Happy #DigitalSisterhood Wednesday Digital Sisters!
#DigitalSisterhoodat50 Lesson 3 is MENTOR. Today, I’m celebrating the mentor relationships I have with Digital Sisters of the Year Ayoka Chenzira, Danica Kombol, and Sylvia Wong Lewis.
Ayoka Chenzira (known as Ayo) is the Founder and Director of Spelman College’s Digital Moving Image Salon in Atlanta, Georgia. Ayo is an Award-winning filmmaker, interactive digital media artist, and one of the first African American women to write, direct and produce a 35mm feature film. She is also the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in Digital Media from Georgia Institute of Technology. We met through my Digital Sisterhood Radio interview series in 2010. Our conversation was soulful and filled with a kindred sisterhood spirit that I knew would bond us for life. She later invited me to participate as a panelist and speaker in several Spelman College’s digital media events in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. When she and her daughter HaJ premiered FUNNEL CAKE FLOWERS & THE URBAN CHAMELEONS, their digital interactive production, at American University in Washington, DC, my dad and I attended and became instant fans of their work. HERadventure, an interactive sci -fi movie that combines live action with on-line game elements, is her latest collaborative effort with HaJ and a personal favorite of mine. Her passion for digital media, filmmaking, telling stories about women of color, and joie de vivre inspire me greatly.
Danica Kombol is Founder and President of the Everywhere Agency, a woman-owned social media marketing firm in Atlanta, Georgia. We met during the Blogalicious Conference in Miami, Florida in 2010. Our first conversation centered around the Haitian goddess Erzulie and her firm’s work with Macy’s Heart of Haiti Campaign. It was a magical sisterhood connection. After learning more about the Heart of Haiti Campaign, I applied to become a Blogger Ambassador. When my application was accepted, my life changed. Here’s how. I was selected by the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, Fairwinds Trading, and Macy’s to travel to Haiti with Danica and an incredible group of women bloggers, social media influencers, and digital communications professionals in 2011. During the trip, Danica and I roomed together. We had so many great conversations, Reiki sessions, and yoga by the pool moments. Our bond of sisterhood grew exponentially. After our trip, I continued working with Danica and her Everywhere team on the Heart of Haiti campaign. Whenever we attended social media conferences like BlissDom, Blogalicious, and BlogHer, we made time to connect and catch up. During my trips to Spelman, Danica always made sure to come out and support my speaking efforts or host special events at her office or home to welcome me to town. She has given me zillions of hours of social media and marketing advice for my business. One of my favorite moments with Danica is the time she introduced me during my book launch at her offices in 2014. Her words of appreciation filled my heart with an abundance of gratitude for her presence in my life.
Sylvia Wong Lewis is the Founder of Narrative Network, a legacy blog and media consulting firm in New York City. Sylvia is an award-winning journalist, teacher and media professional with over 30 years experience in corporate communications and multicultural marketing. She is also a filmmaker, foodie/chef (with a delicious Instagram page), gardener, genealogist, photographer, and proud Smith College alumna. In 2013, received a Telly Bronze Award for creative excellence for her documentary production of “From Shanghai to Harlem,” an American migration and immigration story that portrays her mixed Chinese and Black family by exploring slavery, freedom, music, love, identity, and diversity. She also received the AVA Digital Award’s Gold Award for creativity and video editing in documentary production.
One evening while having dinner with my digital sister Xina Eiland at Chocolat, one of my favorite restaurants in Harlem, I met Sylvia and her husband Byron. We became fast friends and kept in touch. A month later, I invited her to participate in the NYC Digital Sisterhood Month Meet Up at the Brooklyn Museum. After the event, she interviewed me and wrote an article for her Examiner.com column. Our sisterhood bond deepened when we began a series of social media tutorials. The tutorials often included Sylvia sharing her life wisdom with me. I began to rely on her counsel for major career decisions and make a point of scheduling quarterly chats with her to check in and see what’s happening in her world. Recently, I was in New York and paid her a visit. During our visit, she hired me to do a one-on-one social media training on the spot. Having her as a client reminds me of how she always encourages me to spread my wings as a businesswoman and creative person. Our friendship and mentor-mentee relationship are rooted in authenticity, sisterhood, and reciprocity. What a blessing!
Each of these dynamic digital divas has been a sounding board of advice for my life, creativity, career, and business. They have provided nurturing support and opportunities to express and share my gifts. We have also spent quality time together in person and on the telephone chatting about a wide variety of things. I trust their counsel and feel blessed to have them in my life.
MENTOR is both a noun and a verb. As a noun, Webster’s Dictionary defines it as, “someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person; a trusted counselor or guide; a tutor and coach. Webster’s states that mentor as a verb means “to teach or give advice or guidance.” When I think of my mentors and the role I have played as a mentor, my definition includes some of Webster’s key words: teaching and giving guidance or advice as a trusted coach with the intention of showing positive support and providing constructive criticism that improves the mentee’s life and career experiences. What is your definition? Do you have a mentor? Are you serving as someone’s mentor? What advice have you have given or received as a mentor or mentee?
Ananda, I am honored and humbled to be included in your post about mentors. But, it is you who taught me so much! And I always learn something new from you. You inspire and motivate me. Thank you for being part of my life!