2011 Speakers

We’re delighted to have the following speakers in our program for the 2011 TEDxManhattan event:

Barbara Askins
Barbara Askins
serves as President and CEO of the 125th Street Business Improvement District in Upper Manhattan (Harlem) in New York City. She has done extensive work in the field of improving cities as a public involvement specialist on transportation, environmental and facility planning projects, working on major projects in several cities that included reconstruction of highways and city streets, upgrading rail and bus systems, improving sewage-treatment facilities, creative public spaces, and sports and convention centers.
Full Bio.

Ian Cheney
Ian Cheney grew up in Massachusetts and Maine, and received bachelor’s and master’sdegrees from Yale University. After graduate school, Ian co-created, co-produced and starred in the feature documentary King Corn, which was released theatrically in 60 cities and awarded a George Foster Peabody Award in 2009. Ian subsequently directed the feature documentary The Greening Of Southie, featured in The New Yorker and on Good Morning America, and has recently completed work on two new films, Truck Farm– the story of urban agriculture in New York City – and The City Dark, a feature documentary about light pollution and the disappearing night. A founding board member of FoodCorps and a contributing blogger for the HufffingtonPost, Ian travels frequently to show his films, lead workshops, and give talks about environment, agriculture, and the human relationship to the natural world. He lives in Brooklyn, NY and maintains a 1/1000th acre farm in the back of his old pickup truck.
Full Bio.

Michael Conard
Michael Conard is the Assistant Director at the Urban Design Lab and Adjunct Associate Professor, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia University. Recent projects include NIRF (National Integrated Regional Foodshed) (Current) a national strategy for enhancing regional food systems, New York Regional Foodshed (Current) a regional strategy for food based infrastructure, Curbing Childhood Obesity (2008), design and systems recommendations to address the current obesity epidemic, and Creating a Cultural Corridor: 125th Street (2007), a local cultural sustainability plan. Conard is a registered architect in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. He holds an NCARB certificate, is a Fellow of the Institute for Urban Design and is a Past Fellow of the Design Trust for Public Space.  Conard has directed applied and academic urban design research for over twenty-five years on five continents in both the public and private sectors. His work has bridged urban and architectural design and environmental sustainability with public health, local economic development and equal access.
Full Bio.

Ken Cook
Ken Cook, president and co-founder of Environmental Working Group (EWG), is widely recognized as one of the most prominent and effective independent analysts of U.S. farm policy.  Cook is a principal architect of landmark conservation laws that have shifted U.S. agriculture policy toward preservation of land, water, wetlands and wildlife.  EWG’s farm subsidy database details nearly $250 billion in subsidy payments and has generated 254 million searches since 2004.  A New York Times profile of Cook said that the unique database “not only caught the attention of lawmakers, it also helped transform the farm bill into a question about equity and whether the country’s wealthiest farmers should be paid to grow commodity crops while many smaller family farms receive nothing and are going out of business.”

Laurie David
Environmental activist, producer and authorLaurie David has worked over the past decade to bring the global warming issue into mainstream popular culture. Declared the Bono of climate change by Vanity Fair, Laurie was the architect of the 2005 “Stop Global Warming Virtual March” atwww.stopglobalwarming.org, which attracted over 1 million marchers. She has written several bestselling books, including Stop Global Warming: The Solution is You! and The Down to Earth Guide to Global Warming, co-authored with Cambria Gordon, which has been reprinted in eleven languages and received the prestigious Green Earth Book Award. As a successful television and film producer in her former life, she has used her creative talent to produce several documentaries on global warming, including the award winning “An Inconvenient Truth” about former Vice President Al Gore’s thirty years of research on global warming, and the HBO documentary “Too Hot Not to Handle”.  In 2007 Laurie launched the Stop Global Warming College Tour with Sheryl Crow. The recipient of several prestigious environmental awards, Laurie is a trustee of the Natural Resources Defense Council and a founding member of the Detroit Project, a public education and action campaign to raise fuel efficiency standards.  Her most recent project is a new book “The Family Dinner:  Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time,” an inspirational green guide to unplugging and connecting with your family over healthy, fresh food.
Full Bio.

Curt Ellis
Since graduating from Yale College with a degree in History in 2002, Curt Ellis has built a reputation as a leading public thinker in the national discussion on food and agriculture. He co-created the 2007 Peabody-winning documentary King Corn, produced The Greening of Southie, directed and produced the short film Big River, and served a two-year term as a Food and Society Fellow with the WK Kellogg Foundation. Ellis is co-founder of the Brooklyn-based documentary production company Wicked Delicate, and a member of the board of directors of Slow Food USA. He has been interviewed about sustainability and food production by NPR, Good Morning Americaand The New York Times, and last year delivered more than 30 talks outlining his vision for the future of food and farming. Ellis’ attention is now focused on launching the national AmeriCorps school garden program FoodCorps, which promises to combat childhood obesity while training a new generation of farmers.

Brian Halweil
Brian Halweil is the editor of Edible East Endas well as the publisher of Edible Brooklyn andEdible Manhattan. He is also a senior fellow at the Worldwatch Institute and is currently Co-Director of the Nourishing the Planet project. He joined Worldwatch in 1997 as the John Gardner Public Service Fellow from Stanford University, where he had established a student-run farm on campus. As a food and agriculture expert, Brian has testified before the U.S. Senate on biotechnology, poverty, and hunger, and his research and writing have been featured in national media. He is the author of Eat Here: Homegrown Pleasures in a Global Supermarket, and he lives in Sag Harbor, New York, where he and his family keep a home garden and orchard, and raise oysters.

Karen Hudson
Karen Hudson lives on a fifth generation family farm in West Central Illinois.  She founded F.A.R.M. (Families Against Rural Messes), a grassroots group in Illinois that opposes CAFO’s (concentrated animal feeding operations) and their impacts.  She is co-founder of ICCAW (Illinois Citizens for Clean Air and Water) and President of the DEA (Dairy Education Alliance). She works as an environmental consultant to the Socially Responsible Agricultural Project.  Karen was appointed to the Illinois House/Senate Joint Livestock Advisory Committee in 1997 to review laws in Illinois. Karen was a board member of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance for nine years. Her work has been covered by the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Democracy Now, NPR, and numerous state, national and local media throughout the years.  Karen is one of three major activists portrayed in the recent 2010 book Animal Factory, written by bestselling New York Times author David Kirby.
Full Bio

Dr. Scott Kahan
Dr. Scott Kahan is a physician trained in both clinical medicine and public health.  He specializes in preventive medicine and obesity prevention and treatment.  He is the Co-Director of theGeorge Washington University Weight Management Center and the Clinical Director for theS.T.O.P Obesity Alliance, and he serves on the Faculty of both the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health,  He has published 14 books in the fields of medicine, nutrition, and public health, and he recently co-authored a 700-page nutrition guide for physicians, which is distributed free-of-charge to medical students in North America.  His upcoming textbook is titled Health Behavior Change in Populations: The State of the Evidence and Roles for Key Stakeholders.  Full Bio

Frederick Kaufman
A professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, Frederick Kaufman’s cover story for the July 2010 issue of Harper’s, “The food bubble,” has provoked controversy throughout the food world, and led to radio appearances—including Australian Public Radio, Sirius Satellite Radio, and NPR—and television appearances onDemocracy Now! and Bloomberg TV. In “The food bubble,” Kaufman investigated the role that investment banks played in the upsurge of food prices in 2008 and how the subsequent rise in the price of global wheat pushed the number of the world’s food insecure to more than a billion people. Kaufman has also investigated recent efforts by transnational companies such as WalMart and Unilever to set the agenda for sustainable agriculture.

Lucas Knowles
As the Know Your Farmer, Know Your FoodCoordinator for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Luke Knowles knows sustainable agriculture policy.  He was born and raised in Alaska and now works in the Office of the Under Secretary of Marketing and Regulatory Programs. At the USDA, Luke uses the Know Your Farmer initiative as an excuse to visit a farm whenever he can. He studied forestry and environmental policy at Yale.

Kathy Lawrence
Kathy Lawrence has worked for twenty years in sustainable agriculture, local food systems development,and non-profit management. She is Program Director of School Food FOCUS, a national collaborative that leverages the knowledge and procurement power of large school districts to make school meals across the country more healthful, regionally sourced and sustainably produced. FOCUS aims to transform food systemsto support students’ academic achievement and lifelong health, while directly benefiting farmers, regional economies, and the environment. Before serving as Executive Director of the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture, Kathy directed Just Food, the New York City-based non-profit organization she founded in 1995. Prior to that she coordinated outreach and education for the New York and Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Groups (SAWGs) and engaged in multi-sector citizen advocacy at the United Nations. In addition to food justice work, Kathy’s passions include singing in the a cappella jazz quartet Polka Dots & Moonbeams, tending her perennial flower gardens, practicing holistic psychotherapy and teaching Mandarin Chinese.

William Li
Dr. William Li’s 2010 TEDTalk “Can we eat to starve cancer?” will be shown, and he will be in the audience to update us on the role of sustainable food in preventing disease. Dr. Li heads theAngiogenesis Foundation, a nonprofit re-conceptualizing global disease fighting. Many of society’s most devastating diseases — cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s, to name a few — share a common denominator: faulty angiogenesis, the body’s growth of new capillary blood vessels. While researching under Harvard surgeon Judah Folkman, who pioneered the study of angiogenesis, Li learned how angiogenesis-based medicine helps patients overcome numerous diseases by restoring the balance of blood-vessel growth. 
He also learned how the foods we select can play a critical role in preventing the development of blood vessels that help fuel the development and growth of cancerous tumors.

Elizabeth Meltz
Elizabeth Meltz has worked for the Batali/Bastianich Hospitality Group for over threeyears. In September of 2006 she joined the del Posto Restaurant team as a Chef diPartie. In 2007 she began managing the restaurant’s kitchen operations and in 2008 shebecame BBHG’s Director of Food Safety and Sustainability. Currently she is handlingthe company’s health and food safety program and green initiatives including: managingthe Green Restaurant Certification process for each of the 14 restaurants, overseeing thecorporate No-bottled-water policy, advising the new business development team on newrestaurant design with regard to green ideals and food safety compliance, and respondingto media inquiries about the environmental strides the restaurant group is making.Formerly, Elizabeth has served as Food Editor and Managing Editor of the magazine LaCucina Italiana and worked as line cook in Rome, Italy.

Michel Nischan
Chef Michel Nischan wears many hats – from dynamic restaurant owner, James Beard Award-winning cookbook author and media personality – to food policy advocate and non-profit foundation CEO. A proponent of sustainable farming, local and regional food systems and heritage recipes, Michel has long been a leader in the movement to honor local, pure, simple and delicious cooking. He is owner and founder of Dressing Room, his homegrown restaurant in Westport CT, and CEO and President of Wholesome Wave, dedicated to nourishing neighborhoods by supporting increased production and access to healthy, fresh and affordable locally grown food for the well-being of all.  Find out more about Michel at www.michelnischan.com, or learn more about the great work he’s doing through Wholesome Wave.  Full Bio.

Britta Riley
Artist Britta Riley’s work plays with current structures for innovation in our culture and celebrates the wisdom of ordinary people. By means of a process she calls R&D-I-Y (research and develop it yourself), she applies a pedestrian mentality to intractable global issues to surprising effect. The resultant artifacts conjure lifestyles of a future sustainable society that are startlingly within reach. She brings the proposals to the public for further innovation thereby inviting ordinary people to participate in solving big environmental problems immediately through mass collaboration.  Her current project, Windowfarms.org, helps New Yorkers grow food in their apartments year-round by means of hydroponic window curtains.

Cheryl Rogowski
Cheryl Rogowski is a second-generation family farmer from the black dirt region of Pine Island in Warwick, Orange County, New York.  Her farm, Rogowski Farm, grows over 250 varieties of produce on 150 acres and includes a prepared food business called Black Dirt Gourmet.  The Rogowski Farm is a pioneer in the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) movement and is credited with starting the first low income CSA in NY state.  In 2004, Cheryl was the first American farmer awarded a MacArthur Genius Award.

Melony Samuels
A veteran of the New York City anti-hunger community, Dr. Melony Samuels is Executive Director of the Bed Stuy Campaign Against Hunger (BSCAH), an innovative nonprofit community-based food pantry, garden and social service provider founded in 1998 and now serving more than 10,000 needy New Yorkers each month. Dr. Samuels is on the Advisory Board of the Food Bank of NYC and is founder and former president of the Bed Stuy Providers Network, a collaborative group of 18 emergency food programs. Dr. Samuels and the BSCAH were featured in the Bill Moyers Journal report on Hunger in America and she was honored last year by the Brooklyn Community Foundation for her work as a Brooklyn Do-Gooder. Dr. Samuels received her doctorate in Religious Education from the Christian Outreach Bible College and Theological Seminary in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Elizabeth U
Elizabeth Ü is recognized as a solutions-oriented innovator at the intersection of sustainable food systems and social finance. She is Executive Director of Finance for Food , a nonprofit she founded to educate food system entrepreneurs about financing opportunities available to support their work. In 2010, as manager of strategic development at RSF Social Finance, she helped launch a new loan fund  to support high-impact sustainable food ventures. A Food & Society Fellow with the Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy, Elizabeth holds a BS in Geography from McGill University and an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School. She is currently developingThe Capital Cookbook , a groundbreaking guide to the complex and ever-evolving capital markets landscape, designed specifically for those seeking financing for food-based business.

Josh Viertel
Josh Viertel is the president of Slow Food USA, a national non-profit organization that focuses on creating a world in which all people can eat food that is good for them, good for the people who grow it and good for the planet. He previously worked for Yale University, where he created the Yale Sustainable Food Project, which revamped the university’s food service to offer students a menu based on sustainable, local foods. He also created curriculum and programs for Yale students that brought them in regular contact with the people and story behind their food. Prior to Yale, Josh started Mamabrook Farm, a small organic vegetable farm that provided food to local restaurants and farmers’ markets. Josh graduated from Harvard University with degrees in philosophy and literature. His passion is to build a social movement around food and farming that rebuilds local communities, mitigates social inequities, reduces environmental degradation and provides greater access to good, clean and fair food.


ETHEL is TEDxManhattan’s house band/entertainment curator for 2011.  Acclaimed as America’s premier postclassical string quartet, ETHEL invigorates contemporary concert music with refreshing exuberance, fierce intensity, imaginative programming and exceptional artistry. Formed in 1998, New York’s ebullient ETHEL is comprised of Juilliard-trained performers Cornelius Dufallo (violin), Ralph Farris (viola), Dorothy Lawson (cello) and Mary Rowell (violin).  ETHEL performs adventurous music of the past four decades, with emphasis on works composed since 1995. Their repertoire includes self-composed works, as well as works by such luminaries as Julia Wolfe, Phil Kline, John Zorn and Steve Reich. Boldly exploring new synergies between tradition and technology, ETHEL initiates innovative collaborations with an extraordinary community of American and international artists such as Joe Jackson, Kurt Elling, Bang on a Can, Todd Rundgren, David Byrne, Ursula Oppens, Loudon Wainwright III, Andrew Bird, Iva Bittová, Colin Currie and Thomas Dolby.  ETHEL has performed at many TED conferences. (photo credit: Steve J. Sherman)

Dean Osborne
beginning his career in 1980, Dean Osborne has had a hand in
just about every area of the bluegrass music business. As an artist and
bandleader, he and the Eastbound Band were nominated in 2001 for IBMA emerging artist of the year as well as being featured as a showcase act. Dean was one of four featured artists at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s “Truckstop Series” featuring the New York string quartet Ethel. He is the tour coordinator and a featured performer for the American Bluegrass Masters Tour in 2009-2011 presented by Opus 3 Artists of New York. As an instructor, Dean expanded a 20 year teaching career by accepting the position of director of HCTC’s Kentucky School of Bluegrass and Traditional Music in March of 2006, located in Hyden, Kentucky.  Full Bio

Cellist Tony Rymer, at only age 21, has performed major concerti to critical acclaim with the Atlanta Symphony, Boston Pops, Cleveland Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, and the Pittsburgh Symphony, among others. He was one of the first recipients of the Jack Kent Cooke Award on the NPR national radio show From the Top, he has also been heard as soloist on WGBH Boston, WCLV Cleveland, andNPR’s Performance Today. Tony has played privately for Yo-Yo Ma and performed in master classes for Anner Bylsma, Jaime Laredo, and Pieter Wispelwey. He attends the New England Conservatory in Boston where he studies with Paul Katz and holds the Laurence Lesser Presidential Scholarship.
Full Bio