Judith Black

 Storytelling and Climate Disruption


Judith Black is one of America’s finest storytellers. She is the winner of the Oracle Award, storytelling's most coveted laurel. She makes people think and laugh through retellings of history from new perspectives, tickling familial dysfunction, and ironic explorations of aging. She has performed at many venues including the Montreal Comedy Festival, The Smithsonian Institution, and in Africa.


Additionally, Judith sings, directs a peer mentoring program, teaches the art of storytelling, and is a fanatic gardener and environmental advocate.

For more about Judith, look here

Senator Ben Downing

The Power of Community

Senator Downing’s talk will consist of reflections on growing up in the Berkshire region during a time of economic transition, the impact that transition has on the psychology of that community and why, if we recognize those impacts, we will be able to make the Berkshires all we know they can and should be.

Benjamin Downing is the State Senator for the 52 communities of the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden district. As Senate chairman of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, which is tasked with reviewing all legislative matters concerning renewable and non-renewable energy sources. A Pittsfield native, Senator Downing received his B.A. in Political Science from Providence College in 2003. In May 2008 he received a M.A. from Tufts University’s Department of Urban and Environment Policy & Planning. First elected to the State Senate in 2006, he announced this year that he would not seek re-election after completing his fifth term.


For more about Senator Ben Downing look here

Giovanna Fessenden 

Blockchain Revolution

The success of the digital currency Bitcoin is due in large part to its underlying architecture, the block chain. The block chain is distributed-ledger technology that enables payments and other transactions to be processed and stored in an entirely decentralized way—without banks or other intermediaries. The block chain’s distributed-ledger helps keep its content resistant to tampering and modification. This distributed architecture of the block chain helps eliminate the chances of having a single point of failure and makes it more robust against hacking. Giovanna will discuss what the future may hold for an internet augmented by the block chain – a block chain internet where nothing can be deleted or modified.

Giovanna has been practicing as intellectual property (IP) attorney specializing software patents for fifteen years. Giovanna dedicates a significant portion of her practice to advising businesses in technology and the creative economy. Her firm, Hamilton Brook Smith Reynolds, is an Intellectual Property boutique with offices in the Boston Seaport and Concord. In addition to expertise in intellectual property law (including patents, copyright, and trademark), Giovanna concentrated in computer science and art history in her undergraduate studies at Smith College. She has lived in Lenox, Massachusetts for nine years with her family. She spends her free time competing in triathlons as well as rowing, paddle boarding, and in the pottery studio.

For more about Giovanna look here

David Gelles

Mindful Work: How Meditation is Changing Business from the Inside Out

David writes the Revalued column and other features for the Sunday Business section of the New York Times. At the Times, he previously covered mergers and acquisitions for DealBook.  

Before joining the Times in 2013, he spent five years with the Financial Times. At the FT, he covered tech, media and M&A in San Francisco and New York. In 2011 he conducted an exclusive jailhouse interview with Bernie Madoff, shedding new light on the $65 billion ponzi scheme.


Mindful Work, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2015, brings together his 15 years of meditation practice and his work as a business journalist. 

He lives in New York City.

For more about David look here

Daniel Klein and Thomas Cathcart

The Wisdom of  Jokes

More than forty years ago, Danny and Tom studied philosophy together at Harvard. Their friendship endured decades and thru twists and turns, directly led to them to becoming improbable NYTimes bestselling authors with Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar. 


In their upcoming talk, Klein and Cathcart share their discovery of the fact that we are all philosophers.  It turns out that the deep cultural wisdom of our society is embedded in jokes--of all things--and we all "get" it.  Professional philosophers merely dress it up in incomprehensible academic jargon.  So come prepared to laugh--and maybe even learn a bit.


To learn more about them, visit here

Mike Markham

Your Dream is Available

Mike Markham is one of the world's premier ring announcers and has announced MMA, boxing and kickboxing events across the United States and around the world. His voice has echoed through venues from Miami to Moscow and in many places between and beyond. Mike has worked with over 50 event promoters, franchises and institutions across the globe to passionately enhance the presentation of sporting events through his signature sound. 


This didn't happen by accident.  Come hear the story of how Mike made this happen.

A proud native of New Orleans, Louisiana and resident of Charlotte, North Carolina Mike enjoys spending time with his wife Ginger and son Jack when he's not engrossed in the adventures, challenges and triumphs of entrepreneurship and life in the sports industry. 

To learn more about Mike, look here

Pastor Michael Tuck

Serious Make Believe


Michael Tuck is an Episcopal priest currently serving the two Episcopal congregations in Lenox Massachusetts (Trinity Church and St. Helena’s Chapel).  Prior to coming to Lenox, Michael served as the Episcopal Campus Minister at Brown University and as the assistant at St. Stephen’s Church in Providence, RI. In his secular life, Michael worked as a human resources consultant with the Hay Group specializing in job design and compensation analysis. Michael studied Theology and Pastoral Studies at the College of the Resurrection (Mirfield, UK) and completed and MA with Distinction from the University of Leeds (UK). Michael graduated from Brown University with an AB (Honors).  Throughout his ordained ministry and in his secular career, Michael has been fascinated with people’s stories and how they understand themselves.

For more about Michael Tuck look here. 

Jacob Robbins

An American Dreams

Jacob Robbins is a recent high school graduate and is a Berkshire County native. He is also amazingly optimistic about our country's future. Are we living in times of great division and hardship? Absolutely. Is there a lot to look forward to? Yes. He believes we need not look any further than our own community here in the Berkshires. Through the power of story and history, Jacob will paint a picture of progress. At the end of the day, while we may be divided by politics, race, gender, and wealth, we are all untied by one aspect: we are all American.


Kermit Roosevelt

Myth America: The Declaration, The Constitution, and Us

Kermit is a professor of constitutional law at The University of Pennsylvania, an award winning author, a former clerk for Supreme Court Justice David Souter, and the great-great-grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt.  Hailed as one of today's most distinctive voices in the public forum, he offers an inspring perspective that prompts up to re-think who we are as individuals and as a nation; how we can be a more united country; and how each individual voice in a democracy can shape the character of America.

To learn more about Kermit, look here

Tracy Seckler

Lessons from a Teenage Wise Man

Tracy Kramer Seckler was living a charmed life in the Berkshires with her family when, in 2004, a poisonous dart fell from the clear blue sky. Her middle son Charley was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, the #1 genetic killer of children worldwide. Just a few months after the diagnosis, Tracy and her husband Dr. Benjamin Seckler co-founded the nonprofit organization Charley’s Fund to help develop treatments for the dread disease. Charley’s Fund has been instrumental in advancing new therapies into clinical trials, and remains dedicated to saving Charley and many thousands of children like him all over the world.

Before devoting her life to ending Duchenne, Tracy -- a graduate of Harvard college and Columbia University -- was a middle school English teacher.  


While Tracy focuses intently on changing the future, she noticed something interesting about Charley: he was living intently in the present. In her upcoming talk, she will share what she has learned from observing her 15-year old son: no matter how black a cloud may loom overhead, you can still live a life full of humor, love and delight. Take it from Charley.

For more about Charley's Fund look here. 

©TEDX Berkshires 2021

                                              PO Box 18, Lenox MA 01240

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