I hope that we (The Gates Foundation) will be able to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives by designing and delivering beautiful and impactful financial products for the 2.5 billion people who live on less than $2/day….
Location: Seattle, Washington
Profession: Program Officer, Financial Services for the Poor, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Twitter Handle: iodave
What was the first charitable gift you ever gave?:
Giving back, honestly and generously, was a big part of my life growing up, and my parents were incredible in role modeling this for our family. We definitely grew up with the belief that to whom much is given, much is expected, and that sentiment has colored how I view and interact with the world.
A friend of mine recently introduced a nice model of how anyone could make a gift. He said that we should consider giving across the following areas: Treasure, Talent, and Time. I think it’s a pretty nice way to navigate how you can make a gift, depending on where you are in life.
What is your charity of choice?:
This is a bit of a tough question because a big part of my role at the Gates Foundation consists of making investments to organizations in both the nonprofit and private sectors to tackle the financial inclusion challenge.
Personally, I’ve found myself gravitating towards organizations – both in the nonprofit and private sectors – that are somewhat related to the arts, especially music. Music has been a huge part of my life, and I feel incredibly grateful for the impact that it has had on my life. In turn, I want to do what I can to help and support organizations, whether it’s Ensemble Companio (www.ensemblecompanio.org), the Cornell University Glee Club (www.gleeclub.com), or even The Hangovers (www.hangovers.com), share their incredible talent with the world.
Music can be a deeply personal and trans-formative force. If I can do my part in supporting this cause, I’m in! I have seen firsthand how music can be a bridge in connecting people and communities. And going forward, I think this honest connection – whether it’s between singer and singer, singer and audience, or between the audience members themselves – will be needed more than ever. With music, you can go beyond words to convey a message; you can touch people’s minds and hearts and have people actually feel something.
How do you give your time?:
I’ve spent my time working with some pretty incredible organizations over the years. In 2014, I helped advise Significance Labs, an incredible social impact incubator dedicated to the idea that the 75 million Americans living on less than $25,000/year benefit should as much from technology as the well off. It was really amazing to see their growth in such a short period of time. From the blink of an eye, we went from brainstorming what the incubator could be to seeing the first class of fellows pitch their startups to a packed room.
Before that, I spent a lot of my time volunteering with New Sector Alliance. New Sector’s mission is to strengthen the social sector by enriching its talent pipeline, and I went through one of their programs myself back in 2006. Since then, I’ve been a mentor to current program participants as well as the founding member and co-chair of the Alumni Board. While serving on the Alumni Board, I had the incredible opportunity to work with the amazing New Sector staff and a team of wildly enthusiastic, smart, and passionate alumni from all over the country. We aimed to build a sense of community for the alumni by creating opportunities for the alumni to meet and interact with current program participants, each other, New Sector, and with the sector at large.
What advice do you have for others to consider giving?:
Give honestly and give generously.
What’s your favorite part of your job?:
Besides working with some of the most brilliant, kind, and hard-working people I have ever met, the favorite part of my job is working on making a real impact in the world by tackling the financial inclusion challenge. I feel incredibly lucky that I am in the position to devote my time on such a big, meaty challenge, and I hope that we will be able to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives by designing and delivering beautiful and impactful financial products for the 2.5 billion people who live on less than $2/day.