TEDxColumbiaSIPA | Think smaller

May 8, 2014 – 2-6pm - Miller Theatre – NYC

Perhaps bigger is not always better. This year, we celebrate the small: the power of individual actions, local success stories from our neighboring Harlem community and the worlds we cannot see with the naked eye.

Speakers 2014



Matisyahu released his breakout album Live at Stubb’s in 2005. Since then, he has pushed himself creatively breaking with expectation and remaking his musical image with every album. Matisyahu joins TEDxColumbiaSIPA in anticipation of his soon to be released new album, Akeda. He promises to give new and old fans alike an intimate and powerful performance.

view speaker
Chef JJ

Joseph “JJ” Johnson

Joseph Johnson is Chef de Cuisine at The Cecil, an Afro-Asian-American brasserie in Harlem. Winner of Bravo’s “Rocco’s Dinner Party” and named one of Forbes 30 Under 30 in Food & Drink, Chef JJ is inspired by the flavors of the African diaspora. For his talk, he reinterprets the evolution of culinary history focusing on the “forgotten” West African influences on the food we eat in America and beyond.

view speaker
Coach Michael Aufrichtig

Michael Aufrichtig

Michael Aufrichtig is Columbia University’s Head Fencing Coach. Recently lauded by the New York Times for his unconventional approach to coaching, the former software salesman, with no prior coaching experience, utilized his ‘deliberate focus practice’ method combined with statistical analysis to transform Columbia’s fencing team into champions. In his talk, Coach Aufrichtig will share some of the secrets behind his successful “Moneyball” approach.

view speaker
Aurora Anaya-Cerda

Aurora Anaya-Cerda

In the Fall of 2011, Aurora Anaya-Cerda ran a ’40K in 40 days’ campaign and successfully crowdfunded La Casa Azul Bookstore in East Harlem, which now also serves as a community hub for Latino/Chicano literature. Recognized by The White House as a Champion of Change, Aurora will share how the pages of books can shape the chapters of your life.

view speaker
Lucius Riccio

Lucius Riccio

Lou Riccio is the former commissioner of NYC’s Department of Transportation, and a senior lecturer in discipline at Columbia University’s schools of Business, Engineering, and International and Public Affairs. In his free time he works in sports analytics, and obsesses over potholes. Professor Riccio will take us through the larger problems of America’s crumbling infrastructure, from the street level vantage point of a Manhattan pothole.

view speaker
Joel Putnam

Joel Putnam

Joel R. Putnam is a first-year MPA candidate at Columbia SIPA. His studies focus on empowering people using information and communication technologies. Some of his recent research includes how certain countries are trying to crowdsource legislation. His talk will share some of the exciting stories of what has and hasn’t worked, and what we can do to help democracy evolve.

view speaker
Joseph Koyie

Joseph Koyie

Growing up as a Maasai warrior in Kenya, Joseph Koyie was almost killed by a lion. This proved to be a pivotal moment in his life. He then got educated, got a job, and rose to the top. His initial desire to send his own kids to school evolved into providing a successful sustainable model in Loita Hills to serve 150,000 of his tribe. Joseph will share his story and vision for community-led development.

view speaker
Master Yogi Tao

Tao Porchon-Lynch

Tao Porchon-Lynch, 95, the oldest yoga instructor in the world, is living proof of the effectiveness of a life-long yoga practice. From modeling in post War Europe, to international ballroom dance competitions and marching with Gandhi in between, Tao has lived a life that promises to inspire. Through words and motion, Tao will lead us on a journey to harness the power within.

view speaker
David Zweig

David Zweig

David Zweig is the author of the forthcoming nonfiction book, “Invisibles.” In his book, he seeks to better understand the traits of highly successful people who, despite being extremely accomplished within their field, fly under the radar and out of the public eye. In an age of relentless self-promotion, David shows how the rest of us could benefit from following their example.

view speaker
Ozgur Sahin

Dr. Özgür Şahin

Dr. Özgür Şahin is a Columbia University associate professor of biological sciences and physics, as well as the well-renowned inventor of a nanoscope that can visualize properties of molecules. Dr. Sahin will demonstrate the power of nature’s smallest biological system, demonstrating the potential to extract renewable energy from bacterial spores. Scientific proof that thinking smaller is more than a tagline.

view speaker
Michelle Citrin

Michelle Citrin

At 5’1, it’s hard to believe that such a powerful voice could come out of Brooklyn based singer/songwriter Michelle Citrin. Michelle’s original soulful pop-folk music has garnered rave reviews and accolades including Billboard music’s Top songwriter honor and VH1 Song of the Year finalist.Through honest storytelling filled with heart and humor, Michelle offers the unique perspective of what it’s like to be someone who is small in stature but large in spirit.

view speaker


Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 11.49.35 PM

It takes a village (and sometimes a lion) | Joseph Koyie

watch videos
Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 10.41.07 AM

One touch to glory | Michael Aufrichtig

watch videos
Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 10.34.53 AM

Culinary Game Changers | Chef JJ Johnson

watch videos
Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 10.31.27 AM

Pothole Analytics | Lucius Riccio, Ph.D.

watch videos
Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 10.29.03 AM

Beyond measure | Michelle Citrin

watch videos

Our Team

Core Management

Lindsay Litowitz


Sarah Holloway

Faculty Advisor

Annie Horricks

Managing Director


Nancy Widjaja

Speakers Director

Greg Levin

Speakers Outreach Coordinator

Jenna Barzelay

Speakers Outreach Coordinator

Community Development

Diana Caba

Community Director

Jillian Yoerges

Community Coordinator

Isabelle Lacson


David Dini

Graphic Designer

Jesper Frant

Web Designer


Carla Pellegrini

Operations Director

Masa Yatake

Technical Coordinator

Melisa Socorro

Stage Designer

Want to know more? | a little about us

TEDxColumbiaSIPA is a locally-organized, student-led event designed to spark authentic, impassioned, and open-minded dialogue in our community.

What is TED?

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading

It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Today, TED is best thought of as a global community, welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world.

TED's mission: Spreading ideas We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world. On TED.com, we make the best talks and performances from TED and partners available to the world, for free. More than 1500 TED Talks are now available, with more added each week. TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Benoit Mandelbrot, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Isabel Allende and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. For information, please visit www.ted.com/about

About TEDx

x = independently organized event

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 events are self-organized but must adhere to the spirit of TED and follow certain guidelines.


School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University

Contact us now!