For the past decade, TEDxSMU has presented more than 30 events, auditions, and salons. That translates to upwards of 375 ideas being shared from the stage. Over time, it has grown into a season of events, with spinoffs gathering niche audiences looking for inspiration, entertainment, or advice. One such success story is TEDxSMUWomen, the popular female-focused day of live speaker sessions, workshops, lunch, and networking.
TEDxSMUWomen is the simulcast of TEDWomen, a three-day conference in California showcasing the power women and young girls have to be future changemakers. TED, the nonprofit behind the infamous TED Talks devoted to “ideas worth spreading,” said TEDWomen has sparked some of its most iconic moments to date.
TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring TED-esque experiences (x = independently organized TED event). In 2009, TEDx formed a partnership with Dallas’ Southern Methodist University, specifically the Lyle School of Engineering—much due to the help of Sharon Lyle, founder and president of experiential design studio Ensemble.
Through 2012, Lyle ran TEDxSMU and [email protected], the first-ever TED-style conference for middle schoolers. She and her team became immersed in the community, which was full of thinkers, artists, game changers, and innovators. It was there that Lyle says she “found her place as a content curator, platform builder and dot connector.”
And now, she’s back to run point on things this year.
“It’s really, really fun and incredibly remarkable to me to look at the genuine wealth of knowledge and intellect and creativity that’s come across the stage over the years,” she says.”There’s so much that we could showcase. There’s so many brilliant people.”
Ensemble, which Lyle started after she left TEDxSMU, is this year’s producer for the events. Lyle calls herself more of a “show director or show producer” than an organizational director. She’s joined by a steering committee of Marc P. Christensen, dean of the SMU Lyle School of Engineering, and Carole and James Young, who Lyle calls “longtime Tedsters.”
“Those are my bosses, those are the people who are really driving the ship,” she says. “Then we have a bunch of other people who are kind of back pocket: phone calls, strategic advisors, kind of a brain trust if you will, that we rely on to help us open doors. There’s staff support, there’s a graphic design agency, there’s a video production agency, there’s an audio-visual production company… It’s a small army.”
TEDxSMU, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, will be hosted in the Majestic Theatre from March 5-6, 2020. For the celebratory year, Lyle says they plan to “shake things up a bit”—but you can stay tuned for more announcements as it gets closer.
As for TEDxSMUWomen, that will return for its fifth consecutive year to Collins Center on SMU’s campus next Thursday, Dec. 5. The day will include two sessions of live speakers, streamed content from TEDWomen in Palm Springs, workshops, and more.
“One thing I love is that TEDxSMUWomen really focuses on local speakers,” she says. “We have a full lineup of all Dallas-based speakers for the event. And the speakers are brilliant; these are just remarkable women. So there’s a duality of platforms. One is being able to help create a space for local women to have a stage and have a platform to share their stories. And then with TEDxSMU, we’re able to look across the planet and bring together some people who have extraordinary bodies of work, and bring that to Dallas. It’s all equally exciting.”
Tickets to TEDxSMUWomen are $75 and open to all. Dr. Candice Bledsoe and Ana Rodriguez will co-host and emcee the all-star lineup of speakers: Aisha Owusu, climate scientist; Jin-Ya Huang, artist + bridge builder; Caren Bright, anti-poverty activist; Yulise R. Waters, justice reformer; and more. Reserve your seat now.
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