Anna Berns

Anna Berns

By posted in on July 4, 2013 at 1:18pm

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What were you doing before Benetech that led you here?

Prior to Benetech, I spent a decade working in for-profit consulting and custom software development, and was responsible for product, project and staff management. I liked the technical and analytical aspects of my work, but it was all about building software to help big companies make more money. I wanted to do something more meaningful – something in the public interest space that I would care more about. So I began exploring a transition from the for-profit to the nonprofit sector and volunteered with various nonprofits. I was concerned, though, that I’d miss working with technology. Benetech offered the ideal combination: a technology company purely focused on helping people, not on making big profits! The tasks I’m responsible for are similar to what I used to do before I switched to the nonprofit world, but the difference is we’re building software to help people in often difficult situations overcome pressing challenges. To me, the fact that I get to work at a place that combines both worlds – technology for social good – is nothing short of amazing!

What is the best part about your job at Benetech?

There are a lot of “best parts” about my job here. For one, the team: I love working with highly skilled colleagues who are all passionate about making a difference in the world. I love that we serve people internationally and can help individuals all around the world. For example, one of the ways in which we do that in the Human Rights Program is by providing localized versions of Martus, our software for secure collection and management of human rights information. Currently Martus is available in eleven languages so that we can benefit human rights workers in non-English speaking countries. I love that our Field Team provides training to human rights groups on the ground: we get to interact with our users and understand their needs, so that we know the tools we build truly are useful and beneficial to them. It’s extremely gratifying to know that we put sophisticated technologies in the hands of those who need them most and might not be able to access them otherwise: Benetech builds affordable tools and, in the case of our Human Rights Program, we make Martus available for free.

Thinking about Benetech’s future, what are you most excited about?

While Benetech’s programs are all different from one another, the overarching goal is the same for all of us – use the power of technology to help people who really need it – and it’s exciting that Benetech continuously finds new ways to do that. When it comes to our Human Rights Program, this is a particularly exciting time for our team, as we’re in a stronger position than we’ve ever been before to do more and better serve the growing Martus user community. We’ve received significant funding to develop Martus and build tools and functionalities that have been on our product wish list for a long time. I’m thrilled that we’re able to build the next generation of Martus, which includes developing mobile applications of the tool; helping users better understand the data they collect through visualizations; adding and updating translations to reach out to a broader user base; expanding our outreach capacity by developing more resources for users and trainers; and increasing our impact in general by partnering with other tech developers and organizations that provide training to human rights groups, so that we’re stronger together. Our traditionally small team is known for our ability to create great impact with very limited resources, but now we’re at a place where we can grow and I’m looking forward to doing so much more for our users.

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