Name: Kathryn Finney
Title: Managing Director of digitalundivided
Kathryn Finney is the founder and Managing Director of digitalundivided (DID), a social enterprise that finds, supports, and trains urban tech entrepreneurs - plus a whole lot more. She received the Champion of Change Award from the White House in 2013 for her work increasing inclusion in the tech industry. Kathryn served as Editor-At-Large at BlogHer from 2012 to 2014. She was also a pioneering lifestyle blogger and Founder of The Budget Fashionista (sold to Speak Media).
Me: Why are you an entrepreneur?
Kathryn: Becoming an entrepreneur was never a self-conscious choice for me-- it’s just who am I. I ran a very lucrative friendship business in elementary school, hiring my older brother to lead sales in his high school. I have a babysitting enterprise in high school, braided hair in grad school, and started a blog that turned into a brand as a young adult. There’s a certain freedom to being an entrepreneur, the freedom to define your own space, your own life. Not everyone does well with this type of freedom, but for me, I couldn’t imagine it any other way.
Me: What problem would you like solved?
Kathryn: The problem we’re trying to solve is how do you move a community forward against very strong forces? How do you eliminate economic challenges faced by the community? How do you build partnerships, find allies, build bridges over very rough waters?
Me: Advice you’d wished you’d had or had followed?
Kathryn: Self care. It’s hard to focus on the individual, when you’re working on ideas that impact communities. I always have to remind myself to take care of myself.
Me: What does success look like for you?
Kathryn: Achieving your biggest life goals while staying true to “thine own self”.
Me: Who are your heroes?
Kathryn: My late father -- at age 36, he went from being brewery worker to being one of the first black senior software engineers at Microsoft in the span of 10 years. My grandmother, who left everything she knew, and moved to a new city because she wanted a different life for herself at a time when women didn’t do those sort of things. Oprah -- Because she’s Oprah, of course! And also, she succeeded in building her brand in a space which wasn’t necessarily welcoming to someone like her.
Me: What is your best discovery?
Kathryn: My best discovery is that in by being yourself, living your truth, you really do give others the permission to live their truth. Truly great people are people who make you great just by being in their presence.
Me: What would the title of your biography be?
Kathryn: Big Hair...Even Bigger Ideas
Me: Anything else we should know about?
Kathryn: We’re producing a film documentary called #ReWriteTheCode, which will explore intersectionality of gender and race in the tech industry. We still welcome pledges at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-us-to-rewritethecode#/story.
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