By Jill Spotz

In her day job managing external communications from the New York office of Andela, an African tech startup, Dami Oye ’15 is able to merge her love for public relations, her adoration for Africa, and her knack for making connections. Founded in 2014, Andela builds high-performing technology teams in Africa and connects them with startups in the U.S. and around the world, bridging the divide between U.S. and African tech sectors. But that is just her “9 to 5.” Oye does so much more.

Fueling her passion for making connections, Oye started NO INVITE, a collective and creative agency, two years ago after experiencing, firsthand, the benefits of making unlikely connections at Lafayette. The term “no invite” is actually a play on words based on the New York party scene; however, Oye’s events are far from a typical party. They have a purpose. Oye’s goal is to bring interesting young professionals together to create moments of unlikely collaboration.

“I learned at Lafayette not to judge people based on assumptions,” explains Oye. “When you curate events with people who would normally not know each other, it makes for interesting conversations. In the future, I am hoping this becomes an incubator of ideas, and these events create a community of smart people to push their passion projects.”

Lafayette was so different from my urban city upbringing

Over the last two years, NO INVITE has naturally progressed also to include business design and communications consulting due to Oye’s experience in tech communications. Last year, she brought on her partner and co-founder, Alame Doherty, a childhood friend and fellow Posse Scholar, who specializes in lean business design. NO INVITE has worked with IM WISE, a women’s self-defense and leadership nonprofit organization, Her Agenda, an online platform and community for professional women, and more. Proving her point that connections are powerful, Oye points out that both organizations are run by fellow women who are also New York Posse Scholars.

NO INVITE grew from Oye’s involvement as a Posse Scholar at Lafayette. Supported through the Posse Foundation, Lafayette is one of more than 50 partner institutions and has two Posses on campus from Washington, D.C., and New York. Oye was one of 10 students selected from the New York chapter to receive a full-tuition scholarship. As an 18-year-old first-year student from Queens, Oye began to see the benefits of connections because of intense support provided by the Posse program.

“Lafayette was so different from my urban city upbringing,” explains Oye. “Through Posse, I started meeting fellow students and noticed that bringing together interesting people from different backgrounds is what makes for stimulating conversation. The most memorable times were when we had in-depth discussions in safe spaces about important topics like gentrification, racism, and sexism. It was part of our culture at Lafayette. I was really itching for that type of environment and community after I graduated.” Oye returned to New York after graduating and began to feel like it was “too sporadic and difficult to get people together.” Thus, NO INVITE was born.

When Oye is not working at her day job at Andela or her side hustle, NO INVITE, she is working future connections at The Wing, a members-only co-working space specifically for women. The Wing offers work space, programming, events, and opportunities for women to network. With locations in the Flatiron Building, Soho, Brooklyn, and a soon-to-open location in Washington, D.C., The Wing is really about a strong network for women. “Utilizing the online directory, I am able to connect with individuals in my industry. I have coffee with women working at Tumblr, Facebook, etc.,” says Oye. “They also coordinate programs specifically for women like negotiating your salary.”

While double majoring in government and law and film and media studies at Lafayette, Oye learned the importance of mastering both writing and critical thinking, skills that continue to help her today. The dual experience also offered an opportunity to learn from many professors in varying disciplines. Some of the most influential include her Posse mentor, Susanne Westfall, professor of English/theater, who “had words of encouragement and pushed me to keep the arts in the forefront of my studies.” Wendy Wilson-Fall, associate professor and program chair of Africana Studies, taught Oye to “be awake and the importance of analyzing the Black experience with compassion and a critical eye. I had such a limited perspective, but Professor Wilson-Fall was smart about it and always helped me to look at the bigger picture.” Countless others, including Karina Skvirski, Michael Feola, Jeremy Zallen, and Il Hyun Cho, positively impacted Oye’s Lafayette experience in different ways.

Oye was fortunate to participate in an externship with YouTube Spaces and Weber Shandwick, a global public relations firm located in New York City, during her time at Lafayette. For her one-day externship at Weber Shandwick, Oye was well-prepared, and she made a lasting impact–the agency offered her a position after she graduated. Another nod to connections.

With only several years under her belt in the working world, Oye has found the benefits of networking within different communities. “A strong community is imperative to elevating women in business,” says Oye. “That is something Lafayette taught me through Posse, my externship, and now The Wing.”

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