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Speakers, headliners, community programs at eighth annual Tom Tom

tom tom founders festivalThe Tom Tom Summit & Festival, aka “The Big Festival About Small Cities,” has announced its full speaker and program lineup for the eighth annual event.

Embarking on an ambitious theme of “Building Better Hometowns,” the Summit will gather civic leaders, entrepreneurs, engaged citizens, and legendary innovators to explore what makes small cities thrive in the 21st century, while the Festival will offer a weeklong celebration of the Charlottesville community through arts, music, food, workshops, competitions, and more.

National luminaries will include John Dickerson (CBS This Morning), Emily Bazelon (The New York Times Magazine), David Plotz (Atlas Obscura), and Jamelle Bouie (New York Times Opinion) taping a live show of the Slate Political Gabfest; Parkland student and March for Our Lives Cofounder Jaclyn Corin discussing youth empowerment; and Jane West, “the Martha Stewart of Marijuana,” and Steve Hawkins, Executive Director of powerhouse advocacy group the Marijuana Policy Project, leading a conversation on The Future of Cannabis.

More than 300 speakers have been confirmed to participate in the annual Summit, which includes six conferences covering a wide range of topics, from renewable energy, affordable housing, and applied machine learning to local journalism, building second chance cities, and welcoming refugees to your community.

Featured speakers include Zyahna Bryant, equity activist and founder of Charlottesville High School’s Black Student Union, at the Youth Innovation Conference (Tuesday, April 9); San Francisco Treasurer José Cisneros and Director of Art Basel Americas Noah Horowitz at the Civic Innovation Conference(Wednesday, April 10); Congressional Climate Solutions Caucus pioneer Representative Carlos Curbelo (R-FL); the architect of the Green New Deal, Greg Carlock; and The Energy Gang podcast star Katherine Hamilton at the Renewable Energy Conference (Wednesday, April 10); and Andrew Therriault, the first-ever Chief Data Officer for the City of Boston now heading a data infrastructure improvement team at Facebook; and VCU’s first-ever Innovator in Residence, Vida Williams, at the Applied Machine Learning Conference (Thursday, April 11).

The Creative Ecosystems Conference (Thursday, April 11) will feature Vanessa German, the cofounder of Pittsburgh’s Love Front Porch; Michael Mikel, the cofounder of Burning Man; and Melani Douglass, a leader at the National Museum for Women in the Arts and the great-great granddaughter of abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass. Meanwhile, the Entrepreneurial Ecosystems Conference(Friday, April 12) will feature David Hall of Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund and Entrepreneur magazine editor-in-chief Jason Feifer.

For a more detailed outline of speakers and sessions, please visit

“Tom Tom’s theme of ‘Building Better Hometowns’ has a special focus on building the Charlottesville community,” commented Tom Tom Director Paul Beyer. “It is no secret that discussions of #Charlottesville no longer solely focus on a charming, innovative, and progressive city, and our hometown still struggles with the legacies of the hate-fueled events of August 12, 2017. As Charlottesville now grapples with its past and strives to create an equitable future for all of its residents, it’s a dynamic familiar instantly to many hometowns across the country and even the world. Our hope is that Tom Tom can help connect people and inspire new conversations for equitable hometown innovation.”

The Festival’s cultural programming will offer up a broad range of community events, including musicart, and food programs. As part of the Festival, Whose Line Is It Anyway? veterans Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood will deliver an improv performance entitled “Scared Scriptless” (Saturday, April 13). There will also be five high-impact competitions, including pitch events, such as the American EvolutionInnovators Cup; design challenges; community cookoffs; and grant nights.

Many events will prioritize issues of race and equity in the Charlottesville community and highlight important groups in Charlottesville. A free screening of Black Panther will raise funds for local education nonprofits: the African American Teaching Fellows, City of Promise, and Abundant Life Ministries.

A full list of featured events—including the annual Silent Disco and the inaugural Bartenders Ball—can be found at

Festival-goers can sign up to attend sessions and build personalized event calendars using Tom Tom’s mobile app and scheduling platform:

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