TEDx Portsmouth Team

LEADERSHIP TEAM

Anna Goldsmith, Executive Director

Anna Goldsmith, Executive Director

Role on the team: The decider, the email-answerer, the one who lies awake at night worrying if this year’s event will be a success.

What do you do when you are not working on TEDx? I’m a partner at The Hired Pens (www.thehiredpens.com), a copywriting agency with offices in Boston and Portsmouth. When I am not writing or working on TEDxPortsmouth, I am either playing Monopoly or soccer with my two young sons or lying on the couch watching high-quality television with my husband.

Favorite TED Talk ever: In the spirit of bringing more levity to the stage this year, one of my favorite recent talks was from scientist and investor Simone Giertz: “Why You Should Make Useless Things.”

Favorite part of TEDxPortsmouth: As a writer, there is nothing more satisfying about seeing these talks go from rough ideas to polished speeches. By show time, I know these talks by heart and follow along in my head as our speakers hit their marks. I’m always so proud of them!

And, if you could see any historical figure, living or dead, give a TED Talk who would it be and what would they talk about? How about Eleanor Roosevelt talking about gender identity?

Kaarin Olofsson Milne, Organizational Strategist

Kaarin Olofsson Milne, Organizational Strategist

Role on the team: Working directly with the producer and team leads, I design and implement flexible systems and processes that continuously define and refine elegant paths to our big picture goal- to present a mind-opening event that generates action through inspiration in the Greater Seacoast community.

What do you do when not working on TEDx? I align with other incredible organizations and spend as much time as possible adventuring with family and friends. Kitchen party? Game night? Paddle? I’m all in!!

Favorite TED Talk ever:
For me: Why Some of Us Don’t Have One True Calling by Emilie Wapnick
As a mom: Sex Needs A New Metaphor. Here’s One… by Al Vernacchio

Favorite part of TEDxPortsmouth: The people I get to meet! The team is brilliant, connected, community-minded and kind. It’s an amazing collaboration. And the speakers! From auditions to the event, their ideas spark new understandings to weave into my life. Their choice to be vulnerable and share their truth is an inspiration.

And, if you could see any historical figure, living or dead, give a TED Talk who would it be and what would they talk about? Mary Oliver on Finding your voice.

Lisa Keslar, Sponsorship Director

Lisa Keslar, Sponsorship Director

Role on the team: I help give businesses the opportunity to be part of the TEDxPortsmouth experience through sponsorship opportunities!

What do you do when not working on TEDx? I have the honor of owning a local independent insurance agency with my husband. When not working on TEDx or my day job, I also teach Entrepreneurship at UNH. I also love spending time supporting small businesses and local nonprofits when not with my family or spending time at NH’s beautiful lakes.

Favorite TED Talk ever: One of my absolute favorites is TEDxPortsmouth’s own “Change your pants, change your life,” by Stasia Savasuk. Based on that talk, I regularly think “how do I want to show up in the world”? It’s helped me work on being more authentic to my true self and to push myself outside of my comfort zone to do things that feed my passions and purpose. 

Favorite part of TEDxPortsmouth: It’s hard to pick one part. I find the energy that surrounds all the talks so inspiring. You can feel those in the audience absorbing each talk, processing all these new perspectives, and becoming galvanized to make a difference after the event!

And, if you could see any historical figure, living or dead, give a TED Talk who would it be and what would they talk about? I think it would be interesting to listen to John Lennon speak about how the song “Imagine” in relation to current and future events, 50 years after the song’s release.

DESIGN & COMMUNICATION TEAM

Deb McNeilly, Designer Director

Deb McNeilly, Designer Director

What do you do when you are not working on TEDx? I run DBG Design Studio, a graphic design business with clients in Boston and the Seacoast area. When I am not feeling like the queen of the world sitting at my desk with two large windows and two great officemates, I am enjoying time with my two kids and husband biking, going to the farmers market, packing lunches, grocery shopping, and rollerblading.

Favorite TED Talk ever: Brené Brown: “The Power of Vulnerability.”

Favorite part of TEDxPortsmouth: It’s hard to choose just one favorite. I love working with the team. Their feedback always pushes my ideas to new heights. It’s so exciting to see the super-sized design projected on the stage. On the day of the event, I am always wowed by the talents and efforts of the team who brings these stories to life.

And, if you could see any historic figure, living or dead, give a TED Talk who would it be and what would they talk about? I would love to hear from Queen Hatshepsut on what it was like as a woman in power during 1487 B.C.

Karen Lyons, Director of Digital Marketing

Karen Lyons, Director of Digital Marketing

Role on the team: I help TEDxPortsmouth tell its story across all social media platforms to generate new interest and enthusiasm for this incredible community-based event!

What do you do when you are not working on TEDx? Taking care of my three kids and running marathons around the world! I started running after my 2nd child was born with profound disabilities, as a way to relax and restore my mental health. What started as running for charities to help people with disabilities became a passion for travel and for the sport!

Favorite TED Talk ever: “Embrace the Shake” always stuck with me. I love how Phil Hansen subtly makes the audience change their perceived assumptions about his disability over the course of his talk, as we discover, with him, that no person is limited.

Favorite part of TEDxPortsmouth: I love the supportive energy and the enthusiasm of the audience when we all clap and cheer for a speaker whenever something they just said strikes a chord with all of us. That kind of interactive, insta-feedback for a speaker must feel amazing!

And, if you could see any historical figure, living or dead, give a TED Talk who would it be and what would they talk about? Helen Keller. One of my son’s multiple disabilities is that he’s Deafblind. As an accomplished author and speaker, Helen Keller taught us that communication and connection with others is vastly more than just speaking words. I’d love to hear her give a talk on ways we can all be more inclusive of those who communicate differently. Her tireless advocacy for people with visual and hearing impairments literally made the world a better place for my son.

Amanda Giles, Web Mistress

Amanda Giles, Web Mistress

What do you do when you are not working on TEDx? Slinging code, writing and performing spoken word, making art, or making sure everyone appreciates that Halloween is the best damn holiday ever and that Portsmouth, NH is the best town to celebrate it in.

Favorite TED Talk ever: I really love the talk by Amy Cuddy called “Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are.” It’s a beautiful blend of science, emotion, and personal story.

Favorite part of TEDxPortsmouth: It’s so hard to pick just one thing. My favorite thing is the way the talks prick and stimulate my brain in new ways, but I also love the interaction with other attendees between talks.

And, if you could see any historical figure, living or dead, give a TED Talk who would it be and what would they talk about? I would love to hear Prince talk about the intersection between his sexuality and his conservative religious views and how both flourished in him when, in most people, one eclipses the other.

OPERATIONS & EVENT TEAM

Denise Croteau, Finance Director

Denise Croteau, Finance Director

Role on team: I oversee the flow of funds for our event. When I’m not working on TEDxPortsmouth you might find me wrangling my 3 children or relaxing in the woods around Portsmouth. If you look really hard you could possibly find me working or volunteering as a pharmacist.

Favorite TED Talk ever: “Dressing for Confidence and Joy” by Stasia Savasuk

Favorite part of TEDxPortsmouth? The incredible event, of course!

And, if you could see any historical figure, living or dead, give a TED Talk who would it be and what would they talk about? I would really love to see my great-grandmother give a TED talk about the arc of her life. It would be fascinating for sure!

Sharmila Patel, Event Director

Sharmila Patel, Event Director

What do you do when you are not working on TEDx? I’m the VP of Sales at an amazing executive events company, Connecting Point Marketing Group, based in Rye, NH. When I am not working, you may see me running the Newcastle Loop or out on a trail in the White Mountains. Hiking, running, traveling, and eating really delicious food are my primary hobbies.

Favorite TED Talk ever: If I’m allowed to pick two, I’d pick Yifat Susskind’s “In Uncertain Times, Think Like a Mother” because it gives me hope during the times when I feel helpless and Brené Brown’s “The Power of Vulnerability.” A lightbulb went off when I watched Dr. Brown’s talk the first time. This talk became a game-changer for how I approached relationships, both existing and new. I’ve since watched it at least a dozen times.

Favorite part of TEDxPortsmouth: The sheer amount of inspiration that is at our fingertips in our local community. I left 2019 reenergized, recharged, and full of new ideas. I would be thrilled if every person in the Greater Seacoast area could also experience the TEDx energy.

And, if you could see any historical figure, living or dead, give a TED Talk who would it be and what would they talk about? His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama on how we can all be kind and compassionate leaders.

Clark Knowles, Writer & Microphone Master

Clark Knowles, Writer & Microphone Master

What do you do when you are not working on TEDx? I’ve been teaching writing at the University of New Hampshire for 20 years. I write strange short stories about people who may or may not have lived in my house. I read whatever I can get my hands on. And if you can’t find me, I’m probably doing yoga at Blaze Yoga and Pilates in the West End of Portsmouth.

Favorite TED Talk ever: Ron Finley: “Guerilla Gardner in South Central LA: Bring Your Shovel.”

Favorite part of TEDxPortsmouth: Being a part of something bigger than me, connecting to community. The prep work is fulfilling, but the day of event is one of my favorite days of the year.

And, if you could see any historic figure, living or dead, give a TED Talk who would it be and what would they talk about? I’d like to hear Walt Whitman. I’m pretty sure his talk would be about everything. He contains multitudes. You simply can’t contain him. I’m pretty sure he’d go over the time limit and wander outside the red TED circle as he sounds his barbaric yawp.

Gail Knowles, Digital Roustabout

Gail Knowles, Digital Roustabout

What do you do when you are not working on TEDx? In April of 2018, I was unexpectedly released from my corporate job of 18 years. It was a gift. Now I’m kept busy by working with other community nonprofits, including Seacoast Outright, Prescott Park, and TEDxPortsmouth. I’m hoping my garden will be less weedy this year.

Favorite TED Talk ever: Ethan Gilsdorf: “Why Dungeons & Dragons Is Good for You (In Real Life).

Favorite part of TEDxPortsmouth: Learning how everyone has a skill to share, and I love how the amazing TEDXPortsmouth experience transcends the stress of all the prep!

And, if you could see any historic figure, living or dead, give a TED Talk who would it be and what would they talk about? Terry Pratchett. I’d love to hear about his Discworld series, and my favorite characters Tiffany Aching and The Nac Mac Feegles (The Wee Free Men). Yes, it’s a YA book. Shut up.

Will Zimmerman, Photographer

Will Zimmerman, Photographer

What do you do when you are not working on TEDx? I’m a freelance photographer and videographer based in Portsmouth.

Favorite TED Talk ever: There are so many great TED talks to choose from, but “The Art of Misdirection” by Apollo Robbins is one of my very favorites!

Favorite part of TEDxPortsmouth: As a relatively new Seacoast transplant, this will be my first year participating in TEDxPortsmouth. I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews from those who talk about the event and I’ve been thoroughly impressed by all the photos and videos from years past. I couldn’t be more excited!

And, if you could see any historic figure, living or dead, give a TED Talk who would it be and what would they talk about? If I could hear anyone deliver a TED Talk, I’d love to hear the true story of an epic adventure from someone like Hugh Glass (on whom the movie “Revenant” was based).

SPEAKER TEAM

Rebecca Dawson Webb, Head Speaker Coach

Rebecca Dawson Webb, Head Speaker Coach

What do you do when you are not working on TEDx? As a writing coach, writer, and editor, I love helping people tell their stories and clarify their meaning. And then, as the perpetual learning nerd that I am, give me a good book, a great TV series or movie, an interesting documentary, podcast, or — of course — TED Talk.

Favorite TED Talk ever: Sir Ken Robinson’s “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” It is a persuasive plug for schools to cultivate the diversity of student creativity delivered with conversational warmth, great humor, memorable anecdotes, and beautiful connectedness. What’s not to like?

Favorite part of TEDxPortsmouth: What thrills me most about TEDxPortsmouth is becoming more aware of the array of innovative thinking and talent on the Seacoast that contributes to making this area such a great place to live!

And, if you could see any historic figure, living or dead, give a TED Talk who would it be and what would they talk about? Maya Angelou about how to respond to this current moment. You know she’d have something wise to tell us.

Debbie Kane, Speaker Coach

Debbie Kane, Speaker Coach

What I do when I’m not working on TEDx: Copywriter, content creator, contributor to a number of regional magazines, and live storyteller at Long Story Short. My biggest successes so far: launching one child into semi-adulthood and getting another into college without having to bribe an athletics coach or admissions counselor.

Favorite TED Talk: This talk by Debra Jarvis was sent to me by a friend five years ago after I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The message about not being defined by your disease or hardship really resonated at a time when I was confused and angry about cultural messages around breast cancer: “Yes, I Survived Cancer. But That Doesn’t Define Me.”

Favorite part of TEDxPortsmouth: I’m inspired by the passion of everyone involved in launching the event. I enjoy the day itself, too, but I love the sense of anticipation when everyone is gathered in the morning before the day begins and the energy is really high. It’s infectious.

And, if you could see any historical figure, living or dead, give a TED Talk who would it be and what would they talk about? Theodore Roosevelt. I’d like to know about his travels out West in the late 19th century and what inspired his efforts to establish national parks and preserve our natural resources. Also, artist Georgia O’Keeffe.

Melissa Lore, Speaker Coach

Melissa Lore, Speaker Coach

What I do when I’m not working on TEDx: I write fiction. Check out recent published work at Split Lip magazine and The Normal School. In my spare time, I take my giant fluffy dogs on walks around Portsmouth, obsess over The New York Times Spelling Bee and perform as Goshawk in Rock Street, my family’s kid-friendly, hip-hop band.

Favorite TED Talk: I love “My Stroke of Insight” by Jill Bolte Taylor because it opens a literally mind-blowing window into the nature of human consciousness.

Favorite Part of TEDx Portsmouth: As a former TEDx speaker/performer, this is a very tough call, but I have to say the audience is far and away the most supportive, positive, enthusiastic, all-around hyped crowd of people I have ever had the privilege to stand in front of.

If I could see any historical figure, living or dead, give a TED Talk, who would it be and what would they talk about? Stephen King is an obvious choice, but man! It would be great to hear him talk about his sobriety journey, overcoming catastrophe, and being in a band with Amy Tan, Matt Groening, and a bunch of other extremely multitalented writers!