Celebrating #BlogHer13 #MultiCulti Party – Meet Party Hostess Dwana De La Cerna


This month, Digital Sisterhood Network founder Ananda Leeke is preparing to co-host the BlogHer 13 Multi Culti Party on July 26 with “digital sister” bloggers Pauline Campos of Aspiring Mama blog and Dwana De La Cerna of House on A Hill blog in Chicago, Illinois. Click here to check out the BlogHer Loves Multi Culti Pinterest board.

Over the next two weeks, Ananda will be sharing several multi-culti inspired blog posts that invite your feedback. Today’s blog post features an interview with #MultiCulti Party co-hostess Dwana De La Cerna. Enjoy reading about Dwana!

Photo Credit: Dwana De La Cerna

Photo Credit: Dwana De La Cerna

Meet Dwana De La Cerna, founder of House on a Hill blog, writer for Chicagonista.com a local, Chicago based online media magazine ,and social media director and editor of  TheChicagoMoms.com, a subsidiary of City Connect Media.

Dwana and her sons

Dwana and her sons

DSN: Why is celebrating Multi Culti at BlogHer important to you?  
DDLC: We are more diverse than we even think about! So many Chicago area bloggers have approached me saying how wonderful this idea is! Giving pause to celebrate what makes us all alike and different is a wonderful thing. Additionally, I love my BlogHer Family SO much that I want to know ALL about them.
DSN: Describe your family’s Multi Culti melting pot (ethnicity).
DDLC: I was born into a majority Creole family. Both my moms parents were a mixture. One was definitely French Creole from New Orleans and one have-no-idea-mixed from Kentucky. My dad had one Filipino parent and one he describes as a ‘free colored’ from Cape Girardeau, Missouri. As in most cultures, I define myself by my mother’s mother who was ALL NEW ORLEANS baby! I identify ‘black’ because my birth certificate says ‘Negro’. Both my parents were raised in a very culturally thick community on Chicago’s Southside.
DSN: What are your Multi Culti favorite musical groups and/or songs?
DDLC: I love ‘Old School’ R&B and am a Southside Chicago original “Househead” … Have fun googling that!
DSN: What is your favorite Multi Culti fashion (clothing/jewelry/designer/accessories/shoes)?
DDLC: I wear RLT (Rae Lewis-Thornton bracelets) other than that, I love Barbara Bates … but am a typical shopper.
DSN: What are your favorite Multi Culti foods?
DDLC: Dirty rice and beans, crawfish, seafood gumbo, cornbread and mo’ rice.
DSN: What are your favorite Multi Culti wine or cocktails?
DDLC: I am a rum, scotch, whiskey & cigar girl!
DSN: What are your favorite Multi Culti artwork, artists, books, and films?
DDLC: LOVED both the book and the movie ‘A River Runs Through It’, Spy Games and The Horse Whisperer.
DSN: What are your favorite Multi Culti travel experiences (ones you have had or dream about)?
DDLC: I did my DNA, because like a large population of black folk, I have no idea where my ancestors originated. My DNA revealed, matriarchly that we were from the Sierra Leone. After speaking with a co-worker who just returned from his native Gambia in West Africa, I have a strong desire to see the West Coast of Africa. He said I would LOVE it.
READER QUESTION: What are your favorites? Share answers to the interview questions in the comment section. Thanks!

Celebrating #BlogHer13 #MultiCulti Party – Meet Party Hostess Pauline Campos


This month, Digital Sisterhood Network founder Ananda Leeke is preparing to co-host the BlogHer 13 Multi Culti Party on July 26 with “digital sister” bloggers Pauline Campos of Aspiring Mama blog and Dwana De La Cerna of House on A Hill blog in Chicago, Illinois. Click here to check out the BlogHer Loves Multi Culti Pinterest board.

Over the next two weeks, Ananda will be sharing several multi-culti inspired blog posts that invite your feedback. Today’s blog post features an interview with #MultiCulti Party co-hostess Pauline Campos. Enjoy reading about Pauline!

Meet Pauline Campos, writer, founder of AspiringMama.com and GirlBodyPride.com, and Latina Magazine Advice Columnist.

Photo Credit: Pauline Campos

Photo Credit: Pauline Campos

Photo Credit: AspiringMama.com

Photo Credit: AspiringMama.com

Pauline's Latina column

Pauline’s Latina column

DSN: Why is celebrating Multi-Culti at BlogHer important to you?
PC: The timing with which I learned of my new role as Latina Magazine’s new advice and relationship columnist and my invitation to join Ananda and Dwana as a co-hostess for the Multi-Culti was amazing. Celebrating who I am and what makes me who I am by my own definition is at the root of everything I do for myself, my daughter, my family, and serves as the inspiration for founding www.girlbodypride.com. I grew up defending my cultural identity to strangers who didn’t think I looked the part. Multi-Culti is my happy place.
DSN: Describe your family’s Multi-Culti melting pot (ethnicity).
PC: I don’t know specifics because Mexico is horrible for record keeping, but I do know that my great-great grandmother made it to Mexico from Spain to escape persecution and her family were merchants. I’m going out on a politically incorrect limb here and guessing Jewish and then explaining to you that her last name was Isaac. Also? It explains my hair and why my great-grandfather was blonde, blue-eyed, and glowed in the dark. I’m also aware of stories surrounding Aztec heritage. But that’s about as “melting-pottish” as it gets over here. the most exciting thing is the hyphen between the Mexican and the American.
DSN: What are your top 10 Multi-Culti favorite musical groups and/or songs?
PC: This one is tough because I don’t listen to Music Not on Nick Jr as much as I used to before I had a child. That means I’m six years out of the loop now. Has Justin Bieber reached puberty yet? Seriously though, my favorite Spanish language artists are Shakira, Chayanne, Selena, Ozomatli, and I used to have a massive boy-band crush on Magneto. (Think New Kids on the Block in Spanish and you don’t even have to Google them.) I’m also convinced I was Irish or Scottish in a past life because there’s something about the music and the history and the myths that calm me no matter what kind of day I am having. Enya was playing on my iPod when I gave birth to Eliana. I’ll take the soundtrack to River Dance over Ni Hao, Kai Lan, any day of the week. Celtic Woman makes me wish I was one. And because I listen to Kids Place Live ALL THE TIME, I would be remiss not to mention the incredible tunes we’ve heard that make me smile and sing along with Eliana. Pollito/Chicken by Dan Zanes is brilliant and anything produced by Putamayo World Music needs to be on my iPod now, please.
DSN: What is your favorite Multi-Culti fashion (clothing/jewelry/designer/accessories/shoes)?
PC: Target is not an answer, right?  Wow, I really need to get out more, don’t I? WAIT! I can redeem myself with at least one decent answer. I have a gorgeous tear-drop shaped necklace and earring set from Tiffany’s. It’s by Elsa Peretti and I love it.
DSN: What are your favorite Multi-Culti foods?
PC: I’m allergic to all of them. Seriously. That being said, I’m busy learning new ways to create old favorites from our childhoods. On my list of things to make are recipes from the Paleo Comforts cookbooks like coconut flour tortillas & enchiladas. That’s two. I’m also rediscovering my love of aguas frescas and just made a huge batch of cucumber mint water yesterday. That took me back. Four and five are avocados and unprocessed/raw coconut products. Cannot live without them.
DSN: What are your favorite Multi-Culti wines or cocktails?
PC: I’m also allergic! BUT I used to love Pina Coladas and Strawberry daiquiris in a most likely inappropriate way. And now? the Multi-Culti cocktail (both non alcoholic and the alcohol-containing version) were a blast to come up with!
DSN: What are your favorite Multi-Culti artwork, artists, books, and films?
PC: My favorite artists are Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. My favorite books are Rain of Gold by Victor Villasenor, Mother Tongue by Demetria Martinez, and Mexican Enough by Stephanie Elizondo-Griest. My favorite movies are Real Women have Curves, Like Water for Chocolate, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
DSN: What are your favorite Multi-Culti travel experiences?
PC: Ireland, Scotland, and Prince Edward Island in Canada.
READER QUESTION: What are your favorites? Share answers to the interview questions in the comment section. Thanks!

Celebrating #BlogHer13 #MultiCulti Party – Chicago Is A Multi-Culti Mecca!


This month, Digital Sisterhood Network founder Ananda Leeke is preparing to co-host the BlogHer 13 Multi Culti Party on July 26 with “digital sister” bloggers Pauline Campos of Aspiring Mama blog and Dwana De La Cerna of House on A Hill blog in Chicago, Illinois. Click here to check out the BlogHer Loves Multi-Culti Pinterest board.

Chicago Flag - Photo Credit: www.usamapxl.com/usa/cities/chicago-map

Chicago Flag – Photo Credit: http://www.usamapxl.com/usa/cities/chicago-map

Chicago Seal - Photo Credit: www.usamapxl.com/usa/cities/chicago-map

Chicago Seal – Photo Credit: http://www.usamapxl.com/usa/cities/chicago-map

Over the next three weeks, Ananda will be sharing several multi culti-inspired blog posts that invite your feedback. Today’s blog post focuses on her multi-culti love for Chicago. Enjoy!

Leak Family, owners of Leak and Sons Funeral Homes - Photo Credit: www.leakandsonsfuneralhomes.com

Leak Family, owners of Leak and Sons Funeral Homes – Photo Credit: http://www.leakandsonsfuneralhomes.com

I am in love with Chicago. My love affair began in the 1980s when I visited my Howard University School of Law classmates. The Windy City is one of my favorite places to visit because it offers a wealth of culturally diverse neighborhoods to explore. My passion for the city starts on the South Side where African Americans like my cousins who own Leak & Sons Funeral Homes have lived, owned businesses, and served their community for decades.

Black Chicago

It travels into the heart of Bronzeville, a neighborhood known as the Black Metropolis and Chicago’s version of the Harlem Renaissance, where prominent African Americans including poet Gwendolyn Brooks, writer Richard Wright, musician Louis Armstrong, aviator Bessie Coleman, and civil rights activist and founder of the Black Womens’ movement Ida B Wells lived. I love visiting the Bronzeville and walking down S. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive to see the house where Ida B. Wells and her family lived.

My creative spirit is always nurtured with visits to the DuSable Museum of African-American History, an art mecca created by Dr. Margaret T. and Charles G. Burroughs. The museum was named after Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, a Haitian man who was the first settler of Chicago.

Devon Avenue located on Chicago’s Far North Side is another place I love to visit. It feeds my love affair with all things India and South Asia – the people, food, music, fashion, and Bollywood movies. It also gives me a chance to explore its other multicultural treasures – businesses run by Iraqis, Orthodox Jews, Poles, and Russians.

Chicago is home to two vibrant Mexican neighborhoods, Pilsen and Little Village near the South and West sides. Pilsen is etched in mi corazon because it is home to National Museum of Mexican Art, one of my favorite museums to visit.  Chinatown, Greektown, and Little Italy also add to Chicago’s diversity. And let’s not forget Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade and citywide celebration in March and Irish American Festival in July . Irish Americans and St. Patty’s Day enthusiasts know how to throw a great party and even turn the Chicago River green!

What do you love about Chicago’s multi-culti diversity?

Help Create #BlogHer13 #MultiCulti Party “Melting Pot” Playlist


Happy Digital Sisterhood Wednesday!

This month, Digital Sisterhood Network founder Ananda Leeke is preparing to co-host the BlogHer 13 Multi Culti Party on July 26 with “digital sister” bloggers Pauline Campos of Aspiring Mama blog and Dwana De La Cerna of House on A Hill blog in Chicago, Illinois. Click here to check out the BlogHer Loves Multi Culti Pinterest board. Over the next three weeks, Ananda will be sharing several multi culti-inspired blog posts that invite your feedback.

Today’s blog post introduces you to Ananda’s favorite Multi Culti music and invites you to share your favorite Multi Culti music. Please share your favorites in the comment section below. Your comments will help the BlogHer Multi Culti Party team create a “melting pot” music playlist that rocks! Thanks in advance!!!!

When it comes to Multi Culti music, my favorites include the Afropean songbirds Les Nubians, Benin’s Angelique Kidjo, Cuba’s Celia Cruz, England’s Julie Dexter, Haiti’s Emiline Michel, Japan’s Keiko Matsui, and Peru’s Susana Baca. The music these ladies make rock my world. They keep me on my feet … dancing … laughing… moving my body to their incredible beats. Check out links to their music below. And be sure to share your favorite Multi Culti music favorites in the comment section.

les nubians

Afropean songbirds Les Nubians

angelique kidjo

Benin’s Angelique Kidjo

celia cruz

Cuba’s Celia Cruz

julie dexter

England’s Julie Dexter


Haiti’s Emiline Michel


Japan’s Keiki Matsui

susana baca_gonikus blog

Peru’s Susana Baca

Celebrating #BlogHer13 #MultiCulti Party – Multi Culti Family & Adopted Culture


This month, Digital Sisterhood Network founder Ananda Leeke is preparing to co-host the BlogHer 13 Multi Culti Party on July 26 with “digital sister” bloggers Pauline Campos of Aspiring Mama blog and Dwana De La Cerna of House on A Hill blog in Chicago, Illinois. Click here to check out the BlogHer Loves Multi Culti Pinterest board.

Over the next three weeks, Ananda will be sharing several multi culti-inspired blog posts that invite your feedback. Today’s blog post focuses on her multi culti family and adopted culture.

African Union flag honors the countries where Ananda's ancestors are from.

African Union flag honors the countries where Ananda’s ancestors are from.

My Multi Culti Family

My African American family’s roots represent a mélange of West African, Native American, Canadian, and European cultures. The historical data from the American slave trade has helped my family conclude that our African ancestors who were brought to North Carolina and Virginia came from West African countries.

Ananda praying at Elmina Slave Castle in Cape Coast, Ghana in 2003

Ananda praying at Elmina Slave Castle in Cape Coast, Ghana in 2003

Ananda praying in the African female slave cell at Elmina Slave Castle in Cape Coast, Ghana in 2003

Ananda praying in the African female slave cell at Elmina Slave Castle in Cape Coast, Ghana in 2003

Knowing this to be our only factual tie, I traveled to the slave castles on Goree Island in Senegal in 1994 and Cape Coast, Ghana in 1997 and 2003, to honor the spirits of our African ancestors. Based on family records, research, and stories, I know I am the great-great-great granddaughter of Hence Daniel, a Native American man who married Ann Daniel, a former enslaved African woman who lived to be 113 years old in Kentucky.


Portugal's Flag

Portugal’s Flag

France's Flag

France’s Flag

Canada's Flag

Canada’s Flag

Ireland's Flag

Ireland’s Flag

I am the great-great granddaughter of Ida Goens Bolden, a woman with African, Native American, and Portuguese blood running through her veins. In addition, I am the great granddaughter of James Ebert Leak, a French Canadian man born in Winnipeg, Canada. My grandfather John Leonard Leeke told me his father James Ebert Leak also had Irish blood running through his veins.

As you can see, my family like many American families is a melting pot of people from all over the globe.

What cultures are in your family’s melting pot? Share your responses in the comment section below.

Puerto Rico Map

Puerto Rico Map

My Adopted Culture (an excerpt from That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetical Memoir of Self-Discovery)

Sometimes we keep prayers from childhood buried in the recesses of our minds. If we are lucky, we may rediscover them and allow them to breathe life into our adult world. Today, I discovered one of mine. It was written in Spanish to honor the passion I hold in my heart for my adopted culture:

Yo creo que soy una Latina por que yo siento el afecto para la cultura Latina. Tengo una isla amiga se llama Puerto Rico. Yo quiero pensar y sonar en espanol. Yo quiero dansar y vivir en espanol. Querido Dios, me cambias una Latina, por favor. 

I believe that I am a Latina because I feel affection for Latin culture. I have an island friend named Puerto Rico. I want to think and dream in Spanish. I want to dance and live in Spanish. Dear God, Please change me into a Latina. 

Jose Feliciano - Feliz Navidad

The first time I conceived remnants of this prayer was during Christmas at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Landover, Maryland.  It was the early 1970s.  I was in third grade. Jose Feliciano’s holiday song, Feliz Navidad” was popular. My religious education teacher was Mr. Candelaria, a Mexican man with an open heart, giving spirit, passion for folk music, and a commitment to teach his students about his Mexican heritage. Somehow he convinced Father Ward, our parish priest, to permit our class to decorate the outside of the church with brown paper bags that we normally used for school lunches or popcorn that we snuck into the movies. We filled the bags with sand and placed a white candle in the middle of the sand. For Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, we lit the candles and watched their illuminating presence outline the architectural design of the church. It was a magical moment that taught me how we each have a light within us. That light is our spark of divinity. Our job is to keep it lit so that it shines for eternity.

Senora Romano’s Spanish Class in 7th and 8th grade taught me how important it is to add passion to my spark of divinity. I ended up in her class at my father’s request. The same year that he completed his Ph.D., he insisted that my brothers and I take Spanish because he believed that America’s cultural diversity would one day demand that we speak Spanish more often than English. This was a pretty progressive approach to take in 1976.

I think Senora Romano was from Puerto Rico, but don’t quote me. There’s only so much I can recall almost thirty years later as I sit typing on my laptop while sipping a venti soy chai latte and nibbling on my Caesar salad on a Sunday afternoon at the Starbucks on 16th and U.  I do remember the way she looked. Olive-colored skin, large dark glasses similar to the ones most women were wearing in the mid seventies. A petite woman standing all of five feet. Long flowing skirts with floral prints decorated her figure. She borrowed height from her two inch wedge shoes that made loud clickedy clack sounds as she walked the halls of Kenmoor Junior High. Her hair was long and black, usually styled in a ponytail, bun, or chignon. Sometimes she wore her hair out. That’s when we knew that she was more of a person than a teacher. She seemed more relaxed and calm with her hair cascading over her shoulders.

Most of the time, Senora Romano was a passionate fireball with a sense of humor balanced by a firm grasp of discipline over her class. I tend to think she could have given the good Sisters of Charity a run for their money because she wasn’t afraid to speak complete Spanish in a screeching tone as she disciplined teenagers eager to test her patience.  She made us choose Spanish names for her class. I chose Magdalena. Much later in life, I learned it was my favorite Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s first name. One of the things I loved about Senora Romano’s class was the way she would incorporate aspects of Spanish culture into our learning experiences. On special occasions, she would serve us Spanish food. That’s where I got my first taste of arroz con pollo. She also insisted we speak Spanish every chance we got. She pushed us to pronounce the words as she pronounced them. That was hard to do because she rolled her “r” with the passion of Celia Cruz. The first year I tried so hard to imitate her. My imitation got me nowhere. So the second year I stopped trying to be Senora Romano and became myself. In the middle of that year, my ability to roll my “r” improved and sounded more authentic. With that underneath my belt, I worked even harder to improve my vocabulary in preparation for my family’s first trip to Puerto Rico during summer vacation.

Puerto Rico's Flag

Puerto Rico’s Flag

Life in our house was everything but American normal. When my parents went to Jamaica in 1971 to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary, my brothers and I thought it was really cool. Most of our neighbors wouldn’t dare stick their toes on the ground Bob Marley considered holy, but nothing stopped my afro-sporting and dashiki-wearing parents. The same held true in 1978 when we all traveled to Puerto Rico. Now that was a trip! I was 13 and headed to Elizabeth Seton, an all-girls Catholic high school. Our travels included time spent in Old San Juan, New San Juan, Ponce, the rain forest, and Carolina. I was amazed by the faces that looked like ours.  They were speaking Spanish and I could speak back to them.

Mi isla amiga. My island friend was filled with people dancing and singing in colorful clothing. Getting to see them live and move through their daily lives as we rode the bus for ten cents into Old San Juan was a treat. Their energy as a people was upbeat, fast, and full of joy. Contagious, even. In the middle of most days our time playing on sandy beaches that bordered aquamarine clear water was interrupted by afternoon rain showers that lasted about five minutes, if that long. Afterwards, a Caribbean rainbow appeared in the sky and ushered us back into the clear water where I stood staring at my bronze glistening toes.

Arroz con pollo covered our dinner tables on several evenings. Flan was always offered as a dessert. It wasn’t one of my favorites, but I learned to enjoy it. Highlights from my dining experiences included eating pulpo because I didn’t know it was octopus in English and enjoying calamari thinking it was shrimp only to find out it was squid. Puerto Rico. Mi isla amiga. My island friend.  Ella fue magica para mi. She was magical for me.

The second time we went to Puerto Rico was in 1982. That trip was probably the one that cemented my love and passion for la cultura Latina. I had just graduated from Seton and was on my way to becoming a freshmen at Morgan in Baltimore. Four years of elementary and advanced Spanish classes were underneath my belt.  At the time, I was all about my poetry … still am. I was busy trying my best to imitate the creative expression of Ntozake Shange by blending Spanish words and phrases into my poems.

We visited most of the same places that we did in 1978. This time, I was able to take my own photos and write about what I saw. Ponce was this fishing town that had bright red buildings. Carolina was a soft, warm comfortable place. I could probably live there today. The rain forest was God’s country. New San Juan was commercialized. Old San Juan was made for tourists. We took full advantage of it all. My parents trusted us to sightsee without them. So my brother Mark and I caught the city bus into Old San Juan with the sole intent of touring the Bacardi Factory. We got toasted on free rum and coke samples. The summer’s heat made us giddy with laughter as a lifetime memory was made.

The beaches were prettiest in the evening when the sun set. I remember taking a picture in one of these sundresses my mother purchased from Montgomery Ward. My Patrice Rushen cornrolled braids decorated my head as my hands sat on what I thought were my womanly hips. I was smiling like I had come home. When I look at the photo today, I know I was home.  My smile became a keepsake reminder of the passion I forgot I had about my adopted Spanish culture in the Americas and Caribbean.




Ananda at Casa de Africa Museum in Habana Vieja, Cuba in 2004

Ananda at Casa de Africa Museum in Habana Vieja, Cuba in 2004

When I see the seventeen-year-old girl smiling on the shores of San Juan, I know she was the one responsible for me learning about Santeria and Afro Latino life. That girl had me creating art in honor of los santos and the orisha. When I write my novels and poetry, I always end up including an Afro Latino character and Spanish language. My teenage spirit has guided me to read Latina magazine and books by Afro Latina writers like Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, founder of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, adjunct professor at New York University, and cultural advocate. This wonderful spirit has also pushed me to learn and dance salsa to the music of Celia Cruz, Eddie Palmieri, Tito Puente, Omar Sosa, Chucho Valdez, Susana Baca, Peru Negro, The Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Buena Vista Social Club, and so many others. She has encouraged me to visit the Mexican Cultural Institute in D.C. and the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago to learn about Afro-Mexicans and Mexican artists. She reminds me to go on art dates to the Art Museum of the Americas in D.C. to check out artwork created by Latin American and Caribbean artists. Whenever I travel to New York City, she makes sure I visit El Museo del Barrio and the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute. With her joyful spirit, I was able to travel to Cuba and baptize myself in the country’s rich history, culture, art, and African religion in 2004. Most of all, she reminds me how important it is to continue lighting my spark of divinity through the passion I have for my adopted culture.

Meet Digital Sisterhood Leader Melissa Bugaj

Photo Credit: Melissa Bugaj

Photo Credit: Melissa Bugaj


Photo Credit: NightLightStories.net

Photo Credit: NightLightStories.net


Meet Digital Sisterhood Leader Melissa Bugaj, co-founder of NightLifeStories.net and According to Mags blog.

Fun Facts: Digital Sisterhood Network founder Ananda Leeke met Melissa during the Podcasting 101 session at the BlogHer 2012 Conference in New York City. After the session, they chatted about Melissa’s podcast series. Ananda became an instant fan!


Digital Sisterhood Leadership Project (#DSLead) Interview

1) How can people find you online?

2) Why did you start using social media?

I began using social media in 2008 when we started our podcast, Night Light Stories. I started a Facebook page and then followed with a Twitter page.

3) What has social media allowed you to do in your life (personal, professional, business, nonprofit, community)?

Social media has allowed me to connect with other people who share the same interests. It also has given me opportunities to learn more about podcasting and blogging. I’ve been able to utilize social media to view professionals in this area and learn from their expertise.

4) In her 2011 Digital Women: from geeks to mainstream presentation that was given at the WIFT International Women Conference for Digital Women, Dr. Taly Weiss, a social psychologist and CEO/Founder of Trendspotting, concluded that “women are dominant digital users – they breathe and live digital.”  Dr. Weiss’ conclusion echoes BlogHer’s 2011 Social Media Matters Study findings.  They include 87 million women (18 to 76 years old) are now online, 69 million women use social media weekly, 80 million women use social media monthly, and 55 million women read blogs monthly. These facts illustrate the power and presence women have in the digital space. Now that’s Digital Sisterhood!

How has social media helped you carve out leadership roles as you interact online and offline?

Since we have been producing the podcast for five years, we have helped others who are launching podcasts or thinking of starting one. We gave them tips on what we have learned through the years.  An example would be when we asked to interview the “Mommy Podcast” founders. We compared stories and shared our recording skills which helped to improve our podcasts. Everyone had something to share.

5) Social media has helped women become Digital Sisterhood Leaders, ambassadors of social expression who share what they are passionate about online.  In her upcoming book, Digital Sisterhood: A Memoir of Fierce Living Online (2013), Ananda Leeke, founder of the Digital Sisterhood Network, writes, “Without even knowing it, women have become Digital Sisterhood Leaders as they use their social media platforms to advocate causes; to build communities; to create apps, art, books, businesses, products, publications, services, tools, and webisodes; to curate content; to educate and inform; to give voice to their thoughts as subject matter experts, thought leaders, and brand ambassadors; to share information and experiences; to explore and experiment with new technologies as early adopters and trendsetters; to engage in social good; to influence others with their lifestyles and personal interests; to inspire and motivate; to mentor; to network; to tell their personal stories; and to promote and celebrate the expertise, gifts, and talents of others.  Based on my online and offline interactions, I have identified 12 key leadership roles they play: advocate, community builder, creator, curator, educator, influencer, mentor, motivator, promoter, social do gooder, storyteller, and thought leader.”

What other types of leadership roles do women play in social media?

Women are also trailblazers in social media. There are always new types of media or subjects to address. Women usually take a more sensitive subject and bring it into light with a little bit of sensitivity.

6) What types of leadership roles do you play in social media?

I am a storyteller, an educator, a creator, and an advocate for family time and providing positive learning to children.  We have built a community of listeners. I mentor my friends who are just starting out in the social media world. I promote myself and others who I find influential. You should always share other resources that are positive and useful. I think that by working together and supporting each other, that can help to build a strong sense of community.

7) What lessons have you learned as a leader in the digital space?

I have learned that you are nothing without the support of others around you. Everyone out there has something to offer. You never know how you can help someone each day. Wen you do help someone, it makes you feel like you are contributing. You can’t do it all on your own and finding people who can share ideas is invaluable.

8) Do you have plans to expand your leadership roles in the digital space? If so, what are they?

I would really like to be able to expand my leadership roles in the digital space. One thing I would like to do is apply to speak at conferences about podcasting or writing. I feel that after five years of experience of producing this podcast with my husband, we have some useful information and tips to share.

9) Who are your favorite social media women leaders and why?

One of my favorite social media women leaders is Mur Lafferty, host of “I Should Be Writing” and the editor of Escape Pod (science fiction podcast). Mur is a writer who interviews other authors on her podcast in order to learn from them and share valuable writing and publishing tips with her listeners.

I also admire MommyCast founders Gretchen and Paige. They were one of the first groups of “mommy podcasters.” They interview the latest movies, products, and ideas for raising kids.

10) Share three ways women can use social media to define and express their personal leadership brand.

In the 21st century, women are providing a multi-model experience. This is a way to draw in a maximum amount listeners and readers. It will help make others to feel comfortable in communicating with you as a host if you are seen in writing, video, and audio.

Ananda Leeke’s Talk on Social Media Leadership Coming to BlogHer 2013 in July!

Photo Credit: BlogHer.com

Photo Credit: BlogHer.com

Happy Digital Sisterhood Wednesday!

I am really excited to share that I will be giving a talk on social media leadership at the BlogHer conference on July 26. What Type of Social Media Leader Are You? is the title  of my presentation. The presentation will give me an opportunity to share my thoughts on social media women’s leadership and to introduce the Digital Sisterhood Leadership Project to a larger audience. I am so grateful to the BlogHer team for giving me a platform to share my leadership thoughts and work.

The BlogHer 13′ conference will mark my fifth year of participation. BLOGHER-WOW! It’s gonna rock! So get ready Chicago!

Remember to tweet your digital sisters a hello message today in celebration of #DigitalSisterhood Wednesday on Twitter!

Enjoy your day!


BlogHer Podcasting 101 Digital Treats – 9 Benefits to Podcasting

Podcasting Mic

Happy August and Happy Digital Sisterhood Wednesday!

It’s almost time for the BlogHer Conference and the Podcasting 101 Panel that Digital Sisterhood Network founder Ananda Leeke will be moderating on August 3 from 1:15 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Check out the digital treat below that offers nine benefits of podcasting that Ananda learned over the past five years.  Also, be sure to take a look at the Podcasting 101 Digital Treats below. Enjoy!

Podcasting 101 Digital Treats:

Nine Benefits of Podcasting (an excerpt from Digital Sisterhood: Fierce Living Online for 25 Years by Ananda Leeke):

1) Podcasting allows you to express your thoughts and opinions as original content with leading edge technology that many people are not using. It helps you stand out among the crowd!

2) Podcasting strengthens and highlights your expertise as a thought leader.

3) Podcasting helps you develop and demonstrate your skills as a speaker, moderator, panelist, workshop facilitator, and seminar leader for events.

4) Podcasting helps you to create a personal connection with listeners by delivering original content in a portable and convenient manner.  Because podcasts are like magazines, people can subscribe to them. They can download them to their computers, mobile devices, and mp3 players. Also, people can choose to listen to podcast episodes whenever they want to.

5) Podcasting is an easy and cost-effective way for you to market your skills, services, and products. Most podcast platforms free or inexpensive to use (BlogTalkRadio, Cinch.fm, and Talkshoe.com are free for basic services).

6) Podcasting helps you cross promote and market your web site, blog, social media sites, products, services, and events.

7) Podcasting helps you highlight the work, accomplishments, services, and products of others. Your efforts can create social capital that leads to loyal fans, brand advocates, collaborative partners, colleagues, and sponsors who will support your efforts.

8) Podcasting expands your audience for your web site, blog, and social media sites.

9) Podcasting helps you build and nurture relationships and networks with listeners who represent potential or existing clients, customers, collaborative partners, donors who contribute to your crowdfunding projects and social good efforts, and sponsors.

Digital Sisterhood Network Headed to BlogHer Conference

Happy August! Happy Digital Sisterhood Wednesday!

Photo Credit: BlogHer

Digital  Sisterhood Network founder Ananda Leeke is 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. Her 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:

PS:  Ananda will be live tweeting throughout the conference. Follow her on Twitter @digitalsisterhd and on Cinch.fm for audio blog updates and interviews with conference participants. She will post a series of blog recaps during the week of August 6 (photos, audio blogs and videos).

Digital Sisterhood Radio Tips for Launching A Podcast or Internet Radio Show

NOTE: This blog post is an excerpt from Digital Sisterhood: Fierce Living Online for 25 Years by Ananda Leeke (2012) 

Photo Credit: Ananda Leeke

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.

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.

Photo Credit: Leigh Mosley http://www.leighmosley.com

Podcasting entered Digital Sisterhood Network founder Ananda Leeke’s life as a content marketing strategy for her first novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One in 2007. When Leeke held her first online book party for Love’s Troubadours on Myspace, she used her radio experience as a volunteer calendar reader for WPFW 89.3 FM to develop a podcast series with Gcast, a free mobile software application. Her podcasts featured excerpts from her novel, reflections about her writing process, and event notices about book readings and author talks. The more she recorded and posted podcasts with her cellphone to her author blog and member pages on various Ning.com social networking sites, the more connected and engaged she became with her audience. Through her active participation in Black Author Showcase social networking site, she learned about Talkshoe.com and BlogTalkRadio, web-based radio platforms, and was inspired to create two Talkshoe shows, BAP Living Radio and Go Green Sangha Radio, in 2008. That same year, she decided to strengthen her podcasting skills by attending Podcasting 101, a workshop taught by Fanshen Cox and Heidi Durrow, the founders of Mixed Chicks Chat, at the Blogging While Brown Conference. The workshop exposed Leeke to Utterli, a mobile micro-blogging tool that she began using to post weekly audio blogs about her creative adventures as an artist and an author. She also used Utterli to live blog and conduct interviews at events, meetups, and conferences. In 2009, she began using BlogTalkRadio and Cinchcast, a micro-blogging tool, to host author chats and to promote her book, That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery. She also launched Digital Sisterhood Radio to document the accomplishments of women in social media and to discuss feminism online. To date, Cinchcast has become her favorite podcasting tool to use with her smartphone as she live blogs and conducts interviews at conferences, events, and meetups. Visit Ananda Leeke Cinchcast – http://cinch.fm/anandaleeke and Digital Sisterhood Radio – http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/42015 (series will return in late 2012).

Are you ready to launch a podcast or Internet radio show? If yes, check out Leeke’s 14 tips for launching a podcast or Internet radio show below.

14 Tips for Launching a Podcast or Internet Radio Show

1) Listen to several podcasts and Internet radio shows to get an idea of how they are organized and hosted.

2) Take time to answer the why, what, how, who, and when podcasting questions.

  • Why do you want to launch a podcast?
  • What themes will your podcast focus on (general themes, episode themes, and guests)?
  • How will you host your podcast (podcasting platforms such as BlogTalkRadio, Cinch.fm, and Talkshoe.com)?
  • Who is your audience (gender, age, ethnicity, geographical location, lifestyle choices, profession etc.)?
  • When will you launch your podcast and how often will it air (5 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or 1 hour on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.)?

3) Create a name for your podcast that supports your brand (blog, web site, social media sites, book, products, and services).

4) Select a podcasting platform (i.e. BlogTalkRadio, Cinch.fm, and Talkshoe.com) that accommodates your schedule, finances, and technical skills.

5) Decide if your podcast will include audience participation with questions from a chat room, phone, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

6) Determine if you need a digital producer or assistant to help you manage the podcast (introduction, questions in chat room and from guests, live tweeting etc.). Select individuals who are reliable and are able to commit to your schedule.

7) Develop an episode schedule with themes, guests, and back up guests. Make sure your themes allow you to provide original content or present content in an original way.

8) Spend time making your podcasting site look visually stimulating with your logo or photo and a clear and concise description of the program’s themes, episodes, and guests.

9) Contact guests well in advance to schedule interviews. Use face-to-face meetings at events, a phone call, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, other social media sites, or email to make the initial contact. Follow up with an email that includes a brief introduction about your show (if they don’t know about it), detailed instructions on how to access the podcast, interview questions, additional information about other guests, your contact information, and a request for the guest’s contact information (web site, social media sites, and phone number). You may also want to ask the guest for a short bio (200 words or less) and a photo for promotion of the show in a blog post.

10) Promote your podcast on your web site, blog, video blog, and social media sites, and wherever your audience hangs out online. Schedule your notices in advance (post a full schedule in advance and monthly or weekly reminders).

11) Practice using your podcasting platform several times before your first show. Set up mock interviews with others to practice your interview and hosting skills. Record the shows and listen to them to learn how you can improve your skills. Ask others to listen to the recordings and provide feedback.

12) Know that your podcast will evolve over time. So be patient with yourself as you learn and grow.

13) Be yourself!

14) Have FUN!


PS: Guess what? Leeke will be moderating a Podcasting 101 Panel at BlogHer on August 3 from 1:15 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Hilton New York in New York City. Her 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.

Check out the Podcasting 101 Pinterest Board for resources.