RIP: Rob Stuart, Godfather of the NpTech Movement | Beth's Blog

RIP: Rob Stuart, Godfather of the NpTech Movement

Personal Reflections

Rob Stuart shared my birthday, Jan. 11th.  We were both part of the 1-11-11 club.  But we also shared more than that – the nonprofit technology field.   Rob was the godfather.  The last time I saw him was in 2009 in San Francisco at the NTC – he attended almost of them from the time they were called the roundup.    I just learned that Rob passed away, leaving behind a wife and two daughters.  I’m shocked and saddened.

Back in the mid-1990’s – after 15 years of working the nonprofit sector, I got obsessed by technology and started working as the network weaver for an online network of artists called ArtsWire.   That’s when I first heard about Rob Stuart who at the time was  Director of the Rockefeller Technology Project, at the Rockefeller Family Fund. His projects included the National Strategy for Nonprofit Technology and the Circuit Riders Program.   I also heard there was a list serve for Circuit Riders where peers and colleagues provided support.

After meeting him at a conference, he added me to the circuit riders list – and thus started my career in the nonprofit technology sector because I could connect with my peers.  I had wanted to travel to Kansas City in 2000 to participate in the conference, but didn’t make it.   Finally, I was lucky enough to attend my first “roundup” in 2001 in Denver as the NTC was called in those days.    That’s where I met Holly Ross.  I got hear the legends in the nptech sector in the early days talk about their work and was inspired.

The photo above is of Rob Stuart in 1997 at a meeting in Montana to create a plan at what eventually became NTEN – thoughtfully documented in photos by Gavin Clabaugh and included in the nptech history wiki.

Rob, you will be missed.  Thank you for leadership and inspiration in the early days of our field – you are the godfather of the NpTech Movement.


Official Obit

Richard Zorza post

Allison Fine suggested that we have a way to honor Rob – perhaps a NTC scholarship or Award for the craziest idea for the NpTech field and the winner gets the latest and coolest early adopter technology tool.

19 Responses

  1. Allison Fine says:

    Lovely post, Beth, I am absolutely crushed and speechless by this news and so sad for his wife and the girls. Life’s way too short…..

  2. Jim Canales says:

    Beth: Very sad news indeed, and you are right to commend Rob for his foresight and leadership. He was one of the founding board members for GEO, where we worked together, and his energy and enthusiasm were infectious. He will be missed, and as Allison says, life can be way too short sometimes.

  3. Thank you Beth for sharing this very sad news. Rob had a drive and intelligence to make things happen. With great joy and pride he showed me my first digital underwater pictures (of his kids) and was just infectious about where tech was going to take us. A real loss to our NP community but to many other groups where he contributed his heart, mind and spirit. We are enriched by all of his contributions and now carry forward such a power of example. Hope we can find a way to honor his legacy and in some way help his family…please keep us all in loop.

  4. Beth says:

    Jim, it is very sad news. Last night, Laura’s Giving 2.0 was so inspiring and then afterwards I noticed this very sad news from friends on Facebook. The tributes on FB page are bittersweet.

    Allison, you’re right we need to honor him in some way. I feel there needs to be an award or scholarship or something at NTC.

  5. John Kenyon says:

    Very sad, he was a generous and inspiring colleague. I’m on board with creating something in his honor through NTEN.

  6. carnet says:

    Beth.. thanks for the post. I’m still shocked and agree we need to remember and also celebrate his life. I’m in for something in his honor through NTEN.. but we must celebrate his zest for life and supporting positive change through technology, communication and community organizing.

  7. Cheryl says:

    Oh – so hard to believe. So sad. I was in awe of him from my first days at the Roundups. I have fond memories of working with him on the KC Roundup.

    I agree there needs to be something to memorialize his memory.

  8. Beth says:

    Carnet just set up this 1000 memories site

  9. Ted says:

    Lovely post, Beth. Think I first met Rob at the BBar in Montana…closing in on 15 years ago. That photo captures it…the dude was always up to something. Would run into him at conferences and a random party at the DNC in Denver a few years ago. Always up to something interesting. Loved to bounce around ideas. Still had a contagious passion every day about the power of technology and organizing to help a community create change. Remembering him in the context of the NTEN/NTC community that he helped create would be great.

  10. Rick Birmingham says:

    Thanks for this. Rob was an inspiration and I owe a part of the last 13 yrs of my career as a circuit rider to him and his vision. Very sad.

  11. Beth says:

    Rick – you and me both. Ted, you must look at Gavin’s photos, you might be in them. I remember my visit to bbar fondly ….

  12. I had the pleasure of knowing and working with Rob on a few projects. His passion and enthusiasm for the causes he worked on was pure, evident, and contagious. As much a loss for the larger NPtech community, it’s a loss for the local Philadelphia advocacy community as well.

    Thanks for the inspiration Rob. You’ll be missed.

  13. Rob was a visionary from the get go. I was lucky enough to be invited to the first Circuit Riders meeting (Chicago, circa 1996 or 1997) and experienced that in the community that evolved.

    So inspiring how he used tech as one of many tools to make change. He was persistent, passionate and inventive. I’ll miss him.

  14. Lisa Harris says:

    Thanks Beth for those fond memories. My heart goes out to Rob’s family. I was lucky enough to be a Rockefeller Family Fund grantee trying to navigate online organizing in the late ’90s for Colorado women’s organizations. Rob was a true mentor and friend who connected so many of us over the years. It’s so nice reading through everyone’s comments and memories. Through Rob’s efforts, I met so many of you at those early BBar sessions and the KC and Denver roundups. Rob’s leadership, enthusiasm and boundless energy will be greatly missed.

  15. Beth, thanks for posting such a lovely tribute to Rob. When I first met him (I was then at the Benton Foundation), he was wearing a seersucker suit. A seersucker suit!

    In addition to all the other things said about him, I learned from direct experience at a club in Kansas City, that the man really knew how to dance.

  16. Beth says:

    Jillaine – you have to check out this video that Sean O’Brien shared .. wonderful ..

  17. Ramsay Adams says:

    Thank you Beth. Rob was an amazing guy. I will miss him dearly.

  18. Amelia says:

    Yes we were all saddend by my dads passing

  19. […] out, inspired me, encouraged me, and taught me about technology or social change. People like Rob Stuart, the former director of the Rockerfeller Technology Project. So, I want to nurture and support […]