Category Archives: tribute

Meet the volunteer nonprofit technology mavens of March 2015!

An Evening of Pro Bono, Sales-Pitch-Free Tech...


I love working with Annkissam, and one of my favorite tasks is assisting in organizing their pro bono, sales-pitch-free  tech consultation events for local nonprofit professionals.

The next pro bono event will be on the evening of March 31st at the Cambridge Innovation Center.

Tech Networks of Boston and 501 Partners will be serving as co-hosts; I love to see these three mission-driven nonprofit technology assistance firms collaborating to serve nonprofit organizations.

I also love to see a wide range of other nonprofit technology mavens volunteering a few hours of their time at these events to offer consultations to any of the nonprofit guests who request assistance and advice.  In addition to the immediate help that this provides to the attendees, the event is a opportunity for nonprofit techies to do skills-based volunteering together, and sends a crucial message about our ability to collaborate.

Here is the all-star March 2015 team of nptech volunteers!

Meet the #NPtech mavens of November 2014!

I (heart) NPtech

On Monday, November 3rd, Annkissam, Tech Networks of Boston, and 501Partners
will be co-hosting an evening of pro bono, sales-pitch-free tech consultations for local nonprofit professionals!

This event will take place at the Venture Cafe in Kendall Square.  Nearly seventy nonprofit  professionals will be able to have short one-to-one consultations with as many mavens as they like.   (I will be one of them, offering consultations about strategic tech planning, knowledge management, social media, web strategy, and some other topics.)

I want to give a big shout out to my fellow mavens, who are volunteering to serve the nonprofit attendees in a completely sales-pitch-free environment:

In addition to the excitement of an event that enables me to work with a slew of nonprofits that are making the world a better place, I love the idea of showing the world that our local community of nonprofit technology professionals is a surprisingly collaborative one.  Three nonprofit technology assistance companies are coming together to host and underwrite the evening, and the 21 mavens will be working side by side in one room.  We’ll be encouraging all of our guests from the nonprofit sector to solicit second, third, and fourth opinions.  The goal isn’t to block them from exposure to other vendors, but to make sure they have the information they need and an opportunity to identify resources that are a good fit for their needs.

Chris Zibailo: A hero in ICT and expectation management

Chris Zibailo, DSCI

This morning, I ran into a long-lost colleague whom I remember as a hero.  Or rather, Chris Zibailo recognized my voice, and ran over to reintroduce himself to me this morning.

Chris and I met in 1999, when I was the information systems manager at Family Service of Greater Boston (FSGB).  FSGB was in the middle of a big geographic transition; we had sold our headquarters on Beacon Hill, and moved our information systems, plus everything else, to temporary quarters in Downtown Crossing. We were now facing, for the second time in just under a year, a move to our permanent headquarters in Jackson Square.

Fortunately, I was reporting to the world’s best chief administrative officer for a nonprofit human service organization, Bill Chrisemer.  I should take a moment and acknowledge Bill as a hero as well, because he always did his utmost to help me succeed in supporting FSGB.

It was the right time for Bill and me to think about state of the art voice and data lines.  Enter Chris, with a promise on behalf on his firm that got our attention:  we suck less.

Chris is my hero, because he delivered extraordinary service; he not only managed our expectations perfectly, but exceeded them.  We not only received the information and communication technology components that were critical for our operations, but all the personal care that Chris could give us in a difficult move.  I remember a particularly harrowing moment, while planning the weekend cut-over of all services for the entire organization, when we realized that someone had to be at our Quincy satellite office to wait for and let in the Bell Atlantic workers.  It was a thankless task and one that might have entailed hours of waiting around, and our information systems team had already been assigned critical tasks.  Just as I remember the harrowing moment of that realization, I also remember my overwhelming feeling of gratitude and relief when Chris volunteered for the job, which most definitely was not in the contract for services that we signed with him.  We gave him the keys, he did this tedious task, and all was well.

Later that year, Bill Chrisemer left, I was diagnosed with cancer (and had successful surgery), and DSCI underwent some significant changes. It was a very tough time, partly because Family Service of Greater Boston’s organizational culture had changed. In 2000, I left FSGB to take a job as TechFoundation’s national nonprofit liaison officer, and in 2002, I left TF to become a solo consultant.  I had lost touch with Chris, and heard a rumor that he had left his firm, but I still thought of him as the gold standard whenever I dealt with telephone and internet service providers on behalf of my clients.

Fast forward to this morning.  Imagine my delight when Chris caught up with me!  Delight was piled on delight when Chris told me that the acquisition of his firm, those many years ago, was not satisfactory, so he and his colleagues banded together to invest in DSCI and turn it into a hosted communication and connectivity service provider for the 21st century.

Kudos to you, Chris.  You’re still my hero.

In memory of Dan Scharfman

In memory of Dan Scharfman

Dan Scharfman, a wonderful colleague and friend, died last night.

My understanding is that there will be an obituary published tomorrow, and that the funeral will be on Wednesday.

I am shocked and grief-stricken, so it’s difficult to say more right now.

To his loved ones, all I can say are some words inspired by the Jewish tradition:

May the Omnipresent console you among the other mourners of Zion, Jerusalem, and the world.

“Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve”

Martin Luther King jr

This is a wonderful day to remember Martin Luther King jr, a deeply flawed human being who was also an exceptional benefactor to the human race.  In his “Drum Major” sermon, he made this important point:

Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve

In this sermon, he pointed out that we all have a drive to attain respect, honor, recognition, greatness.  He paraphrased the message of Jesus in Mark 10:35-40 in this way:

Keep feeling the need for being important. Keep feeling the need for being first. But I want you to be first in love.  I want you to be first in moral excellence. I want you to be first in generosity.

These are words to live by, for all of us who are deeply flawed human beings.

Today is not only the U.S.A.’s national holiday to commemorate Martin Luther King jr, but the date of Barack Obama’s second presidential inaugurationOur president will publicly take the oath of office on Martin Luther King jr’s bible, facing the the site where King gave his “I have a dream” speech.

Let’s all remember, along with Barack Obama, that everybody, not just the leader of the free world, can be great.

Let’s all remember that this Key & Peele sketch is just a joke.  The best path to respect, honor, recognition, greatness is by helping to make the world a better place, and not by intimidation and force.

In memory of John Sarvey

I received word this morning that John Hoang Sarvey had died during the Thanksgiving holiday.  My heart goes out to his family, friends, colleagues, and community.

My friend Peter Miller and I had the privilege of meeting with John on November 20th. It was the last appointment of John’s professional day before he took off for Thanksgiving.

We had a very candid conversation, in which he laid out some of his vision for substantial positive changes in community service and higher education. I was so excited, not only by his intelligent ideas, but by his noble intentions.

It seems to me that the best way that we, his professional colleagues and admirers, can pay tribute to him is to strive to be as smart, as noble, as effective, and as ambitious for the common good.

May his memory always be a blessing.

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