Born and raised in Philadelphia, Tony Karakashian moved to Rochester in 1993 to attend the University of Rochester. He can actually pinpoint the exact moment his life was defined: at the tender age of ten, Tony stumbled across a promo for a new series coming to PBS named “Cosmos” hosted by scientist, author and poet, Carl Sagan. Every Tuesday thereafter you could find him unmoving and unblinking as he stared at the TV from 9 to 10 pm. This ignited a sense of wonder at the grandeur of the universe and inspired a love of learning that drives him to this day. It was this drive which first lead him to TED and what keeps him going back for more.

Being a science geek is his hobby, though. Professionally, he’s been an IT pro for almost his entire adult life. His effect on organizations has been transformative as his zeal to increase operational efficiency through technology is infectious. In his last role at Paychex, he was responsible for overhauling and managing an enterprise infrastructure that generates almost half a billion dollars per year in revenue for that company. His desire to partner with everyone he works with for mutual success serves him well in his current role as Situational Lead. In this role, his responsibility is to gather together and lead the teams to restore service as quickly as possible in the event of a major outage.

If asked what drives him, the answer will always be his family; his wife, local artist Jes and his daughter Maeby Annabel. It was at Maeby’s first birthday party that Tony received an e-mail that TED was opening up their program to allow local communities to host their own TED-like events under the banner of TEDx. It couldn’t have been a better sign that the vehicle he was looking for to make the world a better place for his loved ones had just dropped into the palm of his hand.

Tony loves Rochester and sees TEDxRochester as an opportunity to not only solve some basic issues the city is having, but to serve as inspiration and pilot for other locations to effect their own change.

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