New York, June 6, 2016 - Today marks the official kickoff of OVERTURE, a digital humanitarian™ organization with a mission to unite the currently disparate efforts of socially-responsible international tech, media and governmental organizations, and NGOs: by bringing the right decision-makers together and fostering partnerships that enable the idea-generation, tech development, funding and distribution needed to enact global change. To foster coalitions and action, OVERTURE will host periodic, invitation-only events in NY and London; staff is in the midst of planning the organization's inaugural annual event, "The Forum," slated for fall 2016.
Since late 2015, NY media executive and OVERTURE founder Donnovan Andrews has been laying the groundwork for this first-of-its-kind endeavor: a mix of organizational members and sponsors, an advisory board (of multi-industry influencers), and an internal on-the-ground team. Explains Austin Riggs of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) [an organizational member]: "I'm very impressed with their approach - Donnovan has been able to tap into something very unique. We know that there's a role for technology to play in humanitarian, but it seems as if the conversations are being had in silos across industries. In order to make real progress, we need to be a community and OVERTURE is the platform that is going to bring us together."
Andrews says: "There are about 60 million people [per UNHCR] who've been forcibly displaced across the globe right now, not to mention that children account for half of the extreme poor worldwide [according to UNICEF]. Those are staggering numbers. It's 2016. There've been apps developed for finding dates, taxis, and song names... if this level of dedication to innovation were to be focused on humanitarian aid, there would be infinite possibilities for improving our world."
Adds Andrew Billo of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) [UN OCHA is an OVERTURE member organization]: "Increasingly we are recognizing the need to change our approach in the contexts of the ever-expanding humanitarian needs and a growing gap in resources. Given the magnitude of present challenges, we need to engage with a broader community of stakeholders including businesses and crisis-affected people themselves. While technology shouldn't be seen as a panacea, we know there are organizations that have people, products and the expertise that can be applied to humanitarian and development situations that bring another level of efficiency and insights. Technology can help us to bridge our present gap in response, and as a community, we need to better tap into this creative genius. I believe that OVERTURE can help to foster a vital dialog and accelerate progress."
Through this multi-industry collective, several projects will be identified as priorities for development. Activation of these tech products / projects will be managed by the OVERTURE team, in partnership with leading tech organizations (per the framework put forth by OVERTURE’s humanitarian and development members). Says advisory board member Rachel Weiss (VP of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at L’Oréal USA): “We all have desires to make the world a better place through our professional roles and everyday expertise. Being a digital professional, this is the best way for me to contribute: leveraging my relationships and knowledge of the ecosystem to provide guidance to organizations connected to the OVERTURE platform.
Other OVERTURE advisory board members include leaders from the Center on International Cooperation (CIC), Facebook, Nokia, IBM, Samsung Accelerator, Red Rooster, and more. “We're part of OVERTURE because we believe in the vision. We believe that innovation can make the world a better place and it has to start somewhere, and the OVERTURE model is one that is sensible and inclusive and we're excited to be a part of it. If we want to make change as an industry, we need agencies, brands, NGOs and media companies to come together and Donnovan’s approach is just what we need,” comments advisory board member Michael Lebowitz, the CEO and Founder of Big Spaceship.
OVERTURE’s pre-launch event, “Digital Humanitarian: Tech Solutions for the Developing World,” was held on March 16, 2016 at the SoHo House in Manhattan. The intimate gathering was moderated by Diana Ayton Shenker, CEO of Global Momenta. She led a lively panel discussion with: Neil Vogel, CEO of About.com; OVERTURE member Austin Riggs; as well as advisory board members Rachel Weiss, and Sarah Cliffe, the Director of the NYU Center on International Cooperation.
OVERTURE unites innovative technology companies and international development nonprofits to solve global humanitarian crises. Through ongoing events, we assemble Members to share sector-specific expertise, identify shared priorities and develop sustainable solutions to issues plaguing humanity. OVERTURE believes in a world where digital humanitarians™ collaborate for good. Based in New York, OVERTURE is global in scope and currently partners with 30 Members. www.overtureglobal.io