Videos from our 2022 event

Watch the livestream of our 2022 event here

What do children needing to go to sleep, grandfathers telling new generations about their ancestors, and journalists all need? Stories! And as Professor Dan Hollis tells us, the road to success just might be paved with stories too. Dan Hollis is an award-winning professor and journalist. He is only the second faculty member to earn each of the three major awards for teaching Marshall bestows – the Charles E. Hedrick Outstanding Faculty Award (2019-20), the Marshall and Shirley Reynold Outstanding Teacher Award (2010-11), and the Pickens-Queen Teacher Award (2000-01).
Providing an insightful view from the other side of the door, Aryana Misaghi gives us a glimpse of what it was like as a young child knocking on doors to tell her neighbors about her Baha’i faith. As she recounts her story and experiences, she expresses gratitude for the lessons she learned about connecting with and caring for her neighbors. These lessons included learning how to talk to anyone about difficult things, the unity of humanity, and that community building is something she can do with the simplest acts of connections with and kindness towards the people around her. She encourages each person who listens to her story to find their own ways of understanding others and building relationships in their communities.
Jessica Kern Huff has risen to the call of her many roles by becoming the most honest version of herself with every ounce of grit and integrity. While her coaching career at 6 universities over 10 years led her to understand the business of success, it also taught her the power of faith led determination and the need to find balance. She shares how her experiences gave her insight and motivation to find her light and learn to balance the management of her time and talents. She shares what she discovered about finding her way through the storms of life and creating her own narrative. Led by her mantra “Left Foot Right Foot,” Jessica shares ways to define your legacy through your impact one step at a time.
With videos of him painting and still images of his artwork in the background, artist Danny McGinnist Jr. shares how his struggles with speaking and reading as a young child and his doodles and sketches in his notepad helped him connect with other kids. In this way, art became his chosen language. Throughout his talk, Danny shares how mentors helped him develop his narratives, talents, creativity, and creative documentation and honed his ability to communicate and connect with others through his art. His experiences led him to create a new art initiative called Roots & Petals where he paints images from people’s family photos (their roots) which become his petals to connect with them and share with the world.
Courtney talks about how her initial goals to become sports media creator were limited because she only saw herself represented in a small number of the jobs that were truly available for her to pursue. She shares how her career path helped her see far more opportunities as she saw behind the scenes and began to see herself represented in other career opportunities, including the one she is in now. This experience led Courtney to emphasize the importance of representation as an inspirational tool. In other words, “If you see them, you can be them.”
Brooke Watts performs an original dance which is dedicated to her mother Helene who has been fighting cancer for 10 years. Not once has Brooke seen her strong mother give up. The bandana Brooke is wearing represents cancer. She hopes you feel her emotion and walk away touched by her performance.
Professor David Trowbridge explains that History is not just a collection of facts. Like science, History is a process. He describes how he created and has used his free Clio App to help students experience the process of history and learn to move beyond the default mode of quick judgement and turning away from what makes us uncomfortable. In other words, his students actually make history in his classes. Dr. Trowbridge concludes that the process of history follows a method. When people follow that process, they experience the difference between their default mode (what they assume or want to be true based only on their own experiences and perspectives) and the story they can tell because of their journey towards understanding.
With his engaging stage presence and storytelling acuity, Shelem entertains as he debunks the right brain/left brain myth by describing how his innovative and creative processes as a civil engineer and as a hip-hop artist are similar and are both connected to his love of puzzles. He details the process of problem solving for one of his engineering jobs and then describes the similar process of writing lyrics for his popular hip-hop song “Suga Wata.” As he breaks down his creative process, he also sings the song for the audience.

Videos from our 2021 event

Tyce and Mary Nielsen (Duo Transcend), world-touring Cirque style entertainers and motivational speakers, tell their moving and heartwarming story of rising above many setbacks and failures to become first runners up on America’s Got Talent Campions in 2020. They share their top three secrets to transcend and encourage others to apply these principles to rise up and transcend in their own lives.
Bill Bissett, President of the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce, interviews Red Dawson, former Marshall University Assistant Football Coach. On the 50th anniversary of the rising of the Young Thundering Herd, Coach Dawson reflects on the Southern Airways Flight 932 plane crash in 1970, his experiences coaching the Thundering Herd and Young Thundering Herd, and his journey of personal healing and resilience.
Ashley Perkins, PharmD., pharmacist, Marshall University graduate student, and founder of We Matter Too, Inc., openly shares how her own struggles with mental diseases have helped her to relate to and help her patients who have mental diseases. Leading by example, she envisions a world where individuals are not defined by their diagnoses, but where stigmas are removed, mental diseases are spoken of openly without fear of judgement, and more people are comfortable seeking treatment.
Suzanne Strait, PhD, Associate Director of the Division of Science and Research at the WV Higher Education Policy Commission and Marshall University Professor of Biological Sciences, recounts her story of creating the West Virginia Mask Army in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Harnessing the power of social media, Dr. Strait mobilized hundreds of volunteers to design, sew, and distribute over 45,000 masks to health care professionals and others throughout West Virginia.
Lt. Chad Napier, retired Metro Drug Unit officer and Acting West Virginia State Coordinator for Appalachia HIDTA, shares his experiences working with the “Handle with Care” program. The initiative, piloted in Charleston, WV, provides needed support to school aged children who experience trauma. When a child is identified at a scene of a traumatic event, law enforcement provides the school a confidential “heads up” to handle the child with care so they can employ interventions to mitigate the negative impacts of the trauma.
Brandon Dennison, founder and CEO of Coalfield Development, shares how his innovative 33-6-3 Workforce Development Model has helped rebuild the Appalachian economy one worker and small business at a time. He explains how 33 hours of on-the-job training, 6 hours of higher education coursework, and 3 hours of personal development per week can transform workers and the economic landscape, providing potential, power, and purpose to individuals and communities negatively impacted by economic crises.
Kathy D’Antoni, Ed.D., a lifelong educator and statewide education administrator in West Virginia, shares her experiences working with simulated workplace programs in in West Virginia schools. She highlights evidence suggesting that education should move from a compliance model that allows adults to more easily manage the system to a system focused on student engagement and empowerment. She suggests common sense student-centered changes to the school culture to empower students and uplift tomorrows.
Lee Farabaugh, President and Co-Founder of Core10, talks about her innovative and unique Hereshore model of economic development. Instead of going offshore to outsource talent, Lee recommends outsourcing technology product development to smaller cities in the United States. She explains how training programs and jobs in these smaller communities allow companies to build local economies, provide training and good paying jobs, and allow workers to stay in their own communities while contributing to the local economy.
Jack Lengyel found purpose amongst tragedy as he took on the emotionally staggering task of re-establishing Marshall’s Thundering Herd football team after the Southern Airways Flight 932 plane crash that killed nearly the entire team and coaching staff in 1970. Coach Lengyel reflects on the resilience of his Young Thundering Herd team and the Huntington, WV community working together to rebuild and rise from the ashes of tragedy.

Videos from our 2020 event

Edna Meisel is an Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the Marshal University Graduate College. With her banjo in hand and her band mates joining her on stage, Edna shares her love of Appalachian Old Time music along with some of the rich history of Appalachian musical traditions.
Sabrina Thomas, an Instruction and Research Services Librarian for Marshall University Libraries opens up about her childhood in the foster care system and her path to achieving success in her family and career. She talks about the importance of building bridges for children aging out of the foster care system and wanting to attend college. Sabrina uses her deep and passionate insights to encourage foster kids not to give up on their hopes and dreams.
Ellie White is a Marshall University student studying physics and Co-Director of Open Resource Telescopes. Ellie reflects on the deep connections between the vastness of space and the daily lives we live. Tying in her knowledge about the stars and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), Ellie highlights the importance of mentorship in passing knowledge to rising generations in order to sustain life on Earth. Ellie’s passion for astronomy, combined with her research at the Green Bank Observatory, gives her a unique perspective on mentorship. Her experiences being mentored, and then becoming a mentor herself, provide us with amazing insights into the power we each hold to make a difference in the world through supporting one another and build bridges to the future.
Jennifer Wells, Executive Director of Our Future West Virginia, shares the resilience she has forged through experiencing tragedy in her own life and helping others recover and heal from tragedy as a social worker. Jennifer is a survivor of Hurricane Katrina and was among those sheltering and suffering in the Superdome. Unable to rebuild their lives in New Orleans, she and her family were relocated to West Virginia. She shares her story of perseverance and how the impact of her trauma has equipped her to serve the children and families of West Virginia, providing them with the necessary tools to overcome their circumstances.
Trey Kay is the host of the “Us & Them” radio program produced by PRX and West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Trey speaks about how his personal journey can help us come together in civil discourse during times of heightened political divisiveness. He tells of his experience living through West Virginia’s Kanawha County Textbook Controversy as a young student and how that experience gave him a front row seat to the differences between people and ideologies. Through his journey and efforts, he hopes to inspire others to engage in civil conversations about tough topics to expand people’s knowledge and acceptance of others, and to improve the overall tone of political discourse in our society.
Hershel “Woody” Williams is a World War II Medal of Honor recipient and founder of the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation. Reciting Will Allen Dromgoole’s classic poem “The Bridge Builder,” Woody reminds us that we must build bridges for future generations, and he poignantly reminds us that we must rely on others to survive in times of war and peace. He shares his experiences at Iwo Jima that earned him the Medal of Honor and emphasizes that he wears his medal for the two Marines who died protecting him that day. Woody speaks of losing his best friend in the war and his lifelong efforts to honor the families of those who selflessly sacrificed their lives for our country and freedoms.

Videos from our 2019 event

Briana Nannen, a music educator, highlights the potential to use collaborative community music making experiences, designed to use music’s ability to harness the entire brain and rewire neurological pathways, to provide a valuable avenue for overcoming negative stigmas and healing individuals and communities struggling with substance use disorder. Briana Nannen is an Assistant Professor of Choral Music Education at Marshall University.
Sean Callebs is a network reporter for CGTN with over 20 years prior experience at CNN, where he covered a wide array of stories and anchored programs on CNN and Headline News. Sean was CNN’s point person based in New Orleans during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and reported from ground zero for weeks following the 9-11 attacks. He was nationally recognized for his reporting on the problems of poverty in the United States.

Beth Wolfe shares her experience of growing as a leader throughout her life. From childhood to her professional career, she emphasizes the importance of overcoming adversity and continuing to grow as a leader over time. Her three pillars of leadership include: you don’t need a title to be a leader, leadership takes courage, and the small things can make all the difference. Leader. Educator. Mentor. Communicator. Beth Wolfe considers herself fortunate that her leadership and communication skills were recognized and nurtured from a young age, rather than being told to sit down and be quiet.
As an undergraduate student hailing from diverse worlds, Rawan Elhamdani draws from her Libyan (African), Appalachian, and Muslim identities and experiences to address some key differences between perception and reality. Rawan shares personal experiences to explore insights for successfully overcoming stereotypes and building your own legacy. Rawan Elhamdani is majoring in Biological Sciences with a concentration in premedical studies. She has a publication in the Journal of Clinical and Cellular Immunology and has completed laboratory research on diabetic lysozyme function.
As a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., Jordan Richardson works to influence the laws related to criminal justice reform. In his talk, Jordan highlights many of the issues of our current criminal justice system, especially the societal burdens of mass incarceration. He also proposes some innovative solutions that the general public can enact to improve the criminal justice system without ever changing the law. Jordan Richardson is an attorney and Senior Policy Counsel in the Koch political network where oversees its legislative agenda to advance criminal justice reform.
Previously Recorded TED Talk Screened at Our Event
In this eloquent talk, Michael Murphy shows how he and his team look far beyond the blueprint when they’re designing. Considering factors from airflow to light, theirs is a holistic approach that produces community as well as (beautiful) buildings. He takes us on a tour of projects in countries such as Rwanda and Haiti, and reveals a moving, ambitious plan for The Memorial to Peace and Justice, which he hopes will heal hearts in the American South.
Previously Recorded TED Talk Screened at Our Event
As a fire chief and first responder, Jan Rader has spent her career saving lives. But when the opioid epidemic hit her town, she realized they needed to take a brand-new approach to life-saving. In this powerful, hopeful talk, Rader shows what it’s like on the front lines of this crisis — and how her community is taking an unusual new approach to treating substance-abuse disorder that starts with listening.