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February 28, 2024
Sarah Gardner
The Heat Initiative: Combatting Online Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) with Sarah Gardner

The Heat Initiative: Combatting Online Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) with Sarah Gardner

Show Notes:

The right to privacy is one of the most important provisions of the US constitution, and fundamental to everyone’s ability to live freely, and follow their dreams. However, with social media and cloud based storage becoming ever more and more prevalent in our culture, issues of online privacy trust, and safety have emerged as one of the key challenges of our day. What seemed simple a generation ago, is now a highly nuanced and complex issue that includes technology, common sense, law enforcement, and personal responsibility.

With the rise of these new storage and communication tools, the consequences of privacy issues are not just more severe, they’re long-lasting. It’s not just the privacy of adults that’s in question, but that of our children, that could continue impact them long into adulthood.

One of the most important, and complicated of these privacy concerns is the issue of online child sexual abuse material, or CSAM for short. CSAM is created when illegal media (images, videos, text, speech, etc.) that exploits or is harmful to children is stored or transmitted using often secure or encrypted technology. It’s the emergent challenge of protecting children, while also preserving the privacy of well-meaning adults, that led us to discover The Heat Initiative, and its Founder and CEO, Sarah Gardner.

Under Sarah’s leadership, the Heat Initiative has launched a multi channel campaign to pressure Apple, and eventually other technology providers as well, to do the right thing - to implement policies and technologies to help eliminate harmful sexual abuse material from their platforms, and to bring the perpetrators of this type of sex trafficking to justice. If you watched the NFC championship game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Detroit Lions, you may have seen some of the first volleys of this campaign:

Who Is Sarah Gardner?

Sarah's commitment to creating a safer internet landscape for children is not just a mission — it's a calling. Despite growing up in the San Fernando Valley, an area dominated by the film industry and the fictional home of Sweet Valley High, Sarah Gardner had a grounded sense of social responsibility from a young age.

“I had parents that were really grounded in showing us that there was this bigger world outside of L.A. And I think like any parent, town or city that can be kind of dominated by one industry. The goal was to make sure that we knew there were a lot of different things that we could do with our lives.” – Sarah Gardner

Sarah's parents were keen on grounding their children in the reality that life extends far beyond the confines of their immediate surroundings. Through family discussions and real-world examples, they taught Sarah and her siblings about the "randomness of birth" and the inherent duty to assist those less fortunate.

In addition to learning about helping others around her from her family, Sarah’s schooling played a significant role in her desire to chase social impact with her career. She attended a Catholic school and witnessed incredible examples of service-driven leadership from the nuns who taught there.

“I went to an L.A., liberal Catholic school, [and came] across some pretty badass nuns who would go to Thailand in the summer and volunteer at shelters with trafficked girls and so just acknowledging that was a very different experience than what most people experience.” – Sarah Gardner

It’s safe to say that Sarah's journey into the realm of social impact and philanthropy was by design, and she had an idea of who she wanted to work for in the social impact space before she graduated high school. This drive led her to reach out to Kevin Bales, a leading figure in the fight against modern forms of forced labor and slavery, landing her a job at Free the Slaves.

Sarah went on to work at Thorn — an organization founded by Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore that builds platforms to combat child sexual abuse. While there, she helped raise funds and partnered with a team to develop a plan to remove CSAM from the internet, which landed a $63 million investment from The Audacious Project.

Purpose and Prosperity: Sarah Gardner's Vision for Social Impact

Sarah’s perspective on philanthropy and social impact is deeply rooted in a principle of transparency, the courage to embrace innovation, and the need to compensate people for their expertise. 

From her early days at Thorn, Gardner recognized the power of being transparent with donors, an approach that not only built trust but also opened the door for genuine partnership and experimentation. This collaboration-based view of philanthropy flips the script on many grants that make organizations fulfill the funder’s wishes.

“You have to be really transparent with the donors. And actually, the more transparent you are with the donors, the more they'll trust you. [At Thorn], we were like, we're going to try this, and we're going to see if it works. And then we're going to tell you, and we're going to be straight up with you about it.” – Sarah Gardner

Sarah’s approach isn't about rejecting support but attracting donors who share an organization's vision and values. Rather than diluting focus and impact, aligned giving reinforces the integrity of fundees and makes organizations even stronger. This integrity attracts the right kind of support, which is as crucial for the organization as it is for achieving sustained impact.

In addition to building a more collaborative funder-fundee relationship driven by transparency and integrity, Sarah’s experience in tech-based organizations helped her adopt the idea that working for a nonprofit shouldn’t come with a pay cut. 

“One cool challenge we had, which I think everyone at Thorn is proud of, is this idea of, ‘How are we going to recruit technical people?’ Like, they get paid this. And we were like, you know what? We should pay them that. We were competitive with tech companies … and that was highly unusual.” – Sarah Gardner

Competitive compensation for employees gives nonprofits access to high-caliber talent, and in turn, they can create a more significant impact because they produce high-quality programs. When paired with transparent donor funding, it can revolutionize how organizations carry out their mission.

What Is the Heat Initiative?

The Heat Initiative is an advocacy effort Sarah Gardner and her colleague Lily Rhodes co-founded to address critical issues surrounding digital privacy and child safety. 

The inception of the Heat Initiative is deeply rooted in the conviction that the privacy argument should not shield the possession and dissemination of child abuse material. Sarah's stance is clear: videos depicting child abuse, particularly those of the most heinous nature, should not be considered as someone's personal data to possess, share, or use.

“The idea that an abuse video [of a young child], which is illegal, is someone else's personal data, I reject. I don't agree that another person should be able to be in possession of that video because it means that the victim is still being victimized in some way. Someone else is taking part in their abuse.” – Sarah Gardner

This advocacy effort centers around the principle that victims of such abuse continue to be victimized as long as these videos circulate. The existence and accessibility of this material not only perpetuate the victim's exploitation but also serve to normalize the sexualization of children, facilitate the grooming of other potential victims, and potentially harm broader communities. 

Sarah and her team at the Heat Initiative reject that such content could ever be justifiably held as personal data by another individual. Their work seeks to redefine the conversation around privacy, advocating for a nuanced approach that protects essential communications, such as those by journalists in oppressive regimes, while aggressively combating the use and spread of child abuse material.

The Heat Initiative’s Goal to Hold Tech Companies Accountable for CSAM

Sarah's journey toward directly influencing how society and technology companies approach the issue of CSAM came from Apple's 2021 announcement and subsequent retraction of their plan to detect, report, and remove known child sexual abuse images

This pivotal moment highlighted both the potential for action and the profound disappointment and betrayal felt by survivors and advocates when the plan was abandoned.

“I've heard survivors of CSAM images and videos say to me that [Apple’s decision] was like being told we see you, we, we get you, we've got you. And then going absolute about-face, like F-you, forget it. It was that for them, it was that intense.” – Sarah Gardner

The Heat Initiative aims to hold technology companies accountable for their role in preventing the spread of CSAM by leveraging strategies from successful corporate campaigns in other areas like climate change and supply chain reforms. Learning from these initiatives gives Heat Initiative a model to apply pressure on major tech companies, moving them to prioritize the removal of CSAM and adjust their policies accordingly.

“Right now, we're trying to create media moments that get everybody's attention that there is a black spot on Apple's record when it comes to this and create some outrage about it. We're trying to get the attention of Apple leadership, decision-makers, board members, and shareholders. We need to raise the volume that this is an issue we need to address and create a really easy way for someone who does feel outraged about it to participate.” – Sarah Gardner

Sarah and the Heat Initiative are working to make this issue a top concern for tech companies, employing a strategy emphasizing corporate responsibility and integrity. They are not suggesting that these companies are wholly evil, but rather that there is a significant area where their actions do not align with their stated values. 

The aim is to bring the issue of CSAM to the forefront of the tech industry's priorities, encouraging a reevaluation of policies and practices to ensure they are congruent with the broader commitment to human rights and the protection of the most vulnerable.

How to Support The Heat Initiative and Learn More About Social Impact With Cause & Purpose

While the prevalence of CSAM is something we cannot change overnight, rallying behind movements like the Heat Initiative and increasing CSAM awareness is a great way to start. Visit the Heat Initiative’s website today to learn more about Sarah’s mission and take action by joining the email movement.

And to stay up-to-date with more social impact issues, subscribe to the Cause & Purpose podcast or sign up for our mailing list.

To dive deeper into our interview and learn more about Sarah Gardner, tune into these timestamps:

[00:03:55] The unique perspective on life that Sarah received from her parents

[00:09:55] The impact Sarah's educators and family had on her career path

[00:17:45] How mentorship encouraged growth in Sarah's life

[00:21:59] Sarah's trip to Cambodia that solidified her calling to fight against CSAM

[00:26:42] Why transparency is essential for effective philanthropy

[00:36:48] Why CSAM shouldn't be a part of internet privacy

[00:38:40] Apple's inaction against removing known child sexual abuse images

[00:41:20] The Heat Initiative's mission to hold tech accountable for sexual abuse

[00:45:47] How the Heat Initiative is working to influence Apple into changing its decision

Special Thanks:

This episode would not have been possible without the amazing team at Bryson Gillette. Bryson Gillette is a California and Washington, D.C.-based, minority-owned, intentionally diverse strategic communications and public affairs firm dedicated to serving the needs of its clients and delivering results. We are a mission-driven organization that partners with organizations, companies, candidates, and individuals fighting to make the world more just, safe, healthy, and prosperous for all. Click here to learn more.

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Sarah Gardner - Heat Initiative


Sarah Gardner: Thisis where we need to change the frame in the conversation around privacy is thisidea that, an abuse video of a child, , and I won't go into like detail aboutit, but like the worst kind of abuse video of a young child.

The idea that that video, which is illegal, is someone else'spersonal data, I reject.

I don't agree that another person should be able to be inpossession of that video. Because , it means that the victim is still beingvictimized in some way. Someone else is taking part in their abuse. It meansthat they can use that video to normalize the sexualization of children withother people in other communities. They could use it to groom other kids. Evenat the most basic level, It just shouldn't be there, like it should just begone, right? It [00:01:00] shouldn't existanymore. It's definitely not someone else's.

Mike Spear: Welcometo cause and purpose. The show about the leaders, innovators, and change agentsworking on the front lines to solve some of the world's greatest socialchallenges. I'm Mike Spear, and our guest today is the founder and CEO of theHeat Initiative, Sarah Gardner. With social media and cloud based storagebecoming more and more ingrained in our culture, issues of privacy trust, andsafety have emerged as one of the key challenges of our day.

The right to privacy is one of the most important provisions ofthe U S constitution. And it's a right that's increasingly important, not justto us, but to our children images on the internet essentially last forever. Soit's more crucial than ever to be aware of and intentional about the images weshare of ourselves and our most vulnerable loved ones.

The effort to preservethe privacy and confidentiality of our online conversations and data storagehas given rise to unprecedented proliferation of illegal child sexual abusematerial [00:02:00] CSAM for short. Technologyexists to eliminate CSAM and other dangerous and illegal content from theinternet while preserving the privacy of those of us using the internet in goodfaith. If only the tech companies providing storage and messaging serviceschoose to utilize it.

This is the origin and the driving motivation of the HEATinitiative. They've launched a multi channel campaign to pressure Apple, andeventually other technology providers as well, to do the right thing. Toeliminate harmful sexual abuse material from their platforms. And to bring theperpetrators of this type of sex trafficking to justice. The heat initiative isexactly the type of program we love at cause and purpose, an elegant, nononsense solution to a complex social issue. We loved meeting Sarah and learninga bit about her journey as an impact leader.

Hope you enjoy it.

Mike: Sarah, thanksso much for joining us. . I've been really excited to

talk to you since we spoke in December.

Sarah: Thank you somuch. Thanks for having me. Great way to start 2024.

Mike: I knew when wespoke that this would be a fun one. [00:03:00]Clearly you have this great experience and I think we look at the industry insimilar ways. I'd like to start, you know, where I start most of these thingswith your early childhood, you brought up Having a quote unquote DC upbringing.

Yeah. Relatives in the state department, you got a screenwriterand ESL teacher. Tell me about what it was like growing up and kind of how thatinfluenced you as you were attracted to social impact work.

Sarah: Oh, thank you.I really appreciate that question. Um, don't get a lot of opportunities to talkabout that very often. despite growing up in LA and in the San Fernando Valley,which is, you know, the sweet valley high. That's like the, the type of contentthat was coming out from my childhood of where I grew up. I had parents thatwere really grounded in kind of showing us that there was this bigger worldoutside of L.A. And I think like any parent, town or city that can be kind ofdominated by one industry. the goal [00:04:00]was to make sure that we knew there were a lot of different things that wecould do with our lives, and so, you know, you mentioned my dad's ascreenwriter and my mom was an ESL teacher. Just the funniest way thatmanifested is hearing them argue about the grammar of characters inscreenplays. like, uh, arguments about, uh, should they be using the proper,like, noun verb, adjective agreement or, like how they would actually bespeaking.

, or, like, Harry wouldn't say that to Meghan, you know, andthese are,

Sarah: like,fictional characters. So that was just kind of fun. but, uh, I do think my dad,especially being a screenwriter, kind of instilled in me, you can do anythingand you can do, um Anything that's hard, if you're willing to kind of put inthe work and also be on the receiving end of a lot of criticism and a lot ofsetbacks, screenwriting is like, uh, I, I don't really understand the abilitythat you have to have to be so

passionate about what you do, but then [00:05:00]have just people immediately kind of tear it apart.

is pretty, pretty real.

So that was, that was interesting to watch. and at the same

time, you know, it's a conversation that I'm having likeactively with my own kids now driving around LA.

Um, when you see people who are in really bad situations,

and, uh, don't have homes, don't have food and like your kidsare asking you these questions, how do people end up like this?

why aren't people helping them? Like, these were the

same conversations I had with my dad and my mom. And they spenta lot of

time talking about, like, the randomness of birth and,

like, you're here and they're there and you, you could be them

and they could be you, which is why we have a duty to to help,in whatever way that is.

And that's actually

helpful versus like what your ideas of help look

like. So very lucky. And then the

worldliness aspect, was just having my mom grew up overseas in

Pakistan. And , How that played

out is, [00:06:00] reallyvaluing your objects and getting, like, one good

one of each. Not excess. Were sort of those

basic principles that were instilled.

Mike: Your mom soundslike, and I'm, maybe I'm reading into

this a little bit, but a very compassionate person. I mean, it,it strikes me that

choosing to be an ESL teacher probably connects with

a sense of isolation. She felt living in Pakistan.

Sarah: Yeah! Oh my

gosh. I wish she was here to talk to you about

this too. She loves this. They had like a gentleman who theyadored in Pakistan who cooked, for their family, like,

State Department. There were a lot of

jobs that were supported locally, like, by these families beingthere. And, his name was


And she, her interactions with him is like, he would teach her.the local language and sort of the ways of the Pakistani people and then shetaught him English and that's where it started. so I think it was like wantingto

have deeper connection with someone

who you couldn't communicate with and not feeling like notright.

[00:07:00] How do we fix that?So you're right. That started very young.

Mike: Yeah,

Did you ever get to go visit

Pakistan? Did your folks ever take you back there?

Sarah: No, no, Iknow. We

talk about this a lot. Just how much the world's


Like her vacation stories is like a 12 year old was like,

uh, when we were driving through the Khyber Pass inAfghanistan, you know, like,

it's really interesting to reflect on the places she was andgrew up and thinking about our, are these places Americans can still go?

And, and then of course, that landscape is always changing.current moment. but one thing that was really

fun was that my last job, , I hired this fabulous gentleman,Bilal, who was from Lahore, Pakistan, which is where she grew

up. Born there, raised there. And I do think it gave us thislike incredible connection cause

he just couldn't get over the fact that we knew anything aboutanywhere near where, and so it was a good reminder of, to try and make those

connections and go back to those roots.

Mike: Yeah. [00:08:00] I'm curious, you know, having been in thefilm industry myself, what kind of work did your father

do? Uh, or does he still, is he still writing?


Sarah: Um, no, no.Cause this is a fun

One It's a really great way to make fun of me. So my dad wrotea movie. The best,

most well known one is a movie called Dan in real

life. Steve Carell is in it,

Juliette Binoche. It's a dad

and his daughters, navigating their life.

After their mom passed away, so like already the joke was like,he had to kill my mom for this story Because he need there needed to be Like aromantic tension and the first time I read the script like there were only twodaughters And it was me and my sister like to a T

And , I was like, thisis too close.

So he made a third daughter

and tried to, diffuse them across the

three daughters, but you can still tell like, who is which one.And there's a line in it where one of the [00:09:00]daughters accuses him of being a murderer of love, which was a true quote from16

year old self.

Mike: Well, you know,I guess he wasn't afraid of putting myself into his work.

Sarah: No,

Mike: Wow.

Sarah: that

was embarrassing for us, but for everybody else.

Mike: yeah,

I love the idea that you mentioned that your,

folks, took you around Los Angeles to see how

other people lived and, give you a sense of,

You know, the other side, so to

speak, how did that

influence you?

Or were there

other things that you did as a family that led you down thepath to philanthropy or social impact or helping others?

Sarah Gardner: Yeah,I really appreciate these questions because again, it's always interesting tolook back and, and, and people kind of jump ahead a lot to like,

do you get interested in this issue , but I

think. What you're getting at, which is different, is this ideaof a calling to make your life about

something else besides yourself. And [00:10:00]In probably like my

most honest moments, there are a lot of

different issues that I could have worked on, but that life ofservice

came from my family, , I

did go to Catholic school from kindergarten through highschool, but I went to like L. A. liberal Catholic

school coming across some pretty badass nuns


Who would like go toThailand in the summer and volunteer at shelters with trafficked girls and sojust acknowledging that was a very different experience than what most peopleexperience.

, I started volunteering and, doing some work like that ,pretty early, and by the time I was graduating college, I had already honed inon, um,

Wanting to work for a few specific leaders in like the socialimpact space.

So then it was kind of like,

who could I get to first and how could I convince them to hire?Um, so I was really, uh,

calculated about it. Like I found out where. My first,

first, [00:11:00] first boss,Kevin Bales, like he was coming into LA to speak. He worked at a group thatcombated, modern forms of, forced labor and



was speaking at, like, an actress's house, so I, like, found away to get into that party. And then, like, went up to him and I was like, I'llwork for free, like, what do you need me to do? And he was like,

move to DC and

we'll talk about it. So I did.

Mike: Wow. you'vereally created your own opportunities. It sounds like.

Sarah Gardner: Yeah,I think you share this too. Just, I know a little bit about like your life'swork too. but one thing that was easy for me and I'm doing that,

in quotes was like?


always knew kind of what I wanted to do. , and I've seen a lotof my friends

struggle with that. And there have been a lot of other

aspects of things that have been challenging and tough and I'mnot saying that that's just been like easy peasy, but it did, and I'd becurious how you felt in your career, it

did give me kind of a sense of clarity about like where to go,who to push, what to do next, [00:12:00] andI'd never felt lost

Mike: Hmm.

Sarah Gardner: acareer standpoint, and I think that that is

Unusual and also

really lucky and I don't take that for granted.

Mike: I think it isunusual. I think

myself, my dad was entrepreneurial and he

he always ran his own businesses. and he instilled in us askids that

that was the way to go. Um, there was also an exercise

that we did. I remember around the dinner table where he askedus the choice. And we could only pick one.

Would we rather


famous, successful, happy, or like a virtuous person. And theright answer

was like a good person. It's like a teenager. It's a goodthought exercise. ,

and it really stands out in memory. there's also the messagethat if you have to use sacrifice, happiness, or, personal gain, To, you know,have

that ethical and moral code. and so I think for

me, it was always important

to have purpose be infused in my career , and

enjoy the people I was working with.

And he also

sort of gave the grace. [00:13:00]To us as kids that he needed himself to not

really have it figured out. My career wound all over the place.I mean, if I look back on it, I think there is a clear

through line, but starting out in film and television, going tojournalism,

joining a social impact startup,

like it's, it's really, it's all over the place, but it's, ithas that consistency of like.

It's trying to

tell stories and influence people to see the world in new waysand contribute to

the public good, or just contribute directly, you know, in the

case of past jobs and what I'm doing now.

but yeah, I, I always had a clarity of purpose that way, buthad. have often been

lost in terms of like what the next move should be. And I'vejust sort of, followed it as I went. Thank you for the question. It'sinteresting to go back and think about it now.

Sarah Gardner: Yeah.

I'm just trying to think about


why, it was so clear, but I agree with you. It was also, Ithink one part of it

that I actually did have to [00:14:00]sort of de undo is the

idea of you can't do it and also have personal gain, right?Which is like something that I think. Is going to hopefully

be a shift in our lifetime of like the people who are trying tohelp people get paid no money and can't want

money. But then if you're the, you

know, founder of. A shapewear

company and just making gazillions of dollars off of people.

That's cool. And they can pay themselves, you

know, 7 million. Um, I hope that We realize that it's, youknow, I know this is like very, an easy thing to say, but like that, thatactually needs to flip if we want to, if we want to solve some of the world'sproblems. And so what I appreciate about like what you've done too is, causemine is sort of more traditional, like

nonprofit, um, and that's had its own limitations.

But I also

actually liked the idea of [00:15:00]Interweaving between nonprofit for profit to find like, what is that balancewhere

you can be

making an impact, but also be allowed to want to provide at acertain level

for yourself, your family, whomever.

Mike: no, absolutely.I think in some ways we're, we're preaching to the choir for the audience here,

Sarah Gardner: Yes, Iknow.

Mike: wholeheartedly.

, it shouldn't be a

sacrifice. It should be parity. It should be.

You know, market rate for skills and complexity of theorganization and impact at the end of the day, I don't know that I

was ever, it's funny.

I don't get to talkabout

this stuff, in this format much myself.

My dad passed in 2005. So I, I kind of like look back and justthese little snippets, these little

anecdotes, he was an attorney and he never. Loved

it. like he, he worked on corporate stuff or litigation and itjust didn't speak to him.

I think he would have been happier doing other stuff,

but I was very aware of, [00:16:00]how he had this? sort of corporate, this? This career in pursuit of money, butthere were so many setbacks. Like a lot of

his clients would hide their money declare bankruptcy. Theywould , go on

vacation, tell them about it. So I don't think I ever

connected the notion of the sort of self serving financialcareer with actual

financial advancement.

Sarah Gardner: Ah,interesting.

Mike: At least not aone to one, right? It's

still risky. I was also aware, both

my parents tell this story about how his favorite ever casewas, I guess it was when my

parents were dating and he got this phone call in a restaurant,you, know, before there were cell

phones or pagers or anything, he was paged, by his office.

And it was about this guy who couldn't afford an attorney whowas being

evicted from his apartment

that night. And he got to go in and intercede and make

sure that the person stayed housed. Uh, and that was a little,you know, evening, that little moment

I know was the most rewarding

case of his career.

Sarah Gardner: that'sreally


Mike: yeah, and Iguess it was for [00:17:00] me too, because Iremember these little things. And I

think, you know, the total sum total of these experiences andconversations and stories very much pushed me in the direction that I ended upgoing.

I'm curious. You know, I was never a person in high school or

college who I've never really

had a mentor, you know, per se.

Um, I've, I have people I look up to and have

influenced me obviously, but never had like a really directmentor. And certainly at that age, didn't

have individuals the way you described, like that you reallylook up to and

want to go work with. So I'm curious, you mentioned one person,but I'm curious who else is on that list.

Like who, who out there in the impact space did you really

look up to and still do and find inspiration

from or connection with? Okay. Mhm.

Sarah Gardner: Oh,there's so many. That, that's probably another area where I,

Did just like get lucky. I had a really, really good boss for10 years. , and it was my former boss at

Thorn, Julie Cordova. She would hate the [00:18:00] word that I was

like using boss, but,

Looking back on it now, and watching, some of my friends or,contemporary colleagues, like what they were

experiencing. So much of

what you learn in those early years is like

you're modeling yourself after

someone else. You're observing them in meetings. You're, you'relike, Oh, that's

something I want to take. Or like, this is something I would..I also want to take, but I want to make it my own, you know, and

hearing like horror stories of just like really bad leadership.

And, and, and, I also think it was at a time where

it wasn't demanded, right? Like

hopefully now, and it's, I'm not saying it's all. but likethere are

conversations right now about like good management and how todo that.

And it's not just the like pay your dues in the abusiveenvironment and like move on kind of mentality.

, But I got to,

Sarah Gardner:experience the best version of that, before that was

even a requirement. And so why was

she [00:19:00] such a greatboss? She gave me like total freedom in areas. That she knew I had likefundraising, where I, I brought more

experience even into the relationship. and so the dynamic wasalready like, Oh, I defer to you. And I

was young, you know, I was like 26, 27. , but then also.

would give me really, really

great feedback, and, pushed me to improve and would give mereal feedback, which is really hard. Give me real

feedback. but in a way

that was kind.

And, , I remember

we used to have this phrase there. It was like clarity

is kind, even if someone isn't performing well, being clearabout that. Sooner and explaining why and being really clear about how youcould fix it and stuff is better

than just not wanting to deal with


and then nine months later, like having a bad review and

the person's like what what are you talking about? So just somereally, really great, , skills I learned from watching her and her lead teams.

The co founders of thorn also were [00:20:00]great mentors to me.

that part again, feels really

lucky. Cause you get a string of, bad experiences like that.And I think it can really

damage your trust.

and I don't have that.

I'm very trusting

in my work relationships and in my personal relationshipsbecause I haven't sort of been burned by someone in that way.

And that feels like a real


Mike: Yeah, I thinkit is. And I think it's very unusual,

you know, as you probably know. I don't think I had that sameexperience. It took me a while to come around to that, I think.

Sarah Gardner: Ithink it's so unusual. But so many

people do have to go through that, you know,

Mike: Yeah, but Ithink it says a lot about you too. I mean,

it's not just what happens to us. It's how we treat it, right?You took advantage of that opportunity, , and turned it into something positivewhere somebody else might have struggled with that kind of latitude let's goback a little bit.

You were an art history major in college.

Sarah Gardner: do youwant to talk about [00:21:00] DutchNetherlandish portraiture between 1250 and 1550?

Mike: Maybe we'llcall you back on that podcast when we launch it. I know you told me that youwere surprised to be going to technology, but how did you make the jump fromthere to like social impact tech?

Sarah Gardner: So,the tech part. The, the first jump back to like, Oh yeah, it's social goodnonprofit versus like becoming a gallerist or whatever. , I did get theopportunity to travel around the world. , the year after I graduated fromcollege, my. Grandfather passed away and he left me a little bit of money thatI could only use to travel.

That was like the only

Mike: Oh wow.Incredible.

Sarah Gardner: So ,it was like the best gift of all time. And if I could do something similar formy own kids, because it was that container that really forces you, right? , soit was like I was overseas for six or seven months and, um, it was already inmy mind

I'm going to end up somewhere kind of working in the field ofat [00:22:00] that time. It was more like sextrafficking, and I was in Cambodia, with a bunch of people that I had mettraveling and Uh, , we were in Phnom Penh, and I was at a hostel, and, on allthe hostels, everywhere, on all the signs, it's like, you're not allowed tobring escorts back to the hostels, and, you know, there's all this, there's allthis, like, very explicit language there, because they have such an issue withsex tourism and all this stuff.

So you sort of think, like, okay, like, Everybody's aware, likethis isn't going to happen. Um, but we were sitting outside of that hostel awhole group of us. We'd all met there drinking beers and this motorcycle pullsup with like an adult Cambodian man on it. And this like little Cambodian girl,she was probably like 10, 11.

And so she jumps off and this like older white guy comes downthe stairs, um, next to us. And they meet and they turn around and go back upthe stairs. So you're like, this [00:23:00] isnot right. And it's like out in wide open in front of a huge group of 20people, like nothing about it either is like trying to hide what's going on.

So, you know, I had my like lonely planet physical book, um,and was like scrolling through it, trying to find the number to call. And, andthen we had a debate about like, do we go up there and knock on the door? Butthat also puts. The child at risk, um, you have to be like really, really,really careful in these kinds of situations about your own desire to like, stopwhat's happening versus like, what's actually in the best interest of, peopleinvolved anyway.

So, , 20 minutes later, they came down the stairs, themotorcycle came back off, goes the girl, it's like dead silent and then it'slike, are we going to say something to him? , and he goes, Oh, the kitchen'sclosed, like I'm going to go somewhere else for food and he like walks off andI didn't say anything and I have regretted [00:24:00]it every single moment since.

And I regret my just general lack of inaction, and I thinkabout all the time, like, how old is she now, how old am I now, what's her lifebeen like, did she have kids, and so that was the moment where it switched fromlike, I'm interested in this to like, I have to dedicate my life to this now.Like I messed up and I'll never get that opportunity back, but.

I can try my best in the future. So that was like my way backto the issue and then just to keep it, , a little more. Condensed around thetech part. Um, so I was working at an organization that focused on more likesex trafficking, forced labor. , and there was a new nonprofit that hadstarted.

And I met with the CEO, Julie, who I was mentioning before. Andthere was another incredible colleague that I had there. This woman namedClaire Schmidt, who's one of the [00:25:00]smartest people I know. And they had an interesting proposal, which was theyhad been given the latitude by their founder and by the funders to basicallyspend a year looking at this field and to understand what were the actual gapsfrom a technology standpoint.

And What were some proposals to fix it? so like, that'sincredibly unique, you know, this, like to be given the security of like, youdon't have to have it all figured out. You don't have to fundraise all thismoney right away. Like actually just go out and observe and talk to everyone.

So I was one of the people they talked to and they talked tolike. Over 100 individuals. And at that time, it was like law enforcement,other NGOs, people at tech companies. And it became really clear that all thetechnology that like the counterterrorism units have access to, other issueareas have access [00:26:00] to were nottrickling down to the child exploitation units in the U.

S. that those units were starved for resources, people, but,but really specifically and investigators showing us trying to find sextrafficking victims they were looking for in the US and literally like showingus notebooks where they were writing down clues they'd found in escort ads,like things that could just so easily be, transformed by like pretty basic techto like, this wasn't even like we need AI.

, so we were like, this is the gap. And so at that point, ,they asked me to join them , , because they did realize they were gonna have tofundraise and do other things. And that was my background. But it was a bigexperiment and we did not know if it was gonna work. And it taught me earlythat you have to be really transparent with the donors.

And actually, the more transparent you are with the donors,more they'll trust you. We were like, we're going to try this and we're goingto see if it [00:27:00] works. And then we'regoing to tell you, and we're going to be straight up with you about it. And. Itwas interesting how, like for some that's not the vibe, like they want, tell mehow much to give so I can help X amount of people.

But for others, that, perked their interest, and they werelike, I'll try that. Um, and so that was really fun time.

Mike: just to providesome additional context, the first organization you're speaking about is Freethe Slaves.

Sarah Gardner: Yes.

Mike: And the secondis thorn.

Sarah Gardner: Yes.

Mike: it's sounusual. I'm glad you brought this up. It's so unusual in, in our sector tohave the latitude to innovate, to take the time to look in the cracks and seewhat's missing, to look, look for unintended consequences, to, you know, tryand fail.

Um, and to be transparent about that with your stakeholders,can you unpack this more, share more about your experience as a major giftsofficer, as well as a leader of an organization, how you view this and some ofthe experiences you've had

Sarah Gardner: Yeah.Yeah. I really appreciate that. in my early years at Free the Slaves I [00:28:00] observed the dynamic of, and it, thisisn't, um, for the slaves. It was really sort of more true at the time of, Ithink, funding fundee grantee relationships in general. A lot of time thefunder comes in and has like ideas of what should happen, right?

Or like, I have, I, I really like what you're doing in Ghana,but like, can you do it in, you know, Haiti or whatever? And like it's sotempting to be like, yeah, if you give us enough money, we can just expand itand support organizations there too. And, and instead of being like. This isour strategy, right?

Because we've pressure tested, like what we're capable ofdoing, where we need to grow and, getting people to share your vision, It'slike, I would never go into someone else's job and be like, Oh, it should bethis way. You know what I mean? So us trust that the experts know, and this waslike the shift I saw.

And it definitely leads our work now, which is like, [00:29:00] I respect if this is not the change thatyou want to see, or this doesn't make sense, or this is just not how you wantto give your dollar. But because you want to do this, I can't pivot theorganization and the strategy to appease you. And I felt like when you put thatenergy out instead, you actually attract all the donors.

Like, you attract who you want because They see your confidenceand they see your clarity. and then I think that has also been a huge shiftamongst donors and that there's been a really active conversation happening inthe philanthropy world over the last 20 years, which has been about, , notcreating that like funder grantee power dynamic.

, and, and there's some tremendous funders out there who havefound incredible ways to. Let the experts in the orgs lead and [00:30:00] support, but also push, right? It doesn'tmean , they can't , push you. It's just more about. How you would invest in afounder and their vision for a company versus what those guardrails would beversus just, you're here to carry out my philanthropic dream, you know,

Mike: I think manymajor gifts officers are afraid of losing a gift from somebody who. Isn't okaywith failure or who wants to see a specific thing or, or whatever. But I thinkyour point is, I mean, I agree with it. I think your point is right that ifthat's the case, don't be afraid of losing those dollars because they'remisaligned anyway.

And there'll be more and better, more aligned dollars comingyour way if you're just authentic about it.

Sarah Gardner: themoney you don't want, if you, it's actually just as important as the money thatyou do want, cause then you don't spend time cultivating it when you actuallydon't want it.

Mike: Yeah, Icouldn't agree more. I'm curious with thorn. They talk about building [00:31:00] technology and sort of generic terms. Ithink with human trafficking and trust and safety, especially if Children areinvolved. I think people in general don't have insight into what that reallylooks like.

Can you share a little bit about like some of the interventionsthat are really helpful? Some of the tech that's needed still or has beenbuilt, the work that they're continuing to do.

Sarah Gardner: yeah,yeah, yeah. No, I really appreciate that. And it actually leads into what I'mdoing now, too, because, this question of, like, who develops the best tech,who gets the best tech, who's responsible for it, will always be a tensionpoint. And when is it driven by those who are issue focused, but also, youknow, The companies have responsibility up into a certain point.

Right. So when does it shift from one of the other? So, thecool thing about thorn is that it is like made up of technologists. Um, youknow, by the time I left, we were majority engineers, data scientists, productpeople, And then we had [00:32:00] all of ourlike comms, marketing, research, , also programmatic like prevention teams, butrare to see that many technical folks at a nonprofit developing like commercialgrade technology.

So when we say that If you're a investigator doing dark webinvestigative cases, why would you not have like the best of the best tech?Like we want that person to have really good technology. So if no one's makingit cause there's not enough of a market there, that's a gap, right? , andthat's a gap that actually needs to be. Even if there is no market there, ,because of what it does, which is like help identify kids and, get them out ofreally bad situations. I agree with you that it's not the easiest thing toexplain. And also one cool challenge we had that, that we overcame [00:33:00] and something I'm really proud of, um, andI think everyone at thorn is really proud of is this idea that like, we had tohire cheap engineers, then

how are we going to recruit technical people? Like they getpaid this. And we were like, you know what? We should pay them that.

Mike: Mm hmm.

Sarah Gardner: and wedid, you know, we were competitive with tech companies. That were our similarsize, , in terms of like overall budget and so forth. And that was like highlyunusual.

but we were like, well, we don't want a bad engineer working onit. We want a good engineer. So that was cool. And I think now the work thatthe last thing I'll say is like the work they're doing around AI and where thisissue of child sexual abuse, and the internet is headed is exactly the kind ofwork that Doesn't happen unless somebody's like really focused on it becausethe monetization of AI and all that's happening over here and then, whatpeople's brains don't necessarily naturally go to, which I understand is like,well, [00:34:00] what could all the harmfuleffects of this be on kids?

Mike: ,

Mm hmm.

Sarah Gardner: and sothe fact that they've got like brilliant people over there thinking about it isdefinitely helps me sleep better at night.

Mike: Yeah. You saida couple of things I want to dive a little bit deeper on. as product people, Ithink there's an instinct to customer discovery is important and all of that,but to, to be too responsive to what the market is demanding when with manythings with innovation. You know, you really want to create what you know isright, regardless of what people are asking for.

And then not the nonprofit entity is uniquely set up for that,right? If there's a market demand, there would be a for profit company. How didyou lean into that or not at Thorn?

Sarah Gardner: Yeah.Well, actually, one example of that that has been really successful is our theproduct they are still running safer. , so that is a, detect, report, remove ofCSAM and, , It generates revenue for Thornnell because the market is there. Andso that [00:35:00] was, a really smart way todiversify the funding of the organization is then be reliant both onphilanthropic dollars to help fund the technical solutions that would neverhave that revenue stream, but then.

Where there is that revenue stream because companies want theproduct, take advantage of that. And, and I think that was something also werealized like is already a model in a lot of nonprofits.

Figuring out a way to tap into that revenue where it exists. issomething that any organization should always be aggressive about if it'sthere, but also Acknowledging like some of the work that we would do with lawenforcement Research things like this to your point that is going to rely onlike the more fundamental principle of like We need people who care aboutwhat's going to happen to the world because of this and that.

And we need you to like be altruistic about it and help us comeup with the solutions before it really [00:36:00]gets bad. So that balance is always interesting.

Mike: Speaking of abalancing act. Can you talk about that tension, how you've worked with itthrough your various roles,

where you stand on it now?

Sarah Gardner: Yeah.there's a lot of different ways to go. things to sort of, express or doubleclick on when you say that I'm going to ground it in kind of like the workwe're doing now, the heat initiative, which is the advocacy effort that I leftthorn , to start with my colleague Lily roads.

And we now have, , two other colleagues with us. And then ofcourse, a whole like, Community of people who care about this and are kind oftapped into the corporate campaign that we're running. so that, that turningpoint for me or where I was like, okay, this is where we need to change theframe again in the conversation around privacy is this idea that, an abusevideo of a child, um, and I won't go into like detail about it, but like theworst kind of abuse video of a young child.

The idea that [00:37:00] thatvideo, which is illegal, is someone else's personal data, I reject.

So I, I don't agree that another person should be able to be inpossession of that video. Because , it means that the victim is still beingvictimized in some way. Someone else is taking part in their abuse. It meansthat they can use that video to normalize the sexualization of children withother people in other communities.

They could use it to groom other kids. I mean, even at the mostbasic level, It just shouldn't be there, like it should just be gone, right?Like, it should just evaporate. It shouldn't exist anymore. But it it'sdefinitely not someone else's.

Mike: Yeah.

Sarah Gardner: when Ithink about privacy, I think about, how do we protect, adult communication, ,the examples I think resonate with [00:38:00]everybody pretty easily are like, journalists.

Right? Like a journalist in Iran right now who's trying to getinformation out or in the Middle East. how do we protect that person fromgetting information out to a reporter in the U. S., to some, a family member?and yet, in the same world, hold that we don't want someone then using thatsame channel to send a bunch of Abuse images of a child to someone else.

And I think that both can happen.

Mike: Yeah. How didyou know it was time to leave thorn and start something new?

Sarah Gardner: Oh,what a journey. so Apple announced in August, 2021, , kind of out of nowherethat they were gonna do the work of detecting reporting and removing knownchild sexual abuse images. And like, I'm trying to think of an analogy, butlike in our world, this was. monumental.

It was a company that had not engaged. With the [00:39:00] community on this issue before, kind ofstayed silent, kept their head down, didn't really participate. And then theyjust came out of nowhere and made this announcement. So we were stoked. andthen for a whole bunch of reasons, which we can go into, if you're interested,but primarily being like sort of the botching of the comms around it and thelack of backbone on their part to receive criticism, they ended up.

stopping it, pausing it, and then eventually killing that plan.And so that the period of that fall, Oh yeah. The period of that fall, I justbasically like felt sick the whole time

and I,

Mike: letdown.

Sarah Gardner:something is wrong. Well, but honestly, the thing that scared me the most waslike, in addition to the fact that. they didn't do it, which now talking withsurvivors of CSAM child sexual abuse material or images and videos, like, I'mlike, forget how I felt about it.

Like I've heard them say to me, [00:40:00]like, that was like, that was like being told we see you, we, we get you, we'vegot you. And then being like. Absolute about face, like F you forget it likethat. I mean, it was that for them, it was that intense. So I don't even meanto like make my whole thing like, Oh, it was so torturous, but it did signalthat a company like Apple, who is considered reputable and like rule abidingand has really strong principles in many ways.

can make a commitment to this, change its mind and thennothing, nothing bad happened to them. So the problem is that then that signalsto everybody else that this is like totally voluntary or, um, you can do it ifyou want to. And if you don't want to. Fine. You know, and I, we've, it wasn'tjust me, but we all felt like that was a really bad precedent to set.

Mike: Well, you'reright. It is different. Like [00:41:00] if younever engage with it, then it's easy to You know, we don't have the resources,the technology, there's policy or something, but not we see you, we get it,we're coming to help. Oh, actually, we don't care. Like,

Sarah Gardner: It'spretty bad.

Mike: uh, so, uh, Ithink it's a good opportunity to pause and just, you know, what is the heatinitiative? Like, what's the organization? What are you guys setting out to do?Tell us about it.

Sarah Gardner: Yeah.We're, trying to hold tech accountable on the issue of child sexual abuseimages and videos. Um, but our strategy is really bringing corporatecampaigning to this space of, Child sexual abuse in the internet. And so it'sbeen so fun because we're learning from climate activists who have runsuccessful corporate campaigns against major companies and won and we're takingtheir roadmap and trying to recreate it over here.

Other efforts, nonprofits, individuals who, who won againstWalmart and, you [00:42:00] know, big companiesgot them change supply chain related issues, , are teaching us like, here's howyou can move a major company on this because unfortunately, it's not the moralargument. They're constantly managing, 29 crises at once.

And until you become number three, like you're not a problemyet. And so we're just thinking about, how do we share with the right people,both the decision makers, but also the public, which is why This venue is soappreciated that you're giving us like this is wrong. Their policy on this isnot right.

And we're not saying it's all bad, but this is not right. Andhonestly, that is one of the things that frustrates me the most, but also makesme feel the most hopeful that we will win eventually, because it is notcongruent with some of their other principles [00:43:00]around human rights. And I think That eventually will become very clear, therewill have to be some solution that allows for this type of imagery to come downwhile still preserving user privacy, as you've mentioned.

Mike: , I think it'san important point. I think we're so quick to, you know, paint with a widebrush and say these guys are all good or all bad. And this seems more aboutintegrity. It seems more about you say you stand for these things, but you havethis thing pretty large thing,

Sarah Gardner: Yeah.

Mike: Let's fix it. ,I appreciate, by the way, the branding you have on the website.

I've been sensitive over the years. , Polaris has dealt withthis, Love 146 I think does a great job of this, but presenting imagery thatYou know, is iconic and gives you a sense of what's going on while stillprotecting the identity of the folks that are in the images. , how did you guysdecide on that, style of marketing and branding?


Sarah Gardner: toshout out to our creative agency, , and thought partner who, , have just beenabsolutely incredible in helping us [00:44:00]do exactly that. So all the people in our content right now are , . Humans,kids are AI. so that was how we got around some of that. But, oh, that balance,and this is like a age as old as time, , challenge that you have in this spacethat we've also talked about with the climate activists.

It's like, was the polar bear dying on the ice? Is that aneffective image or not? You know what I mean? You're like, how much do youshare? How real do you get? Um, and I think on our issue, obviously, you can'tgo anywhere near any of it. So, it's how else can we elicit, that feeling thatwe want people to have, which is like, hold on, what?

Like, I, this is not, I, I feel strongly about this. I feelstrongly that children should not have to endure this. , but it is one of thechallenges of this issue is it can be so dark that we don't want to [00:45:00] share what's really happening, and thenwe're actually doing a disservice to the realities of what is happening, and soit's always a dance, and they've done an incredible job of helping us navigate,like, where is that line, in more ways than one, and then that also translatesthis.

into comms to, like how much do I share about any one case withyou? You know, it's tough.

Mike: Yeah. It's suchan interesting line to walk because you want to drive it home and make itcompelling, but not so much as someone's scarred by it or, you know, puts itdown and says too much.

Sarah Gardner:Triggered.

Mike: and what a cooluse of AI too, to actually just not have real people

in some of these videos. Tell us about the campaign. As you'reramping things up, as we're recording this, it's ahead of the super bowl. , Iknow there's a big launch planned, , of some marketing and some, somecampaigning. what's it all about? What do you want people to take away from it?

Sarah Gardner: Rightnow we're trying to create really media moments that. Get everybody's attentionthat there is [00:46:00] a black spot onApple's record when it comes to this and, create some outrage about it, but.Keeping in mind like, who can we mobilize and how quickly, right?

, like we're not, we're not very big. We don't have a big baseof people. So , how we're always sort of negotiating is like, we're trying toget the attention of Apple leadership of Apple decision makers, uh, boardmembers, the shareholders to raise. This volume of like, this is an issue weneed to address.

and then create like a really easy way for someone who doesfeel outraged about it to participate. That's not a heavy lift. And right nowthat's going on our website and you can send an email to, I think it's 12different members of the Apple leadership team at once using a cool. Tool thatwe installed there, but it comes like from you.

So it can't be blocked. and we've had 12, 000 [00:47:00] emails get sent to Apple leadership thisway, which is sizable. And so if folks are interested in willing to do that,that's huge because part of what we're also trying to demonstrate to Apple. andby the way, this polls this way.

So we've run a nationwide poll three times. We ran it threetimes because the results were so strong. I was like, there's something wrongwith it. Run it again. But I mean, cause the statistics back, it's like upwardsof 90 percent of Americans think Apple should be detecting child sexual abusecontent when a similar amount already think they are, you know, likedemonstrating to them, this is something customers want.

Will make it even that much harder for them to say, nobodywants this. Right. So we need to show that kind of groundswell of support. Sowe have some media moments planned and then there, is work we're doing behindthe scenes to create pressure on other parts of Apple that is less public.

but drawing attention to moments where they're having a lot ofattention is part of [00:48:00] the strategy.

Mike: Well, andthere's precedent for it, right? I think CVS probably lost some revenue whenthey stopped selling cigarettes, but their stock shot up and they're a moresuccessful company now as a result. So listen, close Apple. This could actuallybenefit you in the long run. You mentioned sort of going with the playbook ofenvironmental orgs, reaching out to leaders at Apple.

Also, Invisible Children did something similar back in the day,, with a culture maker campaign.

Sarah Gardner:interesting.

Mike: Yeah, theirKony 2012 had, probably close to 50 different Politicians, celebrities, folksto reach out to in this way through email or social, to pressure them to dosomething.

And it was very successful for them. So I think it's a greatmodel. I I'm curious, you know, as you're looking at some of these movementbuilding playbooks, what are some of the key components that stand out that, ,folks in the impact space can maybe leverage through their own awareness and,and marketing campaigns.

Sarah Gardner: Hmm. Ifeel like that's almost a better question for you, just given your expertiseand background. Cause digital marketing, [00:49:00]digital advertising, like is a lot of that's new for me. And also understandinglike the power of digital. , we talk a lot about like, can we move somebody? Tophysically go outside and participate, like, in a peaceful protest, or shouldwe only be planning to have them engage with us digitally and, like, makingthat kind of the battleground?

Like, that tension, is something that we are thinking about alot. , and like influencer strategy, right? Like other people that peopletrust. So maybe not like the biggest celebrities in the world, but like parentinfluencers, right? Like is a really interesting, , group for us because we aretrying to get parents outraged about this reality and then have that alsofactor into like, Are they getting their kid a phone this year?

Like maybe you should wait till we think the phones are safe. ,so I think that there are ways to leverage our message with more targeted [00:50:00] audiences faster than there were before,but I'll be honest with you. Like that is. newer to me, which is also whyhaving, , kind of this like bench of experts has been so critical.

We've been learning a lot. , the only other thing I'll sayabout the playbook, that's also been reassuring is, we were saying the climatefolks a lot, like, well, you have such high issue awareness.

Like, of course, people don't want this now, or of courseeverybody sees Greta and it makes sense. And they were like, just remember,like, we felt like you then, like 25, 30 years ago, when we were like sort ofsome of the first being like, hold on, wait, you know? And so. That was helpfuland kind of reassuring because I think sometimes we've felt like are we at thebeginning of a movement, taking back the internet, kids reclaiming it forthemselves, or are we just like, too niche to be big?

What I'm hoping is that we are at the beginning, I'm fairlycertain in 15 [00:51:00] years, maybe even 10years, we'll look back and think the fact that we had like 10 year old kids onInstagram in the same Instagram as like random adults, I think that would bethe same as like kids not wearing seatbelts in cars.

and I'm not saying they're going to create a whole newInstagram for 11 year olds, but I do think there will be other, and there havealready been improvements, like safeguards made, like, we just didn't thinkabout it before we threw kids in there too, and now we're going to like, figureout what it actually looks like, so I'm hopeful we're at the beginning, versuslike, we're just not successful yet.

Mike: Yeah. I don'tknow the answer to that. I like to think of it. Is more of a continuum. I mean,a lot of good work has been done. The technology is changing, the politicalclimate changing. And, you know, as far as heat initiative takes it, the impactthat it has, there will still be more work to be done.

I mean, it's not a binary thing, right? It's like it's aninfinite mindset, sort of. We're just trying to improve it as we go.

Sarah Gardner: [00:52:00] Yeah,

Mike: I

How's the heat initiative funded currently? And how is thattransition for you? I'm curious, going from like a major gifts person to CEOand running the whole organization.

Sarah Gardner: well,there was luckily some steps in between, at my time at thorn, like towards theend, I ran the external affairs team. And I was on the leadership team. So itwas like comms policy, , marketing, fundraising, . But that was like the bestbecause I got to hire experts at those things and just learn from them,

Mike: hmm.

Sarah Gardner: , andthen as part of the leadership team, all the normal things you learn, growth,equity across the different disciplines, the amount of time you spend.

Thinking about the people and the teams and the, the peopleteams, and like, all those things, you know, so I had, I did get to, to dabblein that a, a bit before I left or observe , experts. So that was really lucky.So there was a little more of a transition there. but funding [00:53:00] wise, I was lucky because.

Some of the most prestigious foundations that work on sort ofchild protection globally, , recognize this gap as well. And so, , while I waslike, I'm ready to leave to go run this campaign, there were others very closeby who were like, we agree that this needs to happen. And so. That was a verysmooth transition, , where it could be really bumpy.

And I think we, we want to expand that group of funders too.Because I never want it to be seen as like a niche thing again, that like onlya certain amount of people. Want in my view, they're just the most dedicated tothe issue. And so they're willing to take a risk on this whole endeavor becauseit is risky.

What, you know, what we're doing in many ways, cause it's new.So it was pretty seamless and very lucky. , and we will need to continue tofundraise , and do that work over the next few years as well. Why did you guyschoose Apple for this first? Part of [00:54:00]the initiative.

that is a great question. , so we chose apple for two reasons.One is the minute apple actually does turn something off and start detecting, ,there will be kids who are identified within a few hours. That is a given. evenif they only detect known images, some guy most likely who is collecting knownimages will also be someone who's abusing a kid and that'll get discovered.

That's the power of, why it's important in part to detect knownimages. Because sometimes people are like, well, that kid's already beenrecovered. , Which we have a different mindset, which is like, no, this is likean observance of their abuse. Like no one should have their image, But alsocollectors can be abusers.

Right. So anyway, that's honestly, first and foremost, thereason, but the second reason, which is. Important as well is unlike meta andnow X and some of the other [00:55:00]companies. apple is seen as like reputable and kind of like holding these linesand standards around privacy, around user safety and data and all these things.If they do this, it will. Transform the entire field when it comes to trust andsafety and it will allow for every company who's debating this right now andwhether or not they can do it, it will green light them being like cool. Appledid it. We can do it too. And so that's why

Mike: Got it. Soyou're looking at it

direct impact and saving kids and stopping bad actors quickly,but then also the long tail sort of systems change and pressure

on the industry.

Sarah Gardner:systems change. Someone's had That's a, that's a very specific term that I'm,that I'm acquainted with, but it's like, I love that, that not many people canpull that out.

Mike: it's somethingI'm passionate about and

Sarah Gardner: That's

Mike: know, runsthroughout my work today. that in mind, I think it's a

good example [00:56:00] with,with,

apple and there are clear things to point to. But the broadersense, how

is heat initiative looking at the impact that is creating?

Sarah Gardner: wemeasure it kind of by, what movement are we seeing amongst , people weredirectly working with and then like who were trying to influence knowing thatwe're not going to get to the top, you know, until we're there. So, , you lookat things like are people willing to send the emails?

, and how hard is it to get them to do that? We've had greatcollaboration across the field with other NGO partners who are not only likehelping us, but putting resources behind it. that's been another thing that'sbeen so inspiring and really just enjoyable about this has been the connectionsand the work that we're doing with other orgs

and how invested they are in it now, too. Um, and I think ifthey're willing to put money and time and effort behind it, that kind ofsignals. That it's, again, we're helping kind of spark something [00:57:00] in the field, around like going after acompany on a specific policy. , there's work with shareholders that we canpoint to kind of the shareholders being emboldened to put forward a resolutionand like be more aggressive about that work.

, and then, we are in communication with Apple. , we have beensince the beginning, and, you know, it's gonna be an ongoing conversation, but,that's an important piece to maintain and actually keep that connection point,, so that when, we're ready to discuss the next step and what changes couldhappen, like, we're right there, ready to go.

, so yeah, we have ways to measure the outputs before theoutcomes, right?

Mike: Outputs,outcomes and impacts. an important distinction, so you're looking at it

more as a stakeholder with a cause rather

than really antagonistic.

Sarah Gardner: Yeah.What we're asking for is very reasonable. and we lament the fact that we evenhave to be this reasonable, like this should just be a given.[00:58:00]

Mike: should beobvious, right? And it was apparently it was them at one time. And, you know,uh,

Sarah Gardner: Yeah.

Mike: something. I

don't know.

Sarah Gardner: I cansend you all the videos where they talk about how important it is.

Mike: right. I'm sureI'm sure there's, yeah, send them over.

We'll add it to the page. When this campaign runs this course,when when you're done with apple, whether they end up, Yeah. doing what you'recalling on them to do or not. What's next for heat initiative? What do you seeis the future of the organization?

Sarah Gardner: ,that's a great question. So in full transparency, we're still trying to figureit out.

Mike: I think it's agreat answer.

Sarah Gardner: It'sfunny because. just went through this with our planning and right now ourmindset is we're fully focused on this because we're trying to prove that,these types of campaigns can have effect. if that works, then it's time tothink about like, and I really appreciate my team here on this too, becauseit's very hard to not, and I'm sure you would get this having been at like alot of different orgs and companies in a lot of different phases. It's reallyhard to not. [00:59:00] like, get in your headof like, who are we as an org?

Are we, is it time for a rebrand? And I'm really proud of thisteam because what we're focusing on is let's see if it works first and thenwe'll kind of build the frame. and yet at the same time, we have to have likeBasic operational function and all of that, but I don't want to do cart beforethe horse because what if we build that we fail?

Right? We're not interested in building an organization just tobuild an organization. We're interested in whether we can replicate this typeof model in this space.

Mike: Yeah, I wasn'tkidding. I think saying you don't know is a great

answer. I mean, things pivot and evolve. You need the latitudeto fail

if you're gonna be successful at anything big anyway.

Sarah Gardner: Great.

Mike: You know,there's different models to look at, right?

There's a, a talk by the

splash founders back in the day, which is a water organizationabout putting themselves out of business. Maybe that's one way to go. Wementioned invisible children, personally being a front seat passenger up closeobserver to it was their great legacy is actually the [01:00:00]thousands of people that they activated and trained on activism,

much more so than

Sarah Gardner: Yes,

Mike: what theyaccomplished directly.

Sarah Gardner: yeah,

Mike: think There's alot of exciting options, for heat initiative once it really gets going.

I really like thatframe, cause one thing I realized or we realized at Thornist, at one point wewere like using like eliminate language, like we're gonna eliminate it from theinternet, the truth is though, you're gonna always need, Entities that are likethinking about the next thing and continuing to fix it.

Sarah Gardner: And Iheard this thing with Bill Gates once where it was like, they gotten to zero onmalaria and then the mosquitoes evolved and the ones that didn't die becausethe net lived and they had to start over. And it was like, maybe , thatlanguage sometimes is dangerous. Like you're saying, like eliminate, putyourself out of business.

Cause it's like, we actually should adjust to this idea of likeconstantly needing those in society who are like thinking about. What's needed.I was just curious what your reaction is to that because you've observed a lotof these things like how [01:01:00] Intenseand,

tight should the goals be sometimes versus more fluid I just becurious what your perspective is on that.

Mike: let me answerin the general sense and then some thoughts specifically about heat

initiative. I think the goals need to be

fungible. I think your mission And values,

the vision that's locked in. That's like 100 year scale things.You check on them periodically to make sure it's still aligned, but

basically Yeah. That's it. Quarterly, annual,

five year goals, KPIs, you know, these achievable markers, it'seasier

said than done, but I

like to think I'd be willing to toss those at a moment's noticeas

soon as they become irrelevant,

they've been achieved,or you

recognize they're no longer valid, or,

who knows? And I think nonprofits in


need to be more open to that kind of thinking. I also think allthese things are

hypotheses, right?

Like we have an approach, we have what we want to do, we havetargets and KPIs, it becomes learning after that. You know, we achieved them,great. Maybe that, maybe what we achieved was right.

Maybe it [01:02:00] wasn't,

you know, but how do we reset them the next time?

Sarah Gardner:learning. Yeah I



Mike: I also thinkwith what you're taking on, unfortunately it's a bit of an arms

race. The same technology that people were using

in the fifties to do these things is no longer

relevant and new stuff came along and a few generations camealong before we, we have our current state with

cloud storage and encrypted messengers and things like


So it's, unfortunately I think it's

a never ending battle and I think setting the vision forreducing

it. Is what's important and having intelligent approaches tothat, that are in keeping with the times

and the real state of things, you know, as you go. so even ifall these tech

companies adopt the practices that you're hoping that

they will, these folks will,

adapt, they'll find a new way and there'll be a new hill to

climb, I think, unfortunately.

Sarah Gardner: Ithink that's true. I really appreciate [01:03:00]that perspective.

And you know, sometimes I think about like, the postal servicewas the agency that worked child pornography cases in the U. S. because it waslike in the mail

Like, 1999, I can't remember exactly, someone from the U.

S. Postal Service testified in front of Congress, and they werebasically like, there were 7, 000

cases this year in the U. S., and we worked all of

them. And so I'm like, if we could get back to that, if wecould just get back, like, there's just less of it, and there's less, thereforethere's less kids being abused, there's less of it messing with kids minds,there's less of it influencing adults behavior.

The abuse of children is going to be something we're going toconstantly have to inoculate society against, , and it'll need like new shotsat new times. , but I

think right now there's just an expansion of it in a way that'sso harmful and we're trying to reduce it.

So it's just helpful hearing you talk about it. Cause I think.Us starting to adopt that kind of [01:04:00]language of like, it's never going to go to zero. It's never going to go away.There's always going to be another company to battle, but like, we need to justget into a different energy.

Mike: Well, I thinkthere's also

almost like three tiers of looking at it, right? Likeinherently a lot of it's whack a mole,

right? These guys jump up, you got to.

You know, smack him down. And that's just. To your point, it

proliferates so fast, it's essentially impossible. There's newtechnology that will fingerprint some of this

content, retain privacy, and block it

across the web

if companies are using the tech, which we can't be afraid of.

I think it's a fear based conversation with a lot of that.

But I think we

just have to sort of do that.

But the third tier of it, I think, is reducing or eliminatingthe

conditions around which

this stuff is created which comes down to emotional health


and financial


and and I think that's really how


Get to the root of, of a lot of, this stuff,

Sarah Gardner:totally. Totally agree. this is actually very much a mental health issue. yeah,that's a whole nother podcast, but like, I think if we can start to [01:05:00] frame it that way too, so that there'smore openness to also people who. Even identify, like I have a predilection toconsume

this, but I don't want to harm kids.

Like what spaces do we have for them to ensure that they don't.Right. Like that as a whole, another area that is like, never discussed. Andthen like, I have two sons, eight and six, like, I don't want them to getaccess to this stuff. Cause it like is literally like malware of the mind. Oneof my old bosses used to say, you know, so it's like, how do we. make sure thatkids are resilient and that , this, toxic, illegal content isn't just allowedto, like, go everywhere at once and have really bad effect?

Mike: We're in aworld

now where we have access to like everything at a moment'snotice. So it's personal choice. It's how do you teach kids to disengage whenthey Come close to this stuff and, you know, things of that nature.

Mike Spear: In thecase of false positives, do you, how do you recommend tech companies handle,innocent stuff that may [01:06:00] appear to analgorithm as if it were sexual abuse material?

Sarah Gardner: so Ithink the data is important to look here. , there's a few reports coming out ,there's a discussion in the E.U. About this and precision versus recall. Andlike, when you start to look at the data and understand how rare it is thatthat false positive occurs depending on how you've set the parameters ofdetection software, so there's worlds where you can can completely avoid thatby making it so, exact that you'll probably miss stuff, but you won't, have anyfalse positives.

, and then you can broaden that if you are trying topotentially find material that has not been identified before. even then, thefalse positive piece of it is such a small piece compared to like when it getsit right. That's what's put me at ease. But a more, systematic approach to itis like that [01:07:00] is also why you wantcompanies to have pretty large review teams, , trust and safety teams, right?

So, , if something passes through, it flags things. And It goesto a trust and safety person and it is benign or whatever, like adult porn peepthat that's the end. Right. And actually there are systems now too, so thatthat human isn't even like engaging with it in a real way. It's like anothersystem is like, actually this is wrong.

Like move on. Thing that really doesn't happen is that a falsePositive hit on a platform goes to law enforcement because there's like sixsteps involved in there where human reviewer at the company gets it wrong.

The person at the national center for missing exploitedchildren gets it wrong. It goes to law enforcement's desk. And, and, and youalso have to imagine too, like, these case workers are, like, underwater.They're prioritizing, like, the worst case they got [01:08:00]that day, where it's, like, verified known eight year old in groomingsituation, right?

So it's, like, they're Never going to elevate something thatthey don't think is like real or prosecutable so, there's like a lot ofdifferent safeguards in the system. , and I think the more people pay attentionto how they work and educate themselves on how they work, they'll feel more andmore.

at ease with that. I think something for us to equally worryabout is how much are we missing? , what kids are slipping through? what kidshave been caught up in this for a really long time with no help because forwhatever reason, the system is not going off.

, and like the fact that we don't think of it that way isinteresting and it, and it makes sense because we're thinking about, you know,protecting ourselves, individuals or families. so look at the tech, educateyourself on like how it actually works and the numbers around it.


Mike: I think it's agood, it's a good point because I think almost [01:09:00]all of us would agree that, you know, this is something that should be. Handledproperly and stopped the extent we can. But I think for parents, you know, Icould see concerns about getting caught up in something. and you know, that canruin your life if it goes too far.

Sarah: Well, and letme just add to that. Like your kid in the bathtub naked does not set off thesesystems. Right. That's actually really important to say, cause I think thatthat would make a lot of people really nervous as it should. And that is nothow these are built. And also that is the kind of thing that would be movedright past if it were flagged, even though it would not be because it, at leastfor what we're demanding of Apple, for instance, we're asking, they only lookfor known verified hashes.

So anything new is not gonna, spark the system.

Mike: for me, I'malways a little concerned when parents start posting that stuff willy nilly,but certainly they shouldn't be prosecuted, you know, for something like thatnecessarily.

Sarah: course, [01:10:00] of course. And there's been a fewanecdotal stories written about this in very prominent places that have doneserious damage in making parents concerned about this and they don't have tobe. And it's a bummer.

Mike: what advicewould you give to parents who, want to do what they can offline, to sort ofmitigate this risk for themselves and for their own kids?

Sarah: So there are alot of people that I have the privilege of working with who are even moreexperts at this than I am, but my takeaway has been, throughout time, if youhave a really strong relationship with your kid, really good communication, andthey trust that they can bring something to you that's bad and you're notgonna, like, overreact or immediately kind of, like, shame them or penalizethem, you're their security, , even if they're in trouble, they know thatyou'll help them, you're good.

Because ultimately what you want is your kid to come tell youwhen something's gone awry. Right? Because there's like all these differentthings you can be tapping [01:11:00] into. butpre internet, right? It was like, well, what had kids at lower risk and it'slike when kids feel like they are dangerous situations and they know that youthey can call you and you'll come pick them up, right?

So it's like that same level of trust not shaming Oneinteresting thing I don't think parents think about, but would be kind of coolto share with your audience, is also removing the shame that parents feel. So,like, if your kid is the kid that takes a naked selfie, and now it's like allover the school, we need to remove the shame that then that parent feels, thenthey're so embarrassed, and then they don't talk about it, and then So there'snot also a culture of like, Hey, this is happening.

Like let's all deal with it. Instead. It's like, it's very muchpushed down. And I think it's inhibiting parents from working together and fromparents coming forward and being like, this happened, can you help me gettinghelp themselves to, to help their families. So [01:12:00]anything around. naked selfies and kids and all of that.

We just need to de stigmatize it and just be like, it'sunfortunate it happened. Now let's actually like deal with it instead of like,no, one's going to do it, you know?

Mike: Yeah, no, Ithink that's a great point. I mean, we were talking earlier about mentalhealth, , issues surrounding this and having open conversations. I do see whereit's improving, I think. , but I know that there are some very deep culturalInfluences here with different aspects of this. And yeah, I agree.

The more we can destigmatize it and take the shame out of itand create those safe spaces in our own communities and families. The easierthis will be for everybody.

Sarah: Yeah.

I would love, for peoplewho are more curious about this issue, , to not be afraid to engage. And what Imean by that is, People don't want to get it wrong. They don't want to say thewrong words.

They don't want to say the wrong thing. In particular withchild sexual abuse, I think it just kind of closes you up . Out of fear ofmaking a mistake almost. [01:13:00] And I thinkwhat we would encourage is for people to, to try and engage , and learn and,not be afraid to talk about it more. , and get it wrong, you know what I mean?And then it's okay. And like be corrected. , cause I think there's a barrier ofentry with this issue that is really hard to get past. And I would also askpeople to start observing in our society where there's these like little hintsto it a lot. And it's still kind of a joke and.

Thinking about what does that perpetuate, and how can we makesure that we're really . Putting kids first when it comes to this issue. Likeeveryone says you know, kids first, kids first. But what does that actuallymean? You know? so I think those are just ideas to leave folks with, but Imean, from a technology standpoint, from, a thank you for listening to ourcomplaints about Apple standpoint, like you've really given us [01:14:00] great latitude to share a lot about that

so thank you for that.

Mike: really enjoyedthis conversation immensely. And I think I think there's a lot of value herefor the audience in general, but also some pretty actionable stuff for socialsector leaders to learn from. I know I've learned from it. , so thank you. I'mcurious. How do you feel like?

Are you optimistic about this? Regardless of what big techdecides to do? Are you optimistic I

Sarah: Yes, and I,and I'm hopeful that there's also going to be a backlash, , of like techrunning our lives.

Mike: we're alreadyseeing some ripples of that.

Sarah: Yes.

Mike: Yeah. I lovedyour analogy too, by the way of , these trust and safety issues being akin tothe seatbelts, you know, from 20 years ago.

Sarah: Oh, by theway, no one wanted to ban smoking on planes, you know, like that was reallypopular, the seatbelt laws were really unpopular. So, There's just some reallyinteresting parallels. You look at China, that's like they banned. Kids frombeing on TikTok, certain hours of the day on one hand, you're [01:15:00] like, that's insane.

That's so like authoritarian and horrible. And then on theother hand, you're is that good though? Like maybe you don't want kids onsocial the whole night, I don't know. I think there's going to be a backlash.More time in the ocean with the whales instead.

Mike: Yeah, a lot ofthe battles I'm fighting these days around integrity and common sense, and howwe deal with some of this stuff. all right. Well, before we wrap, just a fewquick questions. Outside of your current career, if you're doing somethingtotally unrelated to social impact, what do you think you'd be doing?

Sarah: Interiordesign.

Mike: Oh,interesting. Why?

Sarah: Oh, I justlove it. Love it, love every part of it. It's the art, it's the color, it's theshapes. It's how it all fits together. It's beauty. Working on something thatcan be so horrific and ugly and dark.

Mike: Sort of thesame thing you're doing now, but in a different format, creating better spacesfor people.

Sarah: Yeah. Huh.

That's cool.

Mike: you know, insome ways it's a different expression of the same idea.

Sarah: I love that somuch.

Mike: [01:16:00] At some point, I'd love to own a bar orsomething like that. And I think about creating a space conducive to certainconversations or interactions as part of that.

Sarah: Cool.

Mike: when you'reready to move on from Heat initiative, uh, move on to the next project, retire,what's a big goal for yourself?

Something that you would like to have accomplished in this partof your career?

Sarah: I'm interestedin running for office. And I'll say why. Um, and I don't know what it lookslike yet, but, one of the issues that we've had from a legislative point ofview, and it is less so right now, too, because we have found some really goodchampions. But, We got advice, like this was way back when I was at Thorne andstuff, it was like find your member who's willing to take this on and like havethis be their thing and then like attach yourselves to them and, but like wewere struggling, like who is, who are those members and they have now, ,identified themselves more, little bit in the Senate and in the House, but onething that is still true is Members who can question technology experts [01:17:00] is still an area where I think we coulduse, , infusion of people who know a lot about tech and tech policy.

So this is now not even just speaking about myself. This isjust a need in the field that exists. And so sometimes I'm like. Well, insteadof waiting for that person, should we just be that person? but I'm also reallyimpressed by those who are out there doing it already and Working through thosechannels to get it done.

Mike: Yeah. I mean,that was made super clear over the hearings, you know, the past few years withbig tech, just. Being able to ask the right questions, seems to be a challengeat this point. we talked about some of the people that, , inspired you in yourearly career. , who's somebody or a handful of folks that you really look up tonow, that, you know, you admire or learn from or has, has taught you a lot.

Sarah: There's thisone climate activists that we've been working with. I feel like he'll like killme if I mentioned him by name, but he calls himself the silverback because welike pulled him out of retirement this poor man was Trying to retire [01:18:00] is still trying to retire. And we justcall them all the time.

What about this? What about this? Um, I'm going to just say thename's name's Michael Marx. He's been an incredible ally and mentor. Duringthis process. Oh, there's been so many though. Early on, another sort ofsupporter came to us and was like, uh, you've got this like you're, you're allgoing to win.

You can do it. If not you who like and just such confidence andyou're just like, wow, like, why do you, why, why do you believe so much? Sowe've been really lucky in that sense. Maybe feels, , obvious or something, butfull circle back to my parents.

, you know, I'm raising three small kids, eight, six, andthree. My husband has a very intense job. I have a very intense job. Like wewould not be able to be doing this without them. And I'm. Re learning aboutparenting and what matters from them and watching them interact with my kidsnow, and that's been a really [01:19:00]special, special time in our lives.

Mike: That's cool. Ithink I sort of asked you this, And we've gotten to the politics conversation.But when you're ready to leave heat initiative, whatever the next thing is,what's something with heat initiative that you want to have accomplished,

Sarah: I think we'regonna keep going until something at Apple changes. That is the goal. Either wecan't keep going, we get burned out, we run out of money, we, you know,something happens, but I feel very clear that, if we fail, that's actuallyreally important learning, that the field is, like, struggling to set up thiskind of pressure lever, and it's not just us, like, You know who else is doingit well and maybe someone else is doing it better like let's lean into theireffort instead or we're not communicating clearly about it enough with thepublic So people don't get it and they're not ready to jump on the bandwagonbecause they don't know what we're talking about So I think no matter whatwe'll learn and I really liked your [01:20:00]frame around that

Mike: lastly, how canpeople. Learn more about your work and, and get in touch. And, and I think inthis case, even beyond just go to the website and donate or sign up, but like,how do people really take action , as part of this campaign?

Sarah: well as partof this campaign, , going to our website, , which is heat initiative. org. hasa lot of eyes, so you really got to take your time when you type that one in.We've kind of outlined the case against apple it's good because there's somespecific records there of cases involving the products.

And it helps you understand like what we're talking about andwhy it's so important. But on there you can send an email to apple and it'ssafe and secure. It's not like other people will know that you sent it. But itsends them an email that's like, Hey, you know, I have questions about thispolicy. So that's really effective because that gives us an ability to say likeApple is hearing from the public, um, takes five minutes.

So that's really, really appreciated. [01:21:00]If folks can do that , but I think, On this movement, I will say that for thefirst time since I've been working on this, we are feeling this groundswell ,of momentum with lawmakers and so calling members and saying like, Hey, I'mreally, worried about online child sexual abuse or, sexual abuse in theinternet, raising this with your local member, like really helps us becausethat is ultimately what members is.

defer to is like, , what issue are their members bringing them?So that's always huge. Um, and then I'd also like to recommend, a fewdocumentaries that are really powerful and feature films about this issue orlike issue adjacent. , Athlete A is one that's about the gymnast and the LarryNassar case.

, and then there's like more feature films like Spotlight andothers. So I'd love to give you a list kind of of ones that I recommend forfolks too, cause we gotta give people ways to learn about this too that is [01:22:00] like, more entertaining than just readingarticles or things that we've written.

So would love to provide you with sort of more of those, ,options cause there really are a decent amount of both docs and features thatdo a nice job of covering this issue.

Mike: . Please sendit over. It's such a complex issue. The more people can understand about it andget comfortable with those conversations, the better. Well, Sarah, thank you somuch for the time and the conversation. I'm inspired by the work that you're doing., happy to support in any way we can and really appreciate your time andsharing yourself and your insights, with me and our audience.

Sarah: Thank you forbeing so interested in me as a whole person, , versus me as just heat leader. Ireally appreciated that and enjoyed it and learned a lot. And I wrote thatanecdote down about being like an interior decorator of the online world. AndI'm going to cherish that nugget from this forever. So thank you so much foryour time and energy that you put into this as well.

Really appreciate it.

Mike: course. Thank [01:23:00] you. And look forward to talking againsoon.

Mike: Well, thatwraps up episode one of the new season of cause and purpose. We have a lot morein store for you, so we hope you'll keep listening as we roll out futureepisodes.

You can learn more about the heat initiative and in the show notes at

Big thanks to SarahGardner for joining us and thanks as well to the team at Bryson Gillette forintroducing us to Sarah. And a few of our upcoming guests. If you haven't heardof them, Bryson Gillette is a mission driven strategic communications andpublic affairs firm. That partners with organizations, companies, candidates,and individuals Fighting to make the world a more safe, just, healthy, andprosperous place for everyone.

I've been a big fan of their work since they launched a fewyears back, and I'm excited to have their support and collaboration on theshow.

If you enjoyed the episode, please subscribe and leave us areview wherever you listen to podcasts and share it with a friend or colleagueyou think might find it interesting. Cause and purpose is a production [01:24:00] on behalf of myself,Sarah, and our entire team.

Thanks so much for listening. And we look forward to speakingwith you again soon.

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Cause & Purpose is a production of Altruous, an impact discovery and management platform for the next generation of philanthropists. Learn more about our work by visiting

Original music composed by Justin Klump of Podcast Music and Sound.

Copyright 2024, all rights reserved.

People in this episode

Mike Spear

Social entrepreneur, consultant, and podcast producer, Spear has been a member and critic of the impact sector since 2006. His work spans product, innovation, impact advising, storytelling, and go-to-market strategies. Part of the founding team at, specializing in helping social good organizations build amazing products, increase their impact, and scale.

Sarah Gardner

Sarah Gardner is the Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Heat Initiative, a collective effort of concerned child safety experts and advocates encouraging leading technology companies to detect and eradicate child sexual abuse materials on their platforms.


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