“CTN is one of those wonderful organizations that strengthen our community,” says board member Eric Beattie. “I was just really impressed with the operations and how you can leverage funding by organizing volunteers to do this work. I’m also impressed with how Kami and the team are able to gather and inspire hundreds of volunteers to keep coming back.”
A valued board member since 2017, Eric is passionate about helping older adults navigate the complexities of the internet. He first recognized this need around 2013 when his parents were facing end-of-life issues. He had been working as a neuroscientist in various biotech and pharmaceutical labs — but put his academic life on pause to fully care for his parents.
During this time, Eric and his wife began to imagine an organization that would connect tech-savvy teenagers with lonely seniors in need of tech training. As he got started in this work, Eric learned about the fledgling organization that was Community Tech Network. He was impressed by CTN’s beginnings and excited to connect with Kami over their shared pursuits. Eventually, Eric decided that running a nonprofit is an immense job best suited for someone else. He returned to his work as a scientist but remained connected with CTN over the years. When a board member spot opened up in 2017, Eric was eager to join the team.
Now, four years later, Eric has helped guide and lead CTN to where we are today. One highlight of his tenure as a board member has been assisting in CTN’s pivot to a completely virtual format. “When the coronavirus crisis hit, I knew Kami had been thinking about doing something like Home Connect for a long time,” says Eric. “It was great to be there in a time of crisis and say, This is going to be a long-term thing. For the safety of our staff and learners, it’s the perfect time to shift to a 100% virtual format.” This change not only sustained our work, but it also enabled CTN to expand as the digital divide gained attention. “Suddenly the whole nation and community kind of saw what we were doing and said, ‘that’s a no brainer. We need to help people — often low-income and elderly — who are isolated and without internet connection.’ It was rewarding to be a part of.”
CTN is grateful to have an executive board of multitalented people from a variety of fields. As the only scientist on the board, Eric offers a unique perspective to CTN’s operations. He is motivated to connect CTN with his many contacts at UCSF as well as other organizations and people who could support our work. At the same time, Eric finds his position personally fulfilling. “You have the chance to interact with very smart people who come from totally different professions and disciplines,” he reflects. “It is wonderful networking, and I now consider fellow board members friends. The best part, though, is being part of an organization that is helping stitch together our community. I think it is incredibly important.”