Danielle Kayembe

After graduating from Whitfield, Danielle attended Stanford University where she earned a B.A. in Political Science and a Masters in Organizations, Business and Sociology. She is a female futurist and serial entrepreneur who works on projects at the intersection of women, tech and social impact. Through her company GreyFire, she advises female founders on scaling their businesses and raising capital, and connects companies to ecosystems of underrepresented founders. Danielle was a founding partner in Tour of Tech: Lagos, an initiative to bring investors from Silicon Valley to tour growing tech hubs in Africa. Danielle is an advisor to social impact startups and a mentor to Columbia University’s business accelerator. She has lectured at Yale School of Management, Barnard College's Athena Program and Princeton University. Danielle is an Ariane de Rothschild Fellow for 2018, awarded to 20 Global Social Impact Entrepreneurs each year. She is a frequent speaker on topics related to women, social impact and technology on CNBC, at the United Nations, TEDx, Google, General Assembly and other events, and has been featured in Forbes and Refinery29. She is also the author of "The Silent Rise of the Female-Driven Economy" a white paper on women and the future of business and innovation. Danielle’s youngest brother is currently a Whitfield student, Class of 2022.

“At Whitfield, I learned how to learn. I gained confidence by taking on new things. As a result, I’ve always felt confident to make changes and do things outside of my comfort zone. Whitfield reinforced for me that you can choose to learn anything you want if you are curious and passionate.” 

What are you most thankful for from your Whitfield experience, both in and outside of the classroom?

The quality of the teachers I had fostered a lot of imagination, openness, proactive learning, and discovery. In addition, I always felt like my opinions were valid and important; there were no wrong questions.  Everyone in the classroom contributed in their own ways to the conversations we had, and that has always stayed with me. In my adult life, I have never felt shy to speak up, whether it was in a lecture hall, business meeting, or in front of a large audience. 

What were your primary interests and activities while you were at Whitfield?

I was on Whitfield’s founding lacrosse team, the cross country team and the dance squad. I was a leader in Model U.N. and President of Amnesty International.  I also loved art and took this passion beyond the classroom; I even submitted an art portfolio to my prospective colleges. 

What opportunities did Whitfield provide you that you might not have had elsewhere?

Whitfield provided me with the opportunity to try anything and everything I wanted.  From dance squad to lacrosse to choir to Model U.N., if I wanted to be involved, I could be. The faculty sponsors encouraged me to explore my interests and supported me in this process. 

What skills do you use in your career that you began forming at Whitfield?

My career has been shaped by curiosity. Whitfield was a place where I felt the freedom to explore things I was curious about, whether inside or outside of the classroom. I feel like I learned how to learn. I gained confidence in taking on new things. As a result, I’ve always felt confident to make changes and do things outside of my comfort zone. Whitfield reinforced for me that you can choose to learn anything that you want if you are curious and passionate.

Whitfield also helped me feel confident in my voice, and this confidence grew through class seminars and discussions.  I’ve never questioned that my voice deserves to be in the room, and I don’t think everyone gets that from their education.