Meet the Team

Our team of students has been working hard since last Spring to put together TEDxPSU. They handle every aspect of planning -- from finding speakers and promoting the event, to fostering a community and developing all of the visual content. We are proud to be so involved in our community, as every director is involved in far more than just TEDx. We hope you enjoy the show!

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Sam Viknyansky


Sam Viknyansky is a super-senior studying Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Engineering Entrepreneurship. Over the past 5 years, he's been a Volunteer, Team Leader, and Director of Programming, and seriously enjoys being part of TEDxPSU. Sam loves connecting with people on a deep, genuine level, be it through music, teamwork, or just conversation. Outside of TEDxPSU, Sam has been a Volunteer Trip Leader for PSU Hillel’s Alternative Spring Break, where he re-roofed homes in Oklahoma damaged by tornadoes. Some of his hobbies include 3-D printing, singing a cappella, appreciating classic jazz, and playing through the Fallout series of video games.

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Fatimah Nuri Alali

Director, Programming

Fatimah Nuri Alali is a senior at Penn State, she came from Saudi Arabia to study Petroleum & Natural Gas Engineering with a minor in Italian Language and Culture. This is her third year being part of TEDxPSU. Inspired by Steve Mazan’s TED talk “It's Never too Late to Chase your Dreams”, she found it a perfect time at Penn State to learn Italian and Russian. Fatimah is proud to support TED and strongly believes in the power of ideas worth spreading!

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Deedee Spaniel

Co-Director of Programming

Deanna Spaniel is a Junior studying Agriculture Business with a minor in entrepreneurship. This is her first year working with Tedx PSU. She won Penn State's Ag Springboard competition in 2016 and is also the Membership Chair for Penn State Student Programming Association.

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Skylar Yuen

Director, Content

Skylar is a senior majoring in Accounting and minoring in Information Systems Management. Aside from TEDxPSU, she stays active on campus and in the community through various clubs, like Penn State LeaderSHIP and Ka Hoaloha o Penn State (Hawaii Club). Some of Skylar's hobbies include volleyball, hiking, and photography. Inspired by Andrew Evan's talk "Open Road, Open Life", Skylar loves exploring new cities and hopes to one day travel the world.

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Neil Kelkar

Director, Partnerships

Neil is a senior at Penn State majoring in Biology, as well as minoring in History and Psychology. Originally, inspired by Dr. Ken Robinson’s famous “Do schools kill creativity?” TED talk, he to started to listen to talks for fun. His love for talking to people; whether it is about music, technology, or any conversation brought him to join TEDxPSU. Outside of TEDxPSU, Neil is involved with Alpha Kappa Lambda fraternity, Asylum and an undergraduate research lab. Some of his hobbies include hiking, exploring new places, coding, and spontaneous trips.

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Christina Platt

Director, Technology

Christina Platt studies Electrical Engineering at Penn State. After a stint in the Blue Band her freshman and sophomore year, she focused her efforts on the entrepreneurship community at Penn State and in the larger State College community. She was the director of HackPSU, Penn State's hackathon, for one year and remains on the organizing team as a student advisor. She currently works full time as a web developer at West Arete, a software development firm in State College, but remains active in the student community and lives at the, a co-living option located downtown. Christina is passionate about building communities and exposing people to the possibilities of technology. Christina became involved in TEDx as a member of the programming team for the 2016 conference. Her favorite TED Talk is Sam Richards' "A Radical Experiment in Empathy."

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Emma Hebert

Director, Operations

Emma is a senior majoring in Public Relations with a minor in Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship. Outside of TEDx, Emma is a Captain for THON 2017. She was brought to TEDx through an interest in promoting diverse mindsets and experiences that celebrate each person's unique version of success. Outside of Penn State, she enjoys traveling, fitness, and engaging with new people in various activities.

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Calvin Lobo

Co-Director of Operations

Calvin Lobo is a junior majoring in Petroleum & Natural Gas Engineering with a minor in Energy, Business & Finance. This is Calvin's 3rd year with TEDxPSU. He started off as a volunteer during his freshman year, was a part of the operations team his sophomore year and this year is the co-director of operations. Following his favorite TED Talk, 'How Great Leaders Inspire Action' by Simon Sinek, he hopes to build on an enthusiastic TED community to promote conversation and share ideas. Outside TED, he is the Vice President of Student Development at the National Organization for Business and Engineering and has recently become a contributing author at The Penn State Energy Marketing Association. In his free time, he enjoys following the word of horology and aims to one day start a collection of his own.

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Jesse Small

Director, Design

Jesse Small is in his senior year of the graphic design program. He is the Director of Design for TEDxPSU this year. Jesse will be able to mesh both theatre and design when staging this year's TED event, something he is most excited about. His favorite TED talk is one by his favorite designer, Stefan Sagmeister, on Happiness by Design.

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Megan Berryman

Director, Public Relations

Megan Berryman is a junior majoring in Public Relations with a minor in Digital Media Trends and Analytics. Outside of TEDxPSU she is a part of the PR division for Valley Magazine while also balancing a digital media marketing internship with the company SportsThread. In her free time she enjoys eating, watching The Office and most of all naps.

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Francisca Dungula

Director, Media

Francisca Dungula is Junior studying Education and Public Policy. This is her second year working with TedxPSU. She started as a part of the media team. She also does Marketing for Adventure Recreation.

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Herbert Reininger

License Holder, Faculty Advisor

Herbert works as Creative Director at Penn State Outreach and Online Education. He is part of TEDxPSU since its inception in 2010, first as the lead designer, then as speaker in 2013, and since 2014 he is the licensee and mentor of a yearly changing student teams who is working year round on the next iteration of TEDxPSU.