TEDxBaton Rouge wants you to rethink death, AI and more

Think you know Baton Rouge? Local TEDx speakers are challenging you to think again.

TEDxBatonRouge’s inaugural event—themed “Think Again”—is set for next Thursday, Sept. 14, from 5-9 p.m. at the Manship Theatre. Experts, including computer science and cybersecurity professor Dr. Abe Baggili and end-of-life doula Robin Palmer Blanche, will unpack topics like artificial intelligence and dying.

Other speakers include Tracee Albert (whose Feel Seen organization advocates for the deaf and hard of hearing community); Fareed Dawan (a Southern University professor who aims to patent sustainable nano-technology for energy, aerospace and health fields) and Jonathan Mayers (an artist who is working to preserve Kouri-Vini, Louisiana’s endangered Creole language).

More than 3,000 TEDx events are held annually in communities around the globe. While they are organized independently of TED, they follow the organization’s speaker guidelines and its mission to disseminate “ideas worth spreading.” This year’s event marks the first TEDxBatonRouge, although LSU hosted a version for years before the pandemic.

TEDxBatonRouge co-organizer Melissa Thompson says this event will invite attendees to open their minds to new conversations about topics they may feel strongly about. “It’s a way for us to take what we know and flip it on its head and maybe learn something new or meet someone new,” she says. 

TEDxBatonRouge says its program differs from other local speaking events because its team has curated a roster of speakers out of the local general population, aiming to highlight the research, advocacy and work that’s happening right here in the Capital City.


For Thompson and her co-organizer Morgan Almeida, this decision is motivated by their think-again mindset, as they consider themselves “cheerleaders” for Baton Rouge.

“We both made the commitment as young professionals and have stayed here to be a part of all the great things to come,” she says. “But when we think about Baton Rouge, sometimes you might not have the most positive things to say, and it’s time to think again.”

The event’s $75 ticket also affords admission to a networking event following the speakers, where Almeida says attendees will meet other like-minded locals. When asked about the target audience for this event, the organizers ensure that attendees of all ages and professions will learn something new and benefit from the community interaction the night will offer. 

“One of the coolest parts about the event is that you can have someone in tech sitting next to someone who’s in an arts field,” Almeida says. “You can have a CEO sitting next to a student. So, it’s the full breadth of industry and age range.”

Tickets are available now online. Thompson says that if tickets sell out days before the event—as expected—a waiting list will be created. For more information and a full list of speakers, visit tedxbatonrouge.com.