About me

emily-headshot-340I’m the co-founder and Executive Director of Digital Democracy, a US-based non-profit working at the intersection of technology & human rights to empower marginalized communities.

When I was a younger, I dreamed of working with animals. I even wrote a research paper in middle school on “How Technology Is Helping Us Communicate With Animals.” All that changed in 1996, when, at the age of 13, I traveled on a reporting trip to Cuba on a journalist visa. I interviewed peers in crumbling Havana colonials, talked to young Pioneers about their frustrations with US foreign policy, and watched the Atlanta Olympics in a conference hall with Fidel.

The lessons I learned on that trip made me deeply committed to breaking down stereotypes, cross-cultural communication, and the pursuit of social justice. Since that fateful trip, I’ve focused on media, youth development and social justice. I’ve been blessed to work with incredible people and organizations around the globe. In West Africa, I conducted research on Malian conceptions of poverty. In Southeast Asia, I’ve worked with former political prisoners, dissidents and refugees. In the Midwestern United States, I worked with my mom and her photography partner on  “En Los Campos,” a multi-media exhibit highlighting the lives of teenage migrant farm workers.

Before launching Digital Democracy, I worked for Internews Network on their Africa programs, at AllAfrica.com on their French pages and at Y-Press as Assistant Bureau Director. Since January 2007 I’ve focused on understanding the ways that technology and social media impact civic engagement and empower marginalized voices.

I’ve lived all over the world, and now make my home in Oakland, California. In addition to Digital Democracy’s work I enjoy spending time outside, dancing, running, getting to explore new places, and spending time with close friends and my goddaughters.


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  3. Emily, I am Dr. Gordon Mendenhall. I just finished a conversation with Elizabeth Granger with whom I taught at LC for many years. I am retired from teaching and work on projects in developing countries with emphasis on putting glasses on kids and adults. I have worked extensively in Kibera, the large slum in Nairobi, various other Kenyan places, Malawi, DR Congo, Uganda and Haiti. I am on FB and linkedin. I would like to connect with you. I have a photojournalist friend, Florence Obono, who is an intern at CNN who does “Voices of AFrica”. She grew up in an orphanage in Nairobi and has quite a story ( no pun intended) Lots to share. Gordon

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