Talent & Experts

People evolve and it's important to not stop evolving just because you've reached 'adulthood.'

~J. K. Simmons

newbo evolve features an outstanding lineup of celebrity talent and experts in their fields to lead the festival’s cornerstone programming. 

Maroon 5 - Headlining on Saturday, August 4

Maroon 5, born and bred in Los Angeles, with their catchy hook, soaring vocals, and signature sound, have solidified their position as one of pop music’s most enduring artists. The band captured their first of three Grammy Awards as “Best New Artist” of 2005 and have gone on to sell more than 17 million albums worldwide. Their releases have also gone gold and platinum in over 35 countries.

Maroon 5 won over fans and critics alike with the hybrid rock/R&B sound and hit singles “Misery” and the anthemic “Moves Like Jagger,” “Maps,” “Animals,” “Sugar,” and more recently “Don’t Wanna Know.”

Learn more about Maroon 5 here.

Kelly Clarkson - Headlining on Friday, August 3

Grammy Award-winner Kelly Clarkson recently released her eagerly anticipated eighth studio album Meaning of Life which features the Grammy nominated single “Love So Soft.”

The Texas-born, Nashville-based singer-songwriter first came to fame in 2002 as the winner of American Idol’s inaugural season, and has grown to be one the most popular artists of this or any other era, with over 100 No. 1 Billboard singles and total worldwide sales of more than 25 million albums and 36 million singles like “Thankful,” “Breakaway,” “My December,” “All I Ever Wanted,” and “Stronger.”

Learn more about Kelly Clarkson here.

The Wallflowers opening for Kelly Clarkson on Friday, August 3


Grammy award-winning The Wallflowers, best known for their hit single “One Headlight” will take the stage Friday night before headliner Kelly Clarkson. As part of the mid-'90s revival of roots-rock, The Wallflowers held a special connection to one of the original inspirations: vocalist/songwriter/guitarist Jakob Dylan. The band’s 1996 record, Bringing Down the Horse, was a big seller throughout 1997, thanks to "6th Avenue Heartache," "One Headlight," and "The Difference," the third single pulled from the record. Early in 1998, "One Headlight" won Grammys for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal.

Robert DeLong opening for Maroon 5 on Saturday, August 4


Robert DeLong returns with new single "Favorite Color is Blue" ft. K.Flay out now via Glassnote Records. The song is the first taste of music for fans with more music to follow later this year.  Co-written with and featuring two-time Grammy(r) nominee K.Flay and produced by Robert, the first single "Favorite Color Is Blue" marches forward on a stomping beat, glitch-y bass, resounding handclaps, and a rich harmony. Most recently, his 2015 sophomore album, In The Cards, yielded a string of fan favorite singles such as "Don't Wait Up" and the smash "Long Way Down"-which peaked at #3 on the Alternative Chart, clocked over 30 million Spotify streams in addition to 3 million YouTube/VEVO views and counting. The record garnered acclaim from Billboard, Baeble Music, iHeart.com, and more.   

Marc Scibilia opening for Maroon 5 on Saturday, August 4


Born and raised in Buffalo, New York, a city of perseverance and resilience, it’s no surprise Marc Scibilia fiercely carves out his own path in the music world. Encouraged by his musical family, Scibilia discovered his passion for songwriting at an early age. “I was convinced by the time I was 10 years old that I wanted to make music for the rest of my life” he recalls. One month after graduating high school, against well-intentioned advice, he left home, landed in East Nashville and hasn’t looked back.

After tens of millions of streams on Spotify, national headlining tours, opening spots with Zac Brown Band, James Bay and Gavin DeGraw to name a few, collaborations with international powerhouse DJ and producer Robin Schulz, appearances on the Today Show, MTV EMAs, and songs in national ads and Super Bowl commercials, 2018 finds Marc Scibilia re-exploring his Buffalo roots. Wearing his heart on his sleeve, he's writing a new soundtrack for the Northeast: unapologetically raw and with nothing to prove, think Springsteen singing over Coldplay’s Rush of Blood to the Head.

RADDA RADDA opening for Kelly Clarkson on Friday, August 3

RADDA RADDA is a Rock/Pop/Americana band from Minneapolis, MN, USA. Many years of nonstop writing, touring and musical experimentation with scores of previous, separate projects ultimately brought Mo, Allen, Matt and Grant together in the spring of 2017. RADDA RADDA deliberately kept a low profile in its early days, working rigorously writing, recording, and refining their sonic efforts into an Americana confessional of sorts. Their music spans a bridge between heartbreak and “hell-why-not,” built from howls at the moon, heartfelt lyrics and walls of dirty telecaster twang, all the while maintaining an unmistakable pop sensibility that succeeds in fighting shy of the predictable. Their debut album "life again" is now available!

Local Lineup featuring The Pork Tornadoes - Sunday, August 5

Headlined by The Pork Tornandoes (today’s hits), the lineup currently includes Soul Sherpa (original funk/soul), Adam Keith (country), Four Day Creep (classic rock), Kevin “B.F.” Burt (blues) and Slap N Tickle (80s/hair metal). JUST ADDED: Young The Lion (covers) and Alicia Monee (R&B/Soul).

Adam Berinsky (PHD, MIT Professor)

Adam J. Berinsky is the Mitsui Professor of Political Science at MIT. Berinsky received his PhD. from the University of Michigan. He is a specialist in the fields of political behavior and public opinion with over 20 years of experience in survey design and analysis.  He is the author of In Time of War: Understanding American Public Opinion from World War II to Iraq (University of Chicago Press, 2009) and Silent Voices: Public Opinion and Political Participation in America (Princeton University Press, 2004) and has published articles in many academic journals. He has won several scholarly awards, is the recipient of multiple grants from the National Science Foundation, was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and has been a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow. He is also the founding director of the MIT Political Experiments Research Lab.

Clint Harp (TV Personality, Carpenter) 

Clint Harp can be found regularly on HGTV’s hit show "Fixer Upper" as the dumpster diving, reclaimed wood loving carpenter. Now, together with his wife Kelly and their 3 kids, the Harps spend each day pursuing their dream and blazing the new trail of owning their own company. Harp Design Co. provides quality furniture and home goods to customers all across the U.S. and abroad. 

Up next, Clint will star on the DIY Network series "Wood Work." Along with his wife, Kelly, and the team at Harp Design Co., Clint uses reclaimed lumber to build new furniture out of old wood for clients. Crazy requests with tight deadlines are the norm, but Clint and his team are ready to tackle any “Wood Work” challenge.

Learn more about Clint and Harp Design Co. here.

Candice Huffine (Model, Entreprenuer) 

Body diversity advocate and celebrated plus-size model, Candice Huffine has walked the runway for the likes of Christian Siriano, Prabal Gurung, and Sophie Theallet, and worked with world-renowned photographers like Steven Meisel and Mert & Marcus.
She began her career at the age of 15 after receiving her big break courtesy of a V MAGAZINE “Curves Ahead” editorial feature, followed by the groundbreaking June 2011 cover of VOGUE Italia photographed by Steven Meisel. She’s gone on to be featured in several notable publications including CR FASHION BOOK, VOGUE, W, I-D and GLAMOUR, to name a few. In 2015, Huffine became the first plus-size woman to be featured in the Pirelli Calendar and she most recently appeared on the May 2017 cover of ELLE Magazine.
Huffine gained international attention starring in Lane Bryant’s “I’m No Angel” and “Plus is Equal” campaigns, and will also front the plus-size retail-giant's 2017 lingerie campaign. She joined with Elena Miro on her first capsule collection, #LOVEDBYCANDICE, and recently collaborated on a capsule collection with Toronto-based lingerie brand FORTNIGHT. In October 2017, she launched her own athletic apparel line, DAY/WON.
Off-duty, Huffine is involved with Team For Kids, the New York Roadrunners Charity, and has been very public about her journey getting started with running. In April 2017, she completed the Boston Marathon and her new passion led her to develop Project Start, a social media campaign she began with Women’s Running Magazine that turned into a movement to encourage and motivate women to begin or restart their journey with running. Huffine currently resides in Brooklyn with her husband Matt and dog Jerry Brows.

Alexis Ohanian (Internet Entreprenuer and Investor) 

Alexis was born in Brooklyn, NY but grew up in the suburbs of Baltimore, MD where he slowly realized his desire to play professional football would potentially not pan out. After graduating from UVA, he turned his efforts towards making the world suck less. He cofounded Reddit and Initialized Capital, a seed stage venture fund with over $230M under management; he's the bestselling author of "Without Their Permission;" and an activist for the open internet.

Learn more about Alexis here.

Carson Kressley (TV Personality, Style Expert, Fashion Designer) 

Emmy Award-winning TV personality, style expert, fashion designer and New York Times best-selling author are some of the credits of the multi-talented and unforgettable Carson Kressley. Kressley started his career as an independent stylist and became invaluable to major designers such as Ralph Lauren. A few years later, he took a leap into television and, in 2003, became a breakout star as the fashion savant on Bravo’s "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy."  The show won a primetime Emmy and gained a worldwide following for Carson. 

Aside from his own television shows, Carson has frequently appeared on talk shows as a fashion critic/commentator including "Live with Kelly and Ryan" and "Good Morning America." He is an ongoing judge in the multi-award winning, groundbreaking show "RuPaul’s Drag Race."  Carson also participates in shows like "Celebrity Apprentice" and Jane Lynch’s "Hollywood Game Night" to raise money for his various charities including Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Fund, on which Carson is a board member, and Project Angel Food to name a few. Carson is a New York Times best-selling author with three books to his credit.

Learn more about Carson here.

Adam Rippon (Figure Skater)

Artist. Athlete. Activist. Adam Rippon is a combination of all three. One of the most dramatic figure skaters on the planet, Adam won the hearts of America and the world at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Known for his refreshing candor and wit, his rise to fame on the global stage has provided him with a platform to speak out in support of LGBTQ rights and the freedom to be oneself. His passion and charm have made him an inspiration to young and old alike and he has quickly become a role model and icon to millions.

Recently named to the TIME 100 List of Most Influential People with an introduction written by Cher, Adam was one of just five honorees invited to toast at the star-studded gala. He has been honored by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) with their Visibility Award, has supported the GLAAD Ambassadors Program through an online fundraising campaign, hosted the Trevor Project’s 20th anniversary gala, TrevorLIVE and received the Best of the Best Champion Award from the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC).

In addition to his recent team bronze medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, Adam has garnered nine medals on the international circuit over the last four years, including the 2016 U.S. men’s championship title.

The oldest of six children from Scranton, Pennsylvania, Adam rose through the skating ranks, claiming the world junior title twice before winning the U.S. men’s title in 2016. He was named to his first Olympic team in 2018 at the age of 28. Adam also made the bold decision to come out publicly in October 2015 in an interview with Skating magazine which led him to become the first openly gay athlete to represent the United States in Olympic competition. Following the 2018 Winter Olympics, Adam continued to shine as America’s sweetheart on Dancing With The Stars: Athletes, taking home the coveted Mirrorball Trophy alongside dance partner, Jenna Johnson.

Follow Adam on social media: Twitter: @adaripp and Instagram: adaripp

Christian Siriano (Fashion Designer)

Following his studies in London under Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen, Christian Siriano launched his eponymous collection in 2008. The Christian Siriano collection is shown each season at New York Fashion Week, and presented in New York and Paris to retailers. Known for whimsical and show-stopping design – from fantasy evening gowns and cocktail dresses to tailored sportswear, intricately detailed shoes and accessories – the collection can be found at department stores and specialty boutiques around the globe. In 2012, the first flagship Christian Siriano store opened in New York City, and in 2013 he was inducted as a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA).

Dubbed "the new king of old-school glamour" by Elle and "the next billion-dollar designer" by Yahoo! Style, his designs have appeared on the world's biggest stars and most prestigious red carpets. He counts entertainment's leading ladies as clients.

Learn more about Christian here.

John Waters (Writer, Director)

John Waters was drawn to movies at an early age, particularly exploitation movies with lurid ad campaigns. He began making his own underground films as a teenager. Waters used his native Baltimore as the setting for all his films and his first, an 8-mm short, was "Hag in a Black Leather Jacket" in 1964, starring Mary Vivian Pearce. Waters followed with "Roman Candles," "Pink Flamingos" and more before releasing his biggest hit, "Hairspray" in 1988, starring Ricki Lake. His next feature was "Cry Baby" featuring Johnny Depp followed by more wickedly funny and captivating films. Along with writing and directing, Waters is the author of seven books, a photographer and an actor. 

John Waters’ one man spoken-word lecture entitled “This Filthy World” will be performed at newbo evolve. This “vaudeville” act celebrates the film career and obsessive tastes of the man William Burroughs once called “The Pope of Trash.”  

View the ultimate guide to John Waters here.

Misty Harris (Etiquette Expert)

Misty Harris is not your typical etiquette snob. In fact, she’s not really a snob at all!  Misty, a candidate for Master ICTC (International Civility Trainers’ Consortium) Certification, is the director of Texas Etiquette and In Good Company Etiquette, Texas. After training in England, Canada, and the United States; Misty became a fierce etiquette coach and has been instructing and mentoring pupils worldwide for nearly a decade. Misty has also worked extensively with military families and authored numerous articles regarding etiquette, parenting, and life skills.

Some know her as an accomplished world traveller and educator, while others know her as “Your Mom on Call.” Misty is the one to call whether you need a pinch of sage or an ample amount of sound advice. Regardless of what hat she is wearing, there’s no question that Misty is the one to call when you need an etiquette or life skills expert.

Misty works hard to practice what she preaches. As a mother of five, she has earned her credentials. She attributes her volunteerism and support of community service to her Montessori educational background, women’s health training as a midwife, and her extensive work as an advocate for children with arthritis.

You can find out more about Misty’s etiquette classes here and her private mentoring here.  Make plans to attend Misty's session, Charm School, on Saturday!

Amy Newmark (Author/Editor)

Amy Newmark is the bestselling author, editor-in-chief, and publisher of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series. Since 2008, she has published more than 150 new books, most of them national bestsellers in the U.S. and Canada, more than doubling the number of Chicken Soup for the Soul titles in print today. She is also the author of Simply Happy, a crash course in Chicken Soup for the Soul advice and wis dom that is filled with easy-to-implement, practical tips for enjoying a better life.

Amy is credited with revitalizing the Chicken Soup for the Soul brand, which has been a publishing industry phenomenon since the first book came out in 1993. By compiling inspirational and aspirational true stories curated from ordinary people who have had extraordinary experiences, Amy has kept the twenty-five-year-old Chicken Soup for the Soul brand fresh and relevant.

The Kinsey Sicks (Late Night)

For nearly a quarter-century The Kinsey Sicks have been serving up their "gut-busting parodies and raucous, high-camp shtick” to adventurous audiences around the world. Formed in San Francisco during the dark days of the early AIDS crisis – following, naturally, a Bette Midler concert – the quartet discovered that outrageous drag and glorious, four-part harmony were surprisingly effective antidotes to despair. Now that the era of Trumpism is upon us, they continue to share their hilarious, inspiring, sometimes heartbreaking take on politics, personal secrets, and plain old raunch. Through exciting original songs and truly evil parodies, the Kinseys can be counted on to leave no sacred cow unturned. So come join Rachel, Winnie, Trixie and Trampolina as they lead us in resisting these new dark times with laughter, integrity, and heroically high hair. See them late night at newbo evolve with their latest romp, Things You Shouldn’t Say.

Regina Escalante Bush (Chef, Restauranteur)

Chef Regina joins the newbo evolve lineup direct from Mérida, Yucatán, México! Join her for a soul food session where she'll share stories of her homeland and delight you with a traditional Mexican dish from the Yucatán Peninsula. Regina perfected her culinary skills in the United State and France. The love for her country and especially for her hometown, prompted Regina to return to Mérida in 2013, where she was invited to work with chef Roberto Solís at the renowned restaurant Néctar. In 2014, she opened Merci, of which she is the current head chef. 

Samuel Charles and Phoebe Adolphson (Restauranteurs)

Samuel and Phoebe will be preparing a traditional Czech dish at newbo evolve.  The two began Kitchen Counter LLC in the fall of 2017 as a result of their mutual dream to open a restaurant group in the great state of Iowa. The name was inspired by their time spent growing up in the kitchen and around the dinner table. The Kitchen Counter will serve the best local, sustainable, and humanely raised product they can while providing a thoughtful and comfortable style of hospitality. 

Rodina is the Kitchen Counter’s first endeavor, slated to open in the Czech Village in winter 2018. With combined experience of over 25 years, this restaurant will be a representation of the excellence they can and will provide to the community. Rodina aims to support the small local food system, and everyone who is working towards a better future food landscape. Their food is technique-driven and focuses on local, sustainable, and humane products. In addition to product availability, inspiration is collected from what made Iowa what it is. They pull from Czech and German traditions as well as look toward the existing food community to help define what they believe Iowa cooking really is.

Anthony Green (Chef, Instructor)  

Originally from Kingston, Jamaica, Chef Green started his culinary career in his mother’s kitchen after being told that “if you’re going to eat the way you do, you will learn to cook”. So began a multi-nation hospitality journey that allows Chef Green to bring considerable experience to his culinary endeavors.

Along with an ever-growing passion for food and quality service that developed in line with his professional career, Chef Green also developed an equal passion for teaching and instruction that led him toward starting a Culinary Academy at the Marathon High School, Marathon Cay, FL. It was in this position that Chef earned his first formal instructional recognition as First Year Teacher of the Year.

Relocating to Iowa in 2011, Chef Green joined The Hotel at Kirkwood as their Banquet Chef/Adjunct Instructor where he further refined the quality of volume food service within the AAA Four Diamond-rated full service hotel property that provides valuable practical training experience for hospitality students. After several years in that position Chef Green made the transition to full-time instructor where he continues to instruct a variety of both classroom and kitchen courses. 

Chef Anthony Green aka Tony has developed the belief that the kitchen is the center of community and wants to help people connect further with their food through experiences that they will love! Learn more.

Gretchen J. Berg (Writer/Producer)

Prior to serving as a co-showrunner on Star Trek: Discovery, Gretchen J. Berg served as an executive producer on the CW’s Reign, ABC’s Revenge and Off the Map, as an executive producer and showrunner of ABC’s G.C.B., and as an executive producer and co-showrunner of NBC’s nursing drama Mercy. Berg is a graduate of Northwestern University where she met future collaborator Aaron Harberts. The duo started their television career on the original Beverly Hills, 90210.

Writing and producing stints on Roswell, John Doe, Wonderfalls, and North Shore preceded her and Harbert’s creation of Pepper Dennis, which starred Rebecca Romijn and Josh Hopkins.  Additional credits include Women’s Murder Club, Pushing Daisies, the feature film Valentine and a variety of drama pilots for 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros. Television and ABC Studios.

Berg was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Gretchen will be part of the Writers @ evolve session on Saturday with Kath Lindenfelter and Aaron Harberts.

Kath Lingenfelter (Writer/Producer)

Kath Lingenfelter is a writer/producer based in Los Angeles.  She is currently in development as part of a multiyear overall deal with Sony Pictures Television. Her past credits include HBO’s Westworld, The Leftovers, House, M.D., Caprica, Pushing Daisies, and Sleeper Cell.  She comes from hearty Midwestern stock. Kath will be part of the Writers @ evolve session on Saturday with Aaron Harberts and Gretchen J. Berg.

Aaron Harberts (Writer/Producer)

Prior to serving as a co-showrunner on Star Trek: Discovery, Aaron Harberts served as an executive producer on the CW’s Reign, ABC’s Revenge and Off the Map, as an executive producer and showrunner of ABC’s G.C.B., and as an executive producer and co-showrunner of NBC’s nursing drama Mercy. Harberts is a graduate of Northwestern University where he met future collaborator Gretchen J. Berg. The duo started their television career on the original Beverly Hills, 90210.

Writing and producing stints on Roswell, John Doe, Wonderfalls, and North Shore preceded his and Berg’s creation of Pepper Dennis, which starred Rebecca Romijn and Josh Hopkins.  Additional credits include Women’s Murder Club, Pushing Daisies, the feature film Valentine and a variety of drama pilots for 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros. Television and ABC Studios.

Harberts was born in Waterloo, Iowa and raised in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. His parents, Steven and Denise Harberts, now make Jefferson, Iowa their home. Aaron will be part of the Writers @ evolve session on Saturday with Kath Lindenfelter and Gretchen J. Berg.

Heather Gudenkauf (Author)

Heather Gudenkauf is the Edgar Award nominated, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Weight of Silence, These Things Hidden and Not A Sound

Heather lives in Dubuque, Iowa with her family and a very spoiled German Shorthaired Pointer named Lolo. In her free time Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading and hiking. She is currently working on her next novel.

David Taylor II (Author)

David Taylor II is an author, songwriter, producer, educator, playwright, and poet. He writes sci fi, fantasy, children’s literature, and comic books. He is the author of the new children’s favorite, Diary of a Smart Black Kid and is also adding to his Dear God children’s series. His latest novel, Lucifer: Soldiers, Serpents and Sin is an internationally bestselling book. He has created an entire story world called The Realm from that first book and continues to expand it with coloring books, comic books, and audio books. He is a co-composer for the smash hit theater production, Eye of the Storm: The Bayard Rustin Musical, nominated for 3 Black Theater Alliance awards. In 2015 his book Wayward Pines: Survival, from the hit Fox TV show of the same name, broke top 10 in the Amazon best seller list and is currently still in the Top 100 of Kindle Worlds sci fi. He is the writer of the independent comics The Nephilim Wars, The Order of Orali, and the Kryo-Karuto. He is also the founder of Authors At Last™, an online site for Masterclass training for authors.

Robin Grunder (Author)

Robin Grunder is journalist, ghostwriter and personal historian. She is a popular writers' conference speaker and leads life-story writing workshops around the country. Whether you are writing your story for the world, or writing about your world for your family, Robin is passionate about helping people document their stories of faith and family history for the purpose of leaving a written legacy for future generations. Wanna connect? Visit online at www.robingrunder.org; Facebook: @RobinHakansonGrunder; Instagram: @robingrunder; Twitter: @robin_grunder. Chicken Soup for the Soul book her story appeared in: Volunteering & Giving Back. She will be part of the Chicken Soup for the Soul contributors panel on Saturday.

Mary Potter Kenyon (Author)

Mary Potter Kenyon, program coordinator at the Shalom Spirituality Center in Dubuque, is a  graduate of UNI and a certified grief counselor. She is widely published in newspapers, magazines, and anthologies, including six Chicken Soup for the Soul titles. A literary agent at a 2012 writer's conference advised her to write her memoir books like a "long Chicken Soup for the Soul story." Since then, she has signed six book contracts. She is the author of seven books, including the award-winning Refined By Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace and a book on creativity that will be released by Familius in 2019. Mary is a popular speaker and workshop presenter on the topics of writing, creativity, and grief. She lives in Dubuque, IA with the youngest of her eight children. Chicken Soup for the Soul books her stories have appeared in: Angels Among Us, Food and Love, Messages from Heaven, Answered Prayers, and Step Outside Your Comfort Zone. She will be part of the Chicken Soup for the Soul contributors panel on Saturday.

R’becca Groff (Author)

R’becca Groff does freelance work for the Cedar Rapids Gazette, producing articles on local business trends, health and aging matters in addition to writing stories featuring area women in leadership and business roles. Her writing has been featured in regionally and nationally distributed magazines and anthologies, and three of her short stories have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul editions: Thanks to My Mom, Raising Great Kids, and Miraculous Messages from Heaven. She currently serves as secretary for the Cedar Rapids Literary Club. The mother of two and grandmother of five, she also devotes time and care as the advocate for her husband who suffers from a rare form of dementia called FTD (frontotemporal dementia). R'becca will be part of the Chicken Soup for the Soul contributors panel on Saturday.

Tyann Sheldon Rouw (Author)

Tyann Sheldon Rouw lives in Iowa with her husband and three sons. She is an autism advocate and blogs at Turn Up the V. She is a contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, and her work has appeared in Yahoo Parenting, The Huffington Post, Brain, Child Magazine, Scary Mommy, The Mighty, and several newspapers. Follow her at @TyannRouw. Chicken Soup for the Soul books her stories have appeared in: Miraculous Messages from Heaven, Raising Kids on the Spectrum, Thanks to My Mom. She will appear as part of the Chicken Soup for the Soul contributors panel on Saturday.

Kristi Paxton (Author)

Kristi Paxton splits her time between Iowa woodlands and Eastern waters, where she might be somewhere in a 43-foot trawler. She writes features for University of Northern Iowa and regional newspapers, sharing life with her husband, Denny, and Wire-Fox Terrier, Smalls. While in Iowa, Paxton substitute teaches all grades, all subjects in Cedar Falls Community Schools. For fun, she cooks, swims and kayaks. She enjoys yoga, coffee and taking Smalls on long paddle board rides. Currently, she is exploring the short story and penning a memoir about life aboard Pax Terrapin. Chicken Soup for the Soul books her stories have appeared in: Just Us Girls, Messages from Heaven and Reboot Your Life. She will be part of the Chicken Soup for the Soul contributors panel on Saturday.

Dale Kueter (Author)

Dale Kueter wrote for Iowa newspapers for forty-one years, thirty-five at The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, before retiring in 1999. He attended Loras College in Dubuque, IA, for two years, and graduated with a degree in journalism from the University of Iowa in 1958. He enlisted in the Iowa Army National Guard in 1958. Kueter grew up on a farm near Bellevue, IA. After college he married Helen Hayes. They are parents of five daughters and have fourteen grandchildren. He has published two full-length non-fiction books, Vietnam Sons and The Smell of the Soil, and an historical novel, Motel Sepia. Earlier this year he was a contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul. He is a strong proponent of family story writing as a means of sustaining family history.  That is the essence of his book, The Smell of the Soil. He and his wife live in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Chicken Soup for the Soul book his story appeared in: My Crazy Family. He will be part of the Chicken Soup for the Soul contributor panel on Saturday.

Marianne Carlson (Award-Winning Baker)

Known in her hometown of Jefferson, Iowa, as the “Cinnamon Roll Lady,” Marianne Carlson’s mother taught her to bake at a young age.  With a career as an RN and seven active children, she also enjoyed baking.  

In 2004 Marianne entered the Iowa State Fair Tones Spice Cinnamon roll contest and won 1st place with her frosted cinnamon rolls! The prize was $3,000.00 and it was one of the most exciting days of her life. She had to sit out a year before she could enter the contest again, so she returned in 2006 and won 1st place with her caramel pecan rolls. Marianne was the first person to ever win the contest twice. There were hundreds of rolls being judged in these contests, so it was quite a feat to win. Every year since 2003, Marianne has entered the Iowa State Fair food contests (usually entering at least 60 items) and has won many blue ribbons.

What’s her secret?! She adds mashed potatoes to the dough, which makes them extra moist. Marianne’s not done perfecting her pastries yet, her dream is to attend pastry school in Paris! Get a taste of her award-winning cinnamon rolls on Sunday morning during the Brunch session.

Tahera Rahman (Reporter/Moderator)

Tahera joined the Local 4 News team in the Quad Cities as a producer in May of 2016. Her duties included deciding which stories get put on air, writing scripts and keeping tabs on timing and other decisions during live newscasts. In February of 2018, Tahera moved from making the decisions behind the scenes to telling the stories on the scene, achieving her childhood dream and, in the process, becoming the first woman in hijab to work as an on-air reporter for American television.

Tahera was born and raised in the Chicagoland area. Before joining Local 4 News, she was a producer for a community radio station downtown. She graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a degree in Journalism and International Studies. Tahera also became the first Muslim Editor in Chief of the weekly student paper, the Loyola Phoenix. She also had the opportunity to intern at the Chicago bureau of the CBS Evening News and Al Jazeera English. Besides story ideas, Tahera is always looking for a good brunch spot, hiking adventure or traveling opportunity. Bio by: Danielle Ellis.

Tahera will be moderating and participating in several sessions at newbo evolve.

Cara Briggs Farmer (Artist)

Cara Briggs Farmer is the artist and welder behind Synergy Metalworks. After a first career engineering, building, and designing stage scenery in the Twin Cities, she returned to her home
state in 2008 to make art on her own terms. Since then, she’s been populating public and private spaces with her work. Her public art sculptures can be seen in Marion, Iowa’s Uptown Artway (ArtPlace America recipient), Coe College’s Alumni Garden, forthcoming sculptures for Iowa City, and four sculptures for the Byways of Iowa Public Art Initiative in Manchester, Anamosa, Elkader, and Waukon, Iowa. She is the proud spouse of author, Laura Farmer. See Cara's work on display in New Bohemia (between Almost Famous Popcorn & Ruhl & Ruhl) during newbo evolve.

Thomas Agran (Artist)

Thomas Agran was born in Stanford, Kentucky, in 1986, and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. He went on to study Fine Art at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, before completing his MFA in Painting at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Over the past 7 years, Agran's work has oscillated from somewhat abstract, expressive landscapes to more designed, representational images. His studio work can be found in private, corporate, and institutional collections, as well as the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, while his mural work can be found on walls throughout Iowa. Currently, Agran works as the Director of Public Art for the Iowa City Downtown District, and teaches in the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids area. During the summer months he also helps run a tiny bakery that sells at the Iowa City Farmers’ Market. Thomas lives with his family in Iowa City.

See his mural in the evolve Garden in New Bohemia.

Denise Stapley (Moderator)

Denise Stapley is a married mother of one from Marion, Iowa, winner of Survivor: Philippines (season 25) and the only AASECT Certified Sex Therapist in the state. Self-described as "one stubborn, determined woman," Stapely defeated 17 other castaways in the Philipines after enduring many days of rain, mosquitos, hunger and dehydration to become the oldest female to ever win Survivor. In her work as a sex therapist, Stapley treats clients for a wide range of issues including anxiety, depression, grief and loss, as well as sexual and intimacy concerns. She is an advocate for the LGBTQ community and works with clients to help them embrace their authentic selves. 

Brian Brandt (Moderator)

Brian Brandt is Regional Managing Director of the Eastern Iowa Business Center of the Principal Financial Group.  Headquartered in downtown Cedar Rapids, the Eastern Iowa Region consists of 15 office locations and over 60 Financial Advisors serving our communities. Over his time in Cedar Rapids as a business leader, Brandt has served on boards for Daybreak Rotary, YPN and the downtown district.  For the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, he was chair of the first community development innovation council.  He followed that up with deep involvement with the Leadership for 5 Seasons Adult program; he was the co-chair for the Adult program (2016-2018), on the selection committee, serves on the Advisory board and is a 2009 graduate of the program.  Brian was recognized in 2011 as one of the Corridor’s Forty under 40.  In his hometown of Solon, he is the community coordinator for the Youth Sports Foundation tackle football program.  In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his wife and their four sons. 

Brian will be moderating one of Adam Berinsky's sessions.

Scott Schulte (Moderator)

Scott Schulte has been a morning radio personality on KZIA, Z102.9 radio for the past 27 years. He’s also a communication coach, actor, and has three sons. 

Eric Englemann (Moderator for Alexis Ohanian)

Eric Engelmann founded Geonetric, Inc in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 1999. The company builds advanced web applications for hospitals nationwide. As its CEO, Eric led Geonetric until 2016, and during that time the company was listed on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies in America 7 times, and received national accolades for its aggressive agile-based cultural transformation.

Today, Eric leads the non-profit New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative (NewBoCo), which operates Iowa Startup Accelerator, DeltaV Code School, Corridor Angel Investors, and numerous other programs focused on entrepreneurship, innovation and STEAM education. NewBoCo started with an agile mindset from the beginning, and its team of 17 operates without traditional hierarchy, supervisors or performance reviews, and has been recognized for non-profit excellence and community impact. Eric is Chairman of the Board at Geonetric, Inc, and Board Chairman at Scrum Alliance.

Marcia Hughes (Moderator for Soul Food)

Marcia Hughes is recognized in the Cedar Rapids area as a singer, an actress, and a communications and volunteer manager. She’ll never be mistaken for a celebrated chef but she’s thrilled to introduce them and help “Soul Food” attendees dig into their stories and recipes.

Marcia has been connecting with the community for more than 30 years through her work in communications, volunteer management, and development. She is a graduate of the Cedar Rapids Leadership for Five Seasons Program and past chair of its Education Day Session. She served on the Iowa Commission for Volunteer Service and has hosted the Governor’s Volunteer Awards since 2002. Marcia is also past president of the Iowa Cultural Corridor Alliance and has served on the boards of the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, Horizons: A Family Service Alliance, Cedar Rapids Rotary West, Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, Leaders in Volunteerism, Iowa Children’s Museum, and the Cedar Rapids Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. She is currently a member of the Children’s Theatre Playtime Poppy Board and the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation Scholarship Committee. 

Akwi Nji (Moderator)

Akwi Nji is a performance poet, actor, and writer. Her work has appeared in Little Village, Hip Mama, Upscale Magazine, Collective Soundwaves and she has performed as a storyteller for The Moth. She is Founder and Executive Director of The Hook; an 2016 Artist Fellow through the Iowa Arts Council; producer of The NewBo PoJam with SPT Theatre, the largest performance poetry and storytelling event in the Creative Corridor; and producer of The Hook's Drop the Mic, ArtLOUD!, #WeAre, and The Living Room Series.  

Melissa Prins (Wellness)

I have been instructing classes at The MAC since 2015 and I love it. I have a National Certification through NETA and continue to grow and learn in the fitness industry. I enjoy motivating and encouraging others as they embark upon their fitness journies! At home, I enjoy spending time with my husband and two children. 

Rachael McCaughey (Wellness)

Group Fitness is a passion of mine! I began teaching fitness classes in 1997 and received my Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education.  I’ve had the privilege of working in various aspects of the fitness industry over these past 21 years and find great joy in teaching classes and in helping train other instructors to do the same.  When I’m not at the gym, I am having fun with my husband and 2 kids, helping out at our family business, travelling, exploring, organizing, kayaking, volunteering…..or napping.

Ally Thompson (Wellness)

Hello Omies! I’m Ally Thompson, a native Iowan originally from Fairfield and currently based in Cedar Rapids. I aspire to teach a strong, confident practice to help encourage my omies to become present in their everyday chaotic lives.  Yoga has expanded my potential and led to continual growth by helping me find balance, strength, and compassion. Two years ago, I began wondering why Cedar Rapids didn’t have a yoga festival like the ones I’d been to in other cities across the nation. I figured that if I invited my favorite yoga teachers (locally and nationally) and made the festival affordable, people would come. The first Fields of Yogis festival was held in Cedar Rapids and attended by two hundred beautiful yogis. The third annual festival is in August, 2018. The experience made me realize that life is full of opportunity and I can do more than I thought possible if I put my mind to it. In that spirit, I took on another new role as general manager of YogaIowa. I’m excited to learn new skills and perspectives to help me bring my passion for yoga to a wider audience.

Ben Spellman (Wellness)

Always an athlete, Ben first explored yoga through a course at the University of Northern Iowa. While enduring some trying personal times that tested his will and challenged his perspective, Ben would again turn to yoga in 2011 when an acquaintance provided him a list of 90 yoga poses. In an attempt to reflect and move forward, Ben used that list to learn movement, focus, and meditation and became a passionate practitioner. His everyday commitment to learning and exploration of all styles and practices has helped mold his teaching methods. In 2013, he earned his 200-hour registered yoga teacher certification and began to use teaching as a way to bring people together. Good Vibes guides you on a journey of energy and peace through yoga. His genuine personality and radiant positive energy has generated a loyal tribe of yogis in the Des Moines community where he is leading a movement of human reconnection.

Iowa Goat Yoga at Coco's Ranch (Wellness)

On Friday and Saturday during newbo evolve, you have the opportunitiy to practice with the relaxed vibes of the midwest farmland. Providing therapeutic qualities of the beauty in nature paired with the spirit of nigerian dwarf goats.