The Force of Words

TEDxPaceAcademy Fall 2021

We greet a stranger. We send an email to a colleague. We text a message to a friend. We post on social media for all to see. We perform these daily routines without a second thought. We rarely acknowledge the power of a single word, a single gesture that shows someone that you still care.

The Lineup

Click on each speaker's headshot to watch their talk

Micah Lapidus and Melvin Kindall Myles

As the Director of Jewish and Hebrew Studies at The Davis Academy, Rabbi Micah is committed to helping The Davis Academy continue to envision creative, lively, and joy-filled ways of integrating Judaism into the lives of Davis students and their families. Ordained from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Rabbi Micah holds a Bachelor's degree from Stanford University and a Doctorate in Education from Northeastern University where his research focused on early adolescent spiritual development. In addition to serving as the school rabbi, he has served on the board of trustees of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and PARDES: Day schools of Reform Judaism. He is also a songwriter and composer with four published albums of original Jewish music.

Visit his website: 

Melvin Kindall Myles is a Mississippi native, born and raised in the Delta area of Clarksdale, Mississippi; known as the birthplace of the blues. He is a soulful Christian and jazz vocalist based in Atlanta where he regularly serves in the Worship and Arts Ministry of the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Visit his website:

View their performance "When Silence is Untenable: A Musical Collaboration Across Faiths."

Ryan Varma '22

Ryan Varma joined Pace in tenth grade. He moved from Singapore, but before that lived in Malaysia, Indonesia, Egypt, and Turkey. At Pace, Ryan is a dedicated member of the Model UN program, serving as an executive board member. He is also one of the four ICGL scholars this year. He is further involved with the ultimate frisbee club, the Disney Club, and plays tennis. He hopes to eventually study business and film in college. Ryan would like to thank Mr.Kaufman, Emma Beth, Marit, for all their help. He would also like to dedicate his TEDx talk to all his friends and family for the impact that they have had on his life.

View his talk "Chasing a Yellow Dress: How a Girl I Never Met Taught Me Empathy."

Joanne Beauvoir Brown

Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer, Pace

Joanne Beauvoir Brown is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where she earned a degree in psychology. She went on to study law at the University of North Carolina School of Law at Chapel Hill and became a member of the State Bar of Georgia. Joanne practiced law in the metro Atlanta area as a civil trial lawyer for 15 years. She joined the Pace family as a parent when her sons, Tiger '13 and Jean-Luc '16 enrolled as students. Joanne currently serves as Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer, faculty advisor for ninth-grade transitions and teaches African American Saga in the Upper School. Joanne enjoys leading ICGL study tours and has traveled with students to Madagascar, Ireland, Ghana and Botswana. A member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., she also serves on the board of directors for several nonprofits.

View her talk "What's in a Name?"

Danny Wuerffel

Executive Director, Desire Street Ministries

At the University of Florida, Danny led the Gators to four SEC Championships and the National Championship. He set 17 NCAA and UF records, led the nation in touchdown passes, earned the SEC Player of the Year title and culminated his career with the coveted Heisman Trophy in 1996. Upon graduation, Danny was honored with the Campbell Award, presented to the nation's top scholar-athlete. Danny went on to play for the New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, and Washington Redskins, before retiring in 2004. Danny is the namesake of the Wuerffel Trophy, the premier college football award for community service. In 2013, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

After retiring from the NFL, Danny became Executive Director of Desire Street Ministries, which helps underÔÇÉresourced areas across the Southeast by partnering with leaders to create thriving and sustainable neighborhoods. Danny continues to serve as Executive Director of Desire Street Ministries, speaks at leadership and sales conferences and enjoys coaching his children in their various activities.

Visit his website: and Desire Street Ministries' website at

View his talk "Words from Inside."

Kate Romero '23

Kate Romero started Pace in sixth grade. She plays varsity and club soccer here, which plays an important role in her life. She leads the Hispanic and LatinX Alliance Group and contributes to the Pace Academy Board of Diversity where she helps Pace faculty and leaders as a whole better understand and adapt to students of color and their needs. Kate is an Orkin Scholar, which is awarded annually to students who exhibit outstanding scholarship, exemplary citizenship and leadership potential. She is also an arts laureate, recognized for her painting, ceramics, and talents in the fine arts. She loves mathematics in school and hopes to pursue a career in it, though she also has learned to appreciate English and literature as a personal and extra favorite.

View her talk "Art for Art's Sake: How a Little Notebook Emboldened my Self-Expression."

Allie Campbell '22 and Emma Killian '22

Allie Campbell arrived at Pace in ninth grade. Allie is president of the Student Advisory Board, Student Council Secretary, a Peer Leader, a member of the Community Engagement Board, ICGL Art and Urban Life Fellows Group, and the Make a Wish leadership Board. She enjoys English and Psychology and hopes to major in Communications or Business. Outside of school, she works as a hostess at Tupelo Honey Cafe. Allie would like to thank Mr. Kaufman, Emma Beth, and Marit for all their help during this process. Allie is honored to speak at this year's TEDxPaceAcademy event!

Emma Killian started attending Pace in the ninth grade and participated in volleyball and cheerleading. At Pace, Emma participated in the ICGL Global Health Fellowship and is currently a student ambassador. A violin player, outside of school Emma teaches violin and plays in the Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra. She hopes to study psychology, business, and linguistics in college.

View their talk "Have You Heard? Shattering the Silence of Stigmas."

Armando Vizcaino-Santiago

Third Grade Teacher, Pace

Born in the Dominican Republic, Armando Vizcaino-Santiago grew up in the Bronx. He earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Fordham University and a master's in education from the University of Notre Dame. Prior to coming to Pace Academy in 2019, Armando taught third grade at St. James the Apostle Catholic School in San Antonio, Texas. During a summer spent as a missionary in his native Dominican Republic, Armando learned that 'despite differences, human beings from different walks of life can come together for a greater goal. His interests include street photography, urban architecture and drinking coffee while reading. Additionally, he loves watching sports with his family. "I believe that each child has an innate desire to learn," Armando says. "As a teacher, my job is to help them realize that desire in a classroom where they feel safe to be themselves and fearless of making mistakes."

View his talk "Siempre pa' Lante, Nunca pa' Tras: The Intersection of Literacy and Social-Emotional Development."

Kristi Odom '98

Professional Photographer, Nikon

Kristi Odom is an internationally acclaimed photographer, a Nikon Ambassador, an associate fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers, and a motivational speaker. A photographer and filmmaker, her work focuses on connecting people emotionally to animals and celebrating those who have a connection to the natural world. After graduating from Pace, she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from University of New South Wales.

Kristi's accolades include over 60 international photography awards including two Nature's Best Photography awards, which exhibited her images at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Her work has appeared either online and/or in print for the following clients: National Geographic, Nikon, Forbes, Rolling Stone, Microsoft and Outside Magazine.

Visit her website:

View her talk "A Realization of Correlations: Using Mathematics to Connect with Photography."

Pranavh Pradeep '22

Pranavh Pradeep started attending Pace in the second grade. At Pace, he is involved in ICGL (Isdell Center for Global Leadership), Pace Academy Board of Diversity, and the Student Ambassador program. Pranavh also co-leads the Asian Student Alliance, which he co founded. Outside of Pace, he plays cricket at a semi-professional level. He has received the Orkin Scholar Award, the Dartmouth Book Award, as well as being inducted into the National Honors Society and Cum Laude. Pranavh hopes to study business and economics in college. He would like to thank his parents, his late grandfather, Mr. Kaufman, and all of his teachers and friends that have helped him become the person he is today. Pranavh's favorite quote from a movie is John Dillinger's quote in Public Enemies: "That's 'cause they're all about where people come from. The only thing that's important is where someone's going."

View his talk "Lost in Translation: The Poetry of Names."