Blossom Each year, TEDxGunnHighSchool aims to center its annual conference's content around a central theme. Previous themes have included Be The Variable, More Than A Number, Trailblazers, Crossroads, New Perspectives, One Step Forward, Redefining Normal and Call to Adventure.

With our distinguished set of speakers and performers, we hope to provide a conference experience where the audience will explore innovative ways on how they can reapproach the standard to a better future.


ThinkFund TEDxGunnHighSchool is grateful for our sponsors, who enable us to present Ideas Worth Spreading.


Time Event
8:30 AM Doors Open
9:10 AM Opening: Chloe Lee
9:20 AM Irene Tsen
9:40 AM Performance: Gunn Dance
9:55 AM Adrit Rao
10:15 AM Jill Johnson
10:40 AM Intermission
11:00 AM Patricia Zurita
11:20 AM John Beatty
11:50 AM Katie Rueff
12:10 AM Performance: Gunn Hip-Hop
12:30 AM Announcements
12:35 PM Lunch Break
1:15 PM Check-In
1:30 PM Josh Paley
1:50 PM Performance: Gunn Improv
2:10 PM Esther Wojcicki
2:30 PM Performance: Gunn A Cappella
2:35 PM Sahar Farooq
3:05 PM Julie Lythcott-Haims
3:30 PM Closing Ceremony + Drawing for Prizes!

*Times subject to change.


Irene Tsen Irene Tsen is a junior at Gunn. She leads The Prose Train, a collaborative writing nonprofit redefining high school writing. Irene is also a Features Editor for The Oracle, Gunn’s student newspaper, and the Editor-in-Chief of Scribere, an online youth literary journal. Irene will be speaking about the power and joy of group storytelling.
Gunn Dance The Gunn Varsity Dance team is a year round team that performs at rallies, sports games and competitions. They have received numerous awards including the Superior Award, Spirit Award and Hardest Working Award from Varsity Spirit. They also received second place in their recent competition for Varsity Song Pom. The team is working hard on their competition dance and is looking forward to competing at nationals in Anaheim.
Adrit Rao Adrit is a 15-year-old Sophomore at Palo Alto High School and a research intern at Stanford University. He is conducting AI research to solve healthcare problems at the point-of-care through accessible innovations and mobile apps. Adrit is part of various research initiatives and has authored over 10 scientific research publications. He is a passionate app developer with 5 apps on the App Store which aim to solve real-world problems. In his free time, Adrit enjoys teaching app development to kids, competitive fencing, and traveling around the world.
Jill Johnson Jill Kauffman Johnson is Managing Director of the Erol Foundation and NextWorld Philanthropies. With decades of experience in the environmental movement, Kauffman Johnson served as Executive Advisor of Sustainability and Society for Corbion, a Netherlands-based global leader in food, algae and bio-based ingredients. She was formerly Principal and Managing Director of CEA Consulting, a leading firm working at the intersection of policy, philanthropy and the private sector to address some of today’s most serious environmental challenges. She also served as the founding Director of the Pacific Coast Regional Office of the Ocean Conservancy where she initiated the first public-private effort in California to address marine plastic pollution.

Kauffman Johnson is a Switzer Fellow and was the former Board Chair of the Algae Biomass Organization, the world’s leading algae trade organization. She holds a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University and a BA in Human Biology from Stanford University.
Patricia Zurita Dr. Zurita Ona, Dr. Z, is a Licensed Psychologist in California. Her work is dedicated to helping all her clients to get “unstuck from fear-based reactions” and live the life they want to live. A key question to her work is “how can we get unstuck from worries, fears, anxieties, perfectionism, procrastination, and any other form of fear-based reactions so we can live a meaningful, fulfilling, and purposeful life?”

Dr. Z. has significant experience - over 18 years - working with individuals dealing with fear-based struggles such as perfectionism, procrastination, uncertainty, decision-making, phobias, OCD, panic, and any other anxiety-related difficulties. Dr. Z is the founder of the East Bay Behavior Therapy Center, a boutique therapy practice, where she offers therapy, coaching, and focused interventions based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and contextual-behavioral science.

Dr. Z is the author of 6 books and has been nominated as a Fellow of the Association of Contextual Behavioral Science.
John Beatty John Beatty is an engineer and entrepreneur exploring prosocial Internet communication systems. He previously co-founded and was CEO of Clover, a payments and commerce platform for small businesses.
Katie Rueff Katie Rueff is a senior at Gunn and a self-proclaimed environmentalist. She got her start in sustainability in Green Team through planting trees and cleaning beaches. Now, she's a community organizer and lobbyist who helps empower fellow youth as they confront climate change with unique, creative, and unifying strategies. In her free time, she stage manages and loves hanging out with her friends in the Best Buddies club.
Gunn Hip Hop Gunn Hip Hop is a group of students who like to do hip-hop dance through choreography and freestyling. They meet after school on Friday at the senior quad and are open to any new members.
Josh Paley Josh Paley is in his 21st year as a Computer Science and Mathematics teacher at Henry M. Gunn HS in Palo Alto, CA where he is fortunate to have lots of smart, hard-working students. He has helped to grow the computer science program there from 50-60 students in 2002—2003 to over 350 in each of the past four years. Josh remains frustrated that the percentage of female and minority students taking computer science is still appallingly low (still around 30%). He thinks that a year of Computer Science should be mandatory to graduate from high school: after all, either you can use a computer to solve problems or you can't, and we are well into the 21st century.

Josh was one of the pilot instructors for UC-Berkeley's Beauty and Joy of Computing AP CS Principles course. He also served as an instructor for Google's CAPE program in 2010 and 2011. Josh won a national fantasy baseball contest in Y2K and has written about baseball on the side for and Ron Shander's Baseball Forecaster. He is an avid indoorsman as he is allergic to things such as plants, dirt, and probably fresh air. He enjoys board games and poker and is a ferocious Boggle player. Josh has an awesome wife, Suzanne, who does bioinformatics at SRI International, and three amazing kids: Allison, Karen, and Trevor, all of whom are Gunn graduates. He thinks he is very lucky.
Gunn Improv The Gunn Improv Farce (TGIF) is an improv troupe dedicated to inclusivity, entertainment, and making people laugh through improvised comedy. We strive to create a place where any student can take a break from the stresses of their academic and personal lives and have fun in improvised games and scenes. The Gunn Improv Farce meets every Tuesday at lunch in room J-1.
Esther Wojcicki Esther Wojcicki is famous for three things: teaching a high school class that has changed the lives of thousands of kids, inspiring Silicon Valley legends like Steve Jobs, and raising three daughters who have each become famously successful. What do these three accomplishments have in common? They are the result of TRICK, Esther’s secret to raising successful people: Trust, Respect, Independence, Collaboration, and Kindness. Simple lessons, but the results are radical. Esther Wojcicki is a leading American educator and journalist. Mother of YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, Fulbright scholar Janet Wojcicki, and 23&Me founder Anne Wojcicki, as well as a teacher and mentor to James Franco and Lisa Brennan-Jobs, Esther is widely heralded as the most successful parent and educator in the United States. Her daughters are all graduates of Gunn High School. Esther offers essential lessons for raising, educating, and managing people to their highest potential. She is the author of Moonshots in Education (2014) and bestseller How to Raise Successful People (2019). She is co-founder of (2020) an ed-tech company and Chief Parenting Officer for, a parenting company using AI.
Gunn A Cappella The Titones of Gunn A Cappella Club promote the joy of singing to all members of the Gunn community, regardless of musical experience. They focus on having fun while learning arrangements of popular contemporary songs, to make music through the sole power of voices!
Sahar Farooq Sahar Farooq is a gymnast, yoga instructor, and rollerblading coach. She is the Founder and Executive Director at Holistix Leadership and Sports Academy, an organization dedicated to empowering youth to become the leaders of tomorrow. Sahar is passionate about improving education and healthcare in third-world countries, and has funded schools, orphanages, and clinics to provide free services in the past four years. Her next goal is to launch a school in a village in Pakistan where she will provide free education to all children. Currently, Sahar is a high school senior at Connecting Waters Charter School and a student at Mission College.
Julie Lythcott-Haims Julie Lythcott-Haims believes in humans and is deeply interested in what gets in our way. Her work encompasses writing, speaking, public service, and activism. She is a New York Times bestselling author of books on human development, a TED speaker, a former Stanford dean, and a lawyer, and she holds degrees from Stanford University (BA), Harvard Law (JD), and California College of the Arts (MFA). She has served on numerous nonprofit boards whose work focuses on equity, education, youth, wellness, or the arts, and she currently serves on the boards of Black Women’s Health Imperative and Narrative Magazine, and on the Board of Trustees at California College of the Arts. She serves on the advisory boards of LeanIn.Org, Sir Ken Robinson Foundation, and Baldwin For the Arts. Julie lives in Palo Alto, California with her partner of over thirty years, their itinerant young adults, and her mother. She is an incoming member of the Palo Alto City Council.
Chloe Lee Chloe Lee is a senior at Gunn High School. The president of both the Thespian and A Cappella Club, Chloe has called the stage her home since middle school. When she’s not singing or acting in a Gunn Theatre production or learning music with A Cappella Club, she enjoys drawing and hanging out with her little brother.

She will be the MC for our 2022 TEDx conference.