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DMACC’s ciLive! speaker lineup

DMACC’s 13th Annual Celebrate! Innovation (ciLive! 13) Speaker Series will take place March 9-10 at the DMACC West Campus and virtually.

ciLive! is an annual conference that gives the community opportunities to connect with accomplished people in a variety of industries and life paths. All ciLive! events are free to attend both in-person and online. In-person seating is available on a first-come-first-served basis, and all of this year’s speaker presentations will also be livestreamed for free via e360tv, YouT​ube and Facebook Live.

This year’s ciLive! theme—Go Boldly!—focuses on thought-provoking and creative speakers who have “boldly gone on to dream, create and accomplish success in their respective careers.”

“It’s been a challenging couple of years for everyone due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we’re excited to ‘Go Boldly!’ forward with an inspiring and diverse group of speakers as we continue to adapt to changes in all aspects of life,” said Dr. Anthony Paustian, ciLive! founder and DMACC West Campus Provost in a release. “ciLive! at DMACC continues to grow and reach larger audiences, and we’re pleased to continue our partnership with e360TV to provide the free live broadcast.”

The ciLive! 13 schedule is as follows:

Wednesday, March 9

9 a.m., keynote speaker, Bryan Seelyis a world-famous cybersecurity expert and ethical hacker who is the only person to ever wiretap the United States Secret Service and FBI.

10 a.m., keynote speaker, Dr. Talithia Williams is a host of the PBS series “NOVA Wonders,” as well as the author of the book “Power in Numbers: The Rebel Women of Mathematics,” and is known for taking sophisticated, numerical concepts and making them understandable.

11 a.m., keynote speaker, Dr. Jennifer Adler is an underwater photojournalist, cave diver and free diver with extensive photography experience in extreme underwater environments.

12:30 p.m., keynote speaker, Alexander Rosenberg is an artist, educator, writer and glassblower who was cast in the Netflix series “Blown Away” in 2018.

1:30 p.m., keynote speaker, Jazzy Ellis is a SAG Award-winning stunt actor with more than 75 film and TV credits, including Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame;” HBO’s “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” and the CW’s “The Vampire Diaries.”

Thursday, March 10

9 a.m., keynote speaker, Jason Feifer is the editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur magazine, host of two podcasts (“Build For Tomorrow” and “Problem Solvers”), and is known as “the guy who gets you excited for the future!”

10 a.m., keynote speaker, Dr. Erin Macdonald is a technical consultant for the entire “Star Trek” franchise (including all five current shows), is a recurring writer for the popular YouTube channel “Extra Credits,” and wrote and narrated the Audible original “The Science of Sci-Fi,”which was a top-10 bestseller in March 2020.

11 a.m., keynote speaker, John de Lancie is an actor, director and comedian who is best known for his role as Q in numerous “Star Trek” shows, beginning with “Star Trek: The Next Generation” in 1987, and has also appeared in other well-known TV programs, including “Breaking Bad,” “The West Wing,” “MacGyver,” “Law & Order,” “Torchwood,” “Touched by an Angel” and more.

12:30 p.m., keynote speakers, Future of Space Panel featuring three leading space experts: Gerry Griffin, former Director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center; Andy Aldrin, son of famed Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin and a leader in the aerospace industry; and Rod Pyle, an author, journalist, filmmaker and Editor-in-Chief for Ad Astra magazine.

1:30 p.m., concert, George Ducas is a country singer and Grammy-nominated songwriter who has released four albums and written countless songs for other artists, including Garth Brooks, the Eli Young Band, Trisha Yearwood, Sara Evans, Radney Foster and more.

DMACC's ciLive! speaker lineup | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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