Akshaya Annampedu

Founder + Writer

Akshaya is a senior in the IB program at Plano East, and she will be attending Vanderbilt University in the Fall of 2022 as a prospective Public Policy Studies major. She started and runs The Student Op magazine. Inspired by her struggles with the arduous process of entering journalism, Akshaya knew students like her in less privileged countries must be having a harder time sharing opinions. She brought international perspectives to the table by bringing journalism access to these underrepresented students to allow them to share their voices and unique cultural stories. Her writers hail from countries like Algeria, India, Hungary, Pakistan, and Kenya, ultimately creating a diverse and open-minded community in her magazine. She also won Mali Rising’s “Speech Up!” competition for her policy ideas about reforming education inequality abroad. In her free time, Akshaya enjoys piano, cooking and spending time with her family and lovable dog.

Lia Bai

Communicator + Connector

Lia Bai is a professional speaker, author, and humorist based in Allen, Texas. Born and raised in Chengdu, China, a city famous for its spicy food and giant pandas, Lia stumbled into her calling in public speaking through the twists and turns of her life and career. With her talent in comedy art and expertise in diversity and communication, Lia weaves storytelling with points and punchlines. She is a performing artist with a mission to add some extra spice to an increasingly dreary world with her humor. As a mother, Lia empowers her daughter to strive for excellence at school and in life. For ten-plus years, she taught public speaking to children in her community and helped them find their voices. Most recently, Lia published her book LAMPS: Communication Strategies for Global Leaders, an important milestone for her mission to make an impact on the world. Lia earned her MBA degree from Texas Christian University.

Bowie DeShazo

Innovator + Technologist

Bowie is AMP Creative’s most frequent fielder of the question, “Hey, is it possible to (insert a technical challenge here)?” A lifelong investigator of how anything and everything works, Bowie studied production and new media at Rowan University, then developed his skills as a director, producer, and storyteller. In his current role as Director of Innovation at AMP Creative he leads emerging technology projects. Bowie works with clients to facilitate the creation of learning ecosystems through many different forms of media, including VR, AR, interactive multimedia, custom app development, interactive signage and immersive video. His passion is collaborating with clients to bring value by developing and implementing new ways to interact with information.

Meryl Evans smiles at the camera. SHe is wearing a red shirt and has brown curly hair.

Meryl Evans

Advocate + Educator

Meryl Evans is an accessibility and digital marketing consultant and author. As a marketing professional, Meryl knew the importance of video and shied away from making them because of her accent that hails from nowhere accessible by travel. She received such a tremendous response to her videos that led to invitations to speak. That put her on a passionate path to create a more accessible world.

She uses a virtual megaphone to educate anyone who will listen about accessibility and inclusion with a focus on people with disabilities. She’s a highly sought speaker who is known for sharing her stories and lived experiences as a person who happened to be born hearing-free aka profoundly deaf.

She has spoken at AccessU, ID24, sxsw, Content Marketing World, AccessibilityPlus, and PCMA Convening Leaders. Her most recent forays include delving into accessibility in virtual reality working with XR Access and the W3C Immersive Captions Community Group. She is a Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies.

Greg Holmes smiles at the camera. He is wearing glasses, has blonde short hair and is wearing a blue shirt with a gray suit jacket over it. He is sitting in a empty room with windows all along the right side

Greg Holmes

Artist + Communicator

Greg Holmes is an artist, communicator, and minister in the North Dallas area. He creates and teaches from his studio in Allen, and he serves as Pastor of Arts and Cultural Engagement at Chase Oaks Church in Plano. Greg received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from UT Austin and a Master’s Degree in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. In all of his work, Greg operates at the intersection of art, faith and the stories and images that connect all of us and inspire us toward a better future.

Madhukar Trivedi, M.D.

Researcher + Mental Health Expert

Madhukar Trivedi, M.D., is a Professor of Psychiatry, Chief of the Division of Mood Disorders, and founding Director of the Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care at UT Southwestern Medical Center, where he holds the Betty Ho Hay Distinguished Chair in Mental Health and the Julie K. Hersh Chair for Depression Research and Clinical Care. Certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Dr. Trivedi focuses on developing and validating biosignatures of depression. He also conducts research on pharmacological, psychosocial, and nonpharmacological treatments for depression.

He has been a principal investigator on numerous translational research projects and clinical trials. He serves on numerlus editorial boards and is currently Deputy Editor of the American Journal of Psychiatry. Dr. Trivedi was listed by Thomson Reuters’ World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds as one of the nation’s most highly cited researchers in psychiatry every year since 2014.

Mark Schaefer

Author + Futurist

Mark W. Schaefer is a globally-recognized author, keynote speaker, futurist, and business consultant who blogs at {grow} — one of the top five marketing blogs of the world. He teaches graduate marketing classes at Rutgers University and has written nine best-selling books. Mark’s new book Cumulative Advantage: How to Build Momentum for Your Ideas, Business and Life Against All Odds is an essential new path to being seen and heard in a busy world.

His many global clients include Pfizer, Cisco, Dell, Adidas, and the US Air Force. He has been a keynote speaker at prestigious events all over the world including SXSW, Marketing Summit Tokyo and the Institute for International and European Affairs. Mark has appeared as a guest on media channels such as CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and CBS News.