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Meet Claire Bonilla, Microsoft's Disaster Response Maven
Photograph by Annie Marie Musselman
Photograph by Annie Marie Musselman

Senior Director, Disaster Management, Microsoft
Redmond, Washington

Bonilla, 37, coordinates emergency communication solutions for stricken communities.

"In a time of disaster, you're often stuck starting with a damaged structure. We partner with NetHope, a nonprofit that brings satellite and wireless Internet connectivity to disaster sites, so we don't have to rely on the infrastructure in the area; our work can be done in the cloud, hosted at Microsoft's global data centers. Together, we provide situational awareness and mapping capabilities, and improve goods distribution. In both Haiti and Chile, we provided before-and-after satellite imaging through Bing, letting governments assess damage in areas they couldn't reach.

We create tabletop disaster simulations so we immediately know the appropriate protocol when disaster strikes. Within hours of the event, my core team reaches out to Microsoft staff in the impacted area, and we become a geo-diverse virtual team working around the clock. Projects that would normally take a year are completed in five days."

A version of this article appeared in the July/August 2010 issue of Fast Company magazine.