By Jacqui Murphy

If there’s one thing we’re good at in Waterloo Region, it’s building stuff. We’re also very community oriented so it’s no surprise that we spend a lot of time actively building our community.

In community building discussions, I’ve heard people say “Why aren’t more tech people involved?”

Most people know about the amazing contributions that Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie have made to our community, but there’s a perception that the tech sector is inward focused, and not paying a lot of attention to what’s going on beyond its borders (whatever those might be).

First of all, what’s a “tech person”?

We’re neighbours, parents and friends. In fact, the volunteer sitting next to you might work in the tech sector. We don’t have signs around our necks calling out our professions so we’re often hard to identify…

This being said, working in tech can be all consuming. “Community” also means different things to different people. Is community your local community? Or your industry community? Or both? Sometimes it can feel like you have closer relationships with the people at the airport than your neighbours.

Rest assured, many people working in the tech sector have realized the importance of building our local community and are actively involved. We know that you get out what you put in, and if you want your community to reflect who you are and what you care about, you have to be active in building it.

It’s not just about attracting talent to the region – It’s about having a great life and living it fully.

Not involved? This list proves otherwise…

I started a list to publicly acknowledge the work being done in the community by people working (or who have worked) in the tech sector. These people are actively investing their time, skills and money to make all of our lives better.

Hilary Abel, Downtown Marketing & Events at City of Kitchener – Steel Rails, RQ Magazine, Qatalyst Magazine
Michael Barnstijn, former software developer at Research In Motion – Musagetes Foundation, active supporter of the arts, the environment and education
Greg Barratt, SVP Sales, Coreworx – The Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation
Renjie Butalid, Co-founder of Togethr – TEDxWaterloo, TEDxYouth@Waterloo, TEDxUW
Dave Caputo, President & CEO, Sandvine – Social Venture Partners Waterloo Region, Westside Public Library, St. Mary’s Hospital
Karen Cecile, Technology Delivery Manager – Ignite Waterloo, Women Powering Technology, TEDxWomen Waterloo
Joseph Chen, Co-founder, Nift – Chrysalids Initiative, Urban Excursions, Neruda Productions, Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema
Mark Connolly, User Experience, Karos Health – Fluxible, Open Ears Festival, uxWaterloo, Ignite Waterloo
Mandy Dennison, Corporate Social Responsibility, BlackBerry – YWCA, Community Grants Committee at the City of Waterloo, Capacity Waterloo Region, Ontario Trillium Foundation, Volunteer Action Centre, The Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation
Doug Fregin, Co-founder Quantum Valley Investments & Research In Motion; Vice President, Infinite Potential Group – Nanotechnology Initiative, Quantum-Nano Centre at the University of Waterloo, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
Joseph Fung, CEO, TribeHR – Impact Student Leadership, Waterloo Region Social Purchasing Portal, Habitat for Humanity, Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery, Waterloo Region Barnraisers Council
Xiaopu Fung, UX Designer, Miovision – Waterloo Public Library, Ignite Waterloo
Bobbi Holte, COO CFO, Centre in the Square – Waterloo Region Family Network, KidsAbility
Andrew Jackson, Vice President, Client Services, Accelerator Centre – GVI Entrepreneurship Sessions, Art program at the Accelerator Centre
Tim Jackson, VP University Relations, University of Waterloo – Social Venture Partners Waterloo Region, Capacity Waterloo Region, Prosperity Council, Waterloo Region Barnraisers Council, Centre in the Square, Food Bank of Waterloo Region, Waterloo Regional Children’s Museum, Waterloo Public Library
Dave Jaworsky, former Senior Director, Corporate Responsibility, Research In Motion – The Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation
Dennis Kavelman, COO, Desire2Learn – The Kavelman-Fonn Foundation and supporter of education, health, and children’s initiatives
Carol Leaman, CEO, Axonify – Waterloo Region Barnraisers Council, Food Bank of Waterloo Region
Ted Livingston, CEO, Kik – Investment in UW Velocity
Louise MacCallum, former software developer at Research In Motion – Musagetes Foundation, active supporter of the arts, the environment and education
Jacqui Murphy, former VP Marketing, Fongo – Social Venture Partners Waterloo Region, Art Allies, The Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation
Ramy Nassar, Business Development, Myplanet Digital – TEDxWaterloo, KW Real Estate Investors Group, KW Awesome Foundation
Elle Pyke, Director of Marketing & Communications, Salesevolve – Women Powering Technology, TEDxWaterlooWomen
Gerry Remers, President & COO, Christie Digital Systems Canada – Waterloo Region Barnraisers Council, Perimeter Institute Leadership Council, active supporter of the arts
Darin White, Manager, Security Research – North America, BlackBerry –, Kwartzlab
David Yach, CTO, Auvik Networks – The Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation
David Yoon, Senior Consultant, Enterprise File System – Ignite Waterloo, TEDxWaterloo, Straight Up KW, Compass Kitchener

The list is far from complete so please add to it by tweeting @communitech or posting on the Communitech Facebook page. I’m sure I will continue to be mortified over the coming weeks as incredible community builders that I’ve forgotten are added. Apologies to anyone I’ve missed!

Want to join the community building party but not sure where to start?

There are lots of ways to get involved in the local community, from volunteering or donating to an established organization to starting something on your own. It’s easy to sit back and think “Once I make my millions and I have a bit more time, I’ll give back too.” but not all of us will make millions (I know that’s hard to believe!) and “many hands make light work”.

One way you can get involved is by joining Tim Jackson, me and the other partners at Social Venture Partners Waterloo Region (SVPWR). SVPWR was founded to build relationships and help people pool their investments of money, time and skills to make a greater impact on our community. In our very short history, we’ve provided local nonprofits with $97,500 in unrestricted grants and 550 hours of skilled professional volunteer time.

Current SVPWR partners in the tech sector include:

Andrea Bocking, former Director, Marketing, Research In Motion
Andrew Bocking, Executive VP, Software Product Management and Ecosystem, BlackBerry
Dave Caputo, President and CEO at Sandvine
Steve Currie, VP Marketing, Miovision
Heidi Davidson, Senior VP, BlackBerry
Mark Guibert, former Senior Vice President, Research In Motion
Chris Howlett, Tech Mentor, Accelerator Centre
Suzanne Hyatt, VP Human Resources, Rebellion Media
Tim Martin, Executive Director: Strategic Initiatives at Wilfrid Laurier University; former Head of Treasury, BlackBerry
Mark McArdle, former COO, Rebellion Media; CEO, tinyHippos Inc.
Marc Morin, CEO, Auvik Networks
Jeff Murphy, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Developer Relations, BlackBerry
Glenn Smith, Business Driven Commercialization, Communitech
Tracey Weiler, Ontario PC Candidate, Kitchener-Waterloo; former Manager, BlackBerry Academic Program, Research In Motion

If SVPWR is something that sounds interesting to you, feel free to reach out. We’d love you to join our party!

Thank you

A big thank you to the (tech and non-tech) Community Builders for making Waterloo Region so awesome. We have truly come a long way in a short period of time and our future looks bright! I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Jacqui Murphy has focused on building tech companies and Waterloo Region since 1997.