The student organizers of the TEDx Syracuse University conference are excited to unveil the speakers who will be presenting at the annual event on April 6. The conference will give eight speakers a chance to share ideas worth spreading. From education to augmented reality to entrepreneurship, speakers will address an assortment of interesting topics.

“The TEDx Syracuse University speaker curation team has always made it a point to select speakers from a variety of professions and locations, and this year is no different,” said Co-Lead Organizer and Executive Producer Christopher Sekerak. 

Here is the list of the speakers and a brief summary of their talks:

Jennifer Barrett ’94 is the chief education officer at Acorns, a financial wellness app with more than 5 million users, and founding editor of its money site, Grow. Before Acorns, she held various management roles in media, including personal finance editor at CNBC and senior vice president and editor-in-chief at DailyWorth, a financial media company targeting women. She also served previously as a general manager at Hearst Digital, overseeing four magazine sites, including Cosmopolitan and Seventeen. Her talk will discuss how if we want true gender parity, we need to start raising women to think like breadwinners. 

Steven Grunwald is a senior in environmental biology at SUNY Environmental School of Science and Forestry. During his time at SUNY-ESF, he has traveled throughout the United States doing work for AmeriCorp and the Nature Conservancy. He plans on using his degree to become an environmental educator and a traveling biologist throughout South America. His talk will convey how life can learn to live and thrive on the minimal, and he will be sharing the story of how moss colonized land around 460 million years ago.

April Tam Smith is a devoted philanthropist, finance professional, and socially-conscious entrepreneur living in New York City. She is currently a managing director in a top tier investment bank’s equity derivatives team, covering hedge funds. At age 30, April founded P.S. Kitchen, a social enterprise vegan restaurant in Times Square that donates 100% of its net profits to philanthropic endeavors. Her idea worth spreading is that the practice of radical generosity is key to living with purpose, and her talk will discuss her own life experiences and invite listeners to practice radical generosity and bring a new sense of purpose into our lives.

Param Srikantia  has delivered seminars on “Why Life Sucks” based on global wisdom traditions reaching over 25K attendees in nine cities. A professor at the Baldwin Wallace University’s School of Business in Ohio, he has authored 35 research papers, held leadership roles in six global conglomerates and presents seminars that focus on the transformation of consciousness in unleashing the deeply hidden potential of individuals in their professional and personal lives. His talk will offer a fundamental shift in our consciousness to awaken us to a profound appreciation of life, enabling us to live each moment with a sense of vitality. 

Brandon Steiner ’81 is CEO of Steiner Sports, the country’s leading sports collectible and athlete marketing business. He’s the author of three books, “The Business Playbook, You Gotta Have Balls: How a Kid from Brooklyn Started From Scratch,” “Bought Yankee Stadium,” and “Created a Sports Empire and the new Living on Purpose: Stories about Faith, Fortune, and Fitness That Will Lead You to an Extraordinary Life.” He hosts both a popular podcast, Unplugged and a live Q&A show broadcast on Facebook Live called Project X. A much-sought-after speaker, he has delivered keynote addresses, TEDx talks, corporate training, and motivational speeches to sports teams and businesses around the world. Through his talk, he will use his experiences from over three decades in the sports industry to discuss how he catapulted his company to the top of the industry and how he turned dirt into dollars.

Renée Stevens G’11 is an award-winning motion and augmented reality designer, educator, and public speaker currently located in Syracuse, NY. She is the creator of tagAR, an augmented reality mobile application that helps users never forget a name again. Her creative research looks at how augmented reality can help overcome learning disabilities, specifically dyslexia. She splits her time between owning and running an independent interactive design studio and as an Assistant Professor at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Her talk will introduce you to tagAR, and in showing the inspiration, concept, design and development of the application, she will explore the power and potential of AR.

Jay Veal is the CEO of INC Tutoring, the #1 African-American owned private tutoring company in the Dallas Fort Worth metropolitan area, serving students of all ages in STEM and beyond. He is also Founder/CEO of The Jay Veal Brand which is a Dallas-based premier consulting brand that deploys education and business consulting services as well as speaking services (Host, Panelist, Keynote, Workshop Presenter) and a part of the 2018 Black Enterprise Content Contributor Network. His talk will explain what education looks like now and how an innovative tutoring approach changes the game for students of color in closing achievement gaps, belief gaps, and opportunity gaps.

Ryan Williams is an entrepreneur, a personal trainer, a serviceman, and a passionate creative. Through his pursuits as an entrepreneur, he realized that some of the best insights and solutions are created during the darkest and most uncomfortable moments in our lives. Through his talk, Ryan will investigate how the repression of negative traits or emotions in society is one of the most significant barriers in any individual’s journey towards developing self-value. He will also demonstrate that the pursuit of self-awareness and the defining of self-value are the most critical attributes for every entrepreneur and essential elements of business growth.

TEDx Syracuse University’s 2019 conference is slated to take place on Saturday, April 6, at the Slocum Auditorium on the Syracuse University campus. Tickets for the conference are $7 for Syracuse University students, faculty and staff and $14 for everyone else, and are available in the box office in the Schine Student Center on the Syracuse University campus.

All information about the event will be posted on the TEDx Syracuse University website and Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages. The event will also be livestreamed through the TEDx Syracuse University website.

For more information about the event, contact Ashley Steinberg, Marketing and Communications Director for the conference, at: