We all have moments in our lives that we wish we could forget. Moments where either we have been treated badly or have done the same to others.
Sometimes, it feels like there is no escape from our past. But John Tarantino’s smash-hit TEDx talk is challenging us to rethink our beliefs.
Everyone deserves to have their own redemption story.
John delivered his talk at the TEDx Providence conference in May 2023 and since it was posted on YouTube on July 17, it has received over 3.3 million views – and that number is growing every day:
“When I was approached, I had never heard of a TED talk! I was committed to my clients and my non-profit work, but I also knew I had an idea worth sharing. So, I decided to educate myself, learn the rules, and get on stage.”
The TEDx Providence conference has been running for 8 years, and John’s talk has already had more views than all other speakers combined!
John is a leading legal mind in the US and has been recognized by Best Lawyers of America, Chambers USA, Benchmark, and Lawdragon as one of the top attorneys in the country.
He has tried many high-profile cases across areas including intellectual property, employment law, and white-collar crime.He regularly works pro bono to provide representation for those who need it most. He is also a leading author, having written 11 legal texts and more than 200 articles throughout his 42-year career.
His TEDx talk, though, is about something much more personal:
“No matter what you’ve experienced, or even what you’ve done – you CAN overcome obstacles and recenter your life. If you believe, hope will always find a way.”
In his TEDx talk, John tells the story of his dear friend Ralph Papitto, who in 2007, in a burst of anger, used a racial slur in the boardroom. He immediately realized his mistake and apologized, but the damage was done. The next morning, the story was a front-page news story, and Ralph’s reputation was in tatters.
Despite this, there was still hope. Ralph’s reputation had changed, but his character had not. He decided to prove his integrity and character through actions, rather than words.
Ralph and his wife Barbara established the ‘Read to Succeed’ program. The program was designed to encourage inner-city students from communities of color to improve their reading skills with the incentive of a $1,000 college scholarship every year for up to five years. Since its beginnings, the program has funded over $2.2 million in scholarships. As a Board Member, John helped provide the structure and management to make that happen.
Sadly, Ralph became ill and passed away in 2019. By then he had experienced true redemption because his character and commitment to helping those who needed it never wavered.
To honor Ralph’s legacy, Barbara established the Papitto Opportunity Connection (POC), a private family foundation in December 2020. The foundation exists to transform the lives of communities of color through making connections, eliminating barriers to success, and investing in those who are committed to creating systemic change. To date, the foundation has given over $63 million in donations to fund the vital work of over 250 organizations. John serves as POC’s Managing Trustee.
And then, amid the incredible work being done by POC, tragedy struck. John’s beloved wife of almost 45 years, Pat, was diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer, which has a 0% survival rate.
“I really struggled when Pat got sick. I was angry and devastated – why was this happening to us? But Pat had a different outlook. Even in her final days, she was thinking of ways to try and stop other families from experiencing the pain that we were.”
John and Pat, knowing the power of moving forward in even the most challenging circumstances, decided to do something remarkable. Together, they chose to donate their family home of thirty-three years and the cash proceeds from Pat’s life insurance policies, donating every penny to cancer research.
Since Pat’s passing, John has also established another foundation in her honor, The John and Pat Tarantino Charitable Foundation (JPT) alongside several funds that support patient care, family support, and new research.
Currently, one of the key initiatives builds on the work John has helped make a reality through POC. This past summer, a cohort of 22 high school students from marginalized communities with a passion for medicine, research, and cancer treatment, were given the opportunity of a lifetime to get experience working with experts in Oncology and Hematology.
Each student had a mentor and developed hands-on experience in research labs, doing rounds with physicians, and even attending educational conferences. Not only does this innovative program help shape young minds from communities of color, but patients from those communities will see more doctors wholook like them.
Every student has been invited to participate once again next year, and John is hopeful that after 5 years, they will have the data to show this pilot program should be rolled out nationally:
“The only way to learn the practice of medicine is to do it. Individual mentorship paired with real-life experience of treating patients and learning how to communicate with compassion is going to create a new generation of top-notch doctors, not only academically, but emotionally too.”
John is also CEO of Iylon Precision Oncology LLC, an organization that brings together experts in precision oncology to provide customized treatment recommendations to oncologists and their cancer patients through the analysis of genomic, pathology, laboratory, and radiology reports.
John’s three careers keep him incredibly busy, but he wouldn’t change it for the world:
“I’m now in a new phase of my life. The experiences I’ve had have shown me that I want to spend the time I have left improving communities and working on the ground with those making a difference. If I can leave the world a better place, asRalph and Pat have, then I consider that a life well lived.”
You can watch John’s unforgettable TEDx Talk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=poRyLHqvgrY
John is also available for further speaking opportunities, provided they are for the right audiences to raise awareness of POC, JPT, and Iylon and to talk about John’s passions of redemption and hope.