TEDxFurmanU 2021: The Way Forward 

Tiffany O’Donnell

An accidental CEO. That’s how 25-year TV news veteran Tiffany O’Donnell describes her professional journey. Tiffany is an Emmy-award winning journalist who now leads one of the country’s premier leadership development organizations, Women Lead Change. Known for her accessible style and ability to connect, Tiffany is a dynamic speaker and thought leader who has dedicated her “2nd career” to helping others reach the unreachable.

Vulnerable, authentic and brutally honest, Tiffany shares her journey from “No…to Yes.” It’s a journey that reveals how her pursuit of perfection nearly kept her from living a life she thought unreachable. She uncovers data that shows she’s not alone and that many women, in particular, share one common barrier. In her talk, she highlights the barriers and tips and tricks to blow past them. 

Daniel Reece

Reece is a lecturer in the International Business and Global Economics department at DIS Copenhagen, with a focus on Social Entrepreneurship, Transformative Business Strategy, Sustainable Finance, and  Financial Ethics. He has nineteen years managing cross border investment structures, and cross border legal & tax advice, based primarily in Scandinavia and Europe in sectors such as real estate, tech, and leisure.Along with being a professor, Reece is a fanatical about music, nature lover, craft beer enthusiast, and amateur yogi. His talk will focus on Social Entrepreneurship, specifically in Denmark, and why it is important for the business world of the future.

Dr. Margaret Oakes

Professor Margaret Oakes has been at Furman since 1996, teaching Early Modern literature and Humanities courses. Her specialty is 16th and 17th century British literature. Dr. Oakes currently has a book under contract with McFarland Publishing on gender representation in contemporary Shakespearean performance, and an article with the journal Clue on Sara Paretsky’s detective fiction novel Hardball. She has also published on George Herbert, Francis Bacon, Dorothy Sayers, and J.K. Rowling. She is the faculty advisor for Sigma Tau Delta, the English honorary society, and has coached for the Mock Trial program. Dr. Oakes has been the recipient of many awards and honors: Furman Meritorious Advising Award (2002), Faculty Member of the Year, Association of Furman Students (2006), Sigma Tau Delta International Outstanding Advisor (2006), and the Princeton Review “300 best professors in the United States” (2012), and the Jerry G. Gaff Award for Faculty Excellence in General and Liberal Education presented by the Association of General and Liberal Studies (2015). She holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University, a J.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, an M.A. from Northwestern University, and a B.A. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Her talk will focus on questions of gendering in Shakespeare. 

Elise Dudley

Elise Dudley is a Senior Sustainability Major from Charlotte, NC with a focus on food justice issues. During her time at Furman, she has worked, lived, and volunteered on numerous farms, devoted time to projects addressing poverty and food insecurity, and completed coursework in Denmark on sustainable food production and consumption. Elise currently is a fellow for the Rachel Carson Council and is completing her undergraduate thesis and research on leveraging backyard gardening as a path towards more resilient foodscapes. Curiosity and critical reflection drive her interests; post-grad she aspires to be involved with work that preserves our collective future and builds a more circular, equitable, and regenerative food system. Her talk will focus on home gardening and a vision for the future of local food production.

Sinclair Gibson

Sinclair Gibson is a senior Health Sciences major at Furman. For two years, she interned at Emory hospital in Atlanta for two years where she worked with pediatric Lupus patients, studying their quality of life post their lupus diagnosis and the impact of race on the time it takes patients to be correctly diagnosed and treated. She is currently the 2020-2021 Evaluation Intern at Prisma Health in the Medical Legal Partnership division which works to connect families with affordable legal resources to help solve the health harming needs. On campus she works at a peer mentor for the Pathways program, offering a peer perspective on the college experience to first year students. 

She will discuss how chronic disease and illness is disproportionately impacting minorities in the United States, and what can be done to improve the health outcomes of those impacted.


Olivia McGuirt

Olivia McGuirt is a senior Elementary Education major from Greenville, SC. She has always wanted to be a teacher and was that kid who asked for school/teaching supplies for Christmas. Throughout her time at Furman, she has found a new appreciation for children’s mathematics. She used to HATE math, but her view was changed when she took math methods here with Dr. Casey Hawthrone. Her education cohort and she were immersed in different types of teaching that helped them deepen our understanding. Since taking this class, she has had the privilege of participating in research with Dr. Hawthrone and 3 other peers, studying how students think. In addition, she participated in an independent study where she practiced some of these new methods in 1st and 4th grade at a local elementary school. When not working on schoolwork, she loves watching movies, documentaries and drinking coffee. Her favorite activity is taking a good nap, never underestimate the power of a good nap. She is excited to be a part of this program and share her thinking with you all. 

Her talk is about her journey from student to educator regarding mathematics. Math was never her thing, but through some new strategies and practices she found a way to not only love math, but to help her students love it too!

Introducing our theme: 

James White 

Reverend James White was born in Northern Ireland, and is old enough to remember living through a World War in which Belfast, his native city was blitzed during World War 2. 

He was raised in the poverty that ensued…it inspired him to leave his homeland on an odyssey that still continues. In 1958, he came to the United States to pursue degrees in history, philosophy, and theology at Dickinson College and Drew University.  He was the Senior Pastor of United Methodist Churches in  Bridgewater and Morristown NJ. After the fall of the Soviet Union, he was appointed Secretary for Europe of the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church, based in New York until retirement in 1998.  He has traveled extensively in Europe and South Africa as part of his work in conflicted regions in support of reconciliation and racial justice. Now, he spends a lot of time walking on beaches and trails of Monterey Bay, CA patiently trying to get close to Snowy Egrets, and being quiet in their presence!