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  • Writer's pictureThis Is Rutherford

This is TEDxRutherford

By Tracy Leigh

TIR recently had a chance to catch up with Catherine Turso, a long time Rutherford resident who is bringing TEDx to Rutherford on March 12th to a sold out crowd at the Williams Center.

TEDx, is an independently organized event. In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

TIR: How are you involved with Tedx?

Catherine Turso: The idea for TEDxRutherford came out of conversations with friends and neighbors in town. I’ve lived in Rutherford for almost 20 years, and every time I talk to people at a block party or town event, I’m impressed by the talents and wide-ranging interests of the people in this community.

TEDxRutherford really started as a “wouldn’t it be cool if Rutherford had something like this…” conversation at a backyard barbecue.

After a little research, I learned that TEDx events are local, independently-organized events in the style of TED events. I filled out an organizer application with TEDx that talked about what an amazing community we have in Rutherford and my vision for the event, and was granted the organizer licence for TEDxRutherford.

TIR: Why did you choose Rutherford for this event?

CT: There are so many ways that Rutherford celebrates with fireworks, parades, fun runs, car shows and carnivals, but I thought there was room to create an event that celebrates the ideas in our town.  As I said before, I am constantly inspired by conversations with my neighbors about what they are doing and thinking about. My goal with TEDxRutherford is to foster community and inspire friends and neighbors in our community to learn from each other.

TIR: How did you choose the speakers?

CT: Our TEDx planning team sat down and brainstormed people we have met or heard of in town who we found inspiring, and selected voices we thought had ideas to share that would enrich our community. There are so many people to choose from, but we settled on three impressive women from our community with unique and inspiring stories to tell.  Renee Faris, Jennifer Burns Katafigiotis and Kathleen Pagan graciously agreed to share their ideas in what we hope will be the first of many TEDxRutherford events.

TEDxRutherford Speakers from Left to Right:

Jennifer Burns Katafigiotis, Kathleen Pagan, and Renee Faris

We have been amazed by the community’s response to TEDxRutherford. Tickets sold out in one day, validating our belief that this is the type of event that would resonate with people.  We have also had amazing support from sponsors including BCB Bank, Commercial Technology Contractors Inc., ARCHIPIELAGO, Pix-l Graphx and the students from Bergen County Technical Schools who are constructing our TEDx sign.

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 30 years ago, TED has grown to support its mission with multiple initiatives. The two annual TED Conferences invite the world’s leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes or less. Many of these talks are then made available, free, at TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Sal Khan and Daniel Kahneman.

The annual TED Conference takes place each spring in Vancouver, British Columbia. TED’s media initiatives include, where new TED Talks are posted daily; TED Translators, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as translations from volunteers worldwide; the educational initiative TED-Ed. TED has established The Audacious Project that takes a collaborative approach to funding ideas with the potential to create change at thrilling scale; TEDx, which supports individuals or groups in hosting local, self- organized TED-style events around the world, and the TED Fellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.

Didn't get tickets to the event? TIR will be publishing a recap and TEDxRutherford will be recorded and can be viewed after the event. Video of individual talks from the event will be accessible through the TEDx section of and YouTube at TEDx Talks.

Follow TED on Twitter at, or on Facebook at

Read more about the TEDxRutherford event, team, and speakers on their website: and on Facebook at

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