TEDxAWC team reflects on successful first-time event

March 30, 2023

Executive Board looks forward to future conference in 2024 

Yuma, AZ (March 30, 2023) – Ten inspiring thinkers presented ideas on how to “Shift the Drift” during the inaugural TEDxAWC event at the Arizona Western College Theater on Friday, March 17.

Coming from diverse backgrounds and professions, the speakers had the opportunity to share new perspectives to initiate effective change for the betterment of communities. Topics ranged from psychology, healthcare, and fitness science to rhetoric and composition, and more. Completed TEDx Talks will be shared worldwide on official TED platforms at later dates. 

“What a great honor to lead a team that helped bring the world to Yuma County and introduce Yuma County to the world,” said TEDxAWC Director and Licensee Dr. Sara Amani. “Thanks to an amazing response from the community to our hugely successful sold-out event, TEDxAWC will be back with more inspiring talks in the Fall of 2024.”

TEDxAWC Co-Director Kaley Zepeda added, “To have been a part of something so impactful and have the opportunity to provide a space where our speakers shared their powerful, insightful messages was such a privilege. I’m proud of our executive team for planning a remarkable event; the hard work from all parties does not go unnoticed. Thank you to our Yuma community for believing in us and supporting our vision.” 

In the spirit of progressing the TEDx mission to spread great ideas, speakers challenged standard operating procedures and encouraged the audience to discover new ways to evolve everyday practices. 

“The chance to show off innovative ideas from our corner of Arizona to the world is what is staying with me. I’m so proud of all of our presenters, and the positive audience reception that our first TEDxAWC received,” said TEDxAWC Operations Manager and Host Lori Stofft.

TEDxAWC Marketing Manager Sarah Herman added, “Being part of the team that brought TEDx to our community will forever be a point of pride for me. It was a joy to get to know our board members through the planning process and an incredible learning experience behind-the-scenes coupled with the innovation our speakers shared.”

TEDxAWC was one of eight proposals approved through the 2022 AWC Innovation Fund, where faculty, staff and students had the opportunity to present a variety of ideas in hopes of being granted the funds to make their initiatives a reality. Dr. Sara Amani, Professor of Multilingual Composition/Specialist, was awarded $16,500 for her TEDxAWC proposal to implement the project. She was then able to secure the TEDx official license for the event from TED Conferences.

“This event allowed speakers to bring big ideas from Yuma to the rest of the world, inspiring and educating our culture. Thanks to everyone who made TEDxAWC 2023 possible,” said TEDxAWC Financial Manager Fabian Munoz.

TEDxAWC Speed Coach John Hessinger added, “TEDxAWC was an incredible event filled with challenges and discovery, not just of topics and themes, but of self. So many of the presenters took exponential leaps as authorities in their field of curiosity and expertise.”

As a team, the TEDxAWC Executive Board embraced the challenge of bringing the first TEDxAWC event to Yuma and worked for the past year to bring this conference to life. The success of the sold-out event set the stage for more TEDxAWC conferences to be held at the college in the future.

“TEDxAWC was such an amazing experience. I was honored to be part of this historic event and to be part of the executive board, who worked hard to make this happen. Our speakers were incredible and brought wonderful stories and lessons to our audience. I look forward to future TEDxAWC events,” said TEDxAWC Team Member Laura DeSantiago-Rios.

The preparation for this project led to several partnerships and collaborations with AWC students, faculty, and staff. One such example of student work is the TEDxAWC sculptural set piece that was crafted by AWC Welding students. Photos of the piece being created can be found in the AWC Gallery here. Photos from the TEDxAWC event can also be found here.

About TEDx, x = independently organized event
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

About TED
TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, often in the form of short talks delivered by leading thinkers and doers. Many of these talks are given at TED conferences, intimate TED Salons and thousands of independently organized TEDx events around the world. Videos of these talks are made available, free, on TED.com and other platforms. Audio versions of TED Talks are published to TED Talks Daily, available on all podcast platforms.
TED's open and free initiatives for spreading ideas include TED.com, where new TED Talk videos are posted daily; TEDx, which licenses thousands of individuals and groups to host local, self-organized TED-style events around the world; the TED Fellows program, which selects innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities; The Audacious Project, which surfaces and funds critical ideas that have the potential to impact millions of lives; TED Translators, which crowdsources the subtitling of TED Talks so that big ideas can spread across languages and borders; and the educational initiative TED-Ed. TED also offers TED@Work, a program that reimagines TED Talks for workplace learning. TED also has a growing library of original podcasts, including The TED Interview with Chris Anderson, WorkLife with Adam Grant, Far Flung with Saleem Reshamwala and How to Be a Better Human.

Follow TED on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and on LinkedIn.

Dr. Sara Amani
Professor of Multilingual Composition/Specialist
Arizona Western College 
(928) 344-7503


Caption information:

TEDxAWC Executive Board + Speakers – Pictured from left to right: Shawn Clavell, Trisha Campbell, Laura DeSantiago-Rios, Kaley Zepeda, Fabian Muñoz, Dr. Sara Amani, Kevin Kato, Anne-Heather Welch, Shadi Vahdat, Valeria Bogorevich, Ruchi Lamba, Lily McNair, Trudie Milner, Sarah Herman, and Lori Stofft.