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.

Expanding Great Northern Minds

The arrival of the Great Northern Railway in 1904 heralded the beginnings of the city of Whitefish, Montana.  Incorporated in April of 1905, the town immediately began servicing the needs of the railway, its passengers, and its workers. The theme for TEDxWhitefish 2015 is “Expanding Great Northern Minds,” which calls to its community and surrounding communities to face forward, upward, northern in the footsteps of those founding pioneers who have achieved over a century before.

A “Northern Mind” envisions possibilities, seeks opportunities, and leads the charge to actualize their dreams.  The American drive to pioneer is alive and well in Montana.  We turn inward to the creative canvas of freedom afforded to us by our forefathers. We credit them for foresight in the successful and often risky decisions they made which form the roots of our town: the transcontinental Great Northern Railway that linked people, products, and possibilities to the northernmost expanses of the United States and Montana. The miracle and wonder of Whitefish continues today in the individual efforts of singular people.

The speakers will be based around this theme, as the those who think and believe “northern,” whom have envisioned, believed, and achieved. They define themselves through their organizations, products, beliefs, and aid in this culminating call to create a better life for all.  Whitefish has an opportunity to create a fabric of dynamic qualities, standards, and values that make our town, or any other community what it is. This fabric, as illustrated through the media of TEDx, is keyed on responsible economic development, resource conservation, and inclusive community citizenship. Keys to the success of Whitefish, including the entire Flathead Valley, are found in the open dialogue and communication of its community members.

What is TED? TEDx?

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading and the acronym stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design. However, today the topics encompass a much broader spectrum. TED originally started as a four-day conference in California in 1984, and has grown to support world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives. At TED, the world’s leading thinkers and doers are asked to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. Talks are then made available free, at TED.com. Speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, and Sir Ken Robinson.

TEDx started as a new initiative 5 years ago, which offers individuals or groups a way to host local, self-organized events around the world, within the TED program on a volunteer basis and may not profit from these events in any way. These micro-events help world-changing innovators from around the globe to become part of the TED community and, with its help, amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities. Their mission is: “We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we’re building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.”


DATE:    May 4th, 2015

TIME:    10am – 4pm

LOCATION:    Whitefish Performing Arts Center


Aaron TaylorAaron Traylor

Over the years, I administered radio stations for Clear Channel and Townsquare Media, including planning, staffing, leading, promotion activities, etc. Currently, I host a #1-rated daily music program that airs in numerous mid-sized markets across America. I’m a published author of “The DJ Chronicles: A Life Remixed,” which was published and distributed worldwide; currently in its 2nd edition. I’ve also earned the honors of ‘Best Radio Personality’ year-after-year in our annual town surveys and won an E.B. Craney award for ‘Best Radio Promotion.’ I add personal flair to the latest hit music on the nationally syndicated ‘Popcrush Mini-Mix’ program. Finally, I’m a touring festival and club DJ who’s been on the road with T-Pain and Sir Mix A Lot. I’ve also performed alongside many major stars like Kelly Clarkson, Chris Brown, Ne-Yo, The Crystal Method, Bobby Brown and more!

chuck tooleyChuck Tooley

Chuck Tooley retired undefeated as the longest-serving mayor in the history of Billings, Montana. He served in the leadership of the US Conference of Mayors, as President of the Montana League of Cities and Towns, and was later appointed Director of the Urban Institute of MSU in Billings. Chuck has been President of Tooley Communications since he founded the company in 1984, providing marketing and consulting services to business, non-profit, and government clients. He is a frequent speaker on leadership, citizenship and public policy.

Chuck is a U.S. Army veteran of Vietnam and has held directorships in local, national and international non-profit organizations. He is currently a board member of Rocky Mountain College, the non-partisan Burton K. Wheeler Center on Public Policy and the Big Sky Economic Development Authority.

Colin WrightColin Wright

Colin Wright is a professional author, the blogger behind Exile Lifestyle, co-founder of Asymmetrical Press, and an international speaker. Colin has written over 30 books on subjects ranging from philosophy to science fiction, and moves to a new country every four months based on the votes of his readers. While traveling, he tries his best to live like a local and see the world from new perspectives.

Originally from the Bay Area, Colin spent most of his childhood in Missouri, returning to California after graduating from design school. He started and ran his first company at age 19 while still in school, but his first big success was a branding studio he founded in LA. He ran that studio for a few years before recalibrating his life toward full-time travel, which led him to get rid of everything he owned that didn’t fit into a carry-on bag, and segue his career toward publishing. Colin turned 30 this year.

Jeff MowJeff Mow

Jeff Mow first came to Montana in 1979 and spent four summers working for the US Geological Survey doing geologic mapping in the Flint Creek, Anaconda Pintler, and Sapphire Ranges of Montana. Subsequent visits occurred in 1988 during the Red Bench Fire in the North Fork and again in 2010 where he helped facilitate a scenario planning workshop for the Crown Manager’s Partnership in Whitefish. Jeff has been the Glacier National Park superintendent since August of 2013.

Most of Jeff’s 26 year career with the National Park Service (NPS) has been in Alaska. He has had eight duty stations with the NPS over the course of 22 years, most recently he had assignments as the superintendent of Kenai Fjords National Park and the acting superintendent of Denali National Park and Preserve.

Jeff has served on the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and with the NPS Office of Legislative and Congressional Affairs. His additional experiences have included: 1) DOI Incident Commander on the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, 2) investigator on the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill in Alaska, and 3) Policy Advisor to the fledgling NPS Climate Change Response Program.

Jeff lives in Whitefish Montana with his wife and son and they are all passionate about winter sports including all types of skiing and skating. In the “off-season” they enjoy biking, hiking, camping, and paddling.

Susan and CrismarieSusan Clarke & CrisMarie Campbell

Susan Clarke
BS in Education, MA
At the age of 24, when her doctors gave her six months to live, Susan stepped into a leadership role to rally a health-care team of smart people with diverse viewpoints to provide her with a path back to health. This taught her the true value of leveraging differences. Cancer was the stepping-stone for Susan’s career as a leader’s coach. Known for her no-nonsense, straight shooter style, Susan helps clients make the most of their businesses and lives. A lifelong learner, Susan completed a Masters in Behavioral Science at the Leadership Institute of Seattle and is certified as a Martha Beck Coach. She’s spent over twenty-five years as a faculty member at The Haven (a professional development center in BC, Canada), has built her own business, and has helped hundreds of leaders and their teams accomplish great business results.

CrisMarie Campbell
BS in Mechanical Engineering, MBA
CrisMarie has a passion for teams. As a rower in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games and a silver medalist in the 1987 World Championships, she learned the difference between a group of champions and a championship team. Her passion for creating high-performing teams led her to initiate a groundbreaking team approach as a Boeing engineer that changed how Boeing builds planes. CrisMarie left engineering to pursue her passion for people and human systems. After completing an MBA, she stepped in as manager at Arthur Andersen, coaching business leaders on implementing large-scale change. For eight years, CrisMarie and Susan were part of a select group of consultants for Patrick Lencioni, author of Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

Eric HosekEric Hosek

Born in the “Territory of Alaska” I am one of the few remaining pioneer births you would meet in this age, but growing up in a career military family means you travel and learn to adapt, modify and move ahead. As a family we always explored our new surrounding and my love of the outdoors lead me to become a professional outdoors-man and educator for 15 years working contracts globally during the boom in outdoor education in the 70s and 80s.

After a year in Kenya I followed my future wife to Montana in the early 80s and Whitefish became our permanent home after a 16 month trip around the world together.

Being an early adapter I joined the team of a local “electronic publisher” focused in the travel industry and helped pioneer the distribution and use of third party online services in the period of pre-web and early web adaptation (1988-2000). Do you remember the early dial up versions of Prodigy and American Online (AOL). We ran the first online bookstore and made $1.00 in six months; Amazon would go on to get it right. I closed this second career speaking to national audiences in the travel industry explaining the metamorphosis the home PC was bringing to travel and how to adapt, pioneer and thrive in a changing online world.

I joined DA Davidson as a Financial Advisor in 2001 and opened the Whitefish office that year. I wanted to work for a Montana firm that offered the opportunity for me to work for myself while serving others. This employee owned firm is proud to maintain its local roots and regional focus while expanding to serve clients across the West and beyond. it is a firm is known for its exceptional service, strong ethics and deep sense of responsibility to our communities.

Diana DamronDiana Damron

Diana Damron is a speaker, trainer, and coach whose focus is on what she calls “The 3 C’s: Civility, Communication, and Character”. As a former television anchor, reporter, and producer who has worked in both the public and private sectors, Diana has seen what happens to a work environment and the people in it when the importance of The 3 C’s is not embraced. People disengage; negativity, even depression spreads; and productivity evaporates. Diana’s goal is for us to adopt and activate civility in our professional, as well as personal lives.

Rebecca SchafferRebecca Schaffer

Rebecca is a multi-disciplinary theatre artist based out of Philadelphia, PA. She is the co-founder of Montana based Viscosity Theatre with collaborators Josh Wagner and Daniel Scott Morris. She produces and directs the Crush Cabaret series in Whitefish, as a way to engage audiences outside the normal theatrical convention. She was featured in the Missoula Independent’s 2012 Arts in Review for smash hits Ringing Out (written by co-founder Josh Wagner), and Crime in a Madhouse, from the Theatre of the Grand Guignol. She directed Thisillusionment, a devised theatrical experience created with Viscosity partners and a number of other local performers, artists, and musicians, earned acclaim in an article on Keeping Missoula Weird. She is currently working with magician Francis Menotti as Director on his piece, Sisyphus & Siri, a play with magic.

Other directing, performance, and design credits include work with Whitefish Theatre Co. (Oliver, The King & I, Shakespeare: Next Generation), The Opera House Theatre Company, The Missoula Writer’s Colony, the Kootenai Heritage Council, The Missoula Children’s Theatre, and the Zoola Playwrights.

She specializes in new play development and physical acting techniques, and is interested in how our outer comportment affects our psychology as performers and people. She thinks a lot about the relevance of live performance in a digital age, and how the reception of it is changing with our brains. She is inspired by all things strange, fantastical, beautiful, common, and devastating.

She graduated with her MFA in Acting from the University of Montana, 2013.

Andy ShirtliffAndy Shirtliff

As a native son of Montana, Andy was born in Butte and raised in Kalispell. After spending two years chasing his dreams of acting in Los Angeles, Andy returned home to complete a bachelor’s degree in Political Science at the University of Montana (UM).

Andy has worked on various political campaigns from; a county commissioner race while in High School, a very close state senate race, 2 successful gubernatorial races, and one presidential race.  He has also worked and volunteered across the state with Montanans from all walks of life on issues that range from public access and voter rights to health care reform and public education.


At the start of 2013, Andy was appointed as the Small Business Ombudsman for the Montana Governor’s Office of Economic Development by Governor Steve Bullock: advocating for Main Street Montana businesses, entrepreneurs, and startups.

Miranda YougrenMiranda Youngren

Miranda Youngren lives in Columbus Montana, and is a senior at Reed Point High School. She has supportive parents and old two older brothers that are two of her best friends. She is currently Miss Montana Teen USA 2015, and will go on to compete in August at the Miss Teen USA pageant. Miranda loves adventures, going outside and refuses to spend an evening sitting still. After graduation, she plans to attend Montana State University in Bozeman to pursue a degree in Construction Engineering Technology.
“If there’s no challenge there’s no change”, so Miranda tries to challenge herself everyday.

Courtney MckeeCourtney McKee

CEO Headframe Spirits & Headframe Spirits Manufacturing

Courtney was raised in Connecticut and moved to Montana to attend the University of Montana, where she received a BA in English Literature. Passionate about Montana, Courtney came to Butte in 2001 where she owned and operated an Information Technology consulting company for a number of years before getting into the distilled spirits business. Courtney and her husband John own Headframe Spirits in Butte, which opened in 2012, and were named Entrepreneurs and Ambassadors of the Year by Governor Steve Bullock in 2014 and 2015.  Headframe Spirits currently employs 27 individuals and has made a significant economic impact in their community.  The company is equal parts history and technology, which derives from the rich history and ingenuity that the beautiful hometown of Butte has to offer.

Headframe Spirits produces the popular micro-distilled spirits from Butte, America of the award-winning Neversweat Whiskey, High Ore Vodka, Anselmo Gin, and Orphan Girl Bourbon Cream Liqueur.  Headframe Spirits operates a tasting room, manufactures state-of-the-art distillation equipment, and offers co-packaging/production to the distillation industry.  Headframe Spirits is the only company in the world which produces continuous flow distillation equipment for the micro-distilling industry.

Courtney is passionately engaged in developing corporate culture and establishing leadership roles for her employees. As well as empowering her corporate community, she is also committed to fostering opportunities for other entrepreneurs in Montana through the Distiller’s Guild of Montana, and has been featured in Forbes, Huffington Post, and Entrepreneur Magazine.

Jack GladstoneJack Gladstone

Jack Gladstone is “Montana’s Troubadour.” An enrolled citizen of the Blackfeet Nation, Jack illustrates American Indian culture through a mosaic of music, lyric poetry, and spoken word narrative. A former college instructor, Jack co-founded Glacier National Park’s renowned lecture series, “Native America Speaks.” This program, established in 1985, is the longest continuously running indigenous speaker series in Park Service history. Jack has released fifteen critically acclaimed CDs. His latest release, “Native Anthropology,” garnered the prestigious “Best Historical Recording” from the Native American Music Association.  In the spring of 2013, Jack became the first Montanan to receive the C.M. Russell Heritage Award, given to honor his contribution to the “legacy, culture, and life of the American West.” That same year, Jack was inducted into the University of Washington Alumni Hall of Fame in the field of Speech Communications.

In 2014, Jack Gladstone and Friends were featured on Montana PBS, 11th and Grant with Eric Funk, sharing an Emmy for Arts and Entertainment. In 2015, Jack was honored by the State of Montana with a Governor’s Humanities Award.

Joe CocoJoe Coco

Joe Coco, a former Marine Corps Officer, now makes a living advising clients on how to manage their wealth in accordance with their values. .

Upon leaving the military in 1993,  Joe turned his investment hobby into a career. He took over the Whitefish branch of Edward Jones, a large national investment firm, where he grew the assets in the branch from $2.5 million to over $100,000,000. In October of 2009, Joe established Coco Enterprises, LLC.  a financial planning and registered investment advisory firm. Joe currently advises clients on wealth management, cash flow planning, retirement planning, and small business development,. Joe is also a public speaker who enjoys speaking and teaching on a variety of topics including: economics and political philosophy, leadership, excellent living, and financial stewardship.

In his free time, Joe enjoys studying and debating philosophy, summer and winter backpacking, and physical fitness.

Keith BrownKeith Brown 

Chief Executive Officer at National Flood Services, Keith joined NFS in 2010 and has served as the Chief Information Officer, Chief Innovation and Business Development Officer, and since 2013 the company’s CEO.

Prior to joining NFS, Keith was the CEO of Merlin Information Services.  Merlin provided access to public records and other extremely large databases, over the internet to investigative professionals.  Before joining Merlin, Keith spent five years at Starbucks Coffee Company as VP of Information Technology where he was responsible for teams supporting worldwide systems for the financial, supply chain, retail, and human resources divisions.

In 2009, Keith took a one-year leave of absence from corporate life and had the opportunity to produce and host a nationally televised TV program called, “Montana – My Back Yard.” The reality based show featured somewhat eccentric individuals enjoying the vast outdoor opportunities of Montana.

Keith has been extremely fortunate to have been in leadership roles with two top ten internet companies, major retailers, and overseen major business and technology change in several different industry verticles.

John HudsonJohn Hudson

John Hudson is an award-winning architect and non-profit pioneer.  His passion is to train the next generation of architects to create places that are safe, efficient and inspiring in developing nations.

John is the founder of 100 Fold Studio, a 501(c)(3) architecture firm located in Lakeside, Montana.  The studio designs campuses to empower and equip individuals to transform their lives, communities and nations. International projects include a high school for orphans in Zambia, a university campus in Cambodia and educational projects in both Israel and Palestine.  Local work includes a performance space for a Native American community in Polson, MT.


John is a native of Birmingham, AL, and graduated with an M.A. from the Univ. of Virginia in 1997.   John loves living in Montana, but still has barbecue sauce imported regularly from Alabama. He enjoys snowboarding, biking, and making his wife and four daughters laugh.

Alea, TedxWhitefishAlea (which means “Sweet Voice” in Hawaiian), Leilani was born on Easter Morning in beautiful Honolulu Hawaii. She was known as “Bunny” for the first few days of her life as her parents struggled to name her. After a few days her Dad took a break from the hospital and went surfing with instructions from her mom to “not come back without a name”…  To her parent’s surprise, she discovered her love of singing as soon as she could talk, and her passion for singing and performing continues to this day.

Alea’s first public performance was as a second grader when she sang the National Anthem to begin a Veterans Day program at a local School. She did it as a surprise for her father, a veteran and former F-15 Air Force pilot, and as a tribute to all those who do and have served.

Since her beginning Alea has performed in many local theater productions including Missoula Children’s Theatre and Alpine Theatre Project. She has been featured at multiple fundraising and charity events including the Share your voice foundation and The Boot Campaign in Nashville to benefit veterans. She has also performed at the Texaco Country music showdown.

Alea is blessed to travel to Franklin Tennessee several times a year to visit family, sing at open mic’s and work with the talented voice coach Christy Sutherland. On a recent trip to Nashville she had the honor of writing and recording a song with the late, great A.J. Masters.  She is currently honored to be working with, opening for and being awed by, Kayla Adams.

Alea attends Stillwater Christian School in Kalispell and enjoys fishing, horses, traveling with her guitar and family time.

Past Speakers



We are TEDx Whitefish