BAIL Banter Perspectives from Bay Area Internationalists (Glenn Fajardo)
BAIL Banter is a series of interviews with San Francisco Bay Area experts and members of the BAIL community. If you’d like to be interviewed or to recommend someone we should feature, please contact Prairie Summer.
In this edition we’re happy to introduce Glenn Fajardo, who works on international partnership and program development for TechSoup Global, a nonprofit social enterprise founded on the belief that technology can be a powerful enabler for greater social change. Glenn has helped NGOs get started with design thinking in places such as Maputo, Singapore, and Warsaw. In the past, he has helped build a for-profit environmental social venture from the ground floor and helped to foster the use of technology by local government to better connect residents to services and public decisions.
Glenn has been a contributor to the Stanford Social Innovation Review and is the curator for TEDxPeacePlaza in the Japantown and Fillmore neighborhoods of San Francisco. Glenn is also part of the Stanford d.school teaching community, co-teaching pop-up classes such as “Design for Everyday Social Good” and “Change that has a Chance.” Formally trained in nuclear engineering sciences and public policy, Glenn is also a musician who plays electric bass in the rock band Path Not Found. In his free time, Glenn enjoys playing with food, especially in other people’s kitchens.
BAIL: Can you tell us more about your role at TechSoup and what excites you about it?
GF: I do international partnership development and early stage program design for TechSoup Global, working with various partners and collaborators around the world. Currently, I’m working with a team to prototype, test, and build an “eLearning” platform that we hope will help NGOs access, create, and deliver more practical and convenient training resources. We’re trying to find the appropriate mix of online and in-person learning methods, helping NGOs create trainings that are locally relevant. We are co-designing and experimenting with partners in places such as Mozambique, Kenya, and Argentina. I’ve had the good opportunity to take on different roles at TechSoup Global. In the past, I helped build our network of relationships in Southeast Asia. And I helped launch our technology product donation program with our partners in Brazil, Canada, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Italy, Israel, Japan, and Sweden.
What I find most exciting is being able to “connect to create.” I love connecting people and ideas to create useful stuff, and using technology in new ways to help others do more good in the world. I have been really fortunate to work together with remarkable folks in various parts of the world, finding “little new ways” to see the world, starting to do things a little differently and starting to make change tangible.
BAIL: There are lots of obvious advantages to doing tech-related work in the Bay Area. What are some of the advantages we might not imagine, for the work you do, of being based in the Bay Area?
GF: One kind of funny advantage is that people in other parts of the world often assume that you know something about technology! Now TechSoup Global actually does have a ton of relationships with people in tech, including relationships with more than 100 technology product donors and various networks of people using tech for good. But that hasn’t always been true. When I have been on the road, I’ve found that people will assume that I am connected in technology circles simply because I’m based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Now there are some grains of truth in that assumption, particularly with people’s impressions of Silicon Valley / the Bay Area as a highly networked region, as Annalee Saxenian described 20 years ago. But it never ceases to amaze me just how strong a “brand” the Bay Area has around the world, especially when you know the amazing work that is going on in many different parts of the world.
BAIL: What’s most challenging about doing the work that you do in the Bay Area?
GF: I think one challenge is trying to continually have empathy with people outside of the Bay Area. We are such an outlier in so many ways – economically, culturally, demographically, and in other dimensions. Even though the Bay Area might have the highest per capita of people talking about empathy, there are certain things that are easy for us to take for granted, certain things that we may logically understand but do not intuitively appreciate just how different it is here compared to say, Nebraska, much less Nigeria.
BAIL: What’s the best way for people or organizations to get involved with your work?
GF: There are several different ways to get involved. First, you can register as a TechSoup member at TechSoup.org for free – you will be able to connect and compare notes with other nonprofits and libraries in our community forums and on our blog, and if you work for a nonprofit, signing up as a member is also the first step toward getting product donations for your organization.
Another way to get involved is to participate in some events and webinars. Some examples of specific event groups in the Bay Area include NetSquared San Francisco, NetSquared Silicon Valley, and the San Francisco Online Community Meetup Group.
Finally, if you work for a technology company or know someone at a technology company that wants to donate their technology products to validated NGOs through the TechSoup platform, we would love to hear from you.
BAIL: Favorite spot in SF/Bay Area?
GF: My favorite spot is Aquatic Park, where I like to read and space out staring at the water. 🙂