A Sustainable Vision

Boryana Dineva was born in Bulgaria. When the USSR dissolved, her family moved between countries but ended up in Germany. Boryana was a math nerd who spent her Friday evenings in a store with internet access where she could research foreign universities.           

She came to the U.S. at age 22 to study at the University of California, Berkeley. She learned English while in college. It was her fifth language.

When she graduated, she went to work for a small software company and then Tesla. Her focus was on market expansion. She met her husband, J.B. Straubel, while at Tesla. He was one of the founders of Tesla and was serving as the Chief Technology Officer. After four years at Tesla, Botyana spent 1.5 years at the Wikimedia Foundation. She discovered that philanthropy was her dream.

She decided to get and MBA and M.S. degree in Management Science and Engineering (Industrial Engineering) at Stanford. While at Stanford, Boryana took courses in philanthropy. This is when she decided to change career directions.

Boryana and her husband created the Straubel Foundation with a focus on environmental sustainability. As part of her passion for environmental sustainability, she created Generation Collection seen here. She realized that one ton of mobile phones contains 298lbs of copper, 8lbs of silver, and .75lbs of gold. The name Generation Collection reflects the fact that gifts of fine jewelry are a gift that one generation will gift to another. Boryana’s own prized possession is a 30 gram necklace given to her by her mother when she graduated from high school as its valedictorian.

Boryana, like many who have had success in the corporate world, are turning to philanthropy as a way to give back and fulfill their life’s passions. They are fulfilling societal needs that they find to be unmet by the public sector. In Boryana’s case, she is using her engineering and business expertise to meet an environmental sustainability need largely being ignored by government.

Tragically, Boryana was killed by a car travelling the wrong way as she was riding her bicycle. She was 38 years old. Hopefully her passion and vision will be sustained.

Just imagine how much the huge sums of money placed in private foundations by successful entrepreneurs can accomplish? Entrepreneurs of the past have made major contributions to our society. These contributions are accelerating today with the increase in wealth generated by public-spirited entrepreneurs.

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“True wealth is not measured in money or status or power. It is in the legacy we leave behind for those we love and those we inspire.”– Cesar Chavez (Farm worker activist)

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