How an Accidental Pet Lover Uses his Technology Skills to Improve the Lives of Shelter Animals
If you are reading this, you likely have or had a pet that made an indelible impact on your life. For board member Nipun Dureja, it was a sweet little tabby named Mimi he adopted from Seattle Humane. Nipun, who spent his childhood in India, never had animals growing up. His wife, Fiona, who grew up with pets, quickly proposed the idea of adopting a cat after they got married.
“My wife helped me realize how incredible pets are—the love, affection and companionship they provide” he said. “I discovered a new side of me after we adopted our first kitty. Much to my wife’s annoyance, Mimi picked me as her favorite person, and she became my loyal shadow.”
And of course, Mimi needed a friend, so about a year later, Nipun and his family made their way to Seattle Humane again to adopt Boe. At first, Mimi barely tolerated her new brother but over time she warmed up to him and his antics like eating and then throwing up grass daily – don’t worry, Boe is fine, he’s just a bit special. However, it was clear that Mimi was Nipun’s favorite and vice versa.
“I feel fortunate. People who don’t have pets don’t know what they are missing out on,” he shared. “Frankly, I realized the amount of love I have to give, and the calm she brought me – feelings I was totally oblivious to before having a pet.”
Nipun graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in Computer Engineering, and then moved to Seattle after accepting a full-time position at Microsoft. After six years at Microsoft and pit stops at Amazon and Smartsheet to name a few, he landed at DocuSign where he is the global vice president of engineering. So, any time you use eSign to sign a document online, you have Nipun and his team to thank for the easy experience!
While Nipun’s appreciation for animals started with adopting Mimi 14 years ago, it was a chance meeting with Seattle Humane’s President & CEO, Christopher Ross, at a conference that prompted him to join the board of directors.
“We started talking about technology and how it can help provide better mechanisms and sustainable means for pet transportation and care,” said Nipun.
And Nipun knows a bit about logistics and transportation. While at Amazon, he built software that ran in the fulfillment centers to streamline how merchandise moves from shelves to packaging for delivery. And today, Nipun is the chair of the technology committee at Seattle Humane. He’s delighted that his background can have a positive impact beyond just adopting and donating. It was a bit of an epiphany for him to find that he could blend his tech skills with his desire to help worthy causes that help animals in need. Nipun joined the board in November 2022, and he’s already made a strong contribution.
Likewise, being on the board at Seattle Humane opened his eyes to some of the other services the shelter provides. In February 2023, Nipun and his family lost their beloved Mimi to cancer. The family was devastated and didn’t know how best to proceed beyond her diagnosis. He turned to Seattle Humane, who supported him and provided resources for options to consider. He wants the community to understand that Seattle Humane is more than just an adoption center.
“Seattle Humane is there for the entire journey from birth to adoption and then even to the last moments. They truly believe in making the family and pet’s journey a meaningful experience and are ready to help support even the toughest decisions without judgement,” he said. This experience reinforced Nipun’s decision to work with Seattle Humane.
After Mimi’s passing, the family visited Seattle Humane a few times to adopt another cat, or even a dog, but they just “weren’t in the right mindset.” He’s also sensitive that, at 13, Boe might not welcome a new sibling.
“Mimi was my first pet, and she was MY cat. Every morning she would sit in my lap as I opened my work email, and she kept me company through the long pandemic work-from-home days. She was amazing,” he tearfully remembered. “I have a lot of incredible memories of her and I’m so glad for that one visit to Seattle Humane 14 years ago.”
No doubt, when the family is ready, they’ll be back at Seattle Humane.