TED Fellows Program

We nurture innovation by nurturing the innovators

Even the most wildly innovative people need help expanding the reach and impact of their ideas. The TED Fellows program provides critical skills that are often outside of an early-stage innovator’s field of expertise — skills in networking, communications, strategic planning, and more.

We prepare

We prepare Fellows with tools and training

Our program prepares TED Fellows with the kind of specialized abilities needed to take the global stage. Through workshops and one-to-one mentoring, Fellows hone their skills in public speaking, media relations, team leadership, and more.

We amplify

We amplify Fellows with exposure and content

Our program provides Fellows with access to a massive global audience—scientists, CEOs, designers, inventors, entrepreneurs, artists, and other curious minds—through TED Talks (which attract two million views every day), other TED-produced video content, and TED events held around the world.

We connect

We connect Fellows with community and industry

Through a year-round calendar of conferences, events, workshops, and informal gatherings, TED Fellows gain extraordinary access to colleagues, collaborators, industry leaders, and potential sponsors. What many Fellows find equally valuable is the friendship and sense of belonging they gain as part of the TED Fellows global community.

TED Fellows impact at a glance

Change that gets noticed


200M people impacted by Fellows work annually


451M TED Talk views


2,234 articles published by/about Fellows per year


1,303 speaking engagements each year


234 businesses launched

The groundbreaking work of a TED Fellow does not stay in the shadows. Each year we study the impact Fellows have on their respective fields, as measured by tangible forms of recognition. Here are some highlights from the past few years.

Fellows report greater self-confidence and a clearer sense of vision after joining the fellowship.

Fellows report greater self-confidence and a clearer sense of vision after joining the fellowship.

Photo by Kiana Hayeri.

Our purpose

What makes a TED Fellow?

TED Fellows are some of the brightest, most ambitious thinkers, future-shapers and culture-shakers from nearly every discipline and corner of the world.

Whether it’s discovering new galaxies, leading social movements or making waves in environmental conservation, with the support of TED, Fellows are dedicated to making the world a better place through their innovative work. In 2024 the program will shift to a nomination-based application process.


We look for the emerging leaders working on-the-ground on world-changing ideas -- the doers, makers, inventors, technologists, filmmakers and photographers, musicians and artists, educators, scientists, entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders, and human rights activists. Here is what we look for in a TED Fellow:


Emerging leaders. We focus our efforts on individuals who are in the earlier phases of their career, those who have a track record of excellence but have not received a numerous other fellowships and accolades. We search for those who are not already on the global stage.


Originality and authenticity. We look for proximate leaders with a unique approach to solving humanity’s greatest challenges. We look for the people working on-the-ground on world-changing ideas, putting ideas into action.


Kind, collaborative character. We look for individuals who have an early track record of great work in their field. We look for individuals from all disciplines, who have collaborative, kind personalities. Many Fellows claim that the community of other Fellows is the most valuable aspect of the fellowship. We try to nurture this collaborative spirit in the community.


Poised to grow. Since this is not a granting fellowship, we look for individuals who would best be able to use the TED community and this opportunity as a launching pad. The TED Fellowship is best for candidates who are prepared to grow with TED’s forms of support: amplification, network-building, communication training, professional development coaching and mentoring.

Meet hundreds of the world’s most innovative people.

Whatever fascinates you—from invention to education, agriculture to the arts, public health to social justice, climate change to urban planning—there’s someone in the TED Fellows community you should know.

Meet the team

TED Fellows Team Member


Lily James Olds
Lily James Olds is an award-winning theater director, film producer, curator and visual artist whose work has received recognition across multiple fields.
As director of the TED Fellows program, Lily helps social innovators — astrophysicists to artists, activists to entrepreneurs — strategically communicate their big ideas, and amplify them on the global stage, in order to create greater impact. She believes deeply in the necessity of nurturing creative and collaborative networks in order to solve our world’s most pressing problems.

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TED Fellows Team Member

Senior Program Manager

Leonie Hoerster
Leonie has been with TED for over a decade and brings experience in program, client, and event management. As Senior Program Manager on the TED Fellows team, she drives the program's strategy and logistics with the goal of magnifying the impact of each and every TED Fellow. Leonie was born and raised in Cologne, Germany where she developed her passion for supporting local voices.

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TED Fellows Team Member

Senior Associate

Allegra Pearl
Allegra holds an Honors Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Psychology, from the University of Guelph. Passionate about multidisciplinary collaboration as a catalyst for impact, she’s grateful to be a part of an organization that facilitates meaningful connections among a diverse community of leaders + innovators around the globe.

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TED Fellows Team Member

Head of Alumni Community

Alanna Shaikh
Alanna Shaikh is a leader in global health and a leadership coach. She’s been connecting TED Fellows with coaching resources since 2016, and she is now connecting Fellows with each other as well. Alanna is a published poet, with work in several literary journals and she has lived in seven countries.

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TED Fellows Team Member


Tom Rielly
Tom created the TED Fellows program in 2008. He’s also founder/co-founder of PlanetOut, a for-profit queer portal; Digital Queers, a technology activist NGOm; Chaotic Guide, a queer movie site; and Moving Windmills Project, NGO. MWP builds community economic development in Malawi inspired by the work of TED Fellow William Kamkwamba. 34 years attending TED.

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partners & individuals

We are deeply grateful to our partners and supporters for their generosity. We invite you to join them in championing social innovators.

  • Bezos Family Foundation
  • Lynda Weinman & Bruce Heavin
  • Anonymous
  • Kathleen Donohue & David Sze
  • André Heinz
  • Gerry Ohrstrom
  • Robert Pasin
  • Michael Borosky & Rob Price
  • Mark Dwight, Rickshaw Bagworks
  • Carl Haney & Jamie Ginott, Estée Lauder

The Fellows program would like to especially thank the professional coaches who date their time to working with TED Fellows: Danielle Adams, Emily Aiken, Nadia Allaudin, June Archer, Claudia Aronowitz, Peter Bailey, John Bates, Amir Bonefetami, Vikki Brock, Catherine Carr, Margaret Cary, Michael Cauley, Laura Colcord, Marcia Conner, Marianne Craig, Toni Crow, Karen Curnow, Drew Curtis, Tonya Echols, Dan Feldstein, Charles Feltman, Ben Gallagher, Dian Ginsberg, Soulaima Gourami, Alan Graham, Danielle Gustafson, Christy Haynes, Steve Heller, Geert Hofman, Colleen Jack, Nick Jekogian, Donna Karlin, Heather Kaye, Leda Kerabela, Ken Kesslin, Paul Klein, Moty Koppes, Kate Lye, Craig Miller, Gregoery Miller, Sukh Mishra, DJ Mitsch, Linda Morris, Cynder Niemela, Petra Platzer, Jess Ponce, Libby Robinson, Stephanie Rosol, Alexandra Ross, Steve Salee, Mark Setch, Julie Sgarzi, Matthew Shelley, Laura Sicola, Nancy Smyth, Marianne Vermeer, Amy Waterman and Karen Wright.