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Each year, the electronics reuse community awards an annual lifetime achievement award at its Electronics Reuse Conference. The winner of this year's award is Charles Brennick, the founder and executive director of the nonprofit refurbisher InterConnection. Charles has done astonishing work over the years getting quality low-cost computers into the hands of charities and low-income people around the world — including TechSoup members.
Charles Brennick founded InterConnection 17 years ago to donate websites to nonprofits in developing countries. The organization created more than 100 websites and then expanded to supply low-cost computers and technology training to underserved communities in developing countries. At that time, there were relatively few organizations transferring computers and other electronics devices to people in poor countries, and that's still the case today.
People in developing countries very much want and need computers and other electronic devices, but can scarcely afford to buy them for their rural schools and social enterprises. Meanwhile, these computers and devices are being discarded by the millions in the U.S. and other wealthy countries.
Charles got interested in this type of charitable work while he served in the Peace Corps in Paraguay in the early 1990s. He subsequently worked as an ecotourism developer in Costa Rica. He saw firsthand the benefits that access to technology, especially computers and the Internet, have for remote organizations with limited resources.
He founded InterConnection in Seattle in 1999. To get the charity going, he worked a second job as a Snohomish County Parks and Recreation planner for eight years. That's some serious nonprofit dues.
Charles Brennick won the 2016 Jim Lynch Lifetime Achievement Award for his generosity to anyone wanting to get started or get better at computer refurbishment. The previous award winners voted unanimously for him.
He has been especially generous in sharing his knowledge of the complex work of getting IT equipment shipped to developing countries. This work involves navigating complex trade regulations, tariffs, customs duties, and import/export practices in different countries, all of which are very different.
Charles is often the first of us to perfect the implementation of new technologies, like Windows MultiPoint Server a few years ago. His early adopter talent and generous sharing of knowledge has meant the rest of us could build training labs more quickly and less expensively.
He is also a founding member of a new trade association of nonprofit refurbishers called the Alliance for Technology Refurbishing and Reuse (AFTRR). This project is being spearheaded by Bud Riser of the National Cristina Foundation.
Charles Brennick's knowledge sharing hasn't hurt InterConnection at all. Today, InterConnection is one of the largest and most successful nonprofit refurbishment organizations in the U.S. Throughout the years, its charitable reuse program has provided affordable technology to more than 300,000 people.
At TechSoup, we are impressed with Charles and InterConnection's values and work. InterConnection has been a fulfillment partner for our Refurbished Computer Initiative (RCI) program for a number of years now. We share a mission to provide low-cost quality reconditioned IT equipment both for social good and to benefit the environment.
We are delighted that Charles Brennick received the Jim Lynch Lifetime Achievement Award for Electronics Reuse this year.
Image: Frank Babbitt. Left: Jim Lynch; center: Charles Brennick; right: Willie Cade.
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.