such as “Friends” to major platform gaming such as “Far Cry”. Angelo’s been featured on “Guitars for Freedom 2" with Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Steve Lukather, Andy Summers and more, also the "Guitar on The Edge" Series with Jeff Watson, Greg Howe, Dixie Dregs, Alan Holdsworth and More. Angelo has given guitar clinics on technique and tone from coast to coast in the USA as well as recording lectures at Full Sail for the recording arts and University of Miami. Angelo has been endorsed by major manufacturers including Carvin, GHS strings, Seymour Duncan, Lexicon, Kahler Tremolos and more.
Ezequiel “Zeke Man” Maniera was born in Mar del Plata, Argentina. During the latter part of his teenage years, his family relocated to Miami, Florida, where he embarked upon a career in music. Mostly self-taught, he began by performing with local bands as the guitarist, bassist and drummer. Years later, the Miami New Times named "Kayakman," his group then, "Best Band" of 2009. It was at this point in his life that Zeke Man decided to focus on another passion of his, hospitality. He then spent several years working as a mixologist and eventually made his way up to management. The COVID-19 crisis led him once again to reconnect with music, and thus create Zeke's Music Exchange. A place where Zeke Man repairs and rebuilds different instruments, and offers music production and recording services to local artists. In addition to this new business, he continues performing live as an acoustic soloist as well as with his various musical projects throughout South Florida on the guitar or drums.
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1809 S. Bay St., Eustis, Florida 32726-5666, USA
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Licensee: Timothy Totten
TEDxEustis was founded in 2017.
TEDxEustis, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit entity.