Though giving back to the community is a year-round commitment, the holidays serve as a great reminder to keep it going. SocialRadar asked DC tech leaders how they give back. Here’s what they had to say:
“I have so much to be grateful for so giving back for me is a must. In the DC area there are a lot of great people leading efforts so it is easy to contribute. I love children so I try to support student-centered efforts. During the “Hour of Code Week” for example a group of us from companies like Tableau, Phone2Action and Social Tables visited Basis School to spend time with the kids and talk about tech. It was awesome and fun to spend time with the kids but also with one another. The experience connected us in a special way and makes us feel part of a purpose bigger than our companies and ourselves. Self-fulfillment does not come from money or “success” but from helping others. It sounds corny but I really believe that so for me giving back is not an effort but a privilege.” Ximena Hartsock / @ximenahartsock / Co-founder & President, Phone2Action
“I give back by trying to do my part. My family has a long lineage of military service…from WW2 to Korea to Vietnam. It’s viewed in our family as a small sacrifice for how lucky we are. I’ve been in the Army National Guard for 12-years and served in Iraq and Afghanistan. I still serve one weekend a month and I’ll continue to serve until they retire me – I feel very lucky to wear the same uniform as my grandfathers.” Brett Gibson / @brettgibson1 / President, NextGen Angels
“Throughout the year, I volunteer with my two young sons at various charities including Project Giveback and through a few programs at their schools that provide support to the community. We are committed to contributing in numerous ways to positively impact the world around us. Whether it is helping to put together food baskets or donating personal items to benefit others in need, my sons are learning that we each have the power to make a difference in the lives of others.” Erin Horne McKinney / @erinhmckinney / Tech & Innovation Sector Manager, Executive Office of the Mayor
“Before I fell into tech, I was a social worker — so mission, giving back and being part of something larger than myself has called to me for a long time.
I think of giving back in two ways: it’s both woven into what we do every day — the difference we’re trying to make in the world — as well as something where we make explicit choices to donate time, money, resources and energy.
So first, where meaning is woven into the fabric of the company, from the jump we’ve drawn a bunch of inspiration from movements like Conscious Capitalism. And second, our approach to making explicit contributions is our PS Giveback program, in which we set aside a portion of every sale to fund the work of great local non-profits on issues we care about.” (Patrick has a lot more great insight to share – continue reading here…) Patrick Smith / @ptrcksmth / Founder & CEO, Power Supply
“I believe every single person has something to give someone else in the world. So, I live my life by the philosophy “give before get” — that is, if I can help someone I do, without regard to what I’m getting in return. In the end, I end up being far more blessed than if I had just focused on what I wanted. I give year-round, but mostly in quiet ways. The point should be in the giving, not in showing off the giving.” Donna Harris / @dharrisindc / Cofounder & Co-CEO, 1776
“We’re excited to be helping out Toys for Tots with an office-wide collection this year. There are so many parents working at AddThis so this cause comes close to heart for a lot of us. We’ve got the box set up in our cafe to get everyone inspired to donate!” Jake Thomas / @Talent_Angler / Talent Management, AddThis
“When it comes to giving back, I think it’s important to find something that you love, a cause that you are passionate about, and give back to the organizations and charities working in those fields. We all find time for the things we feel strongly about, and for me that’s combatting violence against women and fighting hunger and homelessness.
At work I’ve led projects that leverage technology to combat human trafficking and prevent sexual assault. Earlier this year, we launched NotAlone.gov — a central resource for survivors of sexual assault that brings together data and information from across various agencies and organizations. When I’m not at work, I volunteer with DC Central Kitchen, where I serve on their advisory board (called the Kitchen Cabinet). They provide over 5,000 meals to the hungry every single day and have a job and culinary skills training program for homeless women and men who assist put together the meals that go out daily.
My go-to line for people who are “too busy to volunteer” — donate coats, blankets, and warm gear to organizations serving the homeless in your area, especially during cold winter months. And if you see someone out in the cold without a place to go, call the hypothermia hotline in your city and help find them a warm shelter — it’s easy and you could literally save a life.” Vivian Graubard / @vivigraubard / United States Digital Service, The White House
“I’m passionate about giving my time and money towards a few causes: spreading technology in undeveloped countries, providing access to education to those who don’t have it, and the UN Refugee Agency. Access to technology and education provide an opportunity to improve one’s quality of life and generally drives an increase in human rights, while the UN Refugee Agency supports people around the world in serious and urgent need. I feel an especially strong call to support them since both of my parents were political refugees.” Konrad Waliszewski / @goKonrad / COO, Speek
“The holidays are always a great time to reflect on what you did this year to give back. For me personally, I worked with a great organization called DC SCORES, where I am a co-chairman. They provide after school programing to over 1500 kids in Washington DC. This year, we hired a new director, delivered more programs than ever before, and we have a great plan in place to meet the demand to give DC SCORES to those who want it. The new year also brings new hope and optimism. We just finished the year with the 17th annual Poetry Slam, where the poet-athletes competed for best prize. It is always a joy to see the kids express themselves in ways I couldn’t imagine and their hope comes through LOUD and CLEAR. Take a listen and read more.” Kevin Alansky / @alansky / CMO, SocialRadar