2013 DIGIFAM SPEAKER: Elena Sonnino

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This is a series of interviews with the speakers of Digital Family Summit 2013, October 11-13.
Read all of the speaker interviews
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 Elena SonninoElena Sonnino is a freelance writer, strategist, traveler, runner, cancer survivor and chaser of dreams. Elena is passionate about fostering self sufficiency and inspiring others by sharing travel, running and social good stories. She believes in empowering tweens to become great global citizens.

Elena spent twelve years as a teacher, educational leader and mentor to elementary students.  Whether she was a classroom teacher or an advanced academic resource teacher, her focus was always on empowering students to develop independent and creative thinking. She continues to work with teachers now as a coach and mentor, helping teachers improve their practice.

 Elena is a Shot@Life UnFoundation Social Good Fellow and Shot@Life champion, a member of Bloggers4Haiti, a member of ONE Moms, and is on the American Cancer Society Blogger Advisory Council .  She is also passionate about travel, and is a contributing blogger at TravelingMom.com, HiltonMomVoyage.com and ThisGirlTravels.com. 

twitter: @ElenaSonnino
website: http://www.livedogrow.com
youtube: http://www.youtube.com/livedogrow

How did you get involved with blogging?

I was at home instead of at school teaching with my daughter because she had strep throat. I was in the process of planning my second wedding and as I sat on the couch while she slept, I decided it was time to start telling the story of being a cancer survivor and mom amidst the chaos of daily life. Over time I realized that as much as my first passion was inspiring and empowering youth as an educator, telling the story and inspiring others on to take their own journeys in life. Walking through the streets of Jacmel, a seaside town in Haiti during in 2012, I realized that it was time to chase my dreams and leave teaching permanently to work on living, doing and growing full time.


What blogs do you read regularly?

Million Moms Challenge– This site inspires and informs with calls to action, resources and topics that matter.

Impatient Optimists– This site is run by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation features the work of organizations, governments and individuals that are striving to give people everywhere the chance to live a healthy, productive life.

Plus Social Good- This site is a meeting place for social good inspired by The Social Good Summit and the many partners that are involved to promote using social media for social good.

Pinterest- travel category. I love exploring images of new places.

If you could travel back in time and send yourself a message, what would it be?

More than anything I would tell myself to stop doubting myself and my abilities. I have always been good at empowering others, but never at empowering myself and the truth is that we can only have an impact if we believe in ourselves and the work that we are doing.

Any advice for young bloggers?

Focus. Think about your passion and do not try to be all things to all people.

What do you think is the greatest opportunity for digital teens today?

Digital families and tweens/teens have a potential to amplify their voices and stories in ways that have never been done to so many more people. It is a privilege to be able to tell a story and we need to remember that it is not our role to tell the stories of others- we can only tell our own stories- our perspectives- our experiences. Do not just assume that other people want you to tell their story.

What’s the biggest danger facing digital teens & their families today?

The greatest danger for digital families is a lack of balance. While the digital space can give us so much, so can the real life world and sometimes we need to be able to put down all things digital and allow ourselves to be in the moment.

What are you going to talk about at the conference?

We live in a world where distances matter less and less with increased virtual connectivity. As global citizens, the key themes of interdependence, cooperation and collaboration are key to sustainable lives for future generations. Using social media for social good is one way that we can use our voice to make an impact on causes and issues that will effect all of us in the long run.

What’s next for you after the Digital Family Summit?

Taking the next steps with Grow Global Citizens– from a facebook page to its own site, a series of articles and hopefully book.

Who are your Creative Heroes?

Honestly- my daughter. She believes that she can create anything and has a level of self confidence that I have never had. She looks at the world and questions and then pushes herself to find answers and solutions even when they seem ridiculous.

Anything else you’d like to tell us?



 Adam Gertsacov is the co-founder and co-organizer of Digital Family Summit.  He wears many hats, including those of a professional clown, an author and publisher, an artist/educator, a non-profit administrator, a P.T. Barnum impersonator, a flea circus impresario, and the esteemed hat of the Clown Laureate of Greenbelt, Maryland.  

In his copious freetime, he blogs at http://www.clownlink.com and http://www.dadapalooza.com, as well as a few other places.
You can find out more about his clown work at http://www.acmeclown.com

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