Ory Okolloh is a Kenyan activist, lawyer, and blogger. In 2006 she co-founded the parliamentary watchdog site Mzalendo (Swahili: “Patriot”). The site sought to increase government accountability by systematically recording bills, speeches, MPs, standing orders, etc.

When Kenya was engulfed in violence following a disputed presidential election in 2007, Okolloh helped create Ushahidi (Swahili: “testimony”), a website that collected and recorded eyewitness reports of violence using text messages and Google Maps. The technology has since been adapted for other purposes (including monitoring elections and tracking pharmaceutical availability) and used in a number of other countries. Okolloh also has a personal blog, Kenyan Pundit, which was featured on Global Voices Online. She also works as a legal consultant for NGOs and has worked at Covington and Burling, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, and theWorld Bank in the past.

Okolloh was born into a relatively poor family. She has said that her parents sent her to a private elementary school that they could “barely afford,” which “set the foundation for what ended up being my career.” She earned an undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Pittsburgh and graduated from Harvard Law Schoolin 2005. Her father died of AIDS in 1999. Okolloh lives in JohannesburgSouth Africa, with her partner and two children.

She’s an inspiration to commitment and action.


The making of an activist: Ory Okolloh on TED.com.