• Baker Institute Team

Diverse Ideas Come to Life at TEDxLehighRiver


Article by Allie Linn | Photos by Andy Nguyen, PBS39

Jen Groover, "Why Transformation Trumps Motivation for True Change"

TEDxLehighRiver presented its annual main event on January 31,at PBS39, the Lehigh Valley's community public TV station and premier sponsor of TEDxLehighRiver. TEDxLehighRiver offers diverse ideas delivered by speakers who elaborated on the theme of "Intention by Design." TEDxLehighRiver was co-founded by Tim Fallon, CEO of PBS39, Carolyn Katwan, a community member and Lisa Getzler, Executive Director of Lehigh University's Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation who also serves as the curator for TEDxLehighRiver.


In her role as curator, Getzler develops the theme of the event, secures the licenses

from the TED organization, narrows the pool from 40+ applicants to 5-6 speakers,

coaches them for 2 months leading up to the event, and narrates the event, weaving in

together the theme and speakers’ ideas. “It's a heavy lift,” says Getzler, “but I see my

role in TEDxLehighRiver as being inextricably connected to the mission of the Baker

Institute and I’m passionate about the partnership.”


The Baker Institute is an organization focused on supporting students at Lehigh through its multiple immersion programs, workshops and experiential learning opportunities in entrepreneurship and innovation. However, partnering with PBS39 to bring TEDxLehighRiver to the community is an important part of the Baker Institute's mission to support the creation of new ideas and helping to seed innovative thinking not only inside, but beyond the boundaries of the university. "A primary reason for bringing TEDx to the Lehigh Valley was to provide a way to demonstrate that we as a community are ideators and thought leaders as well as a community that embraces new ideas." Getzler said from the stage at the event.


Suparna Damany, "The Health Account: Injury Prevention for the Modern Age"

Just as important as the Baker Institute's involvement represented by Getzler, is the

partnership with PBS39, represented by Fallon. "TEDxLehighRiver is demonstrative of the vision of PBS39 – fostering and nurturing a community that is inspired, engaged and vibrant. This event brings together the best minds of the Greater Lehigh Valley to learn from each other with ideas worth sharing." stated Fallon.  PBS39 and the Baker Institute have a shared mission to celebrate and support creativity and innovation and one way they do so is by bringing the chosen speakers to the community. PBS39 provides the professional production resources and quality that the studio has to offer, a dedicated TEDxLehighRive volunteer corps finds sponsors, additional resources and people in the community with big ideas, and Getzler works with them to bring those ideas into the world.  


TEDxLehighRiver is a unique and valuable experience for the community in the Lehigh

Valley.  This year's theme, Intention by Design, provided the community with 6

opportunities to think about what it means to live intentionally, with speakers sharing

diverse ideas on the subject.  Each speaker concluded their talk with an "ask" from the

audience, encouraging them to continue the conversation. Fallon says"Our community is a better place for having events such as TEDxLehighRiver. The more opportunities we create to bring people together and learn, the more opportunities we have to understand each other and work together for a better community."


Neil Deshmukh, "The Dangers of Artificial Intelligence: Is Technology Running Us?"

The people chosen to present their ideas to the community are put through their paces by Getzler to hone and craft their idea into a polished TED talk. The speakers included a high school innovator, seasoned entrepreneurs, writers, professors, and health professionals. Ideas ranged in scope from the gig economy and the future of work from the perspective of Laura Briggs, a successful freelance writer, to the stories and accomplishments of Native Americans and the important role indigenous peoples play in society by Dr. Amanda Morris, professor of indigenous rhetoric. High school entrepreneur and Artificial Intelligence researcher, Neil Deshmukh took the stage to talk about the dangers of AI and whether or not technology is running our society and Suparna Damany, a physical therapist in Allentown shared important ways to add to our human body’s "health account" so that we prevent and reverse the modern day injuries caused by our attachment to technology. Geoffrey Klein talked about storytelling as a way to make more intentional connections and Jen Groover taught us that that motivation is not enough to make true change and provided a four step plan toward transformation.


Says one speaker about his experience, "I appreciated all (the) support, help, and

general amazingness during the whole TEDxLehighRiver experience. It was a great day

and I was so honored to be a part of it." The community was invited to ask the speakers questions and to have continuing conversations with one another about the ideas shared during the event. One community member reflected on her experience, "What a fun, informative night at TEDxLehighRiver!  It was so great to hear the perspective of new innovative thinkers in our area. I found myself revisiting some of the ideas that were presented for several days after the event."


TEDxLehighRiver is an event not to be missed. The partnership between the Baker

Institute and PBS39, resulting in TEDxLehighRiver, provides the community with new

ideas that are creative, innovative and worth sharing.

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