"We remember, we rebuild, we come back stronger." -Barack Obama


        We are so excited that you have joined us today for TEDxYouth@Austin Re:Build! Every year we explore the most relevant themes and ideas in contemporary society - and this year is certainly no exception.
        The speakers, performers, and experiences today were chosen to pique your interests, but also to challenge the way you view the world. By bringing together so many amazingly creative and diverse youth, we hope to ignite conversations and spark passions that will drive you far beyond the present. So please take a minute to meet the people around you, and learn what brought them here today.

The TEDxYouth@Austin Team

Learn more about the Event

  1. Meet your Hosts
  2. Meet your Speakers and Performers
  3. Check out our xLabs
  4. Special Thanks to our Partners

Meet your Hosts



Communications Director

KATIE KEARNEY is a junior at Westlake High School. She is Student Council Vice-President, involved in the Challenge Success Initiative and serves on committees focused on improving student well-being. Katie is also highly involved in cross country, distance track, and soccer.



Logistics Director

ZENITH JAHID is a senior at the Liberal Arts and Science Academy (LASA). She is the Texas FBLA Area 3 State Vice President, president of her local Teen Library Council, and is a teen volunteering lead at local nonprofits. Additionally, she is part of clubs such as Diversity Council, Sending out Service, and National Honors Society.




CAROL REESE is an educator in Eanes ISD and an enthusiastic supporter of the idea that TED talks are not just for adults. After years of inviting speakers with “ideas worth spreading” to her classroom, she and a dynamic volunteer group launched TEDxYouth@Austin, building an engaging experience for area youth. An encourager, connector, and catalyst, she is excited about this Out[Spoken] event!

Meet the Rest of Our Team!

Meet your Speakers and Performers

kathy_kellogg johnson

Kellogg Johnson

Chairman of the Board for Kellogg Garden Products

Kathy Kellogg Johnson has been referred to as the “First Lady of Compost” by the President of the U.S. Composting Council. She currently serves as Chairman of the Board for Kellogg Garden Products. Kathy’s mission and focus is to restore the soil of the United States, both in backyards and farmland, by utilizing the organic materials readily available to us as soil conditioners and fertilizers. Kathy is a California native, with 3 adult children. She lives on the Palos Verdes Peninsula with her husband of 28 years, Brian, and her crazy rescued dog, Luna.




CAROLINE CULLERS is a dancer and choreographer in Los Angeles California pursuing a career in professional dance. She grew up in Austin Texas and has been competing and performing her whole life, and knew from a young age she had a special passion for choreography. She started her training in ballet and tap but has now expanded to hip hop, contemporary, jazz, musical theatre, and heels. She has used her passion to choreograph many award-winning pieces and has performed all over the country. She hopes to continue using dance as an outlet to inspire others to feel comfortable in who they are and do what they love.



Chief Marketing Officer for Better Angels

CIARAN O'CONNOR is a speaker, writer, and advocate for a new way of talking politics. He serves as the Chief Marketing Officer for Better Angels, the nation's largest grassroots organization dedicated to the work of political depolarization. He graduated from Duke University with a degree in public policy, and previously worked as a staffer on the Obama 2012 and Clinton 2016 presidential campaigns.



Professer of Infromation Studies

Dr. JEN GOLDBECK is a computer scientist and Professor of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. She builds artificial intelligence and algorithms that work with social media data and studies privacy and malicious behavior online. She also brightens the internet by running social media accounts for her five golden retrievers, @theGoldenRatio4.



Student and Advocate

NITHYA GILLIPELLI is an advocate for civic engagement and social justice. She is an undergraduate student at Rice University, where she studies Spanish, Kinesiology, and Biochemistry. Nithya volunteers as a Spanish language interpreter at a Houston clinic, where she is working to begin a Spanish Diabetes Education Program to improve health outcomes for Spanish-speaking patients. She has been a community leader since her time in high school in Austin, when she immersed herself in the study of the Spanish language. She is a recipient of the Texas Foreign Language Association Hamilton Award and the Girl Scout Gold Award. An aspiring physician, Nithya plans to continue empowering others through education and improved health throughout the rest of undergrad and beyond.



Certified Speaking Professional

We have an interesting challenge in leadership today -- how do we get better and keep getting better? SHAWNA SCHUH, is a Certified Speaking Professional, Master Neuro-Linguistic Practitioner, and Executive Coach. She also owns a horse boarding facility and lives in rural western Oregon with horses, dogs, and one old cat. Her passion project is the Women in the Pet Industry Network which she leads with the mission to unite women pet leaders worldwide. Shawna believes it’s leadership using the traits pets display that can rebuild our society.



Music Collective

The festival conceived the Soul Tree Collective Young Band Project in 2006. It was formed to address the needs of the fledgling R&B genres that were being overshadowed by the emerging and dominant Hip Hop and Rap genres. The Soultree Collective was created to encourage today’s youth to learn about and engage in the fundamentals of the music industry though the classic genre of the 70’s – 90’s R&B. Central Texas youth ages 10yrs old to 21 yrs old are encouraged to audition to become a part of this year’s band that has shared the stage with such legends as Morris Day and The Time, EnVouge, Johnny Gill, Kool and the Gang and Teddy Riley.

down to funk_



“Down to Funk” was formed together by a bunch of music-loving high school jazz musicians in Westlake, TX. They’ve been playing together for a couple of years now and have started performing live as of 2019. They often are found performing live music sets during lunches at Westlake High School and are also seen around Austin performing with other funk groups every now and then.




Imaad Khan is a performance poet originally from Austin, TX. Imaad started writing poetry in high school, and at the urging of his speech teacher entered local poetry slam competitions. Imaad made it on to the Austin Under 21 Slam Poetry Team and since then has gone on to perform across the country winning the University of Texas' biggest talent competition, Texas Revue, performing at the Takin' it to the Streets arts festival in Chicago, and writing and performing for various non-profits and organizations. Imaad is a former refugee resettlement case manager, and worked in non-profit advocacy after graduating from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. Imaad is currently a public affairs consultant in Houston where he lives with his wife Hareem, and two children Idris and Hala.




Ben Rubenstein is an entrepreneur who has extensive experience in founding data-driven organizations, online marketing and lead conversion, and building large inside sales teams. As a founder of Yodle, he grew the company to over 1,500 employees and 55,000 small business customers, resulting in a $342 million exit. As a founder and CEO of Opcity, in 4 years Ben scaled the organization to over 700 employees, over 100,000 agents, and a $210 million exit to Realtor.com. Ben has been recognized as a member of the INC 30 under 30, the Empact 100, Austin Inno's 50 on Fire, Austin Business Journal’s Best CEOs, and is proud of leading Opcity & Yodle to be named “Top Workplaces” in Austin. He was also named an Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year for 2018. Ben is currently the CEO of Opcity, a technology platform that uses large proprietary data sets and applied analytics to match top agents with qualified home buyers and sellers in real-time with no upfront cost.

Check out xLabs

The xLabs exhibits are interactive and engaging activities presented by multiple organizations and some of our speakers this year! We hope they stimulate your curiosity!

Check out the map!

Special Thanks to our Partners

Our 2020 TEDxYouth@Austin All-Star!

Our Anchors!

Our Partners!

Bettler Family

Jackson Family

Chandrasoma Family

Srireddy Family

Fred Benitez

Brian D. Bowers Photography