|The Awesome Barbara Gee|
Barb had been recommended to us by Randy, who knew her from their days at the legendary Silicon Graphics (and before that she was at Hewlett Packard). He knew that Barb was a bleeding heart who wanted to put her hard core business skills to work for good.
Starting a new organization from scratch after fifteen years as a bureaucrat was terrifying, to say the least. We knew absolutely nothing about marketing, website technology, product development, financial statements - not even about how to establish and run a payroll or HR system. All of those things had been done for us at the World Bank. Startups require a lot of bluster, and in the early days that was pretty much all I felt I had.
No matter. Barbara was our guide to how to think about and run a business. She was extremely matter of fact, and taught us how to delve into new areas and just make decisions, knowing that we would have to revisit those decisions in the future. She helped us work on pitches, think about business development, manage tech firms - you name it. She even put us up in her garage apartment (the one with the bathroom in the kitchen!) on our first few trips to the west coast.
Barb has done many interesting socially innovative things over the past decade, and she is now VP of the Anita Borg Institute, a powerful network of women in technology. The other day I realized that, for all the help she gave to us - and by extension to the 10,000 projects in 144 countries that GlobalGiving has supported - we paid her the sum of exactly zero dollars and zero cents.
This was not our intent; in the early years we had no money. But I still feel bad about that, because I for one believe that highly committed and competent people should not have to always "do good for free" by volunteering their time. So I will be looking for an opportunity to re-pay Barbara part of what she has earned. (I seem to recall that Barbara is a Buddhist, so the good news is that I can pay her in my and her next life if not this one.)
Thank you for everything, Barbara.
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