Meet U.N. Foundation’s Resident Entrepreneur


The Bay Area has a new resident: the U.N. Foundation. No, not the United Nations itself. But the U.N. Foundation, an organization that “brings partnerships, ideas and resources in support of humanitarian work of the U.N.,” says Elizabeth Gore, the foundation’s first entrepreneur in residence.

The U.N. Foundation has more of an entrepreneurial spin than its humanitarian counterpart. It was started by Ted Turner, one of America’s most noted media entrepreneurs, who gave $1 billion to former Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 1998 as seed funding. Now, Kathy Calvin, a former senior vice president at AOL who went on to be the president of AOL Time Warner Foundation, spearheads UNF. She heads its campaigns, including Shot@Life, an emphasis on disease prevention through vaccines, and Nothing But Nets, an effort to fight malaria in Africa.

Given that entrepreneurial flair is embedded in the history of the U.N. Foundation, the Washington, D.C., organization decided it was time to have a home in America’s most entrepreneurial city, San Francisco. And Gore would be its ambassador to engage with the tech giants of Silicon Valley, building partnerships for “good.”

Or as Gore put it, “We wanted to put a stake in the ground, tell the world that we are going to bring new innovations to the U.N.”

Gore spoke with The Chronicle recently about her new job, her take on Silicon Valley, and the partnerships she’s hoping to build. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: How has the move been from Washington, D.C., to Healdsburg? Any notable differences?

A: There’s a sense of shared responsibility here, which is very important. I like to call it the 3 C’s: citizen, community and company. The Bay Area really gets this concept. I’m in love, though. I’ve never lived in the Bay Area. I’m from Texas and have lived in Bolivia as a Peace Corps fellow and then in D.C. I’ve noticed that here folks work just as hard as on the East Coast, but they are just as focused on their relationships and hobbies. Intense focus at work and then intense focus on surfing or sustainable agriculture. I really respect that.

For the full interview, please go to San Francisco Chronicle.


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