TEDxArcadiaUniversity: The Big Idea Speakers

Deb Gilmore

2016 Big Idea Competition Winner & Founder/President of Waste.EDu

Arcadia University Student: Activist, Musician, Performer, and Brainstormer

Deb Gilmore '19 is a Print & Video Communications major/Computer Science minor and Honors Program student. Prior to enrolling at Arcadia, Deb served in several leadership roles including Assistant Scenic Designer for multiple theatrical productions, president of Interact (the high school version of Roteract), and a board member for a local nonprofit organization dedicated to providing alcohol-free music venue opportunities. Since coming to Arcadia, Deb has accomplished a lot both academically and through extracurricular activities.

In March 2016, she released her first full-length album through Paper Scissors Media under the artist name, Busy Bee. The album is available on Spotify, ITunes, Google Play, and Bandcamp. Deb was featured in Philadelphia's online magazine The Deli, opened for up-and-coming rap artist Dylan Owen, and played at the Northside Music Festival in Brooklyn New York. Deb has held several leadership roles at the University, including Honors Mentor, Peer Mentor for a First-Year Seminar, an Honors Council member, an editor on Arcadia's scholarly journal The Compass, and most importantly, president and founder of Waste.EDu.

As a freshman, Deb was the first to win Arcadia's Big Idea Competition sponsored by the Honors Program, with the goal of creating better sustainability initiatives at Arcadia. Since then she has formed a dedicated committee of students, faculty, and staff all sharing in this common goal. Waste.EDu has successfully developed a strong social media following to reach the community, held an Earth Day event celebrating the facilities department, built an organic garden from scratch, and conducted an environmental survey with over 700 responses. Deb has attended the Southeastern Pennsylvania Consortium for Higher Education Regional Honors Conference and the National Collegiate Honors Council Conference, to present on this project. 

Deb is currently working on several side projects including a small art collective company, The Kite Collective; a documentary series entitled, “What's Your Story?”; and several websites.

Gil Gonzalez

Founder, Logee Film and Productions

Local Artist, Film Maker, Educator and Community Advocate

Gil Gonzalez was voted one of the most influential Latinos in 2014 and named Community Advocate of the Year in 2014 Gil is the Founder of Logee Film and Productions, the first Latino-owned film company in the Philadelphia region focusing on Latino history and stories. Gonzalez is also the author of Three Rings, a book about growing up in the Barrio from the perspective of relationships. Three Rings came in runner-up in the New York Book Festival of 2010. Gil currently works as the Senior Graphic Designer at Community College of Philadelphia. He is co-chair of the Classified Unit, representing over 200 staff members of the AFT Local 2026, a Board member of Culture Trust

Gil started The Cuentos Film Project with support from The Philadelphia Prevention Project, Maria Quiñones Sanchez, Angel Medina and other supporters. “There was a need to document the history of Puerto Ricans in Philadelphia from the perspective of the people who lived it,” said Gil. For decades, the Spring Garden community (now called by realtors “the Art Museum area”) was the largest Puerto Rican community in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In the center of this Barrio was the inter-generational gang the 20th and Green Street Gang (The 20G), who protected their people from other gangs and from the police. Through interviews, photos and historical perspectives, Gil hopes to capture and tell the story of The 20G.

William Keegan

Founder/President HEART 9/11

9/11 hero's non-profit disaster response organization has a dual purpose

Bill Keegan is a highly decorated Lieutenant in the Special Operations Division and a 20- year veteran of the Port Authority Police Department (PAPD). During the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center (WTC), Bill received the Medal of Valor for the rescue of trapped children in an elevator on the 43rd floor of Tower One. Upon his promotion to Lieutenant, Bill was assigned to the elite Special Operations Division. He responded to the WTC attacks on September 11, 2001 and the next day was named Night Operations Commander of the WTC Rescue/Recovery Teams, where he supervised over 500 police and civilian responders over the nine-month long recovery mission. For his service, Keegan was awarded the highest medal for the WTC 9/11 assault.

In early 2002, once the recovery mission had come to a close, Bill witnessed the men and women in his charge showing signs of emotional breakdown. Dr. Spencer Eth, HEART 9/11 Board member, entered into a collaboration with Bill which led to a program designed specifically for police officers. The program also transitioned PAPD officers at the conclusion of their duties at the WTC to their lives after. This program soon expanded to spouses and significant family members of the first responders.

In 2007, Keegan founded HEART 9/11 (Healing Emergency Aid Response Team), a non-profit disaster response organization comprised of police, fire, union construction workers, 9/11 surviving families and those who share the belief that we can help ourselves by helping others. As HEART 9/11's president, Keegan has led his expert volunteers on 57 deployments to rebuild lives both domestically and internationally in communities such as New Orleans (still rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina in 2005), Haiti, NY and NJ (in response to Hurricanes Irene and Sandy), Oklahoma City (EF5 Tornado), and the devastating Ecuador earthquake this spring.

HEART 9/11 works alongside first responders at disaster sites, dealing with the incident at hand, but also by helping first responders assess their emotional state and needs. Because of HEART 9/11 volunteers' disaster response experience and personal journeys through trauma, they are able to inspire survivors to believe they too can recover and become more resilient.

Rachel Loeper

Education Director, Mighty Writers

Afterschool Champion

Rachel Loeper has taught ESL, remedial reading, and creative writing. In 2011, the Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool Network honored her as an Afterschool Champion for her work with the Mighty Writers. Rachel served as an Afterschool Matters Fellow with the National Institute on Out-of- School-Time from 2010 to 2012 and wrote the article, “Combat Sports Bloggers, Mad Scientist Poets and Comic Scriptwriters: Engaging Boys in Writing on Their Own Terms,” (Afterschool Matters, Spring 2014). 

Maria Maneos

Founder, Brush With the Law

“It is a great gift when your child actually leads you to discover the purpose of your life, no matter how heartbreaking the road to it may be.”—Maria Maneos

Maria Maneos lives and works in North Wales (Montgomery Township). Maria earned a BFA in Art from Arcadia University and an MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Her paintings have been shown extensively in the Philadelphia area in such galleries as Artists' House in Old(e) City and Art in City Hall. In 2013, she was inspired to start what would become the nonprofit program Brush with the Law. The idea for the program stemmed from two things: her work at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Rehabilitation—where she developed and implemented a class working with patients using the arts for therapeutic purposes—and her son’s addiction to heroin that led to his arrest, conviction, and sentencing for a non-violent offense.

Visiting her son in jail brought to light for Maria the lack of rehabilitative programming in most of our country’s overcrowded and overburdened prison system. Her son’s experiences shattered Maria’s illusions concerning the rehabilitative goals enshrined in the charter of correctional institutions. She soon learned that inmates for the majority of the day have few if any emotional, educational, or social outlets. She realized a solution was needed to help alleviate and lessen feelings of self-defeat, depression, and cynicism that ultimately further entraps inmates in a cycle of crime and drug addiction.

Brush With the Law now works with marginalized people such as parolees/probation, those afflicted with drug addiction, behavioral and mental health, disabled veterans, at-risk youth, and many more people doing city beautification projects like murals and site-specific art installations throughout Montgomery, Bucks, and Delaware Counties for community service. The organization's work is meant to inspire meaningful changes and lasting improvements in the critical social issues affecting the incarcerated and those suffering from addiction and mental health issues.

Carrie Maria

Owner, The Monster Minders / Founder, The Monster Milers

Owner of Center City’s largest dog walking service also matches homeless dogs with local runners

Entrepreneur and dog rescue advocate Carrie Maria founded a dog walking business accidentally in 2005 while preparing to apply to graduate school. As a lifelong dog fanatic, her initial plan was to walk dogs for a few months as she explored different graduate programs. However, Carrie soon discovered that she liked being her own boss—and that she wasn’t keen to take on more student loan debt. Nearly 12 years later, The Monster Minders has won “Best of Philly” three times, has over 20 full-time employees, and is recognized as the standard for dog walking services in the City.

In 2010, Carrie Maria combined her love for running with dog rescue and started The Monster Milers, a non-profit organization that connects local runners with homeless dogs in animal shelters as running companions. The Monster Milers provides volunteer opportunities for runners at partner shelters, dog adoption programs at running events, and rescue advocacy within the Philadelphia running community. The founding principle of the organization is that runners can benefit from having a dog by their side. The homeless dogs in the program receive oodles of exercise and promotion, which translates to quicker adoptions. The organization has received national press and has trained hundreds of Philadelphia runners to become “Monster Milers.” The organization’s signature event, The Rescue Run 5K, launched in 2013 and is the only race of its kind in the Philadelphia area. Not only is it a road race, it’s also an adoption festival and hosts over ten shelters each year to showcase adoptable canine running buddies. The Rescue Run 5K has won “Best of Philly” twice and is a favorite on the Philadelphia race calendar each September.

In her downtime, you can find Carrie making memories with her daughter and husband, sitting behind her sewing machine making quilts, hiking or running with her two rescued dogs, relaxing with her head in a library book, or trying not to lose her balance while doing yoga. (Lately, she’s been doing her best to not over-consume political news, but she’s a confessed political podcast junkie.) Carrie’s husband is a Kiwi (New Zealander), and she has lived and worked overseas in England and New Zealand. Even though Philadelphia is her home base, she still loves to travel with her family when she can get away.

Ellen Murphey

Arcadia English professor leading cross-generational experiences through “Music, Art and Memory”

Honors Students learn from senior citizens with memory loss in Murphey's Honors course

Ellen Murphey developed the Arcadia Honors course, “Music, Art and Memory” in 2013 as a way for students to explore how our memories actually work, as opposed to popular notions about it. As it turns out, our senses, as well as our imaginations, are vital in helping us recall past experiences. In weekly visits to a local long-term care facility, students experiment with what they've learned in class, partnering with elders who have some memory loss. The result is cross-generational exploration and surprisingly deep connections.

Ellen Murphey has taught a variety of courses at Arcadia University since 2008, including University Seminars, Honors courses and English for International students. Ellen, who has an MA in Asian Studies and an MFA in Creative Writing, also teaches at Widener University in Chester. She lives with her partner and daughter in Mt. Airy.

Robert Naseef

Author and Psychologist at Alternative Choices, Philadelphia

Honored for outstanding contributions to the autism community

Robert Naseef is seasoned by 25 years of professional practice as an independent psychologist with Alternative Choices in Philadelphia. Dr. Naseef's specialty is working with families of children with autism and other special needs. He has published in scholarly journals and other publications. He has a special interest and expertise in the psychology of men and fatherhood. Robert relates to community and professional audiences and is a sought after speaker around the country and internationally and who has appeared on radio and television. In 2008, Robert was honored by Variety, the Children’s Charity for his outstanding contributions over the past 20 years to the autism community.

His 2013 book, Autism in the Family: Caring and Coping Together (Brookes Publishing) integrates advances in research and treatment with clinical experience to help families navigate the emotional landscape and the practical roadmap through the lifespan. Special Children, Challenged Parents: The Struggles and Rewards of Parenting a Child with a Disability, his first book, received international recognition. He has lectured internationally and appeared on radio and television. He is the co-editor with Cindy N. Ariel of Voices from the Spectrum: Parents, Grandparents, Siblings, People with Autism, and Professionals Share Their Wisdom (2006). Living Along the Autism Spectrum (2009) is a DVD which features Naseef with Stephen Shore and Dan Gottlieb.

Fran Wasserman

Founder and Director, The Baby Bureau

Since collecting the first stack of donated baby clothing in a spare bedroom in 2010, Fran Wasserman has been the guiding force behind The Baby Bureau. A non-profit 501(c)3 organization, The Baby Bureau provides gently used and new baby clothing for underserved babies in Bucks and Montgomery Counties. Fran and her volunteers work with local hospitals, social service providers and charitable organizations that work directly with new moms in need. Through her leadership and vision, Fran has expanded the outreach of The Baby Bureau by partnering locally with businesses and other community organizations. The Baby Bureau has dressed over 1,700 Babies and counting!

Fran earned a B.A. in Human Services from Chestnut Hill College. She is the recipient of the St. Marie Eugenie Milleret Award and the 2016 Partnership Youth Services Award from a local foundation. She lives in Bucks County with her husband, Mark, and two little rescue dogs, Oliver and Linus.

Shira Walinsky

Co-founder, Southeastbysoutheast

Multidisciplinary artist and teacher

Shira Walinsky has worked with communities throughout Philadelphia on grassroots community projects in underutilized spaces. She is compelled by the personal story and modes of representations from the painted portrait to the documentary. Her murals can be seen throughout the city of Philadelphia. In 2012 she co- founded Southeastbysoutheast through the City of Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program. Southeastbysoutheast is a community center for new refugees from Burma and Bhutan in South Philadelphia. Southeastbysoutheast has been presented at the North American Refugee Health conference in Rochester NY. Her work has also been shown at PAFA, Asian Arts Initiative and the ICA Philadelphia. She is currently working on a series of short films about the Burmese and Bhutanese refugee experience in Philadelphia with teens in South Philadelphia. Southeastbysoutheast was recently featured at the Asian Arts Initiative from February 5 through April 29, 2016. Shira currently co-teaches Mural Arts Big Pictures at the University of Pennsylvania with Mural Arts Program Director Jane Golden.