A conference opening today in southeast Iowa is focused on how to make a difference in the world.

Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield is hosting the gathering, “ChangeMakers: Disruptors Transforming the World for Good.” Event producer Michael Sternfeld says the conference features speakers from a variety of backgrounds who will discuss their individual efforts that grew to change lives around the country and in some cases, globally.

“A change maker is someone who sees a need in the environment and looks for solutions,” Sternfeld says. “Those solutions are sometimes out-of-the-box. We sometimes have these really tough solutions in society, opposing forces, what do you do with them? A disruptor is someone who disrupts the status quo and finds a solution to a problem that no one ever thought of before.”

Among the speakers, Colombian humanitarian Father Gabriel Mejia, MoveOn.org co-founder Laura Dawn, and Dusty Baxley, a U.S. Army veteran and executive director of Boulder Crest Retreat. Sternfeld says acclaimed filmmaker and “global disruptor” David Lynch will also be appearing via Skype.

“Disruptors are the people who make change in our society,” Sternfeld says. “It’s not academic, it’s practical. How to become a change maker. I’ve asked each of the speakers to really hone in on this, how they got started, what was their vision.” The conference runs through Saturday and is free and open to the public, but seating is limited.

(By David Fannin, KMCD, Fairfield)