Slate of speakers eager to spark new ideas at 2022 TEDxJacksonville ‘Friction’ conference – WJXT News4JAX

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Francine Frazier, Senior web producer
Francine Frazier, Senior web producer
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The latest collection of speakers for TEDxJacksonville’s annual conference are all about innovation and represent a diverse range of voices from areas like space industrialization, maritime archaeology, STEAM, artificial intelligence, civic leadership, health and business.
TEDxJacksonville announced on Wednesday its on-stage lineup of speakers and musical performers as well as conference activities for the 2022 conference, titled “Friction,” which will be held Oct. 22 at the Jacksonville Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Jacksonville.
The conference will feature talks on ideas worth spreading the word about from 12 speakers, including Duval County Judge-elect Audrey Moran, Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville President Nicole Thomas, Redwire Space President Andrew Rush, and Tara Roberts, the first Black female explorer to be featured on the cover of National Geographic.
The conference, which marks the 10th annual conference to be staged and the 11 conference overall presented by the nonprofit organization TEDxJacksonville will also feature three musical and artistic performances, interactive experiences for attendees, an afterparty and more.
The conference is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Oct. 22 in the venue’s Terry Theater, followed by the Afterglow party at the Jessie Ball duPont Center.
“The speakers at our conference are wonderfully diverse and will share compelling ideas on topics ranging from space infrastructure to artificial intelligence and from civic leadership to healthcare innovation,” organizer and executive producer Jeanmarie Grimsley said. “We’re excited to bring together these powerful ideas and incredible musical performers from many disciplines to one stage.
“The conference theme for 2022 represents our team’s belief that FRICTION is the necessary ingredient for positive change and the place where true innovation begins.”
Grimsley is in her first year as executive producer for TEDxJacksonville — assuming the role from former executive producer Sabeen Perwaiz, who remains the licensee for TEDxJacksonville and continues to serve on the volunteer leadership team.
Tickets can be purchased online, click here.
The conference host for the eighth year in a row will be Hope McMath, a Northeast Florida cultural leader, educator, artist and the founder of Yellow House.
Conference speakers with photos and brief bios listed below:
• Basma Alawee, Jacksonville, Humanitarian & Refugee Advocate
Now a nationally recognized advocate for policies that support refugee communities, Alawee believes that when we provide opportunities for refugees to share their stories safely and realize their potential as leaders, it fosters a sense of belonging and agency over their lives. Alawee sees the opportunity to help refugees as one that builds a more vibrant society, as well as a stronger, better America.
• Matt Berseth, Jacksonville, Artificial Intelligence Expert
Many of the modern world’s most dazzling innovations, such as self-driving cars, digital assistants like Siri and Alexa, and facial recognition on our phones, are powered by artificial intelligence. Berseth will share ways in which AI is solving real problems today and how recognizing the limits of AI is essential to using it responsibility.
• Ashton Body, Jacksonville, Student Scientist
As a high school sophomore, Body conducted biomedical research at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. After five years, her dream of creating a novel drug delivery system to treat aggressive breast cancer has become a reality. Now a rising junior studying Social Anthropology and Global Health and Health Policy at Harvard, Body intends to become a physician. She is passionate about increasing health equity and providing better, personal patient care guided by medical innovation.
• Dr. Evelyn Higgins, Jupiter, Florida, Addiction Researcher
New research is showing that the biomarkers for addiction can now be identified, isolated, and measured in our DNA. Dr. Evelyn Higgins, an international expert in the epidemiology of addiction, argues that genetic testing is a vital treatment resource that can change the lens through which society views addiction, and inspire communities to talk openly about mental health and addiction from a solutions-oriented perspective.
• Lainie Ishibia, Bradenton, Florida, Disability Advocate & Entrepreneur
Many people think having a “disability” means you require a wheelchair or walker. But roughly 10 percent of the approximately 61 million adults in the U.S. who have some form of disability suffer from “invisible” disabilities such as chronic pain and illness, genetic disorders, diabetes, or fibromyalgia. As an entrepreneur and disability advocate, Lainie Ishbia believes broadening our understanding of disability isn’t just a moral and ethical imperative — it’s also good business.
• Tanaine Jenkins, Jacksonville, Recidivism Strategist & Reentry Expert
When patients are released from the hospital, there’s a treatment plan in place and a prescription for success. For ex-convicts, there’s a sentence after the sentence. Why do we continue to release individuals into society from prison with no plan? Tanaine Jenkins believes creating viable reentry strategies for our returning citizens is an investment in safer neighborhoods, fewer broken homes, and the power of second chances.
• Neil Moore, Sacramento, International Music Educator
With so many technologies emerging on so many fronts, can the human brain keep up? Moore explains that humanity must think more creatively than ever before. By providing the brain with the critical neurological nutrition of musicianship, he says we can discover and reconnect to our innate creative capability and prepare ourselves for the complex and challenging future we face.
• Duval County Judge-elect Audrey Moran, Jacksonville, Civic Leader
Moran is an attorney and mediator who has been elected County Court Judge and will take the bench in January of 2023. She has previously served as the Chief of Staff for Jacksonville’s mayor, as Executive Vice President for Baptist Health and President of Baptist Health Foundation, and as a trustee and civic leader for many other organizations. Moran will discuss her very public loss in running for mayor and how that loss inspired her to achieve meaningful change through other avenues. Her talk will also cover the strategies that other advocates can examine in making important changes for their own communities.
• Tara Roberts, Atlanta, National Geographic Explorer
Tara Roberts has spent the last four years following Diving with a Purpose — a team of Black scuba divers — in searching for the wrecks of slave ships that carried captive Africans during the Middle Passage. The expeditions seek not only to honor and humanize the forgotten victims of the global slave trade, but also to bring that lost history up from the depths and back into collective human memory. Roberts will explore the transformative power of telling historical stories from a fresh and personal perspective.
• Andrew Rush, Jacksonville, Space Industrialist
An experienced aerospace executive and thought leader, Rush serves as the President and COO of Redwire, overseeing the company’s business portfolio, long-term planning, and strategic investments. A strong advocate for manufacturing technology development and adoption, Andrew has positioned Redwire at the vanguard of in-space servicing, assembly and manufacturing capabilities, leading the company to become the first to manufacture parts in space, sell a space-built product to a customer on Earth, and build the first-ever satellite that will manufacture and assemble parts of itself on-orbit. Rush is showing the world there’s more to space than stepping on the moon. He will share how space exploration — and manufacturing products in space — can enhance life on earth.
• Hamzah Shanbari, Jacksonville, Construction Technologist
As Director of Innovation for the Haskell Company, a global leader in architecture, engineering and construction solutions, Hamzah Shanbari has learned that innovation is the never-ending pursuit of getting better, incrementally and consistently. Shanbari believes that the talk around innovation needs to be much broader, with a much higher tolerance for failures. Innovative organizations cultivate a culture that embraces early and fast failures in order to build on the learnings and achieve greater results in any field.
• Nicole Thomas, FACHE, Jacksonville, Healthcare Leader
How could it be that communities only a few miles apart have such drastically different health outcomes? To eliminate health disparities, we must view solutions through an equity lens and recognize where health and wellness extends far beyond the annual checkup. We need to approach community health in a way that is customized based on resident needs – one size does not fit all. Nicole Thomas, President of Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville, will share her perspective on how to work outside the hospital walls to build a healthier, more equitable Jacksonville.
This year’s conference performers:
• Nan Nkama Pan-African Drum and Dance Ensemble — Boasting a 16-year history of consistent cultural preservation and performance, and state recognition by the Florida Folklife Program, Nan Nkama Pan-African Drum and Dance Ensemble is Jacksonville’s premier source of Afro-Diaspora performing arts. As a dance and music performance troupe with a concentration in West African (Mande) music, dance and culture, and dances of the African Diaspora, Nan Nkama members pride themselves on being life-long students and cultural ambassadors. Nan Nkama continues to create programming that emphasizes community engagement, accessibility, and education by collaborating with organizations such as James Weldon Johnson Park, Jacksonville Arts & Music School, and sister-company, Kreative Kids and Beyond.
Spoken word artist Reece the Poet — Reece the Poet is also an artist, musician and communicator who specializes in storytelling. He seeks to educate, equip, and empower students to make healthy life choices through verbal engagement and critical thinking exercises.
SaysWho — Coming from a range of backgrounds but brought together by their love of music, SaysWho is a band out of Jacksonville, formed with the vision of creating feel-good music. With their take on pop/dance music, they’ve joined forces to bring a different type of charm and flair. The band says “each member brings the kind of energy and passion to the stage that will make you want to move your body.”
For more details on the speakers and performers for “Friction,” go to
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A Jacksonville native and proud University of North Florida alum, Francine Frazier has been with News4Jax since 2014 after spending nine years at The Florida Times-Union.
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