About our founder
Founder and Executive Director
“When you create an environment where youth feel respected, like they belong, and have a supportive community, they can envision a different future for themselves.”
In 2014, Jacob founded Digital NEST—a technology workforce development hub providing youth in rural communities with high-demand technology skills, mentoring and hands-on experience so they can secure well-paying jobs. Jacob conceived the NEST after witnessing a young college student out in the cold doing homework on her laptop because she didn’t have internet access at home. That moment sparked Jacob’s idea to give the brilliant young minds in his community a better chance at achieving big dreams.
Over the course of his career, Jacob has provided guidance and mentorship to youth to pursue STEM careers. Before starting Digital NEST, Jacob spent nearly 10 years running a successful program funded by the National Science Foundation, with a focus on encouraging underrepresented Latina girls in the Pajaro Valley Unified School District to study computer science. The program was instituted in every school throughout the district and eventually expanded to include boys.
Jacob currently sits on the Board of Directors for Santa Cruz Works, and is on the advisory board of the Association of Science and Technology Centers, United Way Monterey County, Bright Futures of Monterey County and Watsonville Film Festival. In 2020, Jacob received The James Irvine Foundation “Leadership Award.” In 2018 he was given the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership Community Impact award and the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation selected him as an “Entrepreneur Fellow.” He spoke at the first White House Tech Meetup in 2015 and TechCrunch named him one of 2014’s “Top 10 Men in the Country Supporting Women in Technology.”
Jacob understands that businesses improve their ability to innovate when they hire the creative, brilliant young minds living in their own backyards. Local youth solve community challenges, put resources back into the community, and build economic prosperity where they live. By training youth in the technology and soft skills businesses demand, Digital NEST is empowering them to chart their future careers. He plans to open a Digital NEST in all overlooked communities across California and prepare youth to transform them into thriving economic centers.
When Jacob is not making sure youth in rural communities are ready for big careers, he spends time with his wife and three kids, cultivates his home garden, and prior to the pandemic, he traveled. He is based in Watsonville.