15 Developers Who Are Leading Big Changes in the Nonprofit Sector

By: Fullstack Staff

We continue to see businesses across industries become increasingly reliant on technology to effectively run, grow, and market their efforts—and the nonprofit world is no different.

Technology is no longer just a way for charities to gain exposure for their respective causes; in many cases, tech is actually becoming a focal point for these organizations.

This shift in focus means the nonprofit sector is now bursting with talented developers who are at the very top of their games. Whether they’re increasing access to education, advancing diversity within the tech industry, or championing the success of multiple charitable organizations, these folks are working hard to give their all—and give back—every day.

If you’re considering a career in coding for a nonprofit, let these 15 developers inspire your journey:

Vanessa Hurst

Vanessa Hurst is a self-described engineer, social entrepreneur, and mother who co-founded and now leads the board at Girl Develop It—a nonprofit dedicated to giving adult women the opportunity to learn to code. (She even taught Maria Shriver how to code!) These days, Hurst spends most of her time working on her upcoming book and running Girl Develop It; previously, she worked as a database developer before founding several technology-driven social enterprises, such as CodeMontage and Developers For Good.

Jen Noborikawa

Jen Noborikawa is a developer and a Fullstack Academy alum. After graduating from Fullstack’s Part-Time Flex Immersive program—which she completed while working full-time and wrote about on Medium—Noborikawa became a development director for Mouse, a national youth development nonprofit that empowers students to make meaningful changes to the world through technology.

John Resig

John Resig is renowned in the developer community for his JavaScript expertise and for creating the jQuery JavaScript Library. He is also the author of Secrets of the JavaScript Ninja and Pro JavaScript Technique. Today, Resig works as a full-time front-end architect for Khan Academy, which works to make free world-class education available to everyone everywhere, and donates his free time to improving Computer Vision techniques to help researchers.

Linda Liukas

Linda Liukas is a Finnish programmer and founder of Rails Girls, a global nonprofit volunteer community aimed at empowering young women to discover technology and build their ideas. She is also the author of the Hello Ruby series of children’s books, billed as “the first whimsical way to learn about technology, computing, and coding.”

Liukas was named a TED resident in 2017, one of the 50 most inspiring women in technology in Europe in 2015 and again in 2017, and one of the 20 brightest business minds in Northern Europe in 2016.

Nonprofit developer using a laptop in an office

Rebecca Franks

Rebecca Franks is a South African senior Android developer at the graphic design app Over, as well as a Google Development Expert and PluralSight author. Outside of her day job, Franks works on her own projects, including developing the Android app for Book Dash, a not-for-profit organization that facilitates the creation of new African storybooks.

Tracy Chou

Tracy Chou is a software engineer, diversity advocate, VC, and a founding member of Project Include, a nonprofit that works to accelerate diversity and inclusion in the tech industries. Prior to Project Include, Chou worked as a tech lead at Pinterest and as an early engineer at Quora. In 2013, Chou helped kickstart a wave of company diversity disclosures by creating a GitHub repository that collected numbers on women in engineering.

Jen Simmons

Jen Simmons is a designer and developer advocate at Mozilla, where she also campaigns for web standards and researches what she calls “the coming revolution in graphic design.” Simmons is the host and producer of The Web Ahead podcast, where she chats with experts on the future of the web. Prior to her work at Mozilla, Simmons worked as a web developer and counted Google, Cern, Drupal, and the Annenberg Foundation among her clients.

Pam Selle

Pam Selle is software engineering lead at IOpipe, a published author, a public speaker, and a teacher at Girl Develop It. Her published works include Beyond the Resume: How to Get Your Next Job as a Developer and Choosing a JavaScript Framework. She also co-hosts the Turing-Incomplete podcast and was a former panelist on JavaScript Air.

David Walsh

David Walsh is a senior web developer at Mozilla, a JavaScript “fanatic,” and an open source enthusiast. When he is not developing open-source software for the web’s biggest nonprofit, Walsh is a prolific blogger, sharing guides and tutorials on his personal site.

Johanna Bates

Johanna Bates is a front-end developer and co-founder/principal at DevCollaborative, a web development agency for nonprofits. This role has seen her create websites for The Establishment, Cannabis Decoded, and The Actors Fund. Beyond that, Bates is a member and community leader of The Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) and an organizer of the annual DrupalCon Nonprofit Summit.

Nonprofit developer leading a meeting

Yesenia Sotelo

Yesenia Sotelo is a self-confessed “nonprofit nerd” and founder of SmartCause, where she provides digital strategy consulting and builds websites for nonprofit leaders. Sotelo joined the nonprofit world straight out of college and now devotes all of her time and energy to helping charity organizations succeed online. In this capacity, she has worked with a number of organizations, including NTEN, TechSoup Canada, and Educare.

Desigan Chinniah

Desigan Chinniah is a developer, tech advisor, startup mentor, and angel investor. Since the start of the decade, he has been working for Mozilla in a variety of roles spanning R&D, connectivity, emerging markets, blockchains, and open innovation. Prior to Mozilla, Chinniah worked for Ask Jeeves, Skype, BBC, PayPal, and Gumtree. As part of his role as a mentor, he is also on the board of Ushahidi.

Brendan Eich

Brendan Eich will need no introduction for most developers. As the co-founder of Mozilla and Firefox, and the creator of JavaScript, Eich has been instrumental in the development of the web itself. These days, Eich has moved away from nonprofit foundations and now focuses on Basic Attention Tokens, blockchain-based digital advertising, and Brave, a privacy-focused open-source browser.

Sara Chipps

Sara Chipps is a JavaScript developer and engineering manager at Stack Overflow, a co-founder at Girl Develop It, and the founder of Jewelbots—friendship bracelets that let you code. Prior to wearing these many hats, Chipps helped Melanie Moore create workwear subscription service Elizabeth & Clarke.

Birgit Pauli-Haack

Birgit Pauli-Haack is a web and mobile strategist and a coder for nonprofits. In addition to running her own web development agency, Pauli-Haack manages a Wordpress community for nonprofits and serves as Technology Strategy Manager for NPTechProjects, providing education and support for nonprofits in Florida and online.

These developers are creating the future of tech using every platform at their disposal—but for you JavaScript nerds, we’ve rounded up 20 nonprofit products built using only JavaScript. Check out what our favorite platform can do.

Images by: Annie Spratt, Mimi Thian, rawpixel

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