TEDxSMCC will host an exciting lineup of 10 speakers and performers drawn from within both SMCC and the broader community. Our local presenters of “Maine ideas worth spreading” are:
Known as “Seba” by his friends, Fiston Bujambi is a singer, songwriter, pianist and guitarist from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Since starting to play music at the age of 10, Fiston has become well-known in the Great Lakes Region of Rwanda, Burundi and DRC for his gospel music. He also covers other genres, including Afro-beat, R&B and jazz fusion, with many of his works earning him television and radio appearances around the world. He released his first album, Ugusenga (Sweet Hour of Prayer), in August 2015.
Fiston lives in Portland, Maine, and attends Southern Maine Community College as a Communications and New Media student.
Founder and President of Olympico Strategies
Jess Knox is a growth consultant and founder of Olympico Strategies, which helps organizations achieve their goals.
In 2009, he was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as the Small Business Administration’s Associate Administrator for Field Operations in Washington, D.C., where he oversaw the delivery of all SBA programs through a network of 119 offices and 1,000 employees.
After returning to Maine and founding his firm in 2012, he became involved with a number of community-building ventures, including Startup Portland, Maine Startup & Create Week, and, most recently, Maine Accelerates Growth. Jess also serves on the boards of the Treehouse Institute, Equality Maine and the Maine Charitable Mechanics Hall. He lives in Portland with his wife and two children.
Liz Leddy is a two-time national Golden Gloves champion boxer, personal boxing trainer and owner of her own cosmetology business. However, these accomplishments pale in comparison to what she considers her “crown jewel:” gaining sobriety.
Her journey from drugs and alcohol and being a self-abusing high school dropout to a national champion boxer has gained her widespread media recognition, and was also the subject of the 2010 documentary film, “Liz: Her Fight.”
Student/Transgender Youth Activist
Nicole Maines is a student, transgender youth activist, and supporter of LGBT change. In 2014, she and her family won a longstanding lawsuit against her former school after being forced to use the staff bathroom instead of the girls’ bathroom. Maine’s Supreme Court ruled that Nicole’s rights had been violated under the state’s Human Rights Act, marking a historic and landmark victory for transgender rights in the U.S.
Currently an Arts and Theatre student at the University of Maine, Nicole continues to fight for LGBT change. She has been featured on Maine Public Radio, Good Morning America, ABC NightLine, Atlantic Magazine Live, and the front page of the Boston Globe. She was also named one of Glamour magazine’s “50 Phenomenal Women of the Year Who Are Making a Difference,” played a transgender choreographer on USA’s Royal Pains, and is the subject of Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Amy Ellis Nutt.
President of iBec Creative/Co-Founder of iKNO Intranet
Becky McKinnell is President of iBec Creative, a web design and digital marketing firm she started in 2006 after graduating from the University of Southern Maine. She taught herself web development, design and digital marketing and was able to grow her company to over $1 million revenue in only six years. Today, iBec Creative has 13 full time employees, 200 active clients around the country and is continuing to grow.
Becky has been featured in Business Week’s Top 25 Entrepreneurs 25 and Under, awarded Small Business Administration’s Young Entrepreneur of the year, and is a recipient of the 2011 Stevie Women in Business Award.
Freelance Artist/Illustrator and Adventure Writer
Lloyd Metcalf is a full-time freelance artist, illustrator, adventure writer and producer of fantasy tabletop roleplaying games. Having once only dreamt of such a career, Lloyd credits his Communications & New Media degree from SMCC for helping him to gain ground and find distribution worldwide.
Lloyd’s company, Fail Squad Games, is rapidly finding its place among the indie tabletop publishing companies, and his art has been published extensively in a wide range of projects. His client list includes the original creators of Dungeons & Dragons, as well as other publishers and conventions reviving the hobby today.
President of Good Shepherd Food Bank
In her role as president of the Good Shepherd Food Bank, Kristen Miale has helped Maine’s largest hunger relief organization provide over 23 million pounds of food to those in need. Before joining the food bank in 2010, she was founder and program director of Cooking Matters for Maine, a local chapter of Share Our Strength’s nationally recognized cooking and nutrition education program.
Kristen’s passion for ending hunger has driven her to serve on the steering committee of the Maine Food Strategy and as Senate President Michael Thibodeau’s representative on the Commission to End Student Hunger. Kristen resides in Kennebunk with her husband and two children.
SMCC Business Professor/Business Coach
Michelle Neujahr is the Director of the Entrepreneurial Center at Southern Maine Community College, where she oversees the business incubator program, leads entrepreneurial initiatives and runs the Launch or Grow Small Business Success Conference. Michelle also brings her passion for entrepreneurship into the classroom, where she serves as a Business Professor.
Michelle is the founder and President of The Business Renovation Company, a corporate training and business consulting company with clients including 3M, Target and Wells Fargo. She has also owned a seven-figure residential renovation firm and has served on the boards of Women Standing Together, the National Speakers Association and Build a Biz.
Entrepreneur/Vietnamese Community Advocate
Quang Nguyen is a successful entrepreneur and former SMCC student. Originally from Vietnam, Quang moved to Maine in 2008 to pursue a degree in Business Administration at SMCC, where his involvement in school activities earned him the nickname “Mr. SMCC.”
In addition to maintaining a 3.8 GPA while working 50 hours a week, Quang led the International Student Group and was vice president of both the Student Senate and the Phi Theta Kappa honor society of New England.
In addition to his entrepreneurial work, Quang volunteers his time to help Maine’s Vietnamese community with financial planning, home purchasing and language barriers. He also helped establish
Maine’s first Vietnamese Buddhist temple, which regularly gathers more than 200 people in the community to worship and celebrate Vietnamese culture.
The SMCC Chorale
The SMCC Chorale was founded in 2002 by Professor Florence Chambers. In 2012, Professor Rich Pitre, former executive director of the Portland Conservatory, took over as director and added a chamber singers group to the chorale’s roster of activities.
The Chorale has the unique status of being both a course and a club funded by the Student Senate, allowing singers who do not wish to pay for academic credit to participate under the auspices of their student activities fee. The program welcomes all singers from beginners to seasoned professionals, and exposes participants and audiences alike to a great variety of musical styles ranging from 13th-century ballads to 21st-century rap tunes.