Photo: Stacy Keck

Kara DeFrias' passion for designing engaging experiences has brought her to many exciting places, including the Super Bowl, the Oscars, and most recently, the Obama White House as Director of Experience Design. 

Kara's background is a unique mix of private and public sector experience, including 4 years with TurboTax and an appointment to the first class of Presidential Innovation Fellows. In the latter she served as entrepreneur in residence, reimagining the relationship between the government and the people from a technology perspective. Most recently Kara was as Director of UX for Vice President Biden at the White House, where she led the Cancer Moonshot work around cancer clinical trials.

Previous work includes senior advisor to 18F’s executive director and senior leadership team, founder of TEDxIntuit, and part of the Emmy award-winning production staff on the Oscars. She also worked on the Women's World Cup press operations team and the Super Bowl. A do-gooder at heart, Kara does pro-bono digital strategy and communications for the likes of Team Rubicon and spent 10 days in rural India teaching micro-entrepreneur women human centered design, product management, and business skills.

Kara graduated summa cum laude from Penn State University with a masters degree in instructional design, and was a finalist for San Diego Woman of the Year. According to her 2nd grade report card, Kara “likes to talk. A lot.” Follow Kara on Twitter: @KaraDeFrias.

“Well, Kara is like a Sam Seaborn or a Josh Lyman — she’s not at the podium speaking so much as she is the person who Makes Sh#t Happen, and she’s who you want on your team if you ARE the person at the podium.”
— P. Karman

Other highlights

  • Guest lecturer at Stanford, George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs, and University of California San Diego Summer STEM Academy for high school girls.

  • Noted communicator, writing talks and designing presentations for all levels of executives and government. Wrote speeches for the head of 18F (part of President Obama’s tech squad) and worked on the CEO’s communications team at Intuit.

  • Proven digital strategist, creating multi-million dollar generating and delightful online experiences by utilizing best practices in UX, content, research, usability, data, SEO, and A/B testing.

  • Award-winning facilitator and keynote speaker on the topics of technology, human centered design, product leadership, and digital strategy. See speaking engagements.

  • Former reporter turned PR manager, who happens to be fluent in all things TED and speaks geek.

  • Named to DCFemTech Powerful Women Designers 2016, San Diego Woman Who Moves the City 2011, and Mom's favorite kid 2012.