By: Diane Stirling
(315) 443-8975

A School of Information Studies (iSchool) graduate who applies her iSchool background to help African women and girls empower themselves through technology is presenting on “Africa, Tech & Women – The New Faces of Development” at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Conference in Austin, TX, on Monday, March 12.

Elizabeth “Liz” Ngonzi (IST, B.S.,’92) described the panel as offering “a rare glimpse into the multitude of ways African women are applying technology to advance Africa’s development.” The presentation aims to dispel myths about African women as “needy,” and will illustrate how they are working to effect change through digital technology, social media, mobile advertising, and internet connectivity, she said. Panelists will discuss how increased access to information is altering the role of women in African society, will cite contributions of African women in the technology field, and will provide insights into how, using the latest technologies, a variety of advocates raise awareness about, mobilize campaigns against and address human rights violations.

The panel can be followed on Twitter at the hashtag: #SXFaces.  It runs at 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. EST and from 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Austin (Central) time.

Born in Uganda and schooled at the United Nations, Liz Ngonzi entered Syracuse University as a Fine Arts major, but was not invigorated by the coursework. When she learned about an SU program called “Focus on Science,” she switched to the iSchool as an IST major.  At the time (about 1990) Liz said she was “completely computer illiterate, but I loved [the program].” After graduation, she enrolled in Cornell University for a master’s degree in hospitality management. There, with her iSchool background, she was known to classmates as “the techie” of the bunch.  Since that time, Liz “learned how to leverage technology to effect change,” and while her career path has taken many turns, “it has always gone back to what I learned at the iSchool. Now, it’s exciting how it is all coming together in a way that helps others.”  Applying technologies is central to Liz’s everyday being today, both as a technology instructor in her job and as an advocate for the causes she undertakes as a volunteer.

Liz has been a faculty member at New York University’s Heyman Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising since 2009. She also is a recognized authority on women/minorities in entrepreneurship and leadership, and how technological innovations advance causes and empower disenfranchised people. She also founded and runs Amazing Taste, LLC, a values-led boutique consulting firm that connects nonprofit organizations with corporations, foundations and philanthropists to jointly achieve their strategic objectives.  The firm has advised domestic and international educational institutions, gender rights organizations, healthcare foundations, political campaigns and youth development organizations.  Liz works frequently with NGOs to advance the status of African women and girls and to improve their communities. Her present focus, she said, is advising NGOs on how to enhance their efforts by creating jobs on the ground for people in the regions that the organizations are working to assist.

Additionally, Liz serves as a 2011-2012 Entrepreneur in Residence at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, and is a member of the President’s Council of Cornell Women. A frequent speaker at industry and academic conferences in the U.S. and Africa, she spent 10 years in corporate marketing, sales and business consulting management, working at Digital Equipment Corporation, MICROS Systems, Inc., and Arthur Andersen. 

Joining Liz on the SXSW panel are: Deborah Ensor, VP, Africa, Health and Humanitarian Media Programs, Internews; Ebele Okobi, Director, Yahoo!’s Business and Human Rights Program; Isis Nyong’o, VP and MD, Africa for InMobi (the world’s largest independent mobile advertising network); and TMS “Teddy” Ruge, co-founder, Project Diaspora, currently the lead social media strategist for the Connect4Climate (climate change platform) at the World Bank. 

She blogs about the issue at, and can be followed on Twitter at @LizNgonzi.