Original Thinkers 2018 Guests

 

We have gathered an accomplished and eclectic group of guests, each representing their own flavor of original thinking. These experts, from a wide variety of fields, are connected by their penchant for ideas that examine the world we live in and look at how to improve it.

 
 
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Jeffrey Wright

Tony Award-winning actor Jeffrey Wright has appeared in scores of films, garnered acclaim for several notable Broadway performances and helped raise the bar in modern television content with roles on shows such as Boardwalk Empire and WestWorld.

 
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Lauren Greenfield

Award-winning photographer and filmmaker Lauren Greenfield is a preeminent chronicler of the intersections of American youth culture, consumerism, gender and affluence whose films include The Queen of Versailles and Generation Wealth.

 
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Keris Salmon

Keris Salmon is a journalist and visual artist whose evocative body of work, We’ve Made These Lands What They Are, pairs fragments of text with images of antebellum slavery dwellings to create a complex and nuanced portrait of an institution that continues to define America.

 
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Andrew Khosravani

Madrid-based animator Andrew Khosravani has illustrated feuds between Jung and Freud, indie music videos, the dreams of astronauts and the history of the number zero for media outlets such as The Atlantic, BBC and The New York Times.

 
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Jedidiah Jenkins

Just before turning 30, writer and iconoclast Jedidiah Jenkins quit his dream job and embarked on a  14,000-mile bike tour from Oregon to Patagonia, which became the subject for his new memoir, To Shake the Sleeping Self.

 
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Agathe Snow

Corsican born, New York raised and based, multi-disciplinary artist Agathe Snow’s work is a well-choreographed cacophony of media; live performance, sculpture, social critique, dance, even catered meals immerse you in Snow's work that at its core is about community big and small, personal and political.

 
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Keme Nzerem

Washington - Moscow - Johannesburg - Rio - London - for the past two decades Keme Nzerem has reported around the globe for British network TV on issues from corruption, politics, and human rights - to sport. His focus is always on people, and how global events impact the lives of ordinary folk.

When Keme’s not filming news stories, he is typically cycling or backcountry skiing, whether it’s in the Himalaya or Scotland.

 
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Dr. John C Hausdoerffer

John Hausdoerffer merges the philosophies of environmental ethics with the practices of social justice. He is the author of Catlin's Lament: Indians, Manifest Destiny, and the Ethics of Nature, as well as co-editor and co-author of Wildness: Relations of People and Place and the forthcoming What Kind of Ancestor Do You Want to Be? John is the Dean of the School of Environment and Sustainability at Western Colorado University in Gunnison, CO, a co-founder of the Mountain Resilience Coalition, and a Fellow at the Center for Humans and Nature in Chicago.

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David Quammen

Author and journalist David Quammen writes illuminating, insightful and crucial works of prose, tackling everything from extinction to diseases and genome sequencing in a prolific and ever-growing collection of feature articles, essays, columns and books.

 
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Kelsey and Rémy Bennett

Kelsey Bennett is one-half of a New York City-based creative team, along with her sister Remy, known for vibrant, subversive and uncomfortably honest works of film, fine art and photography such as their Under Her Skin series.

Remy Bennett is one-half of a New York City-based creative team, along with her sister Kelsey, known for vibrant, subversive and uncomfortably honest works of film, fine art and photography such as their Under Her Skin series.

 
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Leslie Chang

Journalist and author Leslie Chang has explored how socioeconomic change transforms institutions and individuals across the globe in pieces for The New Yorker, National Geographic, Conde Nast Traveler and her book, Factory Girls.

 
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Sareen Hairabedian

Armenian-Jordanian filmmaker Sareen Hairabedian brings stories of unheard, underrepresented and incredible humans to the screen with her media production company Hai Creative.

 
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Ron Suskind

He’s won a Pulitzer for his journalism and lectured at Harvard Law, but Ron Suskind’s most significant accomplishment might just be the way he brought autism and neurodiversity into better cultural understanding through his own family’s experience raising an autistic son in the book Life, Animated.

 
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Yael Lavie

Yael Lavie is an Emmy-winning television producer and senior editor who worked for ABC News network for 14 years before returning to her home country of Israel to work for Sky News.

 
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Brigid Kaelin

Brigid Kaelin is an award-winning musician and storyteller who has sung on A Prairie Home Companion, the BBC, and who also occasionally plays musical saw and accordion with Elvis Costello. Her writing has garnered attention for its honesty and bravery, chronicling motherhood and feminism as an independent artist.Bridgid Kaelin

Brigid Kaelin is an award-winning musician and storyteller who has sung on A Prairie Home Companion, the BBC, and who also occasionally plays musical saw and accordion with Elvis Costello. Her writing has garnered attention for its honesty and bravery, chronicling motherhood and feminism as a independent artist.

 
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Vainuupo Avegalio

Amateur artist and poet Vainuupo Avegalio's art and poetry documents his personal struggle with PTSD while serving in the military. He has had several art shows in places like The Torpedo Factory, Workhouse Art Center, and other venues.

 
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Jane Rule Burdine

The Southern photographer and cultural rebel Jane Rule Burdine, has spent her life documenting a vanishing South that she equally calls home and yet never accepts at face value.

 
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Wally Green

Wally Green grew up amid the gang violence of Brooklyn projects before the unlikely sport of table tennis vaulted him into international competitions as a celebrity athlete and ping pong ambassador.

 
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Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee

Musician, composer and filmmaker Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee has performed with some of jazz’s biggest names, published work in outlets like The New York Times and National Geographic and produced documentaries on subjects from space travel to languages on the verge of extinction.

 
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Patmore Lewis

In addition to playing over 100 performances a year with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, violinist Patmore Lewis is a composer who manages to fuse classical music with pop, hip-hop, jazz and even environmental conservation.

 
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Zach Bush

Dr. Zach Bush is leading the fight against the widespread use of glyphosate in agriculture and food. Triple board certified, Dr. Bush is a scientist and activist whose talks on creating a healthier environment for all while cultivating a healthy lifestyle for yourself and family is inspiring and motivating.

 
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Seema Reza

 
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April Harris

A 26-year Army Veteran with an immense talent for theatrical performances that aim to heal not only herself but anyone daring to listen. Deep spiritual values allow her to selflessly elaborate on pain in hopes of setting an example of strength for countless others.

 
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Joseph Tanner

As an astronaut, aerospace engineer and research pilot for NASA, Joe Tanner has studied the Earth’s atmospheric composition, performed several spacewalks and worked on the International Space Station.

 
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Jane Ferguson

International news correspondent Jane Ferguson is known for front-line dispatches from some of the world’s most intense conflicts zones, such as Iraq’s war against ISIS, Houthi-controlled Yemen and battle-torn South Sudan.

 
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Jon Bunning

Self-taught photographer and documentary filmmaker Jon Bunning single-handedly shot, directed and produced The Tables, which has garnered over a dozen awards for best short documentary since its premiere.

 
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Prince Amponsah

Despite losing his arms and suffering other severe injuries in a 2012 apartment fire, artist Prince Amponsah has resumed his pursuit of an acting career, appearing in dance and stage performances in Toronto, Canada.

 
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Kathryn Everett

Filmmaker Kathryn Everett is the chief operating officer at Artists for Peace and Justice, which collaborates with artists to advance peace and justice in communities of need around the world.

 
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Roopa Gogineni

 
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Joe Merritt

Joe Merritt is a Retired Marine, Poet, artist, and teacher. He found art at the end of his Career with the military. Believing in the power of art as communication he works as a facilitator of Arts programs at a Hospital, as well as a board member of a non-profit that brings art programs to military members.

 
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Timothy Ryan

TJ Ryan’s military career spanned just under 13 years ending mid-2017. His belief in the creative arts and quality mental health care grew as he saw the benefits they began to have on his life. As a result, TJ recognizes trauma as a universal human plight that can occur anywhere and can be experienced by anyone, including people outside of the military. Tj believes in supporting those who at times may not have a voice, and particularly empowering youth so that they may always be able to express themselves and better our world as time moves forward.