Meet the Program Design Team

In just one month, many of you will be watching TEDxDonMills come to life. 12 inspiring, uplifting speakers will go on stage one by one and give you something new to think about, a new perspective, a bit of new knowledge and hopefully inspire you to do something differently-however small that thing is- to make an impact in your life and the lives of others as we spend the day thinking about “Designing Tomorrow”. The experience will be a transformative one for you.

We as the Program Design team, a group of volunteers who have been involved in selecting speakers, helping speakers to build out their talks and bring our theme of Designing Tomorrow to life, have also been transformed by our experience. Sitting together we had an opportunity to ask each other questions and today invite you into our chat.

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Question: What about Designing Tomorrow excites you the most?

Neha (Program Design Manager): What excites me the most about “Designing Tomorrow” is the intersection between various domains that make up the design of tomorrow. When people think “Designing Tomorrow”, the first thought that comes to mind is technology, but our tomorrow, the tomorrow we want to live in, is so much bigger than that. It’s about community, economy, inclusivity, healthcare, environment, and education. Understanding the intersectionality of these domains within the context of Don Mills, within the context of Canada, is an eye-opening experience. I truly believe that regardless of who you are and what you do, you are a designer of tomorrow, because tomorrow is a product of everything we’re doing today. 

Question: Why does Designing Tomorrow matter?

Jessie (Program Team Coordinator): In modern society, everyone relies on the tangible substance for a living for sure. But I have always believed that there must be a certain degree of the internal drive to desire more or less to become a better version of yourself and be surrounded people who share the same values and perspectives. So when it comes to Designing Tomorrow, off the top of my head, it is the reason to create all the possibilities and have you captivated at all proximities.

Question: What are these speakers going to bring to the Don Mills community?

 Noureen (Co-Executive Lead): The Don Mills community is very special. It is composed of people from all walks of life who truly care about the community around them and have a fire inside them to make the world a better place - for their families, for those in need within their communities, and for the broader global community. When I think of Don Mills, I think of a mosaic of all different types of people who are bound together by many more things that make them the same than those that make them different. Our speakers will touch the community through their human connection. What I love is that every single speaker has a topic that approaches Designing Tomorrow through a different perspective, but each of them will be able to connect with each member of the audience on a truly human level. Of course our speakers will bring their domain expertise, they will teach us something new, share a grand idea worth spreading - but more than that, I promise that you will be moved by their personal journeys, their own ‘why’ and their passion for the work they do.

Question: What is one thing that is most important to keep in mind when Designing Tomorrow?

Alykhan (Co-executive Lead): I believe that inclusion is one of the most important things to keep in mind when talking about Designing Tomorrow. Inclusion is a term that is often misunderstood and commonly used as a synonym for diversity. The Institute for Canadian Citizenship, a national organization focused on building inclusive societies says that “Diversity is a reality, inclusion is a choice”. We must choose inclusion when developing the strategies that will design tomorrow. An inclusive society is one in which diversity is treasured and a sense of belonging for all is the ultimate goal.

Question:  What excites you most about the speakers?

Sheri (Speaker Development Manager): It has been an absolute honour to watch brilliance in action as each speaker works diligently to bring bring their idea worth spreading to the TEDxDonMills stage.  While also being brilliant they are thoughtful, passionate and everyday people.  What I have been able to see of their talks so far makes me inspired to consider how I might impact the world around me with my own idea.  I am really looking forward to seeing the impact of their words on stage for the audience and how it might inspire the community to act.

Question: Describe your experience on the TEDxDonMills team so far.

Alykhan (Co-executive Lead): My experience on this team has been a truly amazing and eye-opening one. It has been an honour to work with such talented people who share the same values and hopes for our future. Our speakers illustrate how anyone can make a difference and in fact true change can only happen when we have people from all walks of life, with varying skills and experiences coming together for a common cause. I can’t wait to see the meeting of these minds on February 9th, 2019 as we embark on the journey of Designing Tomorrow! 

Sheri (Speaker Development Manager): I have been privileged to work with a group of talented speaker coaches who are helping each speaker craft their message and bring their idea to life.  The experience that each coach brings to the table, their willingness to push the speakers out of comfort zones but to also support them has been amazing to witness.   It makes me even more excited to watch the final product on February 9th.

Noureen (Co-Executive Lead): This team brings me joy. Watching talented people learn, grow, contribute, collaborate and create something more special than what we could have imagined on our own is rewarding and magical. From conception of this crazy idea of building TEDxDonMills, to engaging with the community, to the application process, to building the teams, to leading the program design, to facilitating the curation panel, to contributing to discussions across our portfolios to working with our amazing speakers, chatting with them for hours pushing them out of their comfort zone into a place of creativity and brilliance, I have enjoyed every minute - and the best is yet to come!

Jessie (Program Team Coordinator): I found out each person of the team always makes time for the program, every detail of the program regardless of how busy we all are, starting from how to create a spreadsheet to how we make a better speaker experience. Also, we tried our best to connect with each other in person, offline, related to this program or even related to our personal lives to make sure that no one is left behind and everyone will be supportive to each other.

Neha (Program Design Manager): I found reviewing the speaker applications, and interacting with all the applicants a humbling experience. The caliber of every applicant - their thoughts, their ideas, further cemented my belief that the person standing next to me in the subway, or ordering a coffee behind me at Tim Hortons, is a brilliant changemaker and designer of tomorrow. The applicants were ordinary people for the most part, living their lives day-to-day, but trust me when I say almost all of them had ideas that were life-changing. I’m fortunate and thankful that I had the opportunity to read those ideas and understand them.


 We hope that we were able to give you some insights into our journey and the hard work that is put in to bringing you an unforgettable experience. We encourage you to be volunteers in your communities and see the transformation it brings you. If you are attending TEDxDonMills on February 9th at the Aga Khan Museum, please come say hello!

Share your ideas about designing affordable housing and win!

We chose the theme Designing Tomorrow because it acknowledges that our tomorrow is a direct response to our present. This year, our curated group of change-makers are going to spread their individual journey, vision and progress on how they are making leaps into transforming the future. They are allowing us to see their tomorrow from a new perspective discussing a wide range of topics from technological innovations to human expression on both a local and global scale.

Though we are so excited to hear from our group of speakers, we also know that each one of us has a hand in what that future will look like. 

Check out this contest, brought to you by a community group, on how you can win tickets to TEDxDonMills Designing Tomorrow, by sharing your thoughts on how you would Design Tomorrow’s affordable housing in Toronto.

10 Winners will have the opportunity to win tickets to the Designing Tomorrow Conference on February 9th at the Aga Khan Museum!

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Our TEDxDonMills Journey

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Written by Sameer Ali on behalf of the TEDxDonMills team

A beautiful representation of all Canada has to offer, the Don Mills community is a true gem.

Drive around and you will see the beauty of diversity. From the first homes of many new Canadian immigrants to the established communities of Canadians living here for generations. From schools scattered throughout neighbourhoods to the large young professional population, to the multitude of retirement homes. From the active non-profit organizations to the involved private sector, to the investment the city is putting in infrastructure. From the Ontario Science Centre to the Aga Khan Museum and the community hubs of a variety of cultural communities.

This is also a community of crossroads. It is a community of opportunity. Globally, we are also at a crossroads of sorts, and at a point of opportunity. This is a time of great change, of technological advancements, of advanced knowledge, but also at times, of divide – cultural, generational, and socioeconomic. Now is when we decide to be on the side of history that learns, asks questions, empathizes, includes, acts.

Earlier this year, I started with a vision. I wanted to bring the TED vision and mission to this community that is currently in a special place in its history. Now is the time for those within and outside this community to come together, share ideas and act together to shape its future. We passionately believe in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately the world. But this cannot be done alone.

My vision soon became a shared vision - TEDxDonMills. Our theme for this year, inspired by our vision, became Designing Tomorrow. The Aga Khan Museum joined as our venue partner as we shared similar values of bringing people together to share knowledge, create dialogue and inspire positive change. A dedicated, passionate and unbelievably talented team was formed, each bringing their expertise and hours and hours of hard work to making this vision come true.

We soon realized this became bigger than ourselves, TEDxDonMills was inspiring others across the community to come together, to join our community of change-makers.

My team and I have carefully and purposefully worked to curate an exceptional group of change-makers who will inspire us from the stage through thought-provoking talks, each from a different view of Designing Tomorrow that is both locally and globally relevant – and widely relatable to all of us as human beings. Each speaker brings something unique on their own, but together they make magic.

 We hope you will join us to share ideas, to engage, to be inspired, to take action. To talk to those who are different than you, to learn from those who have different perspectives and experiences than you. To be inspired by those who have big ideas to share.    

When you join us at TEDxDonMills, you will forever be a part of our community of change-makers. Whether you live in Don Mills or not, you, through your presence and engagement are helping to create positive change. Please help us spread the word - share with your friends, colleagues, and families.