Autodesk employees’ connection to giving and community

Autodesk Foundation Team November 22, 2021 7 min read

Global Month of Giving at Autodesk kicks off on Giving Tuesday, November 30th, a time to foster and celebrate the generosity, hope, and connection created through charitable giving. Each year, Autodesk employees are eligible for up to $5,000 in matching funds from the Autodesk Foundation, doubling the impact of their charitable giving to communities and causes they care most about. 

Autodesk employees also give back through pro bono consulting and donations to the Autodesk Foundation portfolio of nearly 40 nonprofits and startups addressing climate change and inequality. In September, Autodesk employees were given the choice between receiving Autodesk swag or donating to nonprofits. 51% opted to donate to one of three nonprofits in the Autodesk Foundation portfolio, resulting in more than $35,000 in charitable donations. 

Today, we’re highlighting the stories of eight Autodeskers who made the most of their charitable giving match in 2021, supporting a wide range of causes including racial justice, education, poverty relief, employment services, and animal welfare. 

Amanda Kinley, Senior Program Manager, Community Team 

Causes: Animal Welfare 

Amanda Kinley works every day to build a community for Autodesk customers, providing designers, engineers, and makers around the world with opportunities to connect with one another. She also has a passion for helping and connecting with animals, and regularly gives to shelters, doubling her donation with the Autodesk match. 

This year, her own Autodesk community showed up in a big way for Amanda and her dog, a foster named Skye who needed major medical treatments in order to live a good life. When she posted a fundraiser in the Fun Dogs of Autodesk Slack channel, she was hoping to raise a few hundred dollars to donate to the rescue providing Skye’s treatments. Instead, the small rescue was flooded with thousands of dollars, and countless messages of love and support. 

“Connecting with everyone across the Fun Dogs of Autodesk Slack channel that gave so much love, support, and financial assistance to Skye has really given me a different view of Autodesk. It’s so common to feel isolated, especially with remote working, but I have met an entire group of colleagues that I would have never crossed paths with.” 

Bobbie Casey, Partner Success Manager for the Autodesk Foundation 

Causes: Art Education, Racial Justice 

Bobbie Casey’s passion for helping make a better world doesn’t end with her role at the Autodesk Foundation, where she connects startups and nonprofits to Autodesk’s in-kind support programs. She volunteers with Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Marin, donating a $100 Cause Card for every 10 hours of volunteer work, and serves as Co-President of the Board of education nonprofit Arts+, where she can double her financial donations through Autodesk’s 2:1 Board Match. 

“Marin County is one of the wealthiest in the U.S, and some of our residents don’t have access to equal opportunities,” she says of her motivation to volunteer. There are practical benefits, too: she’s developing valuable leadership skills as Board Co-President for Arts+, running Board meetings and inspiring volunteers to give. Autodesk’s charitable giving programs allow Bobbie to marry her twin passions for social justice and the arts. “I want to nurture a diverse pool of talent for future careers in music, art, film, and theater.” 

Gabe Anderson, Senior Manager, Education Offerings Strategy 

Causes: Arts, Civil Rights, Education, Environment 

Gabe Anderson lives his passion for education every day at Autodesk, where he develops and manages strategies to empower educators and students who use Autodesk software. As someone who relied on financial aid for his education, he is a proud yearly donor to his college financial aid program, in addition to several other schools in New York State, along with national and international nonprofits in the arts, civil rights, and environmental advocacy. 

“I’m lucky to have built and now live a comfortable life, though it wasn’t always that way,” he says. “By giving back, I know I’m helping people and organizations who depend on the kindness of donors. I’m grateful to work for a company that understands we’re all in this world together.” 

Gail Tanaka, Global Integrated Marketing Lead, AEX

Causes: Arts, Education, Culture

Gail Tanaka is the AEX global integrated marketing lead at Autodesk and Global Lead of the Autodesk Asian Network. Her leadership continues outside of Autodesk where she serves on the board of Kimochi, a nonprofit organization providing culturally sensitive programs and services to all seniors to preserve their dignity and independence, with a focus on the Japanese American and Japanese speaking community.   

Through her volunteer experience, Gail brought together the resources, products, and team to launch a pilot cultural program at Kimochi, teaching the elderly and youth Tinkercad and 3D printing, recently highlighted in our Autodesk blog.   

With Autodesk Foundation’s 2:1 donation match for Autodesk employees who serve as board members of nonprofits, Gail’s initial donation to Kimochi plus Autodesk Foundation’s match provided enough for Kimochi to purchase a 3D printer for the pilot program. In addition to helping seniors, the program has an intergenerational component: seniors learn the technology, then teach the children how to use it. They can connect meaningfully through technology and creative projects, while also learning about their Japanese American heritage. 

Kassidi Sorensen, Employer Brand Manager 

Causes: Animal Welfare 

When Kassidi Sorensen learned about Autodesk’s charitable giving match, she knew exactly where she’d be donating her money: Three Little Pitties, an animal rescue in Houston, Texas that paired her with her emotional service animal, a labrador/pitbull mix named Atlas. 

“I was blown away with the level of care and diligence that went into their adoption process,” she says of Three Little Pitties, a volunteer-driven nonprofit that saves an estimated 3,000 dog and cat lives each year, “and Atlas has made my life so much brighter.” Through the “Fun Dogs of Autodesk” Slack channel, Kassidi connected with a colleague, who helped Kassidi set up a fundraiser for Three Little Pitties. “The donations came flooding in. People I’ve never met were so willing to read about my cause and donate. It really made me proud to call myself an Autodesker.” 

Meenal Jain, Technical Program Manager for Security Engineering and Application Security 

Causes: Education, Food Security, Poverty Relief 

During the first year of COVID, Meenal Jain says she felt lucky and grateful that she and her family had not been directly impacted by the virus – and compelled to give to charities supporting those who were. She and her husband decided to raise money among their family and friends for the GiveWell Fund, which directs donations to charities supporting people who live in extreme poverty. 

“We weren’t sure how it would go,” she says, but her community rallied around the cause. Combining the Autodesk Foundation match with other donors’ company matches, they were able to triple or quadruple their donations to highly effective poverty relief charities around the world. “The last year has been tough for everyone, and this was an opportunity to just be thankful, and support the right organizations that are making a difference.” 

Rebecca Richkus, Director of Operations, Building Design Products 

Causes: Food Security, Employment Services, Public Health, Racial Equity in STEM 

2021 was the first time in her 20-plus year career at Autodesk that Rebecca Richkus, Director of Operations, Building Design product group, took full advantage of the Autodesk Foundation charitable giving match. What inspired her to invest more of her resources in nonprofits and charities? Concern for her neighbors in Framingham, Massachusetts facing food insecurity and unemployment because of the COVID pandemic. 

“I learned how satisfying it was to help people who might live down the street, or who I pass in the grocery store,” she says. “I had previously been giving primarily to national organizations or things like local museums, but now I make sure to set aside money toward helping people near me.” 

Her own evolution in giving has opened doors in her own family, as well. “I’ve brought this awareness into conversations with our kids (9 and 5) when discussing how to use their “share” money from their allowance. We discuss who to donate to and why that’s important.” 

Timera Hart, Program Manager of Business Operations

Causes: Human Trafficking Prevention

Timera Hart, Program Manager of Business Operations, has deepened her engagement with Prevention Now, a nonprofit focused on preventing human trafficking using data. Timera was first a volunteer, then a board member, and then a team lead for an Autodesk pro bono project. She’s excited to max out the Autodesk Foundation donation match each year, taking advantage of the 2:1 match for board engagement. 
 
“Through my volunteering, pro bono consulting, board leadership, and fundraising with Prevention Now, I’ve witnessed the power and compounding effect that tech companies like Autodesk can have when they share their skills and resources with nonprofits who operate on a shoe-string budget.”   

 

Explore the Autodesk Foundation portfolio of nonprofits and startups addressing climate change and inequality to inspire your own giving. 

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