2023 Presenters

Presenters are listed in order of their appearance in the program.

Carol Pegg

Carol Pegg What is Creativity?

Carol is a two-time alumna of the University of Rhode Island, earning her BFA in Theatre and Master’s degree in Education. Carol has an extensive background in theatre and dance spanning over 30 years, involved in various productions at various Rhode Island theatres most notably at The Players at Barker Playhouse, and the former 2nd Story and Perishable theatres. She has also been seen on stage at the URI Feinstein Providence Campus Arts and Culture Program performing in a staged reading of SHOUT! Sharing Our Truth as well as a production of In Conflict: A Soldier’s Story Docudrama.

Most recently, Carol has been seen in staged reading performances of Firekeepers Daughter with Learning Literature as part of Reading Across Rhode Island 2022.

Pardis Mahdavi

Pardis Mahdavi The Creative Spark that Ignited a Revolution

Pardis Mahdavi, PhD is the Provost and Executive Vice President at the University of Montana. Previously, she was Professor and Dean of Social Sciences at Arizona State University. Her research interests include gendered labor, human trafficking, migration, human rights, and public health in the context of changing global and political structures.

She has published six single authored books and two edited volumes in addition to numerous journal and news articles. She is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations and has been a fellow at the Social Sciences Research Council, the American Council on Learned Societies, Google Ideas, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Ginay Lopes

Ginay Lopes The Art of Healing

Ginay Lopes is a Published Author, Spoken Word artist, and motivational speaker from Providence, Rhode Island. Her goal is to tell the stories of unheard voices and promote community through emotional healing and cultural awareness. Ginay has shared her work throughout various high schools and universities and is now expanding her reach nationwide.

Jeremy Bergantini

Jeremy Bergantini Seeking the Light Through the Lens

Jeremy Bergantini is an Iraq War veteran and a junior at URI pursing three majors and two minors. He is working toward becoming an archaeologist and humanitarian, digging up the past and helping others deal with their own. After his father suffered a series of strokes in February of 2022, Jeremy started a nonprofit, Tapped Foundation, to help veterans dealing with PTSD, potential homelessness, suicidal thoughts, and women and minority veterans, as well as people suffering from a heart attack or stroke — veteran or not.

Jen Mott

Jen Mott Juggling Career & Passion

Dr. Jen Mott has been with Cincinnati Circus Company since 2006 as a juggler, stilt-walker, balloon artist, and fire performer. During that time, she graduated with her undergraduate degree in Secondary Education for Spanish and completed her Master’s program in Curriculum & Instruction from University of Cincinnati before finishing her Doctoral program in Leadership Studies at Xavier University.

While Cincinnati Circus Company has been her consistent weekend and summer job for nearly 20 years, Dr. Mott has continued to serve the students and staff of Greater Cincinnati in a variety of capacities as a teacher and school administrator.

Currently, Dr. Mott is a middle school Assistant Principal and Athletic Director in one of the largest public school districts in Ohio full-time. Additionally, she is a keynote speaker for schools, businesses & other organizations—partnering them for speaking, team building and workshop needs—while teaching for Xavier in their Educational Administration program.

François Luks

François Luks Spark’s the Limit: The Visual Abstract

François I. Luks is professor of surgery at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University and pediatric surgeon-in-chief at Hasbro Children’s Hospital. As a medical student, he drew a daily comic strip for several newspapers and later started to illustrate some of his own research publications, then those of colleagues. He currently teaches medical illustration for undergraduate students at Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design. His recently published book, MedSpeak Illuminated: The art and practice of medical illustration, explores the different facets of visual communication in medicine and science.

Abigail Gordon

Abigail Gordon Permission to Dream

Abigail Gordon is a first-year student at URI pursuing a dual major in secondary education and French, with a minor in Spanish, and plans to be a high school language teacher. She’s lived in many places across the U.S., but spent her high school years in Durham, New Hampshire. A first-time TEDx speaker, Abby also writes short stories, is an avid reader, and enjoys sailing when time allows.

Jillian Eddy

Jillian Eddy The Spark Pile

As a self proclaimed “Jill-of-all trades”, Jillian Eddy prides herself on her array of works and talents. She is a scenic artist for Saturday Night Live, is about to launch her own business, and is a tattoo artist.

Her reason for speaking at TEDxURI? “The universe told me to.”

Aryana Sadr

Aryana Sadr Melody of Social Justice

Aryana Sadr is a first-year student at URI pursing a degree in engineering. Her parents immigrated from Iran, making her a first-generation student as well. She loves learning about different cultures, as well as sharing her own. Music has always played a big role in her life, helping her gain different perspectives in cultures and languages. As an Iranian, Aryana has heard many stereotypes; music is one way she is able to share her culture in another light. In response to the current situation in Iran, and its lack of news coverage, Aryana is driven to use her privilege and the TEDx stage to give a voice to girls who are fighting for their basic rights, giving a voice to the voiceless through music.