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What is TEDx?

About TEDx, x = independently organized event. In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 30 years ago, TED has grown to support its mission with multiple initiatives. The two annual TED Conferences invite the world's leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes or less. Many of these talks are then made available, free, at TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Sal Khan and Daniel Kahneman.

The annual TED Conference takes place each spring in Vancouver, British Columbia. TED's media initiatives include, where new TED Talks are posted daily; the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as translations from volunteers worldwide; the educational initiative TED-Ed. TED has established the annual TED Prize, where exceptional individuals with a wish to change the world get help translating their wishes into action; TEDx, which supports individuals or groups in hosting local, self- organized TED-style events around the world, and the TED Fellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.

Follow TED on Twitter at, or on Facebook at

Our 2019 Theme: Declaration of Interdependence

2019 marks the sixth anniversary of TEDxUCSB!

Our theme this year is "Declaration of Interdependence," and will be held on June 1st, 2019 from 2:00pm to 6:00pm at Theater and Dance W1701.

The overall theme is built upon the idea that as individuals it is difficult to complete larger tasks and especially as a society we must find ways to work together and accomplish those larger tasks whatever they maybe. The TED Talks featured will range over a variety of categories/topics and be presented by people of various walks of life, but with a "Declaration of Interdependence" not only do we promote inclusivity of ideas/people but we reach out to the audience to join us in this endeavor of taking what they hear and spreading more ideas.

TEDxUCSB group picture


Will Shafroth

CEO of National Park Foundation

“My Pursuit of Happiness”

As president and CEO of the National Park Foundation, the official nonprofit partner of the National Park Service, Will Shafroth leads the organization’s work to inspire all people to connect with and protect America’s unique national parks. Before joining the National Park Foundation, Shafroth served as counselor to the former secretary of the Department of the Interior (DOI), Ken Salazar. He has also served as the principal deputy assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at DOI, and as executive director of the Great Outdoors Colorado Trust Fund. Shafroth received a Master of Public Administration degree from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1991 and a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and environmental studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1980. A fourth generation Coloradan, Shafroth enjoys biking, hiking, fishing, and playing tennis. He is married and has three children.

Sheldon Smith

Founder of Dove Tail Project

“My Purpose: Fathers Matter”

Sheldon Smith, Executive Director and Founder of The Dovetail Project began working as a community youth organizer in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood at the early age of 13. When Sheldon became a father at the age of 20, he was determined to be the best father he could and he knew he wanted to help other young fathers lay the foundation to have a positive impact and build strong relationships with their children. He created The Dovetail Project in 2009 to bring together resources that were lacking in his own life and the lives of others. Since then, his organization has graduated over 400 young men. Among many recognitions, Sheldon was selected as a 2018 Muhammad Ali Humanitarian, 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneur, Best Businessmen of 2017 by, 2017 Steve Harvey Hero, and the 2016 CNN Hero. Of all of his accomplishments, his greatest is being a devoted husband to his wife, Mary, and father to his daughter, Jada.

Reyna Montoya

Founder of Aliento

"Aliento: Transforming Trauma Into Hope and Action"

Reyna Montoya is the founder and CEO of Aliento. Reyna was born in Tijuana, Mexico and migrated to Arizona in 2003 fleeing violence. She is an undocumented/DACAmented entrepreneur, community organizer, an educator, and a dancer. Reyna holds bachelor degrees in Political Science and Transborder Studies and a Dance minor from Arizona State University; she also holds a M.Ed in Secondary Education from Grand Canyon University. She has engaged in local, statewide and national platforms to advance justice for immigrant communities. In 2013, she was the lead organizer, who prevented an immigration bus of undocumented immigrants from deportation in Phoenix, AZ for the first time in the nation’s history. In the same year, with the help of the community, she stopped her father’s deportation. She is a 2017 Echoing Green Fellow and a 2018 Forbes: 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneur. She hopes to share her talents and skills with the community to co-create healing spaces, political change, and leadership development of our immigrant youth and migrant families.

Victor Rios


"Let’s Get Rid of Toxic Masculinity"

Dr. Victor Rios is Dean of Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He received his Ph.D. at the University of California Berkeley in 2005. Using his personal experience of living on the streets, dropping out of school, and being incarcerated as a juvenile—along with his research findings—he has developed interventions for marginalized students aimed at promoting personal transformation and civic engagement. He is also the author of six books including Let’s Be Real, Man: Masculinity in a Culture of Violence. Dr. Rios has had the honor of meeting President Obama and advising his administration on gun violence and policing. He is the subject of the documentary film The Pushouts (

Felice Blake


"The Poetics of Liberation: The Collective Works of Abolition Democracy"

Dr. Felice Blake is an Associate Professor in the English Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has published work on contemporary racism, culture, and resistance in Al Jazeera, Ethnic and Racial Studies, and SOULS: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society. Dr. Blake’s book, Black Love, Black Hate: Intimate Antagonisms in African American literature (Ohio State University Press), is a study of Black aesthetics, Black consciousness, and the Black Radical Imagination through depictions of intimate, intraracial conflict in Black literature.

Yihui Zhang

Founder of Oxy2

"Tackling Climate Crisis with Social Entrepreneurship"

Yihui Elvis Zhang is the founder of Oxy2, a social enterprise known for its focus to provide low-cost, effective nanotech-enabled protection products. Oxy2 stemmed from his research in 2016, and has provided free anti-pollution face masks for over 80,000 people in most polluted regions in China and South East Asia. His company’s story has been featured on the front page of World Journal, LA Post, Soho, and other publications. Yihui is a board member of ProjectileX, Designership Institute, Magic.Fund. For his contribution in research and impact, he has been named Forbes 30 Under 30, AACYF 30 Under 30, and a founding member of SFCG Global Youth Leadership Council. He’s is currently pursuing B.S at Stanford University.

Sanjana Rajesh

Student Speaker

"Right Color, Wrong Shade"

Sanjana Rajesh is a first year pursuing a major in Economics with a minor in Statistics at UCSB. She embraces her Indian heritage by being a part of multiple south-asian clubs on campus and as a dancer on UCSB Taara— a competitive Bollywood dance team. Aside from that, some of her other passions include photography, art, and politics. Sanjana is also interested in social activism and philanthropy, and was able to help underprivileged students receive an education during her time as president of the non-profit Shooting Stars Foundation. Moreover, she hopes to bring more awareness to social issues such as colorism, and partake in movements with similar goals. Sanjana is planning on completing her studies at UCSB and eventually going to law school.

Elmer Flores

Student Speaker

"I am an Anchor Baby Grounding a Legacy"

Elmer Flores is a fourth-year student at the University of California, Santa Barbara expected to graduate with a BA in Sociology and English with a minor in Applied Psychology in June 2019. Throughout his time at UCSB, he has been heavily involved on and off campus in various organizations, clubs, and leadership roles. Currently, Elmer is working as a Gaucho Tour Guide at the Office of Admissions, a Student Life Intern at the Office of Student Life, and a Policy and Research Intern at CAUSE, a non-profit organization in Downtown Santa Barbara advocating for tenant and immigrant rights in the Central Coast. Elmer enjoys walking down the beaches of Isla Vista, eating at various restaurants across the city, and hiking in the Santa Ynez mountains. Elmer hopes to continue working with marginalized communities by providing mental health services and other social services in the Los Angeles area.

Marissa Millwater

Student Speaker

"How to Deal with Dinner Parties gone Political "

Marissa Millwater is a first year student at UC Santa Barbara, originally from New Jersey. She is an intended biology major on a pre-health academic track, although her interests have always been broad and encompass both science and other fields of academia. Within her first year at UC Santa Barbara, she has been involved in various on-campus organizations and maintains a regular volunteering schedule, both of which, combined with experiences in a place quite different from her home, have led her to further develop her perspective on the importance of compassion and tolerance in the face of change and confrontation. Having had a passion for writing, this perspective overtime came to be a short talk on cultivating the will to understand and practice compassion in our daily lives.