Get Your Tickets For October 27th, 2022

The social unrest in our country isn’t anything new. It has been there all along. We don’t have nearly enough spaces where the black voice can be highlighted, uninterrupted and not be dismissed or discounted. With heightened tension on social media and digital platforms we can become desensitized to the injustices that have plagued the black folks in our community for years. Unfortunately, there are still too many people in our community who are unwilling to take off their personal lens of life, so they gain clarity from another perspective. Our hope is that people walk away with a growth in empathy and understanding from a black person’s point of view. 

This is why we are creating a space… to listen, to learn and take action. VanTalks has partnered with Ready to Rise to provide a platform for 4 Black community members to share their stories of being Black in Vancouver/Clark County, WA. This will be an uncomfortable dialogue for some, and that is okay. 

We need to take time to marinate in the stories of others so we can gain perspective and empathy from folks that don’t share our same lived experience. This conversation will be guided by the premise of storytelling, sharing unfiltered experiences and telling the truth of 4 Black Lives who live, work and are pillars of change and empowerment in our community. 

  • Kurt Miller

  • Title: 12 minutes to Save the World – A Guide to a Clean & Fair Energy Future

    Subject: It’s critical we not only achieve a clean energy future, but one that is reliable and affordable. The path is narrow. Here’s how to do it in a smart way.

    Bio:Kurt advocates for an inclusive, decarbonized electric grid representing community-owned utilities across the Northwest. He is a long-time Vancouver resident and former USA national karate champion. He hopes to inspire people with his passion and interest for a clean energy future.

    Bio Link:

  • Tyler Monk

  • Title: The promise of change vs the process of change

    Subject: It took years to break my mindset bondage. We must move from our past experiences that cripple our confidence, to allow those adverse challenges to catapult our actions and engage in the process of change.

    Bio: Tyler Monk grew up in inner city Portland where his greatest adversary was his own thinking. He has an adverse childhood experience (ACES) score in the teens. At 22, he accepted responsibility to not perpetuate the past, but instead adopted a mindset to begin a journey to break generational suffering. A first-generation college graduate and entrepreneur Tyler spent his first 7 years after college as a GEAR UP Site Director for the Vancouver School District. In 2018, Tyler launched the Inspirational Story-Telling Company —The Underdog Mentality. Tyler’s purpose is to help people tap into the power of potential so they can lean into their greatness.

    Bio Link:

  • Kathy Ann Carlisle

  • Title: Beyond change is the invitation into transformation

    Subject: Multiple Sclerosis brought her to the door of change. What she didn’t expect was that there was a choice to be made. Beyond change was the invitation into transformation. 

    Bio: Life for me took the most brilliant twist at around the age 33. I received a devastating diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. I was raising 3 small children at the time and had to put my photography business on hold. I began to chase a someone or something  to ‘fix’ me.  After years of chasing the answers outside of me, I began to look within. I began to release labels I once found comfort in and started to rediscover WHO I wanted to be rather than whom, I thought I should be.  I set out on a journey to heal myself of Multiple Sclerosis and what I found was a spiritual journey that has lit my life on fire. I use my gifts to tell inspirational stories and inspire others to embark on their own journey inward.

    Bio Link:

  • Nathan Tanzman Jr

  • Title: A journey to authenticity

    Subject: A man’s search for significance through the modern social ideology leads him down a road of pain and destruction. In times of him being broken down to where he believes he is nothing, convinced that he has no value, he then finds what he was truly looking for, Himself.

    Bio:I am Nathan Tanzman, a 31 year old stunt rider, speaker, and entrepreneur. My mission is to spread the message of self belief and authenticity by sharing my experiences and continuous self discovery. I aspire to Inspire through my philosophies and passionate story telling. I believe that if I can be a representation of change I can then truly help people and advance the next generation.

    Bio Link:

  • Mike Nieto

  • Title: Uncomfortably Safe in the Workplace

    Subject: Utilizing the experiences of the past to get uncomfortably safe for the future. Why doing this in workplace not only helps us achieve better success at work, but translates to better success in the rest of life.  Why therapy is one of many tools that helps us discover who we really are and what we can really achieve in life.

    Bio: Mike Nieto, founder of Catworks Construction, created the company from a desire to have a financially profitable organization and one that promoted personal and professional growth. Since 2005, the company has grown to nearly 65 employees and operates in five states. In 2017, Mike continued his vision of Building People, Building Projects, when he launched Dig Deep, a non-profit dedicated to workplace mental health. 

    Mike was past president of the Southwest Washington Contractors Association and is currently an executive board member of Identity Clark County, an organization of business leaders who are dedicated to building community.

    Bio Link:

  • Paul Iarrobino

  • Title: Taking Off the Mask: Pandemic Epiphanies From the Other Side

    Subject: COVID came with many unexpected surprises for me to unpack, but I wasn’t in the mood for that. I wanted my life back. After the initial shock, the added time and space allowed me to re-examine my priorities. I now have a sense of clarity in a way I never experienced before.

    Bio: Paul Iarrobino credits his upbringing in a large Italian East Coast family for helping him speak up at the dining room table, lest he go unheard. Paul caught his second wind at the age of 50 and started sharing stories on stage. He has performed his craft to audiences, and eventually grew his practice to teaching, coaching and producing. 

    Now, a decade later, at the age of 60, and after experiencing the ups and downs of the pandemic, he has just released his first book, COVIDOLOGY: Sharing Life Lessons from Behind the Mask. This anthology features many first time authors and poets and includes Paul’s COVID short story, Metamorphosis.


  • Sarah Desjarlais

  • Title:Brighter Days Ahead: Making the World a Brighter Place with Very Ordinary Light

    Subject: Whether it’s changing diapers or closing deals, the light you have to offer the world may surprise you. Hear the story of how one diaper-slinging mom set out to make a difference at one child welfare office, and how her light of Mothering leant itself to illuminate the darkened world of child welfare. Be inspired to find the one thing about YOU that cannot and should not be hidden. The world NEEDS the light that only you can offer.

    Bio: A former foster parent and momma to five wild kids, Sarah has a high tolerance for pain. With a tireless ability to dig in when problems need solving, she always has ideas brewing for the next big solution. What began in 2013 as a simple solution serving local children in foster care, blossomed into a nonprofit organization called “Office Moms & Dads”. As the national conversation turned to systemic racism throughout the pandemic, Sarah and her team of dedicated board, staff and volunteers rebranded the organization to become known as Fosterful – a mindful, thoughtful and hopeful approach with an inclusive community surrounding foster care all throughout the Northwest. Sarah loves cooking, eating, public speaking, and believes that Bigfoot really does exist.

    Bio Link:

VANtalks is a growing eco-system of local thought leaders who stand on the leading edge of community and global transformation. We feature a vibrant forum of live speakers highlighting the best new ideas and innovation in our community.


We’re proud to have teamed up with many local businesses who believe in Vancouver just as much as we do. If you believe in the Vancouver community and would like to become a sponsor, please get in touch.


We’re proud to have teamed up with many local businesses who believe in Vancouver just as much as we do. If you believe in the Vancouver community and would like to become a sponsor, please get in touch. Over the years, we have been sponsored by the following: