Louis Grachos - Ernest and Sarah Butler Executive Director, The Contemporary Austin
Louis Grachos believes that art in public places has the potential to transform urban space
Louis Grachos has been The Dr. and Mrs. Ernest C. Butler Executive Director at The Contemporary Austin since january, 2013, and is known in the contemporary art world for his groundbreaking curatorial work and his considerable skills as an arts administrator. Previous to his current appointment, Grachos served as Director of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York from 2003-2012.
Grachos earned a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from the University of Toronto and a Certificate for Museum Studies from the Museum Studies Graduate Program, John F. Kennedy University, San Francisco. He began his museum career with curatorial internships at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. He has held curatorial and administrative positions at the Americas Society Visual Arts Program, New York; the Queens Museum of Art; the Center for the Fine Arts, Miami; the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; and SITE Santa Fe.
A passionate advocate for the arts, Grachos has more than thirty years of experience in the museum field supporting cutting-edge contemporary art. He is committed to community collaborations, with a focus on arts education and outreach programming, and consistently strives to create an institutional culture he describes as "artist-centric."
Mark Simmons - Ecosystem Designer, Scientist, Teacher
Mark Simmons believes that humans are now an urban species in a vulnerable environment, but our knowledge and application of ecosystems can generate nature in cities to secure our future.
Simmons is Director of the Ecosystem Design Group at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas. The urban environment needs our help. Globally, we are at risk from hurricanes, flood, heat, air and water pollution - directly compromising our physical and sociological health. Curiously, we have overlooked our natural ecosystems that offer underexploited resources that we can retool and deploy to generate healthier cities. Studying the landscape in UK, Africa and North America over the last 20 years has driven me to focus my passion to bring essential ecological function into the city and rebuild the landscape to optimize the urban environment. My research examines green roofs, green walls, sustainable turfgrass, urban prairies, storm-water management, and prescribed fire and these technologies are passed on by working with multi-disciplined design teams on designed landscapes across multiple sales. Let’s bring nature back home – it’s waiting.
Sheril Kirshenbaum - Biologist, Author, Science Translator
Sheril Kirshenbaum believes scientists, policymakers, and the public should talk more.
Sheril Kirshenbaum works to enhance public understanding of science and improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. She is the Director of The Energy Poll at The University of Texas at Austin and the author of two books, Unscientific America (with Chris Mooney) and The Science of Kissing. Her writing regularly appears in magazines, newspapers, and scientific journals and she has been featured in the Best American Science Writing anthology series. Previously, Sheril worked with the Webber Energy Group and Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment. She has been a Marshall Memorial Fellow, a Next Generation Project Texas Fellow, and a legislative Knauss Science Fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy.
William (whurley) Hurley - Co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer @ Chaotic Moon
Killer of futurists. Purveyor of innovation. Advocate for open source. Master Inventor. International Genius.
whurley has been called a visionary systems theorist, a mad scientist, and an evil genius (International Genius). What he is, is innovative. Over his 20-year career, whurley has demonstrated a talent for innovation and a passion for open source software. In 2010 he co-founded Chaotic Moon, a leading mobile development and strategy company, and quickly built a portfolio of A-list clients. Names like Microsoft, CBS Sports, Sanrio, Pizza Hutt, and News Corp, for whom Chaotic Moon developed the first iPad-only digital newspaper.
In 2011 he could have stood pat. Instead he doubled down, helping launch Chaotic Moon Labs to focus on “innovation on demand.” As General Manager of the lab in 2012, he created what Wired Magazine described as “the best of CES,” an all-terrain skateboard controlled by hand motions. Powered by an Xbox Kinect™ and a Samsung tablet, the board achieved an exhilarating top speed of 32 mph. For dessert, he built a mind-controlled version that Jason Bradbury, host of the Europe’s The Gadget Show, said was “. . . like something out of a science fiction movie” and “comic book crazy.”
He then created a rapid prototype of the shopping cart of the future. The Smarter Cart™ not only guided customers to items at Whole Foods’ flagship store, it also scanned their food to help manage their dietary needs, notify them of FDA food recalls, and accelerate their check-out.
Today whurley keeps the world's top brands decades ahead of the curve, predicting not only the next iteration, but delivering on the demands of the next generation.