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Reposted from NWI Times, Feb 20, 2016

VALPARAISO — A spin-off of the popular TED Talks that have been viewed and heard by more than 1 billion people around the globe via YouTube, radio and podcast is coming to Valparaiso University.

TEDxValparaisoUniversity’s inaugural community-inspired event is from 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Center for the Arts.

The locally organized event is themed The power of &.

TEDxValparaisoUniversity is a student-driven initiative designed to explore the power of & and its capacity to bring together a diversity of people, cultures and concepts to create real-world change. Presentations will explore how through the power of & we are able to bridge, extend, develop and enhance our community, both locally and globally.

TED talks are usually delivered in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or fewer) and in VU’s case will feature 10 diverse speakers, including a student, faculty, residents and Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, whose topic is “How Public Servants Can Re-Engage The Public.”

“I love the format,” the mayor said. “It really allows you to connect with the audience.”

Freeman-Wilson said TED talks offer an opportunity to talk about something you’re passionate about.

“And I’m very passionate about the community being engaged in government and receiving feedback about what’s important to them,” she said.

Amanda Zelechoski, an assistant professor of psychology at VU, will discuss how a concept in psychology applies to the criminal justice system.

“I love TED talks,” she said. “I use them in my class all the time.”

Her husband, Steve Zelechoski, a training and coaching executive, is also one of the speakers.

Another speaker, Robert Ordway, owner of the men’s clothier Rusted Oak in downtown Valparaiso, will discuss why Millennials matter in elections.

“I applied to TEDx because I felt I had an idea worth spreading,” Ordway said. “I think TED Talks are neat because they cover a range of interesting subjects presented by creative speakers. At the end of the day, I think each speaker is trying to motivate, inspire and empower those in the audience through a call to action. In my case, it’s about the importance of Millennials turning out in the election this spring and fall.”

Scheduled speakers include VU President Mark A. Heckler, Tom Cedel, distinguished visiting professor; Anton Lewis, assistant professor of accounting; Mac MacElhaney, pastor and product specialist for Kendall Electric; Elyse Smith, meteorology major; and Nathan Young, founder and chief analyst of Turnkey Concepts.

Admission to TEDxValparisoUniversity is free, but pre-registration is required. Tickets are available to students, faculty and staff, with a portion open to the general public. Ticket availability is limited and attendees will be selected on a first-come, first-served basis. Those who wish to attend should register at

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