Co-founder of nonprofit organ donation startup ORGANIZE Jenna Arnold condemned complacency and shared her experiences enacting change at a “Trailblazers” panel discussion for the 2016 OWN IT Summit in Gaston Hall on Saturday afternoon.
CEO and co-founder of THINX Miki Agrawal was originally set to speak at the panel as well, but she could not appear due to sickness.
In addition to co-founding ORGANIZE, Arnold is a former teacher, has sold television shows to MTV and was the youngest American to work at the United Nations. She also previously founded PressPlay, a boutique content creation firm.
OWN IT co-founder Kendall Ciesemier (COL ’15), who told the audience that she had undergone two liver transplants herself, interviewed Arnold and praised her for her work in organ donation.
ORGANIZE, which Arnold co-founded with Greg Segal, is a New York City-based startup that aims to streamline and facilitate organ donor registration, a process which is currently primarily done at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
“If you Google Image ‘Hell,’ the first image that comes up is the DMV,” Arnold said.
Citing Madonna’s statement of “I’m tough, I’m ambitious and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay,” Arnold highlighted her own qualities that have allowed her to fight against the organ donation industry’s thick bureaucracy.
“I am very unapologetic. I don’t care if I piss people off for the sake of saving lives,” she said.
Arnold advised college students to never be afraid to take risks and take on new challenges, and to not be afraid to make a life change.
“There’s this deep-seated fear that this first choice is ultimately going to dictate the next 40, 50 years of your life, and it won’t,” she said. “You can jump ship: from a relationship, from a city, from a job, at any point that you want.”
Responding to a question from Ciesemier about how she manages to not burn out, Arnold stressed the importance of caring for one’s own self, advice she said her mother gave her. She said she is looking to move on to a new challenge soon, comparing the experience to floating on a Boogie board and waiting for the next big wave to come.
Self-described as impatient and easily bored, Arnold criticized the choice to not act above all.
“There’s no excuse to not do things. I think complacency is the cancer of humanity … and anyone who’s complacent I tend to judge.”