I decided I'd like to do a series of short interviews of some of the bloggers I admire most, and brave Dana Rudolph of Mombian stepped up, willing to be the first, as she often does.
Dana started Mombian nearly 3 years ago. She and her partner Helen have a four-year-old son and two cats. Her interests (besides her family) include history, fencing, taekwondo, rock climbing, and the Red Sox.
RR: Tell us a bit about your background.
DR: I have over a decade of experience in the online industry, at both the startup and corporate levels. Most recently, I was a vice president at Merrill Lynch, developing marketing and business strategies for several key online initiatives. I was also the first leader of the firm's global LGBT employee network. Prior to the business world, I was on an academic track, doing graduate work towards a career as a medieval historian. (No, I didn't dress up as someone from the Middle Ages; I dressed in jeans and spent time in stuffy old libraries.) In some ways, however, blogging combines my previous disparate endeavors: I get to write and do research like an academic, while marketing and maintaining my Web site.
RR: When you first started MOMBIAN what was your mission and how has it changed over time? What do you hope to deliver to your audience?
DR: From the start, I knew I didn't want to write a diary-type blog. There were already many good ones like that, and I didn't think my own family life was interesting enough to keep people coming back. (My writing background, a mix of marketing and academia, may also have influenced this choice. See next question.) I also noticed that most of the existing parenting sites didn't often include lesbians, and most of the lesbian sites didn't often include parents. I therefore decided to make Mombian a site for news and information of interest to lesbian moms and other LGBT parents.
I think that mission has pretty much stayed the same. I hope to deliver posts that are both informative and entertaining, that look at LGBT news and culture with a parent's eye, and at parenting topics with an LGBT eye. I cover everything from politics to entertainment—but I'm not trying to cover all politics, like, say, PageOneQ, or all entertainment, like After Ellen. I want to extract what's of interest to parents and try to make connections that others may have missed. Of course, since I'm the publisher, I sometimes break my own rules and post about something random that catches my attention, but I try to keep it to a minimum.
DR: The closest predecessor to my blogging was a weekly update I used to compile at Merrill Lynch, summarizing news in online financial services. It went out by e-mail to over 150 executives at the firm, and was similar in style to the Weekly Political Roundup I do on Mombian.
Some of the marketing material I used to write has helped me in promoting my site, but not in creating the actual posts. Likewise, my academic work gave me a foundation for some of my longer pieces that require research, but they are not a perfect analogy. Blog posts have to be shorter and punchier, more like newspaper articles than research papers.
DR: The constant high point is the number of friendly and interesting people I've met—bloggers, commenters, and others who have reached out to connect in some way. I'm also proud of the growing success of Blogging for LGBT Families Day, which had over 150 participants last June. The diversity of people and experiences always amazes me. (It will be held again this year on June 2.)
RR: What's the strangest thing that's happened to you since you became a parent?
DR: Becoming a parent was pretty strange in itself. I'm one of those for whom the parenting urge came late; I wasn't against it when I was younger, but it wasn't a burning priority for me as it is for some people.
It's also been very strange being the stay-at-home mom. Both my partner Helen and I have done stints as the SAHM. She gave birth to our son (using my egg and donor sperm), and started out at home, but some changes at the company I worked for led us both to throw our resumes into the ring. She got the better offer, and so we switched roles. We'll probably stick it out this way now until our son is older; going back and forth too much probably wouldn't be good for him. It wasn't something I was expecting, though, even when we started on the road to parenthood. Not that I'm complaining; as I tell Helen, my boss is a lot cuter than hers.