TEDxPasadenaWomen – Heather Brunold

In Curating by Mark Sylvester

The Hack: People are eager to participate. Just ask.


"I'm good at pulling threads out of people's souls."

Heather Brunold has a great story to tell about how she was drafted to run TEDxPasadenaWomen last year. As a teacher, mom and consummate networker, you'll learn how she's structured the organization to meet the needs of her Community.

Heather is one of those women you meet in the TEDx world that can balance a lot of priorities. I was thrilled to have this conversation with her as I'd done a little mentoring with her last year. She did the event at one of my favorite places, The Huntington Library in Pasadena.

TEDxPasadenaWomen        Images from past events

The Lightning Round

  • Tell us a bit about your background and your TEDx origin story.

    Heather Brunold, M.Ed., Ed.D. is a professional educator and had just finished working on her dissertation when she was invited to work on TEDxPasadenaWomen in 2015. That worked out fine, until this past year, when the organizer dropped out. The team drafted her to head up the 2016 event, and she grew the board from 6 to 26. She's surrounded by incredible talent now and looking to expand the TEDxPasadena footprint over the next couple of years.

  • How many TEDx events have you worked with or produced?

    Two. The first in 2015, and then in 2016. She's ramping up to take on the main event TEDxPasadena this year.

  • What makes your TEDx unique?

    She touts her all-female board of advisors that help produce the event. She loves collaboration and sees the work that she's done to build the board a testament to focusing on people who are aligned and work well together. She appreciates their work ethic and diversity of ideas. The other thing that I've not heard before is the TEDxPasadenaWomen's mantra, "They are a mouthpiece for muted voices." I loved that. What a guiding light that is as they select speakers and ideas.

  • What’s your Superpower?

    Curating. Heather says that this is one of her talents that works perfectly as an Organizer.

  • What was the biggest surprise while working on your event?

    She says she was surprised that she could be successful as a fundraiser. She'd never had to do that in her life before TEDx.

  • Every event has its challenges, what was the biggest dragon you had to overcome?

    Managing fatigue. She didn't know how tired you could get. Remember, she's a mom and runs her own educational consulting business.

  • What’s one piece of advice you have for veteran organizers? For first-timers?

    Be good at listening, follow your intuition. For first-timers - go to a large TED event. She also recommends working on your delegating skills.

  • Looking forward to your next event, what excites you the most?

    Expanding the scholarship program they instituted in 2016. The story is great, listen to the show to get the whole behind the scenes of how it worked.

  • What’s a TEDx event that you’d like to attend?

    TEDxMelbourne, TEDxVail, and TEDxBeaconStreet

  • The show is called Hacking the Red Circle, so what's your best hack?

    People are eager to participate. They want to give, share and finding ways to capitalise on that and expand the TEDx team is where you'll find a lot of giving people. What's interesting is that in asking, you dimish the normal awkwardness when you're meeting new people.

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