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Epic 2017

This year EPIC brought us many speakers with “controversial” backgrounds. From them we learned more about empathy, compassion, truth and managing difficult life experiences. Their courage to share their challenges, self-created or other, was inspiring..

EPIC 2017 Speakers

Ralph Hubert “Sonny” Barger is a founding member (1957) of the Oakland, California, U.S. chapter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club. He is also the author of five books. Onscreen, Barger one of several members of the Angels who had speaking parts playing themselves in Hell’s Angels ’69 (1969); he has appeared in several additional films. He also appeared in the Sons of Anarchy television show.

Ken E. Nwadike Jr is a peace activist, motivational speaker, and video journalist known as the Free Hugs Guy online. Nwadike Jr is the founder of the Free Hugs Project, which produces motivational videos to spread love, inspire change, and raise awareness of social issues. His ‘Free Hugs’ videos have reached hundreds of millions of views on Facebook and YouTube.

In 2014, Nwadike launched the Free Hugs Project to spread love in response to the bombing of the Boston Marathon. The Free Hugs Project gained popularity in 2016, as Nwadike made major news headlines for his peace-keeping efforts and de-escalating violence during protests, riots, and political rallies.

Monica Lewinsky is a social activist in the battle against online harassment — advocating for a safer social media environment.  She is also a public speaker, writer, and contributor to Vanity Fair addressing such topics as survival, resilience, digital reputation and equality.

In October, 2014, she gave a speech about the Internet’s reputation shredder at the Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit where she spoke from the perspective of being Patient Zero – having been the first person to have her reputation completely destroyed online. This well received and widely watched speech launched her present day speaking career.

Lance Armstrong is one of the most celebrated athletes in the world, making history in 2005 by winning the prestigious Tour de France bicycle race for the seventh consecutive year. But he is more than just an amazing cyclist with phenomenal endurance; he is also a survivor who has inspired millions of people around the world. In 1996, Armstrong was diagnosed with cancer, and with the same fierce focus he brings to competition he tackled his illness and won.

Since then, Armstrong has become a leader in the cancer community through the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which focuses on educating the public about early cancer detection and raising money to find a cure for the disease that kills more than half a million people in the United States each year.

Jonathan Paul “Jon” Dorenbos is an American football long snapper for the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League (NFL). He was signed by the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent in 2003. He played college football at the University of Texas at El Paso. Dorenbos has also played for the Tennessee Titans.

Dorenbos has a parallel career as a professional magician. He was a finalist on season 11 of the television program America’s Got Talent, performing his magic acts. He works with several charities, including Brian Moorman’s “Punt Foundation,” which helps children with terminal diseases, and Garth Brooks’ “Teammates for Kids”.

Dr. Kelly McGonigal is a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University. As a pioneer in the field of “science-help,” her mission is to translate insights from psychology and neuroscience into practical strategies that support personal well-being and strengthen communities.

She is the author of several books, including the international bestseller “The Willpower Instinct” and her latest book the “The Upside of Stress.” Her 2013 TED talk, “How to Make Stress Your Friend,” is one of the 20 Most Viewed TED talks of all time, with 10 million views.

Amanda Knox
American college student Amanda Knox was convicted and then acquitted in the murder of her British roommate Meredith Kercher in Italy. Knox’s acquittal was overturned in 2013 and she was again convicted of murder in 2014. Her conviction was overturned in 2015.

After returning to the United States, Knox completed her degree and worked on a book about her case. In 2014, Knox started working as a freelance writer for a local weekly newspaper, the West Seattle Herald. Knox has stated her intention to become an advocate for others who were wrongfully convicted, and she attends events related to the Innocence Project and related organizations.