TEDxAkron Executive Team
Kenyona "Sunny" Matthews
Co-Organizer, 2018 TEDxAkron Alumni Speaker
Sunny is a community activist and motivational speaker, focusing on issues of diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism. She is a University of Akron School of Law graduate who focused civil liberties and earned her Bachelor's degree from Guilford College majoring in Political Science, Philosophy and African American Studies. After college, Sunny served as an AmeriCorps Vista North Carolina Campus Compact Multicultural Service Coordinator. In addition to her work as co-leader of TEDxAkron, Sunny is a co-founder of Dimensions of Isms, a nonprofit organization that works to bring awareness and spark progress regarding societal issues through corporate training, church workshops, speaking engagements, and other civil and social organizations.
With over 25 years of experience in the for-profit and nonprofit industries building successful and award winning community and development programs for organizations of all shapes and sizes, Ben is a nationally recognized author, speaker and problem-solver. His book with co-author Kathy Wisniewski, The Unashamed Guide to Virtual Management, from ATD Press is in pre-sale and will be available where all books are sold on September 17th, 2019. In addition to his work as co-leader of TEDxAkron, Ben is the the Chief Vision Officer for Rhinocorn, a design house for charitable sector innovation and advancement. Ben is also a proud husband, LGBTQ, Native American, special needs pet owner and animal advocate.
Alexis “Xposyur” Boyd
Co-Organizer, 2018 TEDxAkron Alumni Speaker
Xposyur is a spoken-word artist, emcee, MC, motivational speaker, and musician born and bred in the city of Akron. Traveling the world to share her gifts and talents with communities and colleges alike, Xposyur is also a proud 2018 TedxAkron Speaker Alum and a 2019 Pathfinders Award recipient. She is the owner of #BLOODBOUGHT, a clothing company and founder of #teamX, an empowerment organization. An influencer and inspiration to all ages but especially to the amazing and diverse youth in the city of Akron, Xposyur believes if she can change the narrative of one young life, it can cause a ripple effect on many.
TEDxAkron Leadership Team
Event Programming Team
Kelley Gifford | Event Programming Team
Kelley is a self-proclaimed social media geek who gets to teach communications to undergraduate students at the University of Akron and works as a social media specialist at a digital marketing agency. With a dual degree in marketing from the University of Akron, a MA in Journalism and Mass Communications in Kent, and experience in both the nonprofit sector, Kelley finds herself constantly keeping up on trends on how to bridge the gap between online/offline.
Farrel Helfer | Event Programming Team
Farrel Helfer is excited about innovation and what the next generation will create. After 42 years in corporate life, in Akron, he is retired and looks forward to cycling, swimming and enjoying good company over excellent meals.
Missy Williams | Event Programming Team
Missy is a seasoned marketing professional, who has worked across various digital and traditional channels throughout her career including search engine optimization, social media, paid search, event planning, promotions and public relations. Currently, she holds the position as Senior SEO Strategist at Fathom with expertise in growing organic traffic and conversions on websites while leading overall digital strategy for her clients.
Amanda Cole | Event Programming Team
Amanda’s name means full of love and she is full of love for life. What does life mean to her? Radical self-care, boundary pushing, empathy, funky earrings and queer people and politics. Professionally, her background includes running after school programs, leadership trainings, non-profit management and community development. Amanda is blessed to be the Executive Director of Plexus LGBT + Allied Chamber of Commerce and lives in Kent with her fantastic family.
Fundraising & Partnerships Team
Kathy Wisniewski | Fundraising + Partnerships Team
Kathy is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and owner of True and Lasting Wellness, LLC where she focuses on primarily-virtual health coaching for busy professionals, helping them to discover and reach their health goals and find balance between their work and their wellness. She currently also serves as the Executive Board Administrator for the Histiocyte Society, a nonprofit membership group of physicians who try to find better treatments and a cure for the rare disease, histiocytosis. Additionally, she has a particular love for the international community as she scouts, plans, and executes the Society’s annual meeting in various locations all over the world.
Sammy Waller | Fundraising + Partnerships Team
Sammy is an Integrated Marketing Communications major at the University of Akron, choosing this field so one day he could eventually know how to run and market his own business. He enjoys hanging out with friends, hiking, and going to the gym in his free time.
Beverly Dillon | Fundraising + Partnerships Team
Beverly Dillon attended Kent State University and studied Fine Art before launching on a colorful career path that led her to founding and becoming the Executive Director of RunningDog, a dog enrichment organization that trains area volunteers to run, walk or hike with and promote adoptable shelter dogs until they find their new home. Having also been a florist, a barista, grocery chain department head, and tattoo artist before becoming certified as a personal trainer, Beverly also runs a dog running service to private clients in the NE Ohio area.
Trevor Sidewand | Fundraising + Partnerships Team
Trevor is currently attending the University of Akron studying Biomedical Engineering and is a member of Phi Delta Theta. He loves to read, write and play guitar. Trevor is passionate about working with TEDxAkron and deeply aligns with their mission of sharing big ideas.
Erin Cole | Fundraising + Partnerships Team
Erin is the Director of Advancement at Victim Assistance Program in Akron and has worked in nonprofit management and fundraising for more than 15 years. She received dual BA degrees from Kent State University in Psychology and Criminal Justice and is currently pursuing her Masters in Management and Change Leadership at Antioch University Midwest. Erin believes “the personal is political” and the way to affect change starts within. She believes in the importance of integrity and compassion in building relationships and works to incorporate and share those values in her every day interactions.
Amanda Hevener | Fundraising + Partnerships Team
Amanda Sedlak-Hevener has an M.L.I.S. in Museum Studies from Kent State University and an M.A. in History from the University of Akron. She believes in the power of sharing ideas with the world.
Marketing + Social Communications Team
Amanda Shannon | Marketing + Social Comms Team
Amanda is a long time Cleveland native, non-profit enthusiast, and active marathon runner. With a strong technical background, her passion is in community, volunteering and marketing relations. Amanda is currently pursuing her Masters in Marketing at Cleveland State University.
Jake Waller | Marketing + Social Comms Team
Jake is a senior at The University of Akron this coming academic year. He is majoring in Geology and is very excited to be a part of the TedxAkron team. Jake enjoys photography and watching movies with friends in his free time. He loves nature and finding new places to explore!
Gabrielle Barnes | Marketing + Social Comms Team
Gabrielle is an Akron native who loves to connect with others in her community and provide educational opportunities. A double graduate from the University of Akron with bachelors degrees in psychology and public relations, Gabrielle has experience in nonprofit work, university programming, community engagement initiatives, and digital content creation. She's super excited to join the TedxAkron team to lend her knowledge of external communications and outreach to spread awareness about the program. Outside of the team, she is also a member of the Akron Urban League Young Professionals and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and loves to volunteer as much as she can.