Four Netsquared Organizers Win 2015 NTENny Awards

Jim Lynch's picture

Every year, NTEN recognizes members of community who are particularly generous with their time and talents. The folks at NTEN describe it as "amping up the awesome" of the NPTech sector. This year turned out to be Netsquared's year.  Our own Eli van der Giessen, Birgit Pauli-Haack, Seth Horwitz, and Regina Walton won NTENny awards, as well as our beloved colleague, Michael DeLong, who passed away this past year. Viva Netsquared! This piece originally appeared on the TechSoup blog here.

What Are the NTENny Awards Again?

Megan Keane, NTEN membership director, describes the NTENny awards this way: "The NTENny Awards go to community-nominated individuals who have gone above and beyond to enhance the NTEN community. Throughout the year, we take nominations from our community members. Just before NTC each year, NTEN staff and board members make a final decision on the award winners."

Eli van der Giessen, NetSquared Global Community Manager

Eli is definitely one of our best and brightest, and is something of a force of nature. He helps groups of tech-for-good people get together anywhere in the world get together to talk shop. Over the last decade, Eli has been a volunteer manager, an event organizer, a digital campaigner, and a community manager.

Currently, he's our indefatigable NetSquared community manager, supporting a global volunteer network of 50 monthly meetups for the nonprofit technology sector. Together, the volunteers in that network hold more than 450 events per year across 20 countries.

He supports people in countries as far-flung as Australia, Poland, and Uganda. This means there's no single meeting time that will work for all the NetSquared organizers. He says, "We need to hold many of our calls twice so that we can make sure everyone can participate."

I actually don't believe that Eli sleeps.

What Makes Eli Tick

What makes Eli really tick? He explains it some in his Netsquared blog post, Why I Became a NetSquared Organizer.

It turns out that Eli is basically shy. When you get to meet him (and I trust you will), you wouldn't know it. He says that being an organizer gives him a defined role so he has an "in" to talk with people.

He also told me, "I find my bliss in being a facilitator and supporter. I'm no maker. What I enjoy is helping people create something together that's bigger than what they could do as individuals. It also helps that I'm a bit of a Pollyanna — this work is easier if you're relentlessly positive in your outlook! Basically I'll take any gig that allows me to enable a group of passionate people to create things they love."

Regina Walton

Regina is our amazing co-organizer of San Francisco Tech4Good, the NetSquared-affiliated group in the Bay Area. Regina manages the largest NetSquared group in the network.

She's grown the group to more than 3,200 members. She has also led her community to start publishing monthly nptech community roundups and has recruited co-organizers to help her expand the group.

Eli describes her as unstoppable.

Birgit Pauli-Haack

Birgit Pauli-Haack is our NetSquared regional ambassador for eastern North America. Birgit goes above and beyond quite often to provide pro bono technology help to local nonprofit organizations.

She has been with the Naples Free-Net since 1998 and organized the NFN4Good nonprofits support and education program to teach WordPress, CiviCRM, and other open-source software. Birgit is also coordinator of WordPress Meetup SWFL and the nonprofit NFN4Good TechClub, supported by the NTEN community.

Seth Horwitz

Seth Horwitz has led the NetSquared community along with Ivan Boothe in Philadelphia since 2008. NetSquared Philadelphia is a thriving nonprofit tech community that has had more than 2,000 participants over the years.

Seth is an experienced organizer who got his start coordinating the Free University at Penn State, in which anyone could teach a course in anything. He has been adept at recruiting an active team of co-organizers to assist him in planning the Philadelphia events.The many NetSquared Philadelphia events have featured extraordinary nonprofit work starting with campaigns by Friends for Peace and Ivan Boothe's Genocide Intervention Network at the time of the Darfur atrocities in Sudan.

Seth and his organizers have experimented with NetSquared event formats over the years, including Crowdsourcing Change, an interactive way for a group to brainstorm on how one specific nonprofit can take its tech strategy and communication efforts to the next level.

Lauren Girardin

Lauren Girardin runs Lauren Girardin Consulting and is a communications consultant dynamo. She does so much good work with TechSoup, it's very tempting to claim her as our own.

What makes Lauren tick? She is a genius at traveling. Have a look at her Ephemerratic blog to see who she really is.

Also have a look at her stuff on Govloop, especially her 9 Management Lessons from House of Cards' Frank Underwood. She's a clever one, is Lauren Girardin.

Michael DeLong

I get a lump in my throat on this one. We just want to thank Megan and Amy and everyone at NTEN for recognizing our Michael DeLong. He was our senior manager of online community and social media, and he tragically died last year after just turning 40.

He was a social media wizard, but more importantly, beloved among us. He was an understated quiet man with a keen intellect and fine sense of humor. We mourn him and remember him well. May his gentle soul rest in peace.

Image 1: NTEN and Trav Williams of Broken Banjo Photography

Images 2, 3, 4, and 5: courtesy of NTEN

Image 6: courtesy of the Michael DeLong estate