TEDxSantaBarbara, a locally organized offshoot of the international TED nonprofit, hs announced newspeakers for its thought leadership series Making Waves: Conversations with Influencers and Disruptors, a series of virtual talks to address two major issues facing society today – COVID and systemic racism.

The online events are free to attend and will broadcast live on Zoom and Facebook on Wednesdays at 4 p.m. through December, with occasional special edition sessions at different times.

“These 30-minute conversations get right to the heart of today’s challenges and, more importantly, the solutions that are within reach,” said Mark Sylvester, TEDxSantaBarbara executive producer. “We are honored to be able to lift up these critical voices at this moment.”

The conversations include such experts as Harry Grammer, a 2017 CNN Hero and inaugural Obama Foundation Fellow.

“Having had an exceptionally gratifying experience as a featured speaker with TEDxSantaBarbara in 2018, I was thrilled when Mark and his team recently invited me back to their stage (albeit a virtual one) for their Making Waves series of conversations with influencers and disruptors,” Grammer said.

“Unsurprisingly, they have maintained their professionalism, purposefulness and passion through these unprecedented times.

“It was an honor to contribute, once again, to the profoundly vital discussions the TEDx Santa Barbara team hosts, initiates and propagates with unparalleled integrity and consistency,”  he said. “I’m grateful for their great work and encourage all who haven’t checked it out yet to do so ASAP.”

It also includes celebrity figures including actress Mariel Hemingway, a mental health advocate whose famous family has suffered from extreme mental illness and been plagued with suicides, and who produced a mental health documentary with Oprah in 2013.

Hemingway will join Making Waves for a special edition, 5 p.m. Sept. 9 during National Suicide Prevention Week (Sept. 6-12).

She will speak to severe mental health threats presented by COVID – including the fact that, in California, more people have suffered at the hands of depression and suicide attempts since the pandemic began than from the coronavirus itself.

To attend upcoming events, register for the Zoom call at TEDxSantaBarbara.com or tune in to the livestream at Facebook.com/TEDxSantaBarbara

Upcoming Event Schedule (full details at TEDxSantaBarbara.com)

Simone Akila Ruskamp and Krystle Farmer Sieghart – We Do This Work for the Love of Black People — 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 26, (special time)

Ruskamp and Sieghart led efforts, including marches and demands to the City Council over the past several months, for Healing Justice Santa Barbara, a black-led and black-centered organizing collective in Santa Barbara County.

Than Baardson – Accelerating the Fight Against Human Trafficking and its Root Causes — 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 2. Baardson is the CEO and co-founder of Unseen, a nonprofit that accelerates the fight against human trafficking and its root causes.

Lisa Jones – COVID-19 and Race: Double Emergencies for Women of Color — 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 9. Jones is a healthcare expert and clinician at the Bear Institute for Pediatric Health Innovation at Children’s National Hospital and Cerner Corporation.

Mariel Hemingway – Lives at Stake: Suicide and Mental Health During COVID — 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 9. This is a special edition in honor of National Suicide Prevention Day on Sept. 10. Hemingway is an actor, writer, and advocate who co-founded the Dead Poets Foundation to turn the trajectory of suicide downward.

Future speakers and topics include:

Keith Witt – Cultivating a Post-outrage Consciousness
Kyra Gaunt – Agree to be Offended and Stay Connected
Jan Campbell – Finding a Vaccine for Violence
Kerri Murray – The Role of Shelter During a Pandemic
Lisa Biggs – Building Emotional Resilience in our Children
John Greathouse – Looking Around the Corner: The Zoomers Role in the Post-COVID Success
Katie Hershfelt – Making It Worth It to Plant the Next Harvest: Reinventing Community Supported Agriculture
Andreas Forsland – Connecting Intentions to Outcomes: Reinventing Interpersonal Communications
Shannon Kenney – Social Justice is on the Front Lines of Sustainable Change
Jackson Gillies – New Year’s Musical Celebration

To register for events and learn more about Making Waves: Conversations with Influencers and Disruptors, visit TEDxSantaBarbara.com. To discuss community partnership opportunities, contact Sylvester at mark@tedxsantabarbara.com.