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Spencer Knapp
Presentation:  The Transformation Imperative - Why individuals, and companies, need to transform themselves to meet changing market, employee, and societal needs.

Spencer is an Enterprise Account Manager with IBM Cloud. In his role he works with large clients on how to adopt and consume cloud services. He is also an Ambassador for IBM's Millennial Corps, a One Young World Ambassador, and a member of the Rotary Club of Dallas.

Chad Houser

Presentation:  Inspiration, mission and story behind the creation and evolution of Cafe Momentum, a non-profit restaurant in Dallas that provides a paid post-release internship program for young men and women coming out of juvenile detention.


Always one to add a little levity to the conversation, Chad often describes Café Momentum as “taking kids out of jail and teaching them to play with knives and fire.” But levity aside, it’s this charisma and passion to teach life, social and employment skills to Dallas’ most at-risk youth that makes Houser a hit with everyone from philanthropists and dinner-goers to the young men participating in the program. After 17 years as a chef, Chad sold his partnership of Parigi Restaurant to devote his full attention to the role of Executive Director of Café Momentum in 2012.

In the community, Chad has previously served as President of the board of directors for Dallas Farmers Market Friends and as Vice Chair of the El Centro Exes Association (Houser received his culinary training at El Centro) where is also a member of the El Centro College Food and Hospitality Institute “Hall of Fame.”

Chad has received multiple nominations from D Magazine for “Best Up-And-Coming Chef” (2010) and “Best Chef” (2011 and 2012). In 2011, he received the Edible Dallas/Fort Worth “Local Hero – Chef” award.

Most recently, Chad was selected as Dallas Business Journal’s “40 Under 40,” and as one of the United States Junior Chamber’s (Jaycee) 2015 Ten Outstanding Young Americans. He has been named to the “Top 50 Under 40” by the Social Enterprise Alliance, an “Urban Innovator to Watch” by the New Cities Foundation, as one of “30 Most Interesting People in the Metro Area” by the Dallas Observer, and one of Good Magazine’s “Good 100,” individuals at the cutting edge of creative impact across the globe.


Dr. Samira Izadi Page

Presentation:  Grace for Refugees -  This presentation summarizes the ethos and work of Gateway of Grace Ministries among refugees in DFW.


Rev. Dr. Samira Page is the founder and Executive Director of Gateway of Grace Ministries. She was born and raised in Iran. She earned her Master of Divinity and doctorate in Missional Church Studies from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. Samira has committed her life to bringing the hope and love to those whose hope, dignity, and humanity have been taken away by oppressive circumstances. She frequently speaks nationally and locally at conferences, churches and other venues on issues of interfaith relations, and refugee outreach. Samira works crossdenominationally with pastors and mission leaders and moves local congregations into new ways of outreach.

Douglas Klahr
Presentation:  Becoming Builders Again in an Age of Global Crisis

Educated at Brown University and the University of Virginia, Douglas Klahr is an architectural historian whose teaching focuses upon contemporary issues, for "history begins yesterday".
Among the numerous courses that he has created regarding such issues is "Slum Housing in the Developing World", which coincided with the publication of the article upon which this TED Talk is based. 
Dr. Klahr's research interests examine the political and cultural contexts in which architecture is created and photographically documented. He has presented at conferences in London, Paris, Rome, Berlin, Lisbon, Glasgow, Washington, Los Angeles, Dallas, Miami and other cities. His articles have been published in the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Oxford Journal of Art, German History, Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, Architectural Histories, Archimaera, trans ETH Zurich, and kunsttexte.de. Book chapters have appeared in volumes published by Routledge, Ashgate, and University of Leuven Press. In addition to being an Associate Professor, Dr. Klahr is Associate Dean of the College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Dr. Samir Iqbal

Presentation:  Nanotechnology for Cancer Detection - Cancer-related mortality has not decreased over many decades. Nanotechnology promises approaches for early cancer detection that can significantly change the therapy landscape.


Dr. Samir Iqbal is an Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Arlington (UT-Arlington). His research is focused on the applications of nanotechnology in solid-state sensors, developing novel nano-bio interfaces and cancer screening devices with high sensitivity and selectivity.
He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He was a recipient of NSF CAREER award in 2009. In 2013, UT-Arlington selected him for Honorable Mention for Best Academic Advisor Award. He was awarded Sigma Xi Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award in 2014. In November 2014, he was inducted into National Academy of Innovators by UT-Arlington. In 2015, he was given the Best Research Mentor Award. In 2016, he was awarded Research Excellence Award.

Aabiya Noman Baqai

Presentation:  Feminism in Islam-  Why Islam is a feminist religion and gives examples of exemplary Muslim women in history who have made great contributions to the world.


Passionate about scuba diving and shawarmas, Aabiya is currently a graduate student at UTA in Public Policy. She is originally from Pakistan, grew up in Saudi Arabia and has surprisingly only ridden a camel twice. She hopes to utilize the knowledge she's gaining as a student in the United States by applying it back home and providing tangible solutions to major social welfare issues in her country. She also hopes that people around the globe experience the magical taste of a shawarma just like she has.

Jackson Jinks
Presentation:  What You're Really Afraid Of-   A lot of our true motives and reasons for doing things are overlooked or not fully recognized, perhaps there are deeper motivations to explain why we do what we do.

Jackson is a student at University of Texas at Arlington, originally from Shreveport, Louisiana studying international business. After graduation he plans to serve as a pilot in the United States Air Force. He developed an interest in public speaking in high school, and have been thinking about ideas to talk about ever since. He really enjoys being able to connect with people when discussing deep ideas, and thinks great conversation always makes for a great time.

Aarti Patil

Presentation:  The Different Paths of Grief -  Grief is a difficult, and long process but it is not the same for everyone. It's a unique path that is different for each and every person.


Aarti Patil is a Nursing and Public Health major at the University of Texas at Arlington. As the daughter and the sister of UTA alumni, Aarti has immersed herself in her Maverick pride through her involvement in the MavElite Tour Guides, Freshmen Leaders on Campus, Maverick Mentors, and the UTA Ambassadors. Aarti is eternally grateful to her father, Uday, and her sister, Devika, for their immense support and love. A part from being a full-time student, Aarti continues to pursue her part-time air guitar career.