In this week’s episode, we’re talking to Ty Debevoise, about how he created a TEDx event in his district and how you can too. Ty  is the director of communication and marketing at Whitehall City School District. Partnering with the Whitehall Community, they created TEDx Yearling Road.

“Want to do a giant project? Don’t be afraid to ask for help from people who’ve done it before. Seek a mentor.” — Ty Debevoise

How They Did It

Partnering with the city of Whitehall, Debevoise and the Whitehall City Schools created TEDx Yearling Road. In order to get a TEDx approved, you have to put in an application with TED. Three to four weeks after putting in their application, they received approval from TED. From there, the pressure was on, but in a good way. TED is an extremely supportive organization, and once accepted, they continue to provide support through forums and a “playbook” to help local TEDx groups to create a cohesive model for themselves.


One of the biggest hurdles they had to overcome was educating the community about what TEDx or TED actually is. For those who have seen a TED talk online or in person, it is easy to explain, but education to those unfamiliar was the biggest challenge TEDx Yearling Road faced. They sold 210 tickets on this inaugural TEDx, and are hoping to double that number for the event in the future. Challenges for the future as the event grows include considerations for time (their first talk lasted nearly 4 hours) as well as considerations for receptions and spaces for food and refreshments.

Selecting Speakers

The application process and speaker selection process was grueling. There were 50 submissions for speakers and only 11 spots. A lot of really wonderful speakers were rejected due to the limited availability for speaker spots. There were several speakers that were sought out, as the group wanted to target talks about a couple of specific subjects, including human trafficking.

It is important to have a reason for holding your TEDx, a goal for the community and the event. Doing a TEDx just to do a TEDx doesn’t carry the same weight or purpose. For TEDx Yearling Road, the TEDxColumbus group really helped to mentor and share their passion for creating these events. The Toastmasters International group in Whitehall provided additional support for the TEDx Yearling Road event, making themselves available for speakers, and attending rehearsals.

[fa class=”fa-envelope-o”] Feel free to contact Ty with any questions about hosting a TEDx event: