- Working for Microsoft.
- Assisting in disaster relief efforts.
- An economics and German graduate.
- Serving at the global level.
The Human Face of Technology
Claire Bonilla ’95 was a volunteer at WU — today she serves global communities through Microsoft.
When floods, earthquakes or hurricanes occur, most people are exiting a disaster zone, while Claire Bonilla '95 is busy working her way toward ground zero.
As senior director of Microsoft's disaster management team, she provides the technology that connects resources to people in need.
Disasters often result in chaos. Sometimes computer systems crash because of massive donations pouring in, or Internet capacity is disrupted by a catastrophic event.
"When tragedies strike, information can become as precious as food, potable water and shelter," Bonilla says. "The effectiveness of rescue efforts relies heavily on the ability of first responders to share information and manage resources. By enabling communication and collaboration, technology can literally save thousands of lives."
Bonilla sometimes spearheads the creation of an Internet portal that allows relief workers to organize the inflow of volunteers, donations, equipment and supplies. She helps people identify where medical assistance, shelter or water is most needed.
Or she collaborates with the International Red Cross, the United Nations and local nonprofit organizations, coordinating the volunteer efforts of employees in 166 Microsoft offices around the world.
"My first taste of that came at Willamette," she says. "Because of the broad-based curriculum, I was able to explore my intellectual interests. At the same time, I could explore my passion for working with nonprofits by reaching out as a volunteer. That experience provided the roots for my current work."
Bonilla's advice to Willamette students?
"Never underestimate your power to create opportunity. Identify your passion and find a way to fuse your professional capabilities with your idealism and turn your work into something meaningful. If you can come up with an idea and your heart is in it, you will ultimately find success."
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Jason Kenitzer ’00 translated his Willamette education into a job creating graphics for Oakley. Read More
Julie Kennedy ’99 helped found a successful Brooklyn charter school for inner-city students. Read More
Randall Cass ’08 takes his agriculture research to Chile through a prestigious Fulbright grant. Read More
Patrick Carman ’88 turned his children’s bedtime stories into a popular fantasy book series. Read More
Sarah Hamilton ’07 takes her theatre production skills to a larger stage through venue management. Read More
Ryan Calkins ’99 co-founded a microfinance organization to provide financial services to the poor. Read More
Will Nevius ’09 continued his civic engagement after graduation by heading to the nation’s capitol. Read More
Kate D'Ambrosio ’06 turned her passions for forestry and public policy into a career with the U.S. Forest Service. Read More
Mentoring from professors helped Colin Gardiner ’09 find his current career. Read More
A full schedule at Willamette helped Elise Helvie '09 get into a competitive graduate program. Read More
Willamette’s emphasis on study abroad and service led Ana Moreno ’05 to join the Peace Corps after graduation. Read More
Monica Rother ’05 is still in graduate school, but the National Science Foundation has already funded her work. Read More
Emilio Solano ’09 draws on his own background as he volunteers in a Los Angeles classroom. Read More
Liani Reeves '98, JD'01 has found success in her law career and through public service. Read More