Learn more about our 2017 theme, In Metamorphosis, in our new blog post.

2017 Ticket Information


2017 Speakers & Performers

Starting March 1, 2017, we will begin unveiling our 2017 speaker and performer lineup. Stay tuned to our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the latest updates. To learn more about each speaker, tap their photo.



Dr. Mario W. Cardullo is a Registered Professional Engineer, the noted inventor of the modern RFID, conceiver of Mobile Communication Satellites and was chosen as one of the 100 technology leaders in the Commonwealth of Virginia. During his career, Cardullo has published over 2 textbooks, 200 articles and papers in professional and technical journals. He was the first Planning Officer of the Communications Satellite Corporation (COMSAT), Dr. Cardullo also served in the Apollo Program as the Senior Propulsion System Engineer for all aspects of liquid rocket propulsion from R&D to program management. His work on the Apollo Program he drew experience from the development of the variable thrust concept which was used by the Lunar Lander (LEM) and the variable thrust plug engine for the Lance missile system. Currently, Dr. Cardullo is the Chairman of the CIG, Ltd. company building prototypes and promoting his new patents. He is an Associate Fellow of the AIAA, Senior Life Member of the IEEE, Fellow of Institute of Innovation and Knowledge Exchange. He is also one of the founders of nR LLC, a company dedicated to developing his nano RFID/computer patents, and other patents in electronics and mechanical devices and systems.



Jinahie (“my wings” in Arabic) is an Egyptian-American performance artist, educator, and social justice activist. Now in the fifth year of her national tour, Jinahie shares her work at colleges and universities across the country. In the process, she has collected hundreds of Potluck Poems, a collaboration among strangers in which a poem is completed during live performances by the contribution of a line from each audience member. Jinahie has performed at Sundance Film Festival, the U.S. Department of Education, United Nations, Smithsonian Institution, the Kennedy Center, and was a featured performer during a showing of the Pulitzer-Prize winning drama,Ruined, during which she had the honor of performing for Michelle Obama. Jinahie has shared the stage with the likes of Lupe Fiasco, The Roots, Smokey Robinson, Russell Simmons, and Angela Davis. Her latest endeavor, The Virgin Obsession, is an ongoing project that collects anonymous interviews to explore global traditions, value-systems, and myths surrounding female virginity. In Jinahie's spare time, she enjoys learning useless facts, feeding her carnivorous plants, and people watching people who people watch other people.


Education Reformer

Dr. Carol O’Donnell is the Director of the Smithsonian Science Education Center, which is dedicated to transforming the learning and teaching of science throughout the nation. O’Donnell is responsible for all operational activities and planning for the unit, including building awareness for preschool through 12th-grade science-education reform, conducting programs that support the professional growth of P–12 teachers and school leaders, and overseeing all research and curricular-resource development, philanthropic development and administration.

Before joining the Smithsonian, O’Donnell worked at the U.S. Department of Education where she oversaw nearly $17 billion in annual federal investments under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, focusing on education reform, school improvement, teacher professional development, improved student achievement and assistance for states building their capacity to implement and sustain education reforms and achieve improvement in student outcomes. She also oversaw the cognition and student-learning research program at the Institute of Education Sciences, the research arm of the Department of Education.

While earning her doctorate at the George Washington University, O’Donnell managed a five-year, National Science Foundation-funded trial aimed at identifying the conditions under which effective middle school science curricular interventions improve student learning and reduce achievement gaps when scaled-up. Her research on curriculum implementation was published in the Review of Educational Research and earned her an “American Educational Research Association Division of Learning and Instruction Graduate Research Award” in 2008.

Before attending George Washington University, O’Donnell spent 11 years developing science-curriculum materials for the Smithsonian Science Education Center’s science and technology concepts elementary and secondary programs.

O’Donnell began her science-teaching career in Virginia public schools. She currently serves on the part-time faculty of George Washington University’s physics department.

O’Donnell earned her bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Pittsburgh and her master’s degree in geosciences from Mississippi State University.


Entrepreneurial Motivator

Marcus Bullock is a justice reform advocate, public speaker and entrepreneur. Following his 2004 release from prison, he launched a painting business and is now CEO of Perspectives Premier Contractors, which employs other returning citizens.

Bullock is founder and CEO of mobile app Flikshop, a free app that enables incarcerated people the ability to receive mail and postcards. Flikshop ships postcards to over 2,000 correctional facilities around the country, connecting thousands of families to their incarcerated loved ones. Flikshop has become a leader in their industry, and led Bullock to co-found The Flikshop School of Business, a program that teaches incarcerated men and women life skills and entrepreneurship.

He is a member of the Justice Policy Institute’s board of directors, Washington, DC’s Commissioner on Reentry and Returning Citizens, and Re-Entry Coordinator for Free Minds Book Club and Writer’s Workshop. Notable awards that Bullock has won are the 2015 Innovator of the Year (The Daily Record) and 2016 Booz Allen Hamilton Aspen Ideas award (The Aspen Institute).

Married with two children, Bullock’s story has received coverage from CNN, TechCrunch, Black Enterprise, and the Washington Business Journal.



Jessica Kidd is the founder of Gracie’s Gowns, a nonprofit organization that makes and donates hospital gowns to children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses. The organization is operated from within the living room of her home, where her fiancé and their four children live as well, one of which has special needs as well. In the five years since Gracie’s Gowns was founded, over 3,000 gowns have been made for children across the globe. Jessica has received four national community service awards for her work, including the President’s Lifetime Volunteer Service Award, and was selected as a L’Oréal Paris 2016 Woman of Worth. Currently, she is also completing her undergraduate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, and will be pursuing her Masters of Art in Executive Leadership degree this fall, both through Liberty University.


Public Health Revisionist

Monica S. Ruiz, PhD, MPH, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Prevention and Community Health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. Dr. Ruiz's career has focused predominantly on research pertaining to substance using populations, particularly marginalized populations (such as injection drug users [IDU]) that are at greatest risk for negative health outcomes associated with substance use and addiction. In addition to expertise in clinical research, Dr. Ruiz also has experience in public policy, particularly in the provision of legislative education to Congressional staff on the effectiveness of syringe exchange programs on reducing new HIV and HCV infections, and in advocacy activities for the removal of the language in the Federal legislation that prohibited the District of Columbia for using city-generated revenue for syringe exchange. Dr. Ruiz’s current research focuses on examining the epidemic impact of policy change on HIV infection and linkage to care outcomes – including utilization of syringe exchange, addiction treatment, and other harm reduction services -- in the District of Columbia (R01DA031649; PI: MS Ruiz). She is also an investigator on a research project examining HIV and HCV knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors among injection drug users in Egypt, as well as the cultural and social factors that influence the personal trajectories of these individuals into addiction in a culture where substance use is forbidden and highly stigmatized.


Evolutionary Ecologist

Martha Weiss grew up in San Francisco, studied Geological Sciences at Harvard University, and earned her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley’s Botany department. Her dissertation research, which addressed the phenomenon of floral color change, drew her into the study of entomology and insect behavior. Following a post-doctoral fellowship at the Center for Insect Science in Tucson, she joined the Biology Department at Georgetown University. There she carries out a research program in which she investigates behavioral interactions among plants, pollinators, herbivores, and predators over ecological and evolutionary time scales. Projects have included investigations of color, pattern and shape learning in butterflies, prey recognition by predatory wasps, the ecology of defecation behaviors in insects, and the persistence of memory across metamorphosis in Lepidoptera. Currently, she and her colleague John Lill at George Washington University are investigating top-down and bottom-up determinants of host range in Lepidoptera.


Magic Historian

Dean Carnegie is a graduate of the Chavez College of Magic, a school that teaches the art of stage manipulation magic. He is also an accomplished sleight of hand artist and award winning performer. Dean has been a full time entertainer for 20 years, logging in nearly 8000 performances. His diverse magical abilities allow him to work in many different venues including the corporate market, fairs, festivals, and television.

The Washington Post said “Take Howie Mandel’s boyish bald charm, mix it with David Copperfield’s magical charisma and POOF! You get Dean Carnegie, better known as Carnegie: Artist of Mystery.” Today, though he no longer sports the bald look, he does continue to travel the world presenting his mysteries and illusions.

Besides performing 300+ shows a year, Carnegie is also a leading magic historian. He writes the most popular blog on magic history called The Magic Detective, and has given talks and lectures on the history of conjuring to fellow magicians and historical societies.

Carnegie is also author of the upcoming book, The Houdini Way, which explores the marketing methods used by the great Harry Houdini.


Narrative Director

Nick van der Kolk is a radio producer, sound designer, artist, events organizer, and the host and creator of the critically acclaimed Love + Radio podcast. His work has appeared on This American Life, Radiolab, The New York Times, Snap Judgment, and numerous radio outlets worldwide. He is also the co-founder of Megapolis — an audio art and leftfield radio festival. His media career began in 2001 as a DJ and later station manager of his college’s 5-watt, student-run station (slogan: “Stations with listeners have sold out”). He has won multiple awards from the Third Coast International Audio Festival, and is a 2012 USA Artists Collins Fellow.



Bre Seals articulates her feeling of service to the community through choreographed dancing, colorful depictions of artistry, and her spirit of joy through movement. A native of Atlanta, GA, she studied the arts of ballet, modern, and jazz dance, with a heavy background in lindy hop & swing dance. By age 18, graduating from Tri Cities Visual Performing Arts Magnet High School, Ms. Seals still finds herself eager to learn, evolve, and become a well rounded choreographer. Receiving her academic dance training at the California Institute of the Arts (Valencia, CA) in 2012, and currently a senior Dance Major, Technical Theatre Minor with a concentration in lighting design at Howard University (Washington D.C.), she’s been granted unique opportunities to work and train with various international and renowned choreographers. Motivated to tell stories from her own lens and dance style, in 2013, The SEALS Dance Project was founded as a pre-professional dance company. As an Artistic Director, Bre Seals finds true hope and purpose in producing her work, as it serves as a testimony and lesson to others. Expressing from the heart, the soul, and peace of artistic clarity, she is able to convey pleasure through her work as an artist, and as a woman of color who experiences synesthesia. As she embraces the ability to associate sound with color, Bre Seals is giving the opportunity to share her unique ability of experiencing the sensation of colors in a way that only her choreography brings justice to describe.

2017 Event Details

Saturday, April 22nd, 2017 | 9AM-5PM | Lisner Auditorium