Past ciWeeks

​​​​​​​​​​​​ciMagazine | ciLive! Trailers

ciLive! has established a precedent of bringing inspired individuals to the stage. The following speakers are the incredible, creative minds that have shared their visions at past events.

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Jennifer Adler

Underwater Photojournalist

Jennifer Adler is a conservation photographer and underwater photojournalist. Her work is informed by her scientific background, and she uses her imagery to communicate science and conservation. She specializes in underwater photography and is a trained free diver and cave diver. An ongoing theme in her work is the connection between people and water in a changing climate.  Assignments for The Nature Conservancy, National Geographic, and the International Women's Media Foundation have taken her all over the world. National Geographic magazine featured her work to teach kids about freshwater through underwater photography and the first 360-degree virtual tour in Florida's underwater caves.

Visit her​ website:​

Andy Aldrin

Space Entrepreneur and son of Apollo Moonwalker, Buzz Aldrin

Andy Aldrin is the son of famed Apollo 11 Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin and a leader in the aerospace industry focusing on the intersection of policy, business, and academia. He founded the International Space University Center for Space Entrepreneurship at Florida Tech where he was also Director of the Aldrin Space Institute. Andy's experience also includes leadership positions at Moon Express, an emerging NewSpace company; Boeing; the RAND Corporation; and the Institute for Defense Analyses. ​

Clayton Anderson

NASA Astronaut

​Anderson was a member of the Expedition 15 crew and spent 152 days on board the International Space Station, followed by a large resupply mission to the International Space Station. Anderson has been not just to the lands beyond the atmosphere, but the world below the ocean's surface; he worked as an aquanaut on the NEEMO 5 mission aboard the Aquarius underwater laboratory.

James Barrat

Author and Filmmaker

​James Barrat is an author and filmmaker. His book Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era started a national conversation about the dangers of artificial intelligence. His films provoke viewers to think about the machines whose intelligence could overtake our own and if we can rely on their “kindness" to survive.

Alan Bean

NASA Astronaut

​As an astronaut, Bean pushed the boundaries of exploration on Apollo 12 and Skylab Mission II. Bean was the fourth man to set foot on the moon. A retired naval captain, Bean is now an innovative painter who uses moon dust, lunar tools and spacecraft bits to create his works of art. 

Deanne Bell

Engineer and TV Host

​After earning a B.S. in mechanical engineering, designing mechanics for military aircraft and engineering CAD software, she became the co-host of the popular children's show, Design Squad. She's also hosted shows on ESPN, Discovery Channel, National Geographic, and DIY Network. On top of these credentials she founded Future Engineers in 2014 and serves on the Board of Directors of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Foundation.

Howard Berger

Emmy and Academy Award-Winning Makeup and Visual Effects Artist

​Berger is an Academy Award and Emmy-winning makeup and visual effects artist who has worked on more than 200 films since 1977. Of his credits, The Walking Dead and The Chronicles of Narnia are among the most popular. He's the co-founder of KNB EFX Group, which specializes in prosthetic make-up.

Jon Wellner and David Berman

Actors and Owners of Entertainment Research

​Veteran CSI actors (among other credits) Wellner and Berman serve as the co-presidents of Entertainment Research Consultants (ERC), which has provided critical research, data and information that is incorporated into the plots for more than 20 films and TV shows such as the CSI franchise, Bones and The Blacklist.

Danny Beyer

Author and Keynote Speaker

​Easily recognized by his signature bowtie, Beyer is an author of the book, The Ties That Bind, and keynote speaker about connection-building and networking. He also co-founded the Bow Tie Ball in 2013, which has successfully raised tens of thousands of dollars for Young Variety charity.

Max Brooks

Best-Selling Author and “Zombie Expert”

The New York Times best-selling author has sparked readers to discuss how to better prepare for crises and discover solutions around emergency responses in an unconventional way . . . through zombie-themed fiction. His books, The Zombie Survival Guide, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War and The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks, have established Brooks as a “zombie expert" and propelled the zombie trend forward in pop culture.

Gabor George Burt

Innovation, Creativity and Strategy Development Expert

Gabor George Burt is an internationally recognized expert in innovation, creativity and strategy development, and the author of the book “Slingshot: Re-Imagine Your Business, Re-Imagine Your Life." Burt was a leading expert of Blue Ocean Strategy, the new millennium's most influential business strategy approach. He contributed case study material to the worldwide, best-selling book of the same name and also originated the most popular blog on the topic. Burt is actively involved in shaping strategy for a diverse group of international clients, ranging from top multinationals and governments to start-ups and NGOs. He has given the opening presentation at the World Marketing Forum, and was the architect and host of the Forum for Partnership in the Americas, a gathering of business and government leaders.

LeVar Burton

Actor and Producer

Burton is beloved host and executive producer of one of the longest-running PBS kids' shows, Reading Rainbow. One of his biggest roles as an actor was his first—Kunta Kinte in ABC's award-winning series, Roots—in addition to his role on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Burton at ciLive 2014

Kari Byron

MythBusters Host

​Byron is the friendly face of reality-based science TV shows including Discovery Channel's MythBusters, Science Channel's Head Rush, and Travel Channel's Thrill Factor. She is also a sculptor and painter.

Emily Calandrelli

Aeronautics Engineer and Host of Xploration Outer Space

​With her background in aeronautics and engineering, Calandrelli is the talented producer and host of FOX's Xploration Outer Space. She's a regular space industry writer for TechCrunch and is an avid speaker on topics that include scientific literacy and space exploration; she is passionate about inspiring females to pursue STEM careers.

Adam Carroll

Author, Documentarist and Speaker

​Carroll is an acclaimed speaker and writer of The Money-Savvy Student and Winning the Money Game, used in classrooms as a text for financial literacy. Carroll also wrote, produced and crowd-funded the documentary on student loan debt, Broke, Busted, and Disgusted.

Ruth Carter

Oscar-winning Costume Designer for Black Panther

Ruth Carter won the 2019 Academy Award for “Best Costume Design" for her work on the film “Black Panther" and made history as the first African American to win in that category. She also has received Academy Award nominations for Spike Lee's “Malcom X" and Steven Spielberg's “Amistad," as well as an Emmy nomination for the 2016 reboot of “Roots." Carter has worked in the industry for more than three decades and has been credited on more than 40 films to-date. She is known for her research and diligence to the craft of costume design, specifically for her outstanding work for period ensemble films such as the highly praised Lee Daniels' film “The Butler" (

Gene Cernan

NASA Astronaut

​The distinguished astronaut who traversed space on the Gemini IX, Apollo 10 and Apollo 17 missions was the last man to leave footprints on the moon. After retiring as a naval captain with more than 20 years service, Cernan founded The Cernan Corporation and authored the book, The Last Man on the Moon, among other endeavors.

Roy Choi

Celebrity Chef, World’s 100 Most Influential People (Time Magazine)

​Born in Seoul, South Korea, Roy Choi is a celebrity Korean-American chef who gained prominence as the chef celebrated as one of the founders of the gourmet food truck movement. Raised in Los Angeles, Roy became obsessed with Emeril Lagasse's "Essence of Emeril show," a show that inspired him to enroll in culinary school. After working as a chef in a variety of restaurants in both New York and LA, he created and co-founded the gourmet Korean taco truck, Kogi. Roy was named one of the top ten "Best New Chefs" of 2010 by Food and Wine magazine, and Time magazine included him in their TIME 100 list of the most influential people in the world for both 2011 and 2016. Fellow chef Anthony Bourdain wrote that "Roy Choi first changed the world when he elevated the food-truck concept from 'roach coach' to highly sought-after, ultra-hot-yet-democratic rolling restaurant." His cookbook/memoir L.A. Son was a New York Times best seller in 2013, and his restaurant, Locol, received the first ever LA Times Restaurant of the Year Award in 2017. The Jon Favreau movie, Chef (2014), was loosely inspired by Roy and the food truck movement. Roy worked as a technical advisor to Favreau on cooking and restaurant scenes and appears in the end credits. Favreau both toured and trained in several of Roy's restaurants and kitchens.

Dr. Kara Cooney

Host of Out of Egypt on Discovery

Dr. Kara Cooney is a professor of Egyptian Art and Architecture at UCLA. She produced and hosted a comparative archaeology television series, “Out of Egypt," which aired on the Discovery Channel and is currently available online via Netflix and Amazon. Cooney specializes in craft production, coffin studies and economies in the ancient world. Her first book, “The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut's Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt," relies on her years of experience at various excavations in Egypt and expert perspective on Egypt's ancient history to share the biography of its least known female king. Her research is ongoing and has taken her around the world to study and document nearly 300 coffins in collections, including those in Cairo, London, Paris, Berlin and Vatican City (

Lynne Cox

World-Record Endurance Swimmer and Best-Selling Author

Lynne Cox is an American long-distance, open-water swimmer and best-selling author. Over the course of more than 35 years, spanning a period equal to 8 Olympic Games, Lynne set records, opened the borders of nations, contributed to medical research, supported environmental causes and inspired people to overcome great obstacles. Lynne is the first person to have completed over 60 challenging, different swims around the world.

While she is best known for her swim across the Bering Strait from the United States to the Soviet Union in 1987 (a swim that was toasted by both Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev as helping to ease relations between the two countries), she was also the first person to swim the Strait of Magellan, the Cape of Good Hope, and 1.2 miles in the icy waters of Antarctica (wearing only a normal bathing suit and cap and goggles). She twice set the overall record for the fastest crossing of the English Channel from England to France.

Walt Cunningham

Astronaut — Apollo 7

From October 11–22, 1968, Astronaut Walt Cunningham occupied the Lunar Module Pilot seat for the eleven-day flight of Apollo 7, which was the first manned flight test of the Apollo spacecraft. Along with Wally Schirra and Donn Eisele, d uring the 263-hour, four-and-a-half million-mile shakedown flight, Walt participated in and executed a variety of critical tests necessary for the advancement of the Apollo Program. Prior to his assignment to the Apollo 7 crew, Walt was the backup Lunar Module Pilot to the crew of Apollo 1. After a tragic fire on the pad killed the crew of Apollo 1, their crew was then assigned to fly the first manned Apollo mission.

Walt joined the Navy in 1951 and began his flight training in 1952. In 1953 he became a Marine Corps fighter pilot and served on active duty with the United States Marine Corps until 1956 and in the Marine Corps Reserve program until 1975. Walt is the author of The All American Boys, which details the human side of the space program.

John de Lancie

Actor, Director, Comedian

John de Lancie is an American actor, director, and comedian, best known for his role as Q in numerous Star Trek shows, beginning with Star Trek: The Next Generation, in 1987. Q is one of the few characters appearing in multiple Star Trek series. de Lancie has appeared in other well-known TV programs, including Breaking Bad, The West Wing, MacGyver, Law & Order, Torchwood, Touched by an Angel, and more. His film credits include The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, Get Smart, Again!, The Fisher King, and others. Known for his deep, resonant voice, de Lancie has lent his voice to various film projects and video games. De Lancie will reprise the role of Q in Star Trek: Picard in 2022.​

Visit his website:​

Thomas Dolby

Musician, Producer and Entrepreneur

The English music producer and artist topped the charts in '80s with the hits, “She Blinded Me with Science" and “Hyperactive!" Dolby has founded companies that innovate tech with music including Headspace (Beatnik) and Retro Ringtones. He's acted as the Music Director of The TED Conference since 2001 and is a Professor of the Arts at Johns Hopkins University. 

Dolby at ciLive 2015

Mike Draper

Founder of RAYGUN

​Draper is a Des Moines native and when he went off to college he started making and selling clever t-shirts. Returning to Des Moines, he brought his business back with him. Since RAYGUN's opening in 2005, Draper's business has only grown, expanded its headquarters in Des Moines' East Village, and added two more locations in Cedar Rapids and Kansas City.

George Ducas

Country Singer and Grammy-Nominated Songwriter

George Ducas is a country singer and Grammy-nominated songwriter. He has released four albums and countless songs written for other artists including Garth Brooks, the Eli Young Band, Trisha Yearwood, Sara Evans, Radney Foster, and many others. Ducas' debut album on Capitol Records yielded four Billboard charting songs, including “Teardrops" and the Top 10 smash “Lipstick Promises." Ducas wrote and performed “Party with Your Boots On" to be used specifically as the theme song for the famed Houston Rodeo. For ciLive! 13, Ducas will debut music created especially for the event!​

Visit his website:​

A Conversation with the Cast of Napoleon Dynamite

A Conversation with the cast of “Napoleon Dynamite" will feature a panel discussion featuring three cast members from the 2004 film directed by Jared Hess--actors Jon Heder (Napoleon), Efren Ramirez (Pedro) and Jon Gries (Uncle Rico). “Napoleon Dynamite" was Hess' first full-length feature film and was shot in just 23 days in his hometown of Preston, Idaho, with a total budget of $400,000. In its first year, the film grossed approximately $45 million and went on to create a generational cult following.

Tom Eakin

Author and Cultural Expert

​Former U.S. Army Officer Eakin founded BoomLife, LLC, and has worked with a diverse set of companies of all sizes to spur innovation, stimulate growth and create opportunities for profit in order to minimize the differences between the reality and the vision. Eakin authored Finding Success: Get What You Really Want and developed his organizational-guiding GPS Theory.

Jazzy Ellis

Hollywood Stunt Actor

Jazzy Ellis is a SAG Award-winning stunt actor with over 75 film & TV credits. These include Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame;  HBO's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks;  AMC's The Walking Dead;  and CW's The Vampire Diaries to name a few. This Princeton alum was a high school math and special education teacher, radio show host, pageant queen, professional dancer, and researcher in the Amazon jungle. Jazzy uses her stories of triumph over adversity to inspire ambitious people of all ages, all walks of life, and in all industries to courageously reach their "impossible" goals.​

Visit her website:​

Jason Feifer

Editor-in-Chief for Entrepreneur Magazine

​Jason Feifer is the editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur magazine, and host of two podcasts: Problem Solvers, about entrepreneurs solving unexpected problems in their business, and Pessimists Archive, a history of unfounded fears of technology. Jason has served as editor at Men's Health, Fast Company, Maxim and Boston magazine, and has written about business and technology for the Washington Post, Slate, New York and others. He's also the coauthor of the novel Mr. Nice Guy, which he wrote with his wife.

Visit his website:​

Jason Feifer

Editor-in-Chief of Entrepreneur Magazine

Jason Feifer is the editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur magazine, host of two podcasts (Build For Tomorrow and Problem Solvers), and is known as “the guy who gets you excited for the future!" His goal is to help you become more resilient and adaptable in a world of constant change — so you can seize new opportunities before anyone else does! Jason has worked as an editor at Men's Health, Fast Company, Maxim, and Boston magazine, and has written about business and technology for the Washington Post, Slate, New York, and others. His book Build for Tomorrow, Not for Yesterday, will be published by Penguin Random House in September 2022. ​

Danielle Feinberg

Director of Photography, Lighting -​ Pixar

​Danielle Feinberg began her career at Pixar Animation Studios in 1997. As she worked her way up from an entry level, technical job to one of the top creative positions, she crewed many of Pixar's feature films including Toy Story 2; Monsters, Inc.; Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. Danielle rose to be the Director of Photography on Disney•Pixar's Oscar-winning films, WALL•E and Brave, as well as Pixar's 2017 film Coco. Danielle's love of combining computers and art began when she was eight years old, which eventually led her to a degree in Computer Science from Harvard University. In addition to her work at Pixar, she works with teenage girls, encouraging them to pursue code, math and science by demonstrating to them this same magic found by combining art and technology.

Jonathan Frakes

Actor, Author, and Director

​Jonathan Frakes is an actor, author, and director, best known for his role as Commander William T. Riker in the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, a role he also played in several films. Recent directing credits include: Star Trek: Discovery on CBS and the new Fox dramedy starring Seth McFarlane called The Orville. Frakes can be heard as the narrator on the animated series Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy.

Dan Gable

Olympic Gold Medalist and University of Iowa Wrestling Head Coach

​A native Iowan, Gable achieved an unprecedented wrestling career with highlights to include a prep and collegiate collective record of 182–1 and a 1972 Olympic gold medal among many other national and world wins. Gable isn't just a champion athlete himself. As a successful coach, he has personally inspired hundreds of the athletes to achieve their best. As head wrestling coach at the University of Iowa, he led his team to 15 NCAA team titles. Gable also served as the Olympic head coach three times, and was a six-time World Team head coach. Gable made the list of ESPN's& Top 10 Coaches of All Time .

Twitter: @dannygable

John Gaeta

Director and Award-Winning Visual Effects Designer

​As a creative director and visual effects designer, Gaeta turns the surreal and the magical into something that looks very real. His special effects work won an Academy Award for the Matrix Trilogy. Gaeta's focus is now dedicated to interactive media experimentation with tactics such as virtual cinema, sensor-based human interfaces and immersive theaters at Industrial Light & Magic's xLab.

Dr. David Gallo


​The renowned oceanographer has explored the depths of all the world's oceans. He was a co-leader in creating a comprehensive map of the Titanic with the technology of manned submersibles and robots. Additionally he co-led the discovery of the remains of Air France flight 447 and documentation of Ernest Shackleton's sunken ship, Endurance. Gallo has also given numerous TED Talks and has appeared as an expert in multiple documentaries and TV shows.

Josh Gates

Archeologist, Adventurer, Television Personality, and Author

​Josh Gates is an archeologist, adventurer, television personality, and author. As host of the Travel Channel Series Expedition Unknown, Gates takes viewers around the world on thrilling investigations of everything from Amelia Earhart's disappearance to a search for the Ark of the Covenant or lost Incan cities to a hunt in Siberia for Mammoth tusks to be used for DNA cloning. He has also hosted Destination Truth and Ghost Hunters Live, shows where the paranormal, remote corners of the planet, and a search for the Yeti are among his daring and entertaining expeditions.

Dr. Salma Ghanem

Professor and Dean at DePaul University

The Ghost Brothers

Atlanta's Premier Ghost Hunting Team

​The Ghost Brothers, which include best friends Dalen Spratt, Juwan Mass and Marcus Harvey, are considered Atlanta's premier ghost-hunting team. The trio's first show, “Ghost Brothers," ran on Destination America/TLC for two seasons. Their current show, “Ghost Brothers: Haunted Houseguests," appears on the Travel Channel, and blends comedy with a straightforward approach to the paranormal. They will discuss their tagline, "It's time to pop the trunk on these ghosts," in more detail at ciLive! 12.

Jerry Greenfield

Co-Founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

​Jerry Greenfield and his friend and business partner Ben Cohen decided to pursue their dream of starting a food-related business together. Having previously held a number of odd jobs in the ice cream industry, they decided to open an ice cream business. They split the $5 fee for a Penn State correspondence course in ice cream making, and set up their first Ben & Jerry's ice cream parlor in a refurbished gas station in Burlington, Vermont, in 1978. Their product was an immediate hit, so the duo also began selling the ice cream out of Jerry's car. In the first five years, they began opening Ben & Jerry's franchises in the surrounding states. Because of their product's popularity, they had to fight (and eventually win) a battle with Pillsbury, the parent company of Häagen-Dazs, when Pillsbury tried to limit Ben & Jerry's distribution out of fear of growing competition from the young company. In 2000, the pair sold their ice cream business to Unilever for $325 million, but Jerry remains active in the company.

Gerry Griffin

Apollo Program Flight Director

​Gerry Griffin is the former Director of NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston. His career in the United States s pace program began in 1960 and has included senior positions in government and industry. At NASA, in addition to his position as Director of the Johnson Space Center, he also served as the Deputy Director of the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida and the Hugh F. Dryden Flight Research Center in California. During NASA's Apollo program, Gerry was a Flight Director in Mission Control and served in this capacity for ALL of the Apollo manned missions. He was Lead Flight Director for three lunar landing missions: Apollo 12, 15 and 17. During the flight of Apollo 13, Gerry led one of the teams of flight controllers who were responsible for the safe return of the astronauts. Gerry was a technical advisor for the movie Apollo 13. In February 1997, he was also a technical advisor and actor in the movie, Contact, and in September 1997, Gerry worked as a technical advisor for the movie, Deep Impact.

Gerry Griffin

Former Director of NASA's Johnson Space Center

Gerry Griffin is the former Director of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. During NASA's Apollo Program, Gerry was a flight director in Mission Control for ALL of the Apollo manned missions. He was also Lead Flight Director for three lunar landing missions: Apollo 12, 15, and 17 and led a team of flight controllers responsible for the safe return of the Apollo 13 astronauts. Gerry was a technical advisor for the movies Apollo 13, Contact (in which he also acted) and Deep Impact.

Fred Haise

Astronaut — Apollo 13

​From April 11–17, 1970, Astronaut Fred Haise was the Lunar Module Pilot for the Apollo 13 mission, in which the intended Moon landing was canceled because of a rupture in a fuel-cell oxygen tank in the service module. The crew, consisting of Fred, Jack Swigert and Jim Lovell, returned safely to Earth by making use of the life-support system in the lunar module. Fred served as a fighter pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1954–56. After obtaining a bachelor's degree in 1959 from the University of Oklahoma, Fred joined NASA as a test pilot and was selected for the manned space program in 1966. After the Apollo program was canceled in 1977, Fred was assigned to the space shuttle program where he test flew and landed the Space Shuttle Enterprise. Fred was played by actor Bill Paxton in Apollo 13, Ron Howard's 1995 film about his ill-fated, 1970 mission.

Dr. James Hansen

Author and Co-Producer of First Man

​Dr. James R. Hansen is Professor Emeritus of History at Auburn University in Alabama. An expert on aerospace history and the history of science and technology, Jim has published a dozen books and numerous articles covering a wide variety of topics, including the early days of aviation, the history of aerospace engineering, NASA, the Moon landings, the space shuttle program and China's role in space. A Universal Studios film adaptation of Jim's New York Times best seller FIRST MAN hit theaters in October 2018, with actor Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong. Oscar winner Damien Chazelle (LA LA LAND) directed the film, and Jim is a co-producer on it.

Phil Hansen


​A self-taught artist, Hansen perpetuates his unique style of art by embracing his personal and universal limitations through using unconventional materials and canvasses to create his pieces. He published a book in 2012, Tattoo a Banana, and is a regular public speaker who challenges his audiences to spark their creativity by thinking “inside the box."

Jill Heinerth

Diver, Adventurer, and Sea Hero

​Jill Heinerth is a diver, adventurer, and sea hero. Heinerth has explored deep underwater caves, never-before-seen ecosystems, and the inside of Antarctic icebergs. The Hall of Fame diver encourages audiences to challenge the unknown and overcome fears. Heinerth, who has received awards shared by other underwater greats as Jacques Cousteau and Robert Ballard, was named a “Living Legend" by Sport Diver Magazine.

Dr. Hugh Herr


​Herr leads the Biomechatronics research group at the MIT Media Lab and is developing bionic limbs that copy the functions of normal limbs. As a double amputee, he's designed his own bionic legs that feature the first bionic foot and calf system, called BiOM. The award-winning professor was named the “Leader of the Bionic Age" by Time magazine.

Homer Hickam

Best-Selling Author and Aerospace Engineer

​After serving in the Vietnam War, Hickam returned home and worked as writer for various publications in addition to his main jobs as an engineer for the U.S. Army Missile Command and then as an aerospace engineer for NASA. His best-selling novel, Rocket Boys: A Memoir, inspired the Universal Pictures film, October Sky.

Col. John Hinck

Retired Army Colonel and Author

​Hinck is a retired U.S. Army Colonel with more than 22 years of military experience. Following his Army experience, he founded a leadership and organizational practices consultancy, Strength and Honor Solutions. Hinck is an avid public speaker, penned the book Strength and Honor and teaches collegiate communication courses.

Nathalia Holt

Science Writer and the New York Times Bestselling Author of Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us from Missiles to the Moon to Mars

​Nathalia Holt is a science writer and the New York Times bestselling author of Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us from Missiles to the Moon to Mars. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, Slate, Popular Science, and Time.

Grant Imahara

MythBusters Team Member

​Imahara is most recognized from the Discovery Channel program, MythBusters, but most of the incredibly talented electrical engineer's claims to fame are behind the camera. He's made movie magic happen on famous films including the three Star Wars prequels, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, The Matrix sequels and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

Imahara at ciLive 2013

Daymond John


​Most recognized for his starring role on the ABC hit show, Shark Tank, John is an entrepren​eurial force in the fashion industry. Additionally, he’s a motivational speaker, best-selling author and successful investor.

Kevin Jorgeson

World-Renowned​ Rock Climber

In January 2015, Jorgeson stood atop El Capitan to mark the completion of a successful 19-day free-climb up the Dawn Wall of the Yosemite National Park 3,000-foot tall rock formation . . . it was one of the hardest rock climbs ever completed. The success was more than six years in the making as Jorgeson, along with climbing partner Tommy Caldwell, prepared, planned and imagined their way to the top of a dream that everyone else thought was impossible.

Twitter: @kjorgeson

Will Keeps

R&B Hip-Hop Artist, Youth-At-Risk Advocate

​Will Keeps is a hip-hop artist out of Chicago who now lives in Des Moines, Iowa. Having gone through many gang-related hardships as a youth on Chicago's south side, Will has spent the last several years reaching out to the community to empower local youth, show true meaning of the word TOGETHER, and promote anti-violence. His message has expanded its reach through his music and in partnerships with local schools, community leaders, law enforcement and government officials. Will also wrote and created an original piece for our theme "Small Steps to Giant Leaps" that appears in the 2019 ciLive  video trailer.

Jason Kiesau

Author and Consultant

​Kiesau is enlisted to work with established and emerging leaders across the country to help them master their “Success Skills." He's written three books including FOCUSED—Your Future Starts Now, and is highly engaged in leadership and development organizations in his community.

Kai Kight

Classical Violinist/Composer

​Kai Kight is a classical violinist turned innovative composer who uses music as a metaphor to inspire individuals and organizations across the world to compose paths of imagination and fulfillment. In his emotionally powerful presentations, Kight performs mesmerizing original music and shares stories from his own transformation as an artist. Kight translates these insights into takeaways that audiences can easily infuse into their own lives and work environments. As a musician, Kight has performed his original music for thousands in venues across the world, from the White House to the Great Wall of China. As a speaker, he has created impactful experiences for audiences at conferences, companies and universities internationally. His clients include The Walt Disney Company, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.

Mårten Larsson

Visual Effects Supervisor for Marvel Studios

Mårten Larsson is a visual effects supervisor currently working on his third Marvel Studios film production. Growing up in Sweden, Larsson made action-packed movies with friends as a teenager. His passion for movie-making, combined with a degree in computer science, led him to pursue a VFX internship at Digital Domain, where he continued to work for 13 years on movies including “Flags of Our Fathers" with Clint Eastwood, “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," “Transformers 3" and “Pixels." In 2016, Larsson joined the visual effects teams for “Avengers: Infinity Wars" and “Avengers: End Game," the latter of which included more than 2,600 visual effects shots and became the largest grossing movie of 2019, as well as the second largest grossing movie of all time.

Cassie Lee

Aerospace Engineer

​Lee is currently a director at Vulcan Aerospace and has built up an impressive career as an aerospace engineer at Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser Space System, and propulsion engineer for NASA. 

Dr. Erin Macdonald

Astrophysicist and Technical Consultant for Star Trek

Dr. Erin Macdonald works as a technical consultant for the entire Star Trek franchise –– all five current shows! She is a recurring writer for the popular YouTube channel Extra Credits and wrote and narrated the audible original The Science of Sci-Fi, which was a top 10 bestseller in March 2020. Erin received her Ph.D. in astrophysics at 25 from the University of Glasgow in Scotland, researching general relativity and gravitational waves. After that, she moved into public education at museums and colleges before consulting for the U.S. Department of Defense and, what is now, the U.S. Space Force.​

Visit her website:​

Rob Manning

Chief Engineer for NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) Engineering and Science Directorate

​Rob Manning is the chief engineer for NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) Engineering and Science Directorate. He has been designing, testing, operating, and managing robotic spacecraft for over 35 years including Galileo to Jupiter, Cassini to Saturn, Magellan to Venus, and Pathfinder and Curiosity to Mars. Manning has received four NASA medals, is in the Aviation Week Magazine Space Laureate Hall of Fame at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, has received two honorary PhDs, and has a minor planet named after him.

Thomas Kenneth (Ken) Mattingly II

Apollo 16 ​Astronaut and Aerospace Innovator

​Mattingly is not just an astronaut—he served as Command Module Pilot for Apollo 16 to Earth's moon—but he's also an innovative engineer, responsible for the development of the lunar backpack and space suit. Mattingly's leadership qualified him as Commander for the final orbital test flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia STS 4 and the first classified Department of Defense Space Shuttle mission. Mattingly was played by Gary Sinise in the movie, Apollo 13.

Dr. Mireya Mayor


​Dr. Mireya Mayor is a world-renowned primatologist, explorer and Emmy Award-nominated wildlife correspondent for the National Geographic Channel. Dr. Mayor's adventures have taken her — armed with little more than a backpack, notebooks and hiking boots — to some of the wildest and most remote places on earth. Hailed as a “female Indiana Jones" and as an inspiration to young women who are interested in science and exploration, she has survived poisonous insect bites, been charged by gorillas and chased by elephants, and keeps going back for more. Her latest project is Travel Channel's hit series, “Expedition Bigfoot," and her signature book, “Pink Boots and a Machete," continues to thrill readers around the world.

Fritz Maytag

Entrepreneur and Craft Brewing Pioneer

​Maytag is a diversified food entrepreneur and considered a pioneer in the field of craft brewing. He's the former owner of San Francisco's Anchor Brewing Company, founder and chairman of the board of Maytag Dairy Farms, and owner of York Creek Vineyards in California.

Dr. Niall McCann

Explorer and TV Host

​McCann is a true modern-day global explorer; he's biked the Himalayas, climbed giant walls, rowed the Atlantic and canoed the Yukon River. As a conservationist and biologist, he's explored remote parts of the globe on gripping expeditions. McCann hosted National Geographic Wild's “Biggest & Baddest," which followed him and his adventures in exotic, dangerous locales.

Jeffrey Morris

Filmmaker, Director, & Visual Artist

Jeffrey Morris is a writer, director and production designer who founded FutureDude Entertainment in 2010. He is creator and co-writer of numerous projects, including “Parallel Man," “Brainstorm" and “Oceanus," a live-action short film that debuted in 2015. As head designer on all FutureDude productions, Morris builds worlds from the ground up through illustration and art direction. His current projects include the motion picture “Persephone" and two series projects for National Geographic (NAT GEO): “Saturn V" and “Neptune One." Morris is an education consultant and advisor to NASA, and holds a technology patent for the futuristic Apple calendar app, Timesphere (

Kaila Mullady

Beatbox Champion and Artist

Catch beatboxer and multi-instrumentalist Mullady in action, and you're in for a one-of-a-kind, artistic performance that fuses beatboxing with poetry, rap, singing and theater. She's the 2015 World Beatbox Champion among other well-deserved national competition titles. Based in NYC, Mullady teaches creative workshops across the country.

Twitter: @kailamullady

Brian Nelson

Disruptive Technologies, Cryptocurrency Expert

​Brian Nelson is an Exponential Technologies Entrepreneur, cofounder of 7tk (a private cryptocurrency club), and a Blockchain Advisor. His fingerprint on the history of Bitcoin was made in 2013 when he, and a couple of key partners, developed the very first surety bond solution for Bitcoin companies that ultimately led to the launch of the first regulatory-compliant Bitcoin exchanges in the U.S. Those exchanges are still around today and continue to play a major role in the massive growth of the ecosystem. As a recognized figure in the Bitcoin and blockchain technology ecosystem, Brian has consulted with many of the top digital currency companies, spoken at numerous industry events, and was one of 40 industry insiders invited to attend the Blockchain Summit with Sir Richard Branson on Necker Island.

Miles Nielsen

​​Musician, Singer & Songwriter

Miles Nielsen is a singer, songwriter and guitarist from Rockford, Ill., following in the footsteps of his father, Rick Nielsen, who is the lead guitarist, backing vocalist and primary songwriter of the rock band Cheap Trick. The younger Nielsen has toured and/or performed with a wide range of groups including Cheap Trick, Cory Chisel & The Wandering Sons and Cameron McGill, among others. Drawing inspiration from influences ranging from Otis Redding's classic soul to Jellyfish's cult power pop, Nielsen has produced seven albums, and his folk-rock n' roll style of music helps listeners explore heartbreak, travel, people and places (

The Nielsen Trust


The Nielsen Trust is a band featuring famed guitarist and songwriter Rick Nielsen from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame band, Cheap Trick, and members of his talented family. This includes his son, Daxx Nielsen, who plays drums for Cheap Trick, and another son, Miles Nielsen, who has his own successful project, Miles Nielsen and The Rusted Hearts. Miles' wife, Kelly Steward, is also a singer and songwriter. While they have all jammed together at various times in the past, the performers became a group in 2019, debuting at the Castle Theatre in Bloomington, Ill. The band now performs all over the country, and Cheap Tricks songs are a large part of the band's repertoire.

Geoffrey Notkin

Host of Meteorite Men on Discovery

Geoffrey Notkin starred in three seasons of the award-winning television adventure series “Meteorite Men" for Discovery Channel, as well as two seasons of “STEM Journals." A two-time Emmy Award winner, Notkin has also appeared on shows for National Geographic (NAT GEO), History Channel, Travel Channel, TLC, PBS, A&E and the BBC. As an author, world traveler and CEO of Aerolite Meteorites, Inc., Notkin frequently appears as an expert on national news shows. He is also a television and film producer who has written many articles and books on meteorite science, paleontology, astronomy, adventure travel and the arts (

Dr. Anthony Paustian

Founder of ciLive, Author and Educator

​As the Provost of DMACC West, Paustian created a technology-focused college campus from scratch. He founded Celebrate! Innovation Live  and is a publishing entrepreneur and founder of BookPress Publishing; Paustian has authored multiple books including his most recent Beware the Purple People Eaters: A Personal Look at Leadership.

Dr. Gene Poor

Founder of LifeFormations and Professor of Entrepreneurship

​Dr. Poor is an excellent representative of what it means to be an entrepreneur and educator. He brings 40 years of business experience from having founded entities that include multimedia software and popular restaurants to his role as Hamilton Professor of Entrepreneurship at Bowling Green State University. One of his more recent investments was in founding LifeFormations, a leading company in the creation and evolution of animatronics used in museums, theme parks and other venues.

Dr. Sian Proctor

Analog Astronaut

​Dr. Sian Proctor is a geoscientist, analog astronaut, space artist, speaker and solar system ambassador. Her motto – Space2inspire – is designed to encourage people to use their unique, one-of-a-kind strengths and passion to inspire those within their reach and beyond. Dr. Proctor has completed four analog astronaut missions, including the all-female SENSORIA Mars 2020 mission at the Hawai'i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) Habitat, the NASA funded, four-month Mars mission at HI-SEAS, a two-week Mars mission at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), and a two week Moon mission in the LunAres Habitat. She believes that when we solve for space, we also solve issues on Earth, and she also promotes sustainable food practices used in space exploration as a way to reduce food waste on Earth. Dr. Proctor has a TEDx talk called “Eat Like a Martian" and has published a “Meals for Mars" cookbook. In 2021, she was selected as an Explorers Club 50: fifty people changing the world​.

Dr. Jill Pruetz

Professor and Primatologist

​Dr. Jill Pruetz is a professor and primatologist. Her studies of non-human primates such as chimpanzees, spider monkeys, and howling monkeys have led her to conduct fieldwork in Peru, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Kenya, and Senegal. Supported by the National Geographic Society and the National Science Foundation, Pruetz focuses her research on the influence of ecology on primates and the implications her findings might have on early human feeding and social behavior.

Rod Pyle

Author, Journalist, Both Historian and Futurist, and Filmmaker

​Rod Pyle is an author, journalist, both historian and futurist, and filmmaker. He has written 11 books on space history, exploration and development, including Innovation the NASA Way and Destination Mars. Pyle has also produced, directed and written several episodes for History Channel's Modern Marvels as well as a documentary for History Channel entitled, Beyond the War of the Worlds.

Visit his website:​

Rod Pyle

Author, Journalist, Filmaker, and Editor-in-Chief for Ad Astra

Rod Pyle is an author, journalist, filmmaker, and Editor-in-Chief for Ad Astra magazine. He has written 15 books on space history, exploration, and development. Rod has also produced, directed, and written programming for History Channel's Modern Marvels; the History Channel documentary Beyond the War of the Worlds, and numerous titles for Discovery  Communications. He worked in visual effects on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as well as various TV pilots. Rod is featured regularly on national media as a space expert.

Dr. Tahir Rahman

Author of We Came in Peace for All Mankind, Professor of Psychiatry

​Dr. Tahir Rahman is a psychiatrist and Professor of Psychiatry for Washington University. He received his medical degree from the University of Kansas School of Medicine and has been in practice for more than 20 years. Tahir's recent work has focused on how extreme overvalued beliefs are different from delusions and obsessions, and how extreme violence may stem from such beliefs. He has studied mass shootings and terrorism in depth and has had over 300 media placements on this topic. Tahir is also the author of We Came in Peace for All Mankind which discusses how the world, despite differing beliefs, was actually able to come together as one during the Apollo 11 Moon landing.

Alexander Rosenberg

Artist, Educator, Writer, and Glassblower

Alexander Rosenberg is a Philadelphia-based artist, educator, writer…and glassblower. In 2018, he was cast on the Netflix Series, Blown Away that turned up the heat in glassblowing challenges and pushed him to creative extremes. He has a Master of Science in Visual Studies from MIT and has been an instructor at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. He was named the 2020 Stephen Proctor fellow at The Australian National University School of Art in Canberra and a recipient of the 2012 International Glass Prize. ​​

Visit his Instagram page​.

Greg Russell

Oscar-Nominated Sound Engineer

​Russell is one of the most respected sound engineers in the film industry. He has worked on more than 200 films and numerous TV shows such as the Transformers series, RoboCop, Skyfall, The Green Hornet, Salt, Spider-Man, National Treasure and The DaVinci Code. Russell has been nominated for 17 Academy Awards in the category of Best Sound and won a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Film Sound Mixing in 1984.

Ken Schmidt

Marketing Guru & Key Player in Harley Davidson’s Comeback

Ken Schmidt is a marketing expert, known for playing a key role in one of the most celebrated turnarounds in corporate history. In 1985, Schmidt was asked to work with then-struggling Harley-Davidson to help restore the company's image and create demand for its motorcycles. Within a few short years, Harley-Davidson became one of the most visible and frequently reported-on companies in the world. Schmidt would go on to become director of Harley-Davidson's corporate and financial communications, and served as the company's primary spokesperson to the media and financial communities. He is also the author of the 2018 book, “Make Some Noise: The Unconventional Road to Dominance" (

Dr. Sara Seager

Planetary Scientist and Astrophysicist

​Professor Seager is an astrophysicist and planetary scientist at MIT who has led groundbreaking research (as well as space instrumentation and missions) on the topic of exoplanet atmospheres. She is currently working on finding a true Earth twin. Seager earned her Ph.D. from Harvard University, was one of Time magazine's “25 Most Influential in Space" in 2012, and was a 2013 MacArthur Fellow.

Bryan Seely

Cybersecurity Expert

Bryan Seely is a world-famous cybersecurity expert and ethical hacker. He is the only person to ever wiretap the United States Secret Service and FBI. Instead of being sent to a maximum security prison, the Secret Service called him a hero and praised his courage and integrity for telling them before he got caught. Bryan wrote the book Cyber Fraud: The Web of Lies, was featured on The Lead with Jake Tapper, and attracted the attention of Shark Tank star Texas billionaire Mark Cuban. He once appeared on the front page of, CNN Money, CNET, Forbes, and the Washington Post — all in the same day.

Visit his website:​

Mary Kay Shanley


​Shanley is a respected author with extensive experiences as a storyteller, essayist, journalist and historian. She has written 10 books across multiple genres and has been named an Iowa Author of the Year. Shanley inspires others' creativity through sponsoring and directing writing groups and workshops. 

Scott Siepker

Actor and “Iowa Nice Guy”

​Siepker, AKA “Iowa Nice Guy," is comfortable both onstage and behind the camera as a producer, writer, comedian, filmmaker and actor; he co-founded Iowa Filmmakers.

Jessica Matthews and Julia Silverman

Co-founders of Uncharted Play

​As the founders of Uncharted Play, Matthews and Silverman approach their social enterprise with a clear vision to disarm social hardships through inspiring playful, active lives. Uncharted Play designs and manufactures custom micro-generating systems that use kinetic energy to create power for other needs, such as charging a cell phone or powering a light bulb; the business partners with manufacturers to integrate into preexisting products. Uncharted Play has seen remarkable success and grew out of Matthews' initial invention in Harvard Business School of the Soccket, a micro-generator soccer ball.

Dr. Alan Stern

Project Chief for the New Horizons Probe to Pluto

Dr. Alan Stern is a planetary scientist, space program executive, aerospace consultant and author. He led NASA's New Horizons mission to the Pluto system and the Kuiper Belt. As NASA chief for all space and Earth science programs, Stern directed a $4.4 billion organization with 93 separate flight missions and a program of over 3,000 research grants. During his NASA tenure, a record 10 major new flight projects were started. Stern has twice been named to Time Magazine's annual list of the “100 Most Influential People," and has worked with a variety of clients, including Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin, Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, Ball Aerospace, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and Johns Hopkins University (

Dr. Reed Timmer

Meteorologist and Tornado Chaser

​Timmer is an experienced, avid tornado chaser and trained meteorologist who has educated and informed as the host of Discovery Channel's Storm Chasers and the web series, Tornado Chasers.

Nikki van Schyndel


​Nikki van Schyndel is one of North America's top wilderness survivalists, as well as a best-selling author and star of the self-filming, survival show “Alone" on the History Channel. She also tested her skills by spending a year and a half surviving in the wilderness, using primitive ways of the past such as trapping and spearing bears, fishing with bone hooks and hunting with stone-tipped arrows. She recounts the adventure in her best-selling memoir, “Becoming Wild." Today, she lives off-the-grid on an island in the middle of nowhere, in a log cabin she built herself from a how-to book, with her “how hard can it be" motto leading the way.

Dr. Talithia Williams

Host of PBS Series NOVA Wonders

Dr. Talithia Williams is a host of the PBS series, NOVA Wonders, which explores the biggest questions on the frontiers of science. Known for her popular TED Talk, Own Your Body's Data, she takes sophisticated numerical concepts and makes them understandable. Dr. Williams has held appointments at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA's Johnson Space Center, and the National Security Agency. She authored the book, Power in Numbers: The Rebel Women of Mathematics, and partnered with the World Health Organization to develop a model to predict cataract surgical rates for countries in Africa. ​

Visit her website:​

Rob Wolfe

Star of History Channel's American Pickers

​Rob Wolfe is a lifelong “picker" of antiques and original paint cars and trucks. He is the brother of Mike Wolfe, of History Channel's hit reality show American Pickers. Rob can often be seen on the show traveling the country and digging through old barns and garages looking for what he calls, “rusty gold."

Alfred (Al) Worden

Apollo 15 Astronaut​ and Aerospace Engineer

​Worden was an Air Force test pilot who became a two-time world record-holding astronaut for the first spacewalk in deep space and being the most isolated human from any other person. Both were achieved during his mission as Command Module Pilot on Apollo 15 in 1971. He is also in the small club of 24 people to have ever been to Earth's moon.

Steve Wozniak

Co-founder of Apple

Currently the Chief Scientist at Primary Data, “Woz” is best known as the co-founder of Apple and has ascended to the status of an American tech pioneer icon. He has been awarded the ​National Medal of Technology and the Heinz Award for Technology, The Economy and Employment, and has bee​n inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame. Woz is also an avid philanthropist with a focus on education and youth.

Wozniak at ciLive​​ 2012

Randi Zuckerberg

Former Facebook Executive, CEO and Founder of Zuckerberg Media

​Randi Zuckerberg is an entrepreneur, investor, best-selling author and tech media personality. She is the Founder & CEO of Zuckerberg Media, a boutique marketing firm and production company that works with such high-profile organizations and Fortune 500 companies as Cirque du Soleil, Conde Nast and PayPal. As an early executive at Facebook, she created Facebook Live, now available to two billion people worldwide. After noticing that she was one of way too few women in tech, Randi founded Zuckerberg Media, with the mission of introducing children—especially girls and underserved communities—to tech and science in a fun way. She is the author of two books. Dot Complicated, a New York Times best seller, discusses Randi's personal journey on the front lines of Facebook and her thoughts on how technology has completely changed our lives. Dot is a children's picture book that features an energetic little girl who learns to find balance between her tech gadgets and playing outside with her friends. The book has inspired an animated television show by the same name, which airs on NBC Universal, Hulu and dozens of networks worldwide.