Kristen Hanel

Kristen Hanel is a Mechanical Engineer with her MBA and a passion for helping people, teams and organizations figure things out. As Global Industry Manager at Lexmark International, Kristen's work includes strategy, product and business development Fascinated by neuropsychology of body-mind integration, Kristen is studying how these principles can be applied to individuals and organizations in everyday life.

Emma Hiza

Emma Hiza is a passionate educator, curriculum designer, and program director who has worked extensively in the fields of education and public health both domestically and overseas. Her work includes classroom instruction, curriculum design and teacher training across various contexts in the U.S, Bangladesh, Rwanda, and Kenya. She has worked in public education in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, DC and internationally with Partners In Health, the Asian University for Women, and the McKinsey Social Initiative. She is a culturally conscious, critically reflective practitioner who believes profoundly in education as the most fundamental mechanism for community-driven social change.

Session: Thrivals 9.0

Jamie Holmes

Future Tense Fellow at New America and a former Research Coordinator in the Department of Economics at Harvard University. He holds an M.I.A. from Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Slate, Politico, The Christian Science Monitor, The New Republic, The Atlantic, Foreign Policy and the Daily Beast. He is the author of Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing.

Session: Nonsense

Nat Irvin

Author, innovator, futurist, teacher, commentator and founder of Thrivals at IdeaFestival, Nat Irvin, II, is the Woodrow M. Strickler Executive in Residence, Professor of Management Practice, College of Business, University of Louisville where he has taught change management, leadership, future studies, and team dynamics since 2007. From 1996-2007, Irvin led Future Focus 2020, a think tank dedicated to providing leadership in bringing futurist thinking to urban communities. In 2000, Future Focus 2020 became a center of the Babcock Graduate School of Management at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where Dr. Irvin served as Executive Professor of Future Studies and as Assistant Dean for MBA Student Development.



Session: da Vinci

Session: Thrivals 9.0

Christine Kenneally

Christine Kenneally is an award-winning journalist and author who has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, Slate, New Scientist and other publications. She is the author of The Invisible History of the Human Race: How DNA and History Shape Our Identities and Our Futures and The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language.


Session: The Hidden History of "Us"

Pagan Kennedy

Former Innovation columnist for the New York Times Magazine, Pagan is author of eleven books. She has been an MIT Knight Science Journalism fellow and published articles in dozens of newspapers and magazines. Other awards include a Smithsonian fellowship, a Massachusetts Book Prize honor in nonfiction and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship.


Session: The Art & Science of Serendipity

Kris Kimel

Kris Kimel is President and a founder of the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation, an independent non-profit company with an international reputation for designing and implementing innovative and broad-scale initiatives in  science, technology, talent development, entrepreneurship and disruptive innovation. Kris holds Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the University of Kentucky and while a student was a 1974 recipient of the University of Kentucky's Sullivan Medallion. He is also founder of the international IdeaFestival and was a leader behind the vision and successful implementation of Kentucky Space.

Ben Kuchera

Ben Kuchera is the senior opinions editor at the video game and technology website, and has spent the past decade reporting on virtual reality at such publications as Ars TechnicaWired, and Penny Arcade. When he's not spending time in his own basement VR lab, he lectures and moderates panels on the emerging field of virtual and augmented reality around the world.


Session: VR

Wendy Lea

Having delivered business solutions in 30 countries, Wendy Lea brings a worldly point of view to digital innovation and her entrepreneurial pursuits. OnTarget, Stratify and Get Satisfaction are three of her many leadership successes.  She is currently the CEO of Cintrifuse, a public-private partnership that enables promising high-growth startups to prosper in Cincinnati, and a member of C200 and Cincinnati Women’s Executive Forum. In 2012 and 2013, Wendy was recognized as a Women of Influence in both Silicon Valley and San Francisco. She currently serves on two non-profit boards, The Health Collaborative and The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and on the board of venture-backed Xyleme.

Session: Southeast by Midwest: How Fast Tech Companies are Growing in the Middle.

James Ledbetter

James Ledbetter is the Editor of Inc. magazine and Prior to that position he was the founder and editor of The Big Money, Slate’s business and finance site, and the Opinion Editor for Reuters. He has also been deputy managing editor of CNN Money and senior editor at TIME.

Ledbetter is the author or editor of five books, most recently Unwarranted  Influence: Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Military-Industrial Complex. He is currently writing a book about monetary debates and American politics. His writing on business, media and politics has appeared in The New York TimesThe Washington PostRolling StoneThe NationThe American ProspectThe New RepublicMother JonesVIBE, and dozens of other publications. 


Session: Does Doing Good Mean Doing Better?

Phillip Andrew Lewis

Tennessee based artist working in video, sound, photography, sculpture and installation. His creative research responds to historical events, psychology, phenomenology and physics. This work consistently examines duration, perceptual limits and attentive observation. In addition to his individual pursuits, Lewis is involved in a series of long-term evolving collaborations. Lewis is the recipient of awards from numerous organizations including the Bemis Center for the Arts Fellowship, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant and the Tennessee Arts Commission, where he received an Individual Artist Fellowship, among others. He currently teaches in the photography and media program at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga.


Session: Art @ the Edge

Alan Lightman

American physicist, writer, and social entrepreneur. He is a professor of the practice of the humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the author of the international bestseller Einstein's Dreams, which has been adapted into dozens of independent theatrical productions and is one of the most widely used "common books" on college campuses. Lightman was the first professor at MIT to receive a joint appointment in the sciences and the humanities. He is also the founder of the Harpswell Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower a new generation of women leaders in Cambodia.

Session: Alan Lightman

Janelle Monae

Janelle Monáe (Wondaland Arts Society/Bad Boy Records/Atlantic) – Janelle Monáe is a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, performer, producer and CoverGirl spokesperson known for her unique style and groundbreaking sound.

Immersed in the performing arts at a young age, she founded her record label the Wondaland Arts Society releasing the EP "Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase)." In 2010, Monáe released the highly anticipated and critically acclaimed “ArchAndroid,” which reached No. 17 on the Billboard Charts and earned her two Grammy nominations, including one for the hit single “Tightrope.” Monáe performed at that year’s awards alongside Bruno Mars and B.O.B. 2013 saw the release of the critically acclaimed album “The Electric Lady” featuring Prince and Miguel, which reached No. 5 on the Billboard Top 200 Chart. The album's first single “Q.U.E.E.N.” garnered rave reviews and the accompanying video received over 4 million YouTube views in its first week and a coveted MTV VMA Moonman. In February of 2015, Janelle launched her very own label, Wondaland Records. Most recently, Monáe was featured in the Super Bowl 50 Pepsi commercial titled, the “Joy of Dance,” wherein she pays homage to some of the greatest musical acts of past and present. In 2017,

Janelle takes her talent to the silver screen, in which she will star as a lead actor in the upcoming drama Hidden Figures. The story centers around the true story of three African-American women who work for NASA and help make John Glenn the first person to orbit the Earth in 1962. The film also stars Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson, and Kevin Costner

Session: Thrivals 9.0

Christine Ortiz

Dr. Christine Ortiz is the Morris Cohen Professor of Materials Science at MIT. Her research focuses on the nano- to macroscale design of biological and bio-inspired materials, a highly interdisciplinary subject that spans basic to applied research. Nature Materials and Nature Communications. Dr. Ortiz stepped down from her role as dean in July 2016 to start a new nonprofit residential research university which will maintain no disciplinary departments, no classrooms, no traditional on-ground passive lectures, no majors and no pedagogical distinction between undergraduate and graduate education. Rather, it will possess a personalized, project-based curriculum and a transdisciplinary research structure with a special emphasis on the interface between science, technology and humanity. 


Session: Christine Ortiz

Drura Parrish

Drura Parrish is the CEO and founder of MakeTime, an online platform for companies who need CNC machined components produced and delivered quickly and efficiently. He is a successful entrepreneur and thought leader in digital fabrication, design, and object based economics. 

Before MakeTime, Drura founded Parrish Production, an art and design fabrication company focused on filling unused capacity across manufacturers with work from top level artists, designers, and hospitality companies. Alongside Parrish Production, he was the co-founder of Land of Tomorrow which exhibited and sold goods produced for artists and designers by Parrish Production. Over 300 artists were exhibited from every corner of the globe.

In addition to entrepreneurial endeavors, Drura has taught graduate design and digital fabrication at leading design schools. He continues to lecture and conduct workshops on design, digital fabrication, and entrepreneurship. Moreover, he is active in policy, boards, and associations that promote the belief that everyone can be an industry through making. 

Session: Southeast by Midwest: How Fast Tech Companies are Growing in the Middle.