Independent TEDx event in GR May 12

May 2, 2011
| By Pete Daly |
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“Let’s call me the host,” said Steve Frazee, the key person in charge of the independent TEDx event taking place in Grand Rapids May 12.

TEDxGrandRapids has 16 “innovators” from diverse fields across the country, including entrepreneurs, a musician, business consultants, a philanthropist, educators, an attorney, a designer and an artist, who are scheduled to appear at the event being held at the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre.

According to, TED is a nonprofit organization “devoted to ideas worth spreading.” It started in 1984 as a conference bringing together well-known individuals from the fields of technology, entertainment and design — hence “TED.” The original TED organization holds annual conferences in California and in the U.K., and has now spun off TEDx, which are independently organized TED-like events licensed by TED.

Other TEDx events have been held around the state; one scheduled for May 17 in Traverse City is sold out.

The innovators scheduled to make presentations at TEDxGrandRapids include Salah Boukadoum, Gabor George Burt, Carol Coletta, Sheryl Connelly, Amy Davidsen, Patrick Flanagan, Robert Fuller, Sam Harrington, Jeff Kimpton, Dr. Richard A. Leach, Mickey McManus, Layli Miller-Muro, Steve Rosenbaum, Rony Everaldo Meza Sanchez and Michael Strong.

“The design of this event is to take all the thought leaders in West Michigan and put them in the audience, and then bring in the people that those people need to hear,” said Frazee, a Grand Haven resident who describes himself as a writer, speaker and executive consultant.

“People that are leading in all sorts of sectors of society here in West Michigan also need to be educated and need to get together, and need to communicate and collaborate, and so we thought this was a service that we would provide,” said Frazee.

Tickets are $85, but one must “request an invitation” via, according to Frazee, who attends the TED global event in the U.K.

“It’s an invitation-only event. We are curating the audience, which means we review the applications and we are specifically choosing who receives an invitation, so that we can create the most diverse and interesting audience possible,” said Frazee.

“That’s a big piece of this. It’s not just sitting and listening to lectures,” he said. “It is an ecosystem that is created by putting a lot of interesting people together in one place, at one time, and fostering communication.”

Frazee said last week there were only about 50 seats still available. He said there will be between 500 and 600 people in the audience. There will be a free live webcast for anyone unable to be in the audience at the Civic Theatre.

Frazee said Nick Pickrel actually was the first licensee for TEDxGrandRapids, which he transferred to Frazee. Pickrel now leads the TEDxGrandRapids sponsorship recruitment team, which has signed up about 16 businesses in West Michigan as financial sponsors, plus others as in-kind sponsors. The financial sponsors include Amway, Huntington Bank, Steelcase, Haworth, Johnson Controls, Meijer and Wolverine World Wide.

Other members of the TEDxGrandRapids team are Grant Carmichael, Adam Clarke, Todd Ernst, Jennifer Jurgens, Eric Kuhn, Amelia Murphy, Kurt Nahikian, Keith Oberfield, Nikki Sunstrom, Sara Molina, Michael Byers and Eric O’Brien.

Advisors to TEDxGrandRapids include Bill Holsinger-Robinson of Pomegranate Studios; Ginny Seyferth of Seyferth PR; Joyce Bromberg, Bromberg & Associates; Kevin Budelmann, PeopleDesign; Jim Hotary, Faurecia Westworks; Wayne Shuurman, Audio Advisor; Trevor Corlett, Madcap Coffee; and Michael Warsaw, Johnson Controls.

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