Microsoft Veteran Brian Arbogast Joins Upaya as an Advisor

Upaya Social Ventures is proud to welcome Brian Arbogast to the organization in an official Advisor role. Drawing from over two decades of experience developing products and launching successful business units for Microsoft, Arbogast will provide strategic counsel to Upaya’s management team and its LiftUP Project partners.

“As a long-time supporter of microfinance institutions, I recently started to wonder if any of them were going beyond giving loans to providing something even more transformative: a steady job,” said Arbogast. “I was thrilled to find an innovative start-up right here in Seattle, run by social entrepreneurs committed to doing just that, by finding – and funding – other visionary entrepreneurs within some of the world’s poorest communities. I look forward to helping Upaya pioneer this exciting approach,” he said.

After spending the last decade as a Corporate Vice President with the Redmond-based technology industry leader, Arbogast left Microsoft in 2010 to focus on the development of scalable solutions to some of the world’s most challenging problems. He has become an active investor and advocate in the clean technology space, recently joining the board of directors of the Northwest Energy Angels, the Pacific Northwest’s only cleantech-focused angel investor group.

“With tremendous experience building and scaling new organizations, Brian’s involvement will be invaluable to Upaya and the entrepreneurs we work with,” said Sachi Shenoy, Upaya’s Executive Director. “His track record of transforming ideas into successful businesses and building high-performing teams around a single vision will be a great asset for our partners who are trying to do the same.”

Upaya Announces Partnership with the Skees Family Foundation

 Upaya Social Ventures is proud to announce its partnership with The Skees Family Foundation (SFF). The formalized relationship will provide the organization with the financial and creative support needed to develop jobs and improve the quality of life for the 1.4 billion living in the most extreme poverty. 

An active supporter of Upaya since its incorporation, SFF has been instrumental in developing outreach messaging and materials, advocating on the organization's behalf, and providing funding critical for the launch of Samridhi's community dairy initiative. Now with this formal partnership, the Santa Cruz, CA-based family foundation has reinforced its commitment to Upaya's mission.

“Working closely with the Upaya team through their launch, we saw firsthand that they walk their talk of 'triple Ts': tenacity, transparency, and trust,” said SFF Founder and Director Suzanne Skees. “Convinced of the impact Upaya could have through training locally-led businesses and providing reliable employment for the ultra poor, we viewed this partnership as a chance to leverage a small grant to get two great organizations - Upaya and Samridhi - off the ground.”

Running through 2012, the funding provided by the Skees Family Foundation will allow Upaya to further its commitment to the Samridhi project. It also gives Upaya the resources to continue the search for the next wave of entrepreneurs creating new opportunities for the ultra poor.

"One of the the most daunting things for a new organization is generating interest in a cause that may not yet be part of the mainstream discussion," said Upaya Executive Director Sachi Shenoy. "To have an ally like SFF willing to back its time and expertise with a generous grant really shows a genuine belief in our work," she said.

Suzanne is also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and The Council on Foundations Re:Philanthropy blog. For more information on her writing and the Skees Family Foundation, go to