Honoring Digital Do-Gooders: Dewey Winburne Community Service Awards

Join us 7:00PM Thursday, March 12 for the Dewey Awards
Congratulations to the 2015 Dewey Winburne Community Service Award Honorees. A teacher and one of the original co-founders of the SXSW Interactive Festival, Dewey Winburne worked to train at-risk youth to make use of digital technology. Dewey believed that the new media revolution could help level the playing field between the haves and the have-nots in our society. Although Dewey passed away in 1999, his legacy continues via the lives of the many digital creatives he touched.

Each spring, SXSW Interactive honors his vision with the Dewey Winburne Community Service Awards. During the ceremony, 10 community do-gooders are recognized for their use of digital technology to help others. The Dewey Awards celebrate the spirit of community in Austin that we think is unique to SXSW. Remember that admission to the Dewey Awards is FREE – you do not need to have a SXSW badge to help honor these amazing leaders from across the United States and around the world. This event is the heart of SXSW Interactive, bringing change makers from all over the world together for a night to honor their work and hear their stories.

These 10 honorees represent the best of the best of digital community – we are thrilled and honored to be telling their stories at SXSW Interactive.

*Nominate an individual for this community service award for 2016 by contacting tammy@sxsw.com. Looking for a way to nominate an organization with a project or program beginning this fall for a SXSW grant? Check out the SXSW Community Fund Grant for more details.

Meet the 2015 Dewey Winburne Community Service Honorees

Karthik Dinakar Photo Courtesy of Karthik Dinakar Karthik Dinakar
MIT Media Lab
Cambridge, Massachusetts

As a Ph.D. candidate at MIT, Dinakar works on cyberbullying detection algorithms using natural language processing and statistical machine learning. He is a computer scientist in the fields of machine learning, natural language processing and human-computer interaction to compute for empathy. His previous work includes seminal work in the computational detection of textual cyber-bullying and modeling bike-sharing programs of major European cities. Dinakar has twice been invited to the White House, to present his research on computational detection of bullying on social media and the use of probabilistic graphical models to scale crisis helplines in the United States. The American Mathematical Society featured him in the ninth volume of What’s Happening in the Mathematical Sciences. An alumnus of Carnegie Mellon University, he has worked for Yahoo!, Deutsche Bank and for Microsoft.

Justin Graves Photo Courtesy of HOWJustin Graves
Washington, DC

Graves committed himself to a personal goal of meeting one new person every single day. If he meets that goal, then he tries to help one new person everyday. He is a fervent inspirational speaker and through his personal blog, HESONWHEELS.com, Graves uses transparent social media to share the adventures he has on this journey of connecting with and serving others on a daily basis. Through his life motto, “life is all about what you have done for other people,” Graves tirelessly uses his unique frame – seated in a wheelchair – and energy to denounce common assumptions about those with disabilities, to motivate his friends in his communities and to forge connections with the “strangers” he just hasn’t related to yet.

Jukay Hsu Photo Courtesy of Jukay HsuJukay Hsu
Queens, New York

Jukay Hsu founded C4Q, which fosters the Queens tech ecosystem and increases economic opportunity in the world’s most diverse community. C4Q's innovative Access Code program is creating a new pipeline of technical talent that is increasing diversity in the tech industry and raising graduate income by 4x. After graduating from Harvard College, Hsu served as a U.S. Army officer where he commanded a rifle platoon in Iraq and earned the Bronze Star Medal. Hsu was honored to serve as the youngest member of Mayor Bill de Blasio's Transition Team and currently serves on the Mayor's “Jobs for New Yorkers” Task Force. He is Director of the Stuyvesant High School Alumni Association and a Trustee of the Queens Public Library, chairing its technology committee.

Karen Kocher Photo Courtesy of Karen KocherKaren Kocher
Living Springs
Austin, Texas

Karen Kocher works as a media producer at the intersection of film and digital media. Currently, she is developing Living Springs, an interactive documentary about Austin’s famed Barton Springs that brings its fascinating story to the public, free-of-charge as a website and installation. In 2008, Zilker Trek, an innovative iPod-based scavenger hunt/nature journaling project, brought new media to underserved kids at the Austin Sunshine camps. Austin Past and Present, a cutting-edge interactive documentary brings history into unlikely places, like the Austin City Hall and the baggage claim at the Austin Bergstrom International airport. Ms. Kocher has been teaching interactive digital storytelling and digital post-production for the Department of Radio, Television and Film at the UT Austin since 1998.  

Brittany Martin Photo Courtesy of AbleThriveBrittany Martin

Brittany Martin founded and is executive director of AbleThrive, a support network of crowdsourced tips and advice for people with disabilities and their families to overcome challenges and thrive. After her father was paralyzed in a car accident, Martin saw that learning from others in similar situations helped her family adapt and she envisioned using technology to replicate such support globally for all disabilities. A 2008 Harvard University graduate, Martin also volunteered with disability communities in China and Africa, giving her a sense of the common struggles for people with disabilities across geographic areas. In 2013, she left her job as a teacher and coach to devote herself to uniting and empowering a global disability community.

Rebecca McDonald Photo Courtesy of Rebecca McDonaldRebecca McDonald
Library for All
New York, New York

In 2010, McDonald and her husband moved to Haiti to help rebuild after the devastating earthquake. She visited schools with fewer than 30 books between hundreds of students. After researching the space, McDonald found that current approaches to addressing the lack of access to books and resources were expensive and unsustainable. She founded Library For All in 2012, with a vision to create a digital library from the world’s collective resources that would be easily accessible to those living in poverty. Prior to Library For All, McDonald worked in the construction industry in Australia, responsible for the delivery of a $1 billion housing program. McDonald also served for eight years as an Ambassador for Opportunity International, a leader in the micro finance industry.  

Libby Powell Photo Courtesy of RadarLibby Powell
London, England

Libby Powell founded Radar in 2012. Prior to that, Powell worked for several years with a humanitarian organization supporting health and advocacy programs in Palestine and the refugee camps of Lebanon before retraining as a journalist, winning the Guardian International Development Journalism Award in 2010. In 2013, Powell was named in Journalism.co.uk’s top 50 female innovators in digital journalism. You can find her online @OnOurRadar.

Tembinkosi Qondela Tembinkosi Qondela
Whizz ICT Centre
Cape Town, South Africa

Tembinkosi Qondela co-founded Whizz ICT Centre, an organization that seeks to facilitate the use of information communication technology (ICT) tools for development efforts of the community in Khayelitsha which is one of the largest and poorest areas of Cape Town, South Africa. He observed that marginalization of poor people in the use of ICT and the lack of access to information perpetuates the inequalities and poverty that face most young South Africans. Whizz ICT runs a centre which gives young people access to computer training, other ICT related services and training in a range of income generating skills. To date Whizz ICT has provided training to over 1000 youth.

Dr. Catalina Rojas Photo Courtesy of PCDNDr. Catalina Rojas
Peace and Collaborative Development Network
Alexandria, Virginia

Dr. Rojas serves as Director of Innovation at the Peace and Collaborative Development Network, one of the world’s largest online communities connecting social change makers to multiply their collective impact. As director of Global Partnerships at Women Thrive Worldwide, she created a worldwide network and led training and consultation to increase the advocacy capacity of women’s NGOs and CBOs in Central America and West Africa. Dr. Rojas consulted on gender, conflict and development issues with many international organizations including the IIS, OAS, USAID, UNIFEM and earned her Ph.D. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University. Originally from Bogotá, Colombia, she has over two decades of experience working with civil society organizations in the Global South, including the peace movement in her home country.  

Dr. Abdullah Saleh Photo Courtesy of ICCDr. Abdullah Saleh
Edmonton, Canada

A General Surgery resident at the University of Alberta, Dr. Saleh also founded and is Chief Executive Director of ICChange. ICChange crowdsources talent and unleashes innovation in creating new models, technologies and social enterprises, improving the quality of life and security of vulnerable populations. Born in Iraq, he obtained a B.Sc. in Biological Sciences from the University of Calgary and his M.D. from the University of Alberta. He co-founded the Kenya Ceramic Project in 2007 and developed programs for vocational training for Burmese refugees in Thailand. Dr. Saleh launched the Kibera Medical Records Initiative and the Kenya Trauma and Injury Program. His interests include system thinking and architecture, human rights and improving access to medical services and surgery in remote settings.

The Dewey Awards were founded in 2000 and have helped showcase the good work of dozens of digital leaders from across the United States and around the world. Click here for the full archive of past honorees.

Curious about how we select these honorees? Most are nominated via the SXSW Interactive Scholarship Program. An Austin-based committee reviews all scholarship nominees with an eye to the qualities of community, compassion, care, education and positive energy that Dewey brought to his tenure at SXSW.