Mentor Magic: How Okta Employees Change Trajectories for Tech Nonprofits - Fast Forward

May 9, 2023 | Blog

Mentor Magic: How Okta Employees Change Trajectories for Tech Nonprofits

Over the last six years, Fast Forward and Okta have collaborated to advance our shared mission of growing the tech for good ecosystem.

The Okta for Good team has meaningfully moved the needle for the social impact tech space as well as for Fast Forward’s tech nonprofit community. With a focus on catalyzing a community of global changemakers, Okta has gone above and beyond providing critical capital and stepped up to provide direct support. Among its many contributions to the sector’s growth, one invaluable resource rises above the rest: the connections Okta has made between tech nonprofit leaders and rockstar Okta employee volunteers.

“Starting a tech nonprofit is hard. It’s not enough to have a vision for impact, you need context and connections to build solutions that will impact generations. Nothing is more meaningful than getting great advice and mentorship when you’re growing your organization. The expertise of Okta’s mentors is helping these tech nonprofits scale, impacting more people in more places.”

– Shannon Farley, Co-founder and Executive Director, Fast Forward

Okta and Fast Forward have connected leaders at over 50 tech nonprofits with 68 mentors. These mentors brought their experiences in security, marketing, customer success, and more to support Fast Forward alums navigating the unique challenges they face as tech nonprofits.

In recent years, Fast Forward and Okta have made some meaningful connections between tech nonprofits and volunteers. Read on for a jolt of mentorship inspiration.

Micro-mentoring with Okta
Micro-mentoring with Okta Employees

Black Sisters in STEM mentored by Becki True, Staff Cloud Security Engineer at Okta

Almost half of Black women drop out of STEM majors by sophomore year. It’s not due to lack of desire or capacity. It’s due to lack of support. Black Sisters in STEM (Black SiS) is a digital community for advancing Black women in tech. It supports Black women through each step of the STEM pipeline – from culturally-relevant education, to job searching and placement, to career growth.

Through the Micro-Mentoring sessions during the Startup Accelerator, the Black SiS team was able to connect with Okta mentor, Becki True. Leveraging her experience as an engineer, Becki was able to use her 30+ years of experience to answer Black SiS’s most pressing questions from a technical perspective. Using her background in cloud infrastructure and team management, Becki provided much-needed support to nontechnical leaders on the Black SiS team. With support from mentors like Becki, Black SiS has transformed the lives of 7,000 Black college women from 16 countries.

“[I liked meeting] people trying to solve problems I am personally and professionally passionate about, trying to apply my experience and network to support them, and, of course, being inspired. I loved it, thanks for including me!”

– Alison Colwell, Senior Director of ESG and Sustainability, Okta

Climate Cabinet Education mentored by Alison Colwell, Senior Director of ESG and Sustainability at Okta

State and local policymakers have the potential to move the needle on climate change. Climate Cabinet Education ensures the over 500,000 local offices in the U.S. have the data they need to pass climate policy. Climate Cabinet Education analyzes key information like jurisdictional authority, clean energy opportunities, and polling to identify high-impact opportunities for advancing clean energy and environmental justice.

During the Startup Accelerator, the Climate Cabinet Education team was able to connect with Okta mentor, Alison Colwell for a Micro-Mentoring session. As an ESG leader, the meeting between Alison and Climate Cabinet Education was a match made in heaven. Alison has worked for over 15 years on ESG, human rights, and sustainability. She engaged deeply with the Climate Cabinet Education team on topics like climate, business strategy, and scaling. As the leader of Okta’s ESG function and climate strategy, Alison built strong connections with the Climate Cabinet Education team. Today, Climate Cabinet Education has the most comprehensive database for climate policy, with more than 1M data points and 1K local policy briefs.

Micro-mentoring with Okta
Micro-mentoring with Okta Employees

Six years in, we know micro-mentorship is working. First and foremost, it gives social entrepreneurs access to stellar advice from experts in the tech space. Long term, it serves as an opportunity for tech nonprofit leaders to meet folks who could become involved as volunteers, board members, or donors.

Fast Forward is excited to continue building fruitful mentorship connections. Just last month, Fast Forward connected 20 Okta mentors to the leaders participating in the 10th annual Startup Accelerator. Engaging in conversations designed to mimic the relationship-building meetings they will have throughout their career at a tech nonprofit, leaders made the most of these meetings and laid the foundation for lasting relationships. We are proud to partner with Okta to strengthen the tech nonprofit ecosystem through thoughtful mentorship.