Kathryn Finney

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Kathryn Finney
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
OccupationAuthor, entrepreneur, blogger
Years active2003–present
Known forFounder of The Budget Fashionista, digitalundivided
Websitewww.digitalundivided.comwww.thebudgetfashionista.com www.kathrynfinney.com

Kathryn A. Finney is an author,[1] tech entrepreneur,[2] and television correspondent.[3][4][5][6]

In 2013, Finney received a Champion of Change Award from the White House for her work in making tech more inclusive.[7][8] She was also named to the 2013 Ebony100 list of the most influential African Americans in the United States,[9] as one of the Top Ten Women in Money by AOL in 2010 along with Maria Shriver, Elizabeth Warren, and Suze Orman,[10] and an Essence Magazine Woman of Style. In 2015, Kathryn was honored by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer with the “Kathryn Finney Appreciation Day”.[11] Finney is a 2016 Eisenhower fellow, a fellowship given to exceptional young global leaders.[12]

In late 2012, Finney founded digitalundivided,[13] a social enterprise that develops programs that increase the active participation of urban communities, especially women, in the digital space. For three years, DID hosted the FOCUS100 Conference, considered to be the "most diverse tech conference" the first weekend of Oct in New York City.[14] She also spearheaded the FOCUS Fellows program, a tech inculator and fellowship program that provides diverse women founders with training and access to various startup resources, including support, mentorship, and seed funding.[15]

Finney's work in the area of tech entrepreneurship has been recognized by several press outlets including the Wall Street Journal, Pando Daily, and New York Times.,[16][17][18][19][20]

She is also known as one of the first lifestyle bloggers for her blog, The Budget Fashionista,[21] which was named by MSN as one of the 100 most useful sites on the web.[22]

Early life[edit]

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Finney was introduced to technology through her father, Robert Finney, who was introduced to technology via courses at the local OIC, and rose to become a Senior Systems Engineer at Microsoft and later EMC. He led the development of one of the first high school based computer based technology academies at St Louis Park High School in St Louis Park, MN.[23]

She graduated from Washburn High School in Minneapolis, MN, where she was her class president, member of National Honor Society, delegate to Girls State and Girls Nation, and received the Washburn High School Service Award.

Finney has an undergraduate degree from Rutgers University in Women's Studies and Politics, where she was a member of the Rutgers College Student Government, a James Dickson Carr Scholar, Rutgers College Honors Program, The USA Today All Academic team, and was voted by her graduating class to receive the class of 1998 Alumni Award for Outstanding Scholarship and Community Service. During her junior year, Finney was a Washington Center Washington Fellow and interned at the White House as well as with the late Senator Paul Wellstone.

She also earned a Master of Public Health degree from the Yale University, where she was a Courtland Van Creed Scholar. She received the Weinerman Fellowship for her work as an international epidemiologist in the South African region.

Prior to starting her media company, Finney worked for USAID and other non-profits in Ghana, West Africa and South Africa.


2003 - 2012: The Budget Fashionista years[edit]

Finney started her blog in April 2003 as a hobby, and started blogging full-time in June 2004. Her blog, The Budget Fashionista, which was one of the first fashion blogs,[24] is one of the top fashion blogs on the net.[25][26]

Finney is considered an icon and pioneer in the style blogging community,[27] having earned the monikers of "Master of Cheap Chic" [28] and "Scheherazade of the Sales Rack".[29] She is considered to be one of America's best bargain shoppers (Style Network, 2004) and has appeared on several national TV shows such as NBC's Today Show, Fox Network News, CNN, etc. She has also appeared in over 1000 articles including Essence, USA Today, The New York Times, LA Times [30] and Redbook, as a style expert on looking fabulous for less. She's also the former fashion editor of Real Magazine. Finney's popular Twitter feed has been listed by numerous publications including the New York Post, Clutch Magazine,[31] and The Grio.[32]

In May 2006, her first book was published entitled, How to be a Budget Fashionista: The Ultimate Guide to Looking Fabulous for Less by Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House. It became an Amazon bestselling book in the Art and Photography category and is now on its 11th printing.

From 2012-2014, Finney was the Editor-at-Large at BlogHer, a global media group representing over 40 million women.[33][34]

2012- present: digitalundivided (DID)[edit]

In late 2012, Finney utilized personal funds [35] and founded digitalundivided (DID), a social enterprise which finds, trains, and supports innovative leaders and entrepreneurs.[36] She also launched the FOCUS Fellows, a rigorous fellowship program for black women founders of developed, but early staged, technology-enabled companies. To date, more than 50% of the FOCUS fellows have raised Angel and venture funding, while 10% have raised at least $1MM. Many had gone on to work in leadership positions at leading start-up companies like Uber and Facebook.[37]

DID held its first FOCUS100 conference in October 2012 in New York City. It initially received support from venture firm Andreessen Horowitz, marketing agency Ogilvy, and other top firms. The following year, the event received support from Google, American Express, as well as Andreessen Horowitz and Ogilvy.[38] On its third year (2014), the event received support once more from American Express, as well as from Facebook, Mobile Future, and the Portland Development Commission. During the event closing, Finney announced 2014 as the last year of the FOCUS100 conference. She also announced the expansion of its FOCUS Fellows program to a residency “inculator” for black women-led startups.[39]

In March 2016, Finney revealed the launch of the BIG Innovation Center in Atlanta, GA.[40] Touted to be "the first-of-its-kind open innovation center dedicated to the future success of Black and Latina women tech founders",[41] it houses the BIG Incubator (BIG), an incubator program for tech-enabled startups led by Black and Latina women.[42] BIG is a winner of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2015-2016 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition.[43] It held its first Demo Day in January 2017, receiving support from Capital One, Surdna Foundation, and more.[44]

DID continues to bring its ensemble of programs like START and Innovation Thursday, to various cities in the U.S in partnership with various organizations and companies such as UNCF[45] and Etsy.[46]

Finney is also a General Partner at the Harriet Fund, the first venture fund to invest exclusively in women of color.[47]

Awards Received[edit]

Finney has received numerous recognition for her work in building tech eco-systems in urban communities, including the Champion of Change Award from the White House in 2013 [48] the “Kathryn Finney Appreciation Day” from Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer[49] in 2015, and the Social Impact ABIE Award from the Anita Borg Institute in 2016.[50] She has also received the New York Business Journal’s Women of Influence Award,[51] UPSTART 100 List of Top Innovators,[52] SXSW Black Innovator Award, The Grio 100,[53] Ebony Power 100 List of the Most Influential African Americans, Black Enterprise “40 under 40” list,[54] and induction into Spelman College’s “Game Changers Academy”.[55] In November 2018, she was featured among "America's Top 50 Women In Tech" by Forbes.[56]


Finney has been a keynote speaker at top conferences. She has keynoted at the White House,[57] as well as for Omidyar Network,[58] SXSW Interactive,[59] and more. She is currently associated with the American Program Bureau.[60]

Other Roles[edit]

Finney serves as an adviser to black women-led startups and organizations, including MentorMe, Inc and All-Star Code.[61] She is also a trustee of The Robert Finney Foundation,[62] a foundation she started with her mother and brother to honor her late father. The foundation provides scholarships to African-American students pursuing studies in the field of technology. Finney has also served on the boards of the Hudson Guild

In Modern Culture[edit]

Finney is credited with coining several major shopping and internet marketing terms, including "The Budget Fashionista" [63] (which she owns the trademark), the term "Love what you buy and buy what you love", meaning shoppers should focus on purchasing items that make them feel and look great and "blogroots", which is a term meaning to aggressively market a product, book, idea, through networking with blogs.[64]


  • Kathryn Finney (2006-05-30). How to Be a Budget Fashionista: The Ultimate Guide to Looking Fabulous for Less. Ballantine Books. ISBN 978-0-8129-7516-1.


  1. ^ Kathryn Finney Author Bookshelf - Random House - Books - Audiobooks - Ebooks Random House Author Page- Kathryn Finney
  2. ^ Minorities Entering Tech Wall Street Journal
  3. ^ Kathryn Finney on Dallas Fox TV Video Fox Dallas, June 2006
  4. ^ Kathryn Finney on Geraldo Rivera's Fox Show Video Fox News Network- Geraldo Rivera Show
  5. ^ Kathryn Finney/The Budget Fashionista CNN Clips Video CNN
  6. ^ Kathryn Finney on CNBC's On the Money Video CNBC, September, 2009
  7. ^ WhiteHouse.Gov WhiteHouse.gov
  8. ^ Black Enterprise: White House Recognizes Tech Leaders As ‘Champions of Change for Tech Inclusion’ Black Enterprise
  9. ^ Ebony Power100 2013: Emerging Leaders Ebony
  10. ^ The Top 10 Women in Money | The Top 10 Women in Money | Comcast.net AOL Top Ten Women in Money
  11. ^ [1] Manhattan Borough President's Black History Month Reception
  12. ^ [2] Kathryn Finney: Eisenhower Fellow 2016
  13. ^ digitalundivided digitalundivided
  14. ^ Silicon Forrest, Notes from the Most Diverse Tech Conference on the Planet Silicon Forrest
  15. ^ [3] Inside the Campaign to Disrupt Tech's Huge Diversity Problem.
  16. ^ Wall Street Journal, Kathryn Finney Wall Street Journal
  17. ^ digitalundivided OZY.com Integrating an Industry
  18. ^ Silicon Forrest, Notes from the Most Diverse Tech Conference on the Planet Silicon Forrest
  19. ^ Venture Beat, Black Female and Smart Venture Beat
  20. ^ Pando Daily, digitalundivided wants to Start a Dialogue About More Black People in Tech Pando Daily
  21. ^ Gothamist: Kathryn Finney, Blogger, Thebudgetfashionista.com, Author, How To Be a Budget Fashionista Archived 2007-06-03 at the Wayback Machine.
  22. ^ Liz Pulliam Weston: Best Web sites for saving money and time - MSN Money
  23. ^ Robert Finney, Computer Guru at St Louis Park High School Highbeam
  24. ^ "Shoppers flock to designer deals" Deseret News (Salt Lake City)
  25. ^ Chicago Sun-Times: jump local: Fashion's best blogs Archived July 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  26. ^ mode femme vetement fashion verbaudet at fashionnewssite.com Archived June 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  27. ^ Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Fabulousness: The Budget Fashionista 5th Anniversary « Clutch Magazine
  28. ^ Book Review: How To Be A Budget Fashionista
  29. ^ Express: A Publication of The Washington Post
  30. ^ http://www.look-look.com/look/abus.news.html?sectionName%3Donline%26id%3D1. Retrieved 2010-08-20. Missing or empty |title= (help) Archived copy at WebCite (January 24, 2006).
  31. ^ Tweeting Fashion: The Top 15 to Follow « Clutch Magazine
  32. ^ Fashion to follow: 15 top twitter feeds
  33. ^ [4] BlogHer Names Kathryn Finney, Editor at Large
  34. ^ [5] BlogHer Names 'The Budget Fashionista', It's new Editor at Large
  35. ^ Tackling the Lack of Women in Tech Black Enterprise
  36. ^ [6] digitalundivided
  37. ^ [7] digitalundivided: About FOCUS Fellows
  38. ^ Venture Beat, Black Female and Smart Venture Beat
  39. ^ [8] #FOCUS100 NYC Conference Saturday Session Recap
  40. ^ Young, Danielle. "Digitalundivided Launches BIG Innovation Center in Atlanta for Black and Latina Women in Tech". The Root. Retrieved 2017-02-28.
  41. ^ "Digitalundivided to Open Innovation Center for Black and Latina Women Founders". Tech.Co. 2016-03-21. Retrieved 2017-02-28.
  42. ^ "Incubator". www.digitalundivided.com. Retrieved 2017-02-28.
  43. ^ "Digitalundivided's BIG Innovation Center Wins 2016 SBA Growth Accelerator Fund Competition | The Network Journal". www.tnj.com. Retrieved 2017-02-28.
  44. ^ "Meet The Six Startups Led By Black And Latina Women From The First-Ever BIG Demo Day In Atlanta - Lioness Magazine". Lioness Magazine. 2017-01-25. Retrieved 2017-02-28.
  45. ^ [9] UNCF & HBCU Partners Launch Tech-empowerment Week At The Atlanta University Center
  46. ^ [10] digitalundivided Presents Innovation Thursdays At Etsy Hq
  47. ^ "#ProjectDiane Report Examines the State of Black Women in Tech". NBC News. Retrieved 2017-02-28.
  48. ^ [11] Kathryn Finney | White House Champion of Change
  49. ^ [12] Manhattan Borough President's Black History Month Reception
  50. ^ "Meet Kathryn Finney, Our 2016 Social Change ABIE Award Winner - Anita Borg Institute". Anita Borg Institute. 2016-10-03. Retrieved 2017-02-28.
  51. ^ [13] Meet Kathryn Finney, Women of Influence honoree, and learn how her father's work ethic influenced her career
  52. ^ [14] Kathryn Finney Profile on Upstart100
  53. ^ [15] theGrio's 100: Kathryn Finney
  54. ^ [16] 40 Rising Stars 40 & Under
  55. ^ [17] Spelman College Announces Honorees and Speakers for 2015 Women of Color Conference
  56. ^ "Kathryn Finney". Forbes.
  57. ^ [18] Kathryn Finney | White House Champion of Change
  58. ^ [19] Social impact drives Omidyar Network's civil tech investments
  59. ^ [20] Kathryn Finney's Lanyrd profile
  60. ^ "Kathryn Finney | Book for Speaking, Events and Appearances". www.apbspeakers.com. 2016-05-23. Retrieved 2017-02-28.
  61. ^ [21] Kathryn Finney's LinkedIn Profile
  62. ^ http://www.wfmn.org/PDFs/EqualityReport_Spring2007.pdf
  63. ^ I Am Not A Fashionista: Why We’re Over All Words Ending in ‘-ista’ Coco & Creme
  64. ^ "6 Brilliant Advice On Starting A Blog Help To Solve Biggest Problems". Blog Marketing Sea. Retrieved 2015-06-14.

External links[edit]