Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Four Women’s Stories

Women in Technology

Jennifer Lawton, speaker at Westport Library

Jennifer Lawton, speaker at Westport Library

Westport Library is presenting a series called “Wisdom from CEOs.” Tonight the presenter was Jennifer Lawton of the digital manufacturing companies Stratasys and MakerBot. As an industry leader in the global 3D desktop printing industry, she focuses on the disruptive effects of 3D printing and the role of women in technology.

My friend Joe Pucci from the Unitarian Church in Westport is a library trustee and his company Bernstein is a sponsor of the series, so he introduced the speaker.

Lawton said that 3D printing changed her view of the world – a pretty amazing statement.

She sees parallels between the spread of computing, the internet, and 3D printing. Computers and the internet were around and available for many years, but not widely used until they were introduced in libraries and schools. She calls libraries and schools the lowest common denominator in communities – every community has these.

As children began using them, and libraries made them available for adults, they became familiar so that today, we believe we need computers and the internet. She believes the same will happen with 3D printers.

MakerBot Replicator 3D printer

MakerBot Replicator 3D printer

The library has several. I haven’t seen one in operation yet, but I will make a point to do so next time I’m in the library.

Have you ever used a 3D printer? Seen one?

Women’s Rights

On May 5 I’m attending a panel on Women’s Rights in Africa, presented by the Yale Alumni Nonprofit Alliance, YANA.

The organization was founded in 2011 by Yale alums to “mobilize and channel the enormous potential energy of this alumni population.” They say that at least two thirds of Yale alumni are “involved in the nonprofit sector, as executive directors, practitioners, board members, donors or volunteers.” The organization presents events, runs a mentoring program, and serves as a career network.

They are presenting with another group, Project Redwood which was formed by Stanford’s 1980 business school class. They “provide funding, expertise, and connections to social entrepreneurs who address the challenge of global poverty.”

I wonder how the two groups found each other. Maybe I’ll find out at the event.

I’m telling you about it now so that if you are nearby, perhaps you can attend too!

Folorunsho Alakijo, from GhanaNation media

Folorunsho Alakijo, from GhanaNation media

Woman of Wealth

A former Peace Corps volunteer and friend Louise sent me a report from PRI, Public Radio International. It seems a Nigerian woman is taking the title of wealthiest black woman in the world from Oprah!

The introduction says, “This is a story of how a fashion designer became a billionaire. It also speaks to the lack of transparency in Nigeria’s oil sector, one of the world’s largest.” Folorunsho Alakija started out as a secretary, then became a fashion designer. When the oil industry was booming and the government was inviting people to bid on exploration rights, she got the right to a ‘block’.

The story continues: “It turned out Alakija’s block was a gusher. It can produce up to 250,000 barrels of oil a day. In December, Time magazine put her worth at $3.3 billion, $300 million more than Oprah Winfrey. . .  These days she travels the world giving motivational speeches. She runs a charity for widows and orphans. And she owns a lot of real estate.”

The energy editor of BusinessDay Nigeria, Olusola Bello, says the licenses were given out based on connections, not by bidding. She received hers because she was close to the family of the military head of state at the time, Ibrahim Babangida.

Many Nigerians have become disgusted with the favoritism exemplified by wealth like hers.

Although her wealth came before Goodluck Jonathan was in office, he seemed to be part of the same system.

Voters showed their distaste in the recent elections. She will probably keep her block and her money, but maybe the practice will come to an end with the new administration. Is it too much to hope for?

Woman’s Website

Dr. Nkem Ezeilo, known as Doctor Kem.

Dr. Nkem Ezeilo, known as Doctor Kem.

I have several new Facebook friends, lots of websites to explore, and people to exchange email with as a result of the Igbo Women’s Conference.

One of the websites in the list from Yvonne Mbanefo was “From her clinic at 10 Harley Street, London, Dr Nkem Ezeilo (known as Dr Kem) runs The Healthy Lifestyle Clinic,” her website says.

Dr. Kemi Ezeilo is from Nanka, Clem’s hometown! The family is well-known. Walter Ezeilo attended St.Saviour’s church with us in Lagos. She could be his daughter or niece, or even granddaughter?

I love the ‘small world’ experience!

Author: Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, blogger, speaker. Born in New York, grew up in mid west United States, lived in Nigeria for 24 years, back in U.S. since 1986. Advocate for racial justice.


  1. The PTA bought some 3D printers for our middle school to be used in the STEM classes. As with everything new there is a learning curve, but they are interesting.