TED Community » Kara DeFrias

About Me

Described by US CTO Todd Park as one of "the baddest of the bada.. innovators," Kara's passion lies in creating engaging experiences, both online and off. Her career has brought her to many exciting places, including the Super Bowl, the Oscars, and the White House. She was a member of the first class of White House Presidential Innovation Fellows, where she served as entrepreneur in residence reimagining the relationship between the people and the government from a technology perspective.

According to her 2nd grade report card, Kara “likes to talk. A lot." Which makes sense that this long-time Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) and former journalist would still be working in communications. Kara currently works at Intuit, leading brand and innovation experiences for the corporate communications team. She's also executive producer for TEDxIntuit, and has worked on TEDxSanDiego. Kara earned a BA from Elizabethtown College and graduated summa cum laude from Penn State University with a master's degree. Secret superhero identity: saving the world from bad PowerPoint, one slide at a time.

United States, San Francisco, CA
Current organization:
Past organizations:
The White House, TEDxSanDiego, TEDxIntuit
Current role:
Sr. Manager, Brand & Innovation Experiences
Areas of expertise:
Experience Design, Design Thinking, User Experience (web), Scripting, Event and panel moderator, Writing - Creative Content
Member Picture

TEDCRED 500+ TED AttendeeTEDx Organizer

More About Me

I'm passionate about

Play. Tinkering. Exploring. Laughing, lots. Trying to make the world a better place by working on stuff that really matters.

An idea worth spreading

1) Always say yes. 2) Make your own opportunities - don't wait for things to happen. 3) Help each other shine.

Talk to me about

Designing great experiences, theatre, STRM

People don't know that I'm good at

Carrying a tune.

My TED Story

After being a big fan of TED talks for years, I finally got involved with TEDx in 2010 when I directed TEDxSanDiego. I've been on that team ever since, now helping out in an advisory role. I loved the experience so much that I applied for a license to executive produce my own event at work: TEDxIntuit.


  • TEDCred score: +1900.00 TEDCred reflects your contribution to the TED community.

  • A comment on Talk: Jon Nguyen: Tour the solar system from home

    Jun 24 2012: Way to go, Jon! So proud of you. Between working with you on TEDxSanDiego and being selected by NASA to attend the Atlantis launch, looks like 2012 was the year of NASA for me. :)
  • A comment on Conversation: As a TEDx organizers I wish there were this feature on ted.com/tedx. Please propose a suggestion or an idea around future functionality.

    Jun 12 2012: Looking at the site information architecture as it is now, it serves a couple of different masters: people who want to know more about TEDx, and those who organize TEDx events.

    I think a key question is: Should ted.com/tedx be about and for us, or for the public who visits TED.com?

    If the former, I think we have a lot of places we, as organizers, can access content to help us put on successful TEDx events. I'm not sure if how we do what we do needs to be on display to the public on TED.com.

    With the latter focus (having a great experience when visiting ted.com/tedx as a member of the public - not a TEDx organizer), I wish the focus was more on highlighting the talks (those "ideas worth spreading") like on the homepage of TED.com. Perhaps, in addition to the sorting features on the homepage, there's an added option of sorting by region, state or country. I'd still see there being About TEDx, Find an Event, etc.
  • +1

    A comment on Talk: Improv Everywhere: A TED speaker's worst nightmare

    Mar 9 2012: At first, as we watched his talk unfold from the audience we thought, "Wow, the sound guy isn't silencing the Mac, weird." Followed by, "Okay, that's just unprofessional, come on TED, cut the sound." Finally, "OH! Ha!"


    Well played, Improv Everywhere, well played.
  • +1

    A comment on Talk: Bryan Stevenson: We need to talk about an injustice

    Mar 5 2012: I watched this via simulcast at TEDActive last week, and was moved to my core. What the video doesn't show you is how long the standing ovation went on and on.

    Bryan is a fantastic orator, and this TED talk, above most I've seen, should be shown in speech, debate and public speaking courses as a master class in storytelling and narrative.
  • +4

    A comment on Talk: Keith Nolan: Deaf in the military

    Feb 13 2012: Of all the talks I've watched on TED.com, if this struggle Keith Nolan isn't "an idea worth spreading" then I don't know what is.

    I'm going to share it with both my personal networks and via the TEDxSanDiego accounts on Facebook and Twitter. I encourage you to help him raise his "voice" too.
  • A comment on Talk: Ali Carr-Chellman: Gaming to re-engage boys in learning

    Dec 25 2011: Interesting idea in bringing gaming into the elementary schools. Gamification has blown up in the past 5 years both in schools and corporations. Love her points, and that she also anticipates the rebuttals. What I'm not completely sold on it that it's only boys that can benefit from this teaching methodology.

    Full disclosure: proud to have graduated from the Penn State instructional design program that Ali's part of; my masters thesis was on how incorporating gaming into corporate training and development increases retention and productivity.
  • A comment on Talk: Frank Gehry: My days as a young rebel

    Dec 15 2011: Looked on TED.com to see how far back I could find a talk. Imagine my delight to find one by Frank Gehry from March 1990 - what a gem! Even seeing the old TED logo made me grin. Going to go back and start to watch some of the older talks now...
  • +3

    A comment on Talk: Amy Purdy: Living beyond limits

    Nov 29 2011: To the folks who commented that this talk isn't worthy of the TEDx stage or TED.com:

    Working through adversity, sharing your experience, inspiring others to look beyond their (perceived) insurmountable issues? Now *that's* an idea worth spreading.

    Thanks to Amy for sharing her story.
  • +1

    A comment on Talk: Thomas Suarez: A 12-year-old app developer

    Nov 16 2011: As someone who majored in English Education in my undergrand program, it makes me smile when I think of kids lining up at midnight to buy the latest Harry Potter book. Kids, staying up late to read? How cool!

    As someone who now works in technology, it inspires me that kids like Thomas are curious and build things just to see if they can. How awesome!
  • +8

    A comment on Talk: Malcolm McLaren: Authentic creativity vs. karaoke culture

    May 31 2011: I must admit, at first I was taken aback that this talk was 50 minutes; then I realized it wasn't a TED talk, per se, but a Best of the Web talk.

    Some folks have commented that it's too long, which proves his point -- in this day and age of compartmentalized, short-form everything, anything longer than 140 characters is seen as droning and too ominous a read. While McLaren blames karaoke and speaks more to unoriginality, in reality it comes down to the MTV, smash cut, 30 second chunks of information culture that's been building over the past 25 years.

    It's no wonder creativity is waning, when the only expectation when creating these days is to give a hat tip to the person who built something in the first place, then "make it your own, dog."
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