Greg Tehven

After traveling around the world, Greg returned home ready to stop being a tourist and prepared to take action. Tired of his beloved city of Fargo, North Dakota being perceived as a cold, barren wasteland devoid of talent, fifth-generation North Dakotan Greg Tehven set out to change his city’s unfair reputation. No matter what people from other places thought they knew about Fargo, Greg was proud of his city and everything it had to offer. He just had to decide how to shine a spotlight on thriving Fargo, North Dakota. As an advocate for the creative class, Greg decided that his solution would involve the arts, a network of innovative thinkers, and plenty of untested methods. And he was going to have some fun along the way.

What do people who are not from Fargo think they know about Fargo (perhaps thanks—or no thanks—to the movie of the same name)? It’s cold. The people have a funny accent. The population trends older and the younger people can’t wait to move away. Fargoans are primitive or, at best, behind the times. But what Greg knows about Fargo is that it has a population of talented, young, enthusiastic, and creative people. Fargo has plenty of technology, industry, innovation, and population growth. Greg wanted to get Fargo residents talking and making connections to build the strength of the creative and entrepreneurial network.

With this in mind, Greg founded TEDxFargo, which has brought together audiences to share ideas about community. Emerging Prairie, of which Greg is a co-founder, celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit of Fargo-Moorhead by hosting a wide array of events and initiatives and highlighting the region’s innovators. Greg believes in learning by doing, which is why he created Startup Weekend, an event at which entrepreneurs work in teams to build on startup ideas. With all these projects (and more), Greg invited the rest of the world to forget what they might have heard and to look at Fargo’s young, flourishing, creative community. Greg inspires and is inspired by the artists and entrepreneurs who have taken the already bright spots and helped them to become beacons. Now, it is easy for everyone to see that Fargo has thinkers and doers. Fargo isn’t stuck in the past, and neither are its residents. In fact, they are looking forward.

Greg is a graduate of University of Minnesota Twin Cities, where he co-founded Students Today Leaders Forever (STLF). The Engaged Philanthropy Conference awarded STLF the 2008 Social Entrepreneur’s Cup, an honor recognizing Minnesota’s top innovator for social change. TIME magazine featured STLF and its Pay It Forward Tour program in the article, “21 Ways to Serve America.” In 2010, STLF was recognized as the first organization to complete its Accountability Wizard review for Charities Review Council’s new accountability standards. Greg continues his education as a student of the Stanford Graduate School of Business’ Executive Education course on social entrepreneurship.

Because of his work supporting IT entrepreneurs, Greg was chosen as the 2015 North Dakota Information Technology Champion of the Year. He has the distinction of having organized the largest 1 Million Cups gathering in the nation and curates one of the top TEDx events in the United States. As a founding advisor of Fill the Dome, Greg helped to collect more than one million dollars and one million pounds of food for local food pantries. In addition, he has served on the boards of Teach for America Twin Cities, Myriad Mobile, and the West Fargo Education Foundation. You can peruse Greg’s writing in Fargo Monthly, where he pens a regular column.

A professional speaker for more than half his life, Greg chose to not only do the work of building the city he wants to live in, but to bring that message and encouragement to everyone who will listen. Greg grew up on a farm just outside the city of Fargo, and he believes in the power of small communities, especially when the community works together to make positive changes. He often speaks to audiences in cities with populations of 300,000 or less about building communities of art, energy, and creativity.

Everywhere he goes, Greg spreads an invitation to create something lasting in your own community—a reputation, a way of life, or even a physical space that is brighter and better than it was when you first saw it. In his free time, Greg enjoys taking in the arts and community events, pursuing adventure (and/or mischief), and playing a rousing game of Settlers of Catan.