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Coffee With: Kathryn Finney, Founder Of digitalundivided

Estimated reading time ~ 2 min
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Kathryn Finney
Location: New York, NY
Job: Founder and managing director, digitalundivided
Education: B.A. in Political Science and Women's Studies, Rutgers University; M.Phil. in International Epidemiology, Yale University
Twitter: @KathrynFinney

What was your first job?

I got my master’s in epidemiology and worked as an international epidemiologist in Ghana through a fellowship from USAID.

What's something about you and your career that people might be surprised to learn?

I was among the first “social media stars.” I created one of the first lifestyle blogs, The Budget Fashionista, and sold it to a media company in 2014, which makes me one of the first Black women to have sold a tech company!

Tell us about your work now as the founder of the social enterprise digitalundivided.

I founded digitalundivided (DID) in 2012 to provide Black and Latina women entrepreneurs with the network, coaching, and funding to succeed in the startup industry, from the build phase to exit.

I currently spend my days promoting awesome startups led by brilliant women and prepping for our BIG Accelerator, which is a 12-week class for startups led by Black and Latina women. We also emphasize funding; to date, we’ve helped build 48 companies and raise $13 million in investment. We’re always dreaming up ways to continue to empower our community.

Who is your professional role model?

My dad. He went from a brewery worker to a senior engineer at Microsoft in the span of 13 years. Growing up, he showed me how hard work, perseverance, and a strong belief in yourself can change the course of not only your life, but also the lives of your family and community. There were close to 1,000 people at my father’s funeral. It was a true lesson in living.

What has been the most memorable moment of your career to date?

Being honored at The White House as a Champion of Change in 2013 for my inclusion work in tech. I remember looking out into the audience at my family and feeling a sense of deep pride, emotion, and gratitude. My team and I worked very hard to get there, and to be recognized at that level was pretty amazing.

Kathryn Finney speaking

During the hiring process, which candidates stand out the most to you?

Those who have a real interest in the work we do. I remember a candidate who came in with a long list of questions and knew my entire life history and the history of the organization. It showed she was focused on how she could add value to the organization and our community.

Do you have any recent reads you’d recommend?

As a new mom, I mostly read children’s books, which I recommend to adults, too. There’s a refreshing simplicity to the messages. One of my favorites is Giraffes Can’t Dance. It’s about a giraffe that can’t dance until he finds music that appeals to him. I also like Dr. Seuss’s Oh, The Thinks You Can Think. Sometimes as adults we make things super complicated when really they’re quite simple.

Any words of wisdom you wish you could have shared with your younger self?

Relax. Everything will come in due course. Also, get rid of that hair style. It really doesn’t work for you.

Images courtesy of Kathryn Finney

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