REDMOND, Wash., Dec. 8, 1999 — He’s part jurist, part community and fund-raising champion, and part politician. The sum of these disparate elements equals Microsoft’s new Community Affairs director, Bruce Brooks.
A onetime deputy mayor who worked in the administration of former Seattle mayor Norm Rice, Brooks brings with him the experiences of a Harvard-trained lawyer, a recent board chairman of the United Way of King County, and an ongoing role as board member of the $450 million Northwest Area Foundation, which works to alleviate poverty in eight states, including Washington and Oregon.
As Community Affairs director, Brooks oversees the company’s giving programs, incorporating volunteer efforts, grant programs and employee donation matching. Created in 1983, Microsoft’s Community Affairs program was one of the first philanthropic efforts in the high-tech industry. Through a broad range of programs and initiatives, Microsoft last year gave more than $25 million in cash and $75 million in software — in addition to employees’ time and expertise — to more than 5,000 nonprofit organizations. Building on Microsoft’s core strengths — a passion for technology and the generous spirit of its employees — Brooks hopes to take the company’s giving efforts to the next level.
“We were very selective in filling this position. Microsoft’s employees have a tremendous legacy of giving — it is a source of great pride — and we wanted a director who could take this already extraordinary program to the next level,” said Microsoft Chief Operating Officer Bob Herbold. “Bruce is a tremendous addition to Microsoft. He has a distinguished career of public service and a keen understanding of how corporations can best contribute to their communities.”
Brooks acknowledges that Microsoft’s employees are critical to success of the program. He is already working with employees to develop ways for the program to better help them find valuable and contributory ways to serve their communities. “I’m impressed that Microsoft has such a deep well of skilled people who are willing to contribute their resources in the community,” Brooks said. In particular, Brooks is interested in pursuing more programs that make the most out of the company’s high-tech experience to improve technology access and education in disadvantaged communities. “That’s obviously an excellent fit,” he says.
Another key priority for Brooks is to raise awareness that Microsoft and its employees can be a great resource to the community, in order to seek out better opportunities to make an impact. “When we effectively communicate that message, more opportunities will surface where we can have an impact,” he said. “We obviously can’t do everything for everyone, but there will always be good matches for Microsoft and those in the community.”
While it is too early for Brooks — who was appointed last month — to spell out a definitive vision for Community Affairs, he said “there is a belief and a commitment in our organization — one I wholeheartedly support — to find the next level, and build on our strengths to make our philanthropic efforts even better.”