Dan Bowditch, man of the hour, is one of the nicest guys you’ll meet. This former BC Hydro senior manager and current cycling enthusiast received well-deserved recognition this month with UBC’s Engineering Community Service Alumni Award. Balancing his environmental passions with an SVP-influenced desire to support social causes, Dan’s volunteer track record speaks volumes for his dedication to improving our community and the planet. Dan has played an invaluable role supporting many SVP Investees, presently as Lead Partner for Athletics for Kids.
Read Dan’s Q + A to find out about his favourite SVP memory and some unexpected facts, such as his love for folk music and why ship captains consider Bowditch to be a noun.
Q + A
How were you introduced to SVP? What path brought you here?
I was on a road bike ride one day in 2008 with Alex Klopfer and he talked to me about SVP over the three hour ride. He invited me to one of the early SVP Get To Know You Lunches and I was hooked. Quite a few of the TechVets (veterans of the technology industry) that I ride with regularly were already Partners, so it was easy for my wife Ursula and me to make the decision to join in January 2009.
What inspires you to make a difference?
I have been interested in giving back ever since my student days at UBC. My early contributions were focused towards environmental causes, supporting local communities and, to a lesser degree, helping those less fortunate. SVP allowed me to shift my focus towards more social causes, especially in support of youth and families to help give kids opportunities on a level playing field.
What is your favourite part about being involved in SVP?
Working directly with SVP Investees that are making a difference for kids and who also are in a position to grow their organization with a little help from us.
What did you dream of being when you were a kid?
Getting through school and on to university to become a dentist, doctor or engineer.
What do you listen to when you’re stuck in traffic?
I avoid getting stuck in traffic now that I am retired. When I do, I alternate between traffic radio and folk music. Technology is actually improving things in this regard as my car shows me where the traffic congestions are so I can continue to listen to music.
What do you think is the biggest barrier to creating social change?
Public apathy and term-limited politicians.
What projects are you working on with SVP? Why did you choose to get involved this way?
I am a Lead Partner with Athletics for Kids. They were based in my community and helping kids from low income families to get onto that level playing field fit right into my objective. I encouraged them to apply for a third year of SVP funding and I have been helping them prepare for the Investment Committee meeting on April 16th.
I am also a member of the Partner Engagement Committee. I believe that Partners will benefit far more by getting directly involved with Investees as well as through SVP Committee work. It’s amazing what a Partner can contribute and get back in spades with even a limited amount of time.
What is the most memorable experience you’ve had with SVP so far?
Being invited back to strategy sessions and celebrations for my first SVP project, “Can You Dig It”. I started on the Grants Committee in 2009 and became a Lead Partner with this organization that developed vegetable gardens to drive social and economic inclusion for people with developmental disabilities. It was a highly successful project that is still going strong in its seventh year even though SVP official support ended almost four years ago.
What social issue are you most passionate about?
That would be split between protecting the environment and giving all kids equal opportunity.
Which non-profit organization do you wish everyone knew about?
In addition to all of our SVP current and former Investees, the Rogue Folk Club (roguefolk.bc.ca). This is another pursuit that I am passionate about and currently Chair their board. They present world class performers at more than 60 concerts a year, mainly at St. James Hall in Kitsilano. We are currently helping to raise money to save this wonderful venue.
Who is your hero?
Nathaniel Bowditch, 1773-1838 – a distant American relative and self-taught mathematician remembered for his contribution as the founder of modern maritime navigation. His 1802 book, The New American Practical Navigator, is still being updated and carried on board ocean going vessels. It is commonly referred to as Bowditch. He was my inspiration as a kid.
What are you known for professionally? What do you have a knack for?
My contributions in the field of geospatial information for utilities – automating BC Hydro’s province-wide paper maps into a geospatial database enabling many applications and facilitating geospatial education and awareness through the international Geospatial Information & Technology Association where I served on the board for seven years.
What are you most passionate about professionally? What excites you about your work and the contribution you can make?
Working as part of a team and evangelizing about the possibilities of geospatial information and how the technology can help to improve people’s lives and the environment in different parts of the world. Somewhat less so now that I am retired and spending time with SVP and non-profits.
What are you passionate about personally? What do you really enjoy? What can’t you stop talking about?
I really enjoy staying fit and being challenged physically. I can’t stop talking about folk music acts, road cycling, technology and working/volunteering with like-minded people, especially friends.
What’s your favourite way to spend your time?
Weekly road cycling with our TechVets cycling group, cycle touring on the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island, working around the house, yard and garden, hiking, kayaking from Deep Cove, and sailing when I get the chance.
Anything else you’d like to tell people about yourself?
I was a founding director of three environmental groups in the 1970s and 1980s. Changing my focus from environmental to social causes has added demands on my time since it is hard to reduce thoughts and actions about the former and the latter is no less important.