theGrio’s 100: Kathryn Finney, Champion of change in the tech world
Who is Kathyrn Finney?
Kathyrn Finney is a tech writer, commentator and the Editor-at-Large of the lifestyle blog, The Budget Fashionista. The Budget Fashionista is considered one of the most important fashion blogs being written. In 2013 she received a Champion of Change Award from the White House for her work in making the digital space more inclusive particularly for women. Passing on the knowledge of the digital world appears to be a family tradition. The Milwaukee, WI native was inspired by her father, Robert Finney, who was a Senior Systems Engineer at Microsoft and later EMC. He led the development of one of the first high school based computer technology academies at St Louis Park High School in St Louis Park, MN. Upon graduation from Rutgers with a degree in Women’s Studies and Politics, Kathryn Finney pursued post graduate work at Yale which took her to South Africa. This led to her work at USAID in West Africa and South Africa. “At first, fashion blogging was a hobby,” says Finney, “When I started doing the Budget Fashionista I was newly married, living in Philadelphia. I knew no one but my husband [who] worked a lot. I was shopping. I was bored. I was spending a lot of money,” Finney told Black Enterprise. “I’ve always been the flyest scientist. I went to India and didn’t bring any clothes in my suitcase so I could bring back fabrics.” Her tips and methods of looking stylish while saving money has led to her being followed by tens of millions of readers.
Why is Kathryn Finney in theGrio’s 100?
Finney is an icon not only for the information her blogging and writing provide, but also for the business model and industry leadership. The Budget Fashionista is one of the first widely read blogs to be profitable. Finney is the founder of “digitalundivided”, a venture that creates content and programs designed to bridge the digital divide between urban communities. Under the DigitalUndivided brand, Finney brought the the FOCUS100 Symposium to New York City. The FOCUS100 project is designed to take a more assertive stance in getting black women involved in tech. During an October 2013 weekend, workshops that included hands on writing, blogging and content creation offered feedback from professors and tech insiders.
What’s next for Finney?
Kathryn Finney has often described herself as a woman with big hair and even bigger ideas. Her plan is to create networks, training programs and inspirational seminars to advance women of color in the digital space. Now based in New York City, she’s taking on Silicon Valley’s lack of diversity. When asked what the tech industry will look like in a decade, Finney is hell bent on major disruption. ” Technology is a decentralizing force,” she says, “And that augurs well for diversity of gender, race and geography too. Don’t get me wrong,” she says. “I love the Valley, the weather is great, but the world doesn’t look like that.”