Ory Okolloh Biography
Ory Okolloh was born in Kenya, Africa, in 1977. She currently holds the position of Director of Investments at Omidyar Network. She runs Mzalendo, a pioneering civic website that tracks the performance of Kenya’s Parliament and its Parliamentarians. With a vote tracker, articles and opinion pieces, the site connects Kenyans to their leaders and opens the lid on this powerful and once-secretive body.
Ory Okolloh Education
Ory Okolloh came to the United States and received an undergraduate degree from University of Pittsburgh. While there she met Prof. Mitchell Seligson. She credits him with pushing her to see her true potential. Ory had only applied to law school at the University of Pittsburgh. He is the one that encouraged her to apply to Harvard. She did and received her law degree at Harvard. She worked as a corporate lawyer for Enablis, a company that helps Africans establish successful business models(McKenzie, 2010). Thabo Mncube was helped by Enablis in beginning a business building solar powered water heating systems (Enablis, 2009). Kagiso Jansen began an HR business with the help of Enablis (Enablis, 2009).
Ory Okolloh Blogging Career
In 2003, Ory Okolloh began a blog, kenyapundit.com. She used her blog to encourage people to get involved in changing their world. She recognized that talking about change is only a small part of achieving change. She encouraged people to take action to bring about the necessary changes. Ory credits John Palfrey and Andrew McLaughlin for getting her started in blogging. Both men encourage using technology to strengthen democratic movements.
In 2007, Ory Okolloh returned to Kenya to vote in the presidential election. While there, she witnessed violent protests. This inspired her to begin ushahidi.com. Ushahidi is the Swahili word meaning testimony. Ory asked and encouraged people to tell their stories of what happened in 2007. She then posted those stories on ushahidi.com in order to inform people about the truth of what was happening on the ground. Today, ushahidi.com monitors events happening all around the world. The site allows bloggers throughout the world to inform others about problems in their part of the world. People have blogged about violence toward women in Syria, about tensions after the elections in Liberia, and even about our elections here. They are encouraging people to become involved to end corruption and to help each other grow.
Today, she works for Google as its policy manager for Africa. Between her career at Google, her role as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and her duties as a mother and wife, Okolloh still finds time to honor frequent speaking engagements across Africa. I recently caught up with her in Lagos when she visited as a guest speaker at The Economist’s Future Cities conference. We talked briefly about digital activism, Africa’s tech ecosystem, and her African legacy.
Ory Okolloh Husband Family and Children
Ory Okolloh is married with three children.
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