Caitria O'Neill

BHSI Fellow Update: Caitria O’Neill

Applications for the 2014 Bluhm-Helfand Social Innovation Fellowship are now open and over the next month, we’ll be profiling the social innovators, civic leaders and creative thinkers who make up the ranks of BHSI alum.  And if you’re a social entrepreneur 35 years old or younger with a civic venture that is helping re-shape our society for the better, apply to be a 2014 BHSI Fellow here.

Caitria O’Neill, a 2013 BHSI Fellow, founded, a company whose software helps streamline disaster preparedness and response by connecting organizations, the government and residents.  Since she took the CIW stage in October, she’s taken a position at Stanford’s and delved into other design opportunities through her work with companies like

Tell us about what you’ve been up to since your participation at CIW 2013.

I stepped down from my role as CEO of in December of 2013. Currently I am serving as a fellow and adjunct faculty member at Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (the  I’m also currently the lead interaction designer at, a tiny design and engineering studio I recently started with Thomas Moulia.
What did you gain from your experience as a BHSI Fellow?

Caitria O’Neill describes her inspiration for starting Recovers—a
tornado that struck her hometown.
It was an amazing and inspirational experience. The fellows are from all different industries and levels of development, but working through the problems we were grappling with together was one of the most useful highlights of the experience. The access to expert help and relevant support was phenomenal. The business advice in particular was something we sorely needed that the company is now putting into effect. 
Tell us about your next steps.  What do you have planned for Possible in the coming year and how can the CIW community help?
I recently stepped down from my company, but they’re still doing well. Alvin Liang, our CTO and my sister Morgan O’Neill took over operations. Please do reach out if you are interested in getting involved! The cause is an extremely important one.
What advice would you give future BHSI Fellows and CIW attendees to ensure they get the most out of Ideas Week?
Prepare with a list of both people you want to meet and big problems you are grappling with. Bring notes and visualizations about your challenges—you never know who will be willing to spend a half hour workshopping.
Q&As are edited for clarity and length.

Erin Robertson is managing editor at Chicago Ideas.

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