St. Cloud TEDx 2022 speakers announced

·5 min read

ST. CLOUD ― St. Cloud's sixth annual TEDx event on Oct. 13 will feature seven local speakers sharing "ideas worth spreading."

This year's theme is "Rattle." The independently-organized local event, licensed by TED, is scheduled for 5-9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13 at The Paramount Center for the Arts in downtown St. Cloud.

The seven speakers include:

Santo Cruz

Santo Cruz grew up in rural Stearns County before embarking on his legal career. He currently serves CentraCare as senior vice president and chief legal officer after previously being associate general counsel and vice president of community and government relations.

Prior to joining CentraCare, he was a prosecutor for Hennepin County, assistant commissioner and general counsel for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, attorney for the Minnesota Department of Commerce and deputy commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

Kari-Shane Davis Zimmerman

Kari-Shane Davis Zimmerman (nicknamed KSDZ by her students) is an associate professor of theology at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. She has served as the co-director of the First Year Experience and implemented the roll out of the College Success Course for all first-year students.

East-coast by background and temperament, KSDZ never fails to ask probing questions and does not accept soulless answers. She asks all her students to engage their moral compass and stand up for what is true and just.

Ettien Koffi

Ettien Koffi earned a bachelor’s degree in linguistics from the University of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire and a Ph.D. in linguistics from Indiana University, Bloomington. He is a professor of linguistics at St. Cloud State University, the author of five books, and author/co-author of several dozen articles.

He is working with Mark Petzold, an engineering and computer science professor at SCSU, to develop a text-to-speech synthesis to help document and revitalize Betine, a critically endangered language spoken in Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa. In 1999, there were only 200 elderly speakers of Betine left. They hope the technology they are developing will help document and revitalize some of the 2,923 languages out of 7,111 languages worldwide that are on the brink of extinction.

Grace Leapaldt

Grace Leapaldtis starting her junior year at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. She is majoring in both communications and Chinese studies. Grace plans to work for a company that does business with China and serve on the communications side between American and Chinese departments. Her dream would be to work for the embassy in China.

Leapaldtwas born and raised in St. Cloud. She attended the Guang Ming Academy Chinese Immersion Program, grades 1-12 through the St. Cloud Area School District. As a result, she is fluent in writing, reading, and speaking Chinese.

Matéo Mackbee

Matéo Mackbee owns Krewe Restaurant, Flour & Flower Bakery and The Land by Model Citizen. He describes his cooking philosophy as creating technically driven, elevated comfort food using great ingredients with minimal manipulation.

Mackbee and his partner, Erin Lucas, leverage their restaurant, bakery, and farm to provide opportunities for urban youth to learn about growing food and potential food and hospitality careers all while promoting diversity and racial justice in Central Minnesota.While raised in Minnesota, Mackbee’s childhood summers always included several hot, steamy weeks in his mother’s hometown of New Orleans visiting relatives and experiencing Creole and New Orleans-style food while learning to love its local foods, culture, music and sense of community.

Mark Petzold

Mark Petzold is a professor of computer science at St. Cloud State University, teaching in computer science and cybersecurity programs. He also is part of the leadership team for Huskies Invent, a hackathon-style event that allows students to solve problems for local industry, as well as co-principle investigator for the ACCESS STEM scholarship program, a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation intended to increase enrollment in STEM programs.

His current research includes student retention in STEM courses as well as computer applications for language research and preservation. He is originally from Idaho.

Heather Weems

Heather Weemswas born and raised an “Iowa Child” (see poem of the same name by Sarah Hall Maney), and grew up in the farm fields and small-town spotlight of rural communities. She observed and learned compassion and wisdom from her English-teacher Mom, work ethic and doggedness from her agrarian Dad, and toughness, resiliency, and humor from her five brothers.Weems spread her wings at the University of Iowa, majoring in psychology while competing as a Hawkeye rower. It was as a resident hall assistant that she developed an affection for the campus environment, inspiring her completion of a master’s degree in higher education administration.

Combining her love of athletics and competition with a passion for college student development, she is entering her 23rd year as an intercollegiate athletics administrator. Weems is transitioning from ten years as director of athletics at St. Cloud State University to her new position as commissioner of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

How to get tickets to TEDx 2022 in St. Cloud

How to get tickets to TEDx

Tickets are available through the Paramount Box Office at For more information visit

The event is from 5-9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13 at The Paramount Center for the Arts in downtown St. Cloud.

This article originally appeared on St. Cloud Times: St. Cloud TEDx 2022 speakers announced