Wisdom 2.0 Speakers

Our Speakers

Vanessa Callison-Burch

Product Manager at Facebook

When I was 16, I threw a very important party -- a farewell for my first patient as a hospice volunteer. Amid Chinese food, flowers and opera music (his favorite things), he told me: "Death is not to be feared; it's just another adventure."

As a Stanford student, I volunteered for a Bay Area hospice and became an honorary big sister to six adolescent girls whose parents were dying. When I graduated, I worked at Mother Teresa’s clinic in Addis Ababa, throwing parties for disabled orphaned children and sitting with people dying from AIDS and tuberculosis. By the end of that year in Ethiopia, my heart was exhausted. I knew I had yet to learn how to maintain true compassion amid deep suffering.

When I returned to San Francisco, a friend invited me to a meditation class. In the stillness of the meditation hall, I found tears of recognition sliding down my cheeks. Later, the meditation teacher, who was also a software architect, recommended that I learn to code to strengthen my mind for meditation.

That advice launched a decade of working on web technology projects for organizations ranging from software start-ups to major financial institutions. Now I’m bringing together what I’ve learned in web development and in my meditation practice to explore the intersection of technology and compassion.

Previous Speakers: