Portsmouth, NH — Who will your favorite speaker be? The snow scientist? The New England humorist? The student-artist crafting a nontraditional education? Perhaps the neuropsychologist or the future-focused technologist? Introduced at a reception welcoming speakers and sponsors at The Music Hall yesterday, the 16 presenters selected for TEDxPortsmouth 2019 represent a fascinating cross-section of the Seacoast community. Their shared theme: “Point of No Return.”

Chosen following nearly 100 auditions, “this group of 16 speakers is particularly conscious of the current state of our world: our health and that of our planet, how we see and treat each other, and what we make possible with more awareness and different choices,” said Rebecca Dawson Webb, head of TEDxPortsmouth’s speaker team. “The talks offer paths to a better future.”

Hosts for the event are mother/son duo Kathleen Soldati, author, marketer and former executive director of the Portsmouth Historical Society, and Emmett Soldati, founder of Teatotaller – a Somersworth, NH café that is a hub of LGBTQ+ programming, social justice and community gatherings.

TEDxPortsmouth is scheduled for Friday, September 13, at The Music Hall. It is a full-day event that also features artistic performances, catered meals and a strong emphasis on community. Tickets go on sale today through the venue’s box office and website at www.themusichall.org.

Co-Organizers Anna Goldsmith and Amy Sterndale noted that thanks to the generosity of the 2019 TEDxPortsmouth sponsors, they were able to lower ticket prices for this year’s event to $85; student tickets are $70. Also new this year is a significant discount for companies who wish to use TEDxPortsmouth as a professional development day with tickets priced at $70 for a block of 10 or more employees. (Limited tickets available. Use code PDEV at checkout.) More information about student and professional development tickets is available at www.tedxportsmouth.com.

The 2019 TEDxPortsmouth speakers are:

  • Andrea Amico, a mom and occupational therapist turned nationally recognized clean water activist from Portsmouth, NH
  • Colene Arnold, a Board-certified gynecologist at Inner Balance Pelvic Health & Wellness Center in Newington, NH and Co-Founder of Hope On Haven Hill, a nonprofit organization that provides residential substance use treatment to pregnant women and their newborns.
  • Bryan Bessette, Co-Founder and President of The Freedom Café in Durham, NH and a chaplain at the University of New Hampshire.
  • Elizabeth Burakowski, snow scientist at the University of New Hampshire, who uses climate models, snow measurements and satellites to understand how winter in the northeastern United States has changed and what we can expect for the future.
  • Quita Christison who merges her passion for theater and health care through her work for Next Step, an organization that provides teens and young adults living with chronic illness experiences and opportunities to learn life skills and build community.
  • Jaed Coffin, a creative writing teacher at the University of New Hampshire and the author of A Chant to Soothe Wild Elephants, a memoir about the summer he spent as a Buddhist monk in his mother’s village in Thailand, and Roughhouse Friday, which chronicles the year he won the middleweight title of a barroom boxing show in Alaska.
  • Ben Hillyard, a psychotherapist working with children, adolescents and families for nearly 30 years who started the Center for Collaborative Change in Exeter, NH in response to a lack of communication among professionals working with children.
  • Diane Murphy, poet, singer and lover of art, music and dance who founded BigFish Learning Community because of her belief that self-directed education is the most authentic and innovative way for teens to learn.
  • Madison Person, a high school senior and artist who became a homeschooler after her sophomore year to craft her own education based on her interests and passion for art. She’s built an academic and artistic portfolio by studying at a self-directed learning center, apprenticing with professional artists, conducting independent research and selling/showing her art.
  • Susan Poulin, a leader in bringing a female voice to New England storytelling and humor, she is the author of 11 plays, six of which feature her alter ego, Ida LeClair, “the funniest woman in Maine,” and writes the popular humor blog and podcast, “Just Ask Ida.” She is also the author of several books.
  • Rock Street Band a family hip-hop band led by Jesse and Melissa Lore that includes their two kids, Ruby, 10, and Jackson, 8.
  • Laura Rubin, a licensed clinical psychologist/neuropsychologist and Founder of the Portsmouth Neuropsychology Center, who presents psychological/educational topics to medical centers, universities, elementary schools and community organizations.
  • Kartik Sakthivel, Vice President & Chief Information Officer of LIMRA, LOMA, LL Global, Inc., the oldest and largest insurance trade association in the world.
  • Caitlin Thompson is currently raising two inspiring young daughters in Scarborough, ME and hosts an exclusive speaking club that helps women discover, awaken and develop their own voices.
  • Rebecca Throop has been working in marketing and communications strategy for 20 years. She’s combined analytical marketing and storytelling into traditional and digital branding solutions for clients from early-stage startups to national companies.
  • Steve Wourgiotis uses neuroscience to disrupt conventional wisdom about interpersonal interactions in the hopes that we can all have better conversations, every day. He’s pursuing a second master’s degree in sustainability to save nature from the humans.

TEDxPortsmouth is a community-organized, one-day event featuring more than a dozen speakers — spanning a wide variety of topics and industries — with the mission to share big ideas that inspire action. More information is available at www.tedxportsmouth.com as well as on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

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).

About TED
TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to ideas worth spreading, often in the form of short talks delivered by leading thinkers and doers. Many of these talks are given at TED conferences, including an annual gathering in Vancouver, as well as TEDWomen, intimate TED Salons and thousands of independently organized TEDx events around the world. Videos of these talks are made available for free on TED.com at