Philanthropist and former Tesla executive
Born: May 25, 1983 Died: June 19, 2021
Boryana Straubel, philanthropist and environmental sustainability advocate who founded Generation Collection, a jewelry company that uses recycled metals in their designs, died on June 19 after being hit by a car while cycling in the Washoe County, Nevada. She was 38 years old.
A police spokesperson said the car was traveling in the opposite direction on a freeway when it struck Straubel.
As a teenager, growing up in a small Bulgarian town, Straubel called himself a math nerd who spent his Friday evenings in a deserted Internet store researching foreign universities. This behavior made her a loser among her partying peers, she later wrote on an assignment for the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. (When she was younger, she had turned down sleepovers to stay home and work on math problems.)
When she arrived in the United States in 2005, she did not speak English. But after earning a degree in economics from the University of California at Berkeley, she became a senior executive at Tesla, the electric car company, where she led, among other things, human resources and business teams. market expansion.
She also met Jeffrey Brian Straubel, known as JB, who, along with Elon Musk, was one of the founders of Tesla. Forbes magazine, which compared Musk and JB Straubel’s relationship to that of Apple co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, estimated JB Straubel’s net worth at $ 140 million (118 million euros). He stepped down as CTO in 2019.
The couple married in 2013 and launched the Straubel Foundation, which focuses on environmental sustainability, in 2015. Boryana Straubel was its executive director.
Straubel designed the Generation Collection when she learned that precious metals like gold were a big part of electronic waste. A jewelry company that used this material in place of mined gold – which is carbon intensive and very polluting, and often relies on forced labor and child labor – matched its desire to create a company that had a positive environmental and social impact.
“I joined Tesla in 2011 when it was still a small business and people were laughing at me,” Straubel told the New York Times in April, when Generation Collection opened. “We were seen as a bunch of nerds who believed in something so much that not everyone just understood, but I absolutely believed in the mission, and look how it turned out. But now I trust my instincts.
Boryana Dineva was born on May 25, 1983 in Bulgaria. With the fall of communism in 1989, his family emigrated to Germany, where they lived for a few months in a refugee camp. They also lived in Austria and Russia. After learning English, Boryana spoke a total of five languages - all with an accent, she says, even her mother tongue.
In 2008, she graduated from the College of San Mateo, a two-year community college in Silicon Valley, with her younger brother, Stoyan. With scholarships from the Rotary Club of San Mateo, among other awards, they were both accepted to the University of California, Berkeley, where Boryana earned a degree in economics. She worked as an account manager at Brocade, a software company, before joining Tesla in 2011.
She became vice president of talent and culture at the Wikimedia Foundation in 2015, before returning to Tesla for a year and a half. She then returned to school to better prepare for her philanthropy. She received a Masters of Management from Stanford University Graduate School of Business in 2019 and a Masters of Management and Engineering the following year from Stanford School of Engineering.
Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, founder and president of the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society and guru of the area’s nouveau riche, guiding them on how to give their money, taught Straubel in her Stanford courses on Philanthropy and Justice and on women and leadership. Straubel became a protégé and then a friend.
“His critical thinking skills were at the highest level,” said Arrillaga-Andreessen. “But what is so powerful about Boryana is that she took the theory and knowledge that was given to her in the classroom and over the last few years translated it into action and impact on its own philanthropy. “
In addition to her husband, Straubel’s survivors include their two young sons. Complete information on the survivors was not immediately available.
“Boryana wanted to help people who had leadership potential and were committed to making a difference in the world, but needed a little extra support to make it happen,” said Pamela Hinds, science professor at management and engineering at Stanford. “She was full of energy – passionate, caring and very persistent.”
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.