Asbury Park, N.J. (March 1, 2017)- Leading thinkers in technology, science, gender, business and art, along with a former governor who now helps rehabilitate ex-convicts, will share how identity shapes perceptions and reality at the TEDxNavesink IDENTITY conference.

The event will be held Saturday, May 20, 2017, at the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park, N.J.

Former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey will be one of the featured speakers. TEDxNavesink brings the mission of TED Talks to Monmouth County for an all-day live event for the fifth year. The event has grown to become the largest TEDx on the East Coast.  

From a strong applicant pool, we have assembled an inspiring line-up,” said Jamie Sussel Turner, who leads the speaker selection committee. “Whether it’s through the lens of gender, race, class, arts, human study, technology, design or something more, TEDxNavesink speakers have a unique opportunity to work with an experienced team who will collaborate with them in uncovering the essence of their idea, and offer coaching so they can deliver the talk of their lives.”

TEDxNavesink is a self-organizing annual event dedicated to education, community, innovation, and “ideas worth spreading.” Each year, a different theme is chosen to build the day of nonfiction theater. Hundreds of business and nonprofit leaders, students from local universities and sponsors plan, manage and fund the all-day event.

Tickets cost $40 for those under 40/over 70; $60 for general seating, and $80 for the best seats. All seats must be reserved. Tickets can be purchased at

Speakers include the following:

Jim McGreevey (Woodbridge/Jersey City, NJ), is a former New Jersey governor who is now the chairman of the NJ Reentry Corp, a Jersey City-based nonprofit that helps former inmates with job training, addiction treatment, and legal aid. McGreevey will share how his experiences working with the formerly incarcerated have helped to shape his own sense of self.

Dr. Kenneth Womack (Long Branch, NJ), is a non-fiction author, Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences and an English professor at Monmouth University. His latest Beatles-related book project is Maximum Volume: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin (The Early Years: 1926-1966). Womack’s talk will explore how Sir George overcame his challenges and how it relates to us figuring out our own crises.

Jasmin Singer (Los Angeles, CA), is the author of the memoir Always Too Much and Never Enough (Penguin Random House Berkley 2016). Her memoir talks about finding herself on the ropes of her weight-loss journey. Her talk draws ideas from her book: how do others shape our identity? How do our assumptions about others replicate in ourselves? And how do we come to the realization that we are able to live a meaningful life?

Kory Stamper (New York City), is a lexicographer at Merriam-Webster, America's oldest dictionary company, and an author. In addition to writing definitions, she appears in Merriam-Webster's online video series at, and writes and speaks on the role of language and dictionaries in society. Her blog about dictionaries, Harmless Drudgery, has been mentioned in The Paris Review and The New York Times. Her debut book, Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries, is being released by Pantheon/Knopf in the spring of 2017.

Jean Malpas (New York City), is a certified psychotherapist and founder of The Gender Family Project of the Ackerman Institute, both which provide mental health services for individuals struggling with identity. His work has been featured on National Geographic and MSNBC.

Patty Azzarello (Palo Alto, CA/Ocean County NJ), is a CEO who dissects the facets which make her business successful. Through “unconstructed conversation,” she is able to make her business thrive through interpersonal connection. She shares how true identity helps develop a trust so others can connect with you.

Mileece I’Anson (Los Angeles/London), is the founder of Children of Wild Designs, a program that integrates renewable energy, technology and art to create novel perspectives. I’Anson focuses on how to connect people with plants, peace and unity through interactive audio and imagery. Her work has been featured in The New York Times.

Dr. Heather Berlin (New York City, Long Island), examines the relationship between the brain and mind, with a focus on borderline personality disorder. She looks at the neurological basis of identity, taking apart the stigmas that are often attached to mental illness. She has been featured on TEDxYouth at KC, the Startalk Panel and Lucid NYC. Heather is also the co-host of the PBS show “Science Goes to the Movies.”

Baba Brinkman (New York City, Long Island), is a Canadian rap artist, playwright, and former tree planter based in New York City. He is best known for his "Rap Guide" series of science-based hip-hop albums and theatres shows, including Rap Guides to Evolution, Climate Change, and Religion.

David Orban (New York City, Milan, Italy), explores the ways in which technology is shaping our everyday lives, and how society adapts to these advancements. David has been featured in TEDxAcademy.

John Werner (Cambridge, MA), is the vice president of Strategic Partnerships at Meta where he explores augmented reality. John is the recipient of the Loeb Fellowship at Harvard Graduate Study of Design. Additionally, he is the founder of TEDxBeaconStreet and on the board of advisors for TEDx along with a number of other TED affiliations. His work has been featured in dozens of TED talks.

Christine Zilinski (Red Bank, NJ), is an award-winning salon owner, stylist, industry speaker, trainer and leadership expert. Christine has built a strong foundation within the professional beauty industry by adeptly cultivating her skills as both a creative and technical stylist and an industry leader. 

John Sitilides (Washington D.C./Jersey City, NJ), is a government affairs specialist who will share his insights on U.S. and global geopolitical decision-making that impacts markets in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, helping high-stakes investors, business executives and opinion leaders better understand and mitigate disruptive risk.

Rob Van Varick (Princeton, N.J./Philadelphia) is a partner at Michael Graves Architecture & Design where he passionately believes design has the power to positively impact people’s lives. His mission is to apply the right blend of research, psychology, creativity and strategy so that root causes are identified, allowing the best solution to be designed.  

Jenan Matari (New York), is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of MissMuslim, a women’s empowerment website covering a wide range of topics from faith to food and fitness, to female/sexual health and dating, to politics and pop culture.

Avery Rose Puryear (Fair Haven, NJ), is singer-songwriter and leader of the band, Avery Rose and The Thorns. A student at Rumson Fair Haven Regional High School, Avery plays the piano, drums, saxophone, and bass guitar. She was accepted into the New York Grammy camp for songwriting and performs at the Stone Pony and The House of Independents.

Alexandra Lewis (Tinton Falls, NJ), is a 14-year old poet who has been writing since she was 11 years old.  She’s written poems about topics such as equality, feminism, and freedom. At the age of 7, Alexandra joined the New Jersey Orators, a public speaking organization. Over the years she has won awards for Excellence and Honors, the highest awards at the NJ Orators competition.

Eric Burdge (Sea Bright, NJ), is the owner of DRH Furniture, a woodworking business that specializes in 17th- and 18th-century-style handmade furniture. Burdge’s talk will focus on how there is hope for students who fall through the cracks of the school system and don’t seek a traditional four-year college degree.

More speakers will be announced leading up to the event.

About TEDxNavesink

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, live speakers and entertainers spark deep discussion and connection. The goal of TEDxNavesink is to bring world-leading TED talks to Monmouth County in an all-day live event that inspires us to learn and think about the future of our home on the Shore.

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