Viktor Brandtneris

Is a marine biologist and Technical Diver at the University of the Virgin Islands’ Center for Marine & Environmental Studies. Before moving to St. Thomas, he worked as part of a research team on the remote Isla Contadora- a Panamanian island on the Pearl Islands archipelago. His time on Isla Contadora was difficult and life changing in a way that has shaped his perspective on himself and his mission in the world today. Since 2010, Viktor has been part of a team of researchers at UVI studying magnificent mesophotic coral reefs along the south side of St. Thomas. These deep water reefs, occurring between 100 feet to 230 feet, were largely unexplored by scientists despite the fact that coral reefs have been extensively studied in the region for the past 30 years. Viktor is working to document and preserve these deep reefs which already show sign of damage.

In his TEDxSaintThomas speech, "Shelter from the storm: Finding hope for coral reefs in a changing ocean" Viktor will share breathtaking images of the life that thrives at extreme depths; he will discuss the dangers of working at 230’; and most importantly, he will share how and why we should protect these reefs.



Darren "Buttahman" Brin

Became one of entertainment's "movers and shakers" after leaving his birth place of St. Thomas, USVI. After graduating from Morgan State University, he took an internship at the local radio station WERQ and worked his way to the top receiving his name "Buttahman" due to his over usage of the word "Buttah" to describe everything when on the radio. His career has spanned from MTV Jams, to hosting the first nationally televised hip hop game show "Hoodfab," to Director for Music & Development at BET Networks and now to comedy. Buttahman has performed in such notable comedy clubs as The Comedy Store, Inside Jokes, and Comedy Union and has made comedic appearances on a variety for radio, internet, and TV programs.

In his TEDxSaintThomas talk entitled, “The Power of NOW”, Buttahman will take us through his disappointments and their associated lessons learned. How can your awareness of the NOW help you navigate your life?



Nicolas C. Drayton

Is the Assistant Director of the Virgin Islands Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (VI-EPSCoR) at the University of the Virgin Islands. He holds a Master's degree in Coastal Biology from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington and a Master's in Creativity and Change Leadership from Buffalo State. In his spare time, Nick teaches Creative Thinking and Creative problem Solving to high school and university students, and facilitates similar sessions for individuals and groups.

His TEDxSaintThomas talk is entitled “Riding the wave of change into the future, through deliberate creative thinking: the potential for the US Virgin islands”. During this talk, Nick will explore some of the essential skills needed to give us the survivability and competitive advantage in this rapidly and dramatically changing world. How can the individual, the entrepreneur, and the Territory all succeed against the forces of change that seek to shape a less-than-ideal future for us? With the rapid changes that are occurring nationally and globally, we must go beyond our current strategies and focus on the Creative Problem Solving skills needed to keep up with and to ride this current wave of change.



Dr. Kristin Wilson Grimes

Is a Research Assistant Professor of Watershed Ecology at the Center for Marine & Environmental Studies at the University of the Virgin Islands. She is also the Director for the Virgin Islands Water Resources Research Institute which is a network of 54 federal- and state-funded partnerships across the United States dedicated to water resource issues and education. In 2016, she became the project lead for 1 of 37 projects funded by the National Science Foundation through its Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (INCLUDES) Program. Kristin earned her Ph.D. in Ecology & Environmental Sciences, M.S. in Marine Biology, and M.S. in Marine Policy, from the University of Maine, and B.A. in Biology and Environmental Studies from Middlebury College.

In her TEDxSaintThomas talk entitled, "SEAS Your Tomorrow," Kristin will discuss two programs that work to broaden participation of underrepresented groups in the ocean sciences in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She’ll explain what these programs are and how they support Virgin Islands youth to pursue educational pathways in the ocean sciences.



Ryan Heiob

Originally from Michigan, Ryan moved to the Virgin Islands in 2008. Ryan has worked in all fields of Technology over the past 17 years and believes in continuous education to keep up with the ever-changing technology landscape. His main focus is now Internet Security and how we can protect our privacy by education and being aware of the new threats that we’re facing.

In his TEDxSaintThomas talk entitled, "CyberSecurity: With great power comes great responsibility," Ryan will explore what is happening in the cyber world today and the ways to protect ourselves. What are the actual threats that present themselves that ordinary computer users may not know exist?



Alanna John

Is the founder and president of IAB, Inc.- a non-profit organization on the island of St. Thomas for young women between the ages of 12-26. The mission of the organization is to "Foster positive self-image in young women and encourage initiatives through proactive incentives." After obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Design and a Master’s Degree in a track of Arts and Entertainment Management, Alanna is currently pursuing a career as a Special Events Producer. She believes that "life has a way of testing your abilities by throwing adversities your way, if you are determined you can achieve anything."

In her TEDxSaintThomas talk entitled "Your Words Can Be Your Best Friend, or Your Worst Enemy," Alanna will break down the understanding that words do really take on a life of their own.



Claire McFarlane

Is a South-African born Australian and founder of Footsteps To Inspire. She is currently on a mission to run over 3000 kilometres of beach across 184 countries to support survivors of sexual violence. It is a world first, both as an expedition and social cause. Claire knows how hard it is to be a survivor because she is one. Through peaceful outreach and sharing her own personal story, Claire is fast becoming a voice of hope and inspiration to many. She will be running in St Thomas on Sunday 16 July.

In her TEDxSaintThomas talk entitled "Can adventure change how we talk about rape?", Claire will reveal the power that stories hold in breaking silence and opening the path to healing, how it is possible to not only survive but thrive in the face of adversity, and that by running beaches around the world, she will unite communities and change how we talk about rape forever.



Joanne Simon-Walters

Is a resourceful leader with 20 years progressive management experience in financial services, information technology, healthcare consulting, education, and human resources. Joanne has earned degrees in finance and technology management and is currently pursuing her PhD in Creative Leadership for Innovation and Change at the University of the Virgin Islands. Joanne is the author of 3 HR certification preparation manuals and currently works in an HR leadership position locally. Joanne was born and raised in St. Thomas to Antiguan parents and is a wife and mother to a 9 year old son and 5 year old daughter.

In her TEDxSaintThomas talk entitled “The Role of Transformational Leadership in Eliminating Workplace Bullying”, Joanne explores how transformational leadership attributes support a shift in company culture that creates an environment where bullies are not welcomed. Joanne’s talk will cause you to question your own behaviors, your action, and inaction when you encounter colleagues bullying each other.


View Past TEDxSaintThomas Speakers >