Spolight on Michael Ioffe / by Haley Smith

Meet Michael Ioffe, founder of TILE Talks. His commitment to hosting conversations with innovators and leaders sparks education and connections amongst hundreds of listeners.

Tell us about TILE. Why did you start it?

If you’re a typical student, you have no way to engage in live conversations with your idols: no venue to hear their stories, ask burning questions, understand their perspectives, and learn from their experiences. Conversations with innovators, leaders, and entrepreneurs are inaccessible to the students that need them the most, even though such conversations have the power to inspire, illuminate potential, and create meaningful local impact. Unfortunately, such experiences are currently too expensive, too selective, or simply nonexistent for most youth.

To fix this issue, I started TILE, now the world’s largest conversation series. Working with over 600 students in over 220 locations and 36 countries, TILE organizes free, live, and accessible conversation series that bring together local teens and a notable guest for monthly, hour-long discussions. The TILE Platform™—an online resource guide featuring guidelines, case studies, directories, and templates—and our student-led support team allows TILE to scale everywhere where there is internet access.

TILE provides a venue for conversations that pave the way for internships, mentorships, and meaningful connections. Our unique model allows us to bring vital educational resources to the most underserved locations, while empowering students to create change in their own communities. Guests at our events have included everyone from the CEO of the Jordan brand to India’s most successful film producer to an Olympic Gold Medalist. By the end of 2018, over one million students will have attended a TILE talk.

 

How can someone start a TILE chapter?

Anyone can start a TILE chapter by going to our website (tiletalks.co) and indicating interest through our intake form. Our team will reach out with a few additional questions, and once you’re verified, we’ll register your chapter and give you access to the TILE Platform™. Once you’re registered, our team is also on hand to help out with questions, concerns, and advice.

 

What have, in your opinion, some of the most memorable TILE talks been?

Our most memorable chapter thus far has been in Sana’a, the epicenter of the conflict currently taking place in Yemen. Mohammed Al-Adlani, a Yemeni student, reached out to us about a year ago interested in starting a TILE chapter at his high school. Mohammed managed to line up five incredible speakers and an event space in less than three weeks, a record amongst TILE chapters. The events ended up being wildly successful, with over 200 attendees per event. In September 2017, Mohammed leveraged his work with TILE to receive a full scholarship to American University in Beirut and escape the war zone in Sana'a. I highly recommend reading more about Mohammed and his story here: tiletalks.co/story.

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