Above: NetHope CEO Lauren Woodman during a presentation at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos. Woodman celebrates five years in the position.

NetHope CEO Lauren Woodman harmonizes innovation and human-focused aid

By Jacky Nakamura, NetHope Intern

When you think of a leader, who do you envision? Is it someone who can effectively lead a team? Is it an individual with the ability to strategically problem-solve? Maybe you think of a person with the ability to create the greatest results with what they have. Lauren Woodman, Chief Executive Officer of NetHope, embodies all of these traits and more.

With an impressive background in international relations, political science, technology policy, and humanitarian work, Lauren Woodman brings a variety of experiences to the table. There are a variety of issues that pose a challenge within the United States alone–the global context is inundated with an abundance of social, political, economic, and technological issues. Seeking to address these concerns can often present change as a daunting task, but Woodman is committed to making a difference in the nonprofit sector.

Lauren Woodman has led NetHope as its Chief Executive Officer for five years. Lauren’s career has been defined by the intersection of technology, development, and policy. Prior to assuming the leadership role at NetHope, Lauren held a variety of high-level positions, including: managing Microsoft Corporation’s global education and government programs for more than a decade; serving as an executive at the Software and Information Industry Association; and shaping policy at the United Nations. Currently, she is a Stewardship board member of the World Economic Forum’s System Initiative on Digital Economy, and a Society Stewardship board member, World Economic Forum’s Trustworthy Data Collaboration.

Woodman’s unique approach, like other prominent leaders, finds home in innovation. Woodman says that she seeks to, “shake things up with purpose.” When done tastefully and with intention, trying new things can result in unprecedented and transformative work. A sign of a healthy mindset is the ability to constantly evaluate and re-evaluate—Woodman is no stranger to this mentality. She says that she constantly asks questions like: “Is this actually good for us? Do we have what we need? Is this the right time?” Continual reflection can allow for greater impact, especially when doing work that has real implications for real people.

Woodman is a CEO and leader who sees the unparalleled opportunity of rich collaboration in the nonprofit world. The nonprofit sector is distinct in that there is a deep dedication towards mission-driven work—this can be applied to a range of issues including humanitarian, conservation, and developmental causes. Woodman, along with the NetHope team at large, is devoted towards the harmony of technology and human-focused aid.

As technology continues to grow and showcase itself as a distinct resource, Woodman recognizes the possibilities that can come from using technology as an accelerant for change. When utilized effectively, technology can create a whole host of opportunities for advancement. NetHope’s team itself is a paragon for the effective use of technology. The geographically diverse nature of NetHope’s staff allows for options that would otherwise be limited due to spatial confinement.

In general oversight, Woodman sees opportunity for the emergence of a unique nonprofit in a unique field. She finds deep value in taking well-informed risks, making decisions based on the greatest good, empowering team members, valuing each individual’s contribution, all whilst seeking to challenge herself and her team to not only succeed, but thrive. In a world full of systemic and structural issues, there is a need for people to step up in courage and boldness—Lauren Woodman is a leader who not only takes on those challenges but dares to bring forth transformative change in the form of innovation.


Jacky Nakamura is a senior at Seattle Pacific University, double majoring in Communication and Sociology. Her passion for people and improving the social systems that serve them has led her to intern with the Marketing Communications department at NetHope.

Filed Under: Collaboration, Digital nonprofit, Faces of NetHope, information, Organizational Capacity, Sector-Wide Change, Social and Behavior Change Communication, Strategic Programs, Sustainable Development Goals, Technology in Our World, The Center for the Digital Nonprofit, Thought Leadership, Utilization of Technology, Women and Technology