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 >>

Laura Bertocci is bicoastal — raised in New Jersey, she’s called Los Angeles her home for nearly a decade. Laura strives to connect underrepresented voices with the resources they need. Working often at the intersection of journalism and community, Laura helps newsrooms and news professionals share knowledge, support each other, and evolve the industry while occasionally writing, editing, or photographing the news herself (in fact, she can perform just about any function in a newsroom). More >>

Jackson Bird, a Texan-raised New Yorker, is a YouTuber, writer, FRESH Speaker, and all-around digital activist. He spent eight years organizing first-time activists through a pop culture lens with the Harry Potter Alliance and now focuses primarily on demystifying the transgender experience through his videos and podcast. Over 1 million people have viewed his TED talk, “How to talk (and listen) to transgender people.” A former TED Resident and YouTube NextUp Creator, Jackson spends his spare time hosting pub quizzes, watching documentaries, and working on his debut novel. More >>

Emily Pidgeon is a native Atlantan with a penchant for nomadic life on the West Coast. Her many hustles include event production, project management, media strategy, and art direction. Formerly, as a member of TED’s award winning design team, Emily launched and led the creative for TED’s editorial site She also launched and led TED’s Instagram and developed the brand’s visual identity across all social platforms. Since venturing on her own, Emily has produced events such as the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, TEDWomen, and FRESH: Live. At its core, Emily’s work focuses on creating meaningful, eye-opening content in service of progress, equality, and representation in media. More >>

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