Updated: May 1, 2022
By Christine Sampson
When you know his background, it's easy to understand why Michael Donovan came to the aid of thousands of schoolchildren by donating Chromebook computers for them to do remote schooling during the pandemic.
Mr. Donovan was born in Panama, grew up in Costa Rica and Peru, and attended schools in the United Kingdom and the United States. While not Latino by ethnicity, he said he feels an extremely strong connection to Latino identity, culture, and history. He was an early pioneer in the computer engineering industry, starting with IBM in 1964 before striking out on his own in 1965. In 2012 Donovan Data Systems merged with Mediaocean, which was bought by Vista Equity Partners in 2016.
Mr. Donovan and his wife, Linda, are New York City residents who have also lived in Bridgehampton for five years, and are sheltering here during the pandemic. He is a leading supporter of OLA of Eastern Long Island.
"When Covid came, I realized that the schools didn't have enough devices" for the children, he said. He teamed up with OLA to donate more than 5,000 Chromebooks to numerous school districts, and in some cases also provided families with mobile internet devices if they didn't have Wi-Fi.
"It was a logical choice. I particularly wanted to get the Chromebooks to the disadvantaged," Mr. Donovan said. "The East End is a very strange mixture of incredible wealth and poverty."
When Covid-19 was on the cusp of exploding into the global pandemic it became, he and his wife were able to catch the last flight out of Peru before the borders closed. Several of his family members have caught and recovered from the virus.
"Let's hope 2021 is better for all of us," Mr. Donovan said.