November’s Member of the Month is Chris Judkins-Fisher! You can find Chris at almost all of our events and every scotch o’clock on Friday with scotch in hand! He’s been a member for over a year now and works remote for Donors Choose, learn more about him below!
I’m Principal Software Engineer for DonorsChoose.org. Our goal is for students in every community to have the tools and experiences they need for a great education. On our website, public school teachers request classroom supplies or funding for trips and donors from around the country crowdfund their requests.
What motivates you?
I try to make good use of my skills in a way that improves the world. There are many jobs I could do that make interesting use of technology, but that I wouldn’t find fulfilling. I’ve also had jobs at places that were doing good and interesting work, but where my tasks weren’t that engaging and weren’t fully using my abilities. DonorsChoose.org is a great place to work because it has a great mission and is run like a tech startup. When it was founded in 2000 I think it was nearly unique in that regard (although I didn’t join till over a decade later).
Why do you work out of a coworking space? And more importantly, why 100state?
I have a great office and colleagues, but they’re about 1000 miles away. When I moved back to Madison from NYC, commuting became impractical. I worked solely from home for a while, but eventually I decided to look at coworking spaces to get out of the house during the day and be around people.
I tried a couple different places, but the space and people at 100state seemed like the best fit for me. It has good accommodations for quiet work, collaborative work, and phone calls. There’s art all over, some of it made by my friends in town. Most importantly, it has a lot of interesting people. There are people in my field whom I can talk with about tech projects, but there are also folks pursuing more esoteric paths like simulated seances and cricket farming. I also love when dogs are in the office.
Who do you look at as a role model and why?
I wasn’t sure how to answer this at first. The first name that comes to mind is Hari Kondabolu. He and the people he works with (e.g. Ashok, W. Kamau Bell, and bell hooks) provide entertaining insight into ethically interacting with the world.
What is your favorite 100state memory?
I’m kind of repeating Trevor from last month, but the first thing that came to mind was the branding discussion for Jiggly (Jigely? It’s a portmanteau of James and Quigley). I’m disappointed Quigley decided to leave for Seattle instead of pursuing that project.
What inspires you to keep pursuing your dream?
I’m lucky to be in a position where I have useful skills and a fairly comfortable life. I feel it’s necessary to at least do something to improve the world. I don’t think I’m very well suited to be an activist, but I’m glad I can use my programming skills for a cause I support. I’m excited to start tutoring adults studying for their GEDs in January. It’s something I’d done briefly in the past and really enjoyed.
I’m also perpetually pursuing the goal of making my first good joke.
When you’re not at 100state, where can you be found?
Working in my living room, or traveling to our offices in NYC and SF. When I’m not working, I might be at a comedy or music show, making bad music, or on my bike somewhere.