We’re back for another day of voting in the GeekWire Awards, and today’s category is all about the geeks who give back. The Do-Gooder of the Year category — presented by Seattle Children’s Research Institute — is designed to recognize the people who are making the community stronger through philanthropic efforts and just all-around good deeds.
We kicked off voting for the GeekWire Awards last week, and we’ll continue tabulating the votes in the 14 categories in the coming days. The winners will be revealed at the big GeekWire Awards bash on May 9th at the Experience Music Project in Seattle.
Ready to vote? Here are the five finalists:
Artie Buerk: A critical component of any technology hub is a strong university, one which can spin out groundbreaking startups. The University of Washington is making big strides in that arena, creating a culture where entrepreneurial-minded students can thrive. And thanks to Artie Buerk, the longtime Seattle venture capitalist, they will have more support than ever. Buerk, a 1958 UW grad and founder of Montlake Capital, donated $5.2 million to the UW’s entrepreneurial program, now named the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, in January. His donation will make sure that the UW keeps the entrepreneurial flame burning bright.
Edward Jiang: Edward Jiang hasn’t yet made it through the University of Washington, but he’s still stirring up the entrepreneurial community in a big way. The 21-year-old Jiang is the co-founder of StudentRND, a non-profit organization which hosts weekend hackathons and tech incubator programs for entrepreneurial high school and college kids. As we noted last week in our voting for “Young Entrepreneur of the Year,” some of the biggest ideas in technology have been created by people under the age of 30. Jiang, along with his colleagues at StudentRND, are making sure the Seattle area has a stable crop of those up-and-comers. Jiang’s mission is pretty simple: “What we wanted to build was a community of kids who loved to build cool stuff.”
Michael “Luni” Libes: Seattle has a culture of giving back, and Luni Libes wants to help facilitate that through Fledge. The Seattle entrepreneur last year formed the new incubator, one which is designed for what he dubs “socially-conscious startups.” Libes followed up Fledge with a new program called Kick, which launched last month. He calls it the “inclusive incubator,” since it is designed for those who don’t make the cut at other incubators.
Marc Nager: Startup Weekend is a force, supporting 54-hour entrepreneurial hackathons throughout the world. But the organization is very much rooted in the Northwest, and Nager is a huge supporter of the local tech community. The good work of Nager and crew is getting recognized. They rang the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange last December, an honor typically reserved for newly-traded companies. And now they are looking to do even more with the entrepreneurial community, launching its NEXT program last October for those who need a little more support than can be provided in a weekend.
Hadi Partovi: Let’s face it, we need more developers, engineers and all-around geeks. Everyone in the tech community recognizes the challenge. But Seattle entrepreneur Hadi Partovi and his twin brother Ali are doing something about it with the formation of Code.org. The non-profit, formed earlier this year, is shining a light on the importance of computer science education. And it is doing it in a big way, starting with promotional videos that included cameos from Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and others.
The GeekWire Awards — originally started by Seattle entrepreneur Marcelo Calbucci — are in their 5th year now. Past winners have included Tableau Software, PopCap Games, angel investor Andy Sack, Cheezburger CEO Ben Huh, Zillow Chairman Rich Barton and many others.
Thanks again to our “Do-Gooder of the Year” category sponsor: Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Make sure to get your tickets today for this one-of-a-kind event.