Boryana Straubel, 38, Dies; Philanthropist and Former Tesla Executive

by Msnbctv news staff

Boryana Dineva was born on May 26, 1983, in Bulgaria. With the fall of Communism in 1989, her family emigrated to Germany, where they lived for a few months in a refugee camp. They also lived in Austria and Russia. After learning English, Boryana spoke a total of five languages — all with an accent, she said, even her mother tongue.

In 2008, she graduated from the College of San Mateo, a two-year community college in Silicon Valley, along with her younger brother, Stoyan. With scholarships from the San Mateo Rotary Club, among other awards, they were both accepted at Berkeley, where Boryana earned a degree in economics. She worked as an account manager at Brocade, a software company, before joining Tesla in 2011.

She became vice president of talent and culture at the Wikimedia Foundation in 2015, before returning to Tesla for another year and a half. She then returned to school to better prepare herself for her philanthropy. She earned a master’s degree in management from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business in 2019 and a master’s degree in management science and engineering the next year from Stanford’s School of Engineering.

Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, the founder and chairman of the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society and a guru to the area’s newly wealthy, directing them in how to give their money away, taught Ms. Straubel in her Stanford courses on philanthropy and justice and on women and leadership. Ms. Straubel became a protégée and then a friend.

“Her critical thinking skills were at the highest level,” Ms. Arrillaga-Andreessen said. “But what’s so powerful about Boryana is, she took the theory and the knowledge that she was given in class and over the last few years translated it into action and impact in her own philanthropy.”

Ms. Straubel’s survivors include her husband and their two young sons. Complete information on survivors was not immediately available.

“Boryana wanted to help people who had leadership potential and were committed to make a difference in the world, but who needed a little extra support to get there,” said Pamela Hinds, a professor of management science and engineering at the Stanford School of Engineering. “She was full of energy — passionate, caring and very persistent.”

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