• March 10, 2023
    9:00 am - 5:00 pm

The annual student-run TEDxCUNY conference returns in-person this spring, with more speakers, workshops, and experiences than ever.  Curated to inspire meaningful conversation, with performances centered on the theme “Who We Are,” the day will reflect on keeping sight of one’s individual identities and roles in the larger context of the shared world.

With speakers  from across CUNY and workshops led by nonprofit organizations dedicated to community empowerment.

Open to the public; Macaulay students and all members of the CUNY community admitted free. This event will take place at John Jay College’s Gerald W. Lynch Theater, 524 W 59th St in Manhattan.


SHERMAN BROWNE is a game-changing personal and professional growth expert, dedicated to empowering the masses to unlock their potential. Through a nexus of works in business, education, government and community relations, he has become a leading voice of inspiration both nationally and internationally.

As Founder & CEO of AIMHIGH International, Sherman is profoundly impacting our educational system by helping students and educators enhance their vision for the future through the improvement of their M.A.P.P.S (Mental, Academic, Personal, Professional, and Social) outcomes. 

An authority on leadership, youth empowerment, and the psychology of motivation, Sherman has been consistently recognized for his insights and humanitarian contributions. His commitment to empowering the masses is surpassed only by his Faith in God and dedication to his family as a loving husband to his wife Shereece and their daughters Solaei and Sohaily. 

MILA BURNS is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Latin American & Latino Studies at Lehman College, CUNY. She is the Associate Director at the Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies at The Graduate Center, CUNY. Burns is the author of Dona Ivone Lara’s Sorriso Negro (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019; Editora Cobogó, 2021) and Nasci para Sonhar e Cantar: Dona Ivone Lara, a Mulher no Samba (Editora Record, 2009). She holds a Ph.D. in History (The Graduate Center, CUNY, 20217), a Master’s degree in Latin American Studies (Columbia University, 2012), a Master’s degree in Social Anthropology (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, 2006), and a B.A. in Journalism (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, 2003). Mila is a university professor with an interdisciplinary profile, with an emphasis on media, anthropology, and history. For two decades, she has worked as a journalist in Brazil and New York, having served as editor-in-chief and anchor of América News, a newscast dedicated to the Latinx community broadcast at TV Globo International. Her current book manuscript investigates the Brazilian influence on the military coup d’état in Chile, in 1973. Her articles have been published in several newspapers, magazines, and academic publications.

KRISTINA GOWIN-LARA works in the Wellness Center at Macaulay Honors College as the Associate Director of Wellness and Counseling. She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and received her dual Master’s degrees in Psychology and Psychological Counseling from Teachers College at Columbia University. Kristina has experience working with young adults and families through non-profit organizations in settings such as foster care homes, schools, and community based clinics. Kristina uses Cognitive Behavioral tools and Trauma-Focused interventions as well as working with people to discover their identities, passions, and values. She also supports the professional development of social service providers through training and consultation. Kristina believes in working collaboratively with people through a recovery-oriented and self-directed approach to help them reach their full potential and to feel empowered. Outside of work, Kristina enjoys cooking, podcasts, and college sports.

ARVOLYN HILL  (she/her) is an outdoor Educator and a community Herbalist with a never-ending curiosity about plants and the natural world. Raised on Schaghticoke land of rural Kent, CT, her love of herbalism grew after the passing of several family members due to preventable environmental illness. She studied at Twin Star Connecticut’s School of Herbalism and Energetic Studies and in 2016 opened Gold Feather, an online apothecary and flower art shop. Arvolyn is passionate about reclaiming herbalism for BIPOC communities and using herbs to build ancestral connection. She’s the Manager of the Everett’s Children’s Adventure Garden at the New York Botanical Gardens where she creates nature centered science exploration activities for kids. Arvolyn can be found enjoying growing herbs at her local community garden in Harlem, NY or sharing herbal tips on Instagram: @goldfeather_. www.goldfeathershop.com.

GINA KEATLEY is an esteemed authority on the subject of nutrition and the culinary arts. She specializes in understanding culture through cuisine. When Gina isn’t working on TV food segments, she is giving out tasty treatment to her patients at Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy or slicing into culinary culture as a university professor at CUNY. Gina has been honored with The President’s Council Nutrition Community Leadership Award. Her passion brought her to health media; contributing to media outlets such as Food Network, ABC, Fox and more. She hosted Healthy Soul for four seasons as well as Deliciously Diverse on Amazon Prime in US/UK/Japan. Keatley holds an MBA in Healthcare, BS in Nutrition from New York University and continuing education from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her most recent adventure includes use of her skills in culinary innovation as CEO for The Sicilian Olive Leaf Tea Company.

AMARA LAKHOUS is a bilingual writer and novelist in Arabic and Italian. He holds a PhD in Humanities from the University of Rome, La Sapienza where he completed a Ph.D. dissertation entitled “Living Islam as a Minority.” He is the author of five novels, three of which were written in both Arabic and Italian. His best known works are the much acclaimed Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio (2008), Divorce Islamic Style (2012), Dispute over an Very Italian Piglet (2014). The Prank of the Good Little Virgin in Via Ormea, came out in Italian in 2014 and published in English by Europa Editions in 2016. The latest novel in Arabic Tir al-lil, The Night Bird (2019) was longlisted  in the International prize for Arabic Fiction 2021. His novels have been translated from Italian into nine languages. Lakhous has been awarded, among others, the Flaiano Prize in Italy in 2006 and the Algerians Booksellers Prize in 2008. He moved to New York City in 2014.

A daughter of immigrant parents and a native of the Bronx NY, AMY MORALES-LARA is currently pursuing a Master of Social Work degree from the Silberman School of Social Work at CUNY Hunter College, as she working toward becoming a counselor for the diverse youth of the Bronx. Amy is deeply determined to merge her life’s greatest passions: the creative arts and mental health work, as she finds that their intersection can bring healing and liberation in the lives of others. Along with being a graduate student and working full-time as a researcher coordinator at the Rose F. Kennedy Center, Amy also finds deep value and meaning in the community work she does with her local church. Amy is also a Cabrini-Hunter clinical fellow, published playwright, and emerging singer-songwriter. Her first EP, “In Bloom”, is available on all major streaming platforms. 

EMILY RICE is Associate Professor of Astrophysics at the Macaulay Honors College of CUNY, faculty in the Physics Ph.D. Program at the CUNY Graduate Center, and a resident research associate in the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). She earned her Ph.D. in Astronomy & Astrophysics at UCLA and Bachelor’s degrees in Physics & Astronomy and German at the University of Pittsburgh. Emily is co-founder of the research group Brown Dwarfs in New York City (BDNYC), along with Prof. Kelle Cruz (Hunter College, CUNY) and Dr. Jackie Faherty (AMNH), named for the astronomical objects they study. Emily frequently gives public presentations about space and science, including at the Hayden Planetarium at AMNH, occasionally makes media appearances, coordinates Astronomy on Tap events at social venues around the world, creates and shares astronomy-inspired fashion through STARtorialist, and has been known to produce silly science parody videos.

NICOLE SIMMONS recently assumed the role of Assistant Commissioner for Government Affairs at the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development.  She leads a team dedicated to advancing HPD’s goals around expanding access to safe, affordable housing throughout the city.  Nicole previously spent 10 years at the Fire department where she first served as Chief of Staff in the Office of Recruitment and Diversity then as Deputy Director in the office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs.

Prior to her work at The Fire Department Nicole spent twelve years at NYC Parks holding several positions of leadership including Chief of Staff to the Deputy Commissioner for Public Programs, Community Engagement Specialist, Director of Operations at GreenThumb and Director of the Brooklyn Job Assistance Center.

Nicole was born and raised in the Bronx, NY.  She earned a Bachelors degree from Amherst College and a Master’s from Hunter College.

BRYAN TAPIA is a sophomore at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and is a first-generation Hispanic student. Bryan grew up in Washington Heights in a very low-income household and learned how to make a single dollar last him a week. This fuels his passion to become a lawyer in the financial district as he doesn’t know many lawyers who look like him and hopes to be a role model to future generations of Hispanic students worldwide. Bryan will stop at nothing to pursue his education to hopefully one day create an organization that helps marginalized groups fund their education and understand their finances to better their living situations. 


Tomoon is a financial literacy and retirement youtube channel focused on college students and recent graduates. Alan, founder of Tomoon, will walk you through everything you need to know in order to engage with the modern world in a financially meaningful way to move upward in the socioeconomic ladder. We will go over the basics of credit cards, credit scores, debt, bank accounts, investing, negotiating compensation, and taxes. There is so much more to explore, and this is a good start to your financial journey.

Girl Be Heard builds leaders, changemakers, and activists. We do this by developing, amplifying, and celebrating the voices of girls, young women, and gender non-conforming youth through socially conscious theatre-making, storytelling, and performance. During this workshop, participants will explore their leadership identity and values through dynamic group discussion and participation in a group art making challenge that promotes collective leadership.

Improvolution is an improv school and corporate education company located in lower Manhattan, as well as virtually. They bring improvisation out from the theater and comedy world to companies all over the globe to help people and teams work better together. Today’s workshop will focus on how having an ‘Improv Mindset’ can increase confidence, promote camaraderie, and think quickly on your feet. Best of all, it’s a lot of fun! Our facilitators today are not only corporate trainers, they are seasoned improvisers themselves.

Cultural Creations: Exploring aspects of identity through writing. Join Urban Word in a creative writing workshop that explores the many obvious as well as the overlooked aspects of culture that make up who we are. Explore examples of work that speak to this topic and participate in a guided writing session to help you create your own. All levels are welcome! Facilitated by the Urban Word Executive Director, Shanelle Gabriel, and 2023 NYC Youth Poet Laureate, Stephanie Pacheco.