The Intersection of Community and Technology

Today on TechBridge talks we are exploring the intersection of technology and community service. For nonprofits to meet the needs of the communities they serve, they have to grow exponentially, gaining efficiency and effectiveness through technology. The right technology allows nonprofits to serve more people, do more good, and make a larger impact on their communities. 

My guest today is someone that understands technology, community, and most of all impact! 

Ann Cramer is a pillar in the nonprofit community, an inspiration to many, and an energetic force for good. Ann, welcome to the show!

Ann Cramer::

Okay. They say, oh, the technology is going to take away the people I said, I'm not quite, it gives you the tools to better manage that or serve and better deliver to the people that you can. We can always understand the why the need is incredible. Got lots of whose great people. They even have some Hals, but now it's a what of technology we can get to that.

So what, which can deliver more? In terms of increased assets, resource and dollars for nonprofits to do even more

Adam Walker::

today on Techbridge talks, we're exploring the intersection of technology and community service for nonprofits to meet the needs of the communities they serve. They have to grow exponentially, gaining efficiency and effectiveness through technology.

The right technology allows. To serve more people do more good and make a larger impact on their communities.

My guest today is someone that understands technology and community. And most of all impact my friend, Anne Kramer is a pillar in the nonprofit community and inspiration to many, certainly myself included an energetic force for good and welcome

Ann Cramer::

to the show. Oh, thank you, Adam. I'm thrilled to be here.

Thank you. Thanks.

Adam Walker::

I'd like to advocate that we change your title to officially to energetic force for good could, that can make that'd be a good LinkedIn title.

Ann Cramer::

That, that is, that is pretty

Adam Walker::

well. Uh, I, I love our conversations and you always have so much insight, so. Let's start off, uh, kind of framing this up for people that don't already know you.

So you're a friend in nonprofits, you're a leader in the community. You're a dedicated tech bridge supporter and friend to start with. Tell us a little bit about your background and how you became so focused on nonprofit work and maybe a little bit about how you connected with tech bridge.

Ann Cramer::

Oh, thank you.

Well, of course it's a long life, so age has something to do with it so that the road has been long. And in fact, that's the point that I think for me growing up, even as a child, Serving in community was a part of our family's DNA. So therefore it was a natural step. And in fact, um, as many of you know, I was a math major at Salem college.

And then immediately after graduation went to work at IBM, this assistance engineer. And so as a clue to how. Nonprofit and technology merged immediately. I joined IBM on June 16th and on July 1st, I was responsible for our branches United way campaign that 21 year old, they always put the youngest on it, you know, the newest hire.

And so I think you could just see from the beginning of my career, which is also a part of my life that being involved with that intersection. Uh, private sector, not for profit sector, public sector, and always working for good and treating that as a value of my family, my faith, my friends, and then who and how I get to work and be across the whole portfolio.

So I think from my perspective, there is no life without the opportunity to serve. And in fact, that's sort of part of my own. Not just DNA, but sort of mission statement. And I think that part then is the integration of how we can support one another in that service in community. So that's the ticket it's from the beginning.

Adam Walker::

Wow. So that, uh, when you said I got chills, there is no life without the opportunity to serve. Like that may be, you said a lot of great things in our conversations over the years. That may be my favorite by far. That's just amazing. So, so let's dig into that a minute. So you're involved in the community, in the community at a level that is genuinely inspiring.

And we're gonna talk a little bit more about that in a second too. Can you talk about why you're so deeply involved in what what's motivating you to do that and why it's important for other individuals to be involved in the community as

Ann Cramer::

well? Well, it's so funny, cause it sounds almost, um, naive. And the point is that as I'm a person of faith and when I was 12, uh, we were a Pisco paleon Christian and we were confirmed.

And a part of that process was to memorize the catechism. And it was real simple to me. I was only asked to do one thing, and that was to love all people. And at the same time, a part of that baptismal covenant is to see. Justice peace and mercy and respect the dignity of every human being. And so in doing that.

From the time that I was 12, that path was that intersection. So therefore in junior high, I was chairman of the service club. And then I was also head cheerleader, you know, so that in high school, that cheerleader and Ms. Ideal and the chaplain of the Y WCA, the Y team. So I think all of those intersections and then make all a pluses.

So the, and. The integration of life in terms of who we are finding meaning and base foundational values become that critical creative spirit that says no matter where we are, it's all I am that one in the person in community. And so consequently as my own life journey was process, it progressed. As I like to remind people, I did work with IBM for an arc of 46 years, which seemed kind of funny, but the, and is the, um, for Jeff, my husband and I was always being in community.

Then of course, that process of having a mission statement that I wanted to be a part of a world in which every child and Adam, you understand this more than anyone else. We always say twice every day. Every child, every child can grow up into a world in which that child can be safe. That child can be healthy, that child can be educated, connected.

And we're understanding that now more than ever, how children can be isolated and therefore employment. And they can then be contributing people within community. So I still life circle. So I'm a part of that. It was privileged for me, that my company at the time IBM, that I, they supported me in the corporate world and engaging in the community.

As well as my faith community is where that grounding it out. So it's that aspect of faith, family, friends, finances, the job, and the ability to be philanthropic within your community.


Adam Walker::

That's just fantastic. So, so you mentioned IBM, so let's dive in a little deeper there you were at IBM for. A long time.

I'll let you quote the years, but a long time. And, and you, and you really led, uh, that community involvement at a very deep level. Can you talk about why it's important for, you know, organizations for corporations of all sizes to be involved in, in pillars, in their community?

Ann Cramer::

Exactly. And I do think it is just like we talk about citizens, meaning individually.

Um, organizations like corporations, nonprofits in public sector are a part of a community. And even for me, I feel so blessed for instance, that IBM had three basic beliefs and it was obviously deliver on your promise to every client respect all individuals that were employees and community. And serve the communities in which you have the privilege of working, because if you don't have felt, the community can say, well, that's greedy, but it also is another opportunity to serve so that you want the communities in which you have the privilege to work.

That they're healthy too. And so for me, that whole aspect of being a corporate citizen and being corporate, socially responsible. And that new term now, ESG environmental, societal, and how we govern with transparency and trust. So it's an interesting transition from being a good community, citizen and making grants being nice.

And now into being, um, a global contributor to the betterment of the world. But I do think it's a part of a, a mutual responsibility and that's a mutual benefit, any organization to be, um, giving and giving back to make a difference in a community.

Adam Walker::

And, and it strikes me too, like related to this, that, so you were at IBM.

IBM has been just a massive organization for a long time. And yet. In that capacity at IBM, you were involved with very small local nonprofits. Right. And so I think it's easy for, for corporations say, oh, I'm just going to support the big ones, but can you talk a little bit about why or an organization like IBM would choose to support smaller nonprofits to help them grow as well?

Ann Cramer::

Well, it's so interesting cause it's still strategic because one of the things that I learned as alignment and strategic focused, and so as a company for IBM, We did have focused priorities in which we did invest in major larger institutions, because it did align with who we are as a company, a technology company.

And so consequently, we would do major things with large organizations and using to demonstrate our ability to solve problems. And then the, and which is still strategic. Is in supporting our employees too, so that they can make a difference. And so that each employee would get an opportunity to have, for instance, a $500 grant to an organization in which they invested their time.

And it was again strategic. So investing in smaller organizations that were aligned with our employee's interests, which were also aligned with critical issues in community, and then still demonstrated strategically that as a company, we. Cared about our basic beliefs and values. So, um, it sounds sort of counter intuitive or a paradoxical.

That those small organizations were still a part of a strategy that was a focused, aligned demonstration of the company. The company's experience, the company's products, if companies, people

Adam Walker::

that's right. That's right. I love that. I love that. Well, and you're always so strategic in kind of all the things that we talk about.

So I appreciate that about you too. So let's talk for a second about the intersection of technology. And community. So, as we mentioned earlier, you were at IBM for a good, good seven years. And then in preparation for this conversation, I was looking at your LinkedIn profile and it's prolific. And then there was a document linked on your LinkedIn profile that was kind of a, kind of a resume.

So I decided that on that resume, I would just count how many, like boards, advisory boards, councils committees, and I CA. It took me a long time to count all of them. And I got to 44 and I'm certain that's not even close to all of them. And because you're, you're unofficially, you know, counseling, I mean, you counsel all kinds of organizations unofficially and you probably forgot several too.

So, so let's just say a good 70 years at IBM and let's say 50 plus boards and committees involved in the community at a level that I never even thought possible. And so I would say it gives you a unique perspective on the intersection of technology and committee. Right. So can you talk a little bit about that intersection and why focusing on technology is so important for communities and for the organizations

Ann Cramer::

that they serve, you have hit one of my hot buttons.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Adam. And I will have to go back to a many decades of frustration where. Back to the IBM process was that we were the ones who had the fabulous think pads, right. And computers. And obviously we wanted to share that technology with non-profits and of course, technology was sort of an anathema to a lot of technology.

It was an expense they couldn't afford. And therefore. The irony again, is there that many nonprofits were not effective, efficient and productive because they were doing the work in way. That was, um, not beneficial either to their client or even to their own keeping records. And so the irony is I'll never forget one time going into an organization and all the technology, the think pads and computers were still in boxes because they not only didn't know how to use them.

They hadn't even got the electrical support to even plug them in. So the, and is I have had a long career, not just a quote giving technology. But in beginning to articulate the value of technology is not an expense. It's an asset to be able to do what they do so well to deliver on their promise, to implement their mission in a much more effective, personal way.

They say, oh, the technology is going to take away the people I said, not quite. It gives you the tools to better manage. Better serve and better deliver to the people that you care about. So therefore you can see there is an arc of many decades of feeling like you're spitting in the wind, but the, and is I think now, because we have organizations back to tech bridge that have a gift at being able to now articulate, describe the value of technology, but giving the nonprofits the confidence.

And the tools to implement. Um, because as we say, it is not an expense, it's an asset to help you better deliver on your mission and your promise to the people

Adam Walker::

I loved. I mean, that's such a great perspective because when nonprofits invest in technology, it just accelerates. Everything else that they're doing, allowing them to do more good, allowing them to reach more people, impact more families, and just really raise the level of the community as a whole.

Ann Cramer::

Well, and I'll get to a wonderful point about tech bridge because now, because there's so much need. And there's so many non-profit organizations that one way that folks determine how they can best in Bence they're filling, invest their philanthropic donations is to ask about that word impact. Because of tech bridge, we've found so many more tools that managing the data, determining what to measure, therefore being able to best describe the, so what the impact of these amazing non-profits and we're not protect Knology we wouldn't have the ability to make those statements so we can always understand the why the need is incredible.

We've got lots of who. Great people. They even have some house, but now it's a whole lot of technology we can get to that. So, uh, which can deliver more in terms of increased, hopefully, uh, assets, resource, and dollars for nonprofits to do.

Adam Walker::

Wow. I love the way you just broke that down. I don't think I've ever heard it that way.

Right? I mean, technology becomes the, what that is the engine that can drive everything else forward so much more quickly if we're just willing to take the time and make the investment upfront so that we can do more good in the long run. Well, so, so last question and man, this is so good. I love this conversation.

So. Wow. So why do you think, I mean, you've been involved with Techbridge for, for much longer than I have pre beginning,

Ann Cramer::

pre beginning

Adam Walker::

you were involved with Techbridge. So, so with that perspective, why do you think Techbridge is uniquely positioned to serve nonprofits? Not just locally, but nationally.

Ann Cramer::

Oh, honey, that's a great question.

Because in the pre beginning, um, I was concerned that check bridge had the answers without asking. And we delivered just solutions without asking non-profits to really understand what the situations were while there was hesitancy resistance, et cetera. And what I've seen over the arc of tech bridge, which is what I loved is that tech bridge now fully listens to understand the issues of the nonprofits.

Not just the why about the seriousness of the issues like hunger or homelessness or education and poverty or social justice that they understand the concerns and issues of the non-profits and the nonprofit leaders who are trying so desperately to address these critical community issues. And so with that understanding.

It's not just tech bridge coming into towel. Non-profits well, if you just did this, she would be so much better is understanding what their issues are. Constraints, concerns to then work with nonprofits to deliver those technology solutions that. Can get at these critical community concerns and issues, the societal issues.

So I'm really have a lot of both faith and confidence in tech bridge to understand, but the nonprofits concerns are working with them. To give them the tools to better deliver on their promise.

Adam Walker::

Well, and to your point, right? Technology always works best when it comes alongside and understands the, the problems that it's seeking to address, because just placing technology on top of something.

Doesn't I mean, to your point, it's like giving a non-profit laptops without giving them the power cord. It's like, I've got the technology. But they don't have the ability to use it. So you have to come alongside and give them the technology and the ability to use it, to make sure that they're accelerating and really helping their communities well,

Ann Cramer::

and it comes out of respect for that work and understanding that folks aren't resistant.

Resistant they're resistant because they have a lot of work to do and it takes time. And I had to go get the power cord or I have to, you know, get everything installed. And so how then to be able to come out of respect and actual IX, I mean, sort of enthusiasm for the work of nonprofits. And with that enthusiasm provide options that can help accelerate the work.

Adam Walker::

Wow, man, this is so fantastic. So listen, I just want to say publicly, thank you. Not only for your continued support of tech bridge, but just for the vast. Service that you've played in given to the Metro Atlanta community. It's such an honor to be able to call you my friend and just to get to interview you.


Ann Cramer::

Oh, Adam, you are the hero here. Thank you so much. And thank you for being at tech bridge. I love it. You're going to bring that very best of the extraordinary ability to make things happen. Thank you. It was a joy.

Adam Walker::

Thank you for listening to tech. Rich talks a podcast about breaking the cycle of generational poverty through the innovative use of technology.

This podcast is produced by tech bridge to find out more about our work and how you can be a part. Visit tech that's tech Also make sure to follow us on social media. Thanks again for listening and tune in next week for more great.