FRESH is an “if not us, who?” kind of crew.

Here’s the truth: we got sick of hearing ourselves complain. As we traveled the conference circuit, we’d often frown about the overwhelming whiteness of panels, tweet about dude-only line-ups, and shake our heads at hearing yet another well-known author repeat the same stale idea from coast to coast. And yet, we also know how hard it can be to curate a really kick-ass conference. Collectively, we’ve collaborated with some of the most celebrated event hosts in the world, including The Aspen Institute and TED. Which is why we didn’t just want to point fingers; we wanted to make things better. FRESH is our grand experiment in making the public conversation a hell of a lot more interesting.

We also like each other a lot.

Vanessa Valenti is a New York City-born and based entrepreneur, writer, and speaker, who cut her teeth co-founding the award-winning online feminist publication,, in 2004. She went on to co-found Valenti Martin Media, a movement-building and communications consultancy that collaborates with social change organizations worldwide. Watch her TED talk, “The problem with public speaking.” Vanessa lives in New York, with her husband, daughter, and two cats, Cracker and Tweet. More >>

John Cary is a native of Milwaukee who fashions himself a connector, writer, speaker, and curator focused on social change, with an emphasis on design for the public good. An architect by training, John is the author of Design for Good and The Power of Pro Bono, a strategist for the TED, The Aspen Institute, and an array of other foundations and nonprofits globally. Watch his TED talk, “How architecture can create dignity for all.” He is most happy creatively photographing his daughters, Maya and Stella. More >>

Courtney Martin, born and raised in Colorado Springs, has been called “one of our most insightful culture critics and one of our finest young writers” by Parker Palmer, and her writing has been described as “varied, transformational, and necessary for us all” by Jane Fonda. A two-time TED speaker, she is the author of multiple books, a weekly columnist for On Being with Krista Tippett, co-founder of the Solutions Journalism Network, co-founder of Valenti Martin Media, and a proud momma. More >>

Kara Crutcher, a native Chicagoan, is committed to a life of slaying injustices. A community organizer and activist, she’s currently pursuing a JD/MSW at the University of Michigan. Kara founded the anti street-harassment organization Courage Campaign: CTA, has previously organized around gender based violence and racial injustices, and sits on the board of
, a Chicago-based NGO that works to empower women and girls. You’ll usually find her obsessing over Beyonce or watching animal documentaries, possibly at the same time.

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