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Tom Tom Founders Festival to Feature More Than 300 Speakers

Charlottesville, VA—The Tom Tom Founders Festival, a weeklong celebration of entrepreneurship and creativity, will host more than 300 speakers, all leaders in their respective fields. Showcasing the nation’s top innovators as well as outstanding community leaders, the Festival, which runs April 10-16, 2017, offers attendees a unique opportunity to interact and be inspired by trailblazers and changemakers.

The 300 speakers will join the Festival  from more than 45 communities throughout the U.S. Featured speakers include Anne-Marie Slaughter (New America), Dave McClure (500 Startups), Kim Jordan (New Belgium Brewing Company), Laura Weidman Powers (Code2040), Craig Dubitsky (Hello Products), Steven Olikara (Millennial Action Project), U.S. Senator Mark Warner, Chris Cillizza (Washington Post & The Fix), Peter Baker (New York Times),  Lester Brown (Earth Policy Institute), Jerome Ringo (Zoetic Global), Andy Berke (Mayor, City of Chattanooga, TN), Jason Schupbach (National Endowment for the Arts), and Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.  

“Tom Tom’s programming has continued to grow – not only in terms of sheer quantity, but, more importantly, in terms of the depth, breadth, and impact of its subject matter,” said Festival Director Paul Beyer. “This year’s event highlights renowned innovators in the areas of early childhood education; renewable energy; entrepreneurship; small city leadership; data science; and governance. It’s extremely gratifying to see the Festival becoming a valuable forum for thought leadership in many critical disciplines.”

Common among the event’s featured speakers is interest and experience in building small cities and exploring how dynamic economic, cultural, and civic projects can be fostered in U.S. communities. “All of our speakers are not only leaders in their respective fields, but outstanding citizens who want to give back, and to build communities,” Beyer said.

Premier events at the 2017 Tom Tom Founders Festival include:

  1. Founders Summit Thursday 4/13 – Saturday 4/15, Paramount Theater: An assembly of outstanding entrepreneurs share their founding stories and offer advice on starting up anything, anywhere. Keynote speakers include Anne-Marie Slaughter (New America) Dave McClure (500 Startups), and Kim Jordan (New Belgium Brewing Company). General admission is $99; ticket prices rise to $129 on April 1. Student tickets are $29.

  1. Hometown Summit Thursday 4/13 – Saturday 4/15, Multiple Venues: Presented in partnership with the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, the Hometown Summit is a three-day conference for 300 leaders from over 40 small and mid-sized cities across America, as well as experts in national media, foundations, and policy centers. Featured speakers include Andy Berke (Mayor, City of Chattanooga, TN), Jason Schupbach (National Endowment for the Arts), and Levar Stoney (Mayor, City of Richmond, VA).

  1. Innovations in Democracy: First 100 Days of Trump Thursday 4/13, The Paramount Theater: The nation’s leading presidential scholars and journalists assess the state of American democracy. Speakers include U.S. Senator Mark Warner, Chris Cillizza (The Fix), and Peter Baker (NYT).

  1. Innovations in Energy: Future of Renewables Thursday 4/13, The Paramount Theater: Distinguished energy entrepreneurs, policy representatives, and researchers discuss the future of renewable energy. Speakers include Lester Brown (Earth Policy Institute) and Jerome Ringo (Zoetic Global).

  1. Future Forum: Creative Economy 2025 Wednesday 4/12, The Paramount Theater: Local leaders envision Charlottesville’s future as a hub for creativity and entrepreneurship.

  1. Innovations in Education: Early Childhood Tuesday 4/11, The Paramount Theater: Innovators, entrepreneurs, and educators who are redefining early childhood education highlight advances in the field during a keynote panel and a series of flash talks.

  1. Youth Summit, Thursday 4/13, The Paramount Theater: This student-planned and student-led event convenes high school students, educators and civic leaders from across Virginia.  For the second year in a row, Governor Terry McAuliffe will join the Summit.

  1. Community Workshop Series Monday 4/10 – Sunday 4/16, Multiple Venues: A series of more than 30 community-led workshops build skills and offer new insight into such subjects as how to make artisanal truffles (with Tim Gearhart of Gearharts Fine Chocolates), produce a podcast, and create stained glass mosaics.

To see the see list of 300+ speakers at the Tom Tom Founders Festival:

Members of the press can  download the official press kit and register for press credentials at


The Tom Tom Foundation is the nonprofit organization that hosts the annual Tom Tom Founders Festival. Supporting high-impact events throughout the year, the Foundation seeks to empower the innovators whose creativity, entrepreneurial spirit, and dedication to community help ensure a better future for us all. Now in its sixth year, the action-packed Founders Festival is held during the week of April 13 (hometown hero Thomas Jefferson’s birthday) in Charlottesville, VA. Featuring outstanding local music, art, and food, as well as high-stakes startup competitions and high-impact conversations with business, entrepreneurial, and academic and civic leaders, the event attracted more than 38,000 attendees in 2016. Learn more at


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