Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Why You Don’t Want this Job!


Almost anyone from the human rights field will tell you that the work can be as rewarding as it is challenging. When you look at the barriers faced by those defending and advocating for human rights—from the danger of hostile governments and perpetrators, to victims who are naturally suspicious of any support, to the lack of funding necessary to carry on your work—you can see how overwhelming it can be. And yet there are also amazing and fulfilling benefits—bringing the truth to light, making human rights defenders more powerful and helping victims find peace through acknowledgment, reconciliation and even, sometimes, justice.

At Benetech, we’re looking for only the best of the best to take on the leadership of our Human Rights Program. There’s a lot on the line—for the person we hire, for our organization and for the people we serve—so we want someone who will be both riveted by and successful in this critical position. That’s why I’ve come up with this “anti job description.” It’s my way of warning potential candidates of just what they’re getting themselves into!

Why You Don’t Want this Job:

  • You’ll have to show you have a unique combination of both social justice and technology cred;
  • You’ll probably be paid half of what you’d be worth to a for-profit company;
  • You’ll have to travel to both developing countries and Washington, D.C. and work often with people in miserable conditions (yes, in both places!);
  • You’ll be leading a team to advance human rights globally, but without actually being a human rights group;
  • You’ll have to lead in a global field, but on a shoestring budget;
  • Our users can only pay 20% of what it costs to do the work, which means you’ll need to help find and cultivate additional funding;
  • You, Benetech and the people we’re helping will almost certainly be targeted by the toughest government-sponsored hacker teams;
  • The people we’re helping distrust or even hate technology because it’s being used to spy on them and perpetrate abuses;
  • People will literally entrust their lives in your work;
  • And on top of it all, you’ll be working for an organization that insists its software not be proprietary and instead be free and open source so it transparently helps as many people as possible.

Why You Do Want this Job:

  • All the above.

If you’re up for the challenge and want to change the world, or know someone who might fit the bill, please check out or share this job posting. Thanks for helping us find the right person for this key role at Benetech: it will make a difference to the global cause of human rights!

Friday, March 01, 2013

Mayrie ReNae Annual Valentine's Day Scholarship

Last November, Mayrie ReNae, a beloved colleague and part of our Bookshare extended community, passed away after a battle with cancer. Mayrie was a Bookshare member, volunteer and staff person, who contributed hundreds of books to the Bookshare collection and provided invaluable guidance to our volunteer crew for many years.

This week, in remembrance of her birthday, we are pleased to announce the creation of the Mayrie ReNae Annual Valentine's Day Scholarship. Through this scholarship, Bookshare will donate one new membership every Valentine’s Day to a person with financial need.

Mayrie, who was blind, began working with Bookshare as a volunteer in August 2006 and earned her membership by scanning and submitting books to the collection. By the time she was hired as a proofreader and scanner in December 2008, Mayrie had played a key role in contributing more than 1,000 accessible books to the collection. She said her primary motivation when starting out with Bookshare was to help provide timely books for young adult and teen readers. "When I was a teenager, I never got to read what the other kids were reading because the books were not available until long after," said Mayrie. She therefore set out to make many more books available to young readers.

It wasn’t just the volume of her work that was incredible, but also the quality: as an avid reader and an admitted perfectionist, it mattered to Mayrie that Bookshare texts were carefully proofed and high quality. She was an impeccable proofreader and scanner, and helped recruit the help of other wonderfully dependable volunteers. In September 2012, Benetech honored Mayrie as our Contributor of the Quarter and saluted her exceptional service to the Bookshare community. Sadly, a month later, Mayrie passed away.

Mayrie was a vibrant person and a dynamic force for good. We can think of no better way to honor her memory than with a contribution of a Bookshare membership in recognition of her birthday. Each February, Bookshare staff will accept nominations for the Mayrie ReNae Annual Valentine's Day Scholarship throughout the first two weeks of the month and will announce the recipient. We are still accepting nominations for this year’s Scholarship. If you wish to nominate someone, please contact Alisa Moore, our Volunteer Program Manager, this week!

We miss you, Mayrie.