Lydia Chew

Connecting the STEM to the root

For as long as she can remember, Lydia has been surrounded by humans. She has lived with them, befriended them, and popular opinion even considers her  one of them. Her journey and study of humankind has provided her with a few insights she’d like to share on the humanities and how through literature, philosophy and art, we can discover the root of what it means to be human…despite technology becoming ubiquitous in society.

As a student of political science at Arizona State University, Lydia was inspired to serve her community and provide a voice for the student body as a senator for her college. A strong proponent of political activism, she is also passionate about social justice and civic education. She dreams of public service in her future and personally thrives on literature, art, and musical theater.


Jody Crago

Objects of my obsession: How everyday objects connect us to people and the world around us

With a 25-year career in museums, Jody has had the pleasure of working in six different communities across the country with a focus on small museums and their connection to the people and places that surround them. He talks about how, in our seemingly disposable world of things, some of our everyday objects can reveal hidden connections to ourselves, other people and the world, as well as a time and place in history. He asks that we all listen to the stories these objects can tell us.

Jody has a Bachelor of Arts in History from Penn State and a Master of Arts in American History from the University of Delaware. He is co-founder of the East Valley Cultural Heritage Coalition, serves on the American Association for State and Local History’s National Leadership Awards Committee and is a former president of the Museum Association of Arizona. He is currently overseeing the construction of a new museum for Chandler that will bring world-class exhibits, forums and experiences to the community he loves.


Dave Engelthaler, Ph.D.

Connect the first world to the third world

Dave is an Associate Professor and the Director of TGen North, the infectious disease arm of the nonprofit Translational Genomics Research Institute. He oversees a number of research groups working on the development analytical tools to detect and characterize infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, valley fever, MRSA, and others. He has published more than 90 scientific papers on epidemiology, disease ecology, genetics, and microbiology and he has a dozen patented inventions. Dave received his Masters in Microbiology from Colorado State University and his PhD in Biology at Northern Arizona University. Dave was previously the Arizona State Epidemiologist and a biologist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

He shares why now is the time to connect first world technology advances to the rest of the world to help beat back the worst diseases of our time, like tuberculosis.


Candace Lewis, Ph.D.

A therapeutic trip: From experience to epigenome

With a background in neuroscience, Candace takes her experience at the University Hospital of Psychiatry in Zurich, Switzerland, working in their department of psychiatry, psychotherapy and psychosomatics, along  with her other research to talk the audience on a journey from cutting-edge genomic science to the profound experience of psychedelics. She connects the two divergent fields to propose a new approach to healing common mental illnesses, such as major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Candace currently holds a joint position at TGen, the Translational Genomics Research Institute, and the Psychology Department at ASU. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and pursued her graduate studies at ASU on a Harry S. Truman Scholarship, earning a Ph.D. in behavioral neuroscience. She was awarded the Bisgrove Fellowship from Science Foundation Arizona to investigate the interplay between early experiences, epigenetics, physiology and behavior.


Ricky Olson

Leverage Laughter to create connection

Ricky is more than just a pretty face. He’s a man of substance with a heart of gold. His  background in direct sales, IT management, and government bureaucracy nearly cost him the one thing he valued most: his mind. He gained the confidence he needed to try stand-up comedy while working at AIG; if they were too big to fail, so was he. After four years of intense study and finding an amazing coach, he finally figured out the stand-up thing and shares with everyone who will listen what he learned in the process. Ricky is a speaker and author of the recently released, Hook ’em with Humor: The Public Speaker’s Guide to Having Fun and Using Humor to Mesmerize, Fascinate, and Engage.

Ricky shares how laughter is not just about amusements, but about agreement, affiliation and affection. Every can leverage laughter to create connection by understanding the necessary ingredients of a laughter rich environment.


Jen Rooney

Connect four C’s and come alive!

Jen develops, designs and delivers customized education program content for organizations to equip their staff with life skills and strategies to be effective leaders. As a consultant she has learned what creates meaningful connections in our lives. She will  hare her practice of connecting with the four C’s strategy to help build authentic relationships and cultivate purposeful connections.

She works with organizations to strengthen and sustain healthy workplace cultures and lead impactful organizational change through her business, C2 = Creative Consulting. She received her Masters in Innovative Leadership from Western International University.