McALLEN — South Texas native astronaut Michael Fossum, Olympian German Madrazo and McAllen High School’s reigning teacher of the year, Melina Recio, are but three of the 15 speakers that will participate in the inaugural series of TEDxMcAllen, a subsidiary of TED, the popular events that are often presented in the form of short talks “delivered by leading thinkers and doers.”
Also participating in the series on Nov. 12 at the Art Village on Main in McAllen will be Sister Norma Pimentel of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley; violinist Diana Seitz; bilingual advocate Karina Chapa; disabilities advocate Evelyn Cano; border advocate Sydney Ramon; entrepreneur Pilar Gonzalez; photojournalist Veronica Cardenas; professor Andres Bernal; author Shawn Elliot Russell; HIV/AIDS health advocate Leo Benavidez; agricultural blockchain founder Alex Macias; and inventor and engineering professor Karen Lozano.
The speakers were announced Wednesday night at The Yard, the bar and food truck hub in downtown McAllen, with many of the speakers and more than 200 people in attendance. The TEDxMcAllen event on Nov. 12 will be able to accommodate 100 attendees, according to Marcos Silva, the McAllen organization’s licensee and curator.
The theme for the inaugural event: “We are dreamers,” Silva said.
Silva is hoping for a strong opening to the series, because last time TEDxMcAllen was tried in McAllen, in 2015, it didn’t make it further than the following year due to a lack of community support. But speaker applications rolled in by more than 200 and Wednesday night’s event could signal a more successful outcome this go around, with a 30-minute line of people to get into the venue and community leaders and officials on hand.
“We have people who have been in space, who are looking at the sea, who are creating nanotechnology machines — we have a little bit of everything,” Silva said.
The TED varietal called TEDx are local, self-organized events similar to a TED event, where the discussions are deep and tend to range from speakers such as model Cameron Russell discussing how “looks aren’t everything” to David Blaine describing how he held his breath for 17 minutes to Monica Lewinsky breaking her public silence about her experience with President Bill Clinton in a TED talk.
“The lineup of speakers is not only putting McAllen on the map,” said Vivian Tamez of the speakers series committee, “but giving the Valley a positive spin.”
Editor’s note: This story was updated to correct the spelling of one speaker’s name and to add another speaker.