TED Fellows » TED Fellows Network » Tom Rielly

Tom Rielly

Community & Fellows Director, TED Conferences

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Tom Rielly

Professional Role

Current Titles:

Fellows Director, Community Director, Executive Director

Current Organizations:

TED, TED, Moving Windmills Project


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Moving Windmills: The William Kamkwamba story

William Kamkwamba's new book "The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind," written with Bryan Mealer was released September 29th in the US. http://www.amazon.com/Boy-Who-Harnessed-Wind-Electricity/dp/0061730327/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1243745327&sr=8-3

View video on Youtube »


Moving Windmills Project
06/01/2007 – present
Moving Windmills Project supports Malawian-run rural economic development and education projects in Malawi, with the goals of community economic independence and self-sustainability; food, water and health security; and educational success. Moving Windmills Project is inspired by the story of William Kamkwamba, a remarkable young man from a remote village north of Malawi’s capital city. Forced to drop out of school due to lack of funds, William turned to self-education and, after seeing a picture of a windmill in a textbook, decided to build one to power his family’s home.
Project Website »

TED Fellows Program
? – present
The TED Fellows program is designed to bring together young world-changers and trailblazers who have shown unusual accomplishment and exceptional courage. The program targets individuals from the Asia/Pacific region, Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Middle East, though anyone from anywhere in the world, age 18 and over, is welcome to apply
Project Website »


As TED's Community Director, Tom created and runs the international TED Fellows program among other responsibilities. But he's found his true vocation as TED's resident satirist, a role he's played for more than a decade. A lifelong performer, he found a second love in personal computing. He recognized early on the incredible power of Macs and the Web, co-founding Yale's Macintosh User Group in 1984, then working at SuperMac, Farallon and Voyager. Rielly is perhaps best-known for founding PlanetOut, the largest digital home for gays and lesbians. He also co-founded the influential nonprofit Digital Queers. At TEDGlobal, Tom met our youngest TED Fellow, William Kamkwamba, whom he’s been mentoring for the last four and a half years. Rielly’s short film about William won Participant Media’s North American Filmmaker’s Award at the Pangea Day worldwide film festival. He is currently expanding it into a full-length documentary. William is now a student at Dartmouth College and author of two best-selling books about his experiences, one for adults and one for children. Rielly is also Executive Director of Moving Windmills Project, a U.S. 501c3 organization that supports William's village improvement projects in his home country of Malawi in Central Africa. To date, MWP and William have created a solar-powered well, watertanks and free tap water, a community soccer team that put the Wimbe village on the map, and two new primary school buildings with three more scheduled for 2012. He lives in New York City with entirely too many Apple devices. ###

Vital Stats

Fellows Class
TEDGlobal 2007
TEDGlobal 2010
TEDGlobal 2011
Living in
New York, United States
Working in
Kasungu, Malawi
Born in
Washington, United States



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