Simon Javan Okelo

Father | Media Creator | Musician | Entrepreneur

My Story

My name is Simon Javan Okelo. I grew up in the slums of Manyatta in Kisumu, Kenya, serving as the Field Director of Solace International and Co-Director of the Young Generation Centre from 2002-2010 where I directed humanitarian projects in Malawi, Kenya, Ghana, Liberia, and South Sudan. I also worked as a DJ and producer, organizing Unite The People concerts in 2008 in the wake of post-election violence and founding One Vibe Africa.

I came to the US in 2010, and I have since organized events and digital campaigns celebrating the African diaspora locally and globally. For example, since 2014 I have organized the Madaraka Festival at The Museum of POP Culture headlined by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Sauti Sol, Blitz The Ambassador, Rocky Dawuni, Meklit Hadero, Nik West, Naomi Wachira, Karun, and other renowned Grammy award-winning artists.  

01

Service

I have gained over fifteen years of non-profit organization development and management in Africa and Seattle. I have founded and led over three international non-profit organizations and social ventures. I am passionate about leadership development through mentorship and on-the-job training, which is why I have mentored and coached over twenty leaders.

Service is zero-sum.

It involves helping others at the expense of something else.

I've never found that something worth it.

I have vast event organizing experience from intimate community dinners to international festivals and formal fundraising galas. I am an authority in social media and digital media strategy. I have worked with The Gates Foundation, City of Seattle, Paul Allen Family Foundation, Standard Media Group, Seattle Art Museum, and other small and large organizations both in the corporate and non-profit worlds. 

I have over five years of experience in import, export, customs brokerage, supply chain, and compliance operations and management between the US and the rest of the world. I am a published author. My articles have been featured on YES Magazine, Seattle Globalist, and I am currently working on a photo book and memoir. I am also a performing artist, I play and perform with an eight-string traditional instrument known as Nyatiti.

02

Innovation

I grew up in a large polygamist family. My mother was the second wife, and subordinate to the first wife. This created conflict, leading my mother to move away from our rural home to the Manyatta slum. We had to be innovative in order to survive. I watched my mother successfully reinvent herself and our family, learning that with hard work and creativity, anything is possible.

I think of all artists as multimedia creators, regardless of our discipline.

As an adult, I am fascinated by how technology and digital space can be used to connect minds, build new arts audiences, and create economic opportunities for communities. I think of all artists as multimedia creators regardless of our discipline.

Digital media gives us all a unique opportunity to share our story and process in more detailed, compelling, and profitable ways.  

03

Impact

Since moving to the US in 2010 I have worn many hats: from being the Executive Director of One Vibe Africa, to working a full-time corporate job at Expeditors, to continuing to pursue my career as a musician, to launching an African Storytelling series for children, to becoming a naturalized US citizen, to becoming the father of three little girls.

Life is a gift. See the world around you and make a difference.

I am excited to have settled into my new life in the US while still being able to create connections and opportunities for my communities in both Seattle and Africa. In May 2019, I left my job at Expeditors to pursue my creative work and fatherhood full-time.

I now have to support myself and my family entirely through creative projects and opportunities. 

My Story

My name is Simon Javan Okelo. I grew up in the slums of Manyatta in Kisumu, Kenya, serving as the Field Director of Solace International and Co-Director of the Young Generation Centre from 2002-2010 where I directed humanitarian projects in Malawi, Kenya, Ghana, Liberia, and South Sudan. I also worked as a DJ and producer, organizing Unite The People concerts in 2008 in the wake of post-election violence and founding One Vibe Africa.

I came to the US in 2010, and I have since organized events and digital campaigns celebrating the African diaspora locally and globally. For example, since 2014 I have organized the Madaraka Festival at The Museum of POP Culture headlined by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Sauti Sol, Blitz The Ambassador, Rocky Dawuni, Meklit Hadero, Nik West, Naomi Wachira, Karun, and other renowned Grammy award-winning artists.  

01

Service

I have gained over fifteen years of non-profit organization development and management in Africa and Seattle. I have founded and led over three international non-profit organizations and social ventures. I am passionate about leadership development through mentorship and on-the-job training, which is why I have mentored and coached over twenty leaders.

Service is zero-sum.

It involves helping others at the expense of something else.

I've never found that something worth it.

I have vast event organizing experience from intimate community dinners to international festivals and formal fundraising galas. I am an authority in social media and digital media strategy. I have worked with The Gates Foundation, City of Seattle, Paul Allen Family Foundation, Standard Media Group, Seattle Art Museum, and other small and large organizations both in the corporate and non-profit worlds. 

I have over five years of experience in import, export, customs brokerage, supply chain, and compliance operations and management between the US and the rest of the world. I am a published author. My articles have been featured on YES Magazine, Seattle Globalist, and I am currently working on a photo book and memoir. I am also a performing artist, I play and perform with an eight-string traditional instrument known as Nyatiti.

02

Innovation

I grew up in a large polygamist family. My mother was the second wife, and subordinate to the first wife. This created conflict, leading my mother to move away from our rural home to the Manyatta slum. We had to be innovative in order to survive. I watched my mother successfully reinvent herself and our family, learning that with hard work and creativity, anything is possible.

I think of all artists as multimedia creators, regardless of our discipline.

As an adult, I am fascinated by how technology and digital space can be used to connect minds, build new arts audiences, and create economic opportunities for communities. I think of all artists as multimedia creators regardless of our discipline.

Digital media gives us all a unique opportunity to share our story and process in more detailed, compelling, and profitable ways.  

03

Impact

Since moving to the US in 2010 I have worn many hats: from being the Executive Director of One Vibe Africa, to working a full-time corporate job at Expeditors, to continuing to pursue my career as a musician, to launching an African Storytelling series for children, to becoming a naturalized US citizen, to becoming the father of three little girls.

Life is a gift. See the world around you and make a difference.

I am excited to have settled into my new life in the US while still being able to create connections and opportunities for my communities in both Seattle and Africa. In May 2019, I left my job at Expeditors to pursue my creative work and fatherhood full-time.

I now have to support myself and my family entirely through creative projects and opportunities. 

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