TEDxGilbert is brought to you by the collective effort of our core team leaders, as well as the dedicated volunteer team members. Together, we make ideas worth spreading.

Vanessa Strait

Vanessa Strait is a senior at Highland High School, where she is president of the National Honor Society and a mentor in the AVID college readiness program. A proud Arizonan, Vanessa serves in civic organizations such as the Gilbert Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee, Inspire Arizona, and the Governor’s Youth Commission, and will soon represent Arizona in the 2018 United States Senate Youth Program. In her free time, Vanessa enjoys writing essays, baking with her sisters, and (unsurprisingly) watching TED talks.

Mara Dille

Mara Dille is a senior at Highland High School, where she enjoys a full schedule of AP courses. She ran for Highland’s cross country and track team for 4 years, and serves as Historian of the National Honors Society. Mara serves on the executive organizing team of the upcoming Hope Out Loud benefit concert. In her free time, Mara can be found curling up with a good book or movie.

Jen Dille

Jen can’t remember the first time she heard a TED talk but her life forever changed that day. She’s used TED talks to raise her children and unofficially started TEDxDillecasa for her kids to talk about what they learned that year in school. Jen is a project manager for Sure Spark Marketing. She is a native Arizonan, ½ marathon runner, and chocolate-chip cookie baker. She wears many hats, and her favorite is mom.

Ben Vining

Ben Vining is a stage manager, musician, lighting designer and sound designer. He was most recently seen performing live music in Southwest Shakespeare Company's Romeo and Juliet, and will perform in Aside Theatre's upcoming world premiere of This Is Ourselves. Stage management credits include Luna City (ASU Emerge Festival), the Phoenix Vegan Food Festival, Benches (Sacred Fools Theater Company), The Pillowman (Aside Theatre), The Compass (ASU and Sojourn Theater), and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged (Southwest Shakespeare Company). Lighting design credits include House (Aside Theatre), Here Lies Henry

Barb Farmer

Barb has managed Volunteer Services for Dignity Health, Arizona. She created several unique, nationally recognized programs including Volunteens, Veterans #22 and PAWS for Patients. She has won numerous awards and been invited to visit The White House. She works with a variety of nonprofits and for-profits to enhance, evaluate and increase volunteer participation and retention. She is a national speaker on subjects ranging from creating teen programs to growing gift shops. Barb is a Veteran of the United States Marine Corps and has been married to Mike for 30 years.

Stacey Walston


Brandon Wasem & Jordan Mattson

Building the letters

Brandon Gray

Design and Build of backdrop


Allowing the use of their scene shop