Meet Emma Felker: The director of TEDxNorthwesternU

Name: Emma Felker

Age: 21

Hometown: Hartland, Wisconsin

Major: Journalism

1. What is your position in TEDxNorthwesternU?


2. Why did you join TEDxNorthwesternU?

I wanted to add value to an organization that I was truly excited about, and that I knew the campus could be excited about, too. I actually attended a TEDxNorthwesternU conference my freshman year at Northwestern, and I left in awe. I remember watching a slideshow of one of the speakers on his travels around the world -- he talked about removing the noise from your life, and gave the audience concrete steps to do so. I felt like I could do what he did, like I could participate and have an active role in his idea, which was one of the most empowering moments I’ve experienced at Northwestern. I knew that I had to be a part of the organization after that. I want the audience to have the same experience I did -- I want them to feel empowered, inspired, and hopefully prompt them to act on the next big idea they have. At Northwestern, I think it’s really easy to get caught up in the day-to-day, insanely scheduled part of our lives. But this conference really allows our audience to take a step back from all of that and think critically about their experiences at Northwestern or wherever they might be. On the other side of things, I knew I wanted to have a part in spreading the great ideas that lie within the Northwestern community. Giving the community this platform to potentially globally broadcast the amazing things they’ve done is definitely a rewarding aspect of the job.

3. Can you tell us a little bit about the upcoming event?

So on Saturday, the 15th, we’re hosting our annual TEDxNorthwesternU conference in the McCormick Foundation Center Forum. There are 3 sessions and the day goes from 12pm-5:30pm. Right now we’re expecting about 300 attendees, so roughly 100 per session, and tickets are sold out on our website. Each session has 3 speakers who are all giving talks on a diverse range of subjects. Session 1 is titled "The People." Session 2 is "A Purpose" and Session 3 is "Your Planet." We'll have a performance during each of the sessions to create a full entertainment experience for our guests. Our theme this year is The Power of Intention - this theme is meant to encapsulate all of the talks that will be given at the conference, and it speaks to the fact that behind every great idea, every great action, there’s intention. And when people can recognize that intentionality within themselves, they can harness it.

4. What makes this event different from your past ones?

Well each year we get different speakers - so the lineup is completely new. This year, my team and I really focused on spreading the word about our organization. It was disheartening because after last year’s conference, a lot of my friends said they definitely would have attended if they had known it was happening. So my vision for this year was to expand community presence - we expanded our marketing group threefold, and focused on promoting ourselves to campus. We partnered with Supplies for Dreams to hold a discussion on education inequality (the first of it’s kind), and we were really happy with the results - the room we were in was full, and a Northwestern professor even attended to give her insight on the topic. So in short, I’d say that this year we’ve taken a lot more steps to connect with our community and our audience, in hopes that we can extend the conversations we have on Saturday past that one day, to the entire year.

5. What is your favorite part about TEDxNorthwesternU?

I know this is cliche, but I love my team. Everyone on our board is so passionate about TEDxNorthwesternU and it really shows in their work. Planning for a big event can be really hectic at times, and at every point all of my board members have stepped up to the plate to help out where they can. I think that can be rare to find in a student group - it’s really easy to join a bunch of things because they’re “resume builders,” and then you don’t really show up to meetings, don’t take on a lot of projects, etc. But everyone on our board genuinely wants to be there. We take our work seriously, but we don’t take ourselves seriously, which is awesome.