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SVP Fast Pitch: Why I Volunteer

Posted by Cecilia Garza
Katrina Spade presents Re-Compose at the 2016 SVP Fast Pitch Final Showdown. Photo / Thomas Kokta

Katrina Spade presents Recompose, formerly Urban Death Project, at the 2016 SVP Fast Pitch Final Showdown. Photo / Thomas Kokta

Now in its seventh year, SVP Fast Pitch has provided more than 15,000 hours of coaching and over $1 million in grants, investments and pro-bono services to social impact organizations and enterprises.

The program pairs social innovators with skilled volunteers to hone their ideas and improve their pitch. Serving as a platform to propel their vision, SVP Fast Pitch leverages entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders tackling important issues in our society – from equity in education to climate change. The four-month program begins with a cohort of 56 promising innovators and ends with 14 finalists who will compete on-stage at McCaw Hall for grants, cash prizes and pro-bono awards at the SVP Fast Pitch Final Showdown.

And it wouldn’t be possible without the help of hundreds of volunteers who work behind the scenes as mentors, communications coordinators, on-stage technical directors, public relations and marketing professionals, outreach, videographers and photographers, and much more. Meet some of the SVP Partners responsible for the 2017 SVP Fast Pitch and Final Showdown, what is expected to be another powerful event.

DirkVanVelzenDirk Van Velzen

Current Role: Judge & Coach

Years: 2

I’ve been involved with SVP Fast Pitch since 2015 when my organization, the Prison Scholar Fund, won first in the Startup Nonprofit category. Winning the 2015 SVP Fast Pitch was the cherry on top of my application to the Stanford Graduate School of Business for Social Entrepreneurship. I went from 15 years in prison to Stanford in less than a year of my release. And I’m certain the guidance and coaching I received through SVP Fast Pitch strengthened my ability to articulate Prison Scholar Fund’s mission and position ourselves to compete. Because of the support I received as a SVP Fast Pitch innovator, Prison Scholar Fund is more sustainable and helping more individuals reinvent themselves as they transition to society.

I volunteer with SVP Fast Pitch because of how truly rewarding the experience was for me, and I’m happy to contribute in some way to create a similar experience for another social entrepreneur.

Anthea Fernandes

Current Role: Innovator Communications Lead

Years: 3 1/2

My initial aim with volunteering was to gain exposure to business. After pursuing biology in college, I wanted to switch to a career in business and a little birdie named Julie Pham suggested I volunteer with SVP Fast Pitch. I was immediately hooked by the innovative ideas, passionate competitors, and friendly volunteers. I stayed for the people and because as someone who doesn’t have amazing ideas, I can have the greatest impact by supporting the development of these organizations.

Throughout my life, I’ve cared about social issues and volunteered in an ad hoc capacity. However, SVP Fast Pitch allowed me to make social impact a core part of my life. I work with 56 organizations every year. Every. Year. That’s 56 incredibly remarkable endeavors making a difference in everything from poverty and homelessness, to education and the environment, and social justice – just to name a few! Their work has expanded my perspective, bringing issues to my attention that I had little knowledge of or had never explored. Through SVP Fast Pitch, I have developed as a professional but, more importantly, grown as a human being. During these turbulent times, I’m happy that my small organizational skills can help multiply social impact throughout our vibrant Seattle community.

Lisa MerrillLisa Merrill of Merrill Images

Current Role: Photographer

Years: 5

Each year I volunteer as an SVP Fast Pitch photographer because it’s challenging, inspiring, and personally rewarding.  It’s also a lot of fun!  My images are featured in communications which encourage innovators to apply, recruit coaches and other volunteers, cultivate sponsors, and sell tickets to our Final Showdown.

I love being part of the SVP Fast Pitch team of high-caliber volunteers. Fostering social innovation is inspiring and soul-satisfying work. Together, we use our collective expertise to shine a spotlight on great ideas which tackle daunting societal challenges, and to help the innovators amplify their impact.

This summer, I worked with other volunteers to tell the inspiring stories of four former SVP Fast Pitch winners.  It was an honor to witness and document their journeys post-SVP Fast Pitch and the many lives they’re improving.

More SVP Partner Volunteers –

Ajay Zachariah
Alessandra Zielinski
Angie Snyder
Blair Dillaway
Bob O’Hara
Brad Brickman
Brian T. Cadousteau
Cari Schutzler
Colette Hull
Dan Kranzler
Dave Thompson
Dierdre Black
Diep Nguyen
Emma Payne
Eric Carlson
Heather Griswold
Jae Easterbrooks
Janet Levinger

Jeremy Van Tassel
Jeremey Borden
Joanna Stewart
John Merrill
Jon Miller
Josh Nickerson
Julie Pham
Julie Weed
Katherine Lebo
Kyle Mylius
Lacie West
Laura Dillaway
Laureen Ong
Leslie Gordon
Lisa Bontje
Mary Lynne Poole
Maureen O’Hara

Melinda Hohlbein Loeffler
Michael Nguyen
Mike Cadigan
Natasha Rivers
Neil Roseman
Nicole Neroulias Gupte
Niki Parekh
Norm Bontje
Peter Kelly
Patricia Friel
Prady Misra
Racquel Russell
Richard Skwarek
Rob Short
Sarah Daniels
Shay Klevay
Tamara Hendry

Seattle’s premiere social innovation event is around the corner!

If you are looking for a jolt of inspiration and optimism for the future you won’t want to miss the SVP Fast Pitch Final Showdown on Oct. 24 at McCaw Hall! The Final Showdown is Seattle’s premiere social innovation showcase and competition, where finalists vie for over $100,000 in grants and prizes. Purchase your showdown tickets today for early bird prices (ending Oct. 8)! Ticket proceeds help fund awards – more tickets, more impact.

Are you interested in volunteering your time to SVP Fast Pitch or just curious to read more SVP Fast Pitch news? Visit the SVP Fast Pitch webpage to learn more.


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