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In this time of accelerated history and unprecedented change, each of us possesses unique insights and talents – their true impact often not yet discovered.

What does it mean to be strong? When we face challenges, do we stand rigid against the wind — or are we energized, like a turbine? Complex systems are often fragile, but some actually become stronger when stressed.

We’ll explore systems and processes that appear UNBREAKABLE, and ask how our civic systems and our shared culture can withstand the deep uncertainties of our time.

More TEDxMidAtlantic “Unbreakable” Speakers Will Be Announced Soon!

Elijah Cummings


Congressman Cummings represents Maryland’s 7th district and currently serves as the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform. As the main investigative committee in the House of Representatives, Oversight and Reform has jurisdiction to investigate any federal program and any matter with federal policy implications. As the Committee’s Chairman, Congressman Cummings fights to hold the Presidential Administration to a high standard of excellence and to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in the actions of the government of the United States. He also seeks to identify appropriate reforms that prevent waste, fraud and abuse and that ensure government programs meet the needs of the American people.

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Leana Wen

Reproductive Rights Advocate

Dr. Leana Wen is the President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. Before joining Planned Parenthood, Dr. Wen served as the Baltimore City Health Commissioner, where she oversaw more than 1,000 employees with an annual budget of $130 million; two clinics that provide more than 18,000 patients with reproductive health services; and mental health programs in 180 Baltimore schools.

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Graham Allison

Historian + Educator

Graham Allison is the Douglas Dillon Professor of Government at Harvard University where he has taught for five decades. Allison is a leading analyst of national security with special interests in nuclear weapons, Russia, China, and decision-making. Allison was the “Founding Dean” of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and until 2017, served as Director of its Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs which is ranked the “#1 University Affiliated Think Tank” in the world.

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Chuck Marohn

Advocate for Strong Towns

Charles Marohn – known as “Chuck” to friends and colleagues is the Founder and President of Strong Towns, and the lead author of Thoughts on Building Strong Towns — Volume 1, Volume 2 and Volume 3 — as well as the author of A World Class Transportation System. He hosts the Strong Towns Podcast and is a primary writer for Strong Towns’ web content. He has presented Strong Towns concepts in hundreds of cities and towns across North America and in 2017 was named one of the 10 Most Influential Urbanists of all time by Planetizen.

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Mitch Zeller

FDA Tobacco Products Head

As Director of the FDA Center for Tobacco Products since 2013, Mitch Zeller, J.D., leads FDA’s efforts to reduce disease and death from tobacco use and bring previously unavailable information about its dangers to light. Zeller is dedicated to carrying out CTP’s charge to reduce the harm from all tobacco products across the entire population—with a focus on how and why people start, stop, or start using these products again. The mission of CTP—established by enactment of the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act—is “to make tobacco-related death and disease part of America’s past, not America’s future, and, by doing so, ensure a healthier life for every American family.”

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Carmen Medina

Organizational Heretic

Carmen is an organizational heretic and all-purpose troublemaker whose only real expertise is asking stupid questions and noticing odd, new things that might amount to something…or maybe not. People on LinkedIn endorse her for strategy, analysis, and leadership. Those who don’t know her very well also endorse her for program management skills… not!

Carmen spent 32 years at CIA but when you meet her you will hardly notice. She is recognized as a national and international expert on intelligence analysis, strategic thinking, diversity of thought, and innovation and intrapreneurs in the public sector.

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David Carroll

Data Rights Advocate

An associate professor of media design at Parsons School of Design, David Carroll is known for challenging Cambridge Analytica in the UK in a quest to recover voter data profiles from the 2016 election. Before that, he served as director of the MFA Design and Technology graduate program at Parsons and then took a shot at being a media tech entrepreneur after working for media clients in digital marketing since the dawn of the commercial internet. He has written about his data quest for Wired, Motherboard, and Boston Review and is working on a book. His research, scholarship, creative practice, and collaborations have been funded by the US government and private foundations.

Maya R. Cummings

Guardian of Democracy

After more than two decades operating at the nexus of politics, policy and government, Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings was elected Chair of the Maryland Democratic Party in December 2018. Prior to leading the party, Dr. Rockeymoore Cummings spent her career advising and working for organizations and policymakers fighting for social justice, including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF), National Urban League, the House Ways and Means Committee, and Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY).

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