A special free event
direct from the TED2020 MAINSTAGE.


Everything about TED this year has been different. The talks and performances at TED2020 were presented virtually. As a result, these intimate, direct-to-camera presentations feel deeply personal and compelling.

This year we have the opportunity to bring you a selection of these talks. TEDxSantaBarbara has curated 3 hours of the best of TED2020. The talks cover a wide range of topics including inspired musical interludes.

You can participate in two ways, via Zoom or the Livestream on Facebook. Experience three-hours of inspiration with an opportunity for live interaction between the talks.

Please join us on Saturday, August 15th, for this unique opportunity to experience TED.


Featured Speakers and Performers

Amanda Gorman
Inaugural Youth Poet Laureate of the United States

Adeloa Fayehun
Journalist, Satirist

John Lewis - Bryan Stevenson
U.S. Representative, Social Justice Advocate

Ethan Hawke
Actor, Writer, Director

Titus Kaphar

Julia Watson
Architect, Landscape Designer, Author

Rufus Wainwright
Musical Artist and Songwriter

Sheku & Isata Kanneth-Mason
Cellist and Pianist

Shamuran Abed
Senior Director of BRAC

Jennifer Eberhardt
Professor, Author

Ali Kashiani
Designer, AI Specialist

Aloe Blacc

Singers, Songwriters

Phillip Lubin

Cynthia Erivo
Actor, Performer

Kian Williams
Cofounder of SIRUM

Refik Anadol
Media Artist

Jad Abumrad
Radio Host, Producer

Mark Sylvester, Executive Producer of TEDxSantaBarbara will be your host,
along with Tracy Wyle, Director of Production.


Conversations with Influencers
and Disruptors

Live conversations every
Wednesday (mostly) at 4 pm Pacific


The world is grappling with an issue of enormous scale and human impact, and our hearts go out to all who have been affected by the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). 

At TEDxSantaBarbara, we believe it is our role and responsibility during this time to prioritize two things: the health and the well-being of our community while also playing a constructive role in supporting local health officials and government leaders as they work to contain the virus. Through that lens, we will continue to make decisions with vigilance and courage informed by the latest science-based information.

Our first step is to postpone the two upcoming events, the TEDxSalon Sea Level Rise on March 18 and the TEDxAdventure at the Carpinteria Salt Marsh on April 29. As of now, we are continuing to plan for our main event in the Fall, scheduled for Saturday, November 7.

We will continue to post updates here and through our newsletter.


There are many ways to participate in TEDx

This year we’re continuing to focus on ways to bring the TEDx community together. Our focus this year is going to be on celebrating Santa Barbara as the birthplace of world change. Our Salons, Adventures and Main Event in November will give us opportunities to share ideas and take collective action.



Regular events for smaller groups to explore single topics of community interest
Learn More


Regular field trips for smaller groups to explore our community
Learn More

Main event

Our Annual All-Day Event with Live Speakers and Performers at The New Vic

Get your tickets

This year, as we begin producing a series of virtual talks, we are curating ideas that are influencing us, locally and globally. These short conversations are not news-focused. Instead, we are highlighting discussions of hope and optimism while showcasing actionable solutions.

The topics we are focused on have to with the Pandemic and Social Justice. We look at them individually and at times see how one has influenced the other. We look through the various lenses and hear from different voices as we explore the topics. One of our guests introduced us to the word, Syndemics, which is the collision of different epidemics. This syndemic and the chaos, complexity, and the intricate complications it has brought to all of our lives is what Making Waves is all about. All while finding the silver thread of hope from our guests.

We navigate through opinions to help us all understand these challenging times by focusing on positive disruption. We’ve heard that normal will never be normal again. This year we’re Making Waves.

Making Waves is Hosted by Mark Sylvester and Produced by Tracy Wyle

“It was an honor to contribute, once again, to the profoundly vital discussions the TEDxSantaBarbara team hosts, initiates and propagates with unparalleled integrity and consistency."
Dr. Harry Grammer, Making Waves speaker
"Really nicely done to be using your platform to spotlight something like this. Very proud of you guys."
Evan Asher, TEDxSantaBarbara performer
“Thank you for inviting me to be a part of your Conversations. Each of these presentations helps to make connections across disciplines, as a result, we’re all inspired to learn more.”
Dr. Yonette Thomas, Making Waves speaker
“This series has been terrific! I have caught a few of them and the conversations have been insightful. Keep up the great work.”
Julie Sorenson, Attendee
“Thanks so much for hosting such an important presentation by Dr. Wizdom Powell.”
Cheri C. Wilson, Education and Training Manager, Johns Hopkins Medicine
This program is one of the best I have ever seen in my life. This was amazing and there are not enough words to say Thank You and your Team."
Attendee, BJ King

Upcoming Conversations

Broadcast on Zoom and Live on our Facebook Page

Lisa Biggs

Educationalist. Humanist. Philanthropist. Linguist.

Empowerment through Education.
Connecting children across the globe through stories.

Lisa Biggs’ day job has her helping educators around the globe understand how maps tell stories about culture, history, and current events. Her passion project is taking storytelling skills and using them to help children.

Lisa believes when humans connect by sharing stories and experiences, we can achieve and overcome anything. Her work as a teacher and educational program designer and her experiences living in seven countries inspired her to found a non-profit that publishes children's' stories of triumph over adversity. Her organization worked with a group of children challenged by the trauma they endured in the Thomas Fire. Together they learned from experts in mental health, emotional intelligence, and wellbeing, ultimately creating a storybook to share their lessons. The result was a story of how we can all turn our hardships and traumas into a source of strength and resilience.


Ethnomusicologist, Assistant Professor, State University of New York, Albany

Agree to be offended, then stay connected. Unlocking opposition by making musical waves.

In 1903, W.E.B. Du Bois asked the question, “How does it feel to be a problem?” Day-to-day many of us witness and tolerate marginalization. In this critical juncture in our history, Dr. Gaunt shares lessons from Black girls' musical play and from embracing discomfort by agreeing to be offended or from vulnerable sharing about marginalization.

For over 20 years, Kyra D. Gaunt, Ph.D. has been a noteworthy leader in the field of ethnomusicology as a prize-winning author, a singer-songwriter, a professor, and a digital ethnomusicologist. Her book The Games Black Girls Play: Learning the Ropes from Double-Dutch to Hip-Hop (NYU Press), funded by NEH and the Ford Foundation, won the 2007 Alan Merriam Prize from The Society of Ethnomusicology. That book, and her subsequent publications, contributed to the emergence of hip-hop music studies, black girlhood studies, and hip-hop feminism.

In 2018, Dr. Gaunt was featured in "How the Jump Rope Got Its Rhythm" in TED's Small Thing, Big Idea series, reaching over 7M+ views published in over 25 languages. In 2020, she became a Senior TED Fellow and her article on "The Magic of Black Girls Play" was featured as an editors' pick in the New York Times. Her next project is a book titled PLAYED: Twerking at the Intersection of Music, YouTube, and Violence Against BlackGirls.

Dr. Gaunt holds a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan is currently on faculty at the University at Albany, SUNY. In addition to her day job, she is a federally-certified expert witness on social media and her original music is available on iTunes, CD Baby, YouTube, and Spotify.

Donna Weng Friedman

Concert Pianist, Educator and Storyteller

Pandemic Empowerment: Finding Resilience in Music and Stories

It's been a difficult time for all of us. Along with the horrors and uncertainty brought upon us by this pandemic, there has been an increase in assaults against Asians and Asian Americans. Pianist Donna Weng Friedman believes these horrendous behaviors stem from ignorance and fear. So, in collaboration with WQXR, she created Heritage and Harmony, a virtual concert that is both a recognition of the tremendous contributions to the musical canon by classical musicians of Asian descent and a reminder of the need to stand together against mindless intolerance.

For far too long in modern history, the musical composition was thought to be strictly the province of men. With soprano Allison Charney, she created HER/MUSIC; HER/STORY, a series devoted to correcting the historical record by shining a light on the music and lives of female composers through the ages. On 8/18/2020, HER/MUSIC; HER/STORY celebrated our 19th Amendment on the virtual series Season of Hope, now being featured at the National Women’s History Museum.

An award-winning pianist Ms. Weng Friedman enjoys a varied career as a soloist, chamber musician, teacher, curator, and app developer. As a recitalist, she has appeared at Caramoor, Jeu de Paume, France, Symphony Hall in Shanghai, the Flagler Museum, the 92nd St. Y, Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall and Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center. She has conducted master classes at the Shanghai and Beijing conservatories and is on the Mannes School of Music faculty. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Princeton University, where she was a University Scholar and a Master’s of Music Degree from the Juilliard School.

Lisa Jones

Healthcare Expert, and Clinician

COVID-19 and Race: Double Emergencies for Women of Color.
Connecting the Data Points

Women of color face unique health challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. This disproportionate impact on women of color should not be dealt with by women and their families alone. Dealing with existing health and social conditions in addition to the COVID-19 health crisis requires paying particular attention to the information shared to leverage these critical data points to develop targeted programs for this population. By addressing the definition of what is an emergency and how women of color indeed are facing both preexisting and COVID-19 crises, via collected data available, acknowledges their compounded health implications and need for prompt action.

Lisa Jones is a healthcare expert and clinician at the Bear Institute for Pediatric Health Innovation at Children’s National Hospital (CNH) and Cerner Corporation. She delivers responsible valuable strategy and health IT experience in population health management, driving data insights for improved healthcare delivery and outcomes. She serves as a Global Lead for the Health of Women & Girls to the Women’s Economic Imperative. She has held numerous roles leading clinical informatics at hospitals and primary care practices.

Mariel Hemingway

Actress, Founder, Dead Poets Foundation

Lives at Stake: Suicide and Mental Health During COVID.
If we save one life, we save the world.


We all come from families, histories, and stories that throughout our lives are either reconciled or not based on the trajectory of our lives. How do we negotiate the waters of our existence in such troubling times? Mariel comes from a famous family that suffered from extreme mental illness and has been plagued with suicides. The current pandemic has sent our world to its proverbial side. More people have suffered at the hands of depression and attempts of suicide in the state of California alone than even coronavirus. As a result of COVID-19, the quarantine, alienation, and isolation have drummed up numerous cases of pain and relapse.

Mariel Hemingway is considered an expert in health—both mental and physical — and is a longtime advocate of personal power, life balance, authenticity, joy, and finding peace of mind through a devoted practice of healthy living. She’s both a committed teacher and student in this holistic concentration. In 2014 Mariel co-executive produced the Emmy-nominated Running From Crazy, a rich and evocative documentary about the Hemingway family, collaboration with Oprah Winfrey. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. She documents her boundless advocacy for mental health awareness, the dignity and rights of people of all circumstances and ability, and her commitment to connecting those of like mind and heart to optimize their lives in the best and worst of times.

Shannon Kenny

Social entrepreneur, Founder, Prontopia

Humanizing Technology: Feminine Native Traditions and Startup Ideologies

In feminine Native traditions, stories are catalysts for collaboration and community action. The idea to create Prontopia as a community that puts people first, and empowers people to utilize technology rather than the other way around, was inspired by Shannon’s mom’s example of Native leadership. In Carolyn Kenny’s book Living Indigenous Leadership, many voices come together to speak of how the Medicine Wheel shows us the interconnectedness of all things, and the principle of seven generations ensures we honor our ancestors by reflecting on how our actions today will affect the next seven generations.

Prontopia is putting the people back in the equation because human services are tragically hard to come by in the digital age. We cannot dismiss the complexities and interdependencies of people, and the earth, as too difficult for technology solutions.

Social entrepreneur Shannon Kenny began her career as a historian after receiving a Master’s Degree in Medieval & Renaissance History from UCSB and has worked as a freelance writer, editor, and educator in the fields of history, social sciences, French & Italian languages, and travel for over 20 years. Shannon founded Prontopia, a technology startup that provides easy access to in-person help on-demand in 7 cities in Europe and the US. Shannon frequently had the need for a service like Prontopia as a mom traveling alone with 2 young children and also saw the need among her friends, her aging parents, and clients in city centers around the world. In this COVID era, the needs for their services are greatly expanding.

Featured Speakers from Past Conversations

View Videos Library

Coming Soon

Be sure you don’t miss these conversations coming later this year.

Keith Witt 
Cultivating a post-outrage consciousness

Jan Campbell
Finding a Vaccine for Violence

Katie Hershfelt
Making it worth it to plant the next harvest: Reinventing Community Supported Agriculture

Kerri Murray
The Role of Shelter During a Pandemic

Lisa Biggs
Building Emotional Resilience in our Children

John Greathouse
Looking Around the Corner: The Zoomers Role in the post-COVID success

Jackson Gillies
New Year's Musical Celebration

Andreas Forsland
Connecting Intentions to Outcomes: Reinventing Interpersonal Communications

Shannon Kenney
Social Justice is on the front lines of Sustainable change.

The Importance of Partnership

Our event is 100% volunteer-driven and we rely on the community for financial support and in-kind contributions.

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Meet our 2020 Partners

The moment you've all been waiting for has arrived.

Watch the VIDEOS!

A glimpse of a recent TEDx event


Meet the 2019 Team

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We're looking for a few more awesome Volunteers.

Volunteers are the backbone of our TEDxSantaBarbara events. We've been very fortunate over the years to have built a team of wonderful and dedicated change agents. We'd love to invite you to apply for our 2020 Volunteer team.

Learn More