By Clarissa Grunwald, Staff Writer ||

In cooperation with TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design), F&M’s Black Pyramid Society will be presenting a TEDx event on April 23 in the Green Room Theatre. Tickets, while free, are limited to students and faculty members of the College, and, due to limited seating, attendees will be selected via a lottery system.

TED is a nonprofit organization committed to “Ideas Worth Spreading,” which are usually presented as speeches. TEDx, an offshoot of the larger program, works with organizations such as the Black Pyramid Society to help create independent events in the spirit of TED.

The Black Pyramid Society is a senior honor society dedicated to academic excellence, leadership, and service. The society hosts the Fummer’s Market, a silent auction for charity that takes place during Homecoming. They also organize the Last Lecture, in which one F&M professor is elected to give a final address to the senior class.

Each year, the Black Pyramid Society also chooses project, or mission, that is meant to contribute to the F&M community while demonstrating the society’s values. This year, the TEDx program was chosen as that mission.

“We want to inspire a sense of community through intellectual engagement, which is at the heart of TED’s philosophy of idea sharing,” said Caitlin Brust, ’14, a member of the Black Pyramid Society and lead organizer of the event.

Brust became interested in the possibility of a TEDx talk at F&M after seeing “The Power of Introverts,” a TED talk by writer Susan Cain.

F&M’s TEDx talks will feature four speakers, each of whom will give a presentation on the topic, “The Trials and Triumphs of the Underdog.” The presentations will each be about eighteen minutes in length, and each of the speakers will give a new take on the underdog story based on their own

“[The underdog idea] exists in many cultural spheres,” Brust said. “It could refer to the underprivileged, the unspoken for, or the unconfident who have risen above their particular adversities… We want the underdog to drive this TEDx talk, and we want the audience to walk away with a stronger vision of how to support the underdogs they encounter in their lives.”

Speakers include Akbar Hossain ’13, a Saudi-Arabian immigrant who spent time at the College working as an advocate for those seeking political asylum; Dave Levin, co-founder of the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), which helps college-bound students from low-income families succeed; Joan Fallon ’79, whose work to improve autism treatment has led her to found the research and drug development firm, Curemark LLC; and Kate Porterfield, a psychologist and sister of Dan Porterfield, president of the College, who has worked with several young prisoners at the U.S. military’s Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

“We chose these speakers because they are intellectual leaders who have nuanced and intuitive perspectives on the underdog,” Brust said in a press release.

Sue Washburn ’73, a trustee of the College, will serve as the master of ceremonies for the event. Washburn is a Principal at Washburn and McGoldrick Inc., a consulting firm that works with educational institutions and philanthropies.

Students interested in entering the lottery for tickets to the event should visit:


First-year Clarissa Grunwald is a staff writer. Her email is