Blogalicious Weekend Conference Countdown Starts September 1!

Photo Credit: BlogHer – Ananda and Stacey Ferguson, Chief Curator and Co-Founder of at BlogHer/Blogalicious Brunch held on August 5, 2012, in NYC

Tomorrow is September 1. That date means many things to many people. For me it represents the official Blogalicious Weekend Conference countdown. Yep, I am excited. Why? Well, how much time do you have?


Blogalicious Weekend is one of my favorite social media conferences. I’ve been attending it since the first one that was held in Atlanta in 2009. That weekend will always be memorable because of the many women I met like Veronica Arreola, Boni Candelario, Xina Eiland, Terri Holley, Thien Kim, and Aliza Sherman. I also reconnected with Corynne Corbett and Natalie McNeal, two of my BlogHer 09 hanging buddies. The lessons I learned from sessions featuring Shameeka Ayers, Leticia Baar, Angela Benton, Jessica Carter, Shannon Nash, Corvida Raven, and Karen Walrond were key to my making smarter moves as a blogger, entrepreneur, speaker, and writer. I was also able to teach a kind and gentle yoga class for social media users and interview one of my digital sheros, Cheryl Mayberry McKissack, founder of NiaOnline. Those were HUGE moments!!!!!


Confession: The 2010 conference was my favorite. It was held at the Ritz Carleton on Miami Beach (loved the location)! I roomed with my digital sister Xina. We co-hosted an open-mic luncheon sponsored by McDonalds.

Photo Credit: Carol Cain
Lauren Thomas
Ananda at Heart of Haiti booth

I also learned about the Heart of Haiti campaign and became a blogger ambassador with the help of Lauren Thomas, met Danica Kombol of Everywhere and Willa Shalit of Fairwinds Trading, and sipped the Middle Sister wine in the Wine Sisterhood suite with my digital sister Boni. I took time to lay out in the sun and drink a few cocktails.

Takeyah Young
Bloggers taking sunrise yoga


Ananda and Xina Eiland
Shirelle Kirkland-Andrews and Xina Eiland

Taking Takeyah Young’s morning yoga class on the beach with Veronica, Xina, Shirelle Kirkland-Andrews, and a bunch of other digital sisters was yogalicious! Some of the best moments happened when I used my smartphone to interview several digital sisters and brothers for my Cinchcast podcast. I screamed when I met my Twitter digital sister Dr. Goddess in person! That was a huge moment because we traded so many tweets! Having a lot of time to chat with my Latinos in Social Media digital sisters Kety Esquivel and Julie Diaz Asper was fabulous. I sat in the audience and enjoyed hearing CNN journalist Soledad O’Brien share her thoughts about life and technology via Skype. At the end of the conference, I was inspired me to launch #DigitalSisterhood Wednesdays. What fun we had!


The 2011 conference was held closer to home at the Gaylord National Hotel in Maryland (about 30 minutes from my home in Washington, D.C.). During that conference, I served as a Blogalicious Ambassador and mentored the Digital Sisterhood Network’s Blogger-in-Residence Kamaria Richmond. Thanks to Kamaria’s fundraising efforts, I was able to stay in her room as a guest. She knows how to raise money for a conference! My dad Dr. John F. Leeke also attended the conference. That was a lot of fun to see him connect with bloggers and brands. He soaked it all up and became a Blogalicious fan for life.

Ananda and Kamaria Richmond
Ananda and her dad Dr. John Leeke
Ananda, Barbara Jones and Danica Kombol
Ananda and Corynne Corbett

I cried so much during the American Cancer Society’s presentation featuring one of my digital sheroes, Susan Niebur. That moment is etched into my heart forever. I hung out with Danica and Britton Edwards from Everywhere, chatted with Corynne and LaShanda Henry, interviewed a group of bloggers including Issa Mas for my Cinchcast podcast, and had a great “brinner” chat with Dr. Goddess and Kiratiana Freelon. My favorite session featured Aliza Sherman who talked about apps and other techie tools. She dropped some serious science on me. The Susan B. Komen for the Cure pajama party and the Wine Sisterhood suite were my favorite places to hang out and connect with other bloggers. One of the best chats I had was with Barbara Jones and Julie. These ladies gave me a lot of food for thought!

Ananda’s photo collage from BlogHer/Blogalicious brunch
Photo Credit: BlogHer – BlogHer co-founder Lisa Stone and founder Stacey Ferguson at Blogalicious/BlogHer brunch
Photo Credit: BlogHer – Demetria Lucas speaking at Blogalicious/BlogHer brunch
BlogHer – Ananda speaking at the BlogHer/Brunch held at BlogHer 12 on August 5, 2012, in NYC
Photo Credit: BlogHer – Blogalicious/BlogHer brunch
Photo Credit: BlogHer – Blogalicious/BlogHer brunch
Photo Credit: BlogHer – Blogalicious/BlogHer brunch

Earlier this month, I reconnected with my Blogalicious family during Brunchilious at the BlogHer 12 conference in New York City. During the brunch, I shared my Blogalicious experiences and the power of the community. What an honor!


And so now I am looking forward to learning, growing, connecting, laughing, sharing, and making more memories in a few weeks at Blogalicious 12. It will be my first time visiting Las Vegas. So I’ll definitely have to take photos of the strip. I am rooming with Xina. So we are gonna have a great time. She’s working the conference as the official Blogalicious publicist (a job she does so well!). I am serving as a media sponsor via the Digital Sisterhood Network and as a speaker for the Blog Community Jam Session on September 28 at 2:00 p.m. I am speaking with an amazing group of folks. See below.

  • Melanie Edwards, owner of Ella Media
  • Ana Flores, founder of Latina Bloggers Connect
  • Jennifer James, founder of Mom Bloggers Club
  • Jyl Johnson, founder of Mom It Forward
  • Manny Ruiz, founder of Hispancize
  • Lisa Stone, co-founder of BlogHer

So here’s what you can do.

  • Register for the conference so you don’t miss out on the great Blogalicious experience of a lifetime!
  • Participate in the #beuplifted Twitter chats on Wednesdays at 9:00 p.m. on Twitter. Follow @beblogalicious and @justicefergie during the chats.
  • Follow #blogalicious12 tweets for all things great about the conference.
  • Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @anandaleeke or @digitalsisterhd.  I’ll be live tweeting from the conference … sharing photos … and audio blogs during the last week of September.

Hope to see you in Las Vegas in September! Ciao!

Headed back to my writing … See you at the end of September!

A writer getting down to business

Hi All,

It’s that time again. Gotta take a digital diet break in order to finish my Digital Sisterhood book. This blog will be very quiet during the rest of August, most of September, and some of October. I will come back at the end of September, and in early October to post about my Blogalicious 2012 conference experiences and the #FOCUS100 symposium. I should be back in full force by November and definitely by December (for Digital Sisterhood Month).

PS: I am speaking during the Blog Community Jam Session at the Blogalicious Weekend Conference on September 28.

#BlogHer12 Recap #4: Ananda’s Walk Down BlogHer Memory Lane – 2006 to 2012

BlogHer12 badge and agenda

Happy Friday!

Join me as I take a walk down BlogHer memory lane. It starts in 2006 and ends with the recent conference held on August 2-4 in New York City. First, don’t laugh at what I am about to share. It’s so retro for 2012!

Photo Credit: BlogHer

The first time I heard about BlogHer was on Myspace in 2006. Yes, I was actively involved with Myspace from 2006 to 2009 give or take … before Cinchcast, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, and YouTube got the best of me!. One of my Myspace friends (forgive me for not remembering who) posted a link about the BlogHer community and conference. My Internet geek curiosity drew me in and forced me to click on the link.  What I discovered was a budding community of women bloggers that reminded me of the women I hung out with on iVillages in the 1990s and and’s Women’s Channel in the early 2000s. To be honest, I made that one visit and did not return until two years later.

BlogHer12/Blogalicious Brunch Collage

So here’s what happened that brought me back to BlogHer in 2008. While I was attending the first Blogging While Brown conference (co-sponsored by BlogHer), I met  BlogHer co-founder Elisa Camahort Page. We had several conversations about the community and conferences. Elisa encouraged me to revisit the site and set up a profile page with a short bio and photo. So I took her advice! My first year in the BlogHer community focused on following the 2008 Presidential election campaign. I enjoyed reading First Lady Michelle Obama’s blog posts and many political blog posts.

Ananda at BlogHer11 with Dove soap sculpture

My second year was very different. That ‘s when my full blown blog-affair with BlogHer began. It was born during the Feminism 2.0 conference sponsored by Turner Strategies at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Whenever I tell this story, I share that BlogHer became my Vale-blog-a-tine during the Feminism 2.0 conference. I attended a session that featured Elisa as one of the panelists. I don’t recall the session’s name, but I do remember how inspired I felt after hearing Elisa speak. We chatted briefly after the session about the value and benefits of attending the BlogHer conference. Our chat is the reason I registered for the conference a week later.

Blogalicious digital sisters Xina Eiland and Ananda at BlogHer12 enjoying a moment in the Hershey Suite

The BlogHer 2009 conference exposed me to a new world of women bloggers that I interviewed with my pink Creative Vado flip camera and smartphone.  I also learned new technical skills to support my video blogging and podcasting, and community building strategies to help expand my Internet radio shows on and lifestyle social networking sites on I also expanded my digital sisterhood network through my connections with Deb Rox (and her amazing book Five Ways to Blank Your Blog), the Blogalicous co-founders at a beauty party held at a local department store, That Black Girl site founder Corynne Corbett, founder Holly Buchanan, Lady M blog founder Monica, Fourth Generation blog founder Olivia, Viva La Feminista blog founder Veronica Arreola, New York City Mama blog founder Carol Cain, Art Slam founder Lucrecer Braxton, Prisoner’s Wife blog founder Britni Danielle, Frugalista blog founder Natalie McNeal, Afrobella blog founder Patrice Grell Yursik, founder Denene Millner, Blog Rollers co-founders Lorraine Robertson and Christy Glascoe Crowder, founder Kamy Wicoff (we sat next to each other during a session and traded notes about her new site for women writers; she also signed me up for the site during the session), and many other dynamic women. Several of women introduced me to women bloggers and social media influencers who lived in the D.C. Metropolitan area. Those connections laid the foundation for my participation in the Blogalicious Weekend Conference, She’s Geeky DC Unconference, and Latinos in Social Media (LATISM) DC Conference that were held later that year. All of these efforts inspired me to use my radio show to interview women in social media and commit to writing a book about my online experiences with women (now called Digital Sisterhood: Fierce Living Online for 25 Years).

BlogHer12 Come As You Are Party

When it came time to register for the BlogHer 2010 conference, I wasted no time. I headed to New York City for another great experience of connecting, building community, learning, listening, sharing, laughing, and dancing. I attended the White House Project one-day conference and learned how women could use their online presence to affect political change. I used my smartphone and Cinchcast podcast to interview a diverse group of women bloggers. Many agreed to participate in my interview series. I also hung out with my new and old blogging friends at the Blogalicious and LATISM Social Fiesta parties. Right before the conference ended, I met BlogHer co-founder Lisa Stone in the Expo Hall. We had a very deep conversation about the importance of self-care in the blogger community. Lisa encouraged me to submit a session proposal for the next conference.

Ananda at her BlogHer11 session on Blogger Wellness

By the time 2010 ended, I completed two draft session proposals for the BlogHer 2011 conference.  I also utilized everything I learned from BlogHer, Blogalicious, Blogging While Brown, LATISM, and She’s Geeky DC to transform my passion for celebrating women in social media and tech into the Digital Sisterhood Network which included #DigitalSisterhod Wednesdays on Twitter, Digital Sisterhood Radio, Digital Sisterhood Facebook Group, Digital Sisterhood Month (an annual celebration held in December), and the Digital Sisterhood Book Kickstarter Project.  It was on like popcorn in my world!

Vikki Reich, Heather Mann, and Ananda at BlogHer11 session on Peer Mentoring

My BlogHer 2011 conference experience was MEGA special. It was a trip of many firsts.

  • My first trip to San Diego.
  • My first time as a speaker for two sessions, Blogger Wellness (I was able to share my expertise as a workshop facilitator, yoga teacher, and creativity coach) and Peer Mentoring (served as a panelist with a dynamic panel of women — Liz Strauss, Heather Mann, and Vikki Reich).
  • My first time using the BlogHer conference board to find a roommate (and I lucked out big time with Chinese Grandma blog founder Lilian Chang).
  • My first time hearing Gwen Bell, a global entrepreneur, social media influencer, yoga teacher, and author of Digital Warriorship, discuss her digital sabbatical practices.
  • My first time meeting Sofia Quintero, a fabulous author, feminist, and activist.
Podcasting Panel members Jasmin Singer, Ananda Leeke & Deborah Shane at BlogHer Speakers Orientation on 8/2/12
Podcasting 101 Panel at BlogHer12

The BlogHer 2011 conference inspired me to step up my game and submit another series of session proposals for the 2012 conference. Once again, BlogHer selected me to speak. There was a slight twist to the invitation. I was asked to moderate a Podcasting 101 Panel with two digital media rockstars, Jasmin Singer and Deborah Shane. I never would have proposed that topic, however, the BlogHer team saw something I could not see: my thought leadership as a podcaster and Internet radio host.

Ananda riding a motorcyle at the BlogHer12 Harley Davidson Party

The BlogHer 2012 conference was INCROYABLE as the French say (or INCREDIBLE for English speakers)!  First of all, it was held in one of my favorite cities, New York City. Secondly, I was able to see President Obama’s live address. I’ve got many more reasons that support my INCROYABLE experience. You can read about them by clicking on the links below.

Blogher12 attendees at Blogalicious Brunch
BlogHer12 attendees at Blogalicious Brunch

The most important thing I received from this year’s conference is a greater understanding of what the BlogHer community, conference, and economy mean to me. My understanding solidified itself in a BLOGHER acronym. See below.

To me, BLOGHER now means

B – Building community through meaningful and mindful connections, conversations, collaborative partnerships and projects, and commerce that generates revenue and valued added exchanges for myself and others.

L – Learning and sharing information that helps me and others grow to our fullest potential.

O – Opening my heart to be inspired and energized by the stories I hear from fellow bloggers, keynote speakers, and representatives from brands, companies, organizations, and marketing/PR firms.

G – Giving back to others by sharing what I know and affirming and supporting others’ efforts.

H – Having fun and celebrating digital sisterhood and digital brotherhood bonds with new and old blogging friends.

E – Embracing and valuing the power, presence, and passion of my own voice, creativity, expertise, thought leadership, entrepreneurial efforts, social good causes and campaigns, and definition of success.

R – Remembering that my return on investment (ROI) from my BlogHer community and conference participation is rooted in my attitude, intentions, choices, personal responsibility, and actions.

So there you have it! My walk down BlogHer memory lane from 2006 to 2012! Hope to see you at the BlogHer 2013 conference in Chicago!

With deep gratitude and digital sisterhood in my heart,

Ananda, your digital sister

#BlogHer12 Recap #3 – Ananda’s BlogHer Gratitude

Ananda after the BlogHer12 5K which was really a shorter fun run she created with a few fellow bloggers on 8/3

Happy Friday!

Last week I joined over 5,000 women and a few good men at the Hilton New York in New York City to celebrate and experience the BlogHer community and economy!

BlogHer welcome sign

Since returning to my home in Washington, D.C., I have:

  • Reflected and journaled about my experiences and lessons learned during the conference (was able to write in my journal thanks to the time I had on  my Bolt Bus ride home to D.C. and my daily subway rides to and from work).
  • Prepared several blog recaps (posted a few on my blog) that I will be using in chapters for my forthcoming book, Digital Sisterhood: Fierce Living Online for 25 Years.
  • Talked to my book editor, parents, team of business advisors, and a few friends about lessons learned from the conference.
  • Posted my photos of the moments I cherished most and shared them on Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Twitter, and my blog.
  • Reached out and connected with new and old blogging friends via Twitter (especially on #DigitalSisterhood Wednesday), Facebook, email, and text messages on my best friend, my HTC EVO smartphone.
  • Read and was inspired by many recap blog posts and tweets written by conference attendees.
  • Begun to map out the follow up work I need to do between now and the end of 2013 (yes next year) to enhance my talents and skills, expand my thought leadership, deepen my connection and engagement within my own network and the online/offline communities that support me, and further develop my revenue generating streams as an author, artist, blogger, coach, speaker, workshop facilitator, yoga teacher, and Reiki practitioner (what a mouthful!).
  • Mailed thank you cards to some of the BlogHer team members and people I did not have a chance to meet or deliver a card to (the southern belle debutante and sorority girl inside of me is compelled to write thank you cards …. my mother is responsible for this behavior).
  • Organized my small stash of swag with plans to give some of it away as gifts to family and friends (adoring my favorite swag … the Martha Stewart orange journal …. What can I say? The writer in me loves journals and the Martha Stewart brand!).
Ananda feeling like she is in 7th heaven at the Martha Stewart Staples booth on 8/2
Hanging with digital sister Tracey Friley at President Obama’s live video address to the BlogHer community on 8/2
Martha Stewart sharing her wisdom and experiences at Blogher luncheon on 8/3
Podcasting Panel with Jasmin Singer, Deborah Shane, and Ananda on 8/3
Arnebya Herndon, Ananda’s #BlogHer12 roomie, rocking the Voices of the Year with her Trayvon Martin blog post
Ananda and her digital sister Veronica Arreola at breakfast on 8/4
Soaking up the wisdom from the Erotica Out in the Open Session on 8/4
Learning and listening to Tracey Friley at the Travel Philanthropy session on 8/4
Enjoying Lisa Stone’s interview with Katie Couric during the luncheon on 8/4
Paying close attention to what the panelists were sharing during the Pricing session on 8/4
Ananda sitting next to her digital sister/PR coach Xina Eiland during the closing keynote and hearing Lisa Stone and Elisa Camahort Page discuss the BlogHer economy
Ananda’s Instagram photo collage of the Come As You Are party sponsored by Aiming Low on 8/4
BlogHer Fashion Show featuring digital sister Laurita Tellado strut her fabulousness on the runway
BlogHer models rocking the runway with their fierceness!
Enjoying the BlogHer/Blogalicious brunch on 8/5

This morning I woke up with a deep sense of gratitude for all of the things the BlogHer team and community have done and continue to do. I reflected on how I am a direct beneficiary of their efforts. I remembered the impact their efforts have had on me since my first BlogHer conference in 2009 and the conferences I attended in 2010 and 2011.  I smiled at how much I have been able to dream and do as a result of the lessons learned, skills developed, connections I have made, and speaking opportunities I have had. So I wrote an email to BlogHer co-founders Elisa Camahort Page, Lisa Stone, and Jory des Jardins, and members of their amazing team, Polly Pagenhart, Shannon Carroll, Maria Niles, Lori Luna, Amelia Elsbee, and others that was filled with sweet words of gratitude and thanksgiving.

BlogHer Conference Logo

My email talked about how much I value what the BlogHer team does to build and nurture its ever-growing and evolving community, conference, and economy (just love that I can say BlogHer economy … I need a t-shirt to wear in D.C.).  I acknowledged how hard it is for them to build a movement, community, business, and economy. I reminded them that because they invest in me I invest in them, and we are ONE! I sprinkled in some of my flowery words and phrases to make them smile and touch their hearts too!

Ananda feeling grateful for BlogHer during the Podcasting 101 Panel on 8/3

Now I am writing this blog post to say thank you to everyone connected to BlogHer. That means YOU … my fellow attendees, conference volunteers, online community members, speakers, sponsors, vendors, brands, companies, and organizations. Together, we are a movement of passionate and powerful people. May we each recognize, affirm, value, and express our contributions in ways that support our highest and greatest good as individuals, communities, businesses, brands, companies, and organizations!

With deep gratitude and blessings,

Ananda, your digital sister

PS: I am feeling really good due to a Starbucks de-caf venti Cafe Americano with
three pumps of raspberry and my own rice milk, my comfy and cute Ann Taylor Loft dress, and playing in the background! LOL!  It’s just that kinda day! Can you feel me?

#BlogHer12 Recap #2: Ananda Moderates Podcasting 101 Panel

Photo Credit: Ananda Leeke

Hi All,

Last week was AWESOME! Why? The BlogHer 12′ conference in New York City. During the conference, I had the privilege of moderating a fantastic Podcasting 101 panel discussion with my brilliant co-panelists Deborah Shane and Jasmin Singer. These ladies were INCREDIBLE! They shared from their hearts and gave the audience lots of great information and feedback. Special thanks Deborah and Jasmin for making the panel a success!

Podcasting Panel members Jasmin Singer, Ananda Leeke & Deborah Shane at BlogHer Speakers Orientation on 8/2/12

Deborah, Jasmin, and I met during the Speakers’ Orientation and recorded a podcast preview of what we planned to share the day before our session. Click here to listen to the Cinchcast podcast.

BlogHer12 Podcasting 101 Panel: Deborah Shane, Ananda Leeke & Jasmin Singer
Photo Credit: Xina Eiland –

I opened the panel discussion with a brief introduction on podcasting that included a definition and reasons why people use podcasts and Internet radio shows.  See below.

1) Definition

Podcasting represents a type of digital media that allows you to create audio content, organize it into an episodic series of audio files that can be subscribed to and downloaded through web syndication or streamed online to a computer, lap top, netbook, tablet,  or mobile device when it is convenient to the listener.

2) Key Podcasting Points

Podcasting is used to:

  • Generate conversations through storytelling, sharing information, and interviewing others.
  • Create, curate, and market content.
  • Advocate and promote causes and campaigns that promote social change, social good, social justice, and other issues.
  • Build and engage community.
  • Market and promote events, products, and services.
  • Develop thought leadership expertise and speaking skills.
  • Gather research and document best practices.

I asked the attendees several questions to determine their level of interest and skills. See below.

  • How many people host a podcast or radio show?
  • How many people want to launch a podcast or radio show?
  • How many people listen to podcasts or radio shows?

After the audience responded with a show of hands for each question, Deborah, Jasmin, and I shared how and why we started podcasting and hosting Internet radio shows. We also gave podcasting and Internet radio show tips and explained the benefits of podcasting and hosting Internet radio shows. Click on the links below to read my blog posts that feature podcasting tips and benefits and to view the Podcsting 101 Pinterest (lots of great resources).

Deborah gave a talk on branding and marketing podcasts and Internet radio shows.

Photo Credit: Sahaj Kohli

Many thanks to Sahaj Kohli for taking the photo above and tweeting it out during the session.

For more information about the panel’s comments, click here to read Arie Rich’s live blogging notes. She captured the essence of the panel! Thanks Arie! You ROCK!

Photo Credit: Ananda Leeke

Click here to listen to my Cinchcast interview about the Podcasting Panel 101 session her with Laura E., publisher of Fresh From My Desk blog.

Ananda and Podcasting 101 Panel attendee Laura E.
Podcasting 101 panel attendees

Check out the Podcasting 101 Twitterstream below to learn what other attendees said about the session.

#BlogHer12 Recap #1 – My Best Moment … Seeing President Obama

Last week I attended the annual BlogHer conference in New York City. It was a great conference filled with many powerful moments.  The best and most powerful moment I had was watching BlogHer co-founders Lisa Stone and Elisa Camahort Page kickoff the conference by introducing President Barack Obama to the BlogHer attendees in the Grand Ballroom of the Hilton New York. As I sat with my digital sister Tracey Friley of One Brown Girl watching President Obama’s live video address, I thought about the many reasons I adore BlogHer and President Obama!  Guess what? The reasons are too many to name in this blog post. So I will leave you with a few photo collages I made with my smartphone’s Photogrid app and a link to the video of President Obama’s BlogHer 12 address: Watch it when you get a chance! He rocked BlogHer!

President Obama addressing BlogHer 12 conference on 8.2.12
Ananda Leeke’s President Obama collage

Ananda Moderating Podcasting 101 Panel at BlogHer on August 3

Happy August!

Photo Credit: BlogHer

I am headed to the BlogHer Conference to moderate the Podcasting 101 Panel on August 3 from 1:15 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Hilton New York in New York City. My co-panelists are Deborah Shane and Jasmin Singer, two amazing women who rock the web with their Internet radio and podcasting skills. Click here for more details.

Podcasting 101 Digital Treats:

I’ll be live tweeting throughout the conference. Follow me on Twitter @digitalsisterhd and on for audio blog updates and interviews with conference participants. I will also post a few photos on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.