Do you have a powerful sentence that describes your mission in a nutshell? Here’s one to get you thinking….
“Global community advocate building awareness and connections across cultures step-by-step.”
That’s a mouthful, and a meaningful one. Who does it describe? Meet Stephanie Gee, a recent client who I found absolutely inspiring.
Stephanie is a San Francisco native who has witnessed the city change and grow. While she embraces many of the new developments, she also cares about preserving San Francisco’s identity and advocating for those who are marginalized. After ten years working in Sales at Google, she left the company in early 2016 to travel and to volunteer. Last year, she traveled to sixteen countries throughout Latin America, Asia, and Europe and she’s also been involved in volunteering with various social impact organizations within the Bay Area and abroad.
I’m a San Francisco native, born and raised. I love the city and its various communities who are willing to stand up and speak out for what they believe in.
Do you have a morning ritual?
Most mornings I’ll take my dog out for a 4-5 mile walk. She needs the exercise to burn off nervous energy, and I use the time to listen to my favorite morning show or podcasts.
What is your favorite thing to cook?
Hmm.. that’s a tough one. I don’t eat a lot of meat, so I prefer to cook recipes that are centered around vegetables. Although, I do have a sweet tooth so I tend to bake more often than cook.
What is your favorite spot in the Bay Area?
My neighborhood, the Mission. There are a number of places where I can meet a friend for a delicious cup of coffee and a tasty treat.
What do you love about tech in the context of social change?
Technology has made sharing and learning about information easier. Individuals can create virtual communities across borders and mobilize action towards supporting causes they believe in more quickly.
I’ve also been fascinated to see how tech has influenced the way people learn and work today. My homeschooled niece dials into a virtual classroom with other homeschooled children living in other states. I once had a manager whose commute was so long that she worked from home a couple of times a week so she could see her children when they were awake. Although some of us may have difficulty drawing a line between work and personal time, the presence of tech allows us more flexibility in our schedules to achieve a better work-life balance.
Fill in the blank. Happiness is _________.
… something that comes from within – it’s all about perspective.
What’s your advice for folks who want to make the world a better place, but don’t know where to start?
I can completely understand that challenge. I suggest that they reflect on which issues move them the most and then start searching for local organizations who are addressing them such as volunteermatch.org and idealist.org.
Who inspires you these days?
My mother is my number one inspiration. Although she passed away from breast cancer 8 years ago, her life left an impression on me because she gave back to the community in multiple ways. She instilled in me the values I still believe in and live by today. When she passed, I started reflecting on what I would care about at the end of my life, and I realized that nurturing relationships and helping others matter the most in terms of a successful and meaningful life.
How did you go from local to global in terms of your advocacy work?
My first introduction to global advocacy was in high school when I participated in mission trips with my church youth group. We had the opportunity to travel to Jamaica and Belize where we worked on construction and taught kids vacation bible school. Then in college, I spent a year abroad studying in Vienna. I enjoyed connecting with the individuals I met with from different cultural backgrounds. Finally, in 2016, I decided to make a major shift in my life. After ten years at Google, I left to travel, to learn more about other cultures, and to volunteer with different communities. I was presented with a number of volunteer opportunities locally and abroad, and I signed up for them. My experiences taught me: need is everywhere, focus efforts on supporting a few issues, and it’s important to engage with other communities. The less we view others as “foreign” and “different,” the more time we have for solving problems and making an impact.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I’ve learned too often that life doesn’t work out according to a plan so I haven’t given much thought to the details of my future. Five years ago, I wouldn’t have believed that I would leave the security and comforts of Google without another secure job lined up. However, my wish for the future includes remaining connected to international communities and possibly living abroad supporting a global issue I care about.
What are the top three organizations doing great transformational work that we should all support if we can?
There are three local organizations and one national organization I currently support: SF Achievers, the Breast Cancer Emergency Fund (BCEF), Refugee Transitions, and the International Rescue Committee. All of them work towards addressing breaking cycles of poverty.
Thanks, Stephanie. I admire the work you do!