20 Under 40: Craig Wiroll

Portfolio Manager – Gigabit Eugene/Community Leader Smart Gigabit Communities
Mozilla Foundation/US Ignite

Age: 31

“Craig created partnerships between educators, technologists, nonprofits, public officials, researchers, and entrepreneurs which helped Eugene fully realize the benefits of world-class gigabit internet access. His work enabled local teams of innovators to win over $200,000 in funding.”

Matt Sayre, Technology Association of Oregon


Craig Wiroll played an important role in getting Eugene-Springfield established as a “smart” community. He helped secure the title of US Ignite Smart Gigabit Community and created partnerships between educators, technologists, nonprofits and public officials, enabling the area to win more than $200,000 in funding. As the portfolio manager for Gigabit Eugene through the Mozilla Foundation, Wiroll managed a grant portfolio of 11 local and nationwide projects funded by the National Science Foundation and was a community leader for Smart Gigabit Communities with US Ignite.

Just a couple years ago, he was a Domestic Policy Council intern for the White House under President Barack Obama. He also presented at MozFest in London on digital equality and access in rural America. Wiroll’s community involvement has included volunteering at Spencer Butte Middle School, as well as serving on the board of directors for United Way of Lane County and on the Lane STEM Leadership Board.

Get to know them

Q: What would you like to say to future 20 under 40 award winners?

Although I am extremely honored to be recognized for a job well done – I think we should remain extremely humble. I don’t think we should let these awards (or any recognition) go to our heads. Especially awards for early-career success. There is not only a lot of work left to be done – but there is too much pressure on young people to figure out what they “should be” or “should do” at much too early of an age. The best way I’ve heard it put recently is that we are so pressured to choose our hats at a young age – that we don’t spend enough time trying on different hats and seeing which one fits best.

So, to anyone not recognized this year: don’t fret. Early-career success is nice – but life is a marathon, not a sprint – and there is no finish line. None of us know why we are here – all we can do is our best, treat people with respect, and extend a hand to those who haven’t been as lucky as we have.

To all future winners (and non-winners) of this award – don’t let recognition define your worth. Don’t stress about career uncertainty (there is, and will always be uncertainty). Just do your best to help those around you and live an authentically good life. The awards will come eventually if you do that.


Q: What advice do you have for those people out there who want to step up and help lead our community?

With a civic-minded community and near-record number of nonprofits per capita – there is no shortage of ways to get involved in Eugene. Even if you haven’t volunteered before, or since you were 6 when you were a brownie/cub scout – there’s no better time than today. And if today doesn’t work – the next best day is tomorrow. Don’t make excuses because every day you delay extending a hand is another day of someone waiting for your help. Ingrain service to others in your personal identity and habits. Cold-call organizations you admire, write them, or just show up. Bring applicable skills – are you a people-person who likes chatting with and meeting new people: serve food at FFLCs Dining Room. Are you an introvert who likes videography and computer programming? Offer to take promotional videos for a local animal adoption nonprofit or update a local recycling program’s website. Every bit matters.

The number one type of volunteering I would advise people who want to make a difference in their community and the world: mentor a young person. There are so many young people who don’t have a good role model and who feel alone in this world. I chose the 4J Lunchtime Mentor Program but there are many organizations looking to connect adult mentors and wonderful kids locally – check it out!


Q: How was your community involvement impacted your work and life?

I was a major dork in undergrad and didn’t enjoy drinking or partying – so I spent the majority of my free time volunteering with a variety of different nonprofits dedicated to environmental sustainability, youth inner-city mentoring, urban farming, and more. I enjoyed it so much, I made a conscious decision to dedicate my life and career to public service. In that last decade, I have completed two AmeriCorps terms (including assistant-teaching 4th grade, repairing waterfalls due to flood damage in Silver Falls State Park, and building homes for migrant farmworkers in the desert), completed my Master’s in Public Administration at University of Oregon (with capstone research conducted with the Oregon statewide education policy board – Higher Education Coordinating Commission), and served in the Domestic Policy Council at the Obama White House in Washington D.C.. All amazingly unbelievable experiences that have both shaped me as a person and defined my career.

So, public service and community involvement hasn’t just influenced my career – it has become my career. And it has been an honor to be lucky enough to be empowered over the last 18-months becoming ingrained in the local technology and education communities and helping to support local Eugene educators, innovators, schools, and nonprofits to creatively advance their missions.