page-template,page-template-full_width,page-template-full_width-php,page,page-id-15566,bridge-core-1.0.5,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,qode-theme-ver-18.1,qode-theme-bridge,disabled_footer_top,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-6.0.2,vc_responsive


TEDxValparaisoUniversity 2021 Speaker Application

TEDxValparaisoUniversity speakers must come with an idea that is worth spreading. Speakers that are chosen for TEDxValparaisoUniversity are able to tell a story and argue for an idea using credible proof. Program speakers may not use the TEDx stage to sell products, promote themselves, or advance notions that cannot be defended with well-founded evidence.


Previous Speakers



Alex Ruscitti ’19

Alex Ruscitti is a computer engineer for Motorola Solutions, where he practices software development and cyber security. He is a Valparaiso University alumnus, obtaining a bachelor’s in computer engineering in May 2019. Alex has completed the Dale Carnegie profession development program, after which he was invited back as a course coach for another class. Alex serves as the secretary of his local Toastmasters club, where he works with others to develop their career skills. Alex resides in Plainfield, Illinois.


Alexandra Moran


Collaboration, communication, transparency, and authenticity are the keys to successful corporate leadership and personal well-being — these are also the keys to survival for horses and their herds.

Through 30 years of horsemanship, Alexandra Moran has found abounding overlap in her own personal and corporate life as in that of the lives of horses and their herds. A university faculty member, corporate maven, and farm operator near Chicago, she weaves these divergent roles into the fabric of who she is and allows the horse to inform her relationships, decision making, and businesses.

Alexandra combines years of horse experience with communication and leadership skills from the board room and the classroom. Her corporate management of a multi-million-dollar enterprise with at-will employees, staff, clients, and stakeholders in the ever-volatile financial industry in Chicago has challenged her to be creative. She is known to never lose sight of helping her team and clients get what they truly want for themselves. Her leadership style led to the 2014 Outstanding Leader of the Year award from a Fortune 200 financial company and 20 Under 40 for the Northwest Indiana Times. Alexandra teaches in the business school at Purdue University Northwest, where she shares her passion for injecting emotional intelligence into the workplace.

Brian Tenclinger

Brian Tenclinger is an experienced professional in the fields of higher education administration and nonprofit association management.  Brian has an extensive background in leadership and organization training, as well as risk and harm reduction. He has done extensive research about volunteer engagement to better understand what a healthy volunteer program looks like with an eye toward the future. Professionally, he manages a team of volunteer leaders for a global service organization and serves as an elevated volunteer leader for his fraternity. He is an avid weightlifter who enjoys traveling and cooking. Brian lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with his husband who is an award-winning pastry chef.


Carrie Koh

Carrie Koh is a health care executive and CEO of Carrie Koh Consulting with a passion for enhancing the way we communicate with one another to ensure efficient and innovative results with greater fulfillment along the way. She helps individuals and organizations overcome their greatest obstacles through bridging the divide between opposing perspectives and creating Interpersonal Efficiency, a state of leadership where strategy and feedback can flow freely, devoid of toxicity, judgement, and fear. Facing the death of her first-born child has taught her that tragedy does not need to end in suffering. She uses these lessons in personal growth to enhance the professional development of her clients.

Clayton Poland

Clayton Poland is a civil engineer turned author, speaker, storyteller, and entertainer, encouraging folks to focus on the good stuff. Using his playful spirit and quick wit, he takes audiences on a captivating adventure that opens their minds to new possibilities.

Clayton loves to use his skills as an accomplished storyteller to weave a custom tailored, uplifting message throughout each event leaving the audience entertained, encouraged and inspired.

Clayton married Leigh, his high school sweetheart, in 1997. They have three kids: Ethan, Maddie, and Charlie. Their home town is West Monroe, Louisiana, and their hobbies are faith, family, friends, and food. They love to BBQ, boil shrimp or crawfish, invite all their friends over, and enjoy life together. They absolutely love spending time with people.


Edward G Young III

Edward is a world traveler and transformational speaker. A former Division I college athlete, a little over 15 years ago, he broke his neck and did not know if he would ever walk the same, talk the same, or even leave the hospital alive after surgery. Following the injury, Edward battled the depression of having his physical abilities taken away from him and fell into a dark place. Never expecting to attain the same level of on-field joy again in his life, he found his way out of that darkness through travel and ultimately made a full recovery. As a further means of therapy, Edward turned toward sharing his story with the world and connecting with individuals from all walks of life to inspire others to travel while also encouraging them to embrace their own vulnerabilities and pursue their dreams wholeheartedly.


Jenna Rifai ’21

Jenna is a junior at Valparaiso University majoring in history with a minor in chemistry, while also being a scholar at Christ College. On campus, Jenna is a teaching assistant for chemistry and engages in theological research. Her research interests include Islamic thought on gender and religious scriptural interpretations. After college, Jenna plans to pursue graduate school in the religious studies. Jenna was born and raised in Valparaiso, Indiana, with her four siblings. She’s very excited to speak at TedxValparaisoUniversity!

(TEDx Talk Title: Trump’s America: The class that brought me peace)

Jesse Hershberger ’20

Jesse Hershberger is a senior undergraduate student at Valparaiso University with a triple major in Spanish, English, and political science while also participating in the Christ College Honors program. Her research interests include the usage of rhetoric in disability policy. After undergraduate studies, she plans to attend seminary to study disability and practical theology. Eventually, Jesse would like to work as in church relations to assist churches in developing congregations inclusive of those with disabilities. She is excited to be participating in the years TEDx program and hopes that you will better recognize inequalities in your community afterwards.

Shana James

For 15 years Shana has coached more than a thousand leaders, CEOs, authors, speakers, and people with big visions to step into more powerful leadership, start and grow businesses, create more effective teams, increase their impact, get promoted, find love, rekindle spark, create a legacy, and become more personally inspired and fulfilled.

She is known for her ability to assess, in just a few minutes, the cause of dissatisfaction and stuck points in someone’s profession and love life. Then she creates a clear and unique path for you to have true success and incredible love.

Referred to as a secret weapon, she cuts through distraction and helps you access your confidence, power and clarity. She is also a translator between women and men, providing effective tools to transform conversations and dynamics that have gone awry into connection and collaboration.

With an M.A. in psychology, DISC certification, coaching trainings, more than a decade facilitating workshops, starting multiple businesses, and helping hundreds of entrepreneurs start their own, Shana is a go-to for those who are committed to their own growth and creating a positive impact on people, our planet and future generations.

Shreedhar Pandey ’22

Shreedhar “Shree” Pandey ’22 is an international student from Kathmandu, Nepal. He is a sophomore at Valparaiso University and is majoring in computer science with a double minor in business administration and mathematics. Shree works as an Ambassador in Admissions and as a front desk attendant in the Fitness Center. He is hugely involved in student organizations and is graphic design chair for the University Programming Council and public relations chair for the Valparaiso International Students Association (VISA). After graduation, Shree wants to start his own game development company. He is thrilled to give his talk at TedxValparaisoUniversity.


Stephanie Jass ’92

Stephanie Jass has a Ph.D. in history and more than 25 years of classroom experience teaching American History and gender studies. She has worked as a teen counselor for more than 20 years at Camp Arcadia in Arcadia, Michigan, and has served on the boards of two different nonprofit organizations. Stephanie attends First Presbyterian Church in Tecumseh, Michigan, where she serves as the elder for education on the church session. She is currently working with Issue Box Theatre in Toledo, Ohio, to help marginalized people reclaim their voices and rewrite their stories. In her spare time, she sings with two other women in the vocal trio Ear Candy.  You may recognize her from her previous appearances on the TV show Jeopardy! in 2012, 2013, and 2014.




Any questions or concerns? Please contact us: