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Driving Force

Driving Force
October 2016
Catching up with Edith Howle, curator of TEDxCharleston, in advance of the October 19 event

In a year that’s been rife with boiling-hot topics, the theme of this month’s TEDxCharleston program, ”Tipping Point,” couldn’t be more apt. “We all have issues that we feel are at their tipping point within Charleston—things involving the environment, healthcare, race relations, and more,” says Edith Howle, curator and organizer of TEDxCharleston, the local version of the global TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conferences. “TED Talks are all about ideas worth sharing. We want to bring to light unheard speakers in our community who have great ideas, giving them a forum in which they can share those thoughts,” she says. Here, learn a little about the woman who helped bring TEDx to town, and get the scoop on the event itself, which Charleston’s sponsoring on October 19 at the Charleston Music Hall (it sold out in a mere four hours!).

CM: First of all, can you tell us about your professional background?
EH: The majority of my experience was at Booz Allen Hamilton, a management consulting firm where I specialized in the intersection between technology and business, particularly in the financial industry.

CM: How did you land in the Lowcountry?
EH: I was born in Japan; my mom is Japanese, but my father is from South Carolina. Having spent many years in this state as a child, I wanted to get back. When my husband, who also worked for Booz Allen, and I retired in 1998, we moved to Charleston.

CM: As curator of TEDxCharleston, how do you choose the speakers?
Through an application process. This year, we received more than 350 entries to fill 18 slots. We look for new ideas that people have actually done work toward. We look for diversity in terms of gender, race, and ethnicity so that we have speakers who appeal to everyone in our audience. It’s not necessary for a person to be a qualified speaker—we have a set of coaches who help them in that regard.

CM: The program runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aside from 10-minute talks, what does the day entail?
EH: The talks can be intense, so we use entertainers to bring levity to the program—this year, we’ll have a poet, a jazz musician, a comedian, and dancers. In addition to breaks, we provide a box lunch and reception in Marion Square so attendees can network and discuss the ideas that were just shared.

CM: Are there any new elements to this year’s program?
EH: We’re going to live stream the event and offer a variety of viewing locations. Also, 10 percent of our tickets are being awarded as scholarships, available to those in need of financial assistance to attend.

Lives: On the water on James Island with her husband, Rick Throckmorton, and Maltese, Yuki (whose name means ”snow” in Japanese)

Education: Bachelor of science degree in mathematics and a master’s in systems engineering from Clemson University

Loves to: Travel (she and Rick have visited more than 60 countries), collect art (including works by Alfred Hutty and Thomas Moran), quilt, and handcraft Japanese dolls

For more info on TEDxCharleston: visit