Betsy Beaumon

Betsy Beaumon

By posted in on August 20, 2012 at 9:40am

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What were you doing before Benetech that led you here?

When I was in my twenties, I wanted to become a philanthropist and to combine my passion for applied technology with a pragmatic business approach. That’s what inspired me, in the mid-1990s, to found Social Online Services, a social enterprise and the first Web-based information and referral portal for social service organizations.

In the years that followed, I moved on to become an executive with high-growth organizations such as Cisco, TradeBeam, Inc. and BEA Systems, which were all about scaling technologies. During that time, social enterprises had come a long way and were looking to scale as well. I knew this was where I could best give back to society.

I attended the inaugural Social Capital Markets(SOCAP) conference and felt so excited to finally “meet my tribe”— and to see that a fully-fledged market for social enterprise could really work. It was there that I met Jim Fruchterman, and realized that Benetech had been a pioneer in that field. Benetech turned out to be the place I’d been working towards my whole career.

What is the best part about your job at Benetech?

The best part about my job at Benetech is being in a position to create actual positive change in the lives of people all across the world. When I joined Benetech, Bookshare had approximately 30,000 members. Today, we serve over 450,000 members and house the world’s largest online accessible library for people with print disabilities. Our team is out there at schools around the nation, ensuring that students have the tools they need to succeed. We’re both innovators and operators.

It’s not only the depth but also the breadth of our work that’s making a difference: Bookshare is now one of multiple initiatives of Benetech’s Global Literacy Program and we’re tackling almost every aspect of the field of education technology and accessibility. I also love being able to connect the dots between multiple fields: technology, education, publishing and social enterprise. These are the most exciting, high-change industries anywhere, and we’re at the nexus of them all! This puts Benetech in a position to continuously discover new ways to take the next leap forward in the application of technology to societal problems.

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

When I think about Benetech’s future, I’m most enthusiastic about the opportunities for us to play a pivotal role in creating systemic change. When it comes to our Global Literacy Program, I see the path to improving the content landscape permanently for the benefit of all people; I see how to advance a future in which all digitally born content is born accessible and is instantly usable by everyone – now that’s exciting!

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