Speaker Spotlight: Pathfinders Gina McCauley, Katherine Stone & Debbie Bookstaber

BlogHer Original Post

This year, BlogHer's annual conference will be preceded by Pathfinder Day, a day-long intensive intended to provide inspiration, ideas, even answers for bloggers who've reached a crossroads and asked themselves: Where do I go from here?

BlogHer '11 Pathfinder Day logo

A dozen experienced bloggers will break down the process by which they've used their work online to take themselves (and/or their readers) down various paths. They have used their work online to change themselves, to affect social change, to launch (or become) a business, a media company, or a book. They'll spend the morning in "fundamentals workshops," explaining just what practices and structures make a blog a business, say, or a change agent.  The afternoon is dedicated to conversation: eliciting your stories from you, helping you plot the next steps in your or your blog's journey.

Brand strategist Sandra Miley will set the context over breakfast, demystifying and delineating what it means to clarify your personal "brand": understanding yourself, what you want, and how to communicate to the right people at the right time to get the right things. Over lunch, author and self-esteem expert Jess Weiner will help make it personal: where do you find the confidence to take the next step? 

There are any number of  evolutionary paths for your blogging work. For many, the task ahead is to take the social change work of the blog to the proverbial "next level." In the My Blog as Change Agent Pathfinder track, Gina McCauley and Katherine Stone, joined in the morning by moderator Debbie Bookstaber, will break down such matters as:

  • How, when and why to set up a non-profit, including setting up a board
  • Exploring online fundraising tools
  • Key milestones/flags in the process of evolution from high-profile individual to "poster child" for the issue
  • Identifying what elements it takes to be successful at this work; what contributes to efficacy, longevity
  • Working with traditional organizations that predate one's online work
  • Leveraging online audience for offline results, whether in political, organizational, or social realms

Gina McCauley's digital footprint is both large and consequential: She founded Blogging While Brown, the first international conference for bloggers of color (it just wrapped its fourth annual gathering a little over a week ago), was named one of Essence magazine's 25 Most Influential African Americans for her work as founder/publisher of What About Our Daughters, and continues her work on Michelle Obama Watch. Her blog readers have successfully lobbied large advertisers to pull their ads from content that demeans and degrades black women and girls, and her blogs have provided platforms from which she has highlighted under-reported cases of violence against black women. Her vision and efficacy has rightly earned her the descriptor "the dean of black bloggers."

Katherine Stone's work online has had equally wide reach: Her award-winning Postpartum Progress is the most widely-read blog on postpartum depression and other mental illnesses related to pregnancy and childbirth. Katherine is also the founder of Postpartum Progress, Inc., a non-profit focused on improving the health and well-being of women, children and families by improving access to and quality of services and support for women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders like postpartum depression. She has taken her voice to congressional hearings, to the Today Show, and all over the web.

Debbie Bookstaber is founder and executive director of Bloganthropy, a nonprofit organization that helps combine the power of social media with the resources of corporate giving, connecting companies and bloggers for social good. To this work, Debbie brings extensive experience in online and affiliate marketing, and models the philanthropic leadership celebrated by Bloganthropy: The revenues from her product review site Mamanista.com -– both from affiliate marketing and CPM advertising -– go to charity.

These are incredible women with whom to spend the day envisioning your online (and offline) work. Spaces still remain for Pathfinder Day: My Blog as Change Agent, Thursday, August 4, 2011, at the San Diego Marriott and Convention Center. Register here.