We have an awesome group of speakers lined-up for you. Visit this page regularly for updates!

Roel van Rijsewijk

Expert in Cyber Intelligence
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Raffy Kock

Architect. Expert Urband Developer.
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Joseph Simcox

Botanical Explorer. Food Security Advocate.
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Dr. Koert van Mensvoort

Artist, philosopher and technologist
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Glenn Thodé

Rector University of Aruba
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Rachel Brathen

Author and international Yoga teacher
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Sir Edward Cheung

Principal Engineer @ NASA
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Jan Ten Hove

Commander of Marine Corps Base in Aruba
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Vanessa Benlolo

Entrepreneur and executive coach
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Arnaud Collery

Film director and entrepreneur
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Varelie Croes

Founder and CEO of the Liv Group
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Maite Hontelé

Trumpeter and Recording Artist
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keywords: open Internet, shared cyber space, cyber intelligence

Associate Partner of Deloitte with more than 15 years of experience working for technology enabled businesses in the field of risk management and corporate responsibility. Senior Fellow of Deloitte’s Centre for the Edge, our research facility that helps senior executives make sense of and profit from emerging opportunities on the edge of business and technology.

In the final year of my studies of Art and Cultural Science and Public Administration at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, I started my career at Deloitte as an intern in 1999. In those days I had no clear idea what I wanted to become in live. I only knew that I had a broad interest in all kinds of things and I saw Deloitte as a place where I got paid to be curious. I specialized in Risk Management, getting post-graduate degrees in Internal Auditing, Corporate Compliance and Corporate Social Responsibility.

In the first 2 years I worked as a consultant for organizations in the Public Sector and in 2002 switched to the Media and Technology sector to follow my deep interest in understanding how digital technology is transforming the world. The Media and Technology Industry was the first to be disrupted by the emerging internet so I figured that is where I needed to play. But quickly enough all the other industries were affected and I broadened my client base to all organizations in the midst of a digital transformation; managing risk engagements for multinationals that took me all over the globe bringing me a wealth of experience, both professionally and personally. I believe in the promise of the open internet, a shared cyber space to connect, create and grow.

Connecting people across boundaries and cultures, the liberalization of knowledge, the free flow of information, the democratization of media and distribution will lead to a better, more open and liberal world.

As a risk consultant I was looking into some exciting risks to be managed in a digital transformation, because what makes digital valuable is what also makes it vulnerable. Vulnerabilities that are exploited by evil hackers to disrupt and steal. Empowered by the brand and global network of Deloitte, I wanted to provide trust in an open cyber space.

A milestone in my career was achieved in 2013 when I was made a partner at Deloitte to lead our Cyber Risk Services team in the Netherlands. A team of 150 professionals with a broad range of advisory and implementation experts that help organizations assess risk, establish risk appetite, address regulatory requirements and manage organizational transformation, combined with ethical hackers and deep technical expertise based in our Cyber Intelligence Centers.

After 2 years of leading and growing the Cyber team, I decided to give up the status and career that comes with a partnership at Deloitte. I wanted freedom to only do what I do best and what Deloitte and my clients have always appreciated and valued in me. I decided to give back my equity share in the firm to become a senior fellow of Deloitte’s Center for the Edge.

I now take deep dives in content and bring back what I find with vision and inspiration. I am fascinated by the emergence of distributed networks, where everything is connected and nobody is in charge. How do you provide trust in a distributed network without a universally accepted authority or trusted third party?


keywords: Sustainable architecture, urban areas, community strengthening

Raffy Kock is an Aruban born and raised Architect with a passion for happy environments. Since early in his career he has advocated to create Communicative Spaces, which encompass right mixture of health, community and heritage aspects. Raffy Kock has completed his Master of Sciences in Architecture and Urbanism in Delft. Within his student trajectory, Raffy discovered the city of Barcelona where he chose to study with the Erasmus program for one year. His love for this city and its unique communicative character would quickly bring Raffy to live there after his studies. After having enjoyed the city for a couple of years, Raffy got the chance to work at the British Architecture Firm of Broadway Malyan in Madrid. Although it was an adjustment at first, Raffy learned to love the Spanish capital as well, surprisingly this discovery process happened mainly by bike. Exploring the neighborhoods and large parks of Madrid helped mature Raffy’s ideas about urban design, as being a tool for supporting human activities in a broad way. Particularly as a father, Raffy came to understand the importance of having enough playground areas within residential and commercial areas to stimulate an active lifestyle early on for children. In the meantime, he never ceased to dream about implementing some of the beautifully designed and well-equipped cityscape principles to his homeland of Aruba.

In 2008, Raffy gave his first lecture at the University of Aruba on his thesis “Communicative Space”. Two years later, in 2010, he was invited to speak at the first national conference on Urban Renewal for the island of Aruba. Shortly after this, Raffy got a one in a lifetime opportunity to execute his ideals as a project coordinator within the infrastructure advisory board, which oversaw the ambitious urban renovation projects. Within the four years that Raffy worked as coordinator, he designed and brought to execution, the first and second phase of the linear park.

He helped within the planning of the thorough renovation of Oranjestad where he also designed the new Cruise Terminal arrivals plaza named “Paardenbaai Plaza”, the continuation of the route through Havenstraat and laid out the basic plans for what would later become the “Plaza Padu”.

The biggest learning moment came not from the Oranjestad renovation nor Linear Park development, but from the projects of Neighborhood improvements. The integral neighborhood design program was set up not only to be a material upgrade of the area but also aspired to make a more meaningful change by means of actively involving the communities within the design process of the planned renovations. The immaterial aspect of this project affected Raffy deeply, and taught him great appreciation for the diversity and richness of character of the Aruban people. Seeing how communities embraced the changes when they had an active stake within the development thereof, changed Raffy’s perspective of a top down design. It was the people factor which inspired Raffy to aspire to design environments that support happy lifestyles.

In 2013, Raffy helped organize the Europe Meets Americas congress taking care of the presentations in the field of infrastructure innovations together with colleague Glen Goddijn. It was during this event, that Raffy decided he had to step up his game and start working on realizing his own firm. One and a half year later, Raffy saw the opportunity to do so by joining a local group of engineers in a joint venture to design the Watty Vos Boulevard project. This 21km project would provide a new ring road around Oranjestad, combined with biking and walking paths. Furthermore, it also encompassed the Linear park phase 5, which is the boardwalk to Aruba’s most famous seaside venue: Eagle Beach. For this, Raffy respectfully gave up his position as coordinator and abruptly entered the private realm as a startup. Raffy’s gamble paid off when the design his firm developed for the bidder played an instrumental role in securing this multimillion-dollar project for the Portuguese firm of Mota Engil.
Raffy is currently directing his own firm, working on a diversified portfolio of projects where he continues to chase his dream of creating places for happy people.


keywords: botanical explorer, food security, grow your own food

Joseph Simcox will be speaking at TedX Aruba on September 23rd, 2015 and he will present his case for an agricultural revolution that will change the future of food. Joseph intends to show why Aruba, a tiny tropical desert island is poised to lead the world in desert food production research. Joseph’s assertion is backed by decades of experience. Nature and human tradition have been his inspiration. His pursuits of knowledge around the globe have been frenetic. In the last 14 years he has led over 300 expeditions to the farthest flung reaches of the planet. His motive? To discover, document and share with the world a story: the story of man in relation to plants and food. Joseph Simcox, “The Botanical Explorer” is a world expert on the world’s food plant resources and arguably has tracked down and eaten more plants than anyone else on the planet. He is also a world renowned seed collector and speaks all over the world about the future of food. He has lectured at venues across the globe and is on the beat to spread the message that the pessimistic portrayal of future food security is the gross and uneducated result of a narrow interpretation of food plant resources.

The significance of his work is inestimable; with headlines everywhere warning of the cataclysms to come due to changing climates, political instability, burgeoning populations and food shortages – and little solace to the contraire, Joseph brings a unique and positive perspective about the future of real food security on this planet. His message is relevant to all. “Whom among us does not eat?”, he asks. And because the answer is everyone, food IS, he claims, the ultimate unifier. Strangely, the most important thing to our physical existence is also the one in which we are now in most modern societies most detached from. Because the vast majority of us no longer produce but a fragment of our own food, we are helplessly detached from food production, and even more sadly, from the knowledge that once was. Joseph’s work – as he defines it – is one of “retrovation”- going back and rediscovering what humans once knew. Joseph argues that the bigger picture also matters and that the world desperately needs scholarly generalists to address broad, multi-disciplinary questions. At world conferences, he is often asked where he did his doctorate studies; his reply is simply:

– “No one on the planet could have taught me what I know.” He has tracked down edibles from the Arctic to the fringes of Patagonia, from the deserts of southern Africa to the jungles of Papua New Guinea, in all he has traveled to over 105 countries in his efforts. Presently, he is in the Ukraine studying the food traditions of the Soviet Union’s former “bread basket.” Joseph points out that “an infatuation of technology dominates our modern mindset and foolishly we often invest way too much trust in myopic technological solutions before considering the relevance of resources, of cultural experience and tradition. Saying that, he laments that traditional knowledge is imperiled and that much of his work is constructive rather that investigative. “We have lost so much in our race to go forward; now it is time to take account and look back.” Joseph has no real fixed home, he travels incessantly and calls any place he lays his head “home”. You can find more about Joseph and his work at his website explorewithjoseph.com or follow him on Facebook.


keywords: technology = nature, economy = ecology

Dr. Koert van Mensvoort (1974) is an artist, technologist and philosopher best known for his work on the philosophical concept of Next Nature, which revolves around the idea that our technological environment has become so complex, omnipresent and autonomous that it is best perceived as a nature of its own. It is his aim to better understand our co-evolutionary relationship with technology and help set out a track towards a future that is rewarding for both humankind and the planet at large.

Among his works are the NANO Supermarket (a traveling exhibition disguised as a supermarket that that presents speculative future technologies) the Datafountain (an internet enabled water fountain connected to money currency rates), the book ‘Next Nature: Nature changes along with us’, the documentary ‘Daddy! The Woods smell of Shampoo’, the Fake for Real memory game (on the tensed relation between reality and simulation), the Rayfish Footwear project (about a fictional company that creates bio-customized sneakers from genetically engineered stingray leather) and the In Vitro Meat Cookbook (exploring the potential impact of lab grown meat on our food culture). Van Mensvoort directs the Next Nature Network in Amsterdam and is a fellow at Eindhoven University of Technology.At TEDxAruba Dr. Van Mensvoort aims to link ecology and economy with an alternative currency that express environmental value: the ECO currency.


keywords: Green Faculty, collaboration in education

Glenn Thodé (Bonaire, 1965) is the Rector of the University of Aruba since January 2012. He has a PhD in Criminal Law. In Groningen he trained as both researcher and university lecturer.

Before this he gained teaching experience as a windsurf instructor for six years and a computer instructor at a computer software training institute. After this he became a lecturer at the University of Aruba and also fulfilled the office of Dean of the Law Faculty for five years.

Though he has a PhD in Criminal Law, he has also researched and published in the areas of environmental law and sustainability. With support of the World Wildlife Fund he wrote proposal legislation that he submitted to the Government of Aruba for the institution of three different nature reserves in Aruba, being terrestrial, wetland and marine reserves. The legal protection of the National Park Arikok is a result of this work and the Marine Park is under consideration by Aruba’s Government. At the moment he is leading the University of Aruba in a collaborative process to develop a Green Faculty Initiative for Aruba. This initiative also envisions a transformation of the University of Aruba that will propel higher education in Aruba into the information and collaboration age.


Rachel has 1.5 million followers on Instagram

keywords: instagram superstar, social media authenticity

Swedish native Rachel Brathen is a New York Times best selling author, motivational speaker and international yoga teacher residing in Aruba. After graduating school in Stockholm she traveled to Costa Rica and it was here that she found the joy of incorporating yoga into her everyday life. Deepening her yoga practice and also taking her first steps towards teaching, she ended up moving to Central America where she spent years exploring the intricate studies of yoga and spirituality. After moving to Aruba early 2010 she started teaching yoga full time on this Caribbean island. Her classes are a dynamic Vinyasa Flow integrating alignment, core work, and breathing techniques with basic poses and creative sequencing. Rachel is known for her inspirational inversion practice and sprinkles arm balances and inverted poses into her classes, breaking challenging asana down into steps making them accessible for all levels. She leads workshops all across the globe, focusing on handstands, arm balances, vinyasa foundation and fearless living. Each class is designed to energize the body, cultivate a meditative consciousness, and give greater vitality and health.

Rachel released her first book this year, “Yoga Girl”, now available worldwide! Part self-help and part memoir, YOGA GIRL is an inspirational, full-color look at the adventure that took writer and yoga teacher Rachel Brathen from her hometown in Sweden to the jungles of Costa Rica and finally to a paradise island in the Caribbean that she now calls home. With more than 1.6 million followers on Instagram, Brathen shares pieces of her life with the world every day. In YOGA GIRL, she gives readers an in-depth look at her journey from her self-destructive teenage years to the bohemian and beautiful life she’s built through yoga and meditation in Aruba today. Featuring spectacular photos of Brathen practicing yoga in amazing tropical locales, along with step-by-step yoga sequences and simple recipes for a healthy, happy, and fearless lifestyle, reading YOGA GIRL is like an armchair vacation to a Caribbean spa.

Rachel is one of the first people in the world to take yoga from the mat and onto a paddle board, and she teaches SUP Yoga (Stand-Up Paddle board Yoga) in all of her retreats and also at festivals and events in different countries around the world. As a leader in the SUP Yoga community, she also hosts SUP Yoga retreats, master classes and workshops. With 10 yoga retreats a year and monthly classes and workshops there are many opportunities to join in! Rachel is always eager to introduce people to the bliss of practicing yoga, providing every student with a space to safely play in the art of yoga on both land and water.

Find daily inspiration from Rachel on Instagram as @yoga_girl with over 1.6 million followers – the largest yoga account in the world.


keywords: Hubble telescope, lead engineer, humble beginnings

Edward was born here on the island of Aruba and grew up in the town of San Nicolas.  He earned his Ph.D. in the field of Electrical Engineering and Robotics from Yale University, and has worked for the past 20+ years at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt Maryland.

Along the way, he has worked on several subsystems on the Hubble Space Telescope. Examples include the electrical design of portions of the electrical power system, the cryogenic cooling system, the repair of the Advanced Camera for Surveys, and the Wide Field Camera 3.

This latter instrument is currently Hubble’s flagship scientific camera. More recently he has been building hardware that is in flying on the International Space Station and researches technology to be able to service and repair satellites in space.

Edward is the recipient of NASA’s Exceptional Engineering Award, and has been recognized by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands who bestowed on Edward Knighthood in the Royal Order of the Netherlands Lion.


keywords: ‘mission command’ method, enhance teams

When Jan ten Hove works with a team, he starts with seeking clarity about the team’s goal. In “mission command” this goal consists of a clear, what and why, and not the way it is achieved. Absolute clarity about a team goal gives focus and success.

His drive for mission command has his origin while serving as a young captain and working with a team of six marines in the mountains near Sarajevo, Bosnia (1995). The city was under siege and Jan and his team had to establish a covert observation post in order to identify key Serbian artillery positions. After a successful neutralization of these positions the Dayton peace agreements followed and as off that day the war and hostilities in former Yugoslavia ended.

It was only when working in the United States Marine Corps in the late nineties where his knowledge about mission command developed, did Jan realize he had worked with it during his mission in Bosnia. He became a true believer of mission command, the military philosophy used by the United States -, Royal (UK) – and Dutch Marines.

In 2008 he made a career switch from his beloved Marine Corps to the British consultancy firm McKinneyRogers where he had the responsibility to lead change programs implementing both high performing team behaviors as well as mission command. Not only did he strengthen his great understanding of mission command, he also helped develop visions, missions and values and implemented them in the companies he worked with such as Bacardi, Grohe, Kenya Airways and Walmart.

After three years as a consultant, Jan returned to the Marine Corps and as the Commander of the Marine Instruction Centre he initiated the Marine Corps Values. These values form the basis for working with mission command.

At present Jan is the Commander of Marine Corps Base Savaneta in Aruba. The mission command philosophy with a yearly goal is implemented and last year the vision is defined: To become Aruba’s maritime security partner in 2017. Besides his responsibilities as a Base Commander, Jan wants to contribute more to Aruba by sharing his knowledge and inspiring any team to use mission command in order to be successful.



keywords: entrepreneur, balancing global resources

Vanessa Benlolo is a trailblazing entrepreneur and executive coach who embraces the toughest of challenges and will impress you with her enthusiasm and intellect. As a native Aruban and the first in her family to earn an engineering degree, she is no stranger to undertaking new ventures with little experience and succeeding.

Before co-founding Yeplive™, a social media platform that allows users to connect globally through live experiences, Vanessa put her talents to use in some vastly varied disciplines, but always with the same goal: to support humanity and protect our resources. Vanessa started her career in the plastics industry where she saw there was a need for biodegradable polymers and grew a customer-base through cold calling. Then, while at Univar, the #1 global distributor of industrial chemicals, she created a new role focused on Chemical Manufacturing and Renewable Energy, where her customers comprised of Fortune 500 companies. There she also led and supervised the clean up and recycling of hazardous and non-hazardous waste from manufacturing facilities.

Vanessa, whose life’s purpose is to help people find, live from and profit from their purpose, believes that only when the basic necessities of life are met (food, shelter, water, and safety) can people begin to dream and uncover their true calling. The first step to meeting the population’s needs is awareness and then a balancing of global resources with global demand. With this mission in mind, Vanessa believes Yeplive™ can be the tool that sheds light on where we have excessive resources and where there is an unmet demand creating a virtual bridge to empower people to help each other globally.

Yeplive™ has been met with much acclaim and has been featured in TechCrunch, Canadian Reviewer, ListHunt, Launch, Technology Personalized, and IT Business.

When Vanessa isn’t busy working, she can be found canvassing local, organic farmer’s markets in search of fresh ingredients for her next gourmet cooking session, spinning at the local studio to burn some energy, or enjoying the new art exhibit in nearby museums or galleries. She currently resides in Toronto, Canada.


keywords: happiness, hackathons, coaching

Arnaud Collery created Stand Up for Passion in 2014 drawing from his standup comedy background and combining it with his personal mission to make the world a happier, funnier place. He curates the speakers for the events, while also personally training and coaching the speakers to find their story and give their best performance. Stand up for passion has became a movement attracting the best speakers in the Art or Technology entrepreneurs (John Frankel, Nihal Metha). Axa Insurance, Wework, Trinet, the French Consulate of NY have been some of his sponsors.

Arnaud is also CEO of Kikai Mining, a Happiness Agency, whose goal is to create happiness in any shape or form – technology, workshops, events or films. He has created hackathons for local government or happiness workshops / conferences for companies such as Chanel, Cartier,

Novartis, World Economic Forum Global Shapers, in NY, Europe and all over the Middle East. His techniques comes from his diverse background, acting, directing,innovation and having lived with “happy” tribes in Africa and South America.

He is an award winning comedian (Last Comic Standing quarter finalist 2008), filmmaker (Little Klaus Big World, best comedy film at the Monaco film festival in 2012) and tech creative (AT&T Hollywood Hackathon winner 2012).

He has studied entrepreneurship (Start up up leadership program NY fellowship), Chinese (fellowship from the Chinese government in Beijing), Japanese culture (CIEE at Waseda University, Tokyo) as well as innovation (Thnk Amsterdam). He was entrepreneur-in-residence at 88mph.ac, a leading tech incubator in South Africa, launched the Famous French Tuesdays parties in Japan and consulted for the European Stock Exchange and European Parliament.

He has been featured on CTTV China, TBS Japan, KTLA, KPCC, NBC, MTV, E! as well as the Huffington Post. Arnaud lectures on creativity, passion and happiness.


keywords: education and innovation, startups, funding

Varelie Croes TEDxArubaVarelie is an Aruban born and raised tech entrepreneur. She is the founder and CEO of New York based venture firm, The Liv Group.

The Liv Group is built upon a global community of forward-thinking founders and mentors who are changing the way we think, live and do business. In 2015, The Liv Group launched a startup studio pilot in New York to accelerate early-stage technology-enabled startups in the collaborative economy space.

Varelie also Co-Founded ATECH* (Aruba Technology) Startup Conference and Accelerator, an initiative to boost the startup and technology ecosystem in Aruba.

She believes innovation and education are no longer distinct. To build a sustainable society in the new economy, communities and organizations should invest in the tools and resources to support learning, curiosity and experimentation at all ages.

Varelie is a thought leader on the new economy, and has been featured in Forbes magazine and other international publications. She was named a global change maker by the World Bank Youth Steering Committee and leads an independent working group that focuses on innovative finance solutions for women entrepreneurs in developing countries.

As a Private Equity and Growth Equity expert with over a decade of experience in Financial Services, Varelie has spearheaded billion dollar global deals and worked with several of the world’s largest investment funds and Fortune 500 companies.

Prior to founding The Liv Group, Varelie was a Director of International Tax Financial Services at PricewaterhouseCoopers New York. She started her career in The Netherlands and Aruba as a tax lawyer. Varelie also specializes in LATAM, Caribbean, as well as Emerging markets. She received her Masters in Law from Leiden University, The Netherlands.


keywords: music, trumpet, salsa

Trumpeter Maite Hontelé, Dutch by birth but Colombian by heart. Her music is an invitation to be happy, to enjoy good taste and to Caribbean nostalgia. It is a perfect blend of European elegance and tropical color and joy. This has been reflected on her 3 albums: Llegó la Mona, Mujer Sonora and Déjame así, which was nominated in 2014 for a Latin Grammy in the category Best Salsa Album.

Her first big tour was life-changing. She went to Colombia, the country where she now lives. In 2004, Maite toured with the world-famous Buena Vista Social Club. In 2009 Maite launched her first album, Llegó la Mona, a salsa-tribute to Colombian music. That year turned out to be very important for her. Not only did Maité record her first album,

touring Colombia and playing at the Medellin Jazz Festival, she found the place where she wanted to continue to live and make music. That’s when she decided to move to Medellin.

In 2010, Maite released her second production, Mujer Sonora. The album is focused on old-school styles such as son and charanga, but also contains some spicy salsa-tracks. This album was presented at the 2010 North Sea Jazz Festival, and on various international tours. In 2011 and 2012 Maite toured many countries with her band, she was invited by Cariibbean Sea Jazz Festival Aruba for a guest appearance with Oscar D’Léon, and she performed with Ruben Blades, Yuri Buenaventura, Issac Delgado, Diego Galé, Juan Carlos Coronel and many others. Her 3rd album, Déjame Asi, was released in April 2013, and earned her a Latin Grammy-nomination in the category Best Salsa Album. Maite Hontelé is currently touring Europe and Latin America. At TEDxAruba Maite told the story about how that chance-meeting with Oscar D’Léon changed her life.


  • Dagmara Avanindra
    Dagmara Avanindra HEAD OF CONTENT