Author: Stephanie Vail

Ignite Denver 28: Speakers Announced!

We never know what we are going to get with a February show, sometimes it’s a snow storm, other times 70 degrees. But thankfully, what we do know is that we have an incredible line up waiting for you! Early bird prices will give you 50% off tickets from now until 2/9.

*Please note this is just an announcement of the speakers, it is not the order they will be speaking in night of.

Kaleigh Vance Embody Your Animal
Chris Englert 10 Ladies Walk into Denver…
Michael Jennings Even More Love…
Julia E. Torres Love is a verb. Education is liberation.
Curt Bean Creative solutions to modern day problems
Jackson Stevens You Should Delete Facebook
Brian Inderwies Rising Together: Growing With Foster Kids
Gregory Kotsaftis The Truth About Lies
Russell Agnew One brave smile
Meridith Marshall Captain Planet gave me a Complex
Pavel Reppo Britney Spears said it best, you drive me crazy
Danielle Giffin We Are The #MeToo Generation
Jim and Louise Gunderson Robots, AI, and the workplace of Tomorrow
Ellen Penrod American Lung Association

Ignite Denver 27 – Speakers Announced!

Fall is just around the corner and that means our October show is coming up. We could not be more excited to share with you the brave, creative, inspiring souls who will be taking the stage. With talks ranging in topics from cocaine and storytelling, to life threatening situations like being caught in an avalanche and surviving cancer, from modern day experiences like going viral – to facing retirement today and defining what that means for you.



Are You There, Orwell? It’s Me, Taylor. Taylor Holden
Cocaine, Neural Hacks, and Craving Better Stories Jon Cook
Connecting the Dots: Remote Leadership Summer Weirich
Fitting In: A Social Disease Jason B. Kendrick
Food, Sex & Worthiness Maddie Berky
Listen! Your Body is Talking to You Meg Gibbs
On Staying Sane, Speaking Truth, and Going Viral Aimee Van Ausdall
That Time I Got Caught in an Avalanche Steve Hibbard
The Art of Being Fabulous: A Cancer Warriors Motto Trisha Trixie Hunter-Merrill
What if Retirement is not an end, but a beginning? Stephanie Bruno
Why Superheroes Terrify Me! Cooper Braun-Enos
You Did What at Chef Prudhomme’s??!! Leyla Eraybar
Learning to love myself after betrayal and forgive Rebecca Sacks

*Please note this is not the lineup for the evening, simply a list of the Sparks for October 12.

Mark your calendars for October 12! Don’t miss your opportunity at missing out on the fun- early bird tickets are available currently for $5 until September 29. Also, join in the fun on our Facebook event!

Speaker Spotlight: Interview with Nicole Nageli

[et_pb_section admin_label=”section”][et_pb_row admin_label=”row”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]
(photo: Stephanie Vail)
(photo: Stephanie Vail)

“Nicole is full of big dreams, bright ideas, and best of all- action. Nicole hasn’t let anything stand in her way, least of all, her age.”


I spotted Nicole the moment I walked in the door to the coffee shop, early on a Saturday morning. Filled with contagious energy, Nicole is the kind of friend you want to go on roller coasters with, get ice cream with, or even start a business with. Nicole is full of big dreams, bright ideas, and best of all- action. Nicole hasn’t let anything stand in her way, least of all, her age.

At age 13, Nicole has a message to share and recently, had an opportunity to be part of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, sponsored by the Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce. This academy offered an opportunity to create a business plan and pitch the idea to a business panel; the process included working out the details of the finances, her company’s mission and incorporating her own sweat equity. Nicole had a huge grin on her face as she regaled how she spent an entire summer writing- and illustrating- a 60 page children’s book, over her summer vacation. Her summer vacation!

Listening to our ambitious 13 year old speaker eagerly describe the impact her computer science class is having, and how coding is quickly becoming one of her favorite subjects to learn is incredible. Nicole was even selected as one of 15 students to visit Google’s campus during one of their last weeks of school and shares, with two thumbs up, how visiting the campus was, “One of the coolest things in the whole world!”

Her goal? Nicole tells it well: “The message I’m trying to convey in my book is that the story should address important issues, but be simple enough so that younger people can understand it and older people can too.”


This girl isn’t done yet, in fact, she’s just getting started. Nicole shares, “I want to publish more books that go into deeper concepts than the first two books. The first two are happy kids books. I want a deeper message and [to be] more inspirational. I want to spread a message and make sure I’m doing good.”

Nicole understands the depths of creating a legacy, in fact, that is what she, our youngest speaker at Ignite Denver ever, tackles when she will take the stage on June 8th at The Oriental Theater. Nicole has a beautiful message to share with others: if you help each other rise to the top, then everyone can rise together, no matter what your mission is.


Read more about Nicole’s spark here.


Ignite Denver 26 – Speakers Announced!

One thing that is true about Ignite Denver is that anyone and everyone has an opportunity submit and speak on stage at The Oriental Theater. We were completely blown away with 35 impressive submissions for Ignite Denver 26, and it is our honor to announce the line up for June 8th:

The Mystical, Complicated, Edifying Nature of Deep Female Friendships and What they Can Teach Us Shaughnessy Speirs
October 2005, in the North of Nigeria, two men have been convicted of sodomy and have been sentenced to death by stoning. Karen Stewart
The Reflection in My Mirror is a Person I Can’t Remember MicheleElys
What Water Fountain are you Drinking From? Nita Mosby Tyler
Stop the Trauma Lily Nussbaum
What is a Legacy? Nicole Nageli
Shrinking the income equality gap through VR Lawrence Wagner
Blockchain and Bitcoin Explained Bruce Daley
Sometimes you have to sell out to know your self-worth Joseph Chehouri
How Asking Stupid Questions Makes You Smarter Brian Peterson
Toddlers, Terrorists, and Everyone In-between: Negotiating The Long Game Taj Moore
A public thank-you to my amazing father, and a word of encouragement to the parents of “lost” children Amanda Gold
My True Story of Sex, Shame and Addiction Scott Slack
My Maddy’s…The Art of Friendship Tammy Abramovitz
Gaston taught me everything I need to know about Donald Trump Gena Ozols
Bubbles Make Everything Better Carlyn Shaw

We are so excited and hope you will take advantage of the $5 prices– hurry, they only last until 5/20!

Connect with us on Facebook and invite your friends!

Ever Thought, is Speaking at Ignite Denver for Me?

Ignite Denver has been in my life now for seven Ignites. Throughout that time, I have gone from a complete novice, blinded by the lights as I hesitantly walked on stage and accepted the microphone from Kat… to a bit of an Ignite Denver junkie. After attending the workshops, feeling the rush of giving my Ignite talk and meeting the community of Ignite Denver: I was hooked. And I wanted more. I asked to join the committee, having no real skills or talents to offer except a willingness to learn, grow and be present. They are probably still wondering, why did they ever let this girl join?

But that’s what Ignite Denver is. It’s a place for anyone to come and feel the beautifully chaotic accepting warmth of our community. And don’t just listen to me. 95% of our attendees (who completed the survey) from Ignite Denver 25 said that they would return to future events. So, in the time that you have sat in the velvety seats of the Oriental Theater, have you ever thought to yourself, “That could be me?”

If so, then I invite you, come- join us. Inform us. Teach us. Show us your fancy yoyo tricks. Make our mouths water as you explain why your apple pie is the best on the block. Share about your ant collection. Have a unique perspective on a topic? Completed an interesting research project? Share the wealth of knowledge!

Or, have you never attended an Ignite Denver, but interested in learning more? Regardless of your experience as a public speaker, or experience not as a public speaker, Ignite levels the stage. Everyone has five minutes to talk and everyone prepares a slide deck that auto advances every 15 seconds. Speaking at Ignite Denver is different. It’s fun. It’s a challenge. Intrigued? Submit a spark. Not for you? Refer a friend- after all, that’s how we grow our speakers and our community.

Be well, Denver.

Ignite Denver 24 Speakers Announced

The results are in- we are proud to announce the speakers for Ignite Denver 24:

The Social Contract in the Digital Age by Chris Harrold
Be a bitch and be proud of it! by Nikoletta Vecsei
The Language of Poverty by Danielle Norris
Gut Explosions and Funnel Cakes by Amanda Erck
Jackpot! I’m not dead! by Lauren Gardner
The Future of Transit is in Coffee by Marjorie Alexander
Born at the Right Time by Lia Moran
Science Fiction Saves the World. Or not. by John L. Forrest
Private Life, Public Forum: Sharing Your Personal Life on Social Media by Danielle Bilbruck –
The Win-Win-Win by Heather Nelson
Where’s my Rosie the Robot? By Pete Winterscheidt

Reminder: tickets are $5 until 9/17, after the price goes up to $10. Get your tickets now!

What Kat Thinks… About Excuses

Let’s discuss reasons why you might be reluctant to submit a spark idea to Ignite Denver. And then, let’s read my responses as to why those ideas should be ignored.

1. I’m not a good public speaker.

To this I say: Me neither!

Don’t get me wrong – it’s no secret that I’m comfortable onstage. However, I’m OK when I get to wing it. I enjoy being up there because I don’t have to pre-plan things. I’m an improviser. Until I got involved in Ignite Denver, I actually turned to the stage primarily as self-care tool to treat my anxiety. While onstage, making things up on the spot, the ugly part of my brain was forced to take a time-out. I guess I sort of used it as a mindfulness exercise.

Giving a talk onstage that is structured is scary. For most people, it’s a really vulnerable experience. I’m pretty sure we’ve all heard the statistic that public speaking is the greatest fear out there. However, I challenge you to find a single Ignite Denver participant who will tell you that their speaking experience with us was anything other than exhilarating and empowering. We have an amazing team of individuals whose only job is to put you at ease and aid you in putting together the best presentation possible with all the love we can muster.

2. I want to talk about something that might not be real interesting to others.

You would be so surprised by how open and receptive the Ignite Denver audience is to topics. I think, oftentimes, it’s the seemingly “weird” talks that have wound up being the most captivating. Hell, you might tap into a topic that inspires someone to do something or try something or laugh about something they never had considered until that moment you started talking.

3. I’ve never been to an Ignite Denver show before. I should do that first.

Did you know we have our own YouTube channel? We do! I had never been to a show prior to my first experience as an Ignite Denver speaker. However, I spent hours watching the videos. I got so inspired by seeing the talks online. If someone has mentioned Ignite Denver to you and suggested you should get involved, please don’t let your lack of involvement up to this point be the reason you choose not to give it a shot.

4. PowerPoint is scary and the idea of having to put together slides is totally overwhelming.

I am so with you on this one. If you’ve been able to convince yourself that you have a topic you want to discuss, and you’re willing to risk being onstage, please do not let your fear of putting images to your presentation be the reason to stop you in your tracks. I’m technologically challenged. At committee meetings, it’s not unusual for me to be the only one without a laptop in front of me. Shocking confession: I still use notepads. My calendar is made of paper. I KNOW! I’m a freak of nature. The thing is, the slides are secondary to your talk. If your spark is selected, I would encourage you to write your speech, create an outline, or however you build your talk most comfortably first. The slides don’t have to be the focus until later. Your talk is enhanced by the slides, not the other way around. The slides should be predominantly built up of images, not words. Hell, you could even build your slides by drawing them yourself, or using photographs you’ve taken.  I promise, the audience is more focused on you than the pictures behind you (unless you have included pictures of yourself dressed up as a zombie clown or a photograph of poop in the toilet – you know who you are). Again, our committee is here to help you. If you are worried about building your deck of slides, there are so many of us totally ready to offer assistance and support.

5. I’m too old. Or too young. Or any other limiting personal opinion you may have of yourself.

The greater the diversity, the better our show. If anything, this excuse should be a specific reason as to why you absolutely should submit an idea.

Please consider taking a chance on Ignite Denver by submitting a spark idea. You still have time! Everyone is so stoked to read about what you want to say. Join us tonight for an educational workshop: Building a Spark Pitch. You have until September 1st to submit a spark idea here. The voting process will be open through September 8th, and speakers will be announced on September 11.

Personally, I want to meet you. I want to see you try something new. So, if nothing else, do it for me. You’ll make my day.

Want to hear more from Kat? Check her out over here.

What Kat Thinks …Talking Smoothies and Ignite Submissions

In my latest attempt to kick my day off in a semi-healthy manner, I’ve recommitted myself to making breakfast smoothies. It’s been a frustrating process. Sadly, I’m not one of those folks who traipses into the kitchen, nary a recipe to be found, only to toss in a pinch of this and a cup of that and maybe add a little more this to create the most incredible dish on the planet (or smoothie, in this case).

99.999% of the time, I have to follow recipes verbatim. Even when I’ve made the same smoothie everyday of the week, the one time I attempt to do it from memory inevitably winds up tasting like pizzle.

Side note: No idea why the word “pizzle” popped into my head. However, it did remind me of Arsenio Hall in Coming to America during the brilliant, groundbreaking scene with Samuel L. Jackson, as seen here:

Anyway, back to my smoothies. If I do everything like I’m supposed to, according to the directions, usually, it tastes pretty good. If I don’t use a recipe and try to wing it, I’m pretty much assured it’s going to be disgusting.


It happened last week, and it was nothing short of magical. I had frozen cherries, and I’d even found a cherry smoothie recipe online. However, I didn’t have all the ingredients it called for. So, I threw caution to the wind and went for it. Cherries, almond extract, vanilla yogurt, maple syrup…oh yeah. It was definitely a “go big or go home” kind of experiment. Also, I think I’d actually had my coffee prior to making breakfast, so I felt I had superpowers.

It was so delicious. It was like angels descended from the heavens, leapt into the blender, and sacrificed themselves for the sake of my tasty breakfast.

Are you sitting down? Because here comes the metaphor that ties all this back to Ignite Denver: My miracle cherry almond smoothie is your submission idea. It goes against logic. There’s no reason to talk about your topic of choice other than the fact that you feel you must. It seems utterly ridiculous, but you submit the idea anyway, because you have to.

Be the cherry almond smoothie, friend. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Eh, not entirely true. You could wind up with another crap smoothie, but you could surprise yourself.

OK, so trying this again: Be willing to be the crap smoothie, friend. Do it, because you know there’s a chance you might wind up being a not crap smoothie.

Crap and smoothie are two words that shouldn’t incorporate the same sentence. I’m spiraling here.

Try something new. Despite feeling like you’re limited in scope, and presenting at Ignite Denver feels totally scary and unfamiliar, risk it anyway.

You have until 9/1/2016 to submit an idea. Go for it.

What Kat Thinks …and Other Brilliant Insights from our Emcee

When people have asked me about what to present at Ignite Denver over the course of the past few years, I’ve suggested they talk about their passions. And while pursuing that direction of thinking has provided countless amazing sparks, I’ve come to realize that focusing solely on our life passions can limit what options we have for presentations.

This time around, if you’re considering submitting a spark idea, either for the first time or as a repeat presenter, I’m going to challenge you to be different. Create something that will surprise people. Hell, create something that will surprise you. You don’t necessarily need to change the trajectory of a person’s life.

Do you buy collectible spoons with your name on it when you go on road trips from those shops along the side of the highway? Can you describe your first high school dance experience? Just how bad WAS your first job? How do you rank Halloween candy? What makes zombie crawls so magical? Be honest: Do you think adult coloring books are cool or weird? Why?

You don’t have to be funny, by the way. Some people find collectible spoons to be very serious business. For real, though – don’t be funny if you don’t want to be funny. Some of my favorite presentations have simply opened my eyes to things happening around the world I didn’t even realize were happening.

As the emcee of Ignite Denver, I’ve done several sparks since 2014. There have been a few times when I’ve known exactly what I’ve wanted to say. However, there have been an equal number of presentations I’ve thrown together at the last minute simply because I couldn’t think of anything “good” enough. Surprisingly, some of those talks turned out pretty great. For example, it wasn’t until I started talking about how much I loved the month of November that I actually realized that, dude, I really do love November.

This time, I’m approaching the process differently. My excitement for Ignite 24 has already begun to percolate. I’m undertaking this challenge to talk about something quirky, too. Here are a few ideas I’m mulling over right now:

· I Hate Possums

· That One Time I Got A Brazilian Wax on a Dare

· It’s Time I Come Clean: I Love Historical Romance Novels

Will I actually create a spark about one of these? Maybe. Am I excited to see where this line of thinking goes for me and the other speakers? Heck yes. Go for it, you guys. I can’t wait to see what’s up your weird, deviant little sleeves.

Ignite Denver 23 Sparks Announced

The votes have been tallied and your voices have been heard… it is our pleasure to announce the Ignite Denver 23 Sparks for June 30th:

Elizabeth Giorgi – My Bad Job Reviews Made Me an Awesome CEO
Kelly Underell – Life is too short to not do what you want to do and be who you want to be.
Chrissie Hodges – Pure OCD/Intrusive Sexual Obsessions: It’s not as Pure as it Sounds.
Lori Heisler – Enough is Enough: Somebody Needs to Speak Up
Brenton Weyi – Humans Are Paradoxes
Emily Stones – Ban the Brand™: The Dark Side of Marketing 101
Matt Hyder – How to be Taken Seriously as a Young Entrepreneur
Jamie Shapiro – The Foundation of Leadership: Real Food
Sandee Billen Maas – “You Don’t Look Sick!” – When Public Opinion Goes Wrong
Meghan Saylor – Square Peg, Round Hole
Doyle Hanks: Love: the Bridge to Laughter
Brian Gryth – Quitter

Thank you to everyone who took the time to craft a thoughtful spark, ponder who they wanted on the stage, and bought a ticket to see the show live on June 30th at the Oriental Theater.

Copyright 2023 Ignite Denver. All rights reserved