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2021 TEDx Oneonta Speakers

Rosalia Rivera

(Timmins, Ontario, Canada) “Ending Rape Culture One Word at a Time”    

Rosalia Rivera is a passionate consent educator, sexual literacy advocate, speaker, change agent, and survivor turned thriver. She is the host of AboutCONSENT™, a podcast for survivors and those who support survivors. Rosalia is also the founder of CONSENTparenting™, an online platform for survivor parents to learn how to protect their families from abuse. And she is soon launching CONSENTwear™, a clothing brand for kids, teens and adults to create consent culture.


Rebecca Ahmed

(Washington, DC) "How to Build a Motivational Workplace Culture: Reinventing Compensation”

Rebecca Ahmed is an award-winning human resources expert. Ahmed’s experience stems from 10+ years in the hospitality industry, overseeing HR through major mergers and acquisitions, including Pinnacle Entertainment, Allegiant Travel Company, and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. She most recently leveraged her expertise to join Savills, an international commercial real estate advisory firm. Additionally, she is CEO of Laugh Thru Life, a professional coaching organization. Ahmed serves as a Board Member for Suited for Change.



(New York, NY) “Why Justice for Wildlife Affects You”

Gohar Petrossian is an Associate Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice, and the Director of the International Crime and Justice Masters Program at John Jay College. Her research interests include crimes against wildlife, with a particular interest in Illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing; spatial and temporal analysis of crime and GIS mapping; environmental criminology and opportunity theories; and crime prevention. She is the author of the book Last Fish Swimming: The Global Crime of Illegal Fishing (Global Crime and Justice Series. ABC-CLIO, LLC, Praeger Imprint), published in 2019.


Rachel Kornhauser 

(Oneonta, NY) "Climate Change and Sustainability in the Age of COVID”

Rachel Kornhauser is an enthusiastic environmental educator who has spent the past 15 years bringing environmental and outdoor learning opportunities to students around the world.  Rachel currently works as the Director of the Office of Sustainability at SUNY Oneonta. Rachel has taught outdoor field studies to students in Brooklyn, NY, taught undergraduate Education students how to include hands-on science in their future classrooms, and produced live-stream webcasts from rural Tanzania to highlight the issues associated with water scarcity.


2018 TEDx Oneonta Speakers

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Lauren Parsons

Talk Title: Snack on Exercise- Boost Your Brain, Body & Mood

Lauren Parsons grew up in New Zealand as the non-sporty kid who lacked all confidence in herself physically. Then as an adult, went from being a workaholic gym manager with 'no time to train' to completely shifting her paradigms around exercise. She is passionate about helping others discover the easiest and most fun way to fit exercise into their own lives.

Lauren is an award-winning Wellbeing Specialist, with 18 years’ experience in health and wellbeing. Founder of Get Fit Feel Fabulous, the Snack on Exercise movement and author of Real Food Less Fuss, and 7 Health and Fitness Myths To Overcome. Lauren is a sought-after keynote speaker and thought leader who helps people and organizations boost their health, energy, and productivity. ​

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Ricardo Sierra

Talk Title: Saving the iGen Children: Why Grandparents Might Be Our Best Chance to Solve the Digital Age Crisis

Ricardo founded the Hawk Circle Wilderness Education Summer Camp Program in 1989, then formed the nonprofit Earth Mentoring Institute in 1999, to give children and teens the benefits of a deep connection to nature. His work has included professional trainings and program development for the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council of Delaware County, the Creating Rural Opportunities Partnership After School Program, the Chatt Hill Charter School, Madrone Audubon Society, Waldorf School of Baltimore, The Berkshire Mountain Search and Rescue and many others.

His wilderness skills training and youth mentoring experience has included The Tom Brown Jr Tracking and Wilderness Survival School, John Stokes Tracking Project, The California Conservation Corps, Backcountry Trails and American Red Cross. He also has spent extensive time in wilderness and natural areas across the country, where he put the skills he teaches to the test. He lives in Cherry Valley, NY.

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Maja Kazazic

Talk Title: Genocide and Happiness: The Power of You

Maja (My-a) Kazazic is an internationally recognized motivational speaker.


Originally from former Yugoslavia, Maja’s home was destroyed by genocide that killed 250,000 people and injured millions. When she was only 16 years old, while sitting with 5 of her friends a rocket propelled grenade exploded killing all 5 of her friends. Maja was severely injured.

This event set off decades-long journey filled with obstacles Maja had to face on a daily basis. From having her leg amputated without anesthesia and surviving without food or running water to re-learning how to walk and run, and learning English by watching TV. And even though she left her home without her parents to get medical treatment, with only a teddy bear, t-shirt and rock, Maja was able to build a new life. She finished high school and college and eventually started a very successful software company whose regular clients were Fortune 500 companies. The systems, strategies, and innovative action plans she developed have helped companies significantly increase profitability and productivity.

She has taken the lessons of a life forever altered by what could have been catastrophic wounds of war and parlayed them into a vision and passion for providing the solutions and insights people and organizations need to create positive, inspired change in their personal and professional lives.

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Laverne Berry and Steve Miller

Talk Title: How to Effect Change With A Couple of Friends

Laverne Berry and Steve Miller have worked as volunteer Voter Protection lawyers in each of the past three presidential elections (2008 and 2016 in North Carolina, 2012 in Virginia). Laverne is an entertainment attorney representing independent film and TV creators, distribution companies, authors and media companies. Steve is an international business executive, based in the US and Europe, with over 25 years of experience developing and managing a broad range of businesses and educational and social justice projects.


Deborah Koetzle

Talk Title: What works? Addressing crime and drug use through community-based interventions

Deborah Koetzle is an Associate Professor and the Executive Officer of the Doctoral Program in Criminal Justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice/The Graduate Center, CUNY and a fellow with the University of Cincinnati Corrections Institute.  

Her research centers around correctional rehabilitation with a focus on identifying effective interventions for offenders, problem-solving courts, risk/need assessment, and cross-cultural comparisons of prison-based programs and practices. Current projects include evaluating a specialized probation unit for the supervision of 16-24 year-olds, examining access to medically assisted treatment for criminal justice involved individuals, and providing assistance aimed at reducing prison crowding in El Salvador.  

She has served as a consultant to local, state, and federal agencies on the topic of assessment, treatment, and program fidelity within both institutional and community-based programs, and helped to develop the National Association of Drug Court Professionals’ Adult Drug Court Best Practice Standards.

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Dawn Herscher

Talk Title: Words Wisely--Move them or lose them

Dawn is an award-winning speechwriter, speaker and communications director with 15 years experience supporting CEO’s, C-level executives, and Fortune 100 companies. She provides speechwriting, thought leadership, and coaching services to high profile clients, companies, foundations, and associations. Dawn specializes in helping senior executives become recognized as Thought Leaders who are influential in their industries.

Born in Los Angeles, California, Dawn was known for her creative writing talent, and attended UCLA where she earned her degree in Psychology. Dawn has written for some of the world’s most influential venues including TEDx, the Council for the Homeless, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

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