I iterated (thanks for asking, Aaron Hurst) #ChaseGreat

Karen Borchgrevink
3 min readOct 5, 2016


LA Tech4Good

I arrived at the Taproot Foundation in July 2013, just as Aaron Hurst (we’ve never met) moved on to found Imperative. I had wandered through the digital side of publishing, printing and entertainment in my fairly casual career path. When I left that world in 2011 the road forward was foggy at best but I can say that I have pivoted to a space overflowing with social good, technology, innovation and “people power”.

ITERATION was (and continues to be) the #1 step I took to #ChaseGreat. I am still in a bit of awe over everything I’ve done over the last five years (details in a footnote* so as not to distract). Every iteration took me a little farther, gave a glimpse of something around a corner, introduced me to amazing people and opened another door.

Working for a nonprofit was nowhere on my radar when I joined Taproot to recruit & engage those passionate, skilled volunteers. I had heard that designers were needed — and coming off a decade in liberal Hollywood I knew that this gap could be closed. So when I looked to the side — and not straight ahead where I thought my career should go — I found an opportunity that fit. Moving to Taproot and a new landscape that allowed a major shift in perspective.

Big picture: I’d be hard pressed to choose between technology and fossil fuels as the main determinant of our planet’s future, but the digital revolution is exciting and it is surely redefining human relationships and possibilities in ways that we can influence for the better.

So my next major undertaking has been to leading LA Tech4Good, a local tech club to engage and empower people in the nonprofit/social impact/tech communities under the sponsorship of NTEN and TechSoup’s NetSquared. My strategic goal is build bridges between those communities and I’m happy that our meetup is now producing solid event content and our membership has tripled in a year. There is huge potential in Los Angeles, the city with the largest number of nonprofits on the country and a growing tech hub. LA won’t replicate the Bay Area scene (where every tech firm has their own dot org or implements Salesforce’s 1:1:1 model), but we’ll find our own route.

I’ve found my people at the intersection of social good + technology. I strive to move the needle on tech as a force for good against the “dark forces” and I think I’ve found some ways to do that. I’ve become a supreme connector — such a change from (fearfully and bravely at the same time) walking down a winter Hollywood street to my first-ever networking event at a dark bar. Yes, I’m in awe of the talented people around me now. I’m still challenged to find financial sustainability for my passions and am sometimes frustrated that I haven’t found the paying work that I need. But most importantly, I’ve reconnected with my core belief in social change at scale and I actualize that through my work.

*Footnote: I volunteered with Girls in Tech LA, Digital LA, Silicon Beach Fest, Social Media Week and Taproot. I took free or low cost intro courses on data, Agile, UX, product, HTML, Mac OS and iOS with NTEN, General Assembly, Creative Resources Technology Group and more. I started then quit UCLA Extension’s Empowered certification program because I’m not a marketer. I built myself a Bay Area network (and gained two mentors) among product, Lean Startup, designers and nonprofits with lots of coffee at Blue Bottle. I attended conferences through scholarships and volunteering and I’m happy to contribute to the NTEN membership committee. Whew! I’m clearly a committed generalist.

So many people have joined me on this journey, shared practice and perspective, taught me — thank you and I hope you see yourself along the way of my story. Perhaps you, too, will respond to Aaron Hurst’s question in his response to LinkedIn’s #ChaseGreat campaign where he asked: I’m curious, have any of you made a career change to pursue a bigger passion? If so, I would love to hear hear your story and the steps you took to #ChaseGreat.

Originally published on LinkedIn https://lnkd.in/bEm4tTq