Now that Odessa has been selected a TEDx site, it has set its first talk for Feb. 24 featuring Ector County Independent School District Executive Director of Athletics Todd Vesely.

Although many ECISD people were involved in bringing the talks to Odessa, co-organizer Mike Adkins, who also is the district’s public information officer, said the events are not connected to the district. The announcement was made Thursday at the Odessa Chamber of Commerce office.

ECISD Chief Innovation Officer Jason Osborne brought the idea to the Odessa Chamber of Commerce. TED talks are focused on technology, entertainment and design and the slogan is ideas worth spreading.

The Feb. 24 event will run from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin Library Lecture Hall, 4901 E. University Blvd. The theme is “Moonshot Madness.”

Vesley will be one of about eight speakers from all different backgrounds, Osborne said.

“It’s an honor and privilege to be part of it. Odessa is a special place to me. It’s an opportunity to spread great ideas, to bring recognition to our community — kind of show some of the great things that are here in our community,” Vesley said.

Vesley declined to say what he would talk about. He said he was nervous because it’s “such a great thing” and a huge opportunity.

Osborne said other presenters will include Sewell Family of Companies President Collin Sewell, Odessa College President Gregory Williams and businesswoman Sondra Eoff. He added that there will be some speakers who don’t live here, but have had an impact on the community such as entrepreneur and Wisconsin football star Nick Savage and oil executive Steven Wyatt.

The idea was something that came up through Leadership Odessa, a program the Odessa Chamber of Commerce puts on.

“A lot of the local leaders come together and see how we can make an impact on the community. The TED format is a great way to do that,” Osborne said. “You get amazing speakers with really, really good ideas to share. … Oil is a huge industry here, but we also have a lot of amazing things that we can contribute at a global scale, so we want to push those ideas out.”

Chamber Director of Operations Lynn Van Amburgh said everyone thought the TEDx talks were a great idea and a way to put Odessa on the map.

“… We have so many colorful characters here. We have great stories and I think the world will see that we’re so diverse. We’re not just oil and gas. We’re everything. We’re arts, we’re culture, we’re medical, we’re education, so we’re very excited to help promote this and help Jason and his whole group,” Van Amburgh said.

Madison Tate, chamber marketing and communications specialist, said there will be a series of TEDx talks and sponsorships are being sought.

Osborne, who has presented TED talks himself, said the TEDx talks should be available on YouTube about a week after they take place.

As for the name, TEdx Optimist Park, Osborne said TED has a requirement for TEDx venues to name it after something local that people locally know. It could be a famous intersection in town, or it could be named after a park, which it was in this case.

“Since we’re all optimists, the ones that are speaking, Optimist Park was a really natural fit to select,” Osborne said.

If You Go
  • What: TEDx talk.
  • When: 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Feb. 24.
  • Where: Library Lecture Hall at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, 4901 E. University Blvd.
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