From activist to business woman to lawyer and blogger, Ory Okolloh continues to impact the day to day lives of thousands of her fellow Kenyans. Born in Kenya, Ory had a fairly rough childhood, growing up in a reasonably poor family supporting her through a private primary school they could barely afford. While they believed in her ambition and education, this early move set the stage for her career. After getting her undergraduate degree from the University of Pittsburgh in Political Science, Ory then continued her education at Harvard Law School in 2005.
Ory was eager to join the business world after her graduation as a legal consultant for NGOs with positions held at Covington and Burlington, World Bank and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, she has quite the breadth of experience you would expect from a talented and seasoned lawyer.
The Time 100 listed Ory Okolloh as one of the most influential lawyers in the world when they announced their top practitioners in 2014, citing Okolloh had returned to Africa, “to build a more accountable, transparent world for millions.”
Law wasn’t the only thing that Okolloh was passionate about, and she has continued to leverage her knowledge of technology and politics to elevate Kenyan awareness and access to information. As the co-founder of both Ushahidi and Mzalendo, Ory continues to provide key information to those who have the power to impact and facilitate change.
Mzalendo, for example, is a website that keeps track of parliament activities and monitors every bill, speech and MP who passes through Kenya’s parliament providing a transparency and accountability in government never before seen.
Law and politics are not the only notch on this powerful leader’s belt, and working with high profile companies such as Google, she continues to make meaningful changes to her home country of Kenya.
During a time when Google was focusing on “striving to make the internet part of everyday life in Sub-Saharan Africa”, the search engine’s executives appointed Okolloh as the Manager of Policy for Africa making a bold statement on their intent and commitment to the progress of internet services throughout the world.
In early 2003, Okolloh took to cyberspace to create a personal platform for which she could express her thoughts and opinions on topics, issues, and challenges that people face not only across Kenya, but the continent as a whole. By using her blog on www.kenyapundit.com, she encourages people to get involved and pursue the changes they desire. Crediting John Palfrey and Andrew McLaughlin for her introduction into the blogging world, both men were said to be supportive and encouraging in her use of technology while strengthening the democratic movement. Ory has always stood by the belief that talking about change in only one small part of the movement and getting out on the streets and acting on behalf of the change you seek is the key to becoming a catalyst for growth that people want to see and experience.
Ory Okolloh is a proud wife and mother of 3 beautiful children, she continues to support her family through love, passion, and integrity while she travels the world bringing new technology, awareness, and information to those in need.
Dubbed as the “digital queen of Africa”, Ory has already accomplished many amazing things in her life, from high profile business positions to progressive apps tracking political change to activism and awareness of Kenyan politics. But Ory Okolloh is still very young, ambitious, and ready to tackle even more change as she continues to greatly impact the world around her on a daily basis.