Daniel Ben-Horin, whose last name means “Son of Freedom” in Hebrew, was born and raised in New York City. The son of Latvian immigrants who met on a kibbutz in 1930, Daniel attributes much of his success as an entrepreneur to his willingness to take risks , his strong belief that the personal, professional, and political are inextricably intertwined, and to laughter.
Daniel's psychology studies at University of Chicago in 1969, and early experiences as a journalist focused him on social change. As a result, when he got involved with technology, it was because he saw it more as an extension of the cultural and political movements of the 1960s. Motivated by the concept that information and ideas fundamentally “wanted to be free,” Daniel became involved with networks of people who shared his interest in computers and passion for social change.
Daniel describes his early efforts with CompuMentor as a kind of social experiment to create hybrid vigor between two communities that typically did not interact. In one sense it was very concrete: these mentors possessed a skill that matched a real need of social organizations. However, he knew from the beginning that there was something deeper at work. He asked himself how he could expose one segment of society to social movements they may not be aware of, and at the same time expose the movements to a type of expertise that could truly be valuable, and then do it on a sustainable level and at a massive scale.
From the mid-1980s on, Daniel worked as a classic entrepreneur, always thinking five years ahead, developing and re-developing ideas, taking risks, and confidently navigating uncharted waters, and the evolution and constant adaptation of his organization over 20 years is a testament to his flexibility and humility. Daniel’s fundamental interest has always been in what works – in what will produce social change – and this made him willing to test new ideas and take CompuMentor and now TechSoup Global in new directions. Mario Morino of Global Philanthropy says of Daniel, “It was never about the technology, it was about the people, and many people. The assimilation of people and process, and getting people to understand what they have and empower them to use it.”
Daniel has been named on four occasions (2004 to 2007) by the Nonprofit Times to its annual list of the 50 most influential leaders in the U.S. nonprofit sector and just last week received the Lifetime Achievement award of the Nonprofit Technology Enterprise Network, which he helped found in 2000, and which has grown into a dynamic trade association of public interest technologists, which draws 1,400 people to its annual conference.