One Step Forward 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, and New Perspectives. Inspired by the vision of challenging the norm and viewing established and novel problems under a new light, we selected One Step Forward as this year’s theme.

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 take one step forward to a better future.

It's that time of year again!


Time Event
8:25AM Session 1 Check In
8:45AM Introduction - Rohan Solanki
9:00AM Emanuel D. Thomas
9:20AM Erika Diaz
9:40AM Intermission (Brunch)
(Donuts Provided)
10:00AM Performance: Gunn Hip Hop
10:10AM Sophia Lu
10:30AM Liz Kimball
10:50AM Raffle
(TEDx Water Bottle, Metal Straws)
11:00AM Intermission (Passing Period)
11:20AM Performance: Gunn A Capella
11:30AM Maximilian Goetz
11:50AM Jack Bowen
12:10AM Raffle
($25 Philz Coffee Gift Card, Hydroflask)
12:25PM Lunch
1:05PM Session 2 Check In
1:25PM Joshua Yang
1:45PM Jameson McDaniel
2:10PM Intermission (Passing Period)
2:30PM Performance: Gunn Dance Team
2:40PM Maria Millan
3:00PM Chris McPherson
3:20PM Closing + Raffle
(AirPods*, Hydroflask, TEDx Water Bottle)
3:30PM End of Conference

*Eligibility requires full day attendance to the conference


Erika Diaz I am a strong woman, a wife, a mother of two boys with autism, a teacher, and an entrepreneur. I have my BS Criminal Justice from Phoenix University and my AA in Liberal Arts with for De Anza College. Since graduation, I have had opportunities to work with young people in various situations, including in the Superior Courts. Presently I am a teacher assistant and substitute teacher, working with teens and helping them overcome challenges academic as well as personal at Henry Gunn HS.
Jack Bowen Jack graduated from Stanford with honors in Human Biology and earned a masters degree in Philosophy with an emphasis on Sports Ethics. He has published four philosophically themed books: If You Can Read This, The Dream Weaver, and a college-level philosophy textbook. His most recent book is, Ethics and Leadership in Sport. Jack was a 2-time water polo All-American and NCAA MVP and the alternate goalie on the 2006 Olympic Team. He has coached water polo at Menlo School for the past 20 years where he teaches philosophy. He has won numerous coaching awards including the Positive Coaching Alliance National Honor Coach and the United States Water Polo National Coach of the Year. He blogs on sports for the Positive Coaching Alliance and the Institute of Sports Law and Ethics, and has just finished his latest book which focuses on these themes. He recently presented at TEDxStanford on the topic of awe.
Joshua Yang Joshua Yang is a staffer at the Gunn Oracle and a member of the JCamp class of 2019. As a journalist, he focuses on investigative reporting; previously, he’s covered illicit campus Adderall usage, anti-vaxxers and coaching conflicts on the Gunn cross country team. Aside from his reporting, Joshua leads the Oracle’s Forum section and enjoys covering timely, relevant and thought-provoking opinion pieces. In his talk, Joshua will discuss the shifting role of the press and the importance of local, student-driven journalism.
Gunn A Capella Gunn A Capella Club is a student run lunch club here on campus. A Capella Club has been running for 2 years at Gunn. We strive to bring together the musicians at Gunn and sing some fun, lively tunes! Our club is open to singers and non-singers alike; as long as you have an open mind and a passion to learn about music, A Capella is for you. We will be performing two songs at TEDx. Our first song is When the Party’s Over by Billie Eilish. Our second song is Pompeii by Bastille.
Maximilian Goetz Maximilian Goetz is a senior at Gunn High School and the founder of Robotics for All, a multi-state 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization which teaches free robotics classes to students in low-income communities. He will be speaking about: how he discovered his passions through his volunteering experiences, how these experiences inspired to pursue social entrepreneurship and found Robotics for All, and what he has gained through his social entrepreneurship journey.
Chris McPherson Christopher McPherson is the owner of Possibility of Positivity LLC. Possibility of Positivity is a personal and professional development consultancy designed to help individuals improve their quality of life by creating solutions that allow them to reach their potential. Chris began his career as a sales consultant, and successfully manages training, facilitation, and workshop services to clients and listeners all over the world. Chris lives in his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri and is a proud husband to his wife Sharnee, and the esteemed father of Emmanuel & Ethan his two young men. His talk today titled “who invented impossible” is designed to help us all remain open to the infinite possibilities that are available to us if we truly believe that they are attainable for us…after-all the smallest chance is tangible proof of a possibility. “I have traveled the world, and lived some of the best experiences imagined and I have found that everything that you desire is attainable for you".
Maria Millan Dr. Maria Millan is a physician-scientist who has devoted her career to treating and developing innovative solutions for children and adults with debilitating and life-threatening conditions. After receiving her undergraduate degree from Duke University where she first entered the arena of immunology research, she returned to her home in New Jersey where she obtained her M.D. degree and then went on to complete her surgical training and post-doctoral research in Boston at Harvard Medical School – Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. After a transplant surgery fellowship at Stanford University School of Medicine, she began her academic career with a busy pediatric and adult transplant surgery practice focused on technical advancements and optimization of patient outcomes. In parallel, she continued her bench research at Stanford and was promoted within 5 years to associate professor and director of the Pediatric Organ Transplant Program. She served on multiple leadership teams including the Faculty Senate and the Dean’s faculty committee at Stanford University School of Medicine and served on the Children’s Hospital operations committee. She has published in the areas of cell biology, immunology and clinical organ transplantation. With early signals from the science that stem cell and regenerative medicine therapy was the new frontier for medicine, she ventured into the private sector in 2006 to join StemCells, Inc., one of the earliest stem cell organizations and the first to enter into an FDA-regulated clinical trial with a stem cell treatment for children with a fatal neurodegenerative disease. Dr. Millan then joined the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) in December 2012 where she led the formation of the Alpha Stem Cell Clinics Network, a network of California medical centers that specialize in rigorous and high-quality clinical trials and top-tier medical care for patients participating in these trials. This clinical network is successfully supporting over 45 clinical trials and was recently expanded to include 5 programs composed of 7 medical centers and their affiliated hospitals. As a key component of CIRM’s bold5-year strategic plan launched in 2016, which was designed to accelerate stem cell treatments to patients with unmet medical needs, Dr. Millan led the development of critical infrastructure, including specialized regulatory, preclinical research, manufacturing and clinical operations support for stem cell and regenerative medicine trials. In July 2017, Dr. Millan took on the role as president and CEO of CIRM, and she was formally appointed by CIRM’s board in September 2017. Under her leadership, CIRM continues to drive the mission of accelerating stem cell treatments to patients with unmet medical needs, is on track to achieve its 5-year strategic plan, has now funded a total of 45 clinical trials and is continuing to grow this robust portfolio of high-quality programs by the month.
Sophia Lu Sophia Lu will be talking about how speaking up about vulnerabilities builds stronger communities, and the importance of sharing perspectives from an introverted point of view.
Gunn Dance Team Gunn's dance team performs at various events, games, and rallies during the school year as well as at USA spirit competitions at the regional and national level. They normally self-choreograph their routines, however this routine is choreographed by our coach, Stephanie Anderson Ferris for competition. We hope you enjoy!
Gunn Hip Hop The purpose of Gunn Hip Hop club is to create a space where students interested in urban dance, specifically hip-hop dance, can feel comfortable expressing themselves, dancing, improving their ability, and meeting peers who share a similar interest. Most of our members had little to no previous dance experience, as the club is open to anyone who is interested, regardless of skill level. Through our performance, we hope to showcase the hard work of all of our members, and to spread a love of and appreciation for urban dance.

Gunn Hip Hop will be performing an original, student-choreographed performance.
Emanuel Thomas Emanuel D. Thomas is a Transformational Mindset Coach, Speaker, Columnist, and Author of the self improvement book, “The Power of Thinking Inside The Box”.

As an army veteran, with eight years of human resources experience within high demand industries; Emanuel has worked with and helped multiple Fortune 500 companies, such as Adidas, Spectrum, TD Bank N.A. and Robert Half International reach their operational excellence goals and departmental targets, while in professional relationship with one another.

Making the decision to own his life and live beyond the status quo, Emanuel made the bold choice to step into his calling as a connector, to help others find their purpose in life, along with providing guidance on how to help them live Intentionally, efficiently, and effectively.

Emanuel will be giving a talk on the subconscious mind, and how by consciously training it through disciplined impressions of positivity and belief, one can reach any goal placed in their path; Along with finding and fostering a peace of mind that every person on earth deserves. No matter the circumstance.
Jameson McDaniel Jameson McDaniel is a former Gunn High School student, graduating in the class of 2017. He currently attends Foothill College and works for international esports company, Esports Connected. Jameson grew up in Palo Alto and went to Barron Park Elementary and Terman Middle School before attending Gunn. During his time at Gunn, Jameson discovered esports (or professional video games), and proceeded to work on building an international business centered around his new passion. Through an unconventional path Jameson has been able to discover and redefine what it means to be successful while having a balance between school, work, and chasing your passion. Today, Jameson would like to share more about his experiences, finding a vehicle for success, and understanding what it means to take one step forward as a young adult from Palo Alto.
Liz Kimball Liz Kimball is a creativity and performance coach, writer, creator, and speaker. She speaks and teaches on creativity, courage, and change, and has spent over ten years guiding thousands of visionary creatives and thought leaders to their next level of creative excellence. A former award-winning performer and director, Liz is the founder of the Collective for Women Creators & Changemakers, and is devoted to bringing more multidimensional women-driven stories, leadership teams, and art into the world. Her work has been published on, For Women Who Roar, and W42ndST magazine. Connect with her at and @lizkimball.

She graduated magna cum laude with a dual degree in English and Theatre from Northwestern University, and summa cum laude with an M.F.A. in Acting from the University of Texas at Austin. She has trained at the Coaches Training Institute and is certified in Transformational Coaching through Leadership that Works.

Liz creates multi-dimensional human stories, directs transformational experiences, and supports successful creatives and professionals in telling their stories. She is dedicated to bringing more three-dimensional women-driven stories, leadership teams, and art into the world. Liz is a fierce advocate for electing more women to public office.

She speaks on the creative process, self-actualization, nonlinear career paths, the intersection of art and entrepreneurship, and the art and practice of visibility and presence.

She explores the complexities and possibilities of creativity, courage, and connection.
Rohan Solanki Rohan Solanki is a senior at Gunn High School.
He will be the MC for our 2020 TEDx conference.