The Rally Team

Behind the Scenes at Rally HQ



The crew is as serious about play as we are about work, so here’s a look at what we’ve been up to when we’re not toiling away on new user tools and other goodies.

UTphotoOn Aug. 27 the RallyPad hosted a meetup for San Francisco-area alumni of the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. Karen Gilbert, the assistant director of development and external relations discussed increasing alumni community engagement, while chief Rally officer Tom Serres (second from left in the photo above) shared his thoughts on what the UT community means to him. No Longhorns event could be complete without plenty of Texas favorites Shiner Bock and Royito’s salsa served.



Just before the Labor Day holiday, Rally staffers surprised Nathan Wilson, our senior director of strategy, with a baby shower. Much awww-ing and squealing over teeny-tiny baby clothes ensued. Nathan and his wife are expecting their first child, a daughter, this month.



SXSW 2014 Panel-Picking Season is Here


As happens every summer, thousands of proposals for panels and presentations get submitted for the following year’s South by Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, Tex.

After those submissions are compiled and categorized, the voting begins. The list eventually comes down to the weirdest, smartest, fill-in-the-blankest panels that will be featured next March.

The team has sent in three ideas for potential sessions at SXSW, one of the largest tech-industry gatherings (more than 30,000 attend each year). Voting is now open and continues through September 6. These proposals cover how to inspire people to stand up for causes they believe in, train prison inmates for technology jobs, and build community in an economy driven by people who want to change their world.

(more…) Welcomes Michael-Keith Bernard

We love adding people to the ranks. Here’s one of the newest members of our developer team.

mk headshotArizona native Michael-Keith Bernard (MK for short) has lived in California long enough to adopt it as his second home state. He’s spent lots of time in the Bay Area startup trenches, too, heading up the backend development teams at mobile gaming companies including Bionic Panda Games, where he was the solo backend developer on games like Aqua Pets and Vacation Slots, and Enthuse, a loyalty and reward platform for sports teams.

MK was sold on joining the Rally staff after meeting his future colleagues during the interview process and learning about the company’s mission and dedication to Rally leaders and supporters.

“I absolutely love that I get to be a part of the story for some amazing causes. Whether my ideals align with the cause or not is mostly irrelevant, as long as our team helps them fulfill their vision. That’s an awesome feeling.”

When he’s out of the Rally offices, this East Bay resident loves to immerse himself in programming languages—his most recent passion is Clojure (pronounced “closure,” in case you were curious). MK and his girlfriend enjoy movies, video games, sailing, and their dog Ginny.

MK, we’re happy to have you on-board!

Rally in the News: Tom Serres, Change Agent


This week USA Today has profiled Tom Serres, CEO and co-founder, in its regular Change Agents feature. Tom talks about how he switched careers and along the way, changed how people everywhere, from politicians to PTAs to non-profits, raise money for the causes that are most important to them.

He also discusses the growing influence of the cause economy on how people choose to become fundraisers, crowdfunding with easy-to-use technology to ask for help from their personal networks and beyond, and how they become philanthropic supporters, from donating to a meaningful campaign on a whim to stretching out their giving over a lifetime.

More New Faces at

Along with a new season come some new members of the team at, and we’re excited to introduce them to you!

wendymitchell mugshot

Wendy Mitchell joins Rally as our live operations product manager, working to optimize what’s currently on our website. She arrives at Rally HQ from Playdom, a social-gaming company under the Disney Interactive Media Group. In her off-hours, Wendy loves games and exploring her new neighborhood in San Francisco. Her exploration continues when she’s on vacation or has long weekends to scuba-dive and ski.

danielbeer mugshot

Daniel Beer is Rally’s business development intern. A born-and-bred New York City kid, he’s a proud graduate of Stuyvesant High School, the city’s top public school, and he now attends Claremont McKenna College, clear across the country from his hometown. He’s an avid reader and writer who likes working on sustainability projects, such as Bloom, a Brooklyn-based large-scale hydroponics startup that he co-founded. So startup culture is in his blood, which is why we love his reason for joining the Rally team: “because crowdfunding is an enabling and empowering sub-product of the Internet.” Outside of work, Daniel likes to run, play soccer, and check out the delights of San Francisco on foot.

Welcome to Rally, Wendy and Daniel! We’re looking forward to working on great things with you.

UnGrounded: At 30,000 Feet, Leaders Take On Innovation

teamwingspanFor CEO and co-founder Tom Serres, most of his business meetings don’t last 11 hours. Then again, most of them don’t happen on a British Airways flight from San Francisco to London.

Serres joins 149 other business, financial, technology, and creative heavyweights for the first UnGrounded Innovation Lab in the Sky, scheduled for departure today.


BYOFA: Bring Your Own Financial Aid



Teresa Hodges, the office manager at, keeps our workplace running smoothly even under the most chaotic of circumstances. What will Rally do without her when she goes off to grad school?


Rally Welcomes Sunil Kumar Pissaye and Tommy Devol is thrilled to welcome a pair of new engineers to the San Francisco team!

sunilkumar mugshotSunil Kumar Pissaye comes to Rally after a stint with the wonderful world of Disney. He worked at Togetherville, a kid-focused social network that Disney acquired two years ago, as part of the central tech team that built mobile products used by Disney’s game studios. He holds a master’s degree in software engineering and management from Carnegie Mellon University. Before moving to the U.S., Sunil worked at a startup in Bangalore, and that startup energy stayed with him—after working at a giant corporation for two years, he wanted to get back to the startup scene. He joined Rally because he likes working in the Rails open-source framework and is interested in how people use crowdfunding platforms for social good.

Sunil likes to spend his free time reading, rock climbing, hiking, and cycling. He’s hiked around San Francisco and Santa Cruz and wants to bike down California’s Pacific Coast Highway.

tommydevol mugshotMissouri native Tommy Devol has also worked in mobile development, primarily at the TV and film site SideReel, before starting at Rally this spring. Tommy’s also a Rails developer, having worked in Rails since 2005 and on several early-stage startups in the last year, and he’s been a regular at hackathons around the Bay Area.

While he was still living in Missouri, he became involved in non-profit causes including the Family Violence Center, an organization in Springfield that assists and advocates on behalf of women and children who have suffered domestic abuse. He’s a certified bhakti yoga instructor and taught yoga to at-risk youth before moving to San Francisco. Because of his background in volunteering and social causes, he was excited to come work for Rally. After hours, Tommy produces music and plays guitar, keyboards, and hand drums.

Welcome, Sunil and Tommy!

Rally in the News: Hot Startups in 2013, ALS Awareness, The Last Mile



Curious to learn about what keeps the team busy? Here’s an update…

Rally joins dozens of other companies on AngelList’s top 100 startups to watch in 2013. ReadWrite posted the list yesterday, which features some of the most intriguing innovators in 10 categories, including education, healthcare, and publishing.

The San Francisco Chronicle profiled Jim Tracy, the subject of a new documentary and the focus of a related Rally fundraiser. Tracy has spent decades training teens to race, despite being sometimes homeless and destitute, becoming the winningest high-school cross-country coach in California history. The film Running for Jim follows Tracy and the girls’ team at San Francisco University High School during an extraordinary season and shocking state-championship race. The lifelong competitive runner now lives with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis—also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. To support the film and Rally for ALS awareness, check out the fundraising page here.

Ray Harts, a graduate of The Last Mile (TLM) tech incubator at San Quentin State Prison, recently talked about his experiences with TLM and interning at on Press:Here, a technology roundtable on NBC affiliates around San Francisco and Silicon Valley. He was also interviewed for a story about TLM in the Valley’s Mercury News.

Keep your eye on this blog to find out more about the team and the Rally leaders fundraising for the people and causes that matter most to them.

Healthy Hearts and A Fresh Start


As an inmate at San Quentin State Prison, Heracio “Ray” Harts had no idea he would one day stand before a crowd of venture capitalists to pitch his business plan. (more…)