TEDxPasadenaWomen is Determined to Grow

After first planting what became TEDxPasadenaWomen last year, the minds behind the local group want to use this year’s conference to firmly establish its roots.
Heather Brunold, executive director of TEDxPasadenaWomen, and Carrie Walker, the organization’s director of partnerships, said this year’s iteration has already grown tremendously from last year’s and they’re looking toward next year. This year’s theme, “It’s About Time,” will facilitate a day’s worth of talks about timely issues.
Such topics will include prison reform, soil-less agriculture, raising transgender children and being a Muslim feminist, they said.
“Typically the center point is that there is one idea worth spreading,” Brunold said, explaining how TED Talks are planned.
Speakers spend between four and 18 minutes conveying their topic. The conferences themselves cost money to attend, but TED (which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design) is best known for offering video streaming of each conference free of charge on its website.
The conferences’ organized by the TED nonprofit, which is based out of Canada, are simply called TED Talks. The “x” in organizations’ names indicates they are local groups who have successfully applied for licensing by TED. Local groups have to apply for that license annually.
“They don’t just dole them out to anyone,” Brunold said.
There will be 15 speakers at the TEDxPasadenaWomen conference this year, as well as a performance by the Pasadena Civic Ballet. There also will be numerous interactive spaces between talks for attendees to interact and discuss the topics at hand.
Brunold, a lifelong educator from Pasadena who volunteered at last year’s conference, said her ascendance to executive director was a “good marriage” with her drive to teach people. With TEDxPasadenaWomen, Brunold said the goal was to give opportunities for people not always given a chance to share their life experiences. Despite the name, the conference welcomes men and women.
“My efforts were to give students a forum where they have a voice,” she said. “I’ve always challenged the students to speak with confidence and listen with compassion.
“It’s kind of the capstone of what I’ve done, ever,” Brunold added on joining TEDxPasadenaWomen. “It is very harmonious with why I’m on this earth.”
Walker, a career event planner from San Marino and longtime friend of Brunold’s, said she relished the chance to help people see different perspectives on current issues and developments in society.
“It’s very easy to get into your corner of the world and not realize the other three corners of the square may not look like yours,” she said.
Last year’s conference had 100 attendees and a $10,000 budget. Walker said this year, that has grown to 375 attendees and “eight times” the budget. (Brunold attended a TED-organized event in Canada, which allowed the local group to receive licenses for larger events this year). There’s already a wait-list for next year’s event.
“To have wait-lists for this shows us how valuable this is to people and helps with these sleepless nights we have,” Walker said. “You can see that people are genuinely excited. We’ve done a lot of work this year to create sustainability.”
“It’s not going anywhere,” Brunold proudly added.

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