Senior Patton Orr and Luke Jensen ’07 Help Organize First TEDxMemphis

July 31, 2015


Tickets go on sale August 1, and they are expected to go quickly. For information visit and follow @TEDxMemphis on Twitter.

Luke Jensen and Patton Orr, co-organizers of TEDxMemphis, gave a chapel presentation detailing their plans.

Last spring Mr. Luke Jensen and Patton Orr, organizers of TEDxMemphis, gave a chapel presentation detailing their plans a Memphis conference, now set for August 29.

On August 29 Memphis will experience its inaugural TEDx conference, featuring 18 speakers who have turned ideas into action. The roster includes Dr. Scott Morris, CEO of the nonprofit Church Health Center in Memphis; Mr. Kimbal Musk, co-founder of The Kitchen restaurants (opening at Shelby Farms and Crosstown Concourse) and Learning Gardens (opening at 100 Memphis schools); and Mr. Cliff Goldmacher ’87, songwriter, producer, and musician.

Co-organizer Patton Orr, a senior, who began turning his idea for a conference into action two years ago, says he is excited to see TEDxMemphis coming to life.

“More important, I’m excited for Memphis,” Orr says. “The goal and mission from the very beginning was to create an event that highlights all the great ideas coming out of Memphis – for the people of Memphis.”

Orr first learned about TED conferences when his sister, Caroline Orr (Hutchison ’12), worked on the organizing committee for TEDxUNC (University of North Carolina) in 2013. He became fascinated by TED Talks, short (18 minutes or less) recorded presentations by experts and thinkers from around the world that can be seen via He began a campaign to drum up interest at MUS and in the community.

An acronym for technology, entertainment, design, TED is a nonprofit organization started in 1984, dedicated to spreading ideas, usually in the form of its talks, recorded in more than 100 languages. The organization sponsors major TED conferences and parallel TEDActive conferences (with live simulcasts of the talks) as well as smaller, independently organized TEDx conferences in cities around the world.

Orr started a TED club at MUS, where students watch the talks and discuss the subject matter. He also launched a similar club for teens in the community that meets up once a month at Benjamin L. Hooks Public Library. And he set his sights on organizing a conference.

“For some reason, TEDx had never caught on in Memphis as it had in other cities,” Orr says. “I recognized a huge opportunity for our city to host an event.”

He discussed the idea with Lower School Principal Clay Smythe ’85, who encouraged him to seek a “loaned executive,” who could help with the process. (The term comes from the United Way program of enlisting business executives to help with campaigns.) The name that came to Orr’s mind was Mr. Luke Jensen ’07, whom he knew from church. Jensen, an associate with Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Advisors agreed to join the campaign. He applauds the efforts of his young partner.

“The whole idea of TEDxMemphis started with Patton. He has been instrumental not only in applying for and obtaining a TEDx license but also in the planning and execution of the event,” Jensen says. “I was lucky enough to be asked early on to be a part of it.”

Together Orr and Jensen attended a TEDActive conference in Whistler, British Columbia, in March 2014. (MUS sponsored their trip.) Afterward, they gave a talk in Hyde Chapel on their experience. Now, with the help of a team of local organizers, the conference is set for the University of Memphis Michael D. Rose Theatre August 29 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Orr, who expects close to 1,000 people at the event, says interest has been growing.

“What has absolutely blown me away is all of the enthusiasm generated over social media,” Orr says. “There were so many steps that our team took to get to this point. I’m already looking forward to hearing the buzz around Rose Theatre on August 29.”


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