Interview with Leana Mayzlina, NTEN’s Digital Inclusion Campaign Manager

Leana Mayzlina is NTEN’s newest team member. As the Digital Inclusion Campaign Manager, Leana will be organizing and supporting a network of individuals and organizations across the US and beyond, focused on developing or expanding digital inclusion programs. Learn about Leana’s inspiration for working in digital inclusion and more!

1. Describe yourself in three words.
Compassionate, persistent, and an idealist.

2. How did you first become involved with the NTEN Community?
I first found out about NTEN through PDXTech4Good (one of NTEN’s 501 Tech Clubs). While researching the field of digital inclusion for a campaign I was running at World Pulse, I realized that the best place to start learning about the sector was in my own backyard (Portland). It was not long before my interest grew into a serious commitment, and I understood that the NTEN Community was THE place to go to share information, learn about best practices, and connect with experts.

3. What are some of the lessons you learned as the former Digital Action Campaign Manager at World Pulse?
The most important lesson that I learned is that, while having a plan is great, knowing how to be flexible and adaptable is even more important. Campaigns are ever-evolving and changing beings, so realizing the potential for innovation is critical (as is patience!).  I also learned, or confirmed, the idea that human relationships are key to building a strong community. And no campaign can be successful without a flourishing, united, and passionate community, driven to make positive change.

4. What are some tips for addressing digital inclusion at a nonprofit organization?
Listen. It’s a one-word answer, but it’s the best tip I can give. Before making plans or implementing, listen to what your community needs, what it wants, and what it sees as its strengths and weaknesses.

5. What are you most excited about as you transition into your new role on staff?
I’m excited about working more closely with the NTEN Community in the broadest sense of the word— from the staff, to the CoPs to a diversity of organizations. It seems like everyone working on this issue is so passionate and committed, and I can’t wait to soak it all in.

6. Tell us one thing about yourself that might surprise people.
My first language is Russian, and the easiest language for me to actually work in is Spanish. And if you happen to catch me when I’m sleepy or tired, I might respond to you in non-sensical combination of multiple languages.

7. Which are your favorite non-humans to follow on Instagram?
Oh, I love bunnymama, mila_therescue and, of course, lulu_staffy!

8. Why do you care about digital inclusion?
I think there has long been a myth that the Internet is a great democratizer and equalizer. And while it has the potential to be truly transformative, it can also exacerbate existing disparities. When we talk about digital inclusion, we acknowledge the fact that including marginalized communities has to be a conscious effort. I’m excited to work on a project that will give more visibility to this issue and provide tools for communities to truly harness the power of technology.

9. What was your favorite children’s book when you were young?
“Незнайка,” or in English, “Dunno.” It was a Soviet trilogy about a group of child-sized people living in the idyllic Flower City, where they grow lots of fruit and vegetables. The characters were adorable, with names like Dunno, Know-it-all, Chamomile, and Little Bolt, and the stories were sweet — all about utopian ideals like camaraderie, solidarity, and honesty.

10. Dogs or cats? No, just kidding. Star Wars or Star Trek?
Dogs! And guinea pigs. The second question is harder; to be honest, I’ve never been able to make it through either. (Maybe I should’ve pled the Fifth; I might get some hate mail for that response!).

Her email address is Feel free and encouraged to drop her a note of welcome!

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