TEDx Portsmouth Team

LEADERSHIP TEAM

Anna Goldsmith, Producer & Licensee

Anna Goldsmith, Producer & Licensee

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?

Sam Granville, Junior Producer

Sam Granville, Junior Producer

What do you do when you are not working on TEDx?  When I’m not working on TEDxPortsmouth, I am a full-time graduate student in the writing program at the University of New Hampshire. You can also find me in the White Mountains hiking the 48 4,000-footers with my husband, Ben, and our dog, Banjo; sipping coffee at Flight in Dover; or getting my butt kicked at MISSION.

Favorite TED Talk ever: Emilie Wapnick: “Why Some of Us Don’t Have One True Calling.” Emilie Wapnick spoke at TEDxBend in 2015 about the word she coined “multipotentialite,” which means someone who has a range of interests and jobs over one lifetime. My whole life I’ve had interests ranging from science to nature to music to the arts. I change my mind about what I like and what I see myself happy doing constantly because I don’t see myself doing just one thing the rest of my life. The idea of doing one job my whole life is absolutely terrifying to me because I can’t decide on one thing. Learning what a multipotentialite was made me feel more normal that I wasn’t the only one that felt like doing 100 different things. I think about this talk almost every day.

Favorite part of TEDxPortsmouth: I’ve always been a storyteller and I draw inspiration from hearing other people’s stories, and that’s what TEDx is. Whether it’s a new idea or life journey, we learn so much from listening and sharing with others. This is what I love most about TEDx Portsmouth — learning and being inspired by my neighbors, peers, and friends.

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? If I could see any historical figure give a TED Talk, I would want to hear from Christa McAuliffe. I’m a Concord High School alum and I’ve learned about Christa my entire career at CHS. She was a mentor and inspiration.

COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Michelle Morrissey, Writer

What do you do when you are not working on TEDx? I’m the director of donor communications at the University of New Hampshire, my alma mater!

Favorite TED Talk ever: I have to pick two: Dan Pallotta’s “The Way We Think About Charity Is Dead Wrong” is an interesting take on the nonprofit world. Second is, for obvious fun reasons, “This Is What Happens When You Reply to a Spam Email.” I mean, haven’t we all DREAMED of doing what James Veitch did to that spammer?

Favorite part of TEDxPortsmouth: I love hearing stories from people who are part of my community and at the same time are perfect strangers to me. Their stories, their experiences, and the way they share them … it’s all pretty powerful.

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? Oh, wow, I’d have to say Lucille Ball talking about her Hollywood career and how she made it as a female entertainer.

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.

John Breneman, Writer

John Breneman, Writer

What do you do when you are not working on TEDx?  I’m CEO and Creative Director of a creative studio I just created, and I have historically paid the bills as a journalist and marketing copywriter/editor at Vital Design.

Favorite TED Talk ever: Stasia Savasuk: “Dressing for Confidence and Joy.” I saw this live at The Music Hall last year by the mom-speaker. I laughed, I cried. I felt inspired by the spirit of humanity that we each express as unique individuals.

Favorite part of TEDxPortsmouth: Connecting with smart, talented members of our community to help present this amazing event to you. You could say that I am super excite-TED to have my mind stimula-TED. Now let’s get this party star-TED!

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? Long, long ago, in a galaxy that now seems very far away, I got a chance to interview a future NASA astronaut when he was just a kid at York High School in Maine. Though he’s got another mission to take care of first, I’ve begun recruiting him for TEDxPortsmouth talk that I imagine will be out of this world.

DESIGN 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.

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.

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.

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!

Kaarin Olofsson Milne, Strategic Development Director

Kaarin Olofsson Milne, Strategic Development Director

What do you do when you are not working on TEDx? I’m Operations Director at Planet Rangers, an inspired program that helps kids discover the awesomeness in the world, in themselves, and in the people around them on their path from second to twelfth grade. Off times? I’m likely feeding friends, gardening, or adventuring with family.

Favorite TED Talk ever: I really enjoyed a talk by Manuel Lima called “A Visual History of Human Knowledge” about how the way we represent information mirrors and/or shapes our understanding.

Favorite part of TEDxPortsmouth: That it attracts and unites so many amazing people! A committee that is packed with interesting, team-playing individuals who are fully committed to bringing the most exciting big ideas to our local TEDx stage. And our sponsors who enable and support the whole process. It’s a truly massive group effort and exciting to be a part of.

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? Albert Einstein on how to restructure the U.S. political/governmental system

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.

Courtney Daniel, Community Outreach Director

Courtney Daniel, Community Outreach Director

What do you do when you are not working on TEDx? Most of my days are spent as an Uber Mom. But when I’m not behind the wheel I’m interviewing community leaders for my online group No To Patterns. Between the interviews, I’m creating flow and structure for my clients as a virtual assistant. On days when I need to re-energize I’m at the ocean admiring God’s beauty or listening to old school R&B.

Favorite TED Talk ever: Brené Brown’s “The Power of Vulnerability,” which was the first TED Talk I had ever watched. I think I binge-watched several episodes that day.

Favorite part of TEDxPortsmouth: Being able to lend my skills while building a stronger community. I’ve always been drawn to people who share their stories. Participating in TEDxPortsmouth is like a mini Barnes and Noble series being played out live and brought to you by brave, courageous people from the community.

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? My historical figure would be my great-grandfather, Frank Heard. He was a man of humility and a staple in the neighborhood. I’d bring my warm blanket, a canister of tea, hit record on my iPhone, and allow my soul to be filled as he shared about life in the 1940s.

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!

SPONSORSHIP TEAM

Jessie Dill Jakobs, Development Officer

Jessie Dill Jakobs, Development Officer

What do you do when you are not working on TEDx? Community-based nonprofit development consultant and volunteer. When I’m not doing that, my husband, Peter, and I share and support the daily adventures and journeys of our four kids (and two dogs!).

Favorite TED Talk ever: Right now it’s Phil Hansen: “Embrace the Shake.” This answer changes every time I see a new one.

Favorite part of TEDxPortsmouth: I’m enjoying the opportunity to meet the dynamic Seacoast volunteers involved in TEDxPortsmouth as well as the having a role that engages a growing network of community supporters. We also get to hear stories individuals would like to share — stories that need to be shared. That never gets old.

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? Frederick Douglass on civil discourse.