Our Speakers

Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz

Author & Poet

Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Everything is Everything (Write Bloody Publishing, 2010) as well as the author of the non-fiction book, Words In Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam (Soft Skull Press, 2008), which The Washington Post named as one of five Notable Books on Exploring Poetry in 2008.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Aptowicz moved to New York City at the age of 17. At age 19, she founded the three-time National Poetry Slam championship poetry series NYC-Urbana, which is still held weekly at the NYCs famed Bowery Poetry Club. Mostly recently, Aptowicz was named the 2010-2011 ArtsEdge Writer-In-Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, and is using the residency to work on a non-fiction book about the life and times of Thomas Dent Mutter, an outspoken and eccentric young surgeon who worked in pre-Civil War America and the namesake founder of the Philadelphia's infamous Mutter Museum. For more information, please visit her website: www.aptowicz.com.

Chris Bartlett

TEDxPhilly Host,
Executive Director, William Way Center

Chris Bartlett is the Executive Director of the William Way Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Community Center in Philadelphia (http://www.waygay.org). For over 20 years, he has been an innovative thinker and leader in technology-driven community organizing, having led the SafeGuards Gay Men's Health Project, the LGBT Community Assessment, and the national LGBT Leadership Initiative. He has been deeply interested in the power of social networks to impact communities, and has presented his ideas, including his "Social Network for the Dead" and "Secret Mentoring" at the #140conf, Ignite Philly, and Bar Camp Philly. You can find him (and he hopes you will) at @harveymilk on Twitter.

Jay Coen Gilbert

B Lab

Jay is the Co-Founder of B Lab, a nonprofit organization dedicated to using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.

B Lab drives systemic change through three interrelated initiatives: 1) building a community of Certified B Corporations to make it easier for all of us to tell the difference between good companies and just good marketing; 2) accelerating the growth of the impact investing asset class through use of B Labs GIIRS impact rating system by institutional investors; and 3) promoting supportive public policies, including legislation creating a new corporate form and tax, procurement, and investment incentives for sustainable business.

Despite having no game, Jay co-founded and sold AND 1, a $250M basketball footwear and apparel company based outside Philadelphia. Jay led AND 1s product and marketing and was AND 1s CEO during its period of most rapid growth.

Jay is a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute, President of the Board of the Philadelphia chapter of KIPP Philadelphia Schools, a growing cluster of high performing public charter schools, and a Board member of Investors Circle and Social Venture Network, leading national networks of early stage social investors and social

Between AND 1 and B Lab, Jay enjoyed a sabbatical Down Under and in Monteverde, Costa Rica with his yogini wife Randi and their two children, Dex, 12, and Ria 10. They live in Berwyn, PA.

Bill Covaleski

Victory Brewing Company

Having met his future business partner on a school bus in 1973 as fifth, Bill Covaleski joined forces with boyhood friend Ron Barchet to create Victory Brewing Company, a company that serves its local market with a 300 seat restaurant and and a marketplace spanning 30 states and three countries with its highly awarded craft beer. Located in an abandoned baking facility, Victory Brewing Company has become the social center of a previously depressed community, now employing 175 citizens.

Bill's journey from Levittown, PA to success with Victory Brewing Company found him as a home- brewing art director in the late 80's after graduating from Temple University's Tyler School of Art. By 1990 Bill had secured a brewing apprenticeship under the Geram trained Dutch brewmaster, Theo deGroen. With what amounted to the life savings of they and their spouses, the Bill and Ron leveraged their European brewing training in securing an SBA loan collateralized by a $51,000 Baltimore rowhome owned by Mr. Covaleski, for startup capital in 1995. Entering the challenging area of craft-brewing, Victory overcame immediate hardship as the delayed delivery of their bottling equipment eliminated the companys much needed revenue stream of wholesale sales for the initial 6 months, thereby focusing much of the principal's early effort on restaurant operations. As co-Founder and co-Brewmaster at Victory, Bill has tasted the success of critical acclaim as Victory beers have won medals at both the Great American Festival and honors at the Great British Beer Festival whereas the company's Prima Pils has twice been chosen by the New York Times culinary staff as the world's best pilsner.

Continually striving for excellence within his enterprise and his industries, Bill is also a community contributor, maintaining Board positions on the Pennsylvania Brewers Guild and Brandywine Chapter of the Pennsylvania Restaurant Association.

Nic Esposito

Sustainable Practices Activist

Through writing and action, Nic Esposito creates innovative projects to build the consciousness of a sustainable lifestyle in Philadelphia and beyond. In 2006 he worked on a storm relief team after Hurricane Katrina and has worked on farms through out the United States and South America as a traveling apprentice.

He moved back to Philadelphia in 2008 and is currently the co-founder of Philly Rooted, an organization that grows community by reclaiming vacant city land for agricultural use. The organization has built two community gardens, a micro-farm and has developed a growers cooperative that employs inner city youth through their own entreprenuerism to market vegetables.

Nic is also the director and founder of Philly Corner Stories. This organization connects Philadelphians to their vibrant neighborhoods by empowering them to tell their own stories of life in the city. Nic is currently working on his third novel Seeds of Dissent, which will be released in Spring 2011. The novel is a fictionalized account of his own journey to a more sustainable and natural lifestyle. He lives and works in West Philadelphia.

Billie Faircloth

Research Director,

Billie Faircloth is an architect and the Research Director for KieranTimberlake, a prominent Philadelphia architecture firm and leader in practice-based architectural research. She leads a trans-disciplinary research team which conspires to advance building design practices through material, system, process, and environment driven questions. She fosters collaboration between disciplines, trades and industries and their disparate bodies of knowledge.

In her professional and academic research Billie pursues an answer to the question: Why do we build the way that we do? Prior to joining KieranTimberlake, she was an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture where she instructed design research studios at the graduate and undergraduate level exploring applications for conventional and emerging material technologies, and conducted seminars on emerging construction and fabrication technologies. Billie received a Bachelor of Architecture from North Carolina State University and a Master of Architecture with Distinction from Harvard University.

Recognized internationally for its innovative approaches to sustainable design, KieranTimberlakes projects include the Sidwell Friends Middle School in Washington, DC; the Sculpture Building and School of Art Gallery at Yale University; and the Special NO 9 House for Brad Pitts Make It Right Foundation in New Orleans. Innovations include the first actively ventilated curtain wall of its type in North America employed at the Melvin J. and Claire Levine Hall at the University of Pennsylvania; SmartWrap, a mass-customizable, energy generating building envelope, and Cellophane House, a fully transparent, recyclable, off-site fabricated home displayed at The Museum of Modern Art in 2008.

Tanya Hamilton

Night Catches Us

Tanya Hamilton is the writer/director of Night Catches Us, starring Anthony Mackie and Kerry Washington, which was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. The film was a finalist for the 2010 Humanitas Prize and winner the Fipresci Prize at the Seattle International Film Festival for Best American film.

A Sundance Institute writing and directing fellow, Hamilton is also a recipient of the coveted Pew Fellowship in the Arts. Her short film The Killers was awarded best short at the 1996 Berlin International Film Festival. She attended Cooper Union and Columbia University.

Simon Hauger

West Philly Hybrid X Team

Simon Hauger is an engineer turned math and science teacher. He began the Hybrid X Team at West Philadelphia High School 13 years ago to engage his students in math, science and engineering. Through this after school program, his students have won multiple national competitions with the hybrid vehicles they designed and built. The team and the vehicles continue to attract national attention. Recently, the Automotive X Prize competition allowed Simon to take his students onto an international stage where they had a real voice in some of the most important discussions of our times. Simon and his wife have three wonderful children. He drives a super fast biodiesel Jetta that was built by the team. He loves his family and his car.

Chris Lehmann

Founding Principal,
Science Leadership Academy

Chris is the founding principal of the Science Leadership Academy, a progressive science and technology high school in Philadelphia that is pioneering the School 2.0 movement. The school has been recognized as an Apple Distinguished School in 2009 and 2010.

Chris has received many honors including being named as one of the "30 Most Influential People in EdTech" by Technology & Learning Magazine in June 2010. He has spoken at many conferences including TEDxNYED, and he has been published in Principal Leadership magazine. Chris is the author of the edu-blog Practical Theory and is father to Jakob and Theo.

Evan Malone

NextFab Studio

Evan Malone is founder and president of NextFab Studio, a membership high-tech workspace ("maker space") and design-engineering-fabrication service center in Philadelphia, which opened in January 2010.

He holds a BA degree in physics from the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, PA, USA, and a Masters of Engineering (M.Eng.) and a Ph.D. degree in mechanical and systems engineering from Cornell University. He has worked in applied physics at the Fermilab high-energy physics laboratory in outside of Chicago, IL, USA as part of a proton accelerator conceptual design team, and performed research on mobile robotics as part of Cornell University's 2002 World Champion RoboCup autonomous robotic soccer project. Evan's doctoral research involved developing additive manufacturing (3D printing) materials and systems to allow 3D printing of complete electromechanical devices. He is also co-creator of the Fab@Home project, which promotes the advancement of personal automated fabrication technology by freely distributing designs and software which allow anyone to build and operate their own multi-material 3D printer system. Evan currently serves as the chair of ASTM standards organization's F42.04 Subcommittee on Design for Additive Manufacturing. Evan is also a partner in Drive Passion PC Services, an internet caf in Mahube Valley, Gauteng, South Africa, and partner in Jet Wine Bar, a wine bar in Philadelphia.

Robert J. Moore

Robert J. Moore is the founder and CEO of RJMetrics, one of Philadelphias best-known technology startups. RJMetrics creates software that helps online businesses unlock the valuable insights hidden within their own data.

Prior to RJMetrics, Robert served on the Investment Team of Insight Venture Partners, a leading software-focused venture capital and private equity firm based in New York. He now serves as an advisor to several east-coast technology companies, where his unique insights into "management by metrics" help guide long-term vision and enable smarter day-to-day decision-making.

He is best known in the technology community for his regular contributions to the popular blog TechCrunch, in which he uses publicly available data to draw new insights into popular technology companies. He has also appeared in numerous publications as an expert on technology and social media.
Robert is a graduate of Princeton Universitys department of Operations Research and Financial Engineering, where he returns each spring to provide a guest lecture on emerging trends in online commerce.

Iyad Obeid

Neural Instrumentation Laboratory, Temple University

Iyad Obeid is the director of the Neural Instrumentation Laboratory at Temple University where he studies new methods for unraveling the mysteries of how the brain stores and manipulates information. He has spent the last ten years studying Brain Machine Interfaces, which are tools that allow paralyzed patients or amputees to control a prosthesis using the power of thought alone.

Iyad earned Bachelors and Masters degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering from MIT and his doctorate in Biomedical Engineering from Duke University. Upon graduating, he was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Louvain in Brussels, Belgium studying prosthetic vision. He has been at Temple University since 2006 and lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Jodi (a dance artist and educator), and his two children, Oliver (4) and Soraya (1).

Stephen Powers

A Love Letter for You

Stephen Powers is a Philadelphia born and bred artist who describes what he does as "making the everyday strange and making the strange everyday". He is responsible for A Love Letter For You, a love letter written across 20 blocks in West Philly that is meant for one with meaning for all.

Ursula Rucker

Poet & Performance Artist

As a poet and performance artist, Ursula Rucker has enchanted critics and fans across the globe with her diverse repertoire, captivating vocals and accessible poetic verse.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, she began documenting her observations of the world when she was just a girl. A graduate of Temple Universitys journalism program, Ursula kept her creative writing as a prized, personal possession until she was prepared to share with the world. In 1994, she introduced an open-mic night audience at Philadelphias Zanzibar Blue to the beauty and urgency of her poetry.

Word quickly spread throughout the city of Ursulas poetry and stage performance, which has been described as strong, vulnerable, wounded and raging. Producer King Britt invited her to create her first recording, the 1994 single, Supernatural (Ovum/Slip N Slide UK).

Critics have compared Ursula to celebrated writers like Sonia Sanchez and Nikki Giovanni. Coincidentally, when Ntozake Shange was unable to provide The Roots with a spoken word contribution for their debut album Do You Want More?!!?!! (Geffen, 1994), they called on her to fit the bill. The Unlocking, which closed the album, introduced Ursula to the world of progressive hip-hop and led to subsequent invitations to close The Roots follow-up albums Iladelph Halflife (Geffen, 1996) and Things Fall Apart (MCA, 1999).

The alluring poetic tales Ursula created for The Roots contain subject matter that was motivated by genuine concern and heightened consciousness. Whether exploring sexual exploitation as in The Unlocking or introducing the lifestyle of a crack-dealing single mother in Adventures in Wonderland, Ursula provided listeners with an intimate glimpse of urban reality.

Ursulas work has been described as part of a growing movement that is slowly adapting its aural sensibilities to women, particularly in the hip-hop and urban music. Counteracting male artists who casually linger on tales of black whoredom, Ursula plays an essential role in the rise of a new crop of female recording artists who deliver strong, intelligent, and visionary feminine flavor.

In countless reviews, many critics cite the value of Ursulas work with The Roots, 4 HERO and others. The onslaught of press inquiries resulted in nods, features and demands for more of her work, in URB, VIBE, XXL, Panache, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Straight No Chaser.

To date, Ursula has performed her work at an array of venues, universities, and festivals including Montreaux Jazz Festival, Winter Music Conference, Theater of the Living Arts, Painted Bride Art Center, World Caf Live, and Drexel University. Ursula has toured with Jamaaladeen Tacuma, SYLK130, and 4 HERO in the United States and Europe.

In 2001, her !K7 debut Supa Sista featured production by 4Hero, King Britt and Jonah Sharp and introduced Ursula as a talented poet and solo artist with a strong lyrical voice. Backed again by an assembly of diverse, top shelf producers that included The Roots, Louie Vega and Jazzanova, her 2003 release, Silver or Lead further extended her exploration of self, race and femininity. With maat mama, Ursula once again showed a new level of maturity in her writing. Never one to mince words, she exposes various personal insights and truths with steel-cut precision.

While her perspective as a proud mother of four informs much of the content; her understanding of her own upbringing drives her work. Ursulas albums are poetry in motion, guided by a time signature that speaks to the human experience with honesty and poignancy.

Ursula, a global activist, enlightens in the recording studio and at her powerful live shows. In 2005 she headlined the FREEDOM Festival in Australia, to raise awareness for Amnesty Internationals global Stop Violence Against Women campaign.

She recently completed an epic poem for a collaboration with Pullitzer-prize winning photographer Clarence Williams. She has received funding from the Leeway Foundation and in 2010 was named a Creative Ambassador by the City of Philadelphia.

Her new and forth coming album, SHE SAID (Noizeyboy Records) is the 5th solo album, and is executive produced by Anthony Tidd, of Noizetrip, for Noizeyboy Records. This is Ursulas first recording to feature a live in the studio session and focuses on Ursulas well honed skill and prowess as an improv performance vocalist.

Ursula Rucker believes that art and poetry are catalysts for change. Her mission and calling is to heal herself, the planet, and its people through her art. While she sees the world as her community, she pays particular attention to the world of women, indigenous/diasporic people, and sufferers of injustice. Her poetry tells the stories of struggle, love, womanhood, peace, anger, injustice, and spirituality. As an artist who has performed in many continents, countries, classrooms, and community centers, Ursula sees herself as an ambassador of culture, socio-political issues, truth, and love.

Michael Solomonov

Chef & Co-owner,

Chef and co-owner Michael Solomonov, showcases modern Israeli cuisine at his restaurant Zahav, located in the Old City of Philadelphia.

Since opening in May of 2008, Zahav which means gold in Hebrew Solomonov and his restaurant have received rave reviews including: Philadelphia Magazine - 50 Top Restaurants - #1 Zahav (May 2009); Conde Nast Traveler - 50 Hot Tables in the World (May 2009); Travel + Leisure -50 Best New U.S. Restaurants (May 2009); Food & Wine -10 Best New Restaurant Dishes (December 2008); and Esquire Best New Restaurants (November 2008). More recently, Solomonov was named as a 2010 finalist for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic by the prestigious James Beard Foundation.

Prior to heading the kitchen at Zahav, Solomonov was the Executive Chef at Marigold Kitchen in West Philadelphia. Using Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences, his cuisine earned top reviews from area restaurant critics. During his two year tenure, Solomonov was selected picked as one of the countrys Rising Star Chefs 2007 by Restaurant Hospitality Magazine and was named Best Chef 2006 by Philadelphia Magazine.

Other career highlights include working as Sous Chef under Chef Marc Vetri at Vetri, and working under Chef Terrence Feury at Striped Bass and Chef Patrick Feury at Avenue B. Solomonov is a graduate of the Florida Culinary Institute in West Palm Beach, FL. He was born in G'nei Yehudah, Israel and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. Much of his family still lives in Israel and Solomonovs regular trips home have provided inspiration for Zahav.

In addition to Zahav, Solomonov along with co-owner Steven Cook, are also the proprietors of Xochitl, the citys go-to restaurant for spirited Mexican fare, and South Streets exciting new Texas barbecue spot, Percy Street Barbecue.

Zoe Strauss

Executive Director,
Philadelphia Public Art Project

Zoe Strauss is an installation artist and photographer from Philadelphia, PA. She started the 'Philadelphia Public Art Project,' a one-woman organization whose mission is to give the citizens of Philadelphia access to art in their everyday lives. From 2000 to 2010 Strauss's photographic work culminated in a yearly "Under I-95" show, which took place beneath the Interstate highway in South Philadelphia. Her book 'America,' published in 2008, contains images from this body of work.

She is the recipient of a number of awards, including a Seedling Award in photography from the Leeway Foundation, a Pew Fellowship, a United States Artists Gund Fellowship. Her work has been included in the Whitney Biennial; she also mounted a solo exhibition, "Ramp Project: Zoe Strauss" at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, and her work is included in the permanent collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Stanford Thompson

Philadelphia Youth Orchestra's Tune Up Philly

A graduate of The Curtis Institute of Music and the New England Conservatory's Abreu Fellows Program, Stanford Thompson is the Director of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra's El Sistema-inspired program Tune Up Philly.

Modeled after the transformative social development and music education program of Venezuela, Tune Up Philly's mission is to nurture urban children living in challenging social and economic conditions by keeping them engaged in success through weekday out-of-school hours musical instruction. Tune Up Philly believes that music education is a powerful vehicle for children to master skills that will enable them to acquire valuable tools for cooperative learning, teamwork, academic success, and self esteem.

In addition to leading Tune Up Philly, Stanford serves as the Artistic Director of the Reading (PA) Summer Music Institute, Philadelphia All-City Brass Symposium, and Meru (Kenya) Music Project and served as the founding Director of Operations for the Atlanta Trumpet Festival and CEO of Phinical Web Designs. He has presented over one hundred educational programs, master classes, and lectures for major and community orchestras, leading arts organizations, and educational institutions around the world.

Stanford has performed with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, Curtis Symphony Orchestra, Lancaster Symphony Orchestra, Symphony in C and recorded on the Ondine label with Christoph Eschenbach. Stanford also appeared as soloist with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Ocean City Pops Orchestra and the North Springs Philharmonic. He has lead residencies with Philos Brass in Milford, Pennsylvania and Atlanta, Georgia where they performed recitals and outreach presentations, presented master classes, and conducted clinics. In the jazz idiom, Stan has performed for the Berks Jazz Festival, performed on the Washington College Concert Series and presented for the opening gala of the Philadelphia Orchestra with the Rittenhouse Jazz Quintet.

Stanford was born and raised in a musical family in Decatur, Georgia where he was the seventh of eight children and began his studies on the trumpet when he was eight years old. During middle and high school, Stanford was a member of the DeKalb Youth Symphony, Metropolitan Youth Symphony and Atlanta Youth Symphony Orchestras, Atlanta Trumpet Ensemble and Atlanta Youth Wind Symphony where he performed in China, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria and all over the United States. In high school, Stanford studied trumpet privately with Dr. Gordon Vernick, Christopher Martin and Joseph Walthall.

Dallas Vietty

The Musette Project

Musette Project explores the French accordion waltz music of 20's-50's known as Musette. The music seethes with vivacity and is steeled by an effervescent joy. The music is a mlange; it is Gypsy, it is French, it is Italian, it is folk, it is classical, and because of the heavy swing influence it is American. Montmarte accordion-noir in the age of the information waltz.

Dallas Vietty is an accomplished performing artist. He has performed and or recorded with: national champion Mark Cosgrove, The Hot Club of Philadelphia, Grammy nominee accordionist Alex Meixner and many others, he leads The Musette Project.