2022 TEDxLander Speakers

La Rhea Pepper

 La Rhea Pepper is the Managing Director and a co-founder of Textile Exchange. A fifthgeneration farmer and the co-founder of two successful organic cotton businesses, Ms. Pepper’s unique perspective helps her lead Textile Exchange along with its pioneering Members to create preferred fiber and material strategies, strengthen integrity in the market place through the adoption of standards and promoting deeper engagement within the supply network. Prior to Textile Exchange, Ms. Pepper and her late husband, Terry, were founding members of the Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative (TOCMC) in 1993. Today, TOCMC is the largest organic cotton cooperative in the United States. Together, they built and demonstrated a sustainable business model for farmers creating strategic partnerships with various manufacturers and “value-added” programs including Cotton Plus (organic fabric) and Organic Essentials (organic personal care products). In 1995, La Rhea served on the Administrative Council for Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) and two years later was elected to the Organic Trade Association’s Fiber Council Steering Committee. She joined the Organic Trade Association’s Board of Directors in 1998 where she supported the creation organic fiber processing standards and chain of custody for the industry. Continuing to serve and support advocacy for family farms in the US, she has also served as a board member for RAFI – the Rural Advancement Foundation International (2013-2017). Known for her passionate and inspirational presentations at various conventions and conferences, La Rhea is often invited to write and speak on issues related to organic cotton farming, organic cotton fiber use, and industry standards. Impassioned about organics and stewardship for the land, La Rhea holds strong family, community and religious values and has dedicated her life to making a positive difference in the world. Ms. Pepper holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from Abilene Christian University and a Masters of Science in Organizational Leadership from Lubbock Christian University.

Originally from Cheyenne Wyoming, Brandt Tobler is a stand up comedian, author, and actor. Currently living in Denver, Brandt has toured overseas performing for our troops, and has been featured on Comedy Central, Fox, and ESPN. He has recorded two CD’s “Token White Boy” and “Ramblin’ and Gamblin” and is currently the host of the award winning podcast “The 31". Brandt’s best selling memoir "Free Roll" was released in the summer of 2017.


Brandt Tobler


Leigh A. Hall is a professor at the University of Wyoming where she holds the Wyoming Excellence in Higher Education Endowed Chair in Literacy Education. She taught middle school language arts and social studies in Houston, Texas before returning to graduate school to earn a doctorate in literacy education. Dr. Hall's research centers on helping adolescents improve their academic reading and writing abilities. She has examined how engaging with adolescents as partners in their own reading development can allow them to take greater control over their growth and improve their motivation and desire to read. She has received multiple international awards for her research and is committed to understanding how we can support youth in their reading development.

Leigh Hall

Orator, US Army Military Intelligence Veteran and Nationally Syndicated On-Air Personality “GRIFF” is the founder of the Process Success Foundation an organization that teaches young people steps to be great. With an unforgiving wanderlust spirit “GRIFF” became the first American to tape Comedy Central Africa and recently celebrated 25 years of Stand up Comedy. This author of 'Cats and Puppies' (a book for moms raising sons from the perspective of a boy raised by his 15 year old mother) and father of five has forged his career at the intersection of faith, philanthropy, and humor. With an infectious energy and unmistakable voice, “GRIFF” contributes laughter, sincerity, and a real world approach to living inspiration out loud.


Arlen "Griff" Griffen


Ben Evans

 Born and raised in the inland Pacific Northwest, Ben Evans' early experiences set the stage for engagement with ideas and culture. His childhood centered around the value of wilderness, the consciousness of Native America, the significance of the History of the American West, and the spirit of education--as his dad is a professor of Western U.S. and Native American history who has authored two books on Nez Perce tribal history, and his mom is an elementary school teacher, pianist, and singer.  Ben's love of language and music originated in early childhood where he learned to associate words with songs from his mother's piano playing and singing.  Early Beatles' vinyl, along with The Righteous Brothers, Johnny Rivers, Sergei Prokofiev, and Gordon Lightfoot all became habituated involvements during the first five years of Ben's life.  During this period Ben's parents also first started to take him to the wilderness, including a 27 mile backpack trip down the Selway river in Idaho's Selway-Bitteroot wilderness area, from which he can't remember much except crying in the rain while adults bribed him to keep hiking with promises of more jerky and "Space Food Sticks"--the wonderful and largely forgotten candy from the 70s.  As Ben grew older he became more creative and weird--although most said it was a "good weird." His parents' divorce seemed to push him further toward Kasey Kasem's Top Forty as a trustworthy representation of how fun it might still be to continue to live and grow. However, it was an ongoing relationship between music and wilderness that fully forged Ben's self-concept and notions of meaningful activity, as his dad always made sure Ben was hunting, fishing, backpacking, rock climbing, rafting, Huckleberry picking, horseback riding and river-tripping on Idaho's excellent wilderness rivers.  The dissolution of the family combined with this ongoing "wilderness experience" and love of music sent Ben roaring shamelessly into elementary and Jr. High with terrible grades, relatively serious discipline problems, and an ever-growing adoration of music as the "inner frontier" to compliment the outer values of Pacific Northwest wilderness experience. Finally Ben surprised all family and friends by actually attending college and, unbelievably, becoming a Bachelor in English, Master of Arts in English, and an Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.  Currently Ben is professor of English at Central Wyoming College.  He also writes songs, records, and performs solo or with his group--Ben Evans and Crazy Honey.  Ben also shares, with friends and family, spiritual practices including tribal ceremonies, Tibetan Buddhist practices and events, self-made mysticisms, so-called "Alternative Healing" modalities, and certain liberal versions of Christian devotion.     

Mary Shores is the President and CEO of Midstate Collection Solutions, a unique collection agency in Champaign, Illinois, that puts a focus on the consumer experience and empathetic communication. Her agency began its transformation into what it is today in 2005 when, after years of daily stressful phone calls at her agency, Mary looked at the phone and decided she wanted the next person who called to be happier at the end of the call than they were at the beginning. That’s when happiness became her new North Star. 


In her talk, Mary is going to share what she learned by working with over 750,000 people in debt and how she made connection a priority through a simple, 3-step communication strategy.


Her communication journey didn’t end when she began to transform her debt collection agency. Mary is also the founder and CEO of Shores Communications, an e-learning company that trains business professionals across multiple industries on empathetic, high-converting communication strategies. 

In 2017, Mary became the bestselling author of the personal development book Conscious Communications: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Harnessing the Power of Your Words to Change Your Mind, Your Choices, and Your Life. Mary is also an international motivational speaker, appearing on stages to share her neuroscience-based communication tips to empower audiences to neutralize and transform toxic conversations, bring stability to their own well-being, and problem-solve with the power of connection in all areas of business and life.

Mary Shores official headshot_edited.jpg

Mary Shores


Gabi Robledo is an entrepreneur, athlete & flow state coach who aims to help people unlock their inner warrior. 


Gabi grew up with a very unconventional lifestyle and has been nomadic for more than 6 years. At the age of 14, her parents decided to ditch the rat race, sell everything they owned, and move into an RV to travel the world full time with her and her 4 other siblings. In spending the majority of her high school years out in the wilderness, climbing, surfing, and hiking with her family in 26 different countries, she naturally discovered what it took to lead an intrinsically fulfilling life. At the age of 16, she co-founded the blog, Nomads With A Purpose, which has grown to be a multi-media adventure travel & wellness brand with over 70 thousand readers per month, and has evolved to become a mindset coach for athletes and adventurers.


Using a mind, body, spirit approach, Gabi uses her Flow State Warrior framework to help people overcome limiting beliefs, particularly around worthiness, so they can live a life of more fulfillment, purpose, and personal power.


Gabi believes everyone has the spirit of a warrior within them, and when you unlock that version of yourself, you feel innately worthy in every area of your life, allowing you to pursue your biggest dreams and greatest desires.

Gabi Robledo

Tim Krass was born and raised in Detroit, MI and now resides in Redondo Beach, CA.  Tim Krass holds a B.A. in Business Administration from Georgetown University and an M.A. in Sport Management from The Ohio State University. Tim Krass has had executive roles with major media companies such as FOX and Univision where he exceeded their network distribution goals and fine-tuned their leadership style in order to maximize asset value in today’s multi-platform, multimedia environment.  Tim Krass has studied masculinity and taught leadership training for more than thirty-seven years. Tim Krass is also the host of a Podcast called “Time Out for Mental Health” and is in the process of writing his first book.

A survivor of family abuse, divorce, a heart attack, suicide attempts, a forty-one-year addiction to marijuana, and severe depressive disorder that is recurring, Tim Krass has discovered his purpose in life through writing his book, YOU DON’T HAVE TO SWALLOW YOUR GUN and is now devoted to helping others, so that others do not have to experience the pain and suffering that he experienced. 

Tim Krass now travels the world, both virtually and to live events helping men and women personally and professionally, on how compassion is an essential component in relationships between men and women, both at home and in the workplace. It is possible to lead a happy and healthy life by managing mental health issues. But help must be asked for.


Tim Krass