The Speakers For TEDxTbilisi 2012

We are so pleased that the following distinguished speakers joined the inaugural TEDxTbilisi event.

Revaz Adamia
Revaz Adamia is the Director of the G.Eliava Institute of Bacteriophages, Microbiology and Virology, where he first started working as a scientific researcher in 1973. Between 1988 and 2006, he was Head of Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Genetic Engineering. The G. Eliava Institute of Bacteriophages, Microbiology and Virology is a research institution under the Ministry of Science and Education of Georgia which studies bacteriophages and phage therapy.

Parallel to his research and work, Revaz has also had a long political career. Between 1992 and 2002, he served as a Member of Parliament in Georgia for three terms and held various leadership positions.  In 2002, he was appointed as Ambassador to the United Nations and was the Chairman of the United Nations Disarmament Commission.

Revaz has a B.A., M.S., and Ph.D molecular biology from Tbilisi State University. In 1987, he served as a guest researcher at the Central Institute of Molecular Biology in Berlin, GDR.

Andro Dgebuadze
Andro Dgebuadze is an entrepreneur, consultant, IT specialist, teacher, and former musician.Most recently, he developed "Alive Guitar”, an iPhone application awarded for "The Best Multimedia Project" at the GITI conference in 2011. He received his MBA in 2001 from Open University, UK.

More about Andro:

Camilla Hawthorne
Camilla Hawthorne is Manager of Digital Media Initiatives at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. She works with journalists to develop strategies for using social media, crowd sourcing, mobile phones, and other new media tools to deliver news and engage with audiences around the world.

Previously, Camilla worked as a Presidential Management Fellow, a Liman Public Interest Law Fellow, and a researcher at the Watson Institute for International Studies. She has experience collaborating with journalists broadcasting to countries as diverse as Venezuela, Cambodia, Russia, and Iran.

Camilla has a B.A. in International Relations and African Studies and an M.P.A. from Brown University.

Presentation ”Civil Society Rebooted”:

We are constantly negotiating our relationship with the Web, and it is constantly changing along with us. Tools like social media can be used for good and for bad; to liberate and to oppress. Were at an exciting point in history when we are just starting to understand the potential of these technologies to fundamentally alter the notion of civil society.

More about Camilla:  http://

Ambassador Diana Janse
Ambassador Janse joined the Swedish Foreign Service in 1999. Since then, she has served in Belgrade, Moscow, New York, Kabul and as political advisor to the EUSR for South Caucasus. After her tenure in Brussels, she was assigned a position in the cabinet of the Swedish Foreign Minister, serving as Minister Bildts special assistant and travel coordinator for more than three years. In September 2010, she was appointed Sweden's Ambassador to Georgia, and in March 2011 to Armenia as well.

Prior to joining the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Janse worked in the Ministry of Defense and in the Swedish Military Intelligence. She also spent one year as an interpreter for the UN forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In 2010, Ambassador Janse published a book - En del av mitt hjärta lämnar jag kvar - about her work as the only Swedish diplomat in Afghanistan. In 2011, it was published in Georgian.

Ambassador Janse holds two degrees from Uppsala University, a Master in Political Science and a Bachelor in Russian Language and Literature. She lives in Tbilisi with her fiancé and her two adopted Georgian street cats.

David Lordkipanidze
Prof. David Lordkipanidze is the first General Director of the Georgian National Museum founded in 2004, which unified 10 major museums in Georgia and 2 research institutes. Under his leadership, the Museum has gradually been transformed from a Soviet-type institution into a vibrant space for culture, education and science. Most recently, Lordkipanidze was involved in the discovery of ancient hominid remains in Dmanisi, the world famous archeological site.

Prof. Lordkipanidze has authored over 100 scientific articles published in respected and well-known scientific journals such as Nature, Science Magazine, Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences of USA, Journal of Human Evolution and more. He has also served both as a member and as the chair of science committees for the exhibition concepts in the leading museums of USA, Japan, France, Italy, Brazil, and Spain. He was a visiting Professor at Harvard University (2002) and serves as a professor of European program Erasmus mundus. He also is a guest speaker and the scholar-in-residence in foreign universities and institutions.

Lordkipanidze has been the recipient of many honors and awards, including the French decorations Palmes Académiques (2002), a Fulbright Scholarship (2002), the Rolex Award for Enterprise (2004), and the Presidential Order of Excellence (2011), among others. He is also a foreign associate member of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), corresponding member of German archeological institute (2008), corresponding member of Georgian National Academy of Sciences (2009), member of European Academy of Science and Arts (2009), member of the academy of Europe (2010).

Presentation “First Humans out of Africa”:

This event is a magnificent opportunity to hear about the groundbreaking archeological research by Dr. David O. Lordkipanidze on the discovery of the path of the “First Humans out of Africa.”  Dmanisi is one of the most amazing discoveries of our time, an active archeological site that has opened so many windows to our past and whereabouts of nearly 1.8 million years ago. This discovery has put Georgia on scientific map that bridges the distance past to the future.

More about David:

Donald MacLaren
Formerly the British Ambassador to Georgia, Donald MacLaren is a foreign policy consultant specialising in post-Soviet countries. He is also a partner in “Perfect Pitch”, offering training in the skills of persuasive speaking and formal presentations. Since succeeding his father in 1966, Donald has been Chief of Clan MacLaren.

Donald joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1978 and served until 2008. During his tenure, he was posted in Berlin (1980-83); Moscow, as Press Attaché and 1st Secretary responsible for US/Soviet relations and arms control negotiations (1984-87); Strategic Policy Planning Staff in FCO, advising on German unification (1987-89); Deputy Head of Mission, Havana (1990-93); Caracas (1995-97); seconded to Oxford Analytica (1998-99); Kiev (2000-03); H.M. Ambassador, Tbilisi (2004-07).

Donald has an M.A. in Classics and English Literature from Edinburgh University and a B.A. from Trinity College, Glenalmond (1967-72). He is married and has three sons, two daughters, and two grand children. He enjoys rugby, playing the Great Highland Bagpipe, and keeping governments honest.

Katie Melua
When Georgian-born Katie Melua signed with Mike Batt's independent record label Dramatico in September 2002, no one could have imagined that by the release of her third album, ‘Pictures, in 2007, she would be the biggest-selling UK-based, female artist in the world. Her first two albums, 'Call Off The Search' and 'Piece By Piece' both became international number ones with singles such as ‘The Closest Thing To Crazy and ‘Nine Million Bicycles becoming airplay hits around the world.

The album ‘Pictures secured Katie's place as one of Britain's most successful artists of the new millennium. Katie was on an exciting, record-breaking rollercoaster ride involving several massive world tours, numerous awards and many special moments - like playing on stage for Nelson Mandela with the band Queen, dining at Buckingham Palace with the real Queen, becoming a British citizen, performing at the bottom of the North Sea, walking the Great Wall of China and playing at London's vast O2 Arena.

Recorded at Air Studios in London, Katie's fourth album was produced by William Orbit and saw Katie writing on her own and with Guy Chambers, Rick Nowels, Mike Batt, and singer-songwriter and long-time friend Polly Scattergood. The resulting album, entitled ‘The House and released in May 2010, was described as sonically epic, adventurous and dramatic. The Sunday Express declared, “Four albums in, Melua has made her masterpiece” and the Mail on Sunday wrote, “She proves herself to be a songwriter of subtlety and depth”. Q Magazine called ‘The House “A mighty leap forwards” and The Times described it as “Her best yet”.

March 2012 will see the release of Katie's fifth studio album ‘Secret Symphony a collection of songs that showcases her unique, instantly recognizable voice. Katie's own song ‘Forgetting All My Troubles represents who and where she is today.

Presentation "There's no difference between becoming famous and being able to have a hot bubbly bath for the first time?"

I remember I couldn't believe I was actually there, finally! after years of struggle and watching others make it in western films, the glamour, the safety, the complete and utter fun it seemed to portray! You might think I'm describing the moment I realised I'd made it in music, when my first album at the age of 19 went to no 1 on the UK album charts. You'd be right, but this opening paragraph also describes the very first time I had a hot bath filled with bubbles in Belfast at the age of 8 when my family moved over from Georgia (ex Soviet Union). Join me on my TED talk where I'll be introducing you to my thoughts and feeling about being a woman who still thinks that there's no big difference between becoming famous and having the first ever bubbly bath!

More about Katie:

Justyna Mielnikiewicz
Justyna Mielnikiewicz is a self-taught freelance photographer. Originally from Poland, she has been based in Tbilisi, Georgia for the last 10 years. Between 2001-2009 she worked on a documentary project dedicated to the South Caucasus and its conflicts, titled "Shared Sorrows-Divided Lines". Since 2010, she has started to explore a new topic dedicated to women, sexuality and gender issues in the former Soviet space.

In addition to working on her personal projects, Justyna regularly cooperates with The New York Times, Newsweek Poland and Her works have been published in various international publications such as Monocle, Russian Reporter, NG Travel, Le Monde, German yearbook of Reporters without Borders, among others. In 2009, she received Second Prize in the World Press Photo Competition (People in the News) for Coverage of War in South Ossetia. That same year, she was the winner of the Canon Female Photojournalist Prize, awarded annually in the International Photojournalism Festival of Perpignan - Visa pour l"Image.

Presentation, “Frame by Frame- creating my life on my own terms”:

My speech will be about the best idea I had in my life, which was to become a photographer. I will talk about what motivated me to make that choice, what inspires me to keep going and about the mental strength needed to pursue this profession. I will talk about why I never wanted to be a war photographer despite receiving one of the main international prizes for my war photography and will comment on the implications of being a woman in this profession. I want to take the listener on my journey, from a village in Poland to Tbilisi, where I now live. The journey will be illustrated by images along with stories, which mark the steps I took along the road: frame by frame, figuratively speaking.

More about Justyna:

Gavin Slade
Gavin Slade, PhD, researches criminological themes with a particular interest in organized crime, prisons and penal policy, and policing. The focus for his work is the post Soviet space, where he has spent around seven years living and working. His book, Mafia in Transition: Criminal Resilience and Adaptation in Post-Soviet Georgia, will be published by Oxford University Press in 2013.

Gavin Slade holds a PhD from St. Anthony's College and the Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford, UK.

Presentation “Reputation Management: the Decline of the Thieves-in-Law in Georgia”

Organized crime and mafias are often seen as a natural part of the post-Soviet landscape - all pervasive criminal unions corrupting and undermining whole states and sectors of society. Moreover, often the prevalence of organized crime is attributed to cultural and psychological factors of the countries involved. These include the supposed embeddedness of criminal and outlaw mentalities and the fostering of anti-modern values. No characters embodied these notions better in modern Georgia than the thieves-in-law – career criminals who gained extraordinary influence in the 1990s performing mafia-like functions: dispute resolution and extortion. Since 2005, the Georgian government launched an anti-mafia campaign against these criminals. Few reforms have so well encapsulated the Georgian governments desire to retake the monopoly of violence, the basis of any state, in the country. Within a year, thieves-in- law were in prison or had fled abroad. This talk will look at how to explain the lack of resilience of this criminal network to the states attack. Drawing analogies with the business world, it will discuss how mafias around the world dislike conditions of uncertainty, competition in their markets, the fragility of criminal reputation, and the use of mafia self-promotion in advertising their services. This last factor often creates mere smoke and mirrors that can, with the right political will, be blown away.

Stefan Tolz
German filmmaker Stefan Tolz has been on and off to Georgia for more than 20 years. He has filmed news reports, ethnological and political TV documentaries, and two feature-length documentaries for cinema. He is now working on his first fiction film in Tbilisi.

Presentation “Creating an image: Second thoughts about making films in Georgia”

What are the pictures that come to our mind of countries we have never been to? What decides our view on foreign issues and conflicts? And how can you deal with pictures, sound bites and stories when YOU are the one, who tells stories that might build opinions and might make a difference?

More about Stefan:

John Wurdeman
John Wurdeman was born in 1975 into a family of artists in Santa Fe, New Mexico and is himself an artist and painter. He studied painting at the Maryland Institute of Art in 1991 and completed his graduate studies in painting at the Surikov Institute in Moscow in 1998. His works have been exhibited worldwide and form part of multiple museum collections.

John is also an avid ethnographer and has conducted fieldwork in Georgia, collecting Georgian folk music and songs, ceramics, carpets and kilns since 1995. He has given lectures on Georgian ethnography at Princeton, Yale, Cornell, and other prestigious educational institutions.

In 2007, John co-founded Pheasants Tears, a boutique winery focused on traditional Georgian grape varietals and qvevri wine-making methods. Pheasants Tears wines are currently available in 10 countries and have become popular in Georgia as well. He also started a side wine tourism business, sharing his love for Georgian wine, food, and music with others.

Currently John resides in Sighnaghi, Georgia with his wife and two children.

Presentation “Tradition, A Springboard for Creativity or How Ancient Becomes Cutting Edge.”

I will talk about my life's journey seeking out traditional folk music, dance and ways of life. Curiously my experience has been that children of more “closed” cultures have more freedom of expression, and in the “freer” world often creativity is limited. Comparisons will be made in traditional painting, viticulture, polyphonic singing, and religion.

More about John:

Neal Zupancic
Neal Zupancic is a volunteer with Teach and Learn with Georgia, an organization that seeks to improve language education and foster cultural exchange. Since joining the organization in August 2010, Neal has taught English to police officers, Ministry of Education and Science staff members, and public school students of all ages. Neal writes about his experiences in Georgia on his blog, Georgia On My Mind, and is the Managing Editor of the TLG Official Blog

Neal used to be a chef and restaurant manager in his hometown of New York City, but moved on to pursue higher education, earning a BA in Political Science from Hunter College just before coming to Georgia. In his spare time, Neal worked in the theatre industry, hanging lights and writing plays.

Presentation “Language Education and Cultural Change”

Teach and Learn with Georgia is a program whose express purpose is to improve language education and foster cultural exchange. In this presentation I talk about how those two seemingly disparate goals are actually deeply intertwined and perhaps inseparable, and how an implicit understanding of this aids the Georgian government in its goal to develop and Westernize Georgia.

More about Neal: