Due to ongoing website renovations, the talks from our 2017 event, In Metamorphosis, are not on our site yet.
However, you can watch them right here

2017 Speakers & Performers


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.


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.


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.


LGBTQ+ Advocate

Jessica Hawkins has been serving the Metropolitan Police Department, in Washington D.C, (MPDC) since May of 2000. Prior to that, she served as a police officer for six years in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. She is currently assigned to the Executive Office of the Chief of Police, Strategic Change Division, Special Liaison Branch where she supervises the LGBT Liaison and Deaf and Hard of Hearing Unit.

She served as a patrol officer from August of 2000 to October of 2006 in the Sixth District (Anacostia NE/SE). As a patrol officer, she responded to calls for service, conducted preliminary criminal investigations, traffic enforcement, impaired driver enforcement, and other patrol functions as needed. October of 2006 she was selected as a Master Patrol Officer (MPO) and served in that position until January of 2014. In the nine years she served as an MPO, she field trained close to 100 officers.

In January of 2014, Jessica was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and was transferred to the Seventh District (Anacostia SE/SW). She served as an evening shift patrol sergeant, supervising 50-100 officers daily. As a Patrol Sergeant, she often responded to crime scenes; to include Shootings, Homicides, Sexual Assaults, Burglaries, Robberies, Simple Assaults, Domestic Violence crimes, and Arsons. She assisted her Lieutenant with plans to reduce crime in her Patrol Service Area (PSA). She also responded to and investigated officer involved traffic crashes, injured officers, and other administrative investigations. In 2014, Jessica was trained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as a Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) Instructor.

In February of 2014, Jessica announced to MPD and the world, that she is transgender and began living her life full-time as her authentic self. Prior to that, she lived life as a straight cisgender man. She was married to a wonderful woman for twenty years and raised an amazing daughter. During her marriage, Jessica and her wife often struggled with Jessica being transgender - her transition would ultimately be the cause of their divorce. Jessica remains close to her daughter and has noted that their relationship is stronger than ever.

March of 2015, Jessica was asked to supervise the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit for MPD. Later that year, Jessica requested and succeeded in changing the name of the unit to the LGBT Liaison Unit to a more recognizable name for community members.

During the year of 2015, Jessica served as an instructor for the MPD Academy teaching MPD Officers interactions with Transgender individuals, responding to hate bias related offenses, and intra-family offenses. She also informed members of other government agencies to include the Federal Trade Commission, DC Taxi Cab Commission, and DC Housing Authority. She continues to teach Special Police Officers (SPOs) for the universities and colleges located in the District of Columbia as well as other neighboring government agencies.

Jessica was born in Miami, Florida. She lived in Florida with her mother until the age of 12. Between the ages of 12 and 16, Jessica moved from household to household in Smyrna, Georgia, Arlington, VA, and finally made a permanent move at age 16 in Front Royal, Virginia with her grandmother. Jessica attended Lord Fairfax Community College and Northern Virginia Community College throughout her young adult years.


Art Collector

A serendipitous encounter with a painting in Los Angeles led Guillaume Levy-Lambert on a quest to understand and on a mission to spread art’s uniquely powerful transformative power – as a collector, as a gallerist, and as an artist.

The MaGMA Collection, established by Guillaume and his life partner in 1999, comprises some 400 contemporary artworks. In their exhibitions, the artworks are transformed to tell the collectors’ astonishing story.

Culmination of 17 years of research into Roy Lichtenstein’s Desk Calendar, Guillaume’s five minute video work Evidence, exhibited at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco until June 25, 2017, can be viewed on www.magma.sg/evidence.

Guillaume is a co-founder of Art Porters gallery in Singapore, whose mission is "sharing happiness with art”. Art Porters believes in making art accessible esthetically, emotionally, intellectually and, whenever possible, financially. The gallery proudly represents artists from around the world.

A former investment banker, then regional CEO of a major advertising agency, with more than 30 years experience in Asia, Guillaume is also the founder of Tyna, a consultancy with a mission of inspiring and guiding re-inventions.

An active member of YPO, Guillaume is a graduate of HEC Paris (M.Sc. Management 1982), and participated in programs at NYU’s Stern graduate business school, ESADE in Barcelona and Stanford University. He received the Philips Scientific Prize for the Young (1979), Campaign Asia Pacific’s accolade for best advertising network head (2004), and the award of Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Merite (2009).


Escape Architect

Jon Staff is the Founder and CEO of Getaway (www.getaway.house) which allows people to disconnect from the stresses and routines of work, technology and city life by allowing them to easily escape to nature and stay in tiny houses the company rents by the night. Jon grew up in northern Minnesota and is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Business School.


Financial Mentor

Stacie Whisonant is the Founder and CEO of a FinTech startup called Pay Your Tuition Funds in Washington, D.C. PYT Funds focuses on providing students with the opportunity to utilize crowd-giving and alternative data to reduce the burden of student loan debt. By using a financial technology platform to help families meet the growing funding gap to pay for higher education, PYT Funds is considered a disruptor to the finance industry and an innovative solution to the country's student loan crisis. Stacie is a chosen fellow of the prestigious Halcyon Incubator program in D.C. with PYT Funds as a notable winner at the Partnership Fund of New York City FinTech Innovation Lab in 2015.

Stacie has not always been battling the $1.2 trillion national student debt crisis. A native to Virginia, she has more than 13 years of experience in the finance and banking industries with a background in mortgages, structured settlements and annuities where she worked for the speciality finance company Stone Street Capital, and also for HSBC, the world’s largest international banking and financial services organization. Stacie received a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and Management from Longwood University and is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc, where she continues to do community service projects. Stacie also a military veteran and she served eight years as a United States Army Reservist. Lastly, Stacie likes to spend her free time with family, travelling, keeping up with the latest technologies and playing UNO.



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 and social justice activist. Now in the fifth year of her national tour, Jinahie performs 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.


Genocide Scholar

Dr. Gregory H. Stanton is Research Professor in Genocide Studies and Prevention at George Mason University, Arlington, Virginia. Dr. Stanton is the founder (1999) and chairman of Genocide Watch (website: www.genocidewatch.comwww.genocidewatch.org), the founder (1982) and director of the Cambodian Genocide Project, and the founder (1999) and chairman of the Alliance Against Genocide. He was the President (2007 - 2009) of the International Association of Genocide Scholars.

Dr. Stanton served in the State Department (1992-1999), where he drafted the United Nations Security Council resolutions that created the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Stanton won the W. Averell Harriman award for "extraordinary contributions to the practice of diplomacy exemplifying intellectual courage," based on his dissent from U.S. policy on the Rwandan genocide. He wrote the State Department paper on ways to bring the Khmer Rouge to justice, and drafted the rules of procedure for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

Stanton has degrees from Oberlin College, Harvard Divinity School, Yale Law School and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Chicago.


Space Pharmacologist

Dr. Virginia E. Wotring, Assistant Professor at the Center for Space Medicine and the Department of Pharmacology at Baylor College of Medicine, conducts research on the use and actions of medication in the unusual environment of spaceflight. She is also the Chief Scientist and Deputy Director, Translational Research Institute at Baylor College of Medicine and Science and Integration Manager for the National Space Biomedical Research Institute, nonprofit organizations associated with NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

Dr. Wotring earned a BS in Chemistry and Biochemistry (Florida State University) and a PhD in Pharmacological and Physiological Sciences from Saint Louis University. Her graduate and postgraduate research centered on structure, function and pharmacology of ligand-gated ion channels of the nervous system.

Her work ranges from the molecular level to that of the whole human. Her current research involves examining the changes in physiology and pharmacology that occur in the confined, closed, microgravity, elevated radiation environment of a space mission. Two of her currently funded research projects are being conducted onboard the International Space Station orbiting 200 miles above the Earth: the design and implementation of a new iOS-based app for iPad collection of medication use data directly from crewmembers during space flight missions and an examination of potential alterations in pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics in the spaceflight environment. Other projects include studying women’s health treatments during spaceflight missions, and examination of genes and proteins altered when organisms live in a spaceflight environment. Her book Space Pharmacology was published in 2012 by Springer as part of their Briefs in Space Development series.


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.



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.


Business Journalist

Scott Tong is a correspondent for Marketplace’s Sustainability desk, where his coverage focuses on energy, environment and the global economy. During twelve years on the staff, he has contributed in-depth reporting on Venezuela’s economic crisis, the long-term U.S. job market, energy-rich locations and the “resource curse,” the 2011 tsunami in Japan and 2011 famine in the Horn of Africa. He has reported from more than a dozen countries. From 2006-2010, Tong served as Marketplace bureau chief in Shanghai, where he reported a special series on the economics of one child. He covered the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the global financial crisis from Asia, China’s exploding consumer market, product safety and slave labor scandals, and controversial case of baby-selling in China’s international adoption program. Prior to joining Marketplace, Tong worked as a producer and reporter for the PBS NewsHour, where he reported from Iraq in 2003. He served as a Knight-Wallace journalism fellow at the University of Michigan in 2013-14. Tong is a graduate of Georgetown University and a native of Poughkeepsie, New York. He lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife and three children. His forthcoming book is A Village with My Name: A Family History of China’s Opening to the World. (University of Chicago Press).


Tech Innovator

An 8th grader, 13 year old Emma is passionate about science, computer science, and technology innovation. In 2015, Emma won first place in the US and second place globally in Technovation Challenge, a global technology entrepreneurship competition for girls, out of 400 teams from more than 60 countries. Emma is a strong advocate for STEM and would like to encourage all girls to explore their interests in science and technology.

In 2015, Emma was awarded the Michael Perelstein Memorial Discover Your Passion Scholarship for her outstanding achievement in STEM. In 2016, Emma was named one of New York’s 10 Under 20 Young Innovators to Watch and Crain’s New York’s 20 Under 20 2016. Most recently, Emma was selected as one of 500 exceptional students globally to participate in the Junior Academy of the New York Academy of Sciences solving the world’s greatest challenges.

Emma is a Davidson Young Scholar and Wolfram Research’s youngest and first ever middle school mentee of the Wolfram Mentorship Program. Emma was the youngest participant of the White House’s Opportunity Project, representing Wolfram Research in bringing the power of the Wolfram Language to solve problems using Open Data.

An enthusiastic coder, Emma founded ConcussionChecker – an app to help detect concussion early and Timeless – an app to help Alzheimer’s patients lead better daily lives. Emma plans to publish these apps on the App Store to benefit the community and beyond. As part of the efforts to advocate for STEM, Emma also founded the first ever Middle School coding club in school, teaching her fellow middle school students how to code.

Emma is also a young classical pianist and she has performed at Carnegie Hall twice. Winner of Hong Kong Music Festival, American Protégé International Music Talent Competition, Rondo Young Artist Vanguard Competition, and Crescendo International Music Competition, Emma is an active participant in school and local music events.

Born in Hong Kong and lived there for ten years, Emma is fluent in English, Cantonese, and Mandarin. In her free time, Emma enjoys coding, reading, biking, and going to movies with Dad. Emma is an introvert and enjoys being one. Recently, Emma started writing for Quiet Revolution‘s Quiet Diaries, a space for young voices to post their perspectives on life.




Wajahat Ali is a journalist, writer, lawyer, an award-winning playwright, a TV host, and a consultant for the U.S. State Department. As Creative Director of Affinis Labs, he works to create social entrepreneurship initiatives that have a positive impact for marginalized communities, and to empower social entrepreneurs, young leaders, creatives, and communities to come up with innovative solutions to tackle world problems. Beginning in early 2017, Affinis Labs will launch a global startup incubator network, aimed at identifying and fostering “emerging entrepreneurial talent from around the world that understands what makes the global Islamic economy special.”

Previously, Ali helped launch the Al Jazeera America network as co-host of Al Jazeera America’s The Stream, a daily news show that extended the conversation to social media and beyond. He was also a National Correspondent, Political Reporter, and Social Media Expert for Al Jazeera America. He focused on stories of communities and individuals often marginalized or under-reported in mainstream media. Ali is also the author of The Domestic Crusaders—the first major play about Muslim Americans, post-9/11—which was published by McSweeney's and performed off-Broadway and at the Kennedy Center. Currently, with Dave Eggers, Ali is writing a television show about a Muslim American cop in the Bay Area. He was also the lead author and researcher of “Fear Inc., Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America,” the seminal report from the Center for American Progress.

In 2012, Ali worked with the U.S. Department of State to design and implement the “Generation Change” leadership program to empower young social entrepreneurs. He initiated chapters in eight countries, including Pakistan and Singapore. He was honored as a “Generation Change Leader” by Sec. of State Clinton and as an “Emerging Muslim American Artist” by the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Ali has given many presentations, from Google to the United Nations to Princeton to The Abu Dhabi Book Festival. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic, Washington Post, the Guardian, and Salon.

2017 Graphic Artists




2017 Event Details

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


2017 Partners