Tell us your story.
I became a pioneer in the digital universe when I logged in to the LexisNexis research service as a first-year law student at Howard University School of Law in 1986. My classmate Lisa Randolph helped me log on. I was immediately smitten with what the World Wide Web could do.
Later, while attending the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, in 1995, I found myself in an Internet café, where I experienced an interaction that changed my life. When I walked into Internet cafe, I saw women from around the globe reading and sending emails, accessing web sites, and having face-to-face conversations. In a matter of seconds, I realized how powerful women are when they connect and build community in the digital space. I left the conference determined to keep in touch with three women from Boston (MA), Nairobi (Kenya), and Greensboro (NC) who later became my first community of digital sisters via regular e-mail sharing.
In 1996, I was recruited by Catherine Austin Fitts, the founder of The Hamilton Securities Group, Inc., to manage a $7 billion Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage loan transaction. Austin is a dynamic investment banker and former Assistant Secretary of the FHA in the first Bush Administration: http://solari.com/about-us/catherine. She is currently President and CEO of Solari, Inc. (http://solari.com). In 1991, Austin used her own money to establish Hamilton as a woman-owned investment bank and financial software firm that emphasized digital technology and social responsibility.
Austin’s passion for the Internet influenced me greatly. She inspired me to dive deep into digital technology and made sure I had ample opportunities to express my passion and marry it with my law degree and experience in securities and financial regulation. As a result, I established and managed Hamilton’s intellectual property protection program for its online products and services.
My Hamilton experience is really where I got my feet wet in the digital world. After leaving Hamilton in 1997, I became a business consultant and helped clients develop and execute their intellectual property plans. Two years later, I launched my first web site to market my services as an author, artist, and workshop facilitator.
In 2005, I started blogging to overcome a serious writer's block during my novel writing process. My author blog inspired me to create a blog to market my yoga services in 2006. When my novel was published a year later, I used social media to market it. During this period, I learned about and started attending blogging conferences locally and nationally. Many were women's conferences that inspired me to increase my knowledge of social media and technology. As a result, I started blogging about women in social media and technology. These efforts led me to create the Digital Sisterhood Network, Digital Sisterhood Radio, and Digital Sisterhood Month (celebrated since 2010 in December). In 2013, I published "Digital Sisterhood: A Memoir of Fierce Living Online" (available on Amazon) which highlights the lessons I learned from being online, the inspiration I received from my digital diva sheroes and virtual mentors, the reasons I launched the Digital Sisterhood Network, and the experiences that caused me to adopt "fierce living" commitments. Visit http://anandaleeke.com and http://digitalsisterhood.wordpress.com.
What do you most want other women and young girls to know about being a woman in our digital culture?
Use your voice to express your thoughts, support causes and campaigns, tell your stories, and document your digital experiences and expertise with blogs and books.
Pass it on!
Dr. Ayoka Chenzira, founder of Spelman College's Digital Moving Image Salon, has inspired me.
I want to inspire women over 50 to pursue their passions and use social media and technology to promote and express them.