Harper Reed and Tiffani Ashley Bell Sat Down to Discuss Stumbling Into Success, Life In Nonprofits and More ahead of May event


Water is a basic human right. At least that’s what Tiffani Ashley Bell, Executive Director of the Human Utility, believes. Bell has dedicated her life to building a platform that helps low-income and elderly residents of Detroit and Baltimore who need water bill assistance. In 2017 alone, The Human Utility helped 800 people (including some 300+) children get access to water for drinking, bathing, and cooking. Bell has been featured in the New York Times, National Geographic, USA Today, and many, many more. If you don’t know her name by now — mark it down because Bell is making waves.


Harper Reed, on the other hand, gained notoriety as the Chief Technical Officer for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. Harper is viewed as one of the most creative minds in tech, and has had roles as CTO of Threadless.com and CEO for Modest. If you don’t know him for his impressive work, you might recognize his signature style or seen his name in the credits as a consultant for “House of Cards.”


While Reed and Bell’s careers have mostly taken different trajectories, they have many things in common — one of which is their support of the Tech Superwomen Summit! Bell will be speaking at the upcoming Tech Superwomen Summit 2018 taking place May 3-4 in San Francisco (Reed spoke at the first event in 2015). Recently, Bell and Reed sat down to talk about Reed’s role in the 2012 presidential campaign, how Bell moved into the world of nonprofits, and more. In this blog, we’ll take a look at some of the highlights from the conversation.


Like so many stories of success, Reed’s role in President Obama’s 2012 campaign was a story of being in the right place at the right time. “Really what happened is, a friend of mine, I didn’t have anything to do,” said Reed. “I was kinda laying around and a friend of mine said, ‘You know, you should talk to this dude, Michael Slaby. He needs some help with a project.’” As it turns out, this “dude”, Michael Slaby, served as the Chief Technical Officer for Obama for America in 2008 and what Reed approached as a meeting for coffee to talk about helping out, was really an interview for the role of CTO in the upcoming campaign.


Reed was pretty surprised when he realized what had happened.

“I totally did not intend that to happen,” said Reed. “I didn’t wake up one day and say, ‘You know, I wanna be a CTO for a presidential campaign.’ I never really wanted to work in politics. But I did find that it was a really remarkable experience and I quite enjoyed it.”

In the end, Reed’s unique perspective and experience in the world of crowdsourcing helped President Obama secure a second-term.


Prior to her work with The Human Utility, Bell flexed her coding chops as the Founder of Pencil You In, a for-profit appointment scheduling service. It was in 2014, inspired by reading about the difficulties hundreds of thousands of people were having accessing clean water, that Bell started her work with The Human Utility. While, in a way, coding is coding and Bell’s day-to-day on the tech side might be similar to prior roles, she is constantly motivated by the impact she can have on people’s lives.

“There’s a tangible impact on people that you can go home and say that, ‘Yes, I, spent the day on Stack Overflow trying to fix some crappy code that I wrote, but when I fixed it, 80 families got water this month,’” said Bell.

While Bell spends a good portion of her time on the fundraising and people-side of being in a non-profit, she also takes time on a weekly basis to get back to her programmer roots and helping drive technical decisions for The Human Utility.


Reed and Bell have both followed career paths that have twisted and turned and brought them to places they never thought imaginable. You can read more of their conversation with Tech Superwomen Summit Founder Cathryn Posey ahead of the 2018 event here>>>.


To learn more about the upcoming event, please visit: http://www.techsuperwomensummit.com/

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