Written by Megan Blevins Tuesday, February 19 2013
Snapshot: Danielle Moodie-Mills, Social Entrepreneur
From 9-5 Danielle Moodie-Mills is the director of education advocacy at the National Wildlife Federation, the nation’s largest conservation organization. She spends her days on Capitol Hill, advocating for public policy for students around the country to have equal access to the environment as an education tool.
But for Moodie-Mills, being a lobbyist doesn’t stop when the clock hits 5 p.m. Beyond the marble walls of Capitol Hill, she is a social entrepreneur who is taking Washington, D.C. by storm.
Below Moodie-Mills shares how she has built a business around her talents and why she has dedicated her life to creating sustainable and equitable communities by “living, loving and laboring out loud.”
Womenetics: You are known for personally and professionally “living, loving and laboring out loud.” What does that mean?
Danielle Moodie-Mills: “Living, loving and laboring out loud” (ThreeLOL) is my personal purpose. If I am not doing something that is aligned with my purpose of ‘living, loving and laboring out loud’ then I feel lost. ThreeLOL is also the website that I started with my wife, Aisha, in January 2010 as an outlet for us to discuss politics, pop culture and our respected individual passions.
Womenetics: Did you always want to be a lobbyist?
Moodie-Mills: No. It wasn’t till high school that I wanted to be a lobbyist. The funny thing is I had no idea what a lobbyist was or what they really did. I just knew that a lobbyist was about advocating and could influence politics and the way society moves. I’ve always wanted to change people’s lives for the better and felt like I was a person who could do so.
Womenetics: When did you start thinking of yourself as an entrepreneur?
Moodie-Mills: I actually never set out to build my own brand and business, so being called a social entrepreneur is a very new realization. About five years ago, I started seeing gaps in the social conversations in our community, and I realized that I could fill them – as a writer, spokesperson, mentor – and I started looking at myself as a business. I am selling myself – I am the product – and it has morphed into something bigger than I could have ever imagined.
Womenetics: You are also known for mentoring young women in the community – what are your top three pieces of advice for young women in the business world?
|Define yourself for YOU. If you don’t define who you are, own your own voice and stand in your truth, then people will have no problem putting you into a box. It is important when building your brand that you are very clear in who you are: I am a woman, African-American and openly gay. And as a woman a lot of times we second guess ourselves – don’t. Don’t just show up, but show out and use your voice.|
Be open to education. It is important to be open to education and not just in the traditional sense. Education comes in all modes and people and avenues. You must constantly be honing yourself, your brand and be open to growth. You should never come to a point in your life where you think you know everything.
Be comfortable as a leader. I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t always this way. A lot of times when women speak, we speak in a tone that allows for question. You must be comfortable in recognizing yourself as a leader because when you do, others will too.
Womenetics: How did it feel to be named one of The Root’s 2012 Top 100 Most Influential African-Americans?
Moodie-Mills: I was so elated. For years, I had asked myself what people did to get on lists like this, and when I got the phone call from The Root, I had this moment where I realized my life wasn’t just happening, but that I was making it happen. Years before, many jobs and promotions seemed to almost be an accident, like, “Oh, maybe they meant to call a different Danielle,” but when I heard from The Root, I realized that I was doing something great, and it wasn’t an accident – someone was seeing me.
Womenetics: Congratulations on the start of your new radio show, Politini, on Blis.FM radio. Where did the idea come from?
Moodie-Mills: This has been an idea in the works for well over a year. I had been writing a weekly piece on ThreeLOL called the Poliwood Round-Up, which lists the top five things trending from Hollywood to Poliwood (Washington, D.C.), and I was approached by Blis.FM on turning it into a weekly radio show. It has been an amazing first few weeks. I am taking the conversations that my wife and I have on the couch to our community.Politini presents our listeners with digestible information so that they can participate in the important conversations of our time. Because it isn’t that people don’t care, it’s that politics become too wonky and lose most Americans.
Womenetics: Let’s talk about the Fighting Injustice to Reach Equality (FIRE) initiative that you co-founded with your wife. Why is this so important to you?
Moodie-Mills: I have always advocated for equality – like equal pay for women, equal access to education or couples having equal access to marriage, regardless of their sexuality. My wife and I launched FIRE in 2012 at the Center for American Progress because we realized that there was no one working on eliminating the social, health and economic disparities faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender of color in our community. It is very important to advocate for those who are at the intersection of gender and diversity, but even more, this time I wasn’t just advocating for other people – I was also advocating for myself. When my I got engaged to my now wife in 2009, we couldn’t get married in Washington, D.C., and we set out to change this. Through FIRE, we continue to fight for the things that will build a more equal and just society – for all.
Womenetics: What’s next for you?
Moodie-Mills: Television is next. My own television show is what I have always wanted. I ask myself “How can I best be of service and reach more people?” I believe television is the answer. I want people to know that they’re heard and that someone gets them. For those who can’t speak for themselves, I want them to know that they will always have someone who will speak on their behalf.