Our theme this year is titled “Seasons for Change.” Join us as we take you through four seasons of talks and galvanize each other to embrace the beauty and uncertainty of change. As the trees shed their leaves in the fall, it reminds us that our identity is constantly evolving and of the importance of letting things go. Winter is harsh and isolating; it challenges us to contemplate the inevitable. Spring is a reminder of budding opportunities, new chances to take and choices to make. During the long days of summer, hot topics are contested. Through these talks, we must empower ourselves and each other to recognize that we are intrinsically shaped by the complexities of the natural world around us.
Session I Speakers
Kia Afcari is an executive coach, consultant and co-founder of Caravann Consulting with over 25 years of experience helping leaders, teams, and organizations with collaborative change and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Kia lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he helps organizations around the world to actualize their future of work. As a child, Kia landed in rural Louisiana during the Iranian hostage crisis and got beat up for being an Iranian kid. While that was not a welcoming place for him, it did instill in him this deep passion to help create positive and inclusive organizational cultures. Today, Kia and his team support a wide variety of organizations, from United Nations agencies, to tech companies and universities.
Dr. Michael Marion, Jr., is an educator. He has spent over 20 years in education. Dr. Marion earned his associate, bachelor and master’s degrees from San Diego State University and a doctorate from the University of Southern California. He was also accepted into the prestigious ASPEN Institute (Leadership, Values, and the Good Society) program, Stanford University’s (d.School) Designing for Social Change Program, and Harvard University’s (Institute for Educational Management) leadership program. Not only has he established himself as a leader in higher education, serving students in both private and public colleges and universities, but he has also served in local, state and federal government roles. Dr. Marion promotes a strong commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and civic engagement. Dr. Marion has sat on many committees, boards and commissions throughout his professional career, including the Sacramento Police Review Commission, California Student Aid Commission, the Sacramento Metropolitan Art Commission and the Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee.
Paneez Oliai (COL ‘23) is in love with people. Studying History and Psychology with a minor in Government, she spends her time learning about and from the people she encounters as an award-winning speaker, mentor, and speech critic at the Philodemic Society; as the Editor-in-Chief of the Georgetown University Undergraduate Law Review; and as the first host for Georgetown University’s production of Survivor. Having worked with judges, defendants, and non-profit organizations in her quest to improve public access to justice, she is grateful to have witnessed firsthand the immense potential within each of us. In her free time, Paneez is an avid cook, mushroom forager, and reader of Vonnegut, Bradbury, and Dostoevsky.
Session II Speakers
Bilal Khan is a creative contractor with thirteen years of strategic fundraising and communication expertise. Bilal was born to a Pakistani mother and a Kashmiri father. In this talk, Bilal reflects on the impact of the pandemic struggle that led him to briefly spend time with the community experiencing homelessness in DC and LA. This experience prompted him to seek ways to help the community around him. He started a time-sensitive fundraiser with 11 dollars for a famous DC restaurant that feeds people experiencing homelessness. With the kindness of 7,000+ strangers worldwide, Bilal raised over $336,000 in less than two weeks, saving the restaurant from closing. At Georgetown, Bilal coordinates Events and Communication and assists with high-profile events. On weekends since 2020, he has hosted 70+ creative dinners over live music for the Southeast Asian diaspora in Virginia and beyond. These dinners raise funds for people with Down Syndrome in underserved communities. By telling this story, Bilal hopes to give a roadmap to unite communities in challenging times through music, food, and mutual dreams.
Marissa Nissley is a junior in the McDonough School of Business studying Management, Accounting, and Disability Studies. She is the producer of Legally Blonde & Blind, a monthly podcast where she advocates for disability justice and adopting a positive philosophy towards blindness. Each episode seeks to paint a nuanced picture of the emotions, triumphs, and challenges she experiences as a legally blind student with albinism. This pandemic passion project drastically shifted Marissa’s attitudes towards independence, mobility aids, and disability as a whole. On campus, she is a Project Manager for Hilltop Consultants and serves on the board of Georgetown’s Disability Alliance. In her free time, she enjoys tandem cycling, exploring Washington DC with her guide dog Smalls, and walking the university’s mascot as a member of the Jack Crew.
Session III Speakers
Zahab Kamal Khan is a professional squash player and Senior coach at Squash on Fire, and a 2 time Guinness World Record holder in Virginia. She was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, and moved to the United States in 2018. As a girl in Pakistan, she struggled to pursue a career as a Professional Squash player in a politically unstable male-dominated society with constant bomb threats. She co-founded a non-profit called the Educate Athletes Social Welfare Organization to ensure that other athletes, especially females, in Pakistan received financial resources for education, sports training and equipment to succeed on and off the field. Zahab was the longest-hair athlete in Pakistan, maybe the world, before she donated 5 ft 1 inches of her hair to Children with Hair Loss, setting the Guinness World Record for the most hair donated by an individual to a charity in 2021. Before cutting her hair, she set the Guinness world record for the most number of hair clips (1100 clips) in a person's hair to celebrate her identity as a long-haired athlete. Through her world records and non-profit, Zahab has helped Pakistani youth achieve success in education and athletics by spreading awareness about their struggles and providing funding opportunities. She hopes to continue serving as a role model for children, especially girls, to pursue their passions in education and sports, and build a united future.
Umayr Shaikh is a first-year medical student at the Georgetown University School of Medicine. Hailing from Carmel, Indiana, he comes to Georgetown after earning his undergraduate degree from Butler University and his Master’s of Public Health from Dartmouth College. While studying Spanish and Organizational Communication in college, Umayr served as President of the Butler University Speech and Debate Team, where he won several state and national titles. Initially planning to earn his PhD and become a professor in either English or Communications, he realized that the true application of his passion, all things humanities, resides in none other than medicine. Since this realization, Umayr has become determined to infuse the landscape of pre-health education with the prioritization of humanities as the key area of study among aspiring physicians and other healthcare professionals. At Georgetown Med, he serves on several committees and student groups, including the Racial Justice Committee for Change and Student Council. In his free time, he enjoys swimming with the Georgetown Club Team, spending time with the Muslim groups on campus, and playing exorbitant amounts of Pokémon. A former competitive Pokémon player, he was awarded the distinguished title of “Pokémon Professor” three years ago by The Pokémon Company, allowing him to organize and officiate sanctioned tournaments on their behalf.
Anna Kutbay is a 1L at Georgetown University Law Center where she's a member of the Mock Trial team, the Public Interest Corps, and Outlaw. She's originally from Morristown, Tennessee and received her BA and MA in Economics from The University of Alabama in 2022. Her late-in-life Autism diagnosis forced her to re-evaluate much of what she thought she knew about herself, her passions, and her ability to pursue a legal education. Now, Anna has used that experience to continually discuss and advocate for women with Autism who routinely go undiagnosed, posing the tough question: what do you do when a sudden diagnosis disrupts your sense of normalcy, and how can you use that change to engage in self-reflection and actualization?
Session IV Speakers
Sofia Din, MD is a NY based Family Medical doctor, Geriatrician and Anti-aging specialist born and raised in Pakistan. She has over 25 years of experience working in the healthcare industry in both Eastern and Western medical systems. As an immigrant from Pakistan, her medical training took place twice, across two different continents and two different educational systems in health, which gives her a uniquely holistic perspective regarding healthcare, while following cutting edge medical advances especially in aesthetic anti-aging. Board-certified in Family Medicine, she worked as a hospitalist as well as managed an out-patient clinic for seven years. She then went on to serve as the Medical Director of a nursing facility and rehabilitation center in Scarsdale, NY for another six years. She later on worked and trained in the rapidly evolving field of Aesthetic Anti-aging medicine over the past decade with hundreds of regular concierge clients coming to participate in her anti-aging protocols from across the United States. Her book “Do We Really Need Botox” is one of the first in describing methods and details of holistically crafting our anti-aging experience while incorporating FDA cleared/approved medications and machines to bring about lasting results non-surgically.
Anisa Nanavati is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service studying Business and Global Affairs with a minor in Environmental Studies. She is a strong advocate for crying and expressing one’s emotions in the most dramatic ways possible. Change is a constant part of life, and Anisa hopes to help others cope with the emotions related to change, whether they are good or bad. She hopes to inspire others to find the strength in vulnerability while challenging the internal stigmas one may have around expressing their emotions.
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TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 25 years ago, TED has grown to support those world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives. The annual TED Conference invites the world's leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes. Their talks are then made available, free, at TED.com. TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Isabel Allende and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. TEDx is a new program that enables local communities such as universities, businesses, libraries, neighborhoods or just groups of friends to organize, design and host their own independent, TED-like events.
Now in its eleventh year, TEDxGeorgetown has grown to a featured campus event and provides very meaningful experiences for our community and city. TEDxGeorgetown is supported by Jack DeGioia in the Georgetown University Presidents Office.
Featured: Andrew Yang
In 2012, Andrew Yang spoke to the Georgetown community about fixing the flow of human capital. "I think I'm before my time," noted the founder of Venture for America. While some of the 2020 presidential candidates have recently come to visit Georgetown this past month, this wouldn't be Yang's first time visiting our campus thanks to TEDxGeorgetown community.
Watch his full TEDx talk here, or read about more of his ideas here.
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