Jay Appaji has been studying the Mridangam, the primary drum of South India with Dr. Rohan Krishnamurthy, since 2009. In 2013, Jay received the Percussive Art’s Society’s national scholarship and in 2014, he was named a Texas Young Master and an IndianRaga fellow. Jay regularly performs throughout Texas and nationally, such as at the Texas Medal of Arts Ceremony, with prominent artists like Charles Yang, Mark Landson, Katelyn Harris, and Jamal Mohamed. Jay’s love for music extends to his interest in studying music perception and cognition, and in 2017, he was invited to present his research in this field at the SysMus conference in London. Currently, Jay is a junior at Southern Methodist University pursuing a double major in Music and Electrical Engineering.
Cathy is a Federal Aviation Administration Qualified Airport Wildlife Biologist. She has been DFW Airport’s Wildlife Administrator since 2006, coordinating with numerous airport departments and outside professionals to implement the airport’s Wildlife Hazard Management Program, ensuring compliance with federal and state regulations while implementing best practices. She currently serves as Communications Committee Chair of Bird Strike Committee USA, and is a member of the North Central Texas Wildlife Consortium of airports. She has B.S. degrees in Biology and Wildlife Management from the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, and a M.S. degree in Biology from The University of Texas at Arlington.
Bishop is entering the sixth grade. He has two younger siblings – Isaiah, 9-years-old and Anistyn, 22-months-old. He loves science and engineering. Bishop is extremely caring and always looks for ways to help someone or brighten someone’s day. Last summer he learned drone programming and CAD design at engineering camp.
Casey Fleming serves as Chief Executive Officer for BLACKOPS Partners Corporation, the leading intelligence, think tank, strategy and cybersecurity advisors to senior leadership of the world’s largest organizations. Casey is widely recognized as a top thought-leader, leading expert and keynote speaker on cybersecurity, intelligence, strategy, national security and asymmetrical hybrid warfare. He advises top leadership of business, government, the military, The White House and Congress. He is co-author of SPECTRE, a breakthrough hybrid warfare exercise. The Cybersecurity Excellence Awards recently named him Cybersecurity Professional of the Year. He built and led global organizations for IBM Corporation, Deloitte Consulting and Good Technology. Casey received his Bachelor of Science degree from Texas A&M University and participated in executive programs with Harvard Business School, The Wharton School and IBM Corporation.
Matt Grubisich is the Director of Operations for Texas Trees Foundation. He received his Bachelor of Science in Urban Forestry and Forest Management from Iowa State University and worked in the Urban Forestry field for over 15 years in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Prior to consulting, he served eight years with the Texas Forest Service as the Regional Urban Forester for Dallas and surrounding areas. Matt is a Certified Arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) and specializes in GIS mapping, technology transfer and eco-system analysis. Matt served in a leadership positions on several boards and commissions including President of the Trinity Blacklands Urban Forestry Council, Chair of the Dallas Chapter of the Society of American Foresters, founding member of the Dallas Urban Forestry Advisory Committee, three terms on the Rowlett Parks and Recreation Board and served on the Board of Directors for ISA Texas.
Maddy Kulkarni is the Founder and Executive Director of Dallas Heroes Project (DHP), an organization whose mission is to drive awareness of the positive impact heroes are making in our city. DHP creates month-long marketing campaigns around the hero and his/her organizations so citizens become more aware of the issues these heroes are tackling and hopefully get inspired to get involved.
She is also currently a Senior Marketing Manager at PepsiCo where she has held various marketing positions in brand management, innovation, shopper and digital marketing, and global sustainability. Maddy is on the steering committee PepsiCo’s Food for Good, a program that delivers nutritious foods to inner city communities across the country. She has an M.B.A. from the NYU Stern School of Business and a B.B.A. in Business Honors from the University of Texas at Austin.
Dr. Xiaosi Gu is one of the foremost researchers in the area of computational psychiatry. Her research examines the neural and computational mechanisms underlying human decision making and social interaction, in both health and disease, through a synthesis of neuroimaging and computational modeling. Recently, Dr. Gu has examined the interaction between beliefs and drugs in drug addiction. This work suggests beliefs about drugs could override the effects of drugs on neural responses to reward. Dr. Gu began her studies at the Department of Psychology and the China Center for Economic Research at Peking University (PKU), Beijing. After receiving a dual degree in psychology and economics from PKU, she moved to New York City to pursue a PhD in Neuroscience at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Dr. Gu then completed her postdoctoral training in computational psychiatry and decision neuroscience at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London (UCL), London, UK. During her time in London, she also set up the world’s first computational psychiatry course at UCL.
Dwight has been married to his best friend Shari for 30 years. He has two amazing daughters, Lauren and Sami. They have lived in Plano for 13 years after living 12 years in New Orleans. He has been a pastor for 29 years and received his
doctorate in 2012 from Dallas Theological Seminary. He loves reading and sports. He desires to leave this planet a little better off than how he found it by lots of different initiatives such as helping to provide clean water wells in Africa, anti-trafficking around the world, homelessness in Dallas and making sure some kids at Thomas Elementary in Plano aren’t hungry on the weekends.
Johnny Quinn is a professional speaker and travels the globe to inspire audiences by delivering thought-provoking and action-packed speeches to businesses, schools and organizations. He is a U.S. Olympian in the sport of bobsled and competed at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Johnny is also a former pro football player spending time with the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills, Green Bay Packers and Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League. Johnny and his wife Amanda reside in McKinney, Texas.
Ayaz Quraishi is the Director of Sales Engineering at Acumenity, a McKinney-based startup in the e-learning industry. After graduating from North Texas University in 2011, Ayaz became an active member of the Islamic Association of Collin County, driving volunteer-oriented youth initiatives before election to the Board of Directors in 2013. By late 2013, he also transitioned out of the private sector into the world of non-profits. Ayaz remains an active member of the Islamic Association of Collin County, promoting community-oriented initiatives to re-engage young adults in their local communities. With a background in television, engagement in his local community, and a holistic understanding of how to deliver a learning experience, Ayaz seeks to help communities come together for a greater understanding of humanitarianism.